I’ve been working a lot with Drupal lately, and it’s becoming harder to see why I would ever want to go back to Joomla. If Joomla is a box of Lincoln Logs, Drupal is a 1/10 scale model of Los Angeles made out of toothpicks. They’re both made of wood, but there’s just a hell of a lot more to Drupal.
I’m not a programmer. In a Joomla site, if I run into something that Joomla just doesn’t do, I have to hope there’s a plugin or extension that does it. If there isn’t… well, it’s a problem. Joomla is sort of a closed package, and it really doesn’t want to be opened up.
Drupal isn’t really a package at all – it’s more like a set of tools laid out in front of you. If you can build your site with those tools, great. If not, there’s probably a module that will handle exactly what you want. The Drupal community is very programmer-heavy, and there are well-supported and frequently updated modules to do pretty much anything you’d like. And if I were a developer with a decent knowledge of PHP, Drupal is incredibly easy to modify on the fly.
The only downside to Drupal is that it isn’t very friendly to a… casual web user. There are lots of buttons, lots of screens, lots of folders, and all sorts of scary-sounding terms and warnings. A lot of this can be stripped out for an end-user who isn’t quite so savvy, but Drupal simply isn’t the point-and-click solution that Joomla seems to promote itself as. So there is a learning curve, and potentially a lot more hand-holding for us after a client gets the keys to their site. I’ve been using Drupal 6, but Drupal 7 seems to improve on their user-friendliness quite a bit. We’ve got a couple of projects in the pipeline using Drupal right now (one 6, one 7), so I’ll be curious to see what kind of support this CMS necessitates.
In the mean time, I’m going to be brushing up on my PHP knowledge. I think in the hands of a truly well-rounded developer/designer, Drupal could power pretty much any website imagineable. Joomla… better stick to brochure sites.