Backing Drupal in a big way

Background

Assuming you've already realized that a CMS is the best way to publish your web content, you should be wondering what is already out there (so you can reuse! reuse! reuse!). That's where I was in mid-2006, and my 'due diligence' research relied on the following:

Matt Raible performed extensive evaluation of open source CMSs (parts I, II, and III). Beginning with installation (I), to customisation (II), through to implementation (III) he narrowed the field from 8 contenders (built on Java, Perl, and PHP) and finally went with Drupal.

I was also interested to read why Xaneon Development, a software consulting firm that developed for and contributed towards Mambo/Joomla, opted to switch to Drupal.

Following which, I downloaded and installed Drupal, and was hooked. Most recently, I have decided to invest in developing a service (details coming soon) that is very dependent on the growth and uptake of Drupal.

Why Drupal

To take advantage of our upcoming offerings, Drupal will be a requirement. So here's an updated look at why you should be considering Drupal.

The main players are the winners of Packt's 2007 open source CMS awards:

  • Drupal: Flexible, extensible, and robust content management platform.
  • Joomla: Flexible, simple, customizable content management system.
  • Wordpress: Usability focussed 'personal publishing platform' that is expanding from blogging to full content management.

Before we move on to what others say about the Drupal (v 5.x upwards), Joomla (v 1.x), Wordpress (v 2,x) showdown, here are my observations (I focus on Drupal, if you see factual errors regarding Joomla/Wordpress please let me know):

Installation

A pre-installation requirements for all three applications is a MySql database. Drupal and Joomla use a web based installer to set the database configuration details, whereas Wordpress requires manual editing of their PHP configuration file.

User Management

All three applications support multiple user registration (with email verification), as well as multiple roles and role based levels of access. However, Wordpress restricts the roles to a predefined list, nor does it provide any control over the access levels. For example, Drupal roles are granted access (or not) to view content, add content, edit their own content, edit all content, etc.

Content Management

Wordpress and Joomla provide rich text editors for content editing out of the box. Plugin modules provide a variety of rich text editors (TinyMCE, WymEditor, WidgEditor, FCKEditor, etc) to choose from for Drupal, also these editors integrate with the IMCE plugin module for on-the-fly image uploading, resizing, and scaling.

Drupal also allows for the creation of content 'types'. For example, in addition to adding blog posts, you can add article posts, yourowntype posts, and excercise fine grained control of the display and user access of each. This enables Drupal to offer another out-of-the-box benefit: discussion forums. A single installation of Drupal also supports multiple websites (e.g. http://alibrary.neemtree.com.au and http://neemtree.com.au).

Visuals/Usability

Joomla and Wordpress have a variety of free themes to choose from, as well as burgeoning commercial theme development services. Theme developers are empowered by the ease of making new Joomla templates and Wordpress themes. Drupal has fewer free theme offerings, and like Wordpress (and unlike Joomla) aggregates them on drupal.org. Drupal has proved to be less appealing to commercial theme developers, although there are provide project-based custom services, but fewer stock templates/themes.

Extensibility

Developers are able to extend Drupal, Joomla, and Wordpress by creating modules, extensions, and plugins (respectively). As mentioned in the earlier articles, Drupal's API is popular with module developers. As a result, it currently offers 2521 community contributed modules to Joomla's 2299 extensions and Wordpress's 1204 plugins.

SEO/SMO

Out of the box, Drupal and Wordpress offer search engine friendly features such as content tags, meaningful URLs (vs http://site/?q=23) and all three have RSS publishing.

Those are some of the points of difference, lets see what the rest of the web thinks. We'll start with Drupal vs Wordpress:

And moving on to Drupal vs Joomla:

We're working on creating a service for Drupal providers and consumers, which implicitly relies on Drupal continuing to grow. Our project should plug in to a positive feedback loop, and assist with that growth, but for newcomers and evaluators we hope this article has swayed you the Drupal way.

There is some truth to the general advice that each of these applications fits different needs, but as they evolve (Drupal's improved UI and blogging capabilities, Wordpress' CMS-like plugins) newcomers won't find it any easier to differentiate between them. If you're looking for a full featured web content management tool (or if you want to be prepared to leverage those features in the future), you should be looking to Drupal:

  • Drupal's much-complimented architecture, and why you care:
    • It's stable and allows for better performance
    • It's easy to develop feature extending modules, attracting module contributors (2521 and counting) and shortening development time for your own customisations (less time == lower costs).
  • Its easily skinnable, and unlike Wordpress where theme's are 'plugin enabled', changing your theme doesn't affect functionality.
  • It gives you control over who sees, adds, and edits what content.
  • And, it does the 'basics'
    • user registration, role based priveleges
    • rich text editor, image uploading
    • search engine friendly, and social media marketing addons

Happy Drupalling!

Wondering which Australia sites use Drupal, or how industry analysts have ranked Drupal against other (including proprietary) CMSs? Drop us a line and we'll happily deconstruct 'State of Drupal in Australia' with you :)

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