Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Adobe Digital Marketing

Last CMS Standing: The Promise of Drupal Versus WordPress and Joomla!

  • Print
  • + Share This
The popular open-source content-management systems Drupal, Joomla!, and WordPress are all getting new versions, setting the stage for an elimination tournament of market acceptance. Tom Geller, author of Drupal 7: Visual QuickStart Guide, looks at Drupal's comparative position in two regards: developer involvement and business adoption.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

You wouldn't know about Drupal's success solely from statistics. Among the web's top 10,000 sites, it still trails WordPress by a huge margin, and Google reports far more searches for Joomla!. All three are enjoying a boom. Project Founder Matt Mullenweg summarized WordPress' growth as "breathtaking"; traffic to joomla.org has increased by 50 percent in the past two years; and statistics show a (fairly) consistent increase in the number of sites running Drupal.

Extraordinary growth begets extraordinary competition. Codewise, all three camps are girding their loins, with the recent release of WordPress 3.0 and imminent releases of Joomla! 1.6 and Drupal 7.0, all considered major versions.

Never before has the buzz been so great, nor signified so much at stake. For the market has a history of siding with a single winner and pushing the rest aside, as it did with OS/2 and AmigaOS. With that in mind, let's consider Drupal's chances by looking at support as regards developers and the business community.

Developer Energy

One measure of strength is the number of person-hours that goes into the software itself. That doesn't gauge of the software's strength in technical terms, of course: You can't polish a road apple, as they say. It also doesn't tell whether the project is interesting (or worthwhile) for any audience other than that of developers themselves. But it does expose personal commitment: Developers choose projects because they believe their time will be rewarded with recognition, useful skills, and job opportunities.

The developer community for Drupal's core software appears to be considerably larger than those of Joomla! or WordPress. More than 1,000 people contributed substantially to produce Drupal 7, versus about 200 for WordPress 3.0. (While the Joomla! project hasn't published its numbers, Joomla! Production Leadership Team member Ian MacLennan extracted a current count of about 200 Joomla! 1.6 contributors from the project's tracking software.) Drupal's security team is particularly responsive, with a well-documented record of reporting and fixing vulnerabilities in both core Drupal and its third-party extensions.

In terms of functional extensions, WordPress kicks the others' butts with more than 12,000 plugins versus around 7,000 each for Drupal and Joomla!. These numbers are open to a lot of interpretation, however, as the definitions of "contributor" and "extension" vary from one camp to another, and the extension count includes obsolete versions.

I believe these extensions are commonly written for one of two reasons. Rarely, they're to fill in gaps in the core software[md]the Wysiwyg module is a prime Drupal example, while K2 is a Joomla! counterpart. In such cases, a high count of extensions is just a sign that the core product is incomplete. More often, though, extensions do something beyond what the core software could be expected to handle, such as complex data presentation. They're a sign that people are engaging with their CMSes in real-world situations[md]that they have itches to scratch, so to speak. If that's true, a high number of extensions is a sign of a project's health.

On another development front, active communities of graphic designers have sprung up to create "themes" for all three CMSes. Oddly, joomla.org refuses to host them (which the Joomla! community calls "template files"), resulting in an active constellation of third-party sites that carry them. One such site claims more than 3,000 templates, which dwarfs WordPress' official count of 1,300 and Drupal's mere 800. (Again, these numbers are somewhat questionable, and don't include the untallied collection of commercial, non-free designs.)

Add it all up, and where does Drupal stand? Well, its advantage in core development is both substantial and significant: Drupal's developers are building a strong foundation for the future. As yet that hasn't translated into equally strong non-core development, particularly among graphic designers.

However, there are promising signs of third-party Drupal development in another direction. An increasing number of parties now produce free Drupal "distributions"[md]that is, core Drupal packaged with additional modules and other assets[md]for specialized purposes such as publishing and non-profit administration. We're also seeing more of what I like to call "supermodules," such as Panels, Rules, and Context that provide a framework for further development rather than just scratch a single itch. On the design front, such tools as Skinr and Sweaver ease (or replace) parts of the theming process. Drupal development is, in short, moving from the brickmaking to the building stage.

What Businesses Are Betting On

Business organizations around the three CMSes stratify distinctly based on their target audiences. WordPress has its teeth firmly in the thick end of the wedge[md]the low-demand, everyday computer user who primarily wants a blog-based web site. As such, WordPress business opportunities tend to be small, but numerous: hosting, site implementation for mom-and-pop companies, theme design, and so forth. Not that all WordPress sites are small: A respectable list of Fortune 500 companies use it, along with five of the world's top 1,000 sites. Joomla! has a strong presence among mid-size businesses, and sports a uniquely thriving market for commercial extensions along with those for implementation services, template designs, and hosting. (I've observed that Joomla's culture tends to be more entrepreneurial in general than Drupal or WordPress'.)

Drupal, in contrast, is increasingly being deployed for enterprise clients, and has attracted the attention of enormous consulting firms such as Accenture and CapGemini. In his presentation on The Business of Drupal, Acquia Senior Drupal Advisor Robert Douglass points out that the Drupal ecosystem now includes not only independent consultants, designers, and hosting services, but full-fledged value-added resellers as well[md]positions that wouldn't be possible without enough enterprise-grade components to integrate as solutions.

Hovering over all is the commercial infrastructure company, Acquia, founded in part by Drupal creator Dries Buytaert to be for Drupal what Red Hat is for Linux. Funded by three rounds of venture financing totalling $23.5 million, Acquia provides support, monitoring, search, hosting, and similar services directly and through a network of partners. No similar company exists in either the Joomla! or WordPress world, although for the latter Automattic offers enterprise-level support and hosting services on the Acquia model.

The market value of Drupal skills is high, and is expected to continue its growth. A look at indeed.com's comparison of available jobs for Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla! shows that there are currently about twice as many listings citing WordPress than Drupal[md]which is still a strong showing for Drupal, as there are approximately a hundred times as many WordPress sites as Drupal sites in the world. But when you look at relative growth, the picture changes: Drupal's job count is growing at five times the rate of WordPress'. (Joomla's job growth rate is also comparatively flat.)

Other measures suggest that Drupal's job market is superior. As I write this in December 2010, the recruitment board monster.com lists 160 Drupal jobs, versus 120 for WordPress and a mere 55 for Joomla!. Similarly, the job board on drupal.org got 50 posts in the last week, versus only nine on the WordPress job board. (Joomla.org doesn't host a formal job board; community members pointed me at joomlancers.com, which lists only a few gigs.)

Having said that, there are pockets where Drupal is weak: The short-term gig board elance.com lists only 100 tasks for Drupal professionals, versus 200 for Joomla! and a staggering 515 for WordPress. It could be that Drupal positions tend to be more permanent than those for WordPress or Joomla!, which its strong position in enterprise-level businesses would support. Or this difference could simply be cultural, the same way Coca-Cola is more popular in the southern U.S.

So: Where Is Drupal Going?

Gather it all together and you get a picture of Drupal's promise as compared to WordPress and Joomla!:

User base:

  • On the web as a whole, WordPress' user base is overwhelmingly bigger than Drupal's and Joomla's, by as much as two orders of magnitude.
  • Among the 10,000 most-trafficked sites, WordPress' lead is narrowed considerably, to about 4x. Drupal clearly leads Joomla! in this group.

Core code:

  • All three are currently experiencing major releases.
  • Drupal's core is comparatively strong, secure, and well-supported.

Third-party code:

  • WordPress has the largest number of functional extensions of the three.
  • Drupal is seeing a growth of distributions and "supermodules" that are platforms in themselves.
  • Joomla! holds a strong lead in the number of graphical site templates.

Business:

  • All three CMSes have vibrant and growing markets for services and consulting.
  • Drupal has had better success in the enterprise market.
  • The long-term job market appears to be favoring Drupal, although the complete picture is unclear.

In the final analysis, these distinctions only affect organizations taking a very long-term view of the matter, or considering very large implementations. For the individual webmaster, no CMS delivers a knockout punch: All three are capable of running most sites, and their support communities will certainly be solid for at least a few years.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020