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December 26, 2007

Drupal: The Next King of CMS?

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UPDATE: It appears there are some very interesting complaints about scalability with Drupal which apparently still hold - ie, great for a small site, but if you want it to run something larger, you’d better have some good developers on your books. Conclusion? Drupal promises much, but could still be a victim of its own architecture.

Earlier this month I mentioned on the Platinax forums that I was keeping an eye out on Drupal as a potential CMS for the future.

This week Aaron Wall put his weight behind predicting that in 2-3 years time Drupal will be the CMS of choice.

What Drupal has going for it over other platforms is the sheer flexibility to integrate most bells and whistles of publishing, yet also focus on community integration and engagement.

A chance visit to another site showed me the power of Drupal - check this out: Lime.com

It is not only set up as a feature-packed online magazine, but also features community involvement.

The site features:

1. Today’s Most popular
2. Featured Members
3. Latest forum posts
4. Tag list
5. Blogs
6. News
7. Polls

It has everything a CMS should have, and more.

More importantly, it delivers a format that I absolutely think every serious website should be following for the future.

Familiarity with Performancing and Threadwatch have already sold me on it s flexibility and usability, not least with community integration and development.

I think webmasters need to stop thinking of websites as a collection of pages.

I think websites now need to see as a publishing channel - an online magazine featuring news, information & help, community, video, and more.

I think it’s especially important to leave plenty of room to manoeuvre with video, because if you can make & integrate that into a website, you have become a TV channel - and that means potential syndication in the still embryonic but rapidly expanding IPTV market.

That means tapping into the future.

My problem as a webmaster is that while Wordpress suits blogs and small sites fine, it simply isn’t geared to community participation - featured author and commentator profile pages are not a default part of the set-up, plus Wordpress has never really integrated community forums.

The result is that for my larger sites I often end up with one or more Wordpress installs at the front-end, with a vbulletin community in the centre.

The result is a disconnection between the Wordpress content and the community members, with myself having to link to the community to continue discussion, or else face having my vbulletin members sign-up for the Wordpress install to comment.

The disconnection is a serious flaw in my publishing strategy, but looking at Drupal, I can see this bridge is gapped by default.

Maybe Wordpress will look to address that in future, but my feeling is Matt Mullenweg has decided that Wordpress’s strength is as a blogging tool, and remain focus on that, rather than introduce potential weaknesses and accusations of code bloat.

And while vbulletin offers a specialist forum platform, and has recently introduced vbulletin blogs, vbulletin is still a forum platform, not a CMS.

I’m now left looking at my websites, looking to the future, and can see that I need to try out Drupal, and explore the functionality. Will it really offer me the CMS of choice for now and the future?

If there is a possibility that it will, I need to get on the boat now.

(Note on Joomla: I’ve never liked the structure or coding - seems a very bloated, over-crowded attempt to create a CMS that somehow seems to struggle with basic functionality. Having been asked to look at SEO issues with Joomla a few times, I’ve developed an complete dislike of the platform - so much so that when a charity recently approached me looking for free SEO work on their CMS, I advised they would do better if I rebuilt it in Wordpress for them.)



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4 Comments »
  1. I’ve spent time testing Joomla, Mambo/xoops and I keep coming back to wordpress and working off it as a base. Have you ever tested BBpress? I’ve seen some nice installs so that was going to be my next step. I’ve also got a wordpressMU setup working now but in all honesty it will be my first and last unless things change in a big way.

    Comment by CBR — January 16, 2008 @ 11:52 pm

  2. While drupal has some problems, I think you are exaggerating its performance issues. Plenty of them can be fixed by tweaking, including the use of the “Boost” or any other static file caching.

    The system isn’t perfect, it does need its performance stuff fixed, but it is one of the best, really.

    Check out various Drupal sites. Some of them aren’t that small. So I’d think it’d be reasonable to use Drupal for 98% of the sites and involve some tweaking for the other 2% (which would be required anyway).

    Comment by Yura — January 26, 2008 @ 7:19 am

  3. I’ve been using Drupal for some time now and its’ flexibility is really impressive.

    There are many sites out there of a larger size and I’ve had no second thoughts about using it for more than just a small brochure site. Definitely worth giving a try.

    Comment by Richard Dewick — January 26, 2008 @ 10:07 am

  4. We have used Drupal for our large real estate and property web site purely for it’s SEO capability - which is excellent. It can be slow out of the box but with tuning it’s excellent. What Drupal is, however, is complicated. Good Drupalistas are rare!!

    Comment by Jake Holloway — March 19, 2008 @ 9:29 am

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