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The Power of the Dark Side: Lessons Learned From Doing Drupal and WordPress at the Same Time

The Power of the Dark Side: Lessons Learned From Doing Drupal and WordPress at the Same Time


Matt Johnson

November 08, 2014


 Lessons learned from doing

    Drupal and WordPress at the same time. MATT JOHNSON @xmatt | matt@alleyinteractive.com
  2. vs

  3. Who am I? • Matt Johnson, co-founder, Alley Interactive •

    Worked with Drupal since 2007 • Worked with WordPress since 2011 • Retired from Internet flamewars in 1999
  4. THE GOOD OL’ DAYS Part 1

  5. Some History • 1996: My first website (middle school computer

    club) • 2006: My first Drupal site • 2007: First NY Observer Drupal site • 2008-10: Major Drupal adoption in media, higher ed and enterprise: NBCU, Viacom, Zagat, Sony BMG, Economist, UC Berkeley, …
  6. Meanwhile… • 2003: WordPress forked from b2 • Thought of

    as “blog software” until about 2010 • Became popular with journos, bloggers, and smaller sites • Editorial backend won hearts and minds
  7. More History • 2010: Alley founded, still servicing NY Observer

    Drupal site • 2011: Alley now servicing lots of other Drupal sites; NY Observer asks Alley to move its site to WordPress
  8. Wait… WordPress? You mean that blogging platform?!?


  10. Ok…so I can’t just use hook_form_alter to mess around with

    this? Nodes are called posts? Modules are called plugins?
  11. Getting Used to WordPress • Admin and front-end pages are

    two completely different systems. • No central registry of site URLs. • Most templates expect the context of a “loop” over one or more “posts”, all managed in globals. • Creating new DB tables not kosher; no custom entities except by repurposing posts, users, terms.
  12. Losing Your Toys • No forms API. • No fields

    (in core, anyway). • No (simple) way to respond to specific URLs. • There are custom content types (“post types”), but there’s no UI for them.
  13. Giving In to the Dark Side • WP’s greatest selling

    point is its editing tools (which, remember, a lot of your editorial folks already know and love) • Its other major selling point is its media management.

  15. Does Drupal Have Problems? • Yes. • You probably already

    know what they are. • So let’s talk about what using WordPress made us miss about Drupal, and when we tend to recommend Drupal.
  16. Sites With Complex Data • CCK for D5 released in

    2006 (when WP first introduced user roles) • CCK complete household name by D6 • Core in D7 (programmable with Features etc) • Use case = whatever you can think of.
  17. (BTW: We Built CCK for WordPress)

  18. Sites With Custom Form Workflows • Drupal forms API: with

    us since D5, and we all know and love it. • In WP, form data has to be passed back and forth with $_POST and $_GET. • In Drupal, validation and sanitization built- in, in WP you’re on your own.
  19. WP Lessons for Drupal Sites • Avoid defining fields, content

    types, views, etc. in your database. Do it in code. • Drupal entities are great, but consider if repurposing a node, user, or term will do.
  20. WHERE ARE WE NOW? Part 4

  21. Matt Mullenweg’s personal site: March, 2013

  22. Is there a Drupal vs. WP clash? Drupal folks say…

    • WordPress is a kids’ toy • WordPress is just for blogging • The backend is built for tiny sites only WordPress folks say… • Drupal is a byzantine nightmare • All the configuration is in the database • The backend is alienating to non-technical folks
  23. We don’t think so. • Life’s too short for holy

    wars about CMS platforms. • Both Drupal and WordPress have awesome features.
  24. A Client’s Perspective • Our clients aren’t typically experts in

    this area; that’s what they need from us. • They’ve heard from partisans on both sides; they want to know what’s best for them.
  25. The Bottom Line • Specific use cases suggest Drupal (complex

    form workflows, wide arrays of content types) • Others suggest WP (lots of media management, challenging editorial culture) • Speaking from authority on both platforms can be incredibly powerful for both sales and strategy.
  26. Questions?