Introduction: Acquia Distros & Drupal Installation Profiles
This Tutorial will discuss how to choose between authorized Acquia distributions of Drupal 7 & 8 compared to available Installation Profiles and the core Drupal platform release packages. Use a manual script install instead of Softaculous or Fantastico.
Drupal core is available in platform versions 7 & 8, where both will be maintained by Acquia until an “end of life” date in November 2021. Drupal 9 will be released in 2020.
Web developers can choose from authorized Acquia distributions or Installation Profiles to start building Drupal modules with an extra set of modules & themes.
Step One: Review Benefits/Disadvantages of Platform Choice
On a technical level, new site builders are recommended to choose Drupal 8 to begin, as there is no new code development for the Drupal 7 platform. Unfortunately, many Drupal 7 modules were not upgraded to Drupal 8 & were abandoned by programmers.
Drupal 8 has a different theme structure than Drupal 7 and the two platforms are not compatible. Some themes have two versions that can be used to upgrade websites.
Because of module & theme compatibility issues, some Drupal 7 websites cannot be effectively upgraded to Drupal 8 without losing functionality & requiring a code rewrite.
Choose Drupal 8 despite the more limited total choice of modules as this is where the latest development for the platform is concentrated with the most advanced new features. Drupal 8 also has numerous usability, performance, & functionality upgrades.
Also, select a good Drupal web hosting service (i.e., a host that supports Drupal).
Step Two: Acquia Drupal 7 & 8 Platform Distributions
When choosing a new Drupal website installation, most developers start with the “core” code package that is distributed on drupal.org & then add modules/themes to build a custom website according to the needs of a particular client project or business use.
Manual installation of the Drupal core files can be accomplished by using FTP, Drush, or Composer. When using manual installation, a distribution or installation profile can speed up the development process by including a wider range of modules & themes.
Below the Acquia certified distributions are listed. Acquia is the development company that guides the Drupal project and is owned by the founder of the open source project.
Drupal 8 (Installation Files):
This is the “core” distribution of Drupal 8 with the default modules & themes that are included with the package. All of the installation profiles are based on this distribution.
Lightning (Installation Files):
Lightning is an Acquia distribution designed to feature the "best of Drupal" & speed-up web development. Lightning is considered as an enterprise-grade release of Drupal 8.
Thunder (Installation Files):
Thunder is a Drupal 8 distribution intended for use by professional media publishers like magazines, TV, & newspapers. The distro includes modules from industry partners.
Note: Although it is recommended to begin with one of the Drupal 8 distros listed above, Acquia also maintains these Drupal 7 distros for specific use-case scenarios:
- Drupal 7 (Installation Files): The official release, bundled with a variety of modules and themes. Codebase for all other Drupal 7 installation profiles.
- Commerce Kickstart (Installation Files): A distribution with the module files for Drupal Commerce included in the package with the prerequisite files & theme.
- DKAN (Installation Files): DKAN is an Acquia produced Drupal 7 platform for open data exchange intended for use by governments, nonprofits & universities.
- govCMS (Installation Files): The govCMS distribution is built according to the official specifications required for the building of Australian government websites.
- Open Atrium (Installation Files): Open Atrium is a pre-designed intranet script based on D7 with group/team collaboration utilities that is popular in enterprise.
- Web Experience Toolkit (Installation Files): The WxT distro is for compliance with web standards for accessibility under the WET-BOEW jQuery Framework.
Summary: Unless there is a specific use-case requirement, web developers should choose the latest Drupal 8 distribution. Installation profiles can speed up development times. These certified Acquia Drupal distributions are the most secure & professional.
Step Three: Recommendations for Different Types of Website
Distributions allow web developers to choose a codebase that includes third-party modules other than those found in Drupal core. Installation profiles can be found with pre-configured module & theme settings that save download times & illustrate content.
Some of the main use case scenarios for installation profiles are: ecommerce, big data, API-first, headless/decoupled, theme-specific, Panels-specific, media, video, social networking, microblogging, experimental, official, content management, CRM, etc.
If your project includes any of these common niche-level use-case scenarios, search the installation profiles at the project distributions page on drupal.org for distros.
Step Four: Most Popular Drupal Installation Profiles
The most popular Drupal installation profiles are Commerce Kickstart, Panopoly, & Lightning. Open Atrium & Drupal Commons are popular for intranets, while Opigno. Open Academy, & Express provide Learning Management System frameworks.
Other Drupal 8 installation profiles include:
Varbase (Installation Files):
Varbase is an optimized Drupal 8 distribution with an estimated 200 hours of time-saving pre-configurations for web developers like site builder & page editor.
BigVideo (Installation Files):
BigVideo has a custom theme & module combination for creating a home page or content types with embedded HTML5 Video that plays on page load for visitors.
Open Social (Installation Files):
OpenSocial speeds up the development of a complete social network that can be rebranded to any business or organization requirements with chat, user profiles, etc.
Although Drupal installation profiles do not offer a complete web development solution for site builders, the inclusion of custom module & theme packages can be efficient.
Conclusion: Save Development Time & Speed-up Installs
With “one-click” Drupal installations using Softaculous & Fantastico, the latest core version of Drupal 7 or 8 is deployed. Installation profiles and distributions form an alternative to the core Drupal package and can be used to speed-up web development.
It is recommended to use Drupal 8 for all new websites. Check the installation profile & distribution pages on drupal.org for popular projects. The Acquia certified releases like Thunder & Lightning are the most advanced current distribution choices for Drupal 8.