Making a Roar With Drupal Thunder

Thunder, a web-based open-source Content Management System (CMS), has changed the face of publishers’ CMS.

Content has always been the king for media and publishing. With businesses going digital, organzations are striving had to stay ahead in the race. However managing the humungous amount of content is still a challenge. A great content management technology is the key to make the difference.

Drupal 8 distribution, Thunder, has become the pillar of professional publishing.

Thunder community chose Drupal as their preferred content management platform. This had a significant improvement in content publishing and branding of digital firms.

The media and publishing industry has already tasted success by incorporating it into their business model.

Thunder CMS

Content is one of the driving force for Media & Publishing, here’s how Thunder — a Drupal Distribution — helps.

Hubert Burda Media launched it as an open source software in 2016. It includes functionalities of Drupal 8, custom modules for publishers and can be easily deployed in a digital business.

In an interview, Ingo Rübe, Burda’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), said that it was developed as a common CMS platform based on Drupal which can be used by most of the German media outlets within Burda.

Owing to its success, Burda realized enormous potential in it to become a buttress for digital publishers around the world. This paved the way for the public accessibility of Thunder for the media and publishing industries.

Ingo Rübe also said that Thunder exists only because of Drupal. Moreover, he iterated that it was designed keeping both the small and large scale websites in mind. Industry partners can integrate their freemium models with Thunder. Hence, not only large publishers, even the small publishers can mitigate their development costs.

Thunder has definitely left an imprint on the publishers’ minds as a great tool for digital publishing. How was Drupal chosen as the content management platform by the Thunder community?

Thunder Coalition

As Thunder was made open-source, industrial partners, media entrepreneurs and developers around the globe formed Thunder Coalition.

This helped the Coalition Members to use the existing modules, make changes in them, and share it among themselves. This also helped them to discuss its future roadmap and acted as a one-stop destination that brought publishers together.

Drupal, being an open-source content management framework, was a natural choice for Burda. Developers in Burda had a superlative experience with Drupal in the past.

Moreover, Drupal is efficacious with its features like user management, system administration, page layout customization and menu management among others. Also, Drupal has only got better ever since Drupal 8 released.

All these factors led them to stay close to the Drupal Community and reap the benefits.

Benefits of Thunder as a Drupal Distribution

Open Source Technology

Being a free and open-source technology, it is cost-effective, knocks down developmental efforts and isn’t time-consuming. Moreover, being a part of the Drupal Community is an added bonus with hundreds and thousands of developers contributing towards its improvement.


It is regularly updated due to its dedicated dev team which ensures code security and timely improvements in the features. It also has the provision of Thunder update instructions that lets you track the update progress and displays what is being updated in the process.

Paragraphs module

It’s all about your story” reads a line on Thunder’s official site. It assists content editors to produce exhilarating articles and edit and reorganize them using images, videos, or social media snippets.

It executes complex layouts by adding predefined content slices to a content item. You can structure an article into its sub-elements and edit them. So, instead of adding everything from the text content to the videos in the WYSIWYG body field, you can choose which of the Paragraph types you want.

It includes pre-defined paragraphs like Instagram, Twitter, and Pull Quotes.

Embedding Media

Media Entity module and Entity Browser module help you embellish your articles. You can just drag and drop pictures, galleries, and videos in your articles.


It has a mobile responsive preview feature that lets you assess if your content looks good on mobile devices like a smartphone or a tablet.


It improves Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your website. SEO title field helps in the automatic generation of URLs by putting major keywords in the beginning. It also offers meta tags for Facebook, Twitter, and Open Graph.

Facebook Instant Articles

It lets you create interactive articles on Facebook. The articles load instantly on News Feed and are faster than standard mobile web articles.


It permits third-party integrations like Riddle Interactive Content and video player.

Riddle Interactive Content provides you survey tools, quizzes, lists and their evaluation to analyze the time spent by users on your website. This helps in driving traffic, enhance social sharing, and promote user engagement. video player lets you stream videos and provides video on demand across different platforms. With flexible, high-performance player, it supports technical standards for efficiently distributing videos.


It lets you schedule date and time at which an article has to be published on your website. Also, it allows you to make your content invisible on the site.

Content Authoring

The Thunder Admin Theme, which was built on the survey taken from content editors, has improved content authoring by leaps and bounds.


Thunder comes with preset roles and permissions like ‘Editor’, ‘Admin’ or ‘SEO’ which let you start working on these roles right away.

Case studies

DrupalCamp London 2018 had a discussion on incorporating Drupal distribution, Thunder, in their Drupal projects. How has media and publishing industries used it to a great effect? Let’s find out.

Pannon RTV, television and radio media, had an easy development process using Thunder distribution. Their old Wordpress had an outdated design. Implementation of Drupal and Thunder improved their UI and UX significantly and they were able to provide a great digital media experience to their Hungarian users.

Mein-schoener-garten, largest gardening magazine in Europe, was built using Thunder. This magazine provides best ways and tips on gardening. It gave its site a modern look and user-friendly application across devices. It also improved content interlinking.

American Heritage, one of the oldest and leading publications in the United States, needed a scalable system. Their new site built using Thunder enhanced user experience and had much better performance and browsing speed. Also, the addition of popups for generating subscription sign-ups was really helpful.

ISPO, which deals with news from sports and sporting goods industries, relaunched their website by incorporating Thunder. This streamlined the work of content editors as they were able to quickly build landing pages and manage the content of the pages.

Thunder and lightning

Drupal distributions, Thunder and Lightning, are astronomical for the publishers and the content authors alike. How similar or different are these distributions?

While Thunder was developed for professional publishers, Acquia’s Lightning distribution provides great content editing experience for the content authors.

Key difference is that Thunder has come up with more publisher-centric custom modules to the Drupal 8 core.

Contrary to this, Lightning utilizes Drupal 8’s Layout, Preview, Workflow, and Media for better content authoring. It provides a framework that speeds up the process of building and authoring content. It comes up with predefined functionalities that help developers downscale the amount of time and efforts in selecting modules.


When two influential people are hobnobbing together, they do come out with some great innovation. Thunder, the web-based content management system based on Drupal 8, has worked wonders for digital publishers.

Thunder, as a Drupal distribution, offers a plethora of benefits. The media and publishing industry has seen massive improvement in their Drupal site with its incorporation.

While Thunder is made by publishers for the publishers, Lightning is great for content editors.

The ball has been set rolling by digital media around the globe for having great digital business experience. Contact us at to know more about Thunder for your business needs.

Originally published at OpenSense Labs