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25 Useful Terms to Know for Drupal & CMS Beginners

Updated on October 7, 2015

The idea of managing and updating your own website can be quite daunting, especially to those who are fairly new to the concept of a content management systems. This article aims to provide explanations to the terminology commonly used in reference to CMSs and Drupal in particular. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but can be used as a good starting point for anyone wanting to start using content management systems.


1. Add-ons

Also known as extensions or plugins. An add-on is a small program that can be ‘added on’ or ‘plugged in’ to a larger program or system to extend its functionality or to provide extra features.

2. API

API stands for Application Programming Interface. This is a protocol that software programs can use to communicate with each other. By using an API a developer can create additional products and functionality and add extra features to an existing program. Many software companies and providers will release their APIs to the public.


This is a web-scripting interface that can be used to create dynamic webpages, applications and services. The framework was developed by Microsoft and is a follow on from the original ASP, which stood for Active Server Pages.

4. Beta Version

The beta version of a website is essentially one that is not completely finished and is still undergoing testing. Beta testing is where a website is checked and tested for bugs and any problems in functionality. The early beta versions are usually only made available to the people involved with its creation but later beta versions may be made available to users of the website to try it out.

5. Blocks

A ‘block’ is a term that is used in the Drupal CMS. Blocks are the visible sections of a Drupal webpage, they often make up the left and right columns of the website layout.


This term is a reference to Hansel & Gretel. Breadcrumbs are the set of links that are shown on a webpage to denote what pages you visited to get to the current page. Breadcrumbs will help you to get back out of the website ‘forest’ to the homepage or a previously visited page.

7. CMS

A CMS is a Content Management System. It is a program or selection of tools that you can use to upload, manage and modify the content of your website. A Client Side CMS is an application that runs on your computer, rather than from a server. You can edit pages and content on your computer and it is then uploaded to the server.

8. Code

Code is the term used to describe written computer instructions, or languages, programmers and developers use to build software.


Generally content refers to the information that is on your website, i.e. the text or the images you have uploaded. In Drupal terms ‘content’ may also refer to ‘nodes’, comments and file attachments.

10. Contrib.

This is a Drupal term used to describe additional modules or themes that are generally user or community contributed. These extra features are not included in the main Drupal download.

11. Core

Where contrib. refers to the files that are not part of the Drupal download, core is the files and modules that are part of the main Drupal download.

12. CRM

CRM stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. In business it is a strategy used to understand and retain existing customers and to attract new customers. In technology it is the software or plugins websites can use to manage customer details and accounts.


13. Development/’Dev’

Development is where websites or applications are tested before they are made available to the public. Website development is usually done in a development environment often on a private LAN.


Where HTML is the language that is used to create webpages and websites, DHTML is ‘dynamic HTML’ and can be used to create dynamic menus or web-content that changes every time it is viewed.

15. Front-End

The front-end of a website is the interface for users that are able to make some changes to the website’s content, often this may be uploading news stories or articles or editing existing content. Users with access to the front-end will not have access to back-end administration of the website.

16. Metadata

This term is often referred to as ‘data about data’, it is the information about a page or file, such as the time and date of creation, the author or the size. With a web page the metadata is stored in the source code.

17. MySQL

MySQL is an open-source database management system. It is often used in web applications and provides multi-user access to a number of databases.

18. Node

A node, in Drupal, is a specific type of content. A node could be a poll, a story or an image. A node will have a title and could have additional fields.

19. Open-Source

Software and applications that are open-source are often free to download. Open source programs will usually have made their source code available to the public so that it can be modified or built upon.

20. PHP

PHP is a scripting interface that can be used in the creation of dynamic webpage. It is open-source and is often seen as an alternative to Microsoft’s ASP.NET.

21. Region

The regions in a Drupal webpage are the areas where the content of your website can be placed. Content is put in regions using blocks. Examples of regions on websites are the header, the footer and sidebars.

22. Taxonomy

In general terms taxonomy is the science of classification based on a predetermined system. With websites taxonomy is how content and data is organised and categorised.

23. Template

Also known as a ‘theme’, a ‘skin’ or a ‘layout’. Many CMSs define the layout of a webpage a pre-built framework or a template. The template determines where and how the content of a page is displayed.

24. UX

UX stands for ‘User Experience’ and refers to how the people visiting your website feel about their experience. You should aim for visitors to have a positive user experience.


This term stands for ‘What You See Is What You Get’ and is used in the term ‘WYSIWYG editor’. This refers to a content editor that displays what the final outcome will look like as you edit and make changes.

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