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Archive for January, 2007

Drupal and Joomla!

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Picking a content management system to manage a web site has proven to be a rather complicated task. We moved up and down the chain of complexity, trying very powerful (and complicated) tools like Bricolage and experimenting with very simple PHP scripts that render a directories’ contents into an auto-generated list of URLs. All of this in an attempt to find the sweet spot for content owners to be able to upload their information to the web without having to be computer programmers to manage the process.

Last year I started experimenting pretty heavily with Drupal and was quite impressed. I set up a site for our department at work and had things moving along nicely. When I started doing some initial training for end users, however, it became evident that the flexibility of Drupal was actually proving to be a detriment to new users. When you add content to Drupal, for example, you can specify the URL path to be whatever you want. For someone who knows what they are doing, this is powerful and welcome. For someone who is not familiar with the implications of changes to this path for those browsing the site, it is too much control. On many levels, users with access to the backend system have opportunities to cause trouble.

I therefore started playing with Joomla!. There are things I miss about Drupal on the developer side, but from the end user side there are a couple of things that sold me on the tool:

  1. A front-end interface that lets content owners access the content via the same interface they read it in. This has proven to be more intuitive for most users.
  2. A more advanced design/development community. There are a number of commercial options for purchasing professional templates, which aids in easing the learning curve when getting started. There are templates for Drupal, but with few exceptions they tend to look like Drupal sites, which isn’t what we were looking for.

I don’t like Joomlas method (or lack thereof) of generating sensical URLs. It requires a plug-in that requires quite a bit of setup on a large site to configure correctly.

Anyway, it wasn’t a case of one being all good and one being all bad, we simply had a set of requirements that were better met by Joomla!

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