Drupal vs. Joomla for K-12 District site

anndar's picture

I spent several months learning Joomla and built 75% percent of our new district site using Joomla when I happened across Drupal. I was hoping to get some feedback from the community from anybody who has used Joomla and now uses Drupal for their district site and why. I am working through the O'Reilly Drupal book right now and really like Drupal but I wanted to "test drive" both CMSs in hopes of making the best decision on what system will work best for our new district site. Please let me know your thoughts if you have used both CMSs and why you chose one over the other. Thanks!!


My impression of Joomla is

dwees's picture

My impression of Joomla is that it is easier to use out of the box which is really it's major selling point. However it has been plagued with serious security problems at least in earlier versions, and sometimes tasks that seem like they should be really simple are incredibly difficult. If you plan on a site where you present links to a bunch of pages and build custom blocks, Joomla is the way to go.

Drupal is MUCH more customizable than Joomla and creating new customizations (modules) seemed to me to be much, much easier given the extensive, if fragmented documentation Drupal has. Drupal is designed to be easy to build community sites around and is used by professional web organizations, such as IBM, Adobe, Google etc... It has the disadvantage of being more difficult to learn, especially at the beginning. Hopefully new usability tests coming out will improve this situation greatly with Drupal 7.

Similar experience

btopro's picture

Joomla to me seems like it's a less mature product then Drupal. It's talk about a lot more and has a lot more hype then Joomla but the lack of maturity shows in a lot of the reasons mentioned above. I did a comparison between a bunch of them a few months back: https://elearning.psu.edu/drupalineducation/why-why-not-drupal

"Plaguing the world with Drupal; One Plone, Moodle, Wordpress, Joomla user at a time since 2005." ~ btopro


I know both

madflute's picture

While I am not a PHP coder, I have build 2 sites with Joomla before switching to Drupal. Joomla isn't customizable as Drupal, but the most thing bothered me was their culture. It reminded me Micro$haft business model, like IIS and .NET dev community. You need a help, you have to pay for it. Drupal made me feel much more OpenSource community. I hope I am not too controversial here :-)


Yes this rings a bell with

dwees's picture

Yes this rings a bell with me too. All of the really good modules for Drupal are free and actively maintained. Many of the really useful Mambots and Components for Joomla have a price tag attached.


anndar's picture

Thanks very much for all the comments. I do believe I am on the right path learning Drupal now though I do wish I found it about 6 months ago before I put all that energy into Joomla! Live and learn! :) I also wanted to add that the Education Drupal group is a lot more active and than the similar Joomla group I was apart of. Thanks again.

Drupal is King

btopro's picture

Best community out there :) you've got a few really dedicated people here in the edu community who jump on questions when ever possible. My unit investigated all these issues 2 years ago and Joomla was on the table for investigation. Drupal was the best decision we ever made.

"Plaguing the world with Drupal; One Plone, Moodle, Wordpress, Joomla user at a time since 2005." ~ btopro


My Joomla Summary: Easier to

ronliskey's picture

My Joomla Summary: Easier to install a nice looking site fast. Lots of good, ready-to-use extensions. The community does not do a good enough job of warning new users of the inevitable (and avoidable with correct information) risks. This results in thousands of repetive "Help! I've been hacked" forum posts. The community was not clear early on regarding proprietary vs. GNU/GPL contributions. They're trying to clean this up, but the proprietary developers are yelping loudly.

My Drupal Summary Incredibly flexible, but this come with the cost of having to know what you're doing well enough to sort through the many options. For example, most modules add lower-level functions that build upon each other. You can do a lot without touching code, but it sure helps to be willing to dig into the PHP now and then. The real power and flexibility begins when you start coding. Theming also requires a good understanding of PHP, which is relatively rare among designers. This results in fewer professionals designs compared to Joomla. Despite this, Drupal is well worth taking the time to learn if you're willing to dabble in PHP, as the payback in flexibility and usefulness is huge.

My Current Conclusion: Use Joomla if a client needs a nice looking site today, and you won't need to go far beyond the features provided by the many readily-available and free extensions. Avoid proprietary extensions as they are a blight on the Joomla community. Use Drupal when you have time to build it right and when you expect your feature list to evolve in unpredictable or complex ways. At this time, Joomla still has a much more limited user authentication system, but this will change in time. In both cases, be sure you know how to administer a PHP site safely. This is especially critical with a Joomla site, as the community and the system provide less security information.

This is similar to the

btopro's picture

This is similar to the advisment that I give people about wordpress vs Drupal. You want something up tomorrow, go Wordpress. You have a "big thinker", "down the road" type plan for sites and your infrastructure; Drupal it up.

"Plaguing the world with Drupal; One Plone, Moodle, Wordpress, Joomla user at a time since 2005." ~ btopro


CMS Showdown

dirtabulous's picture

I unfortunately didn't go to SXSW this year, but I hear about one of the projects/presentations there. They had a cms showdown between Joomla, Drupal and Wordpress. Having teams from each cms build the same site. Check it out:

Drupal v Moodle

SimonBorgert's picture

An intersting discussion. I to am investigating the redesign of our schools appalling website using a CMS - note we are already running Moodle as an LMS for course delivery - and I am a huge Moodle fan, however I would not entertain using Moodle as the CMS for our website as it is not flexible enough. I have previously built a site (not fantasitc) in Joomla and it was very easy to use - but Drupal interests me a great deal! I have spent the Easter weekend experimenting on a local install - and like what I have found, so will use Drupal as the CMS for our school website - however at this stage I will still use Moodle as the LMS - so will have to investigate the integration of both using LDAP authentication (I don't really know how)

Now just need to learn CCK, Views2 and user management via taxonomy to restrict access to various areas. If anyone is interested here is our old appalling web site that I need to update http://www.coffsharbourhigh.nsw.edu.au/index.asp

Looking forward to spending my school holidays web desiging - it is great to remember what it is like to learn stuff :)

Drupal v Joomla

jeffmason's picture

You might also give a listen to this podcast.


Gabe Taviano outlines the basics of Joomla, while the host, Rob Feature, draws references to working in Drupal.


Glad you chose Drupal

diodata's picture

I just looked through your old site... appalling might be a bit strong but I think I know what you're talking about. The content of your site looks perfect for Drupal. I definitely agree that a LMS (like the ones I've used Moodle, Sakai, WebCT) would not have the flexibility needed. Drupal is also indeed fun to play with from a developer perspective. From a few people I've talked to, more fun and flexible than Joomla.

Definitely looks like a heavy does of Views. Off the top of my head, also don't forget to take a look at Date and Calendar, Imagecache, Imagefield, and Lightbox (for image galleries), ACL, COntent Access, and Taxonomy Access (for node access control), Taxonomy categorization modules (like Taxomony Manager, Taxonomy Menu, Tagedelic) and Exhibit (use the Timeline view for School History.)

Good luck!

Re Glad you chose Drupal

SimonBorgert's picture

Thanks for the feedback John! and the suggestions of modules to use. Now I have to balence the redesign of our website in with developing a suitable amount of Moodle content (and training) to get ready for the Laptops in NSW school programme resulting from the Digital Revolution Funding. It's weird that all the talk in the NSW Dept of Education thus far has not included CMS... Go figure!

I tried Joomla and can say:

Aussawinning's picture

I tried Joomla and can say: Drupal is much faster

Drupal in Education

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