5 Drupal Extensions and Tools – Development, Monitoring and More

By SolarWinds on March 16, 2020


Drupal is a powerful and versatile open source software allowing developers to create websites to their exact specifications. Drupal is supported by a strong community, and a plethora of tools and extensions to help expand the functionality of any site and cater for individual needs.

In this article, we’ll discuss five Drupal extensions and tools anyone creating a website with Drupal should consider using. These will help with website development, hosting, monitoring, security, and more, ensuring your website is working to its optimal capacity.

1. Pingdom – Drupal Monitoring

SolarWinds® Pingdom® provides a suite of Drupal monitoring and reporting tools, enabling you to track your website’s availability and performance. Monitoring your Drupal website from over 100 servers located across the globe, Pingdom will test your website’s uptime up to every 60 seconds and alert you when it gets no response. This ensures every time your website suffers from downtime, you can be instantly on hand to resolve the issue, keeping user disruption to a minimum.

Pingdom also offers a range of other tools and features including:

  • Transaction monitoring – Pingdom will monitor key transactions on your website and notify you if any problems occur. Transactions can include online forms, the checkout process, or your site’s search functionality. By being immediately alerted to any issues as they arise, you’ll again be able to quickly fix and improve your site’s performance and ensure all transactions are running smoothly.
  • Website content optimization – Pingdom tracks page load speed and produces in-depth reports to help you understand what’s happening on your site when your content loads. For example, Pingdom will give you data on individual page elements’ loading order, size, and speed. This information will give you a clear insight into what’s slowing down your site, and what you need to do to further optimize your content.
  • Real-user monitoring (RUM) – Pingdom offers RUM, tracking actual users on your site to give you a better understanding of the experience your users receive on your website.

In addition to being a powerful monitoring tool for any Drupal website, Pingdom also caters for other content management systems, offering both WordPress and Joomla monitoring and reporting.

2. Drush

Drush is a command line interface which will allow you to perform a range of Drupal tasks using the command line. Providing a smoother and faster management experience, Drush is ideal for anyone looking to build and develop a Drupal website.

Here are a few of the tasks you can undertake using the command line once you have installed Drush:

  • Update Drupal core
  • Install, update, and delete Drupal extensions
  • Clear the cache
  • Backup, restore, or migrate your Drupal website
  • Create and manage users on your site

Drush ships with a wide assortment of useful commands. However, you can also write your own commands, or take note of the thousands of commands developers have shared with the Drupal community via GitHub.

3. Chaos Tool Suite (cTools)

Chaos Tools (cTools) is a suite of APIs and tools created to improve the developer experience. These tools make code readily available for developers, making it easier to manage Drupal extensions and modules.

Tools include:

  • AJAX Responder – Make it easier for the server to handle AJAX requests.
  • Content types – Pluggable content types used as panes in modules like Panels and Dashboard.
  • Form wizard – An API to help improve the creation process of multi-step forms.
  • Form tools – Help improve how forms deal with AJAX.
  • CSS tools – Cache CSS easily and make user-input of CSS safe.

Chaos Tools also includes a useful module called Page Manager, which helps you to manage panel pages and more.

4. OpenDevShop

OpenDevShop is an open source, community owned cloud hosting and testing platform for Drupal. Free to use, OpenDevShop enables developers to host, develop, test, and update Drupal websites. You can create an unlimited number of environments for each site, deploy databases and files between environments, run built-in hooks whenever code or data is deployed, write your own hooks, and much more.

Other OpenDevShop features include:

  • No more server set up – Installation takes minutes and everything is done for you.
  • Intuitive web interface – View all your web projects and environments within your OpenDevShop dashboard.
  • Out-of-the-box integration with GitHub – Submit a pull request, get a copy of your website, and run tests automatically.

OpenDevShop is a great way to test your websites in a safe environment, without affecting your main production sites—another great tool for Drupal developers.

5. Security

The Drupal Security module’s key aim is to strengthen the security of your website. Drupal core is relatively secure, but like most content management systems, a proactive approach to security needs to be taken.

The Drupal Security extension offers protection by adopting three main strategies. These include:

  • Altering the admin panel’s URL – By changing the URL of the admin panel you can help prevent attackers targeting vulnerable admin pages.
  • Preventing cross site scripting – This extension blocks the execution of inline JavaScript, which greatly reduces the chances of your website being hit by a cross site scripting attack.
  • Enabling client-side password hashing – Sites transmitting sensitive client data should look to use HTTPS/SSL. However, you can also enable client hashing with this Drupal extension, ensuring all client-side passwords are hashed before transmission.

The Drupal security module adds those additional layers of protection every busy site needs. By setting up extra security measures, you’ll help your site to stay ahead of the game and increase its chances of staying safe.

That said, there’s never any guarantee your site won’t be targeted by malware, hackers, or some other security threat. Always make sure you have a recent backup of your Drupal website, so if the worst does happen and you lose your site, you can quickly have it restored and up and running in no time at all.

Final Thoughts on Drupal Extensions and Tools

Using the right Drupal extensions and tools for your project will ensure you’re best placed to create a fully functioning site which will not only look stunning, but perform to its optimal capacity. As you can see, there are numerous modules and tools to support Drupal developers and designers in their roles—which ones will you choose?

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