New Competition: Will WordPress and Drupal Learn to Share?

Rise of Drupal and WordPress

After years of building and publishing on them, I'd love to say I knew CMS frameworks like Drupal and WordPress would be this huge. In truth they got this popular because of their great open-source communities; both of which I'm trying to participate and contribute to more. Why? Because closed platforms like SquareSpace and Adobe's content platform are rushing ahead without having to worry about backward compatibility like WordPress and Drupal does. These newer, closed systems insulate users from the backend and abstract away many of the same complexities WordPress.org and WordPress.com solved. They can push forward faster with newer, cleaner, “from-scratch” user-experiences because they don't need to maintain compatibility like "the big PHP" CMS's.

As a result, the next few years will be a challenge for WordPress and Drupal. Neither system will go away (ironically, due to their success they both have huge userbases that cause them to change slowly). But unless they adopt cleaner, faster UX and new functionality neither system will be the market-leader they are now.

How Do They Stay Ahead?

I think the communities and companies leading both projects know this. Acquia and Drupal are trying to change this in Drupal 8 with their Spark UX initiative. WordPress has embraced their core contributors and may be seeing incredibly fast development coming as they enable & inspire a huge new community.

Few people work in both WordPress and Drupal. That's largely because there are huge differences in both, but despite those differences both are GPL'd PHP code. Personally, I'd like to see the two systems embrace their differences and learn from each other. Both communities and platforms could be vastly stronger with more fluid cooperation and sharing. Open-source is great, but so is competition. Let's see if they can use both to stay ahead.

Comments

I would like to wordpress and drupal programmers to collaborate and have common features between the programs, but I doubt this would happen beause they are competitors. I would like to see an easy way to transfer websites from drupal to wordpress and back. I had a friend who tried to do it and it was alot of work and not easy to do.

@Vic, Interesting direction:

Feature sharing would help both platforms; it does happen to a small degree. For example, the password hashing in Drupal was updated last year, and referenced WordPress' use of the library they eventually added. This type of core-sharing is tough since both platforms update on different schedules. But don't be surprised to see more modules and Plugins that bring similar features to both platforms. Both CMS's are great tools for companies like Mailchimp or social platforms like Facebook, and the distinct nature of their plugins should go away over time.

As for site transfers, I'm not sure they'll get much easier. Remember that most sites spend more time building features than they spend in a year worth of content-authoring. There may be good migration or import tools: a great, open data/export format in use by WordPress, and the Acquia team behind their Migrate module has made it work really well with WordPress. But, since so much of modern sites is in the code and not the data ... migrations will remain a lot of work for the foreseeable future.

If you had a client who wanted a website, which would you recommend. Currently I suggest Drupal if there is more then a single author and or they want the public to interact with the site (more then just comments). We have Drupal and Wordpress developers so knowledge with the product isn't a limiting factor, also as both have a large number of plugins the decision to use one over the other is getting more difficult.

If your shop is skilled in both, I'd suggest choosing Drupal whenever you can. Nobody has said this better than author and Drupal contributor Emma Jane Hogbin:

Here's the thing. Every small business that I've ever worked with is an entrepreneur. They are passionate about their dream and they believe in what they do. Turning to them and saying, "I think you're only worth WordPress" (which is a perfectly WONDERFUL blogging platform) turns my stomach. It makes me feel like I'm telling them I don't believe in their dream. That I don't think their business will ever grow beyond what it is today. How. Horrible.

The decision being difficult shows that both are excellent systems. I prefer to make a comparison that's less based on features, and more on how you will use the site long-term:

For the way that small businesses run sites, Drupal has more tools and settings to create editing workflows and help employees in many job roles (not just marketing or tech) to use the site without being admins. The workflow support and permissions granularity make it easier to have everyone at a small or medium business writing and updating the site ... but not worry so much about unapproved articles going live or someone hiding a whole navigation menu.

That neglects development however. WordPress can get you farther without professional development help. That's often why it's found at small, self-starting shops. Feature-wise it can match Drupal, but does require some trial-and-error with plugins to find ones that do what you want but don't conflict with each other. A good, custom dev can add workflows and the right combination of plugins. And at that point the two systems are nearly identical in the right hands.

First off, important distinction: "Acquia and Drupal" implies that Acquia leads Drupal or runs Drupal the way tht Automattic leads Wordpress. That is simply not the case. Acquia is a major player in the Drupal world, sure, but they are not the "lead company" the way many projects have a sponsoring company that calls the shots. Spark, for instance, won't go into Drupal 8 without community buy in. From what I've seen so far it does have that buy in, but not just because they're Acquia.

Secondly, if I may be so bold such cross-project collaboration is happening more and more in PHP... except with Wordpress. Wordpress was the only major project to active oppose GoPHP5 back in 2007 (the grass-roots community effort to finally kill PHP 4, which has helped everyone on the web). As the author of Drupal's database library, I've been repeatedly approached by Wordpress devs who want to port the Drupal DB library to Wordpress, something I think would be great and I'm happy to help with, and Matt Mullenweg (Wordpress project lead) has shot it down each time.

Meanwhile, Drupal 8 is pulling in large swaths of 3rd party code from the Symfony2 project and others. We've been talking with Symfony CMF about co-developing code we both need. We're also actively looking for collaborators to help with a cross-project HTTP Content Negotiation library: http://pooteeweet.org/blog/2154 PHPBB and eZ Publisher are both looking to rebuild on top of Symfony2. The PHP Framework Interoperability Group is attempting to standardize interfaces for common components like request/response handling and HTTP clients, etc., to increase interoperability even further.

I'd love to see more cross-project collaboration in PHP, and that is happening in many circles... but from what I've seen, Wordpress is still deliberately not participating. I look forward to when they decide to join us, though.

Both Acquia and Automattic have deep involvement in their respective projects. They make their revenue from each CMS, so it makes sense.

For example: I think WP is far more community driven than you're crediting it for -- the core team has grown and the majority no longer work directly for Automattic. On the other side, Acquia did hire Angie Byron (webchick) the co-maintainer of the D7 core, and seems to have her actively developing the D8 core.

As for your attempted contribs to WordPress via Matt Mullenweg, I'm not surprised actually. I think his strategy of keeping WordPress' core very small is a good one to keep site builders happy. As a counter-example, the addition of Symfony into Drupal's core is going to mean a lot of relearning for even experienced devs.

OTOH, if you do want to port the Drupal DB library to WordPress then I'll definitely support it. The added support for something other than MySQL would be a big plus to get WordPress into shops that already rely on something other than MySQL. The best way to justify major re-factors seems to be building a Plugin first. Once a WordPress core-functionality plugin has a few hundred thousand installs it's a good hint for the core team that the community needs it.

My friend has great experience in Wordpress but he has simple basic knowledge about the Drupal. This post is having good information about Wordpress and Drupal. But can anyone suggest me which on I have to suggest to my friend Wordpress or Drupal?

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