What is no code?
Basically it comes down to building a complex website using a Graphical User Interface instead of typing code using a programming language such as PHP.
I’ve been designing and building Drupal websites for over 10+ years now and I didn’t have to write any code once. I might have tweaked some files here and there but the number of times I had to dive into some PHP code can be counted on one hand.
What I have built with Drupal are not just simple websites with a few pages. I’ve built:
- A video sharing sites for a University
- An intranet where employees can share news and files. Including an overview of upcoming birthdays and an extensive search option where employees can easily find each other's information, such as an e-mail or telephone number
- A community where users can sign up and privately share information. Even creating (private) groups within the community
Drupal is flexible
Out of the box Drupal is already very flexible. You can create content types, such as Articles, and add fields to them. These fields can be anything such as a simple text field or an image, video, file, mp3. You can also reference any entity within a field making it possible to set up relations between different content items (called nodes in Drupal). But you can even reference users or taxonomy terms.
Because Drupal is built with this flexibility in mind almost anything is an entity. Making it possible to connect different parts and ensuring all Drupal modules play nicely together.
No need to write code using Drupal Modules
Speaking of Drupal modules, currently there are more than 7000 Drupal 9 modules available which you can download and use for free. Some very powerful modules are:
- Group: Create different groups within your Drupal website which can share content with each other
- Domain: Use the same Drupal instance for multiple domains/sites
- Voting API + Fivestar: Makes it possible to up vote or down vote content like Reddit
Downsides of using Drupal as a no code tool
Modules are made by different people which means that documentation can be lacking or even non existent. Learning Drupal requires a very active mentality of the person trying to comprehend it all. Also, because Drupal is so flexible there are different ways to create desired functionality. There is no guide that takes you through all the different elements of creating a Drupal website. You will need to piece it all together yourself.
Drupal is populair
But if you’re stuck you can ask for help within a big community. According to W3Techs Drupal is used to power 2% of all websites on the web. That means a lot of people are using Drupal and they all work together to make Drupal better. When you need help you can just Google your question and most likely a solution will pop up. If not, you can always use the issue queue of the module that’s giving you problems or you can post a question on Drupal Answers.
Using Drupal as a no code tool means you’re not alone.
Questions about using Drupal as a no code tool?
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Agree with the exception of the front-end. Most Drupal sites require custom themes because commercial themes can't assume markup etc.
But yeah, site-building is what got me hooked on Drupal!
This is only true true for basic sites, but then Wix, Wordpress & Jomola are a better choice.
For more complex websites you dont get anywhere without being able to code for theme.
Anything more complex requires TWIGs and going decoupled is also an NightMare as start to finish docs dont exist.
Agree completely. Drupal is now a nightmare, unless one is a professional coder.
Fair point. It is possible to use default themes but in the end you might want to customize a theme to get a better result.
Then again, there are people who don't consider writing HTML and CSS as coding ;)
Great post, thank you! I'm currently working on a module that might be a candidate for using as part of a low-coding platform: Mustache Templates. Feel free to try it out, I also have created two introduction videos about it which are linked on that project page. Happy no/low/real coding! Greetings, Max
Thanks for sharing, Max!
I've been using Drupal since its inception 21 years ago.
Unfortunately I am now migrating to another CMS, as Drupal has simply become unmanageable. The reliance on Composer to upgrade modules and functionality is a huge impediment to non-professionals.
Its a pity. Notice that drupal.org is still running Drupal 7, perhaps the greatest release ever.
Unfortunately I have to agree with you. Drupal 9 is still a great no code tool but Drupal 7 might have been the best version for non-developers. It does really feel Drupal 8 and 9 are geared towards more technical users.
Luckily this Dries, founder of Drupal, has also noticed this problem and has commented on it in his 2021 keynote. Let's hope Drupal 10 and following releases will be more accommodating towards us site builders.
Thanks for your reply. I do not see Drupal being reconfigured in a way that will make our lives easier. Reliance on the Symfony framework means that a new version of Drupal will be required as Symfony advances. I know that there is an effort afoot to integrate composer into Drupal core but I am not sure that that will happen in my lifetime (I'm 62). The optimal solution would be to keep D7 functional and have folks pay a small fee for maintenance / security upgrades. No matter, I am moving to Wordpress. Which makes me feel like I'm dumbing down my sites.
I agreed with your article with reference to site building in Drupal 7. However, Drupal 8 and 9 are so different that any need for customisation forces a need to be able to delve into code. I'm switching to Backdrop CMS, which is perfect for D7 site builders like me.