Joomla, Drupal and Plone…oh my!

I’m looking at open source CMS (content management systems). Joomla, Drupal and Plone are the three biggies.

I’m working on a reworking/redesign of the C3 website, and part of that is an exploration of a new CMS. Right now, the most frequently updated part of the site is in Movable Type, while the rest of the content is either pulled in from GetActive or just static HTML.

My hesitation in these open source CMS is that the public facing pages are often so dry and rigid looking. I haven’t ruled out doing the whole thing in Movable Type so our folks can use Windows Live Writer to add and update content.

Tomorrow I’m attending a N-TEN webinar on this very subject to learn more. Speak of which, I am getting so much out of my N-TEN membership. Affinity groups, blogs, newsletters, webinars, etc. I only wish their annual conference this year didn’t begin on the 2nd day of Passover the week the girls are off from school.

I manage a mailing list of local special education parents as a volunteer. It’s time to put together the group’s website, and I decided to give it a try in Joomla.

I’m impressed at how easy it is to install and configure. Movable Type is easy once everything is properly set up, but Joomla gives a much clearer page indicating exactly what needs to be done for a successful install, including database configuration (as opposed to editing a config file on the server).

Now it’s installed and I’m reading and learning my way around. At the very least I want to get enough changed so it looks like what it is (a site for parents of special needs kids in our school district) and not like a Joomla home page.


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2 responses to “Joomla, Drupal and Plone…oh my!”

  1. Hi! Maybe I can help you a bit with my experiences. I used to be a long long time Mambo freak, Mambo ist what Joomla is based on, the name change came by some not so nice shifts in the Mambo/Joomla community.

    I loved Mambo a lot. But I found very quickly that it is a regular content management system and this is what it does best.

    Drupal however is a community system. More over, it is almost something I would call a “web application framework”, something Joomla is light years away of. So, whenever you will need a functionality that is not existent as a Joomla Component or Module, you will need to manually program that functionality and you will start pulling your hair as Joomla’s plug-in architecture is pretty, well, a mess – to put it polite.

    Also: I grew rather upset with the Mambo/Joomla community which was really very frustrating as there was constantly some vanity fair going on amongst people. A question debated to hell for example was: can you actually SELL web sites made with Mambo/Joomla… well, go read the GPL and you’ll now the answer – but it was just not that easy there. Then, I saw developers who really put their heart into Mambo but were mobbed until they completely dropped all of their work, simply because of some vanities going on. Now, as a professional, this really costs your nerves and time. Now: I won’t be over-generalizing, there are good people behind Mambo/Joomla, too, this is just a personal thing for me – but I also know there are others who feel like me.

    Drupal proved to be the complete opposite. I have never, and I repeat NEVER ever found an open source project before were people are SO disciplined, where the code produced is of such a high standard and were everybody really is most helpful!

    I know, Joomla just won a CMS award, with Drupal on 2nd place. I must say: the jury must have only looked at the “good looks” of the installer and the administration page. The REAL beauty honestly lies inside DRUPAL’s inner simplicity. It is just a fantastic and most clever piece of work.

    Drupal is the only CMS I know of that has a REAL API that really is helpful. This also means, programming additions for Drupal is a lot less troublesome. Instead of reinventing the wheel over and over again (like the parser that will render your content in clean HTML which you will need to do in Joomla – in Drupal you just send your database information to Drupal’s node module (one of the core modules) through the API and Drupal will do it for you. And if you need to have something changed from the standard, you just tell the API to change a particular behavior.

    On Joomla, it is like: okay, if there is a component available you’re fine but it needs to to exactly what you want to do. With Drupal it is: okay let’s see – your functionality is really complex but we’ll mix and mash up one, two or three modules that provide a particular FUNCTIONALITY (note that! – not a finished thing!) and you can do your new functionality with hardly any programming and since the output is always a nice xHTML, theming your new functionality also is nearly no problem at all!

    Now I have had a quick look at your project. It looks like both, Joomla and Drupal, will do the job. However, I think that from a content point of view you might consider Drupal as with it you might be able to extend your project from a regular information site into an information site and online community that will live not only from its content but also from content freely provided by those who really have something to tell: your audience.

    Email me if you’d like to exchange on this with me a little more, good luck,


  2. Great info, Steve. Thanks. I’m only dipping my toes into the open source CMS waters now. While I’m doing this simple local site now, my needs for the C3 site are much bigger and everything you say will have to be taken into consideration. The NTEN webinar comparing the 3 biggies starts soon so I’m looking forward to learning more. Thanks again.