Why This Site Runs on WordPress (not Drupal)

This site runs on WordPress, not Drupal. I tried to get Drupal up and running as a blogging platform when I got the nerve to start this site a couple of days ago. It was going to be a Drupal site, not a WordPress site. I recently got a new position with the Public Service of BC, starting next month and I expect to be working quite a bit with Drupal (one or more of the sites that I will be maintaining is running on Drupal). So, I wanted to get my hands dirty with the framework before I started. I wanted to learn Drupal. So I will chronicle my experience with the platform here in the hopes that it is useful to anyone who is considering using the platform for a weblog.

Step One: Download Drupal.
This went swimmingly smoothly. I have a background in web-design and know HTML and CSS along with server administration quite well (PHP not so much..). So it was easy to download Drupal, extract it, upload it to my web server, and setup the MySQL database via PHPmyAdmin.

Step Two: OK! The site’s up!
Oh.. wait.. no.. it’s not really.. uh.. I have no errors but the sites not really functional. Keep in mind, I am used to WordPress. With WP, you basically have all the tools out of the box ready to go when you install the site.

Step Three: Make the site/blog behave as you see fit.
This is the step in which I truly realized the full potential of Drupal. Drupal is not a blog, nor is it a site, nor is it an application (out of the box, in a classic sense). It’s a CMS and it’s what you make it out to be. The key thing here is what you make it out to be. Drupal is not really ready to do anything out of the box as it’s a framework – a very very powerful framework. Some frustration happens at this point for the WordPress user. There were so many options that I really didn’t know the answers to, kinda like buying a toothbrush nowadays. Did I want my admin theme to be the same theme as my site’s theme? Me: “You can do that?!?!” Which modules should I install? “Ah, the ‘Blog’ module, very well!” Nope, that’s for blogs within sites or was it blogs within blogs for different users? Oh wait.. both! Why are my images not displaying inline? How do I turn off the “show more” of the post link? How do I modify the theme? Why is it so ugly (see below)? Why do I have to upload my own WYSIWYG editor? Oh, because there’s not just one to choose from, there’s over ten!! Uhhh… nail with a sledgehammer analogy, [insert here].

A beautiful Drupal Theme:

Annnnnd another one….

Step Four: Cool out, this could be exciting. Think of the potential!
So at this point I’m asking myself, what have I got myself into? I downloaded some extra themes, setup the WYSIWYG editor, wrapped my head around the concept of creating pretty much any kind of content type that I want (I made a content type “blog post”), and tried editing some of the CSS in my chosen theme. I’m feeling OK about this, this site can do anything I want it to. Well, OK, not anything, but almost anything.. Why is it so hideous though…? Gawd, I’m a web-designer.. Gross.

Setting up Modules for the first time:

Step Five: WordPress is cooler. WordPress is easier. WordPress is a fast and easy CMS.
This is not really a ‘step’ that I took but rather a realization that anyone trying to setup a blog for personal or small business use with Drupal will come to. Drupal is not easy to setup for a plain, single user blog. On the other hand, WordPress would struggle to support a custom, multi-user/multi-group site with custom CMS and admin levels. Blogs within sites within sites? Better than Sharepoint? Maybe. Look to Drupal sites for all your needs. Want to have a single-user to a 100-user blog with images, text, and media? WordPress. Make a small business site in a day? WP.

Mind you, quietly (and in my opinion, on purpose) WordPress 3 brings us a fully featured CMS. For my clients, I will continue to build with WordPress as a CMS. It’s where I’m more comfortable but I would like a test project in order to dive right into Drupal. It’s just not going to be a small, personal blog. I scrapped the idea of Drupal for this blog at this point and setup WordPress with this theme installed in under 5 mins. Keep in mind that I am familiar with WordPress, but all the same – Drupal would struggle to do the same in the same amount of time.

I know that many people have come before me and compared Drupal to WordPress before. This post aims not to compare them, but rather to explain why this blog uses WordPress and to show the great (and I do mean great) differences between them. Both are amazing platforms that will serve a number of different uses. Quite a few people have drawn the same conclusion as I have, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. I agree. Drupal is a very powerful tool. Some have stated that WordPress is better than Drupal while others seem to think that Drupal should be more like WordPress. I disagree. If it were, then we’d just have another open source blogging platform (which Drupal can be, with patience, if you want it to be).

In closing, WordPress is currently blurring the lines between CMS, blog, and multi-user site while Drupal is hanging tough with an amazingly scalable framework ready to handle even NASA’s needs (quite literally). If it comes down to a personal choice, choose WordPress as it’s just perfect to get your personal blog up and blogging quick. If it’s big business, Drupal.

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