Why Migrate from Joomla to Drupal?

Thoughts on whether worth the move from Joomla to Drupal.

I've had an email from someone asking me if it's worth migrating a Joomla 1.0 site to Joomla! 1.5 or - as I've done with a couple of sites, including this - to Drupal. (This site's Drupal 6; Drupal 5 remains current, too.) My reply:

I'd become more disenchanted w Joomla; built a Drupal site last year, and liked Drupal, inc the taxonomy - free tagging is the kind of thing you might like, so can assign keywords to articles, and Drupal readily gathers them.

- some irony here, as when I first learned of content management systems, I was told of Drupal: but looked at the site and found it baffling, what with "nodes" and so forth. I looked around, found Mambo, which seemed instantly more appealing, tried this and liked it, later moving to Joomla, but then thinking hmmm.... - and finding newer versions of Drupal looked far friendlier to my eyes.

My impressions:
Joomla more re money for this, money for that; being nickel n dimed to death noted one post I saw.
Also, I gained impression Joomla developers not so interested in actual websites; I did a few posts re URLs (human and search engine friendly and, importantly, not changing as upgrade software etc), but not getting much in way of good responses. One developer even wrote that SEO is unimportant: ludicrous.
Joomla the best cms for sites about Joomla....
Drupal more open source spirit, more unified: for instance, update status checks on whether modules etc, as well as core, updated.
Also, tho can be geeky, seems Drupal more about websites. List of sites using it is impressive; I also saw IBM cited Drupal in an article about using open source software to build website.

I'd long wondered re Drupal move, thought it too hard. Finally tried to J1.5, conversion didn't work (I found what may have been answer in a forum, but wasn't impressed the conversion failed, months n months after J1.5 came out); and looked at Drupal again - happily, was a new module for move to Drupal 6; since then, another out to D 5. Don't move Fireboard; that was longer move, but worked (via SMF and phpBB; I opted for drupal forum, as content then part of warp n weave of site, even tho not all forum functions present - is some work being done on better forum, and I don't yet have flatforum module). I've posted some guff re this on Drupal site.

Quick look at your site, and members might be tough, without code to move the details as well as names and emails (which do get transferred). Tho I think there's Drupal module re members import that may help; dunno if would suit your needs.

You might look at, say, www,hkoutdoors.com - inc the "site index" link at top, "category browser" on left - both are to auto generated pages, leading to content. In index, say, notice the Free Tags index page, which to me impressive, albeit I need to tidy up various tags. Many of these free tags were from "keywords" meta tags in Joomla site.)
Menus at left, below adsense, also auto generated, using Views module: this is a bit mind boggling, but powerful, for "juggling" content in all manner of ways - could be basic lists, or collections of whole articles of certain type etc etc etc.

My site pretty simple; on Drupal site, can see info on more sites, inc recent info re one on old planes that looks magnificent (but huge amount of work by expert Drupal geek!)

Also, I'm now using multi-site feature of Drupal; this morn updated Drupal for six sites - just had to upload the software once, then run update script for each site.

Might even be useful to try migrations to both J1.5 and Drupal, esp if can do on local machine, and just have quick play around.
Over long term, could be time well spent.

- Yet, with Drupal 7 and Drupal 8: seems upgrades from Drupal 6 are challenging.
Maybe Drupal is becoming more for larger operations.

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Martin Williams


On tagging: there are Joomla extensions for this, some good ones (and free) for 1.5, but nothing like Drupal's Calais module as far as I know. (There is some developer talk about doing one at joomla.org.) The section/category limitation can be worked around natively, and there are some extensions for that, but it's a bad quality of the core to be sure.

On "money," you're not right about that. Joomla commercial extensions are a small but high quality part of the whole. For what you get they're generally a great deal. This is a strength and part of the diversity of the Joomla ecosystem that Drupal lacks.

On SEO, not exactly true. SEF urls are not really an SEO factor nowadays, but they are good for other reasons. Joomla 1.5 handles them well--about equal to Drupal. So do some free and commercial extensions for 1.0 and 1.5.

On Drupal's capacity to monitor update needs--that is fantastic and something Joomla is working toward. Some of the better extensions do this.

There are a lot of areas where Joomla beats Drupal hands down or specific site types that Joomla is better suited to handle. Classified ads, general ad sales and management, real forums, real comments, amazing event calendars, all installed through the admin UI (no FTP) looking hot out of the box and ready to go with an easy admin UI. Rapid deployment of anything that needs a standard, easy to use, easy to theme, and easy to learn CMS--that's Joomla. Joomla 1.5 is weak only in one core CMS function, the section/category limitation. It's limited, non-scalable ACL is potentially a weakness for some deployments of it as a CMS but is most likely to be a barrier to people doing social publishing/networking, which is not a CMS function.

Drupal is more of a powerful, complex, amorphous social network platform fused to a wiki-like blog that doesn't make a lot of sense on first, second, third contact. Intuitive is not a word that applies to anything in Drupal. You have to suffer a long time until you "get it." And this cycle is repeated many times--getting the UI, getting the support and development community, getting the general logic of the whole thing, getting the theming system...

Drupal can be extended to do a lot of powerful things...with considerable effort and a steep learning curve. But it is unalterably locked to a bad, text-heavy, disorganized administative user interface...for now. And until modules like Panels catch up to Drupal 6, I don't see Drupal 6 as being worth using to deploy on sites that are going to have complex pages showing a variety of different content. Even in 5 it is a big time/money investment. There are commercial and non-profit niches that feel well-served by making that investment, and they are probably correct. For a serious long-term investment in certain social networky sites, Drupal's ACL and multisite capacities are worth the pains. Otherwise, it's an intellectual challenge for masochists who have a lot of time on their hands.

Thanks for the comment, Dan

I don't know Drupal's cCalais module - just using the regular tagging.

Debatable re the money. I kept coming across Joomla add-ons that were for money; for quite some time, even SEF/human friendly URLs were supposedly best achieved by paid-for component. I've seen a case where a developer stopped developing, stopped corresponding w people who'd paid up. Paying US$10 for this,  US$20 or whatever for that - things could soon add up, for a cms that people might start with figuring it's open source, and does all they might want.
Drupal strong, I believe, in having extensions that are more part of the project; some of them sponsored. Can pay for special work.

I didn't just mention re SEF URLs; more that Joomla! developers didn't seem too interested in actual websites - the URLs being, to me, just a symptom of this. Yes, URLs decent in 1.5 apparently; but this wasn't to be the case, initially. Even the nifty SEF patch didn't make it to 1.0 or, initially, 1.5.

As to the lot of areas where Joomla beats Drupal hands down - hmmm.... Drupal has forum, which isn't feature packed, but is part of warp and weave of the site - so works w taxonomy, menus, you can promote posts to front page, site search readily works: to me, big pluses vs Fireboard; as noted in title, matter of opinion re which is best. Real comments? - err, Drupal has these, but weren't with Joomla 1.0 [I didn't migrate to 1.5; tried, but an error, and sent me to check re Drupal migration].
Joomla easy to learn? Hmm... - I've argued re this in Joomla forum; superficially easy, perhaps.
At first, w Drupal, installing by FTP seemed outmoded vs Joomla; but not an issue once doing it. And don't find odd and annoying permissions for folders etc, as I had w Joomla installing components and modules.

Maybe a few iterations ago Drupal was as you describe; but it's surely progressed.
Drupal was the first cms I heard of, back in 2004; I looked at the site, couldn't make head nor tail of it, and opted for Mambo. Lately, I believe Drupal far more user friendly.

Administrative interface seems well enough organised to me.

Panels for Drupal 6 seems well overdue, will be a boon.
But even w Joomla, it's possible to make overly complex pages, which can take ages to load, might be confusing.

Since I changed from Joomla, I've had people comment that new site is easier to navigate - which for me was one of the key things.