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« Cinco de Mayo 2007 (Laguna Beach) | Main | Further Research of CMS Programs Suggests Drupal Better Option »

Comparing Drupal vs Joomla Content Management Systems - Part II

Drupal Open Source Content Management System (CMS)This entry is continued from Part I > Comparing Joomla vs Drupal Content Management Systems - Part I

You can actually TEST various CMS'es at > OpenSourceCMS, log in (as administrator) and take them for a test drive. Every two hours, the site wipes your changes and starts everything over from scratch. Pretty cool. You can also demo Joomla! here.


Joomla! books here and here. Drupal books here. Most popular (best?) Drupal book is this one, which seems marketed specifically to developers. Not sure how applicable it is for ordinary users (if there is such a thing). Best to buy from here, helps support Drupal.

If you need to get a good-looking site up in a hurry, so you can focus on generating *content*, then it seems Joomla is the best choice. There are more than 100 different CMS programs available, tho not are all open source or free. See CMS Matrix for more.

Style & Marketing

Joomla is the phonetic spelling of the Swahili word jumla, meaning "all together." I must admit, they win in the COOL category, over drab (but powerful, flexible) Drupal. And you know how I dig cool. I know it shouldn't matter, but their colorful black logo is almost enough to win me over.

••••• today's entry continues below •••••

Joomla! Open Source Content Management System (CMS)

Most agree Joomla markets better than Drupal. Here's a quote from Nick Lewis:

Drupal chose a word (Community plumbing) that evokes images of ass-cracks, human waste, clogged toilets, bills from the plumber, and plungers.

Funny, yes, but Nick is right when he cautions: "Don’t judge a CMS on its marketing pitch." Poor marketing does not mean poor design or code or software.

Fantastico Installer

My web hosting provider (LunarPages) has a Fantastico script that automatically installs Joomla (with a single click), but not one for Drupal.

Purists frown on the Fantastico installer. I would install it myself. Can't be much more difficult that installing & converting the forums, and doing the same with Movable Type blog (which you're reading now), neither of which proved particularly difficult. (I enjoy a good, technical challenge.)

Joomla 1.5 

Joomla 1.5 (beta-2 released 03.May.2007) is in development. Next release will be Release Candidate 1. But no telling when that will be and the official release doesn't appear to be coming anytime soon. They don't even like you to ask about ETA's. So waiting for the official release of Joomla 1.5 doesn't appear appealing.

Some consider the changes in Joomla 1.5 to be major enough to consider calling it Joomla 2.0. If fact, it's so different, Phil Taylor says 1.0.12-users will find it difficult to upgrade their systems to 1.5. Joomla says the following here:

Joomla 1.5 does not provide an upgrade path from earlier versions. Converting an older site to a Joomla 1.5 site requires creation of a new empty site using Joomla 1.5 and then populating the new site with the content from the old site. This migration of content is not a one-to-one process and involves conversions and modifications to the content dump.(entry made May 2006, so may be superceded since)

The choice of which Content Management System to use is a big one, deserving plenty of research and contemplation, with reflection of your specific needs and technical capabilities.

Personally, I'd rather pony up the time to learn a better application, if there are valid reasons for doing so. Here is where I lean toward Drupal, as its reputation for being powerful, flexible & stable is well-established.

But I also want to jump aboard a system that is growing. And it seems Joomla! is growing faster than Drupal. We already mentioned COOL factor, which Joomla! has. Then there's the support community to consider, which can be a major factor for noobs and those lacking skills. Everyone raves about Joomla's community forums, with more than 100,000 registered members.


Beginner's guide to Joomla! here. IBM chose Drupal for reasons detailed here (lots of in depth info), tho our needs and resources may not mirror those of IBM. Drupal documentation > HERE. From a brief review, it appears well-organized and comprehensive. Joomla documentation > here. Doesn't seem as comprehensive, or as well-organized at what I saw at Drupal's site.

Themes & Site Examples

Many Joomla sites listed at JoomlaPlace. RocketTheme has both free (3) & professional templates ($75/year). All RocketTheme's listed here. You can demo their themes > here, which is the best way to see how they'll look on your site. Links to their sites-of-the-month > here.

Examples of Drupal sites > here. Drupal themes can be found here and here. Official Drupal themes > HERE. Not all are for Drupal 5.x,in fact, most aren't.


Other tidbits of info you might find helpful > Alexa ranks the joomla.org web site #461, and ranks drupal.org slightly lower at #685. Both obviously very busy. You can enter drupal.org in the window below the graph and compare the two directly. Interesting how the two graphs mirror each other.


Lastly, from all I've read, I get the impression (intuitively) that, if you're not a programmer, Joomla 1.5 is the way to go, cuz it will bring the significant architectural improvements Joomla needs. Joomla 1.5 has been "rebuilt from the ground up." Here's a quote:

Joomla! 1.5 beta marks the most significant watershed in Joomla's history. This effort represents a complete refactoring of the Joomla! codebase and leverages a new API that allows developers to deliver more robust and innovative applications than ever before.

If you can wait a few months (like me) .. Joomla 1.5 might be your best bet.

Drupal 6 

Regarding Drupal 6, here's a post with a status update that says Drupal 6 code-freeze is scheduled for 01.June.2007. You might find it interesting (as I did) that the *first* item, topping the list of new features is > "Theme improvements."

On the topic of new releases, for both Drupal & Joomla, one theme you'll hear (especially as it relates to Drupal) is the notion of "not being afraid to continually refine the code at the expense of backward compatibility, so you can keep things smaller." That's kinda ballsy, but I like it. With each release, it's like they're saying, "Screw the past, we're moving on .. into the future." See HERE for more.

Areas of Improvement

So it appears Joomla is addressing its weakness (compared to Drupal) by making architectural improvements, while Drupal is going after (its perceived weakness) by improving its theme'ing system. Is Drupal becoming more like Joomla? and Joomla becoming more like Drupal? You betcha. Either way, both efforts represent good news for us end users.

You can spend your time between now & then getting up to speed on Joomla 1.5. I've learned that if I spend a small amount of time (say, 30 minutes) EACH DAY, I can learn a lot about any one topic in a relatively short period.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Ironically, I began my research with a mindset of establishing why Drupal would be the better option (for me, since I have decent technical skills & since Drupal is known as the more powerful, flexible & stable of the two), yet I ended up with the impression that the best option would be to wait for Joomla 1.5. My reasons follow:

  • Easier to make a Joomla site look pretty. (My design skills suk.)
  • Joomla community reputation for being noob-friendly. (I'm Joomla-noob.)
  • Google Trends show Joomla queries increasing. (More importantly tho, are Alexa stats, which show the two much closer.)
  • Reports of major architectural improvements in v1.5. (Read many comments saying this is needed.)
  • Name Joomla sounds cooler than Drupal. (I know it shouldn't matter, but it does. Makes me feel tribal.)
  • Cool back Joomla! logo (I know it shouldn't matter, but it does. Drupal logo is .. uh, not the coolest. Most agree Joomla markets better than Drupal.)
  • On the negative side, it would be bad if the release of Joomla 1.5 takes forever (2-3 months is okay for me, which will give me time to get up to speed with the new application).
  • Requirements to run Joomla 1.5 are here.

Second Thoughts?

Maybe I'll download & install Drupal 5.1 while waiting for Joomla 1.5. (Note 1.5 vs 5.1 .. identical numbers inverted.) This way I could speak with authority (via first-hand experience) when comparing and contrasting the two, and won't have to rely on what others have said. Maybe I'll conclude Drupal isn't the bear everybody claims it is. (I enjoy a technical challenge.) Or maybe I'll confirm it is (a bear).

Things I like about Drupal

  • Rock-solid stability
  • SEO-friendly URLs
  • Easy on server resources
  • Can set up multiple sites with a single installation
  • Only need to update one installation vs many with Joomla (if you run multiple sites)
  • Drupal is ready to be downloaded and installed right now. (No waiting.)
  • Greater flexibility

Final Thoughts & Questions

The thing to remember is > most of the articles I read for this comparison involve (primarily) Drupal vs Joomla v1.0.xx. Everybody agrees v1.5 is a 'nuther story. Exactly *how* much of an improvement will 1.5 represent? That's the big question on everyone's mind. But these guys at Joomla have a reputation for being code-warriors .. which is why people are expecting big things.

Update: 06 May 2007 - Here's a comparison of Joomla 1.5 beta-2 vs previous versions. I find it interesting, that in their forum release statement, Joomla's forum admin (Tonie) used the words "flexible & powerful" .. words typically associated with Drupal.

Stability of Joomla 1.5 is question #2. Did the code-warriors at Joomla bite off more than they could chew? Some suggest they might have (previously projected dates slipped & now project managers are unwilling to even mention a "goal").

Everybody agrees however, that later-but-stable is (way) better than sooner-but-unstable. From what I read it sounds like these guys aren't the kind of programmers to release buggy software.

The next question is > when will Joomla 1.5 RC1 be released? (first release candidate)

The big question regarding Drupal is ..  exactly HOW MUCH of a bear is it to configure? Do you really need to be a programmer to use Drupal? I've heard similar claims regarding Movable Type .. that it was difficult to install (compared to WordPress), But MT was a piece of cake. Plus I added a handful of plug-ins (okay, two handfuls).

Lastly, a final question which needs answering is .. if you already have a blog (like I do, one of the best), and you already have a forum (again, like I do, also a good one) .. then .. what does a full-fledged CMS do for me?

Cuz, from what I can see, Movable Type seems *much* better as a blog than what either Drupal or Joomla offer, and there are a number of forums that seem better than what comes with Drupal or Joomla.

In Drupal podcast #36, for example, one of the hosts says that Drupal comes with (pretty much) the same forum software it initially launched with, and that the forum module badly needs updating, so Drupal can provide features comparable to what people have come to expect from modern forum software.

Maybe I'll ask over at the Drupal forums and see if they're really as unresponsive & ornery as some claim.

Update 05.May.2007 - My preliminary indications are that folks in the Drupal forums are reasonably helpful. Yeah, some seem to have a 'tude, and some of my questions went unanswered. I'll update this piece as I acquire new info.

Further research yields this notion > given two functionally-equivalent CMS's, the prudent person will select the one which is easier to install & use.

Most agree Drupal is more powerful & flexible. Most also agree Joomla is easier to use. The question then can be characterized thusly > Is Drupal's advantage in power & flexibility worth the added complexity required to administrate it?

Again, the answer to that question depends on the needs of the end user & their technical expertise (and perhaps time available to learn about each CMS).

Giving Back & Digital Karma

Regardless which option you select, Drupal or Joomla, it's important you give back to the community (which provides a powerful, cutting-edge CMS, free of charge). That's how it's supposed to work (call it digital karma). Everyone has a niche of expertise where they have something to contribute. (You're reading mine. This is what I do well.)

The notion of hosting & managing a cutting-edge content management system in the digital age is, well .. Rad.

For this entry, I reviewed far more sources than you seen referenced. Articles referenced here represent those I found most salient.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query > drupal vs joomla cms compare


Before closing, I should mention one more CMS I kept hearing mentioned > TYPO3. Also open source, it is designed "for enterprise purposes." TYPO3 reportly involves a learning curve far steeper than Drupal's. They claim it takes a month to learn, but contains enough power & flexibility that virtually nothing is impossible.

TYPO3 uses own declarational configuration language > TypoScript. If you are proficient with this program, you deserve big 'S' on your chest, for 'Stud.' Version 4.1 was released 06.March.2007.


Update 19.May.2007 - Found this interesting comparison of Drupal vs Joomla, regarding how much *work* went into each program. Bottom line > Nearly three times (triple, or 2.87 X to be precise) as much work went into Drupal, tho the way the figures were arrived at have been called in to question (see comments sections). 

You're left with a feeling that .. even if the figures are closer to *twice* (as much work invested), or even 50% more .. either way, Drupal still comes out on top (more effort has gone into its development), and others mention they feel Drupal's *quality* (of code) is also superior.

Update 07.May.2007 - If you enjoyed this article, you might also like tomorrow's, titled > Further Research of CMS Programs Suggests Drupal Better Option

Update: 08.May2007 - Installed Drupal. My experience doing so documented here > Installing Drupal 5.1 Content Management System (CMS)

Update: today's article was referenced by OpenSourceCommunity. See here > Ye Olde Rad Blog: Joomla! and Drupal Comparison Shout out to HarryB. Here are reasons he opted for Drupal > Why Drupal? 

Update 07.May.2007 - After more research last week, I now feel comfortable I understand the relative strengths & weaknesses of these two platforms. This entry is followed up here > Further Research of CMS Programs Suggests Drupal Better Option

Word-count this entry > 201 (primary) + 1917 (extended entry) = 2118 total.


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Comments (9)


Just added some to some of the end user perspective out here. Just some simple comparisons taken from various forums.

You didn't mentioned Drupal Theme Garden - site devoted to Drupal Themes Showcase - live demo of lot of drupal themes.


hey you have a great blog here, I initially read it when u first posted it and was both a joomla and drupal n0ob. Now i can say that if anything, u might want to update this to relect the relative horror of organic groups in joomla. a big hurdle in terms of access permissions etc. i love joomlas looks, but these days i'm trying to redo my joomla template collection for drupal, user groups, access permission, tags, and email in content (stable module) can be a huge advantage if used well. J1.5 is doing well (finally out), but even J coders said that we should wait a few months b4 switching, the move is bigg. anyways this is too long as is, so laterz, all d best

Great comparison.there is nothing in the world I enjoy more than learning joomla. In fact, i’d rather be learning joomla now!


Too many times the Drupal vs. Joomla debate is more religious than anything. We have all chosen our specializations and have our biases, but those don't necessarily prove useful to our clients. Instead, it's important to understand there are times when one tool is a better fit than another and the only way to do that is to understand the tools at your disposal.

accountants auckland:

Do you have part 1 of it as well?

Joomla! is the king of CMS. I have deployed more than 100 sites, I can't never get enough of it.

Landing Page Design:

I’m not usually entertained by informational material, but this article is so interesting I was enthralled. Engaging articles with informative content are more educational than boring technical garb. I really think this is excellent content.


Great article!

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