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Joomla 2.5 vs Drupal 7

PUBLISHED ON 11/8/2012 - BY YANNIS KARAMPELAS

I recently posted on a developer discussion forum our view on Drupal 7 vs Joomla 2.5. I repost here:

Let me present my view on this issue after having worked with both systems extensively. Since I worked alone as a freelancer until our team got to have 6 full-time developers.

We used to work with Joomla since the... Mambo times (7 years ago) and until one and a half year ago. We had reached a point where we developed for Joomla advanced e-shops, online apps and that included development of many components, plugins and Joomla modules.

It's been one and a half year that we switched to Drupal. This change wasn't an easy decision, because when you have conquered a CMS and you have to learn a new one, the time investment is just this: AN INVESTMENT. Along with whatever that means. But we did switch and we didn't regret.

What do we like on Drupal?

First of all, its absolutely more collaborative community. On Joomla every developer built and promoted its own component or module essentially competing with all other developers of similar components. For example, there are over 50 photo galleries. On Drupal on the other hand, everybody work together to build a very good and complete module for each task. This got us excited and made us contribute to the community with a lot of patches, new modules and a new distribution (Open Deals).

Secondly, what we liked on Drupal and fitted very well with the way we work, is that the pieces (modules) that make up a website are smaller. For example, there's no photo gallery module for Drupal. But the combining parts of it (e.g. views, views slideshows, CCK) are there to use and build your own photo gallery just the way you want it. That means that you may need more time to build a site, but you have more flexibility. Even more, every module used is easily overrided from your own modules' code, without having to "hack" them.

Finally, what we found was that the Drupal community seemed to be able to provide solutions for high traffic and more demanding sites issues (caching, performance, SEO) that were more difficult to find among the Joomla community.

To sum it up, Joomla is fantastic, but Drupal got to cover our needs in a better way.

Anyway, both systems are free to use, so every user can explore them, compare them and choose which ever is best for his particular project.

COMMENTS

Sinyaya Dynya's picture
Sinyaya Dynya
I dropped Joomla 1.5 for Drupal 3 years ago... one of the best shift I did in my life. Just love the way Drupal and it's community work. For me the advantages are numberless, but what annoyed me a lot with Joomla was to spend money for some modules and find out later that either their was finaly not fitting my needs or required so much work to fit my design.
patrickd's picture
patrickd
Always this "VS" thing.. as you say it's a matter of your needs and not about which one is better. I'd like to see more block posts called "When to use Dupal and when to use Joomla" instead of "Drupal VS Joomla!" Or even better: "Joomla!, Drupal and Wordpress VS proprietary sh*t CMS's"
nikos's picture
NICK CHARALAMPIDIS
My opinion is that there is no need for kindness here. <strong>Drupal is far better than Joomla!</strong>. Whoever has written at least one line of code in both systems, understands the difference… 1. The concepts of coding are in a different level than Joomla. The framework is a <strong>real framework</strong> and we are expecting to become the most powerful framework behind a CMS with the use of Symphony at Drupal 8. 2. Regarding modules, we speak here for the most complete concept that exists out there for modules of a CMS. I don't need anymore to compromise with Joomla's plug n' play components. In Joomla if a component has 8/10 of the features you need you are really screwed up. You need to rebuild the component from scratch to achieve all the 10 features that you need. In Drupal you never tell your client that this feature is not supported by the system! In Drupal everything is a result of recipes. You install the module A, B and D and you have your new feature! 3. In terms of procedures, there is no comparison between the "Joomla extension directory" and the drupal.org. In d.o there are automations both in uploading your modules and downloading them. There is also a built in use of GIT! All the decisions are made by the community. I remind you the recent discussion if d.o should have social links at the footer!! (https://www.drupal.org/node/1715618). On the other hand, I still don't know who is making the decisions on how Joomla goes. 4. Documentation of Drupal is far far ahead of Joomla's one. And generally I love the fact that you can find everything in drupal.org. So, guys that you are "in love" with Drupal, do not be afraid to express your love! What does it mean that "you choose each one depending on the project". No you don't. Of course you don't choose a different CMS for each project. You choose every time Drupal, because it is the best, you know it by heart, and because you love it! So leave your kindness aside..
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Well, I'll go one step further patrikd, and say - "When to use Dupal, Joomla, WP and when to use proprietary CMS". It all depends, really. Well written and balanced article.
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Also, there is no such thing as 'pick whats right for the project'. That is a terrible business decision trying to have a team be proficient with multiple platforms instead of excelling really well with one and getting things done. Just with Drupal, it gets done better.
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
I agree with the last comment. To tell you the truth, in this last 1,5 year, we had to work with Joomla only once and this was because we had a client who asked to turn his PSD into Joomla. Besides support of our old sites, all new ones were built on Drupal 7. Also, we turned about 15 sites from Joomla to Drupal and clients loved it! On most of these sites we saw better rankings and of course better performance.
Artis Williams's picture
Artis Williams
I agree with the last two posts. Use Drupal and become an expert at it and you'll be a lot better off than picking and choosing various CMS's for various jobs. Something may be easier to do in WP, but I guarantee it can be done in Drupal and once done that work can more easily be leveraged for future projects.
Ales's picture
Ales
Use Joomla to build simple sites, use Drupal to build Joomla.
Nick Savov's picture
Nick Savov
I'm glad that you found something that works well for you! The best tool is one that you can use well! :) As to your observations: re: #1) I like the competition in Joomla and think it's a good thing. As a user, having 50+ photo gallery extensions and 350+ slideshow extensions to choose from is a good thing. The JED organizes them nicely and allows me to find the right one for each site that I'm working on. re: #2) [quote]Even more, every module used is easily overrided from your own modules' code, without having to "hack" them."[/quote] ...and so is it in Joomla 2.5. re: #3) As I understand it, Joomla is better at caching, performance, and SEO than Drupal, so I'm not sure what problems you were having or what solutions you found.
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Nick, For us having lots of modules to select from wasn't a nice thing, but a headache, since we want to provide not about the functionality, but the exact functionality that the client asks for. Being able to build your functionality as you like on Drupal was one of the main reasons of our switch. As for the override abilities of Joomla 2.5, if it is as Joomla 1.5, it's not good. We had a lot of situations where either we had to hack core or the component or just don't have the exact functionality we needed. As for caching, performance and SEO, as I state in the post, there are solutions in Joomla as well, but it's difficult to find the right ones. In Drupal, we got professional answers all the time.
nikos's picture
NICK CHARALAMPIDIS
@Nick Savov Hey Nick. Unfortunately, there is no comparison between the Drupal's overriding techniques and the Joomla's ones… In Joomla you can override some pieces of the MVC system only at your theme. On the other hand, in drupal everything can be overridden by multiple modules <strong>and</strong> by your theme. Even a simple link can be affected by more than one modules! For example, you can create a module that initializes a form with some functionality and then another developer can create a module that adds some fields in the form and change the functionality as he likes. Then, a third module can… And this works for ever! If you have the chance to give Drupal a try, you will realize those things by yourself. <strong>Drupal is by far the most advanced open source CMS-framework in the world!</strong>
Nick Savov's picture
Nick Savov
As to customized functionality (e.g. Photogallery), you can also create the exact functionality that the client wants using Joomla. You can create a custom solution for everything in Joomla. With that being said, I do see how in certain cases it would be easier with Drupal. It really depends on the case though. As to overrides, perhaps this blog post would have been better titled JOOMLA 1.5 (which is 4.5 years old) VS DRUPAL 7 (which is 1.5 years old)? ;) Joomla 1.6 through 2.5 introduced several new override features. For example, Joomla 1.5 had template overrides, while 1.6 introduced alternative overrides as well, which provide you with more options and control. For example, you can create alternative menu item layouts for core and non-core components, alternative parameters for core and non-core, alternative core and non-core module layouts, etc. In short, in Joomla 2.5, you can do layout overrides, language overrides, parameter overrides, module chrome, and with a plugin you can override PHP classes and models. And Nick Charalampidis, you're mistaken, this is not only at the theme level. That was 4.5 years ago with the advent of Joomla 1.5 :) With newer versions of Joomla, alternatively layouts are theme independent. Also, our plugins are like your modules and allow us to override classes and models. My two cents is that Joomla and Drupal are both great CMSes. It's amazing what both have been able to do so far! Hopefully each can push the other to do better and hopefully both will excel in the years to come. I prefer Joomla right now and it provides the ease of use and flexibility that I and my clients need.
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Nick, I agree that you can do anything with Joomla as well. We have developed more than 300 sites on it and MANY components, plugins and modules. Have you ever worked with Drupal? I suggest you take a deep look at it. You'll get impressed.
Vlad's picture
Vlad
I worked with Joomla and I remember that many extensions were commercial (some subscription based). They weren't even working properly, neither very professional. And I remember the horror of working with free ones, like VirtueMart. In Drupal, for similar stuff you can find free modules with advanced features. You cand find modules for SEO, Importing content. For ecommerce there is Drupal Commerce. I suggest Joomla developers to try Drupal, I think it will ease your work a lot.
Nick Savov's picture
Nick Savov
@Yannis, yes, I've worked with Drupal very briefly and I do mean very briefly. It's hard to get used to, especially after working with Joomla and its workflow for so long. I haven't had the time to look into it more, but I certainly intend to, especially since the company where I work does Drupal training :) From my brief experience with it, it looks like a very robust and flexible CMS with a big learning curve :) Vlad, sorry to hear that some of your extensions weren't working properly. That's not been my experience. The reviews of the Joomla Extension Directory (JED) serve as a relatively good indicator of whether or not the extension works well. As you can see on the, there are a lot of extensions with a lot of 5 star reviews. Joomla is filled with a lot of great extensions (free and commercial). For example, for ecommerce Hikashop is a great choice and has 124 reviews for a 4.6 star rating (out of 5).
nikos's picture
NICK CHARALAMPIDIS
@Nick Savov So Joomla got some overriding features... That's really cool! I didn't know that. That means that it is becoming a decent CMS. Drupal though had these overriding techniques years ago and as I get it, the time Joomla tried to solve basic issues (with 1.6 version), Drupal was moving forward planning the adoption of Symfony framework, improving performance, scalability etc. So, I still believe that Drupal is far ahead of any other open source CMS project. I used to be a very fluent Joomla developer (worked with Joomla 1.5) and I think that I have a clear picture of both CMS's. So, even I am going to look into Joomla's code tomorrow, I am guessing that the latest version still cannot compete Drupal. Indeed Drupal has a very "steep learning curve" but <strong>when you pass the point of "no return"</strong>, it starts to become clear that it is not another CMS.. You need to live it to believe it ;)
Escolta's picture
Escolta
Hello Fellas, I did a couple of websites on Joomla, and it's great. But I also want to learn Drupal. I like to be open minded and also, with all you have said here, you are encouraging me . My question is this: What do you recommend to begin with? Should I buy a template for drupal? Should I read a book? Should I read the documentation? Or maybe all of them. With Joomla I really really got the point much faster, installing a template and going from there....but I don't know if that's the way to go on Drupal. I have seen some Drupal themes around, that's why I'm asking maybe to buy one and start from there. So you guys please tell me what you think. Thanks in advance.
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Escolta, it's true that Drupal has a steeper learning curve for developers. I would suggest: 1. Download and install it and start playing around. 2. Read the online documentation (it's very good). 3. Subscribe to Drupal Planet. 4. See the Lynda.com tutorials. I don't know how buying a template would help though.
Escolta's picture
Escolta
Thanks Yannis, I will learn Drupal, however, while I was taking a shower, it occurred to me that maybe Joomla will be the "winner" at the end, between the "race" with Drupal. These are the arguments: 1.- Like somebody said on this or another comment blog, with joomla you find 50 galleries, and everybody's working on their "extention" or module. And with Drupal, as far as I "get it" you have to build, your own gallery. 2.- Most Websites always have the same "components", for example columns with text, pictures, galleries, blogs, etcétera. This kind of common elements that we found on most websites today are approached by Joomla "coders" by writing extensions. It seems to me that Drupal does not "approach" like this to give a solution, but gives you a "tool" to actually "write the solution". This may give more "freedom" to do whatever you want. But, it ocurred to me, that since, basically almost every website "wants" the same things, it is not a "closed" approach to make a variety of this "things" websites ara needing for such as galleries, or modules for text. What I mean is it is like maybe joomla is trying to build (to make an analogy) the elements of the periodic table which may seem at first a "closed" or limited apprach, since the "elements" are only 127 or so, but that "elements" will serve, for all practical purposes to build "whatever we see in reality" which is, whatever we use to see on websites. Do you know what i mean? As I understand (and I may be wrong), Drupal will always be on the "edge" of web technology. Pushing the limits. Making possible new stuff that just, isnt avialable to make with Joomla. But as joomla will perfect itself, i think it will become more and more mainstream than drupal. What do you think?
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Escolta, I think your comments and understading on the two systems is very good. As for the winner, I think it will be different for each person/organization and/or project. For us, the winner so far is Drupal.
Escolta's picture
Escolta
I will learn Drupal Yannis, you have convinced me, and I see it as an investment. Most probably someday a client or customer, or someone will ask me if I know how to make websites on Drupal. I know there must be reasons why someone would need Drupal instead of Joomla. I just wanna try to understand that as soon as possible.
nikos's picture
NICK CHARALAMPIDIS
@Escolta you are right. Drupal is actually better for developers. An amateur has no luck with Drupal. So if someone wants to invest time on a powerful tool in order to provide professional web services, Drupal is the answer. If someone needs a plug n' play CMS for a typical website, Joomla is better. WordPress is even better... @Yannis I agree with you that the winner will be different for each person/organization but I disagree with the project "thing". If you are good at one system there is absolutely no reason in changing the platform for each project. You will always choose the platform that you are most familiar with.
Escolta's picture
Escolta
Maybe Drupal is to Joomla, what Joomla is to WordPress. Most people say WordPress is "easier to learn" than Joomla. I find Joomla far more logical and thus easier. And if someone would ask me, what system should I use for a typical website, I would say Joomla, instead of WordPress. As for the reasons why I can think of a couple, for example, speed. WordPress, in my experience is just slow. And yes, Joomla gives you more "freedom" to do things. but if I think twice, I guess whatever Joomla does, Wordpress does it too. However I hate WordPress. Maybe when I learn drupal I will start to dislike Joomla, and realize what you have realized.
A developer's picture
A developer
Joomla is free? Wrong in many occasions. As a developer it's often very frustratating to be asked to develop something on Joomla simply because a lot of the 3rd party extensions are not free.
Furqan's picture
Furqan
Hey Guys! I am midlevel php developer, work on codeigniter framework, and for Cms i am trying i have made a coupe of sites on Joomla but more sites on wordpress. Now Iam Planning to cover the Ecommerce CMS like Magento or Opencart in order to fulfil he requirments of the clients for this category. Can you please tell me that is there any of the CMS whioch can cover all the aspects of a site which can be build by CMS , like blogs, simple site, Ecommerce etc... i was trying to learn VirtueMart in Joomla for Ecommerce site but it was just Pathetic, I qould be glad or dream come true if one place CMS for all exists or one ca say that yes this is the place this is the communtiy. For communtiy, i really rate Wordpress community then Joomla but and its suport, don't know about Drupal's. After reading teh conversation i am really convinced to learn drupal, But want a good platform or guidance that from where to start and what are the main aspects and platform to learn drupal, secondly do i need to lear symphony first .. and do aal the requirments which are in different cateogries CMS can be fulfiled y Drupal, if it is then there can be a possiblity that i come up with stronfg reason and our company can adobt drupal for all aspect.. Lookign for a comprehensive responce on al my concerns from this platfrom, Thanks inadvance :) Surely I am gonna Start Learning Drupal,
boniaditya's picture
boniaditya
I don't believe in completely open source systems! I don't want to build my car from scratch, I prefer having the bare body and i would customize it or add salt and pepper to it. I buy some cool bumper stickers, paint it up, get cd player with awesome speakers and so on... This is joomla! in short Drupal throws around all the parts of the car at my backyard for free, yes it is free. I agree but i don't think i would waste two years of my time learning how to attach each one of them properly. Joomla as a platform is free! Any extensions are not! I love this concept and the concept works pretty well too! The android app store is a live example of such system in action. It give freedom, free platform and free tools for all developers to code and at the end it leaves the choice for the developer to make! He can give it away for free or charge for it! Either way you can take the add-on for a test drive with the basic version before you buy it! Giving completely free components, well i don't think so and i don't recommend it either. Open source should not be equated to free stuff! Open source should be equated to freedom to develop for everyone by giving a free platform!
lins's picture
lins
perspective of a developer I am here because I googled \is there similar like drupal views for Jooma\ or is there similar entities approach for entities like in drupal for joomla. taxonomy, terms? as developer of both - in Joomla I have to make my own component to achieve my goals - I love it because of well written Joomla OOP MVC architecture. but ... in drupal it's already there - no need to code. ok. both of them have quite excellent ACL systems. at the moment let's see what ships with Drupal 8 (love the idea of OOP Symphony :)))) Doctrine should be there to take over Entities API - I can have dreams) and joomla3. as a Zend developer, I'd say there has been Zupal (last change Jan 20, 2011, so it's not alive unfortunately) some kind of experimental start.
Jose Diaz's picture
Jose Diaz
With Joomla I can build a facebook like website using Jomsocial can I do the same with Drupal?
sakis's picture
sakis
@Jose Diaz: Yes you can.Try drupal commons from Aquia.You need to customizeit a bit but you can Do it
Marc's picture
Marc
YANNIS, I must say that's a great article. As a new developer into the IT world, I am still tossing and turning on what I should use for my client. Joomla or Drupal. The client requires PDF creation so the client (buyer) can sign the PDF and its sent to the vendor to execute the contract before payment is released. This is a new IT contract for me and it seems that maybe Joomla isn't the way to go. I am assuming that I can do this with drupal and it will be a lot easier in the long run than paying extra $$$ for extensions which I am not even confident that Joomla can do. Could you help me out and give me a bit of guidance on where to go from here? thanks, Marc
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Marc, we have done what you try to accomplish on Drupal. Contact us for more info.
Gyanesh Sharma's picture
Gyanesh Sharma
When I was in midst of choosing a CMS about 3 years I ago, I tried both Joomla & Drupal. I got going real fast with Joomla so I abandandoned Drupal due to time constraints. A lot of issues on Joomla 1.5 was fixed on Joomla 2.5. For almost every web project, I spend time finding the right set of template & extensions and the hard work is over. There are great, well written commercial as well as free extensions for a wide veriety of use-cases. Most of the commercial extensions are well worth the development cost if one were to develop it on their own. Joomla always finds me a decent solution for most of my requirements and I never had to worry about switching from Joomla as yet.
Pratik Kulkarni's picture
Pratik Kulkarni
Hello, Thank you for such interesting article on Drupal and Joomla. I am new to CMS and have developed one site with Joomla 2.5. I would like to know should I switch to Drupal at this point???? Please suggest your views. Thank you :)
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Pratik, I don't any reason why you shouldn't switch to Drupal immediately.
Pratik Kulkarni's picture
Pratik Kulkarni
I mean Drupal 8 is releasing.. Should I wait for that or should I learn Drupal 7 first???
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Drupal 8 is expected by the end of the year, but I don't see why you should wait until then. Drupal 7 is good enough.
Vincent's picture
Vincent
Every time I open a Drupal site it's slow or doesn't come up, even the official drupal.org page!! Why use a system that doesn't even work on their own website!
yannisc's picture
YANNIS KARAMPELAS
Vincent, check your internet connection!
Sabih's picture
Sabih
Both the CMS are good at what they offer. Most of the people us Drupal for building simple sites and on the other hand Joomla for the same purpose too. So no big difference, or vice versa.
JEM's picture
JEM
I want to look at Drupal, but there is one requirement that needs to be met: Multi-lingual support for content. I will take a serious look at Drupal when the most important thing to be becomes a reality (ie: Drupal 8 promise), to include associated mult-lingual support with language switching is built into the core architecture. I have hopes! Hurry up Drupal 8!
Web Monster's picture
Web Monster
In my experience, the order of implementation difficulty is WordPress-->Joomla-->Drupal. For a simple, personal, or boutique site set up and maintained by a non-Web professional, WordPress is a good choice. For a more sophisticated site that can be maintained by a non-coder, Joomla is great. Joomla has some seriously powerful extensions, for example: LDAP authentication and a truly magical backup and restore that can be used to move an entire website, database, CMS, and all other files. However, the user feature extensions are what they are. Sometimes you can find the perfect extension and sometimes it cannot be found. For web professionals who are or can think like coders, Drupal will probably be the most satisfying. The learning curve is higher than that of Joomla for certain, but there are a lot of designers and developers around to support your effort.
Casey's picture
Casey
It really depends on what you're looking to do, but I think the only debate is Wordpress or Drupal. With Wordpress, you can create a live site so quickly, plus there are so many easy add-ons, themes, etc. because of their unbelievable community. Drupal has a great community too, plus you can build any kind of robust site you want with Drupal.
Sebastien Lapoux's picture
Sebastien Lapoux
Hi everybody, Always the same sterile song about CMS... always the same assertions... How to compare something when nobody know really all solutions? If you wish to develop your website such as on Drupal try Joomla + SEBLOD. SEBLOD is like Drupal CCK and Views but more advanced. Regards

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