Drupal Page Builders—Part 4: Distributions

With the appearance of the robust distributions below, it’s now easier than ever to get started without having a developer to piece together modules. Many of these solutions are appropriate for non-technical people, such as marketing personnel, to lay out pages.

Be aware that solutions that make it easier for less technical people to use them often present a particular trade-off: when a need arises that the solution did not anticipate, the effort involved to accommodate the need can be onerous or cause other problems. Always identify the most complex page construction you expect on a build and perform a proof-of-concept that ensures the solution can execute it. It’s common to hear that a team had to abandon a solution when it was unable to accomplish the most complex tasks in the build.

Although distributions are a great way to start a Drupal build quickly, be cautious when choosing a distribution or going with a distribution at all. Because it takes an enormous amount of work by the creators of the distribution to maintain it, upgrades between major Drupal versions may take longer than you want. In other words, your ability to upgrade is tied to the pace of the distribution maintainers. 

Moreover, the Distribution mechanism doesn’t have an easy way to update configuration settings between versions. Thus, don’t expect upgrading your site using a distribution to be simple or fast. For that reason, many teams avoid distributions and instead run Drupal with as few modules as they can. 

There are over a hundred actively supported distributions with a stable release to choose from; the list below focuses on those that specialize in page layout and is only a representative sample of the many distributions available.


1xINTERNET provides a Paragraphs-based distribution integrated with their Quartz design system (which is, in turn, based on Storybook). What sets this distribution apart from others is the large set of components built with the WC3 standard for web components (styled by Tailwind CSS).

1xINTERNET provides a free demo of their capable distribution by filling in a request form.


The EzContent distribution includes improvements to the editing experience by configuring Paragraphs and Layout Builder. It also includes a rich component library that can be used in a monolithic or decoupled site build. EzContent includes APIs to support various front-ends, from Gatsby to React to Angular.  

See a video introduction here.



Mediacurrent has released the Ignite distribution, which provides pre-built components and templates plus an improved editing experience.

Watch an introduction to the distribution at DrupalCon Pittsburgh here.


Next Drupal

Next-Drupal is a powerful combination of back-end technologies, Drupal and Next.js, working together to build the page. Next.js uses elements of React and builds upon it to provide server-side rendering (SSR), static site generation (SSG), routing and several ways to fetch data. If you want to build a hybrid or decoupled site, definitely investigate Next-Drupal, a project maintained by Chapter Three

A demo is available.


NodeHive is a relatively new headless CMS with a modest license fee. The license fee might be worth it to gain the setup done for you, especially since it specializes in running multiple front-ends using Drupal as the data store. It uses Paragraphs for content layout and includes a preview feature.

Watch this demo to see it in action.



Sector is a fully configured distribution and theme (using Tailwind CSS) that includes extra optional features such as a blog, a portfolio, content auditing, a table of contents, a jobs board, and more.

Out of the box, Display Suite provides page layout for Sector, but it’s also possible to use Paragraphs or Layout Builder (or both). Display Suite was popular in Drupal 7 installations because it provides a drag-and-drop interface to lay out pages (though not a WYSIWYG interface). It also provides built-in layout templates, the ability to make custom layout templates, and tight integration with View Modes.

The Sector homepage is here, a demo is available here, and an introduction to Display Suite is here.



The Thunder distribution specializes in professional publishing websites based on Paragraphs. It has over 600 deployments and a strong community supporting it; a demo is available on the site supporting the distribution.


The Varbase distribution contains over 100 features (such as their responsive theme preview feature, inline editing, built-in dashboard, and much more) neatly packaged in a ready-to-go, Bootstrap 5-based installation. The theme packaged with the distribution, Vartheme BS5, is one of the first to use the new Single Directory Components mechanism introduced in Drupal 10. A components library is provided through the popular UI Patterns module. Note that the Vartheme BS5 theme can also be used without using the Varbase distribution.

Visual Layout Suite

The makers of Visual Layout Suite aimed to create a ready-to-go system, and they succeeded: Visual Layout Suite provides a better mechanism for laying out pages than Layout Builder and includes a suite of components that need just a bit of designer love to work on your site.

Visual Layout Suite is ready to use with Bootstrap 5 and can be modified to work with other theme frameworks, such as Zurb’s Foundation, with little effort.

The suite includes many modules, so be sure to enable the VLSuite Shuttle module; it will enable everything you need.


There are many ways to lay out a page in Drupal and many things to consider before choosing a path. Should you choose the very popular Paragraphs? Or instead, choose the increasingly powerful Layout Builder ecosystem, in which the energy of the Drupal community seems to be concentrated? Is it worth making W3C-standard web components or sticking with Bootstrap components? Should you hitch your wagon to a distribution or handle setting up a lean Drupal website on your own precisely to your specifications?

Whichever path you choose, there is no reason to wait for the updated Layout Builder initiative to release its results—you can get all the features you need today.

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