WordPress v Drupal

The other day I saw a post on my WordPress admin screen entitled WordPress and Drupal: Convergence? which presented a slideshow of why WordPress was supposedly going to overtake Drupal. I use WordPress for this blog and Drupal for two other sites I run, and it would be a great shame, in my opinion, to see either of them become the “loser” in a battle of blog applications as they are made for very different purposes and I couldn’t imagine using WordPress for one of the sites I use Drupal for.

WordPress is more of a straight-out-of-the-box blogging platform, although it can easily be used for other purposes. Drupal is a website toolkit and pretty much anything you do with it will require some customisation and much use of the administration tools. You’ll at least want to change the default theme, you’ll need to decide how to categorise your postings as you can set up multiple content types and add different sets of categories to each, you’ll need to decide which modules to actually switch on … it takes work, and using a flexible content management system (CMS) does, by nature.

To be sure, WordPress has added some features in recent versions which make installing and upgrading themes and plugins much easier than it ever has been in Drupal. You can do it all from the admin interface in WordPress — install plugins and themes, upgrade them, upgrade the whole system. Upgrading Drupal to a new major version is a much bigger undertaking as you have to make sure all the modules you are currently using have equivalents in the new one, and you have to upgrade each module manually, shutting down your whole site for a while as you put each new piece in place. Drupal could well include some of these features in the upcoming Drupal 7 release, but a big upgrade of the whole system is always going to be a bigger undertaking than in WordPress. Meanwhile, one feature I’d like WordPress to borrow from Drupal is the ability to configure widgets (blocks, as Drupal calls them) per theme, so that you can experiment with a theme and, if you don’t like it, go back to the old one and find your widgets where they were before. In WordPress, each theme has its own set of “widget areas”, and if you switch to a theme with different names for its sidebars, it loses all your arrangements.

Besides, setting up a professional-looking and distinctive WordPress site is not all that easy either. I’m fairly good at writing content and using the software to run my website, but the design is just not my forte and never has been, so I need either an easily-configurable basic theme, or a theme that suits me out of the package, and while I’m fairly satisfied with the theme I’m using now, I’m aware that it’s not unique to my site and I do know of someone who chose the exact same theme I have. But it’s not every other WordPress site that has it. There are a handful of themes that I would estimate are used on at least half of WordPress sites, and they aren’t much better looking than the standard themes on Drupal.

So, Drupal is never going to be WordPress and while there are features each could borrow from each other to make Drupal easier to use and WordPress more versatile, there is a place for both because they are different types of CMS. For a site showcasing a piece of software, in which you need two or more different types of content (a blog for announcements, a changelog, usage documentation), Drupal can’t be beat. For a ready-to-roll blogging platform, choose WordPress.

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