Dear Drupal: Season’s Greetings. Love, Smashing WordPress.
Every day I work with WordPress in one way or another. My Twitter feed is full of WordPress types, and I’m a regular at my local WordPress meetup. I’m a WordPress fan.
The developer across the hall from me works with Joomla. His Twitter feed is full of Joomla types, and he uses the CMS every day. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he attends the local Joomla user group. He’s a Joomla fan.
The White House hosts a number of Web developers who use Drupal every day. Their Twitter feeds are probably full of Drupal types, and some may well attend the Washington DC Drupal meetup. They are Drupal fans.
We Have A Problem
In the WordPress community, I often see snide remarks directed at the Drupal and Joomla communities. I see the occasional remark directed at WordPress, too, but because I hang around mostly with WordPress types, I see more outbound comments.
This bickering ranges from overt expressions of contempt to, more subtly, gleeful sharing of accounts of internal disputes on “the other side.”
I am more effective at working with WordPress than with Joomla or Drupal, both of which baffle me to some extent. It’s not that the other CMS’ are inferior, but that my knowledge of them is.
Drupal Is Better Than WordPress
Without a doubt, Drupal is better than WordPress. Out of the box, it can handle higher traffic, its database management is better, and complex data maps are easier to handle. Out of the box, assigning permissions and preventing certain users from accessing data are easier to do. If you were creating a public-facing intranet website – for example, to allow salespeople to access internal documents on the road – this would be comforting.
WordPress Is Better Than Drupal
Without a doubt, WordPress is better than Drupal. Out of the box, content submission is easier for someone who is untrained in HTML, the default rewrite URLs are much nicer than Drupal’s, and customizing the default settings is easier.
The core developers focused on backwards compatibility, so a theme written today for version 3.2.1 will likely work in four years’ time.
The Gift Of Inspiration
Despite the trash talk, Drupal and WordPress have one thing in common: a frequent crossover of features. In some cases, it’s a core feature (a recent example being menus in Drupal being brought over to WordPress).
In other cases, a developer will port a popular module or plugin to their platform of choice. The new functionality may be optional, but it is still cross-platform pollination.
All Software Has Its Weaknesses
Every piece of software I have ever used has at some point made me get up from my desk, walk calmly across the room and kick the crap out of the garbage can. (Try it. It’s cheaper than throwing the computer.)
The big three open-source CMS’ are no different from any other software. There are idiosyncrasies to work around, and there are edge-case and intermittent bugs that will hit you and one other person.
Share Your Weaknesses
Instead of trash-talking the “the other” CMS’ and dwelling on their weaknesses, let’s come together and recognize that we are all part of the same community: the open-source community.
In open-source circles, hearing of the desire to give back to the community is relatively common. Expanding your definition of “community” from the one around your platform to encompass the open-source community will increase your opportunity to give back.
Giving back doesn’t have to mean offering a tangible product, such as a theme, plugin or module repository. It could be as simple as sharing how you solved a particular problem.
Send Christmas Cards
Instead of sending broadsides in each other’s direction, let’s send Christmas cards to each other. If you start sharing with the opposition, it’ll soon reciprocate.
I’m not advocating that all open-source CMS communities strive for the same goals, sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya and having conversations along the lines of:
“You’re the best.”
“No, you’re the best.”
I am advocating that we respect the strengths of each other’s non-preferred CMS and help improve its weaknesses. Sitting around a campfire is strictly optional.
© Peter Wilson for Smashing Magazine, 2011.