In Drupal Deep
[3 minutes reading time]
So I've spent the last 5 days burying my head much further into the intricacies of the Drupal CMS. Although I've been using and toying with Drupal for years, I've decided I need to get to more thoroughly know a content management system that's taken a little more seriously.
I've got a love-hate relationship with Wordpress, and from my perspective I don't believe it's widely seen as a dependable CMS in its truest form - more of an easy-to-get-to-grips-with publishing system. It can be great, yes, but it usually feels like a bit of a compromise, with zillions of plugins constantly needing to be updated and clashing with each other. It feels all too easy (for me) to create a big, fat, slow performing monster. I'm probably being unfair as I've never needed to get to the nitty gritty of optimising a Wordpress site, and I know it's becoming more of a capable CMS with every subsequent release. Using a CDN such as Cloudflare can seriously help with performance too.
My favourite CMS is actually Statamic, it's such a pleasure to create in - but it's dynamic PHP text file architecture isn't a good fit for every project. Even though it has a very capable backend admin system (which I'm writing in now), it doesn't scale well and the scope for extensibility is a little more limited than Wordpress or Drupal or other 'regular' content management systems.
Anyway, back to Drupal. It's not really any more difficult to get started with than Wordpress. What does get complicated are some of the stripped back theming stacks which come installed with myriad batch files and Ruby gems etc. for installing sub-themes and installing compass/sass etc. These always seemed to go a little wrong. I'd rather forget my first attempt at using Drush. It didn't go well, but I know it's meant to be the killer toolkit for working with Drupal. I'll try again when I'm feeling calm.
It feels much more grown up than Wordpress, and its modules seem a lot less 'hacky' than Wordpress plugins somehow. The built in content Type creator is easy to get to grips with, and together with Blocks, Regions, Menus and Views make creating a whole 'system' pretty straightforward to get going with. The next area to explore is the world of the 'panels' module - which promises content creators the ability to add modules to different parts of a page and create custom layout. The ideal option for all those admins who want to create different landing pages from the suite of 'modules' we inevitably create and design with nowadays.
Designers should really persevere with Drupal. I'm hoping my efforts to learn how to design directly into a Drupal theme as a new design workflow are at the very least going to educate me for any Drupal based project, whether I'm implementing the CMS and content or just doing the design work. Drupal 8 looks really exciting too, and I'm already looking forward to taking a look at the beta.