10 Drupal Modules You May Not Know About

Aug 7 2009 by Kevin Quillen | 40 Comments

One of the great things about Drupal is its huge community of developers. Drupal.org hosts many, many modules to extend and enhance your website or application. Most people know about popular modules such as CCK, Views2, Panels, and XML Sitemap. But there are some really great modules that fly under the radar as well.

1. Secure Site

Secure Site

When developing a website, you occasionally show the client progress. Depending on your setup, you use either an internal development address, or a subdomain like development.company.com to make it accessible outside for clients. What if you want to hide it away from prying eyes or search engines? There have been times when curious people have stumbled across sites I’ve worked on by trying subdomains, but this little module will put a stop to that. Secure Site uses HTTP authentication and prompts the user for a username and password before proceeding. It can also be used to secure RSS feeds.

2. IE6 Update

IE6 Update

There is a huge push in the design community to wipe IE6 off the face of the earth. While most believe they should not worry about IE6 compatibility, simply redirect them to Firefox, or block them from viewing the site entirely, this module offers a more reasonable solution. When enabled, anyone viewing in IE6 will have a status bar update across the top of the browser that politely says that they should consider upgrading their browser.

3. Masquerade

Masquerade lets you quickly switch between user accounts by entering their name without needing to know their password. It’s very helpful for testing the functionality of modules as different users and roles without using ‘test’ accounts. It’s also helpful to see what the user is seeing when they report issues with your site.

4. AddThis

If you have a site with lots of useful content, AddThis adds a button to the bottom of a node. When you hover on it, it will pop up with options to share the content to popular sites like Digg, Technorati, Fark, Twitter, or direct email to a friend.

5. HTML Mail

HTML Mail

By default, any email sent out of the Drupal application is plain text. As of Drupal 6, there is no setting to change this. If you ever tried sending an HTML email with Drupal, then you know that it would effectively kill any style you tried to add. HTML Mail will change the outgoing header types to text/html, and provide you with htmlmail.tpl.php so you can pretty up and personalize messages from your system.

6. ThemeKey

Have you ever had a splash page or path in your website that isn’t anything like your site theme? ThemeKey will let you load a different theme for pages or paths.

7. Username AJAX Check

Ever get tired of registering for a site only to find out the username you want is already taken? Username AJAX Check is simple: as you type in a name when registering, it will check to see if that name is available before submitting the form.

8. Views Group By

Views Group By

Views 2 is a fantastic module, however, there are some things it can’t do such as grouping using SQL on a field and using COUNT(). Suppose you had a custom view that showed how many nodes you had of each type or how many users there are of a particular role. This module will provide that functionality.

9. SMTP

This nifty module lets you send mail out through an SMTP server instead of using PHP to send mail. It works with SSL and services like Gmail. It’s great when used in conjunction with HTML Mail and other modules like Simplenews if you run newsletters on your Drupal website.

10. Job Queue

Job Queue

Job Queue provides functionality to queue up your cron jobs so they are executed in chunks instead of all at once, lessening workload on the server. If you are experiencing PHP timeouts when cron runs, or if you are having issues using Views Bulk Operations, give Job Queue a try.

Bonus module

Multiple Node Menu is a newly released and nifty module for working with multiple menu links. Please note that this this module is still experimental, so use it at your own risk.

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About the Author

Kevin Quillen is a professional web designer located in Delaware. He works at Inclind Inc. where his official job title is Internet Architect. Check out his site – Kevin Quillen – where he blogs and hosts his portfolio. He works with Coldfusion, PHP, SQL, as well as web standards compliant CSS/XHTML.

40 Comments

Steve Robison

August 7th, 2009

Nicely written. Very useful information. Thanks!

jp

August 7th, 2009

Just started working with drupal, I’m sure this will come in handy! Thanks man

MorayWeb

August 7th, 2009

Very handy – thanks!

Chris Free

August 7th, 2009

Great post! I’ve been Drupaling for almost 5 years now and I didn’t know about a few of these. I also just discovered the Calendar module, which works with the Date module to allow you to create views and overlay them inside a calendar. Great for creating events management tools.

aaron

August 7th, 2009

great list – and it lives up to its name. so many “module” lists are just repititions of the same modules, but this is super helpful and definitely gives me some great ideas for some current sites i’m working on.

thanks!

Michael Krapf

August 7th, 2009

You’re right! Drupal modules that I didn’t know about. Thanks for the list!

mary

August 7th, 2009

Nice list, I didn’t know about half of these, thank you!!

joflizn

August 8th, 2009

Great list! I was working with drupal for a while now and it’s always amazing to see the endless possibilities you can have to build a website. Mainly due to its huge community. Thanks.

Jacob Gube

August 8th, 2009

@Chris Free: Cool tip, thanks for sharing!

@aaron: Hey how’s it going, thanks for stopping by! Yes, there’s a ton of Drupal modules out there, and most list just features popular ones: I like Kevin’s list here because most of these, I haven’t heard of.

Just a note ladies and gents, Kevin’s case study (dogfish.com) is on the front page of Drupal.org right now

dv

August 8th, 2009

nice list. definitely going to check out secure site.

Shaunak

August 9th, 2009

Great list. I found the “IE6 update” especially handy.

There is a good alternative to the Addthis module, the AddtoAny module [drupal.org/project/addtoany]. You could give it a spin.

Darryn

August 9th, 2009

Great post! Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this. #1 – Secure site alone is exactly what I need. Thanks again.

Mujtaba

August 9th, 2009

hi everyone,
i am a newbie and i love developing with wordpress, i have heard many good things about drupal, but just want to know whats the diff. between Drupal and WP ??? what is it in Drupal that you cant do with WP and vice versa… i will really appreciate if anybody clears away my doubts…
Also being a WP developer, will it be difficult for me to code for Drupal?????

Thnx in advance…

Jacob Gube

August 9th, 2009

@Shaunak: Thanks for sharing the AddtoAny module, I’ll definitely check that out!

@Darryn: Glad you enjoyed this article!

chris

August 9th, 2009

Die hard drupal fan here, i can do anything with it, theming is my speciality, now im learning how to write modules..sweet…oh BTW great articles even though i knew half of these modules

Dave Moloney

August 10th, 2009

Cheers mate – as someone said above, thought this would be a list of modules I use day-to-day already, but I will definitely be checking out some of these in the future.

Has been in the back of my mind to upgrade our news letter system, so having HTML Mail handed to me might give me that extra push! =)

Dave

Blues

August 10th, 2009

Thanks for article.

Benno Sebastian

August 10th, 2009

Hi Kevin,
I just came back from the Drupalcampla.com at UC Irvine. It was a total blast. I did not know about the html mail. Thanks for posting your 10 drupal modules.

William

August 10th, 2009

You should check out the “AddToAny” Drupal module. The button itself is an incredible piece of work.

William

August 10th, 2009

Oops, already mentioned above. Think I will give HTTP Mail a try though. Styled emails would be really cool to have.

Nathan

August 11th, 2009

Nice article… I’m almost thinking this is the 10 ways that Drupal fails.

Navdeep

August 31st, 2009

Excellent post. Thanks…

Sean

September 3rd, 2009

Great article — I’m particularly glad you pointed out Secure Site and IE6 Update. I’ll be using those on all future sites. Thanks very much!

Grant

September 3rd, 2009

Great post. I’ll be using some of these for sure.

Matt

September 4th, 2009

Good list! I use Drupal for almost eveything and had no idea about the html mail.. I will be using it now!

Ishigaki

September 8th, 2009

Very nice list. There’s a couple there which I hadn’t heard of before…nice to see that you haven’t just listed the same old modules which everybody is already aware of.

Paulo Miranda

September 16th, 2009

Another great module if you want to build a website similar to Digg is Drigg.

gms

September 19th, 2009

Thanks for the great collection

M. Wendel

December 11th, 2009

Timely discovery – Masquerade’s exactly what I needed to solve a bug on a client’s site, and I’d never run across it before. Thumbs-up for the rest as well!

Jason Xie

February 2nd, 2010

Great one, you may want to add checkbox validate module to help user that need checkbox in form validated.

Looking to buy lavalamp menu for drupal? go to http://www.drupalstore.info/content/drupie-lavalamp-menu

eric

March 8th, 2010

Multiple Node Menu is a great idea for a module. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work very well yet — definitely check the issue queue before you try it!

TKuk

March 17th, 2010

Thanks for the info, its always a pleasure when you are informed correctly – Nice One, Keep up the good work!

Pete

June 22nd, 2010

Eric — sorry the first version of Multiple Node Menu had a few bugs. Just put up a proper release that should fix the bugs from the first one:

http://drupal.org/project/multiple_node_menu

James

August 27th, 2010

Great little article – good to get heads-up on good drupal modules. Don’t forget to go through all the modules on the SEO_checklist too, if you don’t do it already.

Fresnelllords

September 17th, 2010

Thank you ! For the information

Josh Lind

July 31st, 2011

This is great! Normally lists like this are made up of CCK, Views, Flag and Comment Notify… and you think, gee thanks.

A wonderful list of lesser known modules that rock.

Andrew Osiname

August 19th, 2011

i like the idea of 5 and 9 – maybe it will help stop drupal mail ending up in junk unless sender mail is in contacts…?

4ddl

August 30th, 2011

Nice Info, Thanks :D

My my

October 9th, 2011

Hi, nice site. Thanks

Tech-Magneta

October 17th, 2011

Liked the Multiple Node Menu, module.
Thanx for the extra one… :)

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