I’d like to get people’s thoughts on Drupal vs. WordPress — how many people out there have experience with both? I’m a very happy WordPress user who has been messing with Drupal lately — not as a replacement, per se, but just because it does some stuff WP can’t. I mean, it’s apples and oranges, to some extent. WP doesn’t pretend to many of Drupal’s features. WP is really more focussed on blogging, while Drupal tries to be all things to all people.
I must say I had high hopes that Drupal could be another tool in my arsenal, but the more I mess with it, the more disenchanted I become. Here’s why:
1) Drupal.org — Despite a recent re-design that greatly improved the style/look of the site, I find the site too slow — 2-8 second page downloads on DSL — and not very usable, particularly the forum. Search engine is terrible (just as bad as WP’s). Documentation is weak. I mean, there’s lots of it, but somehow it’s organized in such a way that I can never find anything. I fear that the slowness of Drupal.org is a bad omen re: the performance of the Drupal CMS, and the confusing documentation is a bad omen re: the way the software is put together.
2) Blocks — One of the basic premises (hopes) of Drupal’s developers seems to be enabling custom site design, with gobs of community features, for people who don’t want to mess with PHP or HTML. Hence, their system of Blocks that the admin/designer can “float” up and down on the right and left side. But for my part, I find myself desperately wanting to explicitly insert, by name, a specific block in a specific part of the code, and not rely on the float system, which I fear will some day force me to do things in a design project that I don’t want to do.
3) Learning curve — In the process of trying to make something that does everything easily, without exposing the admin/designer to HTML/PHP tasks, the developers have unfortunately created something that requires the admin/designer to learn a whole new vocabulary and concepts that are really quite foreign. If Drupal becomes a dominant force, it will be because enough people found it worthwhile to learn the new concepts/vocab, I guess. It kind of reminds me of how MT made us learn a new language — supposedly in the interests of simplicity. WP, meanwhile, if you want to get the most out of it, requires knowledge of PHP, but that’s something many of its most demanding users already know, and it’s a transferable skill — unlike mastery of Drupal’s concepts and vocab, or MT’s template tags.
Of course, with WP, you don’t have to learn PHP or HTML if you don’t want to, but if you do know both then WP really becomes a simple, usable core that can be hacked up, extended and reconfigured (not officially recommended, I guess) and made to do pretty much anything that I’ve needed it to, so far.
On the plus side, things that appeal to me about Drupal:
1) Ability to define roles and then assign users to those roles — this is much better than WP’s 1-10 system, which makes a lot of assumptions about how permissions ought to be grouped.
2) The boundlessness of its capabilities. That is, there are modules for anything imaginable.
I’d be eager to hear any defenses of Drupal, or informed slanders, from folks who also have experience with WP. Onward.
ps — OK, in fairness to the software I just partially slandered, I should say that in the last few minutes I’ve learned that there is indeed an issue with the server on which drupal.org resides. That accounts for the slowness. And the documentation is better than I thought, but I was looking in the wrong place. Most of it is built into the software itself. Anyhow, still interested in reading tales about drupal vs. wp.
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