Drupal Rumors: What to Believe and What Not to Believe

Over the years of working with clients at Duo and being active in the Drupal industry, we’ve heard a variety of gossip and rumors about Drupal.

  • “Drupal isn’t user-friendly! It’s very complex.”
  • “Drupal isn’t good for ecommerce websites.”
  • “There’s too big of a learning curve for developers.”

In this blog post, we’ll tackle these criticisms about Drupal head on and share our experiences and thoughts dealing with each of these issues.

Drupal Development

“Drupal isn’t user-friendly! It’s very complex.”

When compared to a CMS like Wordpress, Drupal is in fact much more complex. But when compared to Joomla, Drupal is a lot simpler. It all depends on what your needs are. We won’t deny that Drupal is complex, but it’s because of that complexity that it has a lot of flexibility as well.

Drupal is shifting towards more of an enterprise market, but many people still see Drupal and Wordpress as similar options. Users may come to Drupal to build a Wordpress style site and find that Drupal is a lot more complex than they initially thought. However, you can do much more in Drupal that you could do in Wordpress. Many people chose to work with Wordpress because of the available plugins, many of which you have to pay for. In Drupal, modules are free and contain many of the same pieces of functionality that are available using Wordpress plugins, especially in Drupal 8.

When Drupal first launched it was very developer-centric, so all of the back-end tools for content creation and site building were created by developers as well. Now, there are a lot more UX and usability people in the Drupal community. With Drupal 8 in particular, there are a lot of initiatives that will improve things from a back-end user perspective.

People also often say that Drupal is hard to theme, that is, it’s hard to build a front end. With Drupal 8, that is certainly a lot easier. Just about everything in Drupal 8 is in a template file now, so it’s much easier to figure out where you need to go. In Drupal 8 there is also less of a learning curve to learn the templating language, which is now in Twig, not PHP.

The idea that Drupal is complex and hard to use is something that has stuck with Drupal, but it’s not really a fair assessment anymore. It’s hard to shake that perspective, but a lot of the new initiatives for Drupal 8 are working to change that.

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“Drupal isn’t good for ecommerce websites.”

Drupal Commerce is an open source eCommerce framework used to build eCommerce websites and applications on Drupal. Historically, there were many problems with the performance of Drupal Commerce so Drupal got the reputation that it wasn’t able to support eCommerce websites. However, Drupal Commerce for Drupal 8 is much better than previous versions and it is expected to help level the playing field among eCommerce website options.

In addition to Drupal Commerce, Drupal allows for integration with eCommerce modules like Ubercart and Magento. Ecommerce and content management are two very different tools, but Drupal is working towards improving their out of the box Commerce tool.  

“There’s too big of a learning curve for developers.”

There is a learning curve for developers that are not familiar with it - we won’t deny that. But the back-end learning curve is decreasing because Drupal has gotten off the island. That means that Drupal has made an effort to incorporate frameworks like Symfony that are common in the PHP community. PHP developers can now pick up Drupal a lot easier than they could in the past.

Drupal is also known for its great community, and there are many opportunities to learn about Drupal from that community. There is great documentation on drupal.org and drupalize.me has countless Drupal trainings and tutorial videos available.

While a lot of the “drupalisms” that have contributed to the idea that Drupal is difficult to work with have gone away, there are still a lot of unique features in Drupal that requires taking the time to get up to speed. But once you understand the paradigms of Drupal, it’s easy to learn new things.

If you’re interested in finding out if your site is ready for Drupal 8, download our free Drupal 8 Readiness Assessment.

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