A quick translation for those lucky people who don't spend their free time obsessing about content management systems. WordPress is an open source weblogging platform. It's the platform I use to manage this blog and the platform - with some modifications - that Global Voices runs on. It has a reputation for being very user friendly, but for having some underlying architectural problems that make it hard to scale. Drupal is an open source multi-purpose content management system designed for the support of complex websites with multiple authors. It has a reputation for being ludicriously flexible, ungodly powerful and far too complex for mere mortals to use.
This quote from the brilliant Ethan Zuckerman on his blog in August 2005, and for the longest time, I have sympathised with him. The tables are turning...
When I started blogging in 2005 Blogger.com, the free hosted Google-owned solution was the most prominent, user-friendly option available. Second to that was TypePad, slightly more extensible but not free. As I graduated from various strata of code-and-geek-aversion, I eventually found my way to WordPress. WordPress at that time did not offer a free hosted option which they currently do at WordPress.com - I suggest this as the best option to people wanting to start up a blog right now with no technical expertise.
I evolved into a relatively capable WordPress user - relative that is for someone who thought HTML stood for Hot Teachers Make Livings. Somewhere during this journey, as I started to do work for corporates, MacGeek Roger suggested I take a look at Drupal. I asked him to set up a site for me, which he kindly did. It took me two seconds on the site to realise I had absolutely no idea where to start. He assured me of it's capabilities, and we took a leap of faith. Let's just say my first few dabbles into Drupal were dismal.
Present day. At Cerebra we employ two of the smartest Drupal guys in the country - Carl and Andre. I've just sent one of them to DrupalCon in Barcelona. He will make coffee for me forever. The WordPress vs. Drupal argument has raged in our office on more than one occasion. I have lambasted Carl because he seems to think that Drupal will save the planet. I have chastised Andre because he seems to think that working with Drupal should come as naturally to everyone as breathing does.
Still, despite my frustrations, they have been patient with me and have pointed me to really useful Drupal resources like Lullabot. In spending more time with Drupal on numerous client projects and checking out online resources, I have come to the following conclusions:
- Drupal is far more powerful, stable and extensible than WordPress is
- Drupal is not nearly as accessible or user-friendly to install and learn as WordPress (from the perspective of a non-techie)
- Drupal improves drastically with every version - if you've tried it before and been turned off give it another go
- The Drupal dev community needs to work hard on making Drupal easier to theme
- Drupal's problem is that the community behind it - genius's that they are - simply don't get marketing - they need more people like the gang at Lullabot, and I daresay you and I to help them 'humanise' Drupal
- Honestly, working with Drupal makes me feel like a geek god. It's amazing what you can achieve with it
So in the interest of giving back to the community that has offered us so much in a platform that we use to drive almost all of our client projects we're going to host some Drupal workshops next year for those of you who want to learn and feel like geek gods too. As a teaser to these check out this video from a week ago by one of Lullabot's genius's.
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