One of our goals at Forum One is to help our clients achieve a higher level of collaboration. The effective exchange of knowledge is one of the hurdles separating a good organization (or open-source project) from a great one.
One thing becomes clear if you use Drupal for a while... the built-in search is poor. This isn't unexpected, as search is a a hard problem to solve. And the best way to get around hard problems is to find someone who has done it well and use their work.
As a Web Developer here at Forum One, I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of modules in the Drupal Community. Some modules I've used are great and make working with Drupal a dream, others... not so much. I'd like to use this blog entry to focus on the must have modules I use on nearly all my Drupal projects. First off, you should know that I almost always start with Acquia's packaged distribution of Drupal called Acquia Drupal.
Panels is one of those Drupal modules that engenders a range of feelings around here. Some people love it -- interface configurable layout! -- and some hate it -- difficult to manage .5em gutters. But it, and Chaos Tools which it is based on, provide a great deal of useful functionality. The problem is there is very little documentation on how to extend it beyond what's distributed in code. The basics of extending Panels/CTools is pretty easy, you just implement the hook_ctools_plugin_directory to tell it where to look for your files, e.g.