Dear Drupal: Season’s Greetings. Love, Smashing WordPress.


Every day I work with WordPress in one way or another. My Twitter feed is full of WordPress types, and I’m a regular at my local WordPress meetup. I’m a WordPress fan.

The developer across the hall from me works with Joomla. His Twitter feed is full of Joomla types, and he uses the CMS every day. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he attends the local Joomla user group. He’s a Joomla fan.


The White House hosts a number of Web developers who use Drupal every day. Their Twitter feeds are probably full of Drupal types, and some may well attend the Washington DC Drupal meetup2. They are Drupal fans.

All three of these tools produce the same thing, HTML. Throw in some CSS and JavaScript, and you have yourself a website. This is what I love about Web development: so many tools are available, each with its strengths and weaknesses.

We Have A Problem

In the WordPress community, I often see snide remarks directed at the Drupal and Joomla communities. I see the occasional remark directed at WordPress, too, but because I hang around mostly with WordPress types, I see more outbound comments.

This bickering ranges from overt expressions of contempt to, more subtly, gleeful sharing of accounts of internal disputes on “the other side.”

I am more effective at working with WordPress than with Joomla or Drupal, both of which baffle me to some extent. It’s not that the other CMS’ are inferior, but that my knowledge of them is.

Drupal Is Better Than WordPress

Without a doubt, Drupal is better than WordPress. Out of the box, it can handle higher traffic, its database management is better, and complex data maps are easier to handle. Out of the box, assigning permissions and preventing certain users from accessing data are easier to do. If you were creating a public-facing intranet website – for example, to allow salespeople to access internal documents on the road – this would be comforting.

WordPress Is Better Than Drupal

Without a doubt, WordPress is better than Drupal. Out of the box, content submission is easier for someone who is untrained in HTML, the default rewrite URLs are much nicer than Drupal’s, and customizing the default settings is easier.

The core developers focused on backwards compatibility, so a theme written today for version 3.2.1 will likely work in four years’ time.

The Gift Of Inspiration

Despite the trash talk, Drupal and WordPress have one thing in common: a frequent crossover of features. In some cases, it’s a core feature (a recent example being menus in Drupal being brought over to WordPress).

In other cases, a developer will port a popular module or plugin to their platform of choice. The new functionality may be optional, but it is still cross-platform pollination.

All Software Has Its Weaknesses

Every piece of software I have ever used has at some point made me get up from my desk, walk calmly across the room and kick the crap out of the garbage can. (Try it. It’s cheaper than throwing the computer.)

The big three open-source CMS’ are no different from any other software. There are idiosyncrasies to work around, and there are edge-case and intermittent bugs that will hit you and one other person3.

Share Your Weaknesses

Instead of trash-talking the “the other” CMS’ and dwelling on their weaknesses, let’s come together and recognize that we are all part of the same community: the open-source community.

In open-source circles, hearing of the desire to give back to the community is relatively common. Expanding your definition of “community” from the one around your platform to encompass the open-source community will increase your opportunity to give back.

Giving back doesn’t have to mean offering a tangible product, such as a theme, plugin or module repository. It could be as simple as sharing how you solved a particular problem.

Send Christmas Cards

Instead of sending broadsides in each other’s direction, let’s send Christmas cards to each other. If you start sharing with the opposition, it’ll soon reciprocate.

I’m not advocating that all open-source CMS communities strive for the same goals, sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya and having conversations along the lines of:

“You’re the best.”

“No, you’re the best.”

I am advocating that we respect the strengths of each other’s non-preferred CMS and help improve its weaknesses. Sitting around a campfire is strictly optional.



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  1. 1

    WordPress – You don’t really have to learn it. Skim through a couple of readmes and you’re ready to go.

    Drupal – You have to put some real effort into learning the system and PHP in general but it is WORTH IT. No other open-source community that I know of has the “community plumbing” aspect down as well as Drupal. The contributed modules, the documentation, the forums – all hands down the best. Once you get over the hump with Drupal you can do ANYTHING and do it in a way that is robust and scalable. I hope you all get D& with Views 3.0 for Christmas this year.

  2. 52

    I regard WordPress more useful to novices, Drupal is poorly documented and supported and Joomla! wins hands down. I can produce any type of website I wish without any programming knowledge. Why is smashing magazine so pro WordPress??

  3. 103

    exactly: taste is not discussed full stop.

    i can’t believe there are still people out there just bashing one CMS just because they don’t like it.
    it’s plain simple: why you like that over this? why this car and not another? why this color over another? Why this pizza and not that pizza?

    How futile are these comments: “WP is better, Drupal is BF” or ” Drupal is the best, Joomla! is bad”. No wonder this entire world is going down the drain, with so narrow and closed minded people.

    The bottom line is that they all have their strength and weakness according to YOUR skill and what you want it to be or do.

    And to those developers who likes to put themselves on a pedestal and complain about newbies. You quickly and easily forget that once you were a newbie as well. As far i as know you were not writing lines of code when you were still in your dad’s testicules, right?

    What i found interesting in these comments, not many people are coming from the Joomla! sphere. You can say what you want, but it has been downloaded millions of times, it must be for a reason.

    And another important point not to forget, Joomla! is very young compared to Drupal and WP. Joomla! is only really 3-4 years old. The first release version was just the residues of Mambo that went commercial. You should only count the real starting point as of Joomla! 1.5.
    And look where it is now.

    Give it another 5 years or more of development, and i’m pretty sure you’ll have a CMS that can be better compared to Drupal and WP in a very different manner.

    At the end of the day, you need to find the most suitable CMS for your client’s need. And make sure the client will be able to use it easily since they are the ones paying your bills and putting food on your plate.

    Back to you.


  4. 154

    the one I like the best is the one I can use to make money….which means if a customer is already using something and just needs me to step in an do a redesign, I’m not going to fight with what they already know. use droomla for all i care, so long as the money is green i’m happy.

  5. 205

    Why? Why do you compare the content framework and content management system? This is very stupid! Because the first is made for developers! And personally I would not want that would spawn Drupal sites like WordPress sites. I have nothing more to say …

  6. 256

    imho, it all comes down what the client/website’s specifications are, using the right tool for the right job. I’d go for wordpress for small-medium sized websites and drupal for big-large and ecommerce websites.

  7. 307

    Whole-number version upgrades seem way easier in WP. You don’t have to look too far to find large Drupal-based projects still deployed in Drupal 6 because the effort to get to D7 compatibility isn’t economically justifiable. Case in point:

    For the Drupal organization & devs, supporting two active (if somewhat incompatible) versions of the same software seems a bit wasteful and must surely slow down Drupal’s evolution.

  8. 358

    Since 95, I’ve used CMS systems for development on client sites. Most back then being Mambo. Then Joomla. Both great systems. On personal projects, I tried Typo3, Drupal after it’s first few releases but the learning curve and my desire to learn it just wasn’t there.

    WordPress, which i’ve now used since 2003, is a nice all around system. It’s easy to make it do what you want for almost any project. But while there are alot of plugins and other addons, I have noticed that those who are more experienced in hard code dev seem to choose Drupal. The guys at Four Kitchens have one of the better core changes for Drupal,

    I just find it odd that out of the popularity of WordPress, that I have yet to come across any releases where someone decided to make the WordPress core even faster, better performance and scalabilty. There are tons of tricks for building a screaming wordpress hosting environment, I point people to the articles on all the time. (Lower right on page lists articles).. WordPress has popularity, But it’s core is also the biggest problem. Its need to be rewritten for speed, less resource consumption and a more modular design allow us to turn off stuff that isn’t needed on a per site basis.

    Honestly, I highly doubt that with the prices listed here,that those sites are running on the Latest release of WP 3.3.. I’m sure they already have a scalable, high traffic version to power such massive traffic getting sites like those listed..

  9. 409

    It would be great if SmashingMag would start a Drupal section on it’s site like it did with WP. I just started working with Drupal and it’s great but I can’t seem to find a website like SM for Drupal.

  10. 460

    Hmm. Christmas love and all. I can’t work out why my original comment was removed.


  11. 511

    I love WordPress and it has never let me down on any project I’ve worked on, so why even try another platform ;-)

  12. 562

    As a PHP/MySQL & HTML/CSS developer, I’ve worked on a couple of Drupal websites and struggled with them. The interface is ugly and non-user-friendly, and the code behind is so messy. I never really was a Drupal fan.

    Then I moved to WordPress, which I understood from day one. Everything from theming to updating plugins to creating pages/articles was a breeze. I quickly became a fan of WordPress.

    I agree that Drupal is very powerful, but WordPress is not far behind, and I lost much less time working with WP than with Drupal.

    However, there’s another CMS that’s not mentioned in the post but only in comments, is MODx. With their latest version called “Revolution”, everything is straightforward and easy to understand. The way I look at it, MODx is WordPress and Drupal merged into one giant CMS that has the ease of use and understanding of WordPress, while being as powerful as Drupal. I learned how to use it in 4 hours and I’m now converted to a MODx fan.

  13. 613

    Happy Holidays, Joomla, you’re the best!

    From a WordPress lover who has been working with Drupal for the last 7 months.

  14. 664

    I started learning WordPress two years ago and I’m still having daily “ah-ha!” moments. I love those moments because they’re another step towards understanding the platform better.

    In the new year I hope to delve into Drupal and start all over again from the bottom, so I can expect many more “ah-ha!” moments to come, and I cannot wait.

    Happy new year to WordPress, Drupal & Joomla!

  15. 715

    I bookmarked this article as a “keeper.” Regardless of the applications being discussed, the thoughts surrounding the almost religious fervor of some is priceless.
    I think it was a p0rn star that said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” As web professionals, we often have to explain the appropriateness of applications or frameworks that may have been pre-selected by money-holders or in-house “experts.”
    Keep to the basics: “Form follows function” and “the right tool for the job.” Oh, and drink more coffee! :)

  16. 766

    Merry Christmas Joomla, Drupal etc. Love your bestie WordPress. Here is some more WordPress love ; )

  17. 817

    I love this article.

    I’ve been developing in Drupal for almost two years now and can truly say it’s matter of finding the best tool for the job at hand. I just built, what I would consider an extremely simple, drupal site in about 4 hours and I’ve witnessed other people building wordpress sites in the same amount of time. I have another group of 4 sites using share user and roles DB tables close to launching an I couldn’t imagine using wordpress for something like that. But I know from experience that building a blog in drupal is annoying knowing that all those great blog features are waiting for me in wordpess with no extra work.

    I’ve built wordpress sites over several weeks and have built drupal sites of over months. The time difference is not to imply that one is better than the other, but just my own experience of the types of sites i’ve been building. They both have their specific strengths and, if you read the documentation, you’ll see that even the drupal website recommends wordpress because of it’s focuses.

    If there weren’t different CMS’ to use then there wouldn’t be much initiative to improve or add features to any one of them and I think that’s the point.

    I don’t have much to say about about Joomla because I haven’t used it in years and I don’t think it would be fair to make judgements on a CMS that is nothing like I used that long ago.

    I’m thankful that there’s plenty of other options out there.

  18. 868

    i like wp and drupal is fun

  19. 919

    Let’s just agree to disagree, all content management systems have their strengths and weaknesses. You don’t have to pick a favorite, just use what suits you best :)

  20. 970

    Awww, thanks for sharin’ the love! At our main developer conference there’s usually a session on all the great stuff that WordPress has been doing and what lessons we can learn from the WP platform.

    Your friendly neighbourhood Drupal expert

  21. 1021

    I really appreciated this article. Quite informative about the pros and cons of each CMS from a general view. I agree we should be more helpful as a community. Sharing is caring! :)

  22. 1072

    I don’t like to think one is better or worse than the other, but better suited toward a task, or not as well suited toward a specific task.

    The other thing I look at is flaws. WordPress has MANY flaws, as does Drupal, but the flaws in WordPress (that might drive Drupal users crazy) don’t bother me.

    The fact that I have to migrate my database and site every time I change the location of my WordPress folder annoys some developers to DEATH. It doesn’t phase me.

    Likewise, I can see how Drupal is more programmer-friendly, even letting you build custom versions of Drupal with plugins baked right in. I’ve never seen WordPress be that customizable, even as good as the plugins are – most don’t take it that far.

    All in all, picking the right CMS has more to do with your working style and what annoys you, and also picking the right tool for the job. For me that tool ends up being WordPress, but hey, I spent a year of my life writing Joomla themes & sites from scratch too, so it’s not like I haven’t used anything else.

    Religious wars in the tech world are just that: smoke obscuring the REAL facts at hand: designing excellent websites that push culture forward.

  23. 1123

    Well said,

    There’s no need to make one ring to rule them all. It’s not only that some software has weaknesses and advantages. It’s a question of being more suited to a set of tasks. A lorry is not better than a sport car or the other way round: It’s that each one is build with an aim in mind. The wrong approach is to use the sport car to carry weight and to drive the truck in a racing ground.

    I use Drupal, but it’s just because it suits my needs better than WP or Joomla or Typo3 or Zope/Plone. I know that because when I set on searching for “a good CMS” I wrote down my needs and I researched which one of them suited them best. I searched not which one was “the best” because that is void talk.

    Happy whatever, Open Source people. It’s good to have you all fulfilling different needs with different approaches. Thank a lot :)

  24. 1174

    i have used drupal on my dj site for like 2 years now. and wp for other sites. used joomla once upon a time.

    i have no time to maintain and update drupal things manually. and i need so badly to update my dj site’s core items. Makes me want wp for it. i know…and i have no designing skills and can appreciate the new wp themes. ugh!

    been to drupal meetings, etc…. man, sometimes, i just want things easy. it’s tough. as things get more complicated, i’m leaning towards WP.


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