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Case study Drupal

Why did we finally choose to take Drupal as our final platform for arabwestreport.info ?

Looking at what we needed, there were the following requirements which could not be fulfilled by Joomla which would have been our first choice:

  • articles should be connected to different wordlists like countries, organizations, publishers which in turn should be searchable.
  • the AWR-index is a hierarchical index which allows to access AWR articles by logically narrowing down the search following a more precise definition

With Joomla nothing of the kind could be found and so we looked around for another system. Drupal has such a thing called taxonomy which is in fact the correct term if you are heading for something as this.

Drupals taxonomy

  • is split up into vocabularies (e.g. countries, publishers, books etc.)
  • each vocabulary can be fed with any number of terms
  • and the most important thing: these terms can be arranged in a hierarchy
  • from Drupal V6 (D6) on this feature was even more simple to handle as you just pull at a "handle" to put terms in the right order. So this greatly simplifies data management at the cost of some bandwidth.

Advantages of Drupal (compared to Joomla)
If you look in earnest at the concept of Joomla it is a "jack-of-all-trades": You have almost every feature the normal website will need packed or rather "hacked" into it. This is an advantage for those who only need to build a standard website, but the mess comes up against you if you really need to have something systematic.
Here lie the advantages of Drupal. Every function can be configured from the core element the node, but you only have very few things preconfigured. In some sense it is the same story as with the Linux flavors. Some people like Debian because there they have to configure everything from the bottom up. But some people prefer OpenSuse because they want a prconfigured system. So the advantages of Drupal can be summed up as:

  • you can configure everything to be a node
  • you have to make the linking yourself
  • you can even define new content-types with the Content-Construction-Kit yourself

Generally, if you have some out of the way requirements and have enough time and energy to sepnd on looking for suitable third party modules you would rather choose Drupal as your platform.
If you have anything like (hierarchical) wordlists which are connected to items you will very likely use Drupal.

Downsides of Drupal (compared to Joomla)

  • Installing new modules is not as easy as in Joomla. You always have to go through the root shell. There is also something called DRUSH to simplify this process, but it is still more difficult than just uploading / installing packages through the browser as in Joomla.
  • The concept of Drupal doesn't come so easy as that of Joomla which is quickly understandable to the newbie. It takes longer time until you reach a satisfactory function.
  • For every additional module you have to define the permissions for it to work with your users.
  • Drupal needs more server power than Joomla even if you use caching.
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