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Joomla Development Insights

Joomla Development Insights

John is the owner and senior developer of Blue Bridge.

Joomla vs. Drupal vs. WordPress

Joomla vs. Drupal vs. WordPress

A question I’m commonly asked is why I prefer Joomla! over the other open source CMS applications, specifically the other big popular applications Drupal and WordPress. People don't understand the differences between the three and jump at the opportunity to ask a domain expert like me what those differences are. Most of the blog posts that I've seen comparing them do Goldilocks comparisons where they fall along a gradient: easy and simple (WordPress), medium and medium (Joomla!), and technical and hard (Drupal). This is easy for people to understand, but it's not accurate and it's a simplification which isn't helpful. In this post, I'm not going to do a rich analysis of the differences between the three, but rather show you why this comparison isn't helpful and suggest an alternate course of analysis.

The Joomla vs. Drupal Assignment

When I was but a lowly developer intern many years ago, I worked at a small web design company and was tasked with developing a report concerning Drupal vs. Joomla and making recommendations for that company about which to use for their CMS projects. I spent a week reading up on, installing, and testing them for functionality. In the end, I recommended Joomla because I felt that Drupal's interface was difficult to understand for the common end-user and Joomla's modern code base would be easier to develop for.

Ah-ha! Now here's the tricky part: I did find Drupal to be hard for non-developer end-users and this does fall in line with the common Goldilocks comparison. This would seem to lend the generalization truth, but Drupal's interface worked like it did because it reflected the applications design which allowed for a lot of flexibility at the web interface level. If our requirements had called for this, I might've turned away from a great solution based on the simplification that Drupal is hard.

In actuality, Joomla!, Drupal, and WordPress are different and have different strengths. As a hard-core coder, Joomla's architecture and nuanced application development environment is the only one I want to work on. It's great for our clients too because that code base allows for a diverse range of solutions and is better positioned for future development. Plus, its international language support is excellent, its user interface is tablet friendly, and it has a strong security model. In our mobile and global business environment, these requirements are important to Blue Bridge’s clients and to me.

Know How Your Project is Different

And that's the point: different businesses have different priorities. The important thing is to understand what your requirements are and how they'll be served by the application you choose to use. For 95% of the people in the open source CMS ecosystem, and likely you, it doesn't matter very much which application you choose. All three are easy enough to use and solve the common requirements of content management. None of them are perfect or going to magically work exactly how you want them to.  If you're starting a new project and trying to choose between the three, I suggest that you focus on the project features that are uncommon or that form core needs and explore how the different CMS's will meet these requirements now and in the future.  If your requirements are all vanilla, do some test installs and see which user interface is easiest for you to work on.  And, if you get stuck and can't decide, choose Joomla, because it's not really the middle choice - it's the best choice. :)

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