The Top 10 Best Drupal Modules

You may have noticed that there is an incredible array of user-developed modules to choose from to extend the core functionality of your Drupal install. In this guide, we'll make your choice easier by giving you the scoop on the top ten must-have Drupal modules.

1. Views: Drupal Views is a module that will allow you to customize the presentation of lists, nodes, and tables. It's especially useful for anyone who wants to sort their content in unique ways. For example, Views lets you set up a list of the most recent posts in a certain category, a list of unread forum posts or a list of only posts with comments, or even a monthly archive. You can also use Views to create reports, image galleries, and summaries with the click of a button. There are unlimited uses for this flexible, powerful module.

2. Pathauto: this indispensable module helps make path names much easier to use by specifying aliases for any kind of content. Without Pathauto, nodes are simply numbered, making them difficult to remember and locate. With Pathauto, not only can everything be aliased with easy-to-remember terms, but you don't even have to specify the aliases by hand -- Pathauto automatically generates them based on rules you specify. For example, a local news article titled "Killer Tornado" might be aliased by Pathauto as http://yoursiteURL.com/news/local/1-Killer_Tornado instead of the usual generic numbered node URL -- and you don't have to lift a finger, because Pathauto will alias it automatically.

3. CCK: the acronym for this module stands for Content Creation Kit. The module lets you assign any customized fields -- not just title and body -- you desire to your nodes. For example, CCK would let you specify customized fields for make, model, and year for an auto listing content type. Then these values could be displayed, indexed, and formatted automatically for the end user.

4. Audio: this module is pretty self-explanatory. Audio makes it easy to set up permissions for users to upload audio files, each of which becomes an audio node. You can then automatically generate pages for the most recently uploaded audio files, podcast-friendly feeds, and other sets of audio files. This module is clearly a must for music sharing sites, social networking sites, and any audiophile-related sites.

5. Diggthis: another self-explanatory module. Diggthis lets you place Digg This buttons on any desired node so that users can vote for their favorite "story" and so that the number of Diggs each story receives can be displayed. If a story hasn't been submitted yet, it gets a link so users can click and submit it to Digg. Making your content "diggable" is not only a ton of fun but will also help enhance your site traffic over time.

6. Date: this is a general-purpose module that many Drupal users find indispensable. It lets you get more in-depth with calendars and date-based sorting and grouping, as well as adds a powerful set of related tools, such as date-input widgets and customizable date storage. Of course, you also get the full date API, for even more geeky fun.

7. Ecommerce and Ubercart: some parts of the formerly beefy ecommerce module have been subsumed into Drupal 6 core or eliminated due to lack of use, but there are still some features of the ecommere module you can't do without. Or you may want to check out Ubercart, an alternative to Ecommerce that's just stuffed with features and add-ons. Ubercart is an especially great module for niche ecommerce merchants, because there are a ton of specialized add-ons for every type of business-related transaction and operation in existence. Both Ecommerce and Ubercart make it easy to work with taxes, discounts, and balances, as well as to set up periodic payments or subscriptions. For non-profits, the ecommerce module can help you set up your site to easily receive donations. Ecommerce and Ubercart also make it a snap to manage your inventory and to generate invoices, reports, summaries, and order histories.

8. Captcha: as the name implies, this module gives you a number of tools for setting up and using Captchas for blocking spambot submissions. It's essential if you're going to be using forms on your site or setting up a forum, because nobody likes getting flooded with spam and junk submissions.

9. Devel: for advanced Drupal users and programmers of all sorts, Devel is a must. It's actually a suite packed with useful tools to help you develop your own modules and themes. You get Firebug for theming Drupal, content generation tools, and access to more performance logging tools than you can shake a stick at.

10. Google Analytics: this is an essential module for any site that will be generating ad revenue and is especially useful if you're trying to attract new users or to analyze the visitation patterns of existing users. With Google Analytics, you can keep track of users, link tracking, file downloads, user segmentation, and much more.