Robust User Management along with Data Collection, Management and Display Capabilities
The Drupal Content Management System is distributed under the GNU Public License version 2. This gives you free access to the source code and the ability to freely modify it as desired. However, you are not required to distribute your modifications as long as they are confined to your website.
Drupal's extensive documentation makes it straightforward to modify your platform for your specific needs. Build your own custom modules, tweak the look and feel of your site or extend some basic functionality. You can find good books, blogs, videos and online courses to make these modifications.
A useful feature of Drupal compared to other Content Management Systems is the flexibility of creating custom content types without any custom programming. You can leverage that capability in building a Open Source Platform for Research that works specifically for your research.
With just a few steps you can install a Drupal web site on a regular LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) server. This stack powers over 75% of the web. Most hosting companies offer LAMP at reasonable prices or with minimal expertise you can set up a LAMP server in your lab.
The Drupal Content Management System has been available since 2000. It now powers over 1.5% of the available websites and is widely used by numerous universities (e.g. Harvard, Stanford), governments (e.g., NIH , NASA), healthcare institutions (e.g., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) and high traffic commercial websites (e.g. Tesla, Cisco).
Thousands of free, contributed modules - data collection forms, workflow, diagramming, analysis, plotting, charting, social networking, media management, geolocation, authentication, authorization, web services, semantic web capabilities and many, many more - provide flexible customization opportunities to enhance your research website.
You are not confined to just the thousands of Drupal modules. You can utilize the web service modules in the core of Drupal or from contributed modules to link to cloud services on the web, including dozens of services like Genomic Understanding, Machine Learning, Computer Vision or Cognitive Services from Google, Microsoft, AWS and others.
Drupal provides a solid and well tested foundation. An excellent security team continually monitors Drupal for flaws in the core as well as in the heavily used contributed modules. The flexibility and maturity of Drupal provides numerous well-tested and powerful capabilities. And the open source nature provides the ability to extend and verify as needed.
Fast can mean a couple of things in this context. For speed of deployment, the installation of a Drupal website only takes a few steps for a standard installation or distribution. For speed in browser response time, Drupal is good for most situations. For large deployments response time can be improved through technical enhancements like caching.
Being free and open source obviously has a big cost advantage. The only costs will be (1) hosting the software (which can be done on your own local server, shared hosting, in the cloud or something similar) and (2) the time cost of maintaining the website and learning software proficiency. The goal of this project is to make the learning curve as short as possible.
Usually the trade-off for a product or task is Good - Fast - Cheap ... Pick Two. But the appropriate use of Drupal as an Research Platform can oftentimes get you close to meeting all three of these criteria. This should be especially true as the resources and documentation for this approach grows with more community involvement and matures over time.
Drupal has already been used in numerous other science related applications. Since Drupal capabilities continue to increase, Drupal has the potential to become even more relevant for future science related applications.
Although a Drupal ELN is not the focus of a recent NSF grant, it does allow us to continue to learn from and make adaptations to this approach and make those findings freely available to other researchers.
Drupal is unique in allowing investigators to create their own types of content or extend existing content types. Changes to existing types or additions of new content types requires only a few easily learned steps.
Because of the unique flexibility of content types, this framework can be used for investigations in social sciences, humanities, archeology, animal sciences, health sciences, and nearly any area of research.
Many other platforms do not offer geolocation of data points. However, Drupal's numerous geolocation modules offer great flexibility in adding appropriate location data and map display utilizing one of several different map types.
The extensive Drupal community and resources for learning and development are outstanding. We plan for this website to be a strong venue as well for support specifically for a Drupal-based Open Source Platform for Research.