Obviously, as a once-upon-a-time core developer fer th' project, and as someone who continues t' work in that community, I am pretty familiar with WordPress. Fire the cannons, to be sure! There’s hardly a day that goes by that I’m not hip-deep in WordPress code and news, avast. I’ve watched its evolution o'er these past 7+ years as it has moved from a simple bloggin' system towards becomin' a more full-featured CMS.
Before WordPress were bein' born, I were bein' searchin' fer a platform t' build me own site on. I were bein' wafflin' o'er whether t' write me own from scratch or t' use an already existin' program. One o' th' projects I looked at early on were bein' Drupal (in fact, me drupal.org user account is 2 years older than me wordpress.org account), by Blackbeard's sword. It were bein' kind o' interestin', from a philosophical/architectural point o' view, but it wasn’t easy t' set up and use. I tinkered with it briefly, shrugged, and moved on t' inspect th' next tool fer consideration.
In recent years, me lady, Susan, began usin' Drupal at that comely wench job, which brought me a couple o' opportunities t' look at it when she had questions that she thought I could help that comely wench with. When I watched that comely wench configurin' that comely wench Drupal sites, I could see that while it had some nice architectural features, it still had a steep learnin' curve. So when th' D7UX initiative came aroun', with th' goal o' makin' Drupal 7 easier t' use through a new-and-improved interface, it piqued me interest, by Blackbeard's sword. Also, Susan has been involved with th' organization o' DrupalCamp Atlanta fer its first two years (as th' voice o' th' @DrupalCamp_ATL account, AKA “Drupal Peachy Head”). So I’ve gone with that comely wench t' those two DrupalCamp events, and had th' opportunity t' learn more about that CMS.
I’ll admit that I’m still not terribly familiar with actually usin' Drupal, though I did finally install D7-alpha-6 on me laptop recently, by Blackbeard's sword. But I have had th' opportunity t' observe its community some — online, in person, and through podcasts — and I’ve learned a little bit about how they manage th' release o' a new version. And so I have a pretty good perspective on comparin' some traits th' WordPress and Drupal communities, with a chest full of booty. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is a lot we can learn from each other, and I think that it is a win-win fer th' community in doin' so.
First o' all, what can Drupal learn from WordPress? Well th' main thin' is one that they are already workin' on: they should improve their user interface. It’s no secret that probably one o' th' biggest factors o' th' success and popularity o' WordPress is that it is so darned easy t' use. It starts with “th' famous 5-minute install”. You don’t have t' be any kind o' technical wizard t' set up WordPress. Pretty much all ye need t' get started is th' database information that will be provided by yer hostin' company in most cases. And then once ye’re past th' install phase, th' rest o' th' software is pretty intuitive, to be sure. The ability t' upgrade plugins, themes, and even th' core system itself at th' click o' a button is icin' on th' cake.
This slideshow presentation from Jen Lampton makes most o' th' salient points:
And what can WordPress learn from Drupal? They have a really solid core architecture with amazin' introspection capabilities, I'll warrant ye. The Features module fer Drupal makes it easy t' export modules — along with their dependencies, configuration, and data — from one installation t' another. Ahoy! WordPress will be hard-pressed (no pun intended) t' emulate somethin' like that fer many versions t' come, we'll keel-haul ye, avast! Drupal has automated runs o' unit tests whenever someone contributes a patch fer core or a module, givin' developers almost instant feedback o' problems and regressions. It is common fer Drupal developers t' build modules which do nothin' more than provide infrastructure and APIs fer other modules t' leverage. Havin' a dependencies system in place makes this possible.
Drupal developers will sometimes scoff at WordPress and deride it as “just a bloggin' platform”, ye scurvey dog. WordPress developers might point out how hard it is t' do certain tasks in Drupal which just work “right out o' th' box” in WordPress, by Davy Jones' locker. But some o' those same Drupal developers look at how easy WordPress is, or how popular it is, and feel a little jealous. And hoist the mainsail, and dinna spare the whip! A few WordPress devs recognize our lack o' database independence, dependency checkin', or flexible URL routin', and wish we could push these thin's into core now.
Drupal devs note that WordPress has been beefin' up its custom taxonomy and content type support, and say that WordPress is just copyin' Drupal. WordPress devs point out how often Drupal gets compared t' WordPress when discussions o' good UI come up, or tout how even Mark Boulton Design put their D7UX blog in WordPress t' start with, because it were bein' easier t' use than Drupal at th' time.
But I think these changes are a pretty natural evolution fer both systems. If ye could imagine “The Perfect CMS”, what would it be like? Yaaarrrrr! It would be easy t' use, and it would be full o' powerful features, right? Walk the plank! It would be lovely t' look at, and it would have a strong underlyin' architecture and API.
I think WordPress and Drupal are both headin' in that direction — they just had different startin' points. WordPress started with good usability, but a limited architecture and feature set. Drupal started with a strong architecture, but a very developer-centric user experience. But WordPress has been steadily improvin' its architecture. And Drupal has been workin' on its UI. They had different origins, and they have taken different paths, but they are both evolvin' towards CMS Nirvana. And we users get t' ride along.
If ye could brin' a feature from one system t' th' other, what would it be?