Drupal and Joomla comparison

On a recent visit to Drupal's forum I found another post with both Joomla and Drupal in the subject line. Making comparisons between Joomla and Drupal are very common these days as they are currently considered the top two open source content management systems (CMS) out there. The forum post written by Steve Burge contains a link that takes you to a comparison table he did between Joomla and Drupal. While the table may not give the full picture of each CMS, I'm convinced that Burge tried to be as non-bias as he possibly could in his comparison.

There is something interesting about the table posted at Burge's site. Specifically, take a look at which elements according to Burge each CMS excels in and which elements each CMS fails. Did you notice a particular pattern in where each CMS is considered to have failed? If not, perhaps you didn't see the excerpt I posted earlier from Gadgetopia's Deane Barker, titled Architecture and Functionality in Content Management.

Let me be more specific. In the table Drupal fails on such elements as Shopping Carts, Event Calendars, Document Management, and Themes. The majority of these items are functions or features which are considered lacking in the Drupal CMS. Regarding the other CMS, 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. Which element is more important in a CMS, architecture or function? According to Deane Barker he believes it is more important for a CMS to have better architecture.

As a developer with the capability to write code, I find myself much more concerned with architectural matters. Functionality can be programmed, but I’m at the mercy of architecture. Put another way, give me the right tools and materials, and I can build anything. But give me nothing but a pile of sand and a toothbrush, and I’m pretty much screwed.

In other words, if you agree with Barker that architecture is more important than function you're likely going to want to choose Drupal. However, if you need to make a quick sell where function, third party integration, and eye candy is important right out the box...Joomla still has the advantage.

What does the future hold in the post-Drupal 5 and post-Joomla 1.5 era? It's hard to say, but I'm betting Drupal will likely become very competitive in functions as it currently is in architecture. Then again Joomla may still pull a few punches as it continues to shed it's roots with Mambo. Interesting times ahead and I'll be quite interested how comparison tables such as the one we have been looking at will look like a couple more years down the road.

Author's Note: The above post was originally written in late 2006 comparing Drupal 4.7 and Joomla! 1.0.  The post was slightly updated at a later date to reflect changes in Drupal 5 and early versions of Joomla 1.5. While this post remains for historical purposes, I recommend the following articles for more up to date comparisons of Drupal and Joomla!. 

  1. Someone Does Another Drupal vs Joomla Comparison (2010)
  2. The Best Drupal and Joomla Comparison of 2013
  3. WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal + CMS Comparison Chart (2013) (Additional Comments via CMS Report)