Open Social Drupal 8 Distribution — Building Social Communities with Drupal 8

Ayush Jain
Dec 30, 2017 · 5 min read


Welcome to the third post in the series of Drupal 8 and Distributions. In the first post we discussed about what Drupal Distributions are and what are some of the prominent distributions available in Drupal 8. In the second post, we explored Lightning Drupal 8 distribution by Acquia. We discussed about how Lightning can be leveraged to create amazing publishing experiences and how it proves to be an ideal distribution to get started with Drupal 8 development.

In this post we are going to talk about Open Social Drupal 8 distribution by Goal Gorilla and how it significantly reduces development time while building social communities and intranets.

About Open Social

Open Social is a distribution built in Drupal 8 to create social communities and intranets. It comes with an array of features and functionalities useful in building any social framework. In the Drupal community, Open Social is positioned as a successor of Drupal Commons. Drupal Commons is a Drupal 7 distribution that is an out of the box community collaboration website.

Since Open Social is built in Drupal 8, it wraps in itself an array of possibilities leveraging the features of Drupal 8. It is interesting to see that the distributions built in Drupal 8 in general are much more light weight as compared to the distributions built in Drupal 7. Hence, if we compare Open Social with Drupal Commons, the latter is relatively a heavier distribution and ships with many modules that the user may not really need while building the website. Open Social on other hand is a platform that is generic yet useful.

With the advent of Drupal 8, Drupal is evolving into a product and Open Social is an apt use case of the same.

Out of the Box Features in Open Social

  • Signup — Open signup or Closed Signup are easily configurable
  • Profile Setup — You can add your full name, image, interests and biography along with location, address etc.
  • User Roles — There are four user roles available, namely, Authenticated User, Administrator, Content Manager and Site Manager. This is the perfect recipe to build a community in which you require a team to manage the content and other sections of the community platform.

User Groups

  • Group module of Drupal 8 — This module has extensively been used. Conceptually it is a replacement of Organic Groups module available in Drupal 7.
  • Ability to create an Open Group for discussions, add members, create events and topics.

Content Types and Structure

  • Two content types — Events and topics. Taxonomy has been used to create different topics. This architecture makes Open Social light weight to install and use.
  • Blogs, News etc. are all same content type as topic but have different taxonomy.

Stream (or Timeline) and Commenting

  • Users can create posts on the timeline (or stream) which is then visible to all other users. Currently just text can be posted on the stream. We can expect the ability to add media as a post on Stream in future.
  • All the recent activities by the user such as creating an event, enrolling in an event, joining a group etc. are showcased in Stream.
  • Commenting is available on events, posts and user groups too.

Media Management

  • Ability to add images wherever needed such as profile and events.
  • File System, Images Styles and all other media configurations needed to add, resize and adjust images in built.

Notifications and Search

  • Extensive notification center has been built by messaging feature.
  • Ability to search for Content, Users and Events.

Events Management

  • Ability to Create, Publish, Un-publish events. Groups specific events can also be created.
  • Users can enroll for events and be notified about it.

Responsive and Multilingual Support

Main Contributed Modules Used

Many contributed modules have been used to build Open Social, some of the prominent Drupal 8 modules used are as follows

  • Group
  • Address
  • Bootstrap
  • Messages
  • Composer used heavily and is needed for installation and updating the platform

Future Product Roadmap

Open Social is constantly evolving and following are some of the features which are there in the product roadmap and can be expected in future.

  • Closed and Secret Group. Currently only Open Group is supported
  • Aggregating the notifications to enhance the user experience
  • Mention — To be able to tag or mention a user with @ LDAP Integration
  • Progressive Web App — For push notifications, offline usage capability


Open Social has the right blend of features needed to build a social community and is surprisingly quite light weight to use. There are many features which the users may require while building a social community but shipping the distribution with all of them is probably not the right approach. Hence, Open Social proves to be an apt platform to get started with building your community or intranet and add more features as and when needed.

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Ayush Jain

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Product Management. Business Analysis. Find the Table of Contents for my writings at