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Why I prefer Drupal

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Of all the available Content Management Systems, I prefer Drupal. Before I explain why, let’s start with what other CMS’s are designed to do.

Wordpress: It’s for blogs. That’s it.

Seriously, it’s just a blogging platform that is very extensible. Pick your theme, slap a ton of plug-ins on top, and you have a blog. It’s really easy, and there are tens of thousands of sites using it. But, that is where it stops making sense to use it.

Trying to build a general website with it instead of just a blog, can be an operation in frustration. The backend interface, is NOT designed for it. The way Wordpress stores information is also not conducive to doing more than blogging. The database contains posts, and taxonomy terms(tags). Pages are posts. Blog posts are posts. PDF’s are posts. Photos are posts. Those cool new “content types” your $50 theme includes? Those are posts too. There is no differentiation in the database, at all. And this is a big problem, if you want to build something other than a blog.

Joomla!: It’s for websites, but nothing too complicated.

Joomla was an interesting experience for me. I had 3 weeks to learn how Joomla works, and build a theme for a client last year. It was actually somewhat easy to deal with, since themes are mostly just “skins”, and don’t provide extra functionality to the website.

That being said, you can’t do it blind. You have to clone a copy of the website you are re-theming, due to the fact that you also have to restyle all of the plugins your client is using. This can go fairly smoothly, unless there are plugins that only work if you are running the original theme they were packaged with. If this is the case, be prepared for white-screens-of-doom!

Also, Joomla is a great choice if you enjoy paying for every single plugin you need. It’s a capitalist’s paradise.

Drupal: It’s like playing with legos, but has the steepest learning curve of all.

Steep learning curve is an understatement. Imagine yourself speeding along the interstate at 70 MPH and then slamming into a brick wall. Get the picture yet? I got as far as I did, only because someone else had stumbled around in the dark first, and then held my hand through the learning process. I cannot stress enough how valuable that was.

The learning curve, and the time I invested towards understanding Drupal, is one of the primary reasons I’ve stuck with it. You also can’t beat the huge developer community that supports it; or the fact that out of the thousands of contrib modules, 99% of them are completely free.

The other reason? Legos! No really! The best comparison I can make here: Building a website with Drupal, is just like playing with Legos, in the same way that Linux is like Legos. You can build something as simple as a single page parallax scroller, or a full-fledged book store.

With Drupal, you build your backend functionality with modules. Some modules are MAJOR, and you can’t live without them. Others extend the functionality of those major modules, or even link them to others. You then use this custom backend to generate your front-end before you style it. This is what sets it apart from all other CMS’s. You are pretty much building your own CMS. Sort of like building a software program.

So yeah, DRUPAL!

Steven Avrenli's picture
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