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Drupal vs Processwire


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Hey are there any drupal convert/devs in here?

I have been having an ongoing discussion with a number of firms about Processwire. I am always pushing Processwire pretty hard. I feel like I can do anything with PW! Faster and more elegant than with any other CMS. What I notice is that most good size firms that I talk to are heavily invested in Drupal.

Every discussion I have had with developers and stakeholders is the same. They say that Drupal is pretty much the only option for large websites and that it allows them to produce anything extremely fast with all the modules etc. that people have produced... that they never have to reinvent the wheel.

My experience with Drupal is that it is extremely cumbersome, produces pretty much the worst output I have ever seen. Has a very poor user experience for managing/organizing and editing content. And makes you work 5 times harder. Granted, you can click a lot of buttons and produce views and get content on the screen... but it seems like so much extra work.. almost like you spend all your time trying to clean up the mess Drupal makes with endless overrides and pounds and pounds of HTML & CSS... gah.... It seems a lot like the way Wordpress works... "there is probably a plugin for that...." But I feel so frustrated with CMSs that have your functionality, workflow, and user experience predefined. I am so tired of fighting a CMS. That is exactly why I love PW... It's never in the way. Let's me work the way I do.

Almost all of the larger business/organization websites that I come across are Drupal... So I don't want to be biased and hate on it, that's not my intention.

So I guess I am looking for feedback from people who know...

  • Is there really anything in Drupal you cannot do with PW?
  • Is PW a capable platform for large scale websites? (I believe it is, but I am having trouble demonstrating it to people)
  • Is it really less work and more efficient to implement advanced functionality with Drupal vs PW?

Thanks in advance for any feedback and contributions to this discussion.

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I'd say that thing is everything here is relative;

They use Drupal, because they (the developers) probably invested huge amount of time into learning all the ins and outs and quirks of that system.

Also, Drupal allows to do things fast…, but relatively compared to how long it takes to untrained person. And then, it really is fast afterall.

That being said, there are two different ways I think about this whole 'Drupal can do big things':

  • Some companies thinkg 'big' when they talk about hundreds of pages, which, when IA is done well, isn't really that much (even might be easy to navigate)
  • Big part of these Drupal sites are membership sites, which I admittedly can't really imagine that easily being built on PW

Regarding membership sites: Yeah, have registered members isn't really a problem. But having real membership/social site is a different thing, and Drupal has this already… take http://openatrium.com/ for instance.

That said, I despise drupal, I think it's a behemoth, it's ugly, the HTML is horrible and if you need to debug/change the HTML, you can straight up kill yourself (since there is like 12 entry points where modules can change something, and not all of them are equal).

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Hi Joshua

I think you're right in that you can do anything with PW that you put your mind to. I've had the same experience you've had with clients wanting to use Drupal but with WordPress, and have vowed in another thread not to touch any more work that comes my way where the client wants to use it - it was just that unpleasant an experience last time I used it. The problem I find is when someone else has implemented a dozen plugins and you have to go into someone's work and find out where the issues are if something doesn't work as expected - you spend more time bug-hunting instead of developing.

That said, a lot of it can be to do with familiarity of a platform. I've got no experience with Drupal and little with Wordpress, so I'm sure if the roles were reveresed I'd struggle a bit with ProcessWire at first, just maybe not as much as I have with other systems. It's just the frustration of forcing a system to do what you want when you know there's a quicker, better way for a given type of project that really puts me off using some other systems nowadays.

With enough time I think you can achieve anything with ProcessWire. Whilst I've not built a site exceeding more than a few hundred pages yet, I have managed to integrate it with forum software and built a file repository. I've never found myself thinking I couldn't do anything with it - it's just a matter of working out how to do something rather than if you can.

For one project I did have to do a little work to mock-up a small piece of a site to entice someone away from another system to ProcessWire and it worked, so one way to do this if you feel they're open to suggestion is to put together a small demo that's relevant to their content and show them how it could work out better for them. Of course, this has to take into account whether they're receptive in the first place, plus it's a case of weighing up the chance they'll switch against time when you're not earning money, but it comes back to the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words"... I think "a demo is worth a short novel" applies in this case ;) It's always easier if you have time to show someone something than to try and describe the benefit.

I'm also really excited about a lot of the modules that have been released recently - for example some members here are talking about some interesting things with regards to Antti's shop module that look amazing (had a quick peek at the example linked in this particular post and loving it: http://processwire.c...isa/#entry18784 ). I'd love to soon be able to use ProcessWire for any type of site because I believe it's flexible enough to fit pretty much any role.

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I respect Drupal, but strongly dislike using and developing in it. This comes from a couple years of developing sites in it. The problems with Drupal have certainly been a motivation in making ProcessWire happen. Out of the box, ProcessWire is going to be a lot better at the large scale than Drupal. ProcessWire's architecture, foundation and API are far better than Drupal (captain obvious). People may use Drupal at large scale, but I don't believe the product itself was ever truly designed for it. Like with WordPress, being used at the large scale is something that happend to Drupal rather than something it made happen. Drupal is a pig that people have affixed wings to because there wasn't any other way to do it at the time. You see similar things happen with the other big platforms (WordPress, Joomla).

As far as pigs go, Drupal is a good one. There are some things to respect (though not necessarily agree with) about Drupal's roots and the original thinking behind it. There's no doubt that it is far better than Joomla, for anyone that cares about this stuff. Beyond that, where it excels is in all the 3rd party stuff written for it, to do just about anything. It's a diesel-powered cuisinart in that respect… whatever you need to blend, it will blend… but it'll be messy. Working at large scale, 3rd parties have built all kinds of caching, CDN and load shifting things to throw on top the pile (and likewise with WordPress). Even a pig can fly if you strap wings on to it. And Drupal has a lot of folks thoroughly invested in it to the point where they are making that pig fly.

Drupal is also such a household name that it represents a low-risk position for decision makers (low risk of job loss from choosing Drupal). None of this makes it a good product, just a safe one for people that don't know any better. But for people that do know the difference, we want a panther, not a pig.

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hey Pete, just noticed your response now!!! Strange. Reading. Read. Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. I agree, people are really responsive to demos.

That PW shop site profile(?) looks like it's gonna be amazing!

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Interesting topic, thanks for creating it Joshua. We have had similar talks since Drupal seems to be a platform that many organisations know in Finland. Big boys only talk about Drupal or Sharepoint. I have had my talks with our clients about "PW vs Drupal"... today I just do what Ryan once suggested: show them PW - build something quick, let them see how you develop with it and how quickly you can make things. You know you can build the whole backend of "events management" or "custom application never build before" in just about 30 minutes. Just build it.

But if you do want talk about PW and Drupal, you should mention these things (I am by no means a Drupal expert and too lazy to check all the facts, so take this with grain salt and please do correct me if I am telling lies):

  • Drupal release cycle is too fast for many. They try to get new major release every two year and only two latest are supported. Also major releases do break APIs, so probably most of the custom development need to be redone at least every four year. This might be fine on some projects, but for our clients that is usually an impossible schedule. It helps a little that new versions usually don't ship on time, though - and also some community efforts are trying to keep older versions secure.
  • Ask people about their Drupal projects... most are not too proud of those: "This is little hacky" or "We didn't follow most of the best practices here, since we were in hurry". Those comments we got from the company, that we bought to teach us Drupal development and wanted them to show us their best work...
  • Many people build sites with Drupal without really knowing how it works... which is understandable since it takes about 6 months to learn that beast (heard that 6 months estimate from CEO of biggest Drupal company in Finland and my initial feeling and personal experience suggest that it is pretty accurate).
  • Drupal development is very different from normal PHP coding: If you (and your co-workers) have invested 6 months to "unlearn" PHP development and learned Drupal, you don't want to think about alternatives on that point.
  • Drupal projects are expensive. In Finland ie. "The cost of Drupal web projects usually begins at about 20,000 euros, but projects best suited to Drupal generally cost more than 100,000 euros." (source: http://northpatrol.c...nal-products-2/).

I usually draw a picture where PW is lots of tiny blocks, that cover 80% of needs and very little goes away. So you just build the remaining 20% and you get exactly what is needed. With Drupal (or any other "big" platform) you do get big block that goes well over 100%, but has more than 20% of holes. So you do have to build the remaining 20%, but also end up more than what is needed. So if you want to get rid of all the bloat, you do have more work to do.

I have personally tried and wanted to learn Drupal for many many times. I always end up with big frustration and sites that were "nearly there". That was before PW, of course.

EDIT: This was all very technical, so might want to talk this language only with tech orientated clients. With others, I would focus on PW admin usability and flexibility on frontend.

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I think eventually we will have a few very different site profiles that, combined with some good marketing videos, may do a lot of the convincing for us.

For example, with the shop module I love the point "any page can be a product". Plus once there are enough totally different profiles its easier to show prospective clients that you can do anything without hacking the core at all.

I know this has been mentioned elsewhere, but I think the profiles in my head would be Shop, Blog, Member-driven content and of course the default basic site. If you can show more then that's awesome of course but when trying to get across the point that it can do anything, having these varied examples to fall back on would make it so easy.

Then to sell it to those heavily invested in other systems you could just change a few fields and tweak a template right in front of their eyes and show how simple it is.

People are wary about having to learn anything new when they've spent a lot of time (even forgetting about the money they have probably invested years of time) so if you can get across how simple it is then I think you can win them over.

So variety + simplicity + power = panther (which still sounds like it should be a bad aftershave ;)).

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  • 9 months later...

PW looks awesome

However my 2 concerns are:

1. sequrity

2. can I really build complicated jobs (frelance) site with varios user roles, different profiles types, and tousands of registered users

So basically with PW i can acoomplish everyhing I can do with Drupal. right?

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1. There haven't been real security issues with PW yet. Of course no software is 100% bulletproof, but in my opinion security wise ProcessWire is a great option.

2. Yes, you can. Also remember that when you build complicated software, you might be building some security issues by yourself. PW is more like a tool than a turnkey solution.

Yes, everything you can build with Drupal, you can also build with PW.

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If a customer want a Drupal or a Wordpress site, it's up to them. We try to convince them for ProcessWire.

If they don't want ProcessWire we help him to find an other company who delivers Wordpress or Drupal.

Building a site in Drupal & Wordpress is 1 but maintain it is a whole other story. It would take me ages to find out how those structures/template-languages work & i won't remember it after a year or so.

Customers are better of with an external company making those Wordpress/Drupal sites.

It's not unthinkable that Wordpress or Drupal looses interest for the big public. Maybe some other player will show up on the market or a huge security hog will be all over the news. Popularity can drop very quickly and then you're sitting there with your template-tag knowhow.

Lots of time spend in ProcessWire is PHP time. PHP will not out of the picture soon and if it does, you learned a proper scripting language, not a template language.

I can ask a PHP developer to build a site using PW, give him the cheatsheet, and let him start right away. ( That's unthinkable with the other 2 )

I want to gain valuable knowledge while working having fun, ProcessWire let me do this.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been working with Drupal since v5 all the way to the current version. I find it quite a powerful beast, and I can honestly say I enjoy working with it for the most part. My biggest pet peeve with Drupal is how complex the themeing is, and what a tangled mess it spits out.  This is supposed to change with Drupal 8, so time will tell.  The other thing is that for how flexible it can be, it can conversely be very inflexible, and the more complexity you need the more modules you have to use.

The more I learn Processwire the more I believe that you can accomplish pretty much anything with it without getting too much complexity involved.  Since I'm still learning PW I still find myself reaching for Drupal particularly for projects that need complex user relationships and roles and permission settings. Drupal excels at this. I am sure Processwire does too, but I'm not there yet.

I guess the other thing I love about Drupal is it has inbuilt multiblog and forum, so it's the logical choice for me for certain projects where a client wants these things and has a limited budget. Because I know Drupal well I can hammer out a Drupal project with these things quickly (as long as someone else does the themeing... LOL)

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It's a long going discussion, different posts, same subject. Look at this second last post. You can find more of them in the forum.


I guess, depends on the clients you are approaching. Clients who need their first website usually are no problem using processwire. Clients who already have some websites and web technicians with cms-x working for them, well you need to show and convince them that with processwire they are going to save time and money. Not an easy thing to do because in the end clients have to convince them selves.

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