I’m over Drupal

March 4, 2012 — 4 Comments

I’m over Drupal.

I realized I had been holding off from writing this post because it involves nearly all of my clients. One of them got hacked last week (the webserver, not Drupal). My assessment for moving forward included migrating to WordPress. It was silly to not have put this out there.

Anyhow, I’ve been working with Drupal for many years, since 4.7 (if that means something to you). A couple of weekends ago I realized that things I wanted Drupal to do back then have been incorporated, brought into core, and iterated until they work really well. The problem is that the snapshot of features I want is a moving target, partially informed by my interest, but largely based on how people use web software, on both the front- and back-end.

Things that Drupal does better than say, WordPress, is that in addition of being a content management system, it is a development platform. So, you get all these cool things like third-party integrations, sub-systems built on top of sub-systems, and other efforts to create products out of the various contributed modules. There are a few site ideas that I think Drupal would be decent for, despite my evolving opinion.

However, I’ve noticed that for the last two years all of my work has been taking the power of customizing content-types and views and trying to build something that resembles WordPress. I figured it was that because WordPress focuses on a much more narrow set of features, it could focus on design patterns that work really well. I am not sure that is the case anymore. It seems like leaving the UI and other basic design patterns up to the developer community (in the form of templates), Drupal couldn’t meet WordPress in the middle, and now it seems to me that WordPress is approaching the level of complexity and customization of Drupal.

This is disconcerting to me, because I’ve spent a lot of time learning the “Drupal way”. I’ve mentioned it before:

My niche is essentially creating complex sites that are powerful on the backend, and creating easy to use workflows and upgrade paths on the front end so community organizations can use them. The point is to leverage the power of Drupal and the contributed modules to get the web out of the way for people to make change.

As both projects have grown, Drupal just hasn’t been able to keep at pace with WordPress, and I am frankly just really bored with creating the same patterns over and over again, but never as nice or functional. So, time to move on. Of course, the pendulum could swing back (or to the side, who knows with open and free software).

I am not abandoning Drupal, by the way. I still have many clients that use it. I am just not going to look for those jobs, nor am I going to be as enthusiastic in recommending it as the hammer for any particular nail that might be presented to me. The cost in time and effort is prohibitive.

Now excuse me while I go to do some research on how to implement specific features from Drupal in other web software. ^_^

4 responses to I’m over Drupal

  1. hear, hear

    i think drupal has been a lot more about making the developer happy than making the end user happy for a long time. it’s so nicely put together. it has such an engaging and well-thought out architecture. it’s so much fun, who cares if it’s going to take 4 times as long to get things right :)

    but i’m also definitely at the point where i’m tired of going through the same set of tricks again and again to make drupal do what i need it to. i think the big failure for me is the lack of good documentation. if you’ve ever tried to make a module that uses the cck api, or do something interesting with views, or even get a nuanced understanding of the theme system it’s really torturous. drupal is complex. the complexity supports a really wide set of use cases, but if you don’t create documentation as beautiful as your architecture, it’s a huge fail.

    what i miss the most about drupal when i work in WP is the issue queue, and the hard-core committment to GPL that supports it. it’s *very* nice to be able to hack a new feature onto a contib module, open an issue for it, and post the patch there. it doesn’t matter if the patch is ever accepted – the issue is there for your own reference, for the client’s reference, and for anyone else who wants to solve the same problem.

    i haven’t figured out how to share like that with wordpress, or how to find the real community.

    • Glad you commented, I was going to quote you on that. ^_^

      i think drupal has been a lot more about making the developer happy than making the end user happy for a long time.

      That is the gist of it.

      On communities, I don’t really know what that even means in the context of software. Perhaps I don’t get out enough. I just know that my interactions with WordPress support networks (forums, gatherings, etc.) have been better than the Drupal support networks.

      I think it is worth pointing that out, maybe WordPress could benefit from the module development model that Drupal has. The plugin directory is primarily that, and while their forums kinda support it (I think each plugin gets a forum), there is definitely not the same level of developer interaction as in the issue queues in Drupal.

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