Sunday, November 12, 2006

Joomla vs Drupal?

Recently I was asked to write a review for CMS of best-choice. It's full text is below, so you can check and leave comments.

What CMS to choose?

Well, let’s begin from the beginning. What are the most possible candidates? Drupal (, Joomla ( and Wordpress ( – YES! I’m not mistaken, WordPress can be used as CMS). These projects beat anything else I know.

I’d like to begin from the Wordpress. The subject is well-known as blogging engine, but only a few people know it can be used as CMS. Here is what John McCreesh wrote at
Could WordPress be used for full-blown websites as well as blogs? I believe the answer is definitely yes. WordPress lets users do an awful lot of things without requiring any knowledge of the underlying technology, such as maintaining content, including images; creating categories for the content; selecting the look-and-feel of the site from a large and growing range of templates; managing multiple users with different access rights; and adding and removing plugins for extra functionality. For users with a working knowledge of web technologies such as HTML, CSS, or PHP, then so much the better -- they can dive under the bonnet/hood (depending on which side of the Atlantic you dive from) and work all sorts of magic. The end result is the best of both CMS and blog worlds, with flexible content layout arranged under hierarchical menus such as a CMS, plus all the nice features of blogs such as ease of maintenance, RSS feeds, comments, and permalinks.

As you can see it’s possible to use WordPress as a web-project engine. If you have content-driven project and you do not need e-commerce integration, your business logic is straight-through and simple – WordPress is right for you. A lot of plugins for RSS, polling etc. will help you to build the website quickly and easily.

But what if we need a sort of complex site? Among hundreds of CMSs I distinguish Drupal and Joomla. There is a lot of reasons why these and not other projects, you can check all of them yourself if you don’t trust me. To be honest the only other project that’s worth seeing is Xoops ( But it’s neither user-friendly nor geniously coded (it is great coded though!) so I’m leaving xoops alone.

Let’s compare those monsters. Monsters in a good meaning. The first thing that caught my eye is Joomla’s admin panel – take a look at (alfim/joomlapass). It’s completely user-friendly, isn’t it? Here is what says (Mambo is an older sister of Joomla):
Mambo is certainly “easy on the eyes”: most people react very favorably to seeing the administration interface for the first time. Another aspect where Mambo is definitely ahead of the game is in installation friendliness, as well as add-on management (installation and uninstallation of components, modules, etc.)
In comparison, Drupal requires one to manually unzip add-ons on the server, possibly create the necessary SQL tables from supplied scripts, and there is no friendly installation “wizard” to guide you through first-time installation. (This is all evolving, though; it shouldn’t be many months before there is a comprehensive installation system available in Drupal.)
If the above points are very important considerations to you, as they certainly might be to less technically-savvy users, then you may not really benefit from this article. As stated, our team hails from a quite different user segment.

And I completely agree with that. Also, Joomla has thousands of third-party components and templates (much more than Drupal has). That’s the first reason why I’m in love with Joomla.

I hope you know what is Google Trends. Shortly: it’s a tool that analyzes Google web searches and that can visualize search trends over time using so called "search-volume graphs". These graphs usually provide a good mechanism to compare the popularity of two or more products. provides us with the search-volume graph that compares Drupal and Joomla:

It is worth pointing out that Joomla has been around a lot longer than the graph suggests. In 2005, the bulk of Mambo's core developers left Mambo and started Joomla after a dispute with Miro Corporation, the company that founded Mambo. Keep this in mind when interpreting the graph. (I tried adding Mambo to the graph but the term Mambo isn't unique to Mambo, the content management system.)
That said, you can see that Joomla is more popular than Drupal, and that Joomla has been growing a lot faster. Why? The general consensus is that Joomla has a more appealing balance between functionality, flexibility, performance, quality of code, ease of use, documentation, user interface design, support and product marketing.
And that’s the second reason why I recommend Joomla – it’s popular, it has very… very big community so all bugs are found and fixed quickly and number of different add-ons for that CMS grows extremely fast.
You might have heard Mambo* is “bulky, badly optimized for search engines, and generally rigid and brittle to customized. Drupal, on the other hand, is perhaps the most search engine friendly CMS on the market. Its modular, flexible, its underlying design has been guided by a stellar philosophy” ( . But Mambo is not a Joomla (check Nick's comment below).

*There was "Joomla" before Nov 15, thanks to Nick Lewis for correction.

Now, to be honest, I’d like to tell you there is one thing why I can recommend you to use Drupal. It’s coded better than Joomla. It’s a bit faster than Joomla. says Drupal is 319% faster than Joomla (wow!) but that’s also not a reality. To check this I took my old PC (P-133Mhz) installed there LAMP (Linux+Apache+MySQL+PHP), set up Joomla and Drupal, modified code a bit to get perfomance data and after all of that I got interesting things – Joomla and Drupal have shown comparable time. Drupal was faster only 1%-3%. Old PC demonstrated server’s behaviour at high loads, so … that’s the third reason why I still love Joomla.

And, to get this finished, here’s what users wrote at Yahoo! Answers:
There are many Open Source CMS applications and as usual choosing an appropriate one is difficult. In my experience, I find Joomla and Mambo the best but I prefer Joomla as it is being developed more at present as it is an off-shoot of Mambo.
Drupal looks impressive but I found it hard to configure. We used another one called Midgard for a project but there has been little development of that CMS plus it is hard to configure.
The reasons why I like Joomla better are as follows:
1. Joomla has many extensions (add-ons) so it can be scaled easily -
2. There are many free as well as paid templates available.
3. Joomla is search engine friendly and this is an important consideration while marketing your website on the Internet. There is as an Search Engine Friendly (SEF) extension at
4. Most hosting providers have Joomla that can be installed through their Control Panels.
So, if you are a hard programmer, you like to experiment with code, you don’t care much about user-friendly and usability or you think Drupal’s solution is OK – use Drupal.

If you care about your customers, you wish to ba able to set up addons (components and modules) with 2-3 mouse clicks without even unpacking files manually on server (Joomla will do that for you) or you’re just like me love Joomla – go ahead and give it a try.

Added on Nov, 16th: Guys, I'm not the only who respect Joomla. PackTrub admitted it to be the best. Wow!

Alexander Alfimov. Nov, 09 2006


Blogger BPO Canada said...

What could be the reason Fortune 500 companies have Chosen Drupal over Joomla. ( Mind well, IBM is not the only one :-) )

Obviously, this article is missing the reality. Having more popularity does not mean having more acceptance and more successful sites.

When you start comparing the business value of Drupal sites v/s Joomla sites, you will get a different picture.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Alexander Alfimov said...

Firts of all I'd like to thank you for the comment and ask you for independent resources where you took that info. I've checked your profile and found 12 links to Drupal blogs but nothing about Joomla. Just a question: have you ever use that system?

Well, to be honestly, Drupal is coded much better, Joomla's core is coded nice too, but not 3rd party components (which often makes up to 90% of the site). So, I think Drupal was selected because of better coding of most parts (also, large companies have big programmers teams and I'm just wondering why don't they create websites from scretch?), but anyway, Joomla is worth seeing and using.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous artvolk said...

For me the main criteria for choosing general purposes (not e-shop, bug tracker, wiki etc)
CMS are:

1. Valid XHTML\CSS Templates, RSS and Friendly URLs out of the box
2. Some kind of own markup (or valid XHTML). The main idea: not allow end-user to make some
"fucking cool formatting effects".
3. Ability to upload, resize, thumbnailing photos and insert them with or without floating, with
or without caption.
4. Ability to upload files, some kind of automation to make links on own site.
5. Ability to insert XHTML-valid tables

6-100. Size of community, good OO code, documented API, 3rd party modules

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Nick Lewis said...

I believe I was talking about Mambo in 2005, not Joomla! in 2006. Mambo != Joomla -- at all. Joomla! was basically rewritten from the ground up. And I'll be the first to admit that the Joomla! team is doing fantastic work. Though, you'll understand my bias toward drupal.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Alexander Alfimov said...

Hi, Nick!

It's so nice to see you here!!! You know, many people think Joomla is almost the same as Mambo. But anyway I'll correct post. Sorry if I offended you.

Thank you very much for you comment.

4:12 AM  
Anonymous ChuckTrukk said...

If you have a site where you only need a framework and plan on splitting the development up between a designer and developer, check out

I checked it out 6 months ago and decided to wait until it had mroe features. Now it does, and I am loving it. The best part about MODx? There are zero (0 - ie no) harcoded HTML involved. Everything has a placeholder (such as [+authorname+] and {{content}}). You can create / modify that placeholders and let the designer worry about all of the presentation.

Main addons:
Template Installer:

Menu Manager:

Form Creator:

Feedback (ie comments, guestbook, etc.):

Package Installer:


PS - I love Joomla for some sites. I have used joomla/mambo for over 2 years and have loved it. But this flexibility and seperation of logic and design is just wonderful

2:06 PM  
Blogger Alexander Alfimov said...

Thank you, Chuck! I'll take a look, sounds like that's pretty good thing.

Take care.

12:44 AM  
Blogger BPO Canada said...


Thanks for checking. As a matter of fact, we started working on two separate projects - One in Drupal and One in Joomla.

We had few of the best developers and other companies working on these projects with us.

My Development team was impressed with the speed, taxonomy features, robust code of Drupal and at that time, we decided to scrap Joomla and only focus on Drupal. Our joomla project was and we are now doing it in drupal -

You can see that has Mambo as one of its services(and it will soon be removed). I understand that Joomla 2.0 promises lot more but for now, we are sticking with Drupal.

So, yes I have at least 3 resources in my company who know Joomla and its Components.

From someone who does not care about core architecture and is looking for ease of install,looks, etc Joomla would be fantastic. But as a Company, we want to invest in Rock Solid Platform, decent code, Speed and yes we just love Drupal Taxonomy!

Of late after we as a company decided to change direction, I must agree that we are biased towards Drupal.

I think both Drupal and Joomla are here to stay. It will take couple of years to see which one is the clear leader.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Alexander Alfimov said...

Hi, nice to see you again!

You know, if you want reliable code and want to be sure in it -- create it yourself. Especially if you're saying you have a good programmers team.

Take care.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Stas Ostapenko said...

I don't agree with you, alfim ! If you think, that you can create some soft, as good as some opensource product created by community of 10-100+ developers - you a totally cool. Somebody can create very cool soft. The question is in time(and money) when it'll be finished. IMHO,
good_and_reliable_soft = opensource + smart_developers + contributors + great_community

As for me, Drupal looks like more serious. By the way, interesting article

7:48 AM  
Blogger Stas Ostapenko said...

I don't agree with you, alfim ! If you think, that you can create some soft, as good as some opensource product created by community of 10-100+ developers - you a totally cool. Somebody can create very cool soft. The question is in time(and money) when it'll be finished. IMHO,
good_and_reliable_soft = opensource + smart_developers + contributors + great_community

As for me, Drupal looks like more serious. By the way, interesting article

7:51 AM  
Anonymous news editor said...

i have chosen joomla as a cms for my news portals (, two years ago. Now I see, that joomla evaluates faster than other CMS and has big community with support section. Last month I searched for engine for another my project, but stayed with joomla- for me joomla is very customisable and user friendly cms. But it took about 0.5 year to understand this system...

2:05 AM  
Blogger Alexander Alfimov said...

Stas, did you see that IBM even didn't mention Joomla! on their list of CMSs? They talk abour Mambo, but not Joomla!. That's not fair, IMHO.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Alexander Alfimov said...

2all: Right now I'm working on a big project using Joomla! The main feature of the project is a pretty large list of non-standard (for Joomla!) things, like featured articles, putting one article into several categories, etc.

I'm going to write an post and tell you about everything I had to add (and even hard-code) to Joomla! myself. But only after I finish the project. Hope this will be useful for somebody (It will be done much faster if anybody say "Yes! Write it! It's interesting!" :-))

6:01 PM  
Blogger Adrian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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Anonymous Rosie said...

These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Alexander Alfimov said...

You're very welcome.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a friend of Joomla since it's birth and simply loves this CMS solution. It's also easy to get joomla extensions and website templates.

10 of ten points to Joomla!

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