Drupal Goes Mobile With Drupad

The world of content management systems has come a long way in the last couple years. As the online world steadily becomes more mobile, these systems have sported some fantastic apps that make the management process as seamless on the go as it is at the desk.

While those worlds of WordPress, Squarespace and other popular content management systems go mobile, there’s one ecosystem that’s been left out of the party: Drupal. Thankfully, the talented fellows at Breek.fr decided enough was enough and created the gem we’ve all been waiting for. Introducing Drupad: bringing Drupal on the Go.

Getting Started

It’s unsurprising that Drupal has been left out for so long. After all, it stands to reason that one of the most extendable, customizable content management systems around would need quite an impressive app to take care of the eclectic range of websites Drupal can accommodate. With the likes of Drupal’s infinitely useful CCK (Drupal 6) and Fields API (Drupal 7) modules, it permits a level of customization many systems would give their left plugin for.

Adding and managing sites with Drupad.

Adding and managing sites with Drupad.

With the latest updates for Drupad, prayers have been answered: both Drupal admins and users alike can now take advantage of a mobile experience that adapts to the structure of their website.

It’s easy enough to get going, too. Install the module on your site (instructions here) then install the app on your iPhone. Enter your site name, username and password, and you’re away.

Design

As you can see, the app packs Drupal’s main functions into a concise list, giving you easy access to administrative and creation tools. It’s worth mentioning that the Drupal module allows you to specify what site features users can and cannot access with the app.

Managing and Editing content with Drupad.

Managing and Editing content with Drupad.

Adding and editing content is easy; text boxes use the iPhone keyboard, Image fields display any attached images (or a space to put some there) and lists use the iPhone’s select wheel.

It has to be said, the app feels like it could do with one last coat of polish. Some fields appear much larger than I’d like them to (causing long scrollbars if you’re unlucky enough to have, for example, several Input Types) and field Help text feels like it could do with some breathing room. Beyond that though, everything feels pretty slick and in keeping with Apple’s app guidelines.

Functonality

Breek may be a small development team but has managed to bring all the functionality you would expect from an app like this. From publishing to unpublishing content to editing nodes of raw PHP, I feel like the app gives me the same level of functionality that my administrative theme does on the web. I was ecstatic to see the list of collapsible fields on the content edit screen, offering up all the same functionality I would reach for when editing content in Safari on my MacBook Pro.

Editing content with Drupad.

Editing content with Drupad.

That said, Drupad doesn’t allow for site building. You can’t create new views, fields, themes or any other developer-style things. Think of Drupad as a maintenance and content creation tool rather than a site building tool.

It’s also worth remembering that neither Drupad nor Apple allow for file downloads from Drupal.org or uploads to your Drupal website, so if you need to install new modules or edit your theme’s template files, you’re still going to need your desktop computer to get that done.

Performance

Drupad is fast. Since most of the content you’ll be dealing with will likely be text-based, content is ready for viewing and editing quickly, and the content is optimized for the iPhone’s screen. I find approving and removing comments to be faster with Drupad than using the websites themselves, status updates are quick and easy to navigate and cronjobs are one tap away.

Moderating site content with Drupad.

Moderating site content with Drupad.

There’s no way to filter content or comments, which can be a problem if you have a fast moving site with multiple Content Types. I would like to see some filter options so that I don’t feel lost in a sea of content. My installation doesn’t display content in any order either, and claims my content is older than I am at a whopping 508 months old. This is a glaring error though, that I’m sure will be fixed in a future update.

Pricing

Drupad is $4.99, making it more expensive than the freebie apps competing systems boast. The price could be a problem for developers who create sites for money-conscious clients who want to take advantage of the Drupal/iPhone experience, but understandable since it’s a 3rd party app.

I’d love to see the price come down just a little, for the sake of those clients, but since Breek are doing such a fantastic job of bringing Drupal to iPhone users, one Abe Lincoln is a small price to pay for the rich mobile experience Drupad brings.

Conclusion

If you’re a Drupal developer, or a site owner with a site that runs on the Drupal platform, I would heartily recommend this app.

Though it would be nice to see some site building tools available, Drupad stands tall as one of the most feature rich and flexible Drupal apps money can buy for the iPhone right now. Add it to your Drupal sites; your clients will thank you for it.


Summary

Drupad is a feature-rich, flexible Drupal app that brings the power of Drupal to your fingertips.

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