chacadwa.com

Technical blog and writings by Micah Webner.

Why I Chose Drupal

What led me to choose Drupal as a website platform? To answer that, I first need to explain what led me to choose a Content Management System (CMS) in the first place.

I've been creating and maintaining web sites since 1995. Some good, some bad, some in between. Most of this was monolithic design with static HTML, using everything from notepad and joe (I never really went for vi, though I can use it in a pinch) to FrontPage (yeeccch!) and DreamWeaver. I've written vbscript in asp, hacked together some perl (with and without the CGI module), and even dabbled very cautiously into the realm of php.

Any of those would work for me as long as nobody else was trying to publish, and/or I wanted to do everything by hand. Pretty soon, it's time to move past brochureware and static pages and start creating dynamic sites. After all, this is web two-point-oh, right?

All kidding aside, Laura Scott at pingVision has already written an excellent article, When a Website is a car, not a taxi, which explains the economic benefits of dynamic websites:

Think of a static website as a taxi. You pay per trip (per update), including the flag drop (design conceptualization) and mileage (designer time). If you want to make another trip, even on the same route, you need to hire a taxi again, and pay all over again.

But a dynamic website is a car. You pay to keep it running (hosting), but you go where you want (whatever page additions or changes you want), when you want (24-hour access), as long as you want (unlimited pages).

In the summer of 2005, I spent a lot of time evaluating different content management systems to replace our existing portal at work. I started by comparing and test driving several different systems at www.opensourcecms.com, and found several that I liked. None of the systems I tried had the level of LDAP support that I needed at the time, although Drupal now does.

Of all the systems I tried, Drupal stood out as something I could use for some other projects, and eventually I did. There were (are) a wide variety of modules to extend the system, and the API appears to be pretty easy to work with when I need to create something unique. (I have something in mind, so if isn't the question.)

Like many newbie users, I got tripped up with Drupal terminology, but once I got past that, it's been pretty smooth sailing. Check out Why I Love Drupal So Much for another good testimonial.

I've used Drupal for a variety of sites, including Skinny Kid Race Cars, thegreenbag.com, this site, and a couple of private portals. Each site has its own needs, and therefore its own unique blend of modules and configurations. Thanks to easy to install and configure web server configurations like WAMP and MAMP, it's easy to rapidly prototype a new site with nothing more than a USB memory stick and a laptop computer.

With the many sites I maintain, there's always ample opportunity for tinkering, but I can also say I've spent more time actually just creating content on my Drupal sites as opposed to other places where I've spent way too much time tinkering with the interface. I've seen a very wide variety of people use Drupal as a publishing tool, and the success rate has been higher than with most systems I've tried.

Sometimes I run into problems, but the Drupal user community has always gotten me through, and the answers to my questions have usually been on the forums even before I thought to ask. I've also been able to contribute back some (hopefully) helpful comments on some open issues.

All in all, my experience with Drupal has been a good one, and I'm happy with the choice.

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