Drupal: My Search for a CMS


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This presentation is all about my exploration of content management systems over the last couple of years. It's includes short descriptions of a half dozen CMS's and a much longer argument on why I chose Drupal.

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Drupal: My Search for a CMS

  1. 1. Drupal: My Search for a CMS My project is on the content management system, Drupal. I have spent the last couple of years searching for the right Content Management System (CMS) for my website projects. My hope with this presentation is to not only give you some idea as to what Drupal is capable of, but to share my experience with CMS's, in general.
  2. 2. What is a CMS? A content management system is a website software built to simplify the creation and maintenance of content. It allows the user to create, edit, delete content without having to know HTML. Depending on the complexity of the system, varying levels of technical skills are required to set up, configure and customize the CMS. There are many different types of content management systems. Listed below are a few types of content management systems and popular examples of each. Blogging: Wordpress Textpattern B2BEvolution General Purpose Portal CMS: Joomla Drupal Modx Typo3 E-commerce: Magento OpenCart Prestashop Learning Management System: Moodle Docebo Social Networking: Elgg Oxwall Boonex Dolphin :
  3. 3. Popular CMS This is a pie chart from the hosting company siteground.com showing which content management system most of their clients use. There are probably hundreds of articles online debating over which is the best: Drupal, Joomla or Wordpress?
  4. 4. CMS Criteria With the diverse range of projects I'm working on, I've been trying to find a CMS with the following functionality and features: ● ● ● E-Commerce ● ● E-learning ● ● Blogging ● Multi-user content ● Permission and access control ● Flexibility of design ● Social networking A user-friendly user interface Scalability (a software that can handle lots of content, features, and users without crashing) Security Adequate documentation and support community. Before I dive into Drupal, I'd like to briefly go into some of the software I've tried, what I liked, and didn't like about them.
  5. 5. Drupal: The Alternatives Here are some of the other software I've explored before finally setting my sights on becoming a Drupal expert: Wordpress: The world's most popular blogging software. Joomla: Popular multi-user portal website. Ideal for newspaper or magazine websites. Elgg: Highly regarded open source social networking software. Typo3: A powerful yet complicated CMS rivaling Drupal for functionality and scalability. CMS Made Simple: A user-friendly CMS that makes making websites simple. Textpattern: A designer's blogging alternative to Wordpress.
  6. 6. CMS Made Simple CMSMS Advantages: ● ● ● I used CMSMS to convert one of our company's static HTML website into one the company could update themselves. The entire process of installing the software, recreating the template, and moving the content took me less than 3 hours. Very easy to add, edit, delete content, and pages. Documentation makes creating templates very easy. Attractive and intuitive user interface. CMSMS Disadvantages: ● ● ● Two textbooks are available. Both of them have deprecated code. Weak additional functionality. Programming skills required to customize additional function.
  7. 7. Textpattern Textpattern Advantages: ● ● ● I used Textpattern to build my personal website and LOVE it. I started reading the 'Friends of Ed' textbook on Textpattern and quickly saw my project unfolding before me. Textpattern is the best software I've ever used for displaying different content types in different forms. It is widely considered a great blogging alternative to Wordpress. Although not as user-friendly, designers love it. Extremely flexible for the display of content. A decent catalog of plugins for additional functionality. A very engaged user community and support forums. Textpattern Disadvantages: ● ● ● Limited documentation. Although the textbook is good, it's old and not thorough. Difficult user interface. Lack of themes - design expertise needed.
  8. 8. Typo3 Typo3 Advantages: ● ● I wanted to explore Typo3 after reading several reports on it, extolling its power, flexibility and scalability. I found several textbooks on packtpub.com; the most recent one from 2010. I gave up half way through the first book when I kept on running into difficulty with deprecated code and couldn't find an answer on any of the software's support forums. ● E-commerce capabilities and packtpub textbook to provide instruction. When compared to Joomla, Drupal and Wordpress on cmsmatrix.org, Typo3 has more features. Considered great enterprise CMS solution. Typo3 Disadvantages: ● ● Requires programming skills to create templates. Steep learning curve. I find it harder than Drupal.
  9. 9. Joomla Joomla Advantages: ● Powerful multi-user content management system with great user access control ● ● I've been working with Joomla for a couple of years. I've built a couple of projects with Joomla for clients. One of the projects, an e-commerce website, was abandoned when my client wanted to switch to Wordpress. At work, we are moving our company's site from Wordpress to Joomla as my manager feels Joomla offers a better option to integrate Magento (a very powerful e-commerce software) and has better multi-user access control. I'm currently playing around with the Joomla/Moodle integration plugin, Joomdle. Plenty of themes and plugins Not hard to customize ● ● Great support community and lots of documentation available. Moodle intergration (Joomdle) Joomla Disadvantages: ● The most viable options for ecommerce and social networking are commercial (ie. JomSocial, Mijoshop)
  10. 10. Wordpress Wordpress Advantages: ● ● We are using Wordpress for our company's website and intranet right now. The intranet is working great. The company site has been hacked a couple of times. I've also built a site for a friend with Wordpress and the site went down after it was hacked, a few months later. Despite some security issues, Wordpress is awesome. It has a plug in for almost anything imaginable. It's the most popular blogging software because of its ease of use, 1000's of quality free themes and plugins. Easy to use, customize, and administer. Great extensions for e-commerce, elearning and community (WooCommerce, Courseware, BuddyPress). ● 1000's of free themes and plugins ● Large developer community. ● Instruction on packtpub.com, lynda.com, ostraing.com as well as many textbooks and training tutorials. Wordpress Disadvantages: ● Issues with scalability and security.
  11. 11. So Why Drupal? To be honest, I find Drupal the most difficult system I've tried to learn (aside from Typo3). I have managed to get through half a dozen textbooks and a few training videos and my appreciation for Drupal, and what it is capable of, continues to rise. I've read many of the Drupal vs. Joomla vs Wordpress blog posts and the only serious knock I've ever seen with Drupal is that it has a steep learning curve. The biggest draw to Drupal is this: It can do everything, and do it well, with stability and security. There is a great comparison of Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal on several sites, but this one I find very comprehensive. Drupal Advantages: ● ● ● ● Two highly regarded and open source e-commerce extensions Ubercart and Drupal Commerce. Great e-learning capacities as well as LMS projects Opigno and Adrenna Scalable and secure. Great for large projects. Great online community capabilities. Drupal disadvantages: ● ● Drupal requires advanced technical skills to customize. For smaller projects, Drupal may be overkill.
  12. 12. Drupal: Blogging, Books, Polls & Profiles Here are some Drupal's core features: ● Profiles for each user ● Blogging for every user ● ● Books structured for longer documents Forums for threaded discussions ● Polls for user voting ● Contact forms for each user ● ● Aggregator for publishing syndicated content Statistics for tracking web traffic
  13. 13. Drupal: Learning Resources Here are some resources you may want to explore if you want to learn Drupal: Packtpub.com is my favorite resource for learning Drupal and for all other open source software. Drupal titles include: Drupal for Education and E-learning, Drupal 7 Multiligual Sites, Drupal 7 Business Solutions. Lynda.com has some great video tutorials on Drupal. I'd recommend Drupal 7 Essential Training as a great place to start. Qcollege, in Victoria, has a 330 hour 3 month Drupal and E-commerce diploma program. OSTraining.com has several high quality Drupal training videos, some of which are free. The Drupal website has documentation and a forum board to interact with the Drupal community.
  14. 14. Drupal for E-learning Packtpub has an excellent ebook called Drupal for education and Elearning. I worked through it this Summer and was able to get almost all of the exercises to work. Topics covered include: Teacher and student blogs, bookmarks, podcasting and images, video, assignments,course calendar, enrollment, tracking student progress, social networking, profiles, and organic groups. If this solution is not enough, Connect-i has recently introduced a full featured LMS based on Drupal called Opigno. Apparently, it was released in October, 2013. From what I've seen of it, it looks like it could be fantastic.
  15. 15. Drupal Opigno LMS This is Opigno's Admin Interface. Built in Drupal, Opigno could be serious competition to Moodle.
  16. 16. Drupal for E-commerce The biggest advantage to using Drupal as the an ecommerce solution is the ability to integrate content, community and e-commerce with one software. I came across an absolute beautiful e-commerce website for a natural product line called Earth to Body. I checked the source code and found out their website was built with Drupal Ubercart. I contacted the owners of the website to ask them if they had any problems with the software and they told me they really liked it. My second run-in with Ubercart was in a digital marketing class. The instructor of the class runs a multi-media business and builds all of his websites in Drupal. He told me he doesn't use any other e-commerce solution other than Ubercart. Drupal Commerce is the alternative to Ubercart. According to the forums it has a few more features, but is much harder to set up and isn't as stable as the more-mature, Ubercart.
  17. 17. Drupal for Online Communities Drupal has several stable modules for social networking. Packtpub's Drupal 7 for Social Networking is a great place to start when learning to configure Drupal's basic social features. Interestingly enough, this ebook has a section on alternatives to Drupal; the only open source software listed is Elgg. For more out-of-the-box ready social modules, two modules I plan to test are Drupal Commons and Open Atrium. Both are considered excellent options for company intranets. I've looked at JomSocial (Joomla's commercial extension) and BuddyPress (Wordpress's social plugin. Both look excellent. BuddyPress, in particular, is much easier to configure than Drupal's social features. I still will go with Drupal because of its scalability and security.
  18. 18. Further Reading Comparing CMS's: ● CMSmatrix.org ● ● CMCCritic.com ● ● ● ● ● CMS Fundamentals video tutorial from Lynda.com Choosing an Open Source CMS ebook from packtpub (dated but still worth reading) Added Bytes E-Commerce comparison Drupal vs. Joomla vs. Wordpress - one of many articles written on the debate. Awesome alternatives to Wordpress – one of my many blog articles plugging Textpattern and other platforms for blogging. ● ● ● ● Modx.com– Modx is popular content management system I haven't tried but would like to. It keeps coming up as a favorite in my research. Opensourcecms.com is a complete reference to all open source CMS. Includes links to demo systems. Mediacurrent.com has a great list and discussion thread of 50 Drupal 7 modules. Webappers.com list Ubercart on their list of the 15 best open source e-commerce platforms. Webresourcedepot.com has an article on the best open source social networking softwares. Notice how Drupal is not on the list but is mentioned in the thread.