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What is Drupal NOT good at?
gpilling




msg:3892927
 3:05 pm on Apr 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have been investigating and Drupal seems to be a very good CMS. It has forums, news posting, members, ecommerce with Ubercart, and many hundreds of other features.

My question for those that have experience, is what is it NOT good at? Most comments that I have read so far indicate that it is a little complex to learn in the beginning, but the way it works makes sense after a little study. Some people say it is by default ugly, but sites like TheOnion, MTV UK, et al look pretty good to me.

If you have a particular thing that Drupal doesn't do, please be specific. I am yet to deploy my first Drupal site, so I am trying to be thorough in my research. Thanks

 

stef25




msg:3902322
 12:34 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

interesting thread. i work only with drupal during my 9-5 on 6 figure sites (euros). there are indeed lots of big impressive drupal sites; trust me ... these sites need alot of baby sitting. its a very powerful CMF and with that comes the ability to screw alot of things up.

on this site we're working on right now for a fortune 500, we have an issue with mysql connections that dont close. 100's are staying asleep during development and the site grinds to a halt. stress testing with 80 users clicking every 5 sec crashes the server. we've been told to expect a million uniques per month. obviously we've done something wrong but imo, a cmf / cms should come with some kind of protection that prevents this stuff from happening, or at least spit out meaningful error messages. instead we get nada. ive been at the office 20 days straight ...

documentation is pretty sparse and in some cases, completely useless. the forum is crap. it spits out too many nested divs in its default markup. you get file names like "views-view-bla-something-else-page—1.tpl.php", and we've got dozens of files like this; very hard to work with. when you receive sliced html templates, it can be very tough to make drupal output that same markup. this is a MAJOR issue.

since the "cms" part is integrated with the public facing site, all css styles you apply are also applied to the cms/backend where your editors and admins do all/some of their work. if you dont style the cms yourself (all the form fields, etc) you can end up with a real mess. in some areas you can get a grid of 100's of checkboxes, to manage the rights of users or drop downs with 100's of values – impossible to see what is what.

as you can probably tell im not a big fan at all. having said that, i can not provide an alternative solution. ive tried and tested pretty much every php cms out there, and there is nothing better than drupal for complex sites (apart from php frameworks). its "open" and has a very powerful API. you can write a module to do pretty much anything. for low – medium complexity sites, stick with something like WP or expression engine.

dailypress




msg:3902348
 1:27 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

1.Drupal takes up lots of space.

I had to restore my two drupal sites to previous day and it took my hosting company about an hour to do so.

2. Figuring it out may take a while. (im still in the learning phase)
3. My photo gallery has the same titles when I upload image zip files and extract. I may be using the wrong photo gallery application.

Pass the Dutchie




msg:3902377
 2:21 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Drupal Modules are not well organised and in many cases there is no documentation. My biggest gripe over Drupal is the almost monthly core updates. Also, there is no decent way to mirror your installation so that you can have a live backup copy for testing new modules etc.

Drupal is great and we run several sites off single install. It is by far the best and most flexible free CMS out there but it still has some way to go to match the ease and simplicity of WP.

TheWhippinpost




msg:3902419
 2:53 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Took me a good 6 mths to roll-out a v 4.7 Drupal site because of dupe content issues (URL paths).

Crafting site architecture and URLs was an absolute nightmare - I found it demoralising having to go in and bodge stuff into submission.

By the time I eventually launched it, v5.0 was almost ready. I was exhausted after v4.7 and couldn't stomache another tournament in the ring.

There are some very cool philosphies underpinning Drupal's core architecture but if you go with it, prepare to devote your life to it - I would dread to have clients reliant on it.

physics




msg:3902511
 4:34 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Drupal is like Linux. Hard to learn but you can do almost anything ... it might just take you a while to find out how.
First, check the core.
Then check for existing modules. This can be more difficult than you'd think - people don't always use the keywords you expect when naming their modules! Also, they may be using their module for something else while it would work perfectly for your needs. Posting in forums or when no one gets back to you there going to IRC can be very helpful here.
Then look into doing it custom with your own module.
Avoid hacking the core at all costs!

I agree with what some others are saying. If you want an easy to use, quick CMS use Wordpress. If you want to start a site that is more than just an article factory or you want it to be able to grow into one, use Drupal.

BradleyT




msg:3902557
 5:23 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

stef25,

Devel hasn't helped you with your SQL problem?

stef25




msg:3902562
 5:26 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

BradleyT, we use devel all the time but it hasnt solved this problem yet unfortunately

esllou




msg:3902570
 5:38 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

yeah, the modules are a total mess. People on the d.o forums have been calling for module rating for years, literally years.

Everybody and their dog can write a module and release it. If you want a module for something basic like adding an image, doing something flash with the taxonomy, etc, there are tens and tens of modules to choose from. Fine, you can go through the issue queues to a certain extent, see when the latest release was and so on, but a community-provided 1 star or 5 star rating will also tell you a lot.

modules are drupal's strength but one of its weaknesses too I'm afraid. It's easy for a noob to be told "there's a module for that" thirty times on the forums, end up with nigh on 50 contrib modules, then be told on the forum "no wonder your site's slow and you're getting those errors...you've got way too many modules enabled."

it's a vicious circle.

dailypress




msg:3902586
 6:20 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Avoid hacking the core at all costs!

you mean avoid hackers from hacking your site by updating the site?

I havent updated the core drupal for a few months now. Do you recommend installing the latest version every time?

Excellira




msg:3902587
 6:20 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

It is a good practice to examine the frequency of module updates and support responses as well as the number of versions the module will support. If the module supports D4 or D5 but not 6 then a question should be raised about the long-term viability of a module. It's not a great feeling when you've setup a site and later find that the module you've selected is blocking your ability to upgrade core.

stef25




msg:3902603
 6:36 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

what esllou said about modules is spot on. there's no way of knowing if whatever module you download wont break or cause issues weeks after deploying it.

a system like expression engine is not free and is managed by a central team which usually examines contributed modules and extensions and that's somewhat of a guarantee that it will work ok. a lack of this is one of the main issues with "free for all" open source systems that arent managed by a central team, as is the case with drupal

you mean avoid hackers from hacking your site by updating the site?

"hacking the core" means modifying the core drupal files, which should be avoided at all cost. when you perform an update of drupal, those changes may be lost and you might encounter issues further down the line, or introduce security issues.

Do you recommend installing the latest version every time?

i would say yes to that question. the update process is usually quite painless

[edited by: stef25 at 7:01 pm (utc) on April 28, 2009]

Excellira




msg:3902613
 6:49 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

"hacking core" is referring to modifying the application's source code to enhance or modify its operations.

physics




msg:3902656
 7:41 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)


you mean avoid hackers from hacking your site by updating the site?

Nope, I just meant try not to modify the core Drupal code. If you're not sure what that means then it means don't worry about it ;) You should do security upgrades (upgrading from 6.9 to 6.10 is usually no problem - but going from 6 to 7 may be a huge problem so keep that in mind).

Something I left out was you should even try to avoid hacking the .tpl.php files if possible. You're life will be easier/better in the long run if you force yourself to learn to do things the 'Drupal Way' (e.g. use views, CCK, etc when possible instead of plunking custom code into the template files or something like that).


Drupal Modules are not well organised and in many cases there is no documentation

I agree - but one trick I've found to be useful is to sort the modules by their usage and get to know what the top 10-50 modules are (depending on how deep you're going into drupal) - or just peruse through the list this way to try to find the most popular module for what you want. When people say "there's a module for that" they probably mean one of the more popular ones.
It IS frustrating even then though.


1.Drupal takes up lots of space.

dailypress, does Drupal take up a lot of space or is it all of the images in your gallery? The drupal core is only 1.03 MB (zipped). Wordpress is 1.8 MB...

It's frustrating but Drupal sucks for the same reason that it's great - it's powerful.

[edited by: physics at 7:52 pm (utc) on April 28, 2009]

physics




msg:3902669
 7:49 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

An interesting read related to this topic:
Development and evaluation of the initial three sites, representing Drupal, Joomla!, and WordPress...
[cmsshowdown.com...]

SuzyUK




msg:3902709
 8:48 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have not hacked core since 4.7, don't do it (well you can, if you're a tinkerer - just don't do it on anything but a hobby site!)

I still have a fairly active 4.7 site that is going to take me an absolute age to transfer (but that's a separate issue). In this case a module I heavily rely on is no longer available in D6 so while I still have to take the site thru the 5 versions that's not going to make the grade.. 6 has a different way of handling the calendar so it's still going to be a big job once I get it to 5.x (which now under threat too! arghh)

its my understand writing a seperate sheet of your own and saving it in the themes file under the root of the that theme is the correct way to do it.

This is actually easier in 6 than it has ever been because of the .info file, a custom sheet in your your theme folder will not override modules unless (it's very specific or) you put an entry in the .info file for it. But that is my thing so yes I'm happy with that bit as previously I had to get into my template.php in order to override core and module CSS in order to properly theme a site

Something I left out was you should even try to avoid hacking the .tpl.php files if possible.

That bit I don't agree with, sorry, I see the ability to have themed tpl.php files as the biggest move to theming those CCK's. No longer do we have to know how to write hooks/callbacks, we just need to copy the original file into our theme and hey presto! It works hand in hand with CCK IMHO (and that's without getting into views) there are basic tpl.phps in all the core and decent modules now and all are available for theming simply by copying them into them your custom theme (if they're not there they fall back to the default ones), that's way easier than PHP functions in the template file, for me anyway..

someone earlier said about Drupals functionality out of the box for bigger sites, I agree it's very powerful so that is very true.. however I still maintain it is, or will be the scalability that is an issue

Even getting all geeky, and getting into CDN's and/or SQL/PHP accelerators and stuff, if you've got a large site that was built in in an earlier version and you didn't keep up it's likely the modules will let you down eventually.

It should go without saying, but your database is your most important bit, so if all else fails make sure it's backed up as often as your size of site requires it then you can be back up and running in an hour or so (as long as it take you to unpack a new download), even if it is with a default theme temporarily (hint back up your theme folder while you're backing up your database ;))

As for updating/upgrading now, I do indeed intend to go thru the versions as suggested. The Status Report is now in the D6 core, but there is a module for it for 5.x and after having learned the hard way as to what version you can safely upgrade from/to I think I'll go with the core and update when I'm asked to (disclaimer: well after a week or so to avoid early doors bugs and also not backtracking if I do happen to be using a head/dev version of a module)

I am module crazy on a test site, but other than that it's the tried and tested ones that get used, and yes I agree about naming conventions I'm using one in particular that I have since 4.x.. it's still there and I'm very surprised it's not in core yet, but I can never remember what the heck it's called when I go to look for it!

loved the comment about it being built by engineers :)

SuzyUK




msg:3902749
 9:26 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

physics nearly missed your link there, thanks for that.

Reading the 3 stories is quite eye opening, seems to me that Drupal did put all their weight into the theming, as everything they needed was already there Blog/Forum/Events. WP relied heavily on their WPMU thing and had to expedite a feature and custom build a menu to handle the new WPMU functionality they introduced. Joomla's biggie was the Blog/article issue, again a multi user outside of forum challenge?

no wonder the Judges couldn't decide, - still if all Drupal's worries are only themeing, they just need to get that bit right and it's a cinch :)

BradleyT




msg:3902771
 9:55 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

That bit I don't agree with, sorry, I see the ability to have themed tpl.php files as the biggest move to theming those CCK's. No longer do we have to know how to write hooks/callbacks, we just need to copy the original file into our theme and hey presto! It works hand in hand with CCK IMHO (and that's without getting into views) there are basic tpl.phps in all the core and decent modules now and all are available for theming simply by copying them into them your custom theme (if they're not there they fall back to the default ones), that's way easier than PHP functions in the template file, for me anyway..

Completely agree. Making your own tpl.php files for theming nodes or custom content types or pages or blocks is an amazing feature of Drupal.

dailypress




msg:3902868
 11:54 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you're not sure what that means then it means don't worry about it ;)
Gotcha..hehe

dailypress, does Drupal take up a lot of space or is it all of the images in your gallery? The drupal core is only 1.03 MB (zipped). Wordpress is 1.8 MB...

Well I installed it twice for two of my websites although I am aware I could have combined the installation in one. But that is way over my head! I have installed lots of modules as well although im not sure that would take as much as space as my .wmv files and images.

Yes, it is the images in my gallery and since Drupal provides more efficient ways of creating pages with images (upload zip file & extract) I have uploaded thousands of pictures.

docbird




msg:3902930
 4:13 am on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just to chip in as complete non-coder, lest any others happen to read this.

Agree with various points, inc re Drupal's own language (and see above with Drupalese, such as CCK and tpl.php files), and needing time to learn it.

Indeed very bad re images; various options - some strong - but basic install even deletes code for images [as html filter, for security, rather paranoid]. Seems the "engineers" like their code n text n user communities, but not pictures.

Templates, too, not real lovely; and I'm afraid I've so far lacked energy/time to faff with css etc - tho do have plenty of images, several videos, to enhance things.

Abundant pluses; I moved from Joomla as felt Drupal folk better understood various website basics, inc SEF/human friendly URLs; also good that sites can be more "holistic" - forums really integrated, so site content more connected.

ergophobe




msg:3903319
 4:06 pm on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Kind of late... but I have to agree with SuzyUK and BradelyT as well with regards to theming by hacking .tpl.php files.

As one recent example for me - I had two options.

1. Add a few lines of code in template.php and a custom .tpl.php file. This adds almost no load on the server, is simple, uses the API and should upgrade simply until the API changes.

2. Use the Panels module, which is huge, complex, slow to upgrade, takes a chunk of memory and so on. Way more than I needed just to get some views output on a page.

I chose option 1.

cdcaveman




msg:3904880
 11:59 am on May 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

i wish there was such a large community for CF. I really like drupal, its got me learning Php. outputing only the hooks that you need just for your site and maniuplating a zen css theme is what i wanna do next. Tons of sites are done in drupal. Tons of functionality built in. familiarizing yourself with the Drupal verbage is much easier the writing the code from scratch.

BaseballGuy




msg:3910703
 1:56 am on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm in the midst of looking to switch from Wordpress to either Joomla or Drupal.

Reason being is that I cannot code php nor html so a static site is out of the question.

I dislike Wordpress for the simple fact that it looks "bloggy".

Can someone like me (who has basic html and php skills) create a site using Drupal that looks and behaves like a static website, but has the flexibility of a blog?

In other words....just how far can the average html/php n00b go with Drupal before he has to dial 911 and reach his coding guy to help him out?

cdcaveman




msg:3910761
 4:38 am on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well Baseball guy, i would sugguest you go to the drupal site and start reading. You actually don't need to know much php at all. theres a whole vocabulary associated with drupal. i found the sites very easy to set up. if you study CSS a little and get firebug for modzilla firefox. you can seriously do alot with drupal. Url rewrites witch drupal has the capacity to handle would make your site look very static. no coding guy needed, just educate yourself on the drupal site and register with them and you can ask for help on the support forums. read read read

ergophobe




msg:3911049
 3:27 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

>>I dislike Wordpress for the simple fact that it looks "bloggy".

You can get "magazine" style themes or themes that look like a static site. Those might help you with WP. I'm not saying you *should* use WP, just that the look of 99% of the WP sites is not necessarily an argument against.

Otherwise, I would second cdcavemen.

You can get quite far with Drupal (or Joomla) without knowing any PHP. Much of the drupal learning curve is learning drupal itself. Quite often, for common tasks that do require PHP, you can find "recipes" on Drupal.org to cut and paste, substitute your category name for Example Category and you're off.

The other hard part is sorting through the 4000+ modules to figure out what you actually want/need, but haivng so many modules means that an incredible number of options are out there without having to code.

That doesn't mean it can't be dizzying, and if you value your time, you might seriously consider buying a book on whichever one you decide to use. As I mentioned higher up, I recently bought Pro Drupal Development (that's definitely aimed at coders, so I don't recommend that one to you). I immediately started kicking myself thinking of all the time I wasted by not buying that book sooner. Huge return on investment.

PS, I would say even simpler than Firebug, is to use the Aardvark extension. It's the easiest way I've found to figure out what CSS is controlling a given element.

Excellira




msg:3911060
 3:41 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Design would not be a good reason to select another option. Wordpress can look however you wish.

If you are thinking of making a switch then Drupal would be a better blog than Joomla.

Also, if you're thinking about using Drupal, then build a test site. This will be helfpul in learning how to use Drupal and in your module selection. Once you've got your recipe down then you'll want to start with a fresh configuration.

BaseballGuy




msg:3911427
 11:51 pm on May 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

I just installed Drupal on another site.

A bit confusing, but within a few hours was
able to get up a somewhat decent looking framework.

One thing confuses me...

How do you add "tabs" on top of the header image?
I downloaded one free theme (amnity_island) and
the picture shown on the website has navigation
tabs. I couldn't figure out how to use it.

Other than that....I'm somewhat impressed with
how easy Drupal is to use. Installation was
a cinch (easier than a first time Wordpress
or Joomla install).

There are a ton of controls, but nothing I
shouldn't be able to figure out.

thanks !

ergophobe




msg:3911894
 3:31 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Those tabs are defined by your primary links menu. So go into Admin->Site Building->Menus->Primary Links and add as you wish.

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