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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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

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.


Footnotes Link

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  1. 1

    Drupal is more to framewrok than CMS, although more complete WordPress key API but Drupal is still the best

  2. 2

    Personally, I recommend WP…and if I need something more robust I use Modx. I’m not a big fan of Drupal or Joomla…. #justsayin

  3. 3

    I tend to agree with this view of web technology. The huge Drupal fan that I am, I often see other CMS’ implementation of a feature, design, etc and try to see if this fits into my current scheme of design. WordPress does have the advantage that its development was laymen-user-centric form the get-go. There are many discussions on the drupal forums about various implementations that could/would/should be implemented in Drupal. Having worked with both CMS’ I find the same holds true on WordPress forums. A skilled designer/developer can use either system and produce quality work, but we developers tend to lean to one system more than any other for whatever reason we have. Now back to developing …

  4. 4

    Its refreshing to have someone come out and take a stand for co-operation and community, particularly around the topic of “The Big Three” CMS’s. I personally have used all three on various projects and agree that they all have the Pros and Cons. But there is no point (and a waste of time and energy) sitting around deriding the CMS you do not prefer.

    Have a Merry Xmas Peter and everyone in the Open Source Community

  5. 5

    Well said. I think we can go a step further and try using or developing in ‘the other CMS’, at least once. I recently spent time developing a Drupal site and I actually liked it and I can finally see why people favor it over WordPress or Joomla. But, I can still say that I will forever be a WordPress fan.

  6. 6

    in my opinion, wordpress is for everyone and drupal is just for someone with higher programming knowledge. so i’m not wonder that wp has more user than drupal.

    • 7

      I think people don’t give Drupal or any other CMS that is not the one they’re comfortable with a chance. I do realize the learning curve is high (for Drupal at least) but it just annoys me when people criticize any CMS without testing it out themselves. I can’t count the many times I’ve heard people say bad things about a CMS and when I ask what they were using it for or when, they say they’ve never really used it but that’s what everyone is saying. I think its foolish.

  7. 8

    And yet, most of the commentators didn’t get it…

    Merry Christmas WordPress, you are the best!

    (From a fellow Drupal fan)

  8. 10

    Drupal = KING… but we definitely don’t mind the occasional WP every now & then ;)

  9. 11

    Merry Christmas Drupal and WP! I love and miss you both. <3

    – Forced to Learn ASP.NET

  10. 12

    We should all take a walk outside our comfort zones … we can benefit from those experiences quite a lot. I understand why we play favorites, at the moment I develop and deploy custom CMS built on the SilverStripe framework. Each time I have had to work with WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc I have taken something back to my development process for the better.
    So Merry Christmas to all CMS big and small,
    you all shine in the right light.

  11. 13

    Whatever happened to using the right tool for the job!

    For me, as a programmer with some 10 years experience, Joomla is powerful and very scalable, Drupal is also powerful, but fragmented in its design, and WordPress is just a very weak system.

    With all that said though, if I’m building a small posted content site – I might use wordpress; if the site will need a lot of customised features – I might use Joomla or Drupal; if the site is a complete custom development – a framework is definitely better suited, and I’ll choose the most appropriate framework for the job.

    So stop arguing about what’s better, they are all bad and good for different reasons, just choose the best tool for the job.


  12. 14

    There’s one problem with the Content Management Systems listed here. They are all Open Source. It’s plain economics. All of them are slow to become what they truly could be, and because there’s no money in it, there’s nobody looking to profit from these systems, or at least nobody who’s able to make it worth their while.

    These CMS are just applications, web applications, underdeveloped, unfocused and lacking direction (that sounds harsh but I’m speaking relative to what they would be if somebody was being paid to make it something more).

    I personally am a fan of both Drupal and WordPress. WordPress’ UI and admin interface is far more advanced and developed. Drupal’s system infrastructure and massive module selection is ages beyond Wordpess plugins. I won’t even talk about Joomla. I don’t hold it in the same respect as Drupal and WordPress.

    What I want is an App for web development. Combining WordPress style and admin functionality with Drupal’s modularity, speed, and other good qualities. An interface like Coda built in. Give me the funding and a team of the right people and I could outstrip Drupal and WordPress within 2 years. I could have an app as valuable as Photoshop, selling for more, and just as popular.

    I know the people are out there. I see them developing modules for Drupal, plugins for wordpress, making themes for both. If they were being paid to develop these things what do you think would happen to these CMS? There would be a giant leap forward. No more waiting, no more headaches. Everything you need would come out of the box.

    That’s what the web needs.
    – investment
    – direction
    – leadership
    – the right coders and designers
    – App UX
    – CMS for sale!

    • 15

      The biggest advantage of open source applications is that most of the people developing it are doing so because it is their passion. As a result the quality can often be much higher, however I will concede that many have relatively poor interfaces because they are often designed by developers not UI/X experts.

      Also paid for application often follow current trends in order to be more marketable, whereas opensource application drive innovation.

      I completely disagree with you statement that opensource CMSs are “underdeveloped, unfocused and lacking direction”, in fact in some cases I would even say the reverse is true. Te be honest that’s not even worth a response, it’s just a pointless statement based on you clear lack on knowledge and experience.


    • 16

      All of them are slow to become what they truly could be, and because there’s no money in it, there’s nobody looking to profit from these systems, or at least nobody who’s able to make it worth their while.

      Ever hear of Acquia for Drupal and Automattic for WordPress? Those two would automatically cancel out your argument that there is no one looking to profit from these systems.

    • 17

      Congratulations, you just perfectly described why a lot of commercial products are f*ked up and useless. Because they have interest in profit and “leadership”.

      In modern world, leadership tends to become the sole factor to inhibit a project. People who make the decisions because they have the authority or money, but aren’t able to fully understand what decisions they are making.

      I don’t think WordPress being a commercial product in the price range of photoshop, for example, would have done it any good:
      A) No one would care to pay that much for a cms, be it sooo good.
      B) Chances are with a financial background WordPress wouldn’t have come even so far as it is now. Because where people invest, people want to see profit. By the end of the year/month/week. And as long as something is aimed at making profit, quality will be secondary as long as it can be sold.

  13. 18

    I´ve already worked with both and the best experience was with WordPress. Easier to work, to customize, It does more than promisse. Drupal was made to be the “CMS” and try to do all the things to run without you have to enter in the code, but this “philosophy” doesn´t run. A easy thing to do in WordPress is a nightmare in Drupal. So after I use both I prefer the who does more than promisse. I can´t live without WordPress today.

  14. 20

    Prashant Shrestha

    December 21, 2011 5:26 pm

    I am a long time drupal user and I love its flexibility and robustness, but I also used wordpress a few times and really love the UI and easy to use interface. I believe that there a lot of things that the two CMS can learn from each other. I will continue using them both.

  15. 21


    • I love the comments from people who didn’t get the spirit of Peter’s article.
    • I love the comments saying they would like to make money from open source CMS
    • I love the comment from Aubrey Knight – spot on! (nothing to do with me being in love with your name)

    The best CMS is; the one you are comfortable using, that can serve the job you are doing and will make the end users happy … YaY!

    There a many different wheels out there, just find the right one, don’t reinvent it :o)

    Seasons Greetings to all the CMS developers around the world who make our lives easier, teach us some new tricks and at times … make our lives really interesting!


  16. 22

    If you’re a web developer there’s nothing like Drupal and its modular approach. With tons of modules available for download the sky’s the limit. And if there’s no module that covers your needs, simply write your own or use the hook system to alter existing functionality. The API documentation is also great.

    Not to mention the powerful stuff you can do with multi-site installations and inheritance (save time by creating a base website once and inherit from it for all future websites).

    What’s missing is more out-of-the-box features and end-user friendliness. It can take quite some time to make a Drupal website user-friendly for non tech-savvy content editors.

  17. 23

    Drupal is great! I developed with it amazing things. -BUT- it’s learning curve is very big and the updating step when a new version is out is not so easy as in wordpress

  18. 24

    I can’t help trying new toys all the time. I probably use WordPress the most, followed closely by Drupal. But, have also worked with Silverstripe, Modx and Concrete5 (not even mentioning the plethora of ecommerce packages). Back in the day I started with Joomla, but, I think it must have gone off and started to smell bad, so, I threw it out.

    Bits about them all make me chirp with delight, and other bits about them all make me wanna set an angry Rhino loose on their faces.

    Happy Hols!!!

  19. 25

    Every tool has its strong and weak points. So what? Be happy and enjoy the freedom to choose what suits you the best.

    Merry X-Mas and have a Happy New Year!

  20. 26


    December 22, 2011 3:37 am

    Great attitude in this article! It takes time and dedication to really know different systems. Most people — out of necessity — focus on one CMS, deepen their knowledge in it, and can’t really get to know another system.

    I’ve focused deeply on Joomla. I have medium experience with WordPress, and I’ve dabbled in MODx and ExpressionEngine.

    My biggest problem with all CMSs is how difficult it is to do custom work. For example, in Joomla it is nearly impossible to create custom fields and do essential CRUD operations.

    Lately, I’m turning towards a PHP framework (I’ve chosen CodeIgniter). Of course, there’s a whole debate within the framework world about which one of those is best!

    I’d be very interested in hearing from others who have found CMSs generally too limiting and who are transitioning — or have transitioned — to a framework.


    • 27

      This isn’t really in the spirit of this article, but it’s worth noting that one of Drupal’s major features is the ability to create custom fields/content types and manipulate queries for them using a UI. This is on example of why people consider Drupal to be in that middle ground between a CMS and a framework; it has always been geared toward developers. In the current version (7) and in the next versions, the focus has been shifted more toward ease of use with major UI improvements (many of which inspired by WordPress, no doubt – and that is in the spirit of the article).

      Of course, something like Code Ignitor will be even more flexible, but putting together a full-featured site quickly is going to be more challenging. CMSes fulfill a lot of common requirements very quickly. I personally wouldn’t use Drupal to build a “web app”, although someone technically could do that.

      I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t seen a serious open source CMS competitor build on top of an existing web framework. CMSes exist in Rails/Django/CodeIgnitor/Symfony/Pyramid/CakePHP, but they aren’t as established as the big three: WP/Drupal/Joomla. I wonder if the best open source CMS in the future will end up coming from a framework. Ultimate flexibility + ease of use + tons of contributed modules, simultaneously aimed at developers, designers and end-users. One can dream.

      • 28

        ExpressionEngine, built on CodeIgniter, is not open source but of the same quality (and sometimes better) than the other listed CMS (and the price is not high).

      • 29

        One can dream, or live it. I’m living the dream with MODX 2.2. I can emulate Drupal, WordPress but at the end it’s all about displaying content.

        The only people who care about how that content gets to be displayed are developers.

        So instead of Merry Christmas [insert your favorite CMS]
        I propose Happy New Year’s to everybody’s favorite CMS AND to all of you developers and programmer’s who make their favorite CMS behave the way it does.

    • 30

      Santiago Escobar

      January 3, 2012 9:18 pm

      Hi, I am a junior web development, but i am agree with your comment I have figured that is better to make something you develop, instead of making fit-something.

      Currently I am developing in C#, I’ve made some CMS with it, and i found more optimal to write something that will work as you want it to than searching for plugins or modules that will make the work.




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