Drupal is an open source modular system, there are lots of modules out there but they are not all as good as they might seem. Over the years we have researched and tested hundreds of modules for different tasks, here are some of our favourites for Drupal 7.
1. Backup and Migrate
This is probably one you already know about, but if you didn't then go and get it! The ability to snapshot the state of the database and store it, encrypt it or set it up on another server is really unmissable. Combined with using Git it makes for a really great combination of backing up files and data. It also has a very good scheduling system with secure and intelligent storage of archive files.
2. Unused modules
One thing that can really slow your Drupal site down is having a load of modules, so having a load of modules in the installation that you are not using is just a waste of resources. This module lets you weed these out and keep things lean.
3. Image cache actions
The imagecache module is a must have, but we also get a lot of use out of the imagecache actions module. With this you can add rounded corners, watermarks, expand the canvas using a background colour you choose and even blur an image.
4. Stage file proxy
Our development process starts on a local server in the office, we then transfer to a staging version running on a password protected site - and then finally a live version. Generally speaking, data and files are complete on the live server but not necessarily on the dev versions. This module lets you add a line to the settings.php file which then grabs the files from the live site - so your images are always up-to-date. Very handy.
A Drupal implementation of Project Honeypot, I discussed this in my previous post - 5 ways to make your Drupal website faster. It's not the most well known of modules.
6. Module Filter
This doesn't make your site work any better, but it does make managing modules a lot easier. Not to be missed. Filter your modules by keyword, status or category. Without this module it's easy to get overwhelmed by a long list of modules.
We first started working with Rules with Drupal Commerce which now uses it a lot. It's a very complicated system, but it's worth getting your head around it because of the power it gives you. Integrates with Features and Views for even more awesomeness.
8. Content access
We are very often asked to set up content with very fine grained access permissions. Drupal can set up a series of different roles and with access permissions you can grant access per page or per content type or by content category - or even a complex combination of them all. Also individual permission levels for viewing and editing. This can be combined with the Revisioning module to create a very advanced publishing workflow.
With all of the different roles and permissions, the Masquerade module is a must have. Once it's installed it lets you very easily masquerade as any user in the system - so you can be absolutely sure that an e-commerce admin really can't see the order because of their level of permissions.
I think we have used this module on every site we have ever built. It's a very good, very solid module that lets you make simple contact forms, but it also does a lot more, we've integrated it into questionnaires and quizzes. It's also under constant development with new features coming along as technology advances.
11. Adminimal - admin menu
This one is actually a theme - but it has a module that works with it so it still counts. Adminimal is a really well built admin theme with a nice modern design and also fully responsive. We generally use the Adminimal Admin Menu module too which makes the menu work very well on smaller devices. Handy for site editing on a 7 inch tablet.
12. Turtlereality Module
Last but not least is our Turtlereality custom module. This is a stock empty module which we can use to add site functions, maybe this is only really exciting to programmers - but we like it!
So that's our round up of some handy modules as of February 2016.
Thanks for the helpful list. As a relative newbie to the world of Drupal site building these look really interesting. Are these all avaialble on Drupal 8 yet?
Hi Mark, a lot of modules haven't quite made it over to Drupal 8 yet, Backup & Migrate is a good example of this, it looks like they have hit difficulties - https://www.drupal.org/node/2607038. Currently, if you try and install the d8 version your site will crash. There is a suggestion for an alternative module https://www.drupal.org/project/backup_db which has some of the functionality of backup and migrate.
I guess that's the state of play for Drupal 8 at the present time, it's just about ready if you can survive without all of the bells and whistles and hunt around for alternative solutions.