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Brock Rogers

There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

The Great Drupal Experiment, Part 1

I’m a WordPress guy. All of my current client sites are WordPress sites. All of my personal project sites are WordPress sites. I develop almost exclusively for WordPress, and I’ve never found anything yet that I can’t make it do. In short, if WordPress is wrong, it’s quite possible that I don’t want to be right. So why Drupal?

It’s all about mind expansion, really. Getting myself out of my comfort zone and making myself try something new. And, perhaps, I might find that I like Drupal more than WordPress. Well, that and I committed to that goofy Twelve for Twelve thing, and checking out Drupal isn’t going to be the one thing that keeps me from getting all 12 done this year.

Going in to The Great Drupal Experiment, I do know a few things. For instance, I know that the top three content management systems for websites are:

  1. WordPress (used by 15.7% of all websites)
  2. Joomla (2.7%)
  3. Drupal (2.0%)

WordPress is, by far, number one, with a CMS market share of 53.9% compared to Drupal at 6.7%. I understand bigger or more popular doesn’t always mean better. I mean, I run Linux (about a 1.5% or so market share) 99.9% of the time, and complain about Windows (about a 74% market share) the 0.1% when I’m forced to use it. Still, that’s a pretty big gap between WordPress and Drupal.

Actually, now that I think about it, that’s about all I know about Drupal. That, and I’m skeptical.

Installation

I’m so used to installing WordPress that I can do the “Famous 5-Minute Install” in about two and a half minutes. Not trying to brag on my elite WordPress installation skills, just saying that WordPress is crazy easy to install. But, thinking back to the first time I installed WordPress, it took about ten minutes to get in figured out, up and running.

First install time for Drupal: about ten minutes to install on my netbook. (And before you ask, yes I said netbook. If you want to talk about why my netbook runs a web server and how much of a geek that makes me, we’ll just have to do that some other time.) But, yea, no major difference, as far as I can tell, between the installation processes for someone that isn’t familiar with the process. Pretty much a push.

In order to really try this out, though, I decided to install Drupal on one of my side project sites, visitbarnesville.com. Second install: about four minutes. Again, verses a WordPress installation, no advantage either way. I’m pretty sure if I installed this 30 times or so, I’d get just as good at it as I am at WordPress.

Initial Configuration

One thing that I can say about the first time I installed WordPress is that it all felt very intuitive. I wouldn’t say the same so far about Drupal. Adding some initial content was simple enough, but it did take me a few minutes and some Google-ing to figure out how to make a page the main page. Adding an initial article was simple as well.

“Block” setup did not feel natural at all. Getting the blocks where I wanted them was no big whoop, but not as simple as how it is handled in WordPress. I still haven’t figured out how to have the Recent Content block only display articles and not pages, and, although I think it’s pretty neat that new pages can be included in the Recent Content block alongside articles, it’s quite possible that I don’t want pages to show up there, and so far see no way to keep it from happening.

I also as of yet haven’t been able to get Clean URL’s enabled, which the equivalent in WordPress is so simple (and flexible) that you can change it daily if you really like. Drupal error-ed out with a very uninformative “The clean URL test failed.” message, with no explanation as to why it did or how to fix it. A quick search returned no useful information as to how to fix this.

Day One Summary

The only things I have found inherently intuitive about Drupal are initial setup and content addition/management, items that, had they not been, I’d have already given up on this little project. Everything else seems a bit clunky.