Why Drupal 7?
Building the two Drupal websites, this website and my wife’s “life” site has provided many challenges as well as helping me to understand the differences between Drupal, Joomla & WordPress.
For a couple of years I have steered clear of these “ready made” CMS products due fact that as a designer/developer, building bespoke websites is a lot easier to control. However the market is changing and building websites that utilise OOPS Frameworks is now the standard way to work, so I am now looking to expand my knowledge into these areas. However I am not a PHP developer, I do not dream in code nor can write it like a second language but that isn’t why I have been so hesitant to make the move. I suppose my problem is that working in these OOPS Content Management Systems are that is like moving in with an obsessive tidy woman who keeps putting my socks a way without letting me know where she has put them!
The main criteria for me, was not to develop a website to look like a typical Drupal, Joomla, WordPress website. The all look the same… sterile! Well at least that is my opinion. I also did not lose any of the functionality that I already had.
Looking at Options
I spent a lot of time looking at different PHP Frameworks and CMS options, reading reviews of what people believed the strengths and weaknesses. I was really tempted to jump straight in and build my websites using the Zend Framework, as Zend is currently the PHP framework that big business are focused on. I even downloaded the community server to install on my laptop.
The problem I had with Zend was that although I feel that it is an essential to learn; the timescale I had was too short. Adding to that, I had other issues such as I am not a Linux man, well not yet anyway and it doesn’t really like IIS7, which is installed on my laptop along with MySQL and PHP5. I guess things would have been simpler if I still was using WAMP, which incidentally is a brilliant piece of software that makes life so easy when setting up MySQL, Apache.
Time out! My Rant
I must be one of the few people who these days that thinks that Windows 7 is just window dressing. I have a 64Bit Windows with 4GB of RAM. It takes an age to start up and if you run a few applications it seems to stall. If I had a penny for every time I cursed this laptop I would be a wealthy man. I am so tempted to get rid of the OS and run Ubuntu, but all the tools I have are here in Microsoft Windows Land, Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop etc and I really don’t have the time today to learn it, but tomorrow who knows as it has to be done?
So as Zend wasn’t the out of the box option for me on my Windows 7 laptop I looked at the other 4 that had managed to get to the top of my list. I ruled out CakePHP also especially after reading David Connelly’s review of the best PHP frameworks of 2011 which stated that it is one of the slowest PHP frameworks out there! That left the big 3.
To test the various content management systems I looked to my own websites and decided to translate my wife’s bespoke PHP “life” site into Joomla.
Joomla & WordPress
Joomla was easy to put up and all started well when translating the look and feel of the original website into this framework, but it wasn’t long before I came across the limitations of working with in the early snag I hit, was when I tried to my wife’s website is like 11 blog sites in one. Some types of articles have extra fields such as ingredients or travel locations or additional images. Sure you can download this module and that, but then you have the task of trying to find ways of tailoring it because it doesn’t provide what you are looking for. Joomla is great if you have limited requirements, header, image, body etc. but if you require something a little bit different Joomla out of the box I found not to be the solution.
I had similar issues with WordPress as it also seems to be tailored to people and companies with simple requirements and none of the websites that I own could fall into this category. I built test websites using all 3 of these content management systems but only Drupal seemed to allow for the functionality that I required and now we have two Drupal websites up and running I will be now focusing my on becoming a full on Drupal developer.