I tried Joomla last year and it annoyed the heck out of me. I switched to Drupal and found it to be much better, but numerous problems with Drupal have frustrated me to the point where I feel trapped inside Drupal -- clawing and punching to escape. Meanwhile, Wordpress waits quietly in the background, promising some of the features of a complete CMS without all of the current generation of CMS solutions.

Unfortunately, I did not keep (or cannot find) my notes from last year when I compared Joomla and Drupal. This forces me to start over in looking at them both.

Luckily, this forum provides a convenient location for me to store notes so that I can find them later.

First, let's see what some other people have to say on this topic:
Drupal and Joomla comparison

Drupal fails on such elements as Shopping Carts, Event Calendars, Document Management, and Themes.

Joomla fails to deliver in such elements as user permission, content management, multi-site management, and standard's compliance.

Joomla fails in elements that are more architecture centric. Taking the flip side, Joomla as a CMS appears to excel in elements that can be identified as functional, while Drupal succeeds in the architectural elements.

2006 Open Source Content Management System Award Winner Announced


  • Has been around for quite some time and is stable and actively developed
  • Well coded and has an available granular permissions system and a strong eye for security
  • Configuration was a breeze
  • Lightweight installation
  • Plethora of modules and themes
  • Exceptional documentation and has an active and friendly community
  • The node concept is very good


  • Very easy to install and use with lots of extensions and modules
  • The documentation is exhaustive and concise
  • Admin user interface is intuitive and powerful
  • The backend of Joomla! is very usable and the WYSIWYG editor the content was nice
  • Seems like it would scale well and provides a lot of customization options
  • Large and active community

some thoughts from a newb

The eye candy of joomla caught my attention pretty quickly. However, it really didn't take long to figure out joomla just didn't have the complex permissioning and workflow abilities that I would need for a corporate intranet.

Drupal is way way better than Joomla

Drupal has the best community support which you must look at seriously.

Why you should use Drupal over Joomla ?

  1. Overall Performance
  2. Efficient and cleaner code ( A Big one - I don't like messing around 100's of files for simple changes)
  3. Extensible and Robust Framework
  4. Granular Access Control
  5. Versioning
  6. Taxonomy ( Just Lovely!!!! )
  7. Scalability

Joomla has its perks, but it's wrong for your project

Joomla is smooth and easy to install, and out of the box (without changing settings in either CMS) it seems to be more powerful. But if you are trying to change anything in the way it displays and controls access, it turns out to be a brittle codebase that has practically no access control or customizable user groups.

I think Joomla would beat Drupal in modules

  1. Joomla has a *lot* of modules (actually called "extensions" by Joomla).
  2. Joomla has a lot of extensions that drupal lacks - such as a document management extension (docman), a few extensions for selling real estate, an extension for classified ads, and many many more.
  3. Joomla's ecommerce solution is far superior to drupal's solution. I think joomla's extensions for a wysiwyg editor, and forums, may also be superior to drupal's modules.
  4. Many drupal modules are broken, especially in 5.0. For me, it is a rare occurance that a drupal module "just works."
  5. Both drupal and joomla are strong projects. But I think drupal's strength is as a pure CMS. When it comes to modules v extensions, I think joomla wins easily.

I've had a Joomla site for

But Joomla has severe shortcomings where it really counts. There is no user management worthy of that name. There is no content management possible (ok, there is the section/category/item bit, but that's almost nothing, very insufficient for a site with, say, 5,000 articles on a multitude of topics). The 1,400 extensions are often of very marginal use. Joomla is a helluva pain to customize on the (deeper) code level.

Two weeks ago, I made the switch to Drupal. I'm not blind for its shortcomings. Its administration part is not at all so intuitive as Joomla's Administrator. There is a lot of lingo to master. But I simply adore its taxonomy and its user management, two key elements in any serious content management scheme. There are not so many Drupal modules as there are Joomla extensions, but I have the feeling they're mainly of a more "serious" level.

Roughly counted, there are

  • After about one year of working with Joomla and about a month of working with Drupal, I can safely say that Joomla-out-of-the-box can definitely do more than Drupal, and that Drupal's learning curve is slightly steeper than Joomla's.
  • BUT Drupal is Definitely the thing to choose with respect to matters "where it counts":
    • its user control is a zillion times better and more powerful than what Joomla has to offer.
    • its multicategory system of storing things is a Joy after having had to cope with Joomla's lack of this.
    • the taxonomy, closely linked to this, is a gem.

Joomla divides its users in

Joomla divides its users in unregistered / registered / special. That's it. The subdivision in author/publisher/manager or what's it called is of no practical use, except when you have just 5 or 10 contributors. In a mature system, access rights need to be as granular as possible to accomodate far more contributors in, say, 20 or 30 or 50 user roles. This is unthinkable in Joomla - and a breeze (well, sort of) in Drupal.

And Joomla's method for categorizing content brings back memories from those days, when I thought that "Item / category / section" was all I would ever need . In Drupal, you can categorize / taxonomize to your heart's content. You can attach access rights to your categorization etc.

As a Joomla User...

Joomla has Gloss in spades, gazillions of themes, flexible block presentation, WYSIWYG editing, and more flash based presentation galleries than you can shake a stick at.

Drupal seems to have the guts that Joomla lacks; everything integrated, taxonomy, flexible hierarchies, access control, etc.

When worlds collide

  • Joomla - the lack of flexibility - you have thousands of extensions, but most of them provide a ready solution, whereas Drupal's modules extend the way we can customize Drupal. In Joomla you would install the 'real estate' extension and in Drupal you would extend the system with a couple of different modules and configure them to suit your needs. It's a major difference. I totally hated installing one Joomla extension and spending HOURS or even DAYS removing loads of unneeded (for certain project) features. Joomla sites are easily distinguishable since usually it requires a lot of effort to customize the extensions (thus hardly anyone does it).
  • Maintainability (just learned what this cool word means ) - if anyone tried to make some bigger customizations to Community Builder extension in Joomla will surely agree with me, that most Joomla's extensions' code totally SUCKS. In Joomla community hardly anyone follows any guidelines so each modules' code can totally differ from another one. So you spend even more time figuring how each extension works and praying that newer version won't differ from the previous one too much...
  • Features - well, I made a couple of sites using VirtueMart (check out: www.galiciajewishmuseum.org - the bookshop; I don't maintain the site anymore - I don't have enough guts to stick with this cms...). The shop is really ok, but again - it provides 10,000 unneeded features. Someone wisely said: "A feature that you can't turn off is a bug". This way making a small shop is actually much more effort due to slow removal of all those cute details the client doesn't need. Joomla's popularity is fueled mainlly because ease of deploying it. Couple of clicks and you have a e-commerce web site.
  • "Joomla is big, lots of files" - this one is not true. Joomla base install takes about 1100 files mainly due to TinyMCE which is quite pulverized. A ready Drupal site (with all needed modules) can be as big as Joomla (sometimes even bigger). The number of files actually doesn't do much difference since we upload them only once and both Joomla and Drupal are well organized, so you don't browse dirs for hours (if you know the cms that is). What I like in Drupal is that all the modules' files are in one place (Joomla puts them to several directories depending what they do and whether they perform something in the frontend or the backend).
  • Performance - I think it's Drupal's weakest point. You won't see much difference in a site with 200.000 visits per month. But comparing huge Joomla main site and drupal.org the former performs much smoother. It's only my observation. Drupal, due to it's flexibility, makes much more complex and less effective database queries. I think
  • Themes. Well, I always create custom themes for my projects so for me that's not an argument that Joomla has far more themes than Drupal. Making themes for Joomla is a real pain in the ass, because you have to study it's css structure (you're forced to use it since you can't theme any element as easily as in Drupal). It's quite complex because divs are mixed with tables, there's lots of classes and lots of tiny details (like the fact that tables display varies in each browser - different margins, paddings, overflow settings etc.) that give you a real headache to overcome. As an example compare a simple article table in Joomla (yes, Joomla can only use tables...) and a single article node in drupal (the node.tpl.php). Which one is more legible? I mentioned tables... yes, if you want Joomla to have table-less layout you need to... rewrite it almost entirely. If you have time for that I'd recommend actually writing your own CMS Drupal can use multiple template engines - take superior (as people say) smarty theme system or even more superior, Drupal's native phpTemplate which gives you total control over what you want to show. I never used smarty actually I bet this wouldn't be much of a problem to write a Joomla theme handler for Drupal :>
  • SEO. Joomla is not search engine friendly. It's even hostile I would say. Just take a peak at it's mod rewrite implementation... Well, you can BUY a commercial extension that handles that better, but... well it costs :> Drupal's clean url's are really easy to set up and are easily customizable.
  • Community sites. Well, Joomla's Community Builder is great unless you don't need to customize it beyond some basic stuff - private messages, user galleries and other fun stuff. There's no single module for drupal to achieve this - you have to combine forces of a couple of modules - believe me - the effect is much better.

Drupal is much better than Joomla

  1. Joomla is too limited, you can't even have more than 3 categories level. Drupal allows you unlimited categories
  2. Jooomla does not have a comments module. Drupal has one in the core
  3. Joomla does not have a forum module. Drupal has one in the core
  4. Joomla is too insecure (my hosting recommend us not to use it), specially because you have to install extra "components" to use it. I don't see many problems in this regard with Drupal
  5. Joomla's admin is too slow
  6. Joomla is limited to certain user roles (in Drupal you can create many roles as you want)

Why can't we be friends? Joomla versus Drupal


Thumbs up:

  • Easy deployment
  • More intuitive administration user interface
  • Editing content is simple
  • Lots of polished modules for things like calendars, polls, etc.
  • Easy addition of modules
  • Versioning is available
  • Large community of developers (more than Drupal) for helping with setup and development
  • Multi-lingual

Thumbs down:

  • 1 installation of the software gives you 1 website
  • Categories can only go two levels deep
  • Limited roles and permission allowances
  • Modules cost you money
  • URLs are not search engine friendly (there is a purchaseable module)
  • Out-of-the-box blogging functionality is mediocre

Overall, I find that Joomla is an excellent CMS for basic to complex websites. The blogging feature is not highly developed, nor is the capacity to multi-purpose your content in different areas of the site due to the rigid filing structure it requires. It has a large user base where the websites seem to be more personal, small business, and non-community-building sites. This last point isn't a cut against Joomla, but only serves to show that it's mostly being used as a CMS and not for building a participative website.

The modules were well designed and integrated nicely with the system. My only problem came when I wanted to update a module. The upgrade made my application fail and all attempts to revert back to the previous module were stymied. It also bugged me that essential modules like the search engine friendly feature had to be purchased.


Thumbs up:

  • Easy deployment
  • Editing tabs integrated into actual pages
  • Editing content is simple as well
  • Very flexible in its configuration
  • Modules are plentiful, free, and suitable for non-profits
  • Versioning is available
  • Many high profile sites use Drupal (e.g.: MTV UK, BBC, the Onion, Nasa, Greenpeace UK, Kleercut )
  • Multiple levels of categories allowed along with easily integrated tagging system
  • Human readable URLs which are search engine friendly
  • 1 installation allows you to create and manage mulitiple websites (very handy when creating campaign sites)
  • Highly configurable user permissions handling

Thumbs down:

  • Administration area is clunky, but it's getting better with each version
  • Terminology in the administration can be cryptic
  • Adding a visual theme to Drupal can be time consuming
  • Support for the free modules can be frustrating

Drupal Vs Joomla and other CMS


  • Rock solid & high quality platform
  • Real multi-site-feature (only one installation for several sites)
  • Any Kind of user groups & user permissions, OpenId compliant in Version 6
  • Can run membership and community sites, not only CMS etc
  • Powerful templating system. Any XHTML or CSS template can be easily converted to Drupal.
  • Drupal needs a little time investment to realize all the huge possibilities of Drupal
  • Clear, high quality code and API (easy to integrate with other solutions etc)
  • Flexibility and no known limitations
  • Many high profile sites use Drupal (e.g.: MTV UK, BBC, the Onion, Nasa, Greenpeace UK, New york observer. )


  • If you are not techy its good to start
  • Easy install & setup with your mouse
  • Easy learning curve
  • Cannot integrate other scripts etc. to your site
  • Generally you cannot create high-end sites, without investing huge amount
  • No SEO out of the box, URLs are not search engine friendly.
  • Server resources utilization is more compared to drupal
  • Only one site per installation
  • No Single Log-in to several sites
  • No User groups & permissions
  • More intuitive administration user interface
  • Some polished modules for things like calendars, polls, etc.
  • Modules cost you money
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