Stick a fork in it, Drupal is done

Drupal's tombstone
Sad to see ya go

Way back in 2006 I invested a lot of time researching what platform to build my first website on. After a few days, I had the choices narrowed down to Joomla or Drupal – at that time WordPress wasn’t even in the running.  If you wanted a capable, customizable CMS, Drupal or Joomla were the only real choices.  Joomla had several very public security issues at the time and people were already beginning to complain about lack of support – signaling that Joomla was on it’s last legs.  I downloaded drupal-4.2.6.zip and a great relationship was born.

Over the next 2 or 3 years I built several websites, all on Drupal and over time I upgraded them to Drupal v5, and although a pain-in-the-ass, then to Drupal v6.  Also around this time I started toying with WordPress.  Back then if you wanted a full-fledged, “real” website, the choice was easy: Drupal. If you “just wanted a blog“, the choice was quickly becoming WordPress.

As time went on, I created many more websites and my CMS/Framework of choice became WordPress – but for my two most popular websites, I stuck with Drupal, Version 6. Partially because for those websites Drupal 6 was working just fine, and also because migrating a website from Drupal to WordPress is virtually impossible. Sure, migrating a Drupal site to WordPress can be done, but it’s not easy, and with complex websites, unless you are an expert or want to pay an expert, it might as well be impossible.

Drupal 6 was working great. All of the modules I use, about 30 between the two websites had been around for quite a while and had all of the bugs worked out. As long as nothing changed, Drupal 6 would last forever!  Then, something changed.  I needed a responsive theme. With Drupal 6, there are virtually no responsive themes.

Around 2013 I upgraded my smaller, simpler website to Drupal 7.  A few of the modules I was using on Drupal 6 were not available for D7, but no show-stoppers, but this is when I started to realize how much better WordPress was than Drupal.  The Drupal 7 upgrade was a horror show. Error after error, PHP White Screens of Death (WSOD), database errors, headers-already-sent errors, errors I had never heard of or seen before.  Finally, after much time and pain, the simple website was up on Drupal 7 and running “ok”.  I was only using a few modules on that site, but virtually all of them had issues. Some issues made the modules totally unusable, some were just annoyances.  I figured that over time these problems would get worked out by the developers and module-maintainers.

Two years later I finally decided to upgrade my larger, more complicated website from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7. The upgrade process was no better than my previous upgrade two-years earlier. Stupid errors, problems and issues. Finally after several days the site was up and running on Drupal 7, minus about 10 modules, and with issues with almost all of the other modules.  No problem I figured, I’ll just hit the Drupal support forums.

Drupal Support? What Support?

It was now, when trying to get support for Drupal core issues and module problems, that the impending death of Drupal became obvious.  The core support forums that used to be brimming with users and developers helping each other and solving problems, was now mostly regular website owners like me, begging for help, and rarely getting it.  The module support-areas were worse.  Most modules had not been updated in years, many had been completely abandoned.  I felt like I was wandering around in an old abandoned building yelling for help, but only hearing my own voice echoing down the long, dark hallways.

I reported a few bugs and requested help a few times. To date, I have gotten ZERO responses.  Looking through the core support forum, it’s clear that I am not the only one. There is some activity, some users helping users and a few developers chiming-in here and there, but still many, too many, unanswered questions. Nothing like it was a few years ago.  Want to see what free, user-supported support should look like? Go check out the WordPress support forums.

Wait! What about Drupal 8 and Drupal 9?

Drupal 8 is the new current version and Drupal 9 is brewing.  So far, ONE of the modules that I use has a stable Drupal V8 release and only 2 have dev version 8 releases. As I mentioned earlier, most have been abandoned for a few years and I doubt a version 8 version will be coming.  As for Drupal 9 support? Don’t make me laugh.

Drupal is officially dead

If you have a team of Drupal developers or if you are a developer yourself, Drupal might still be a good choice since you can support yourself.  But if you are like 98.9% of us ‘regular webmasters’ that rely on the Drupal module developers for support, Drupal is probably the worst choice you could make for a website in 2015. As a matter of fact, I would not wish Drupal on my worst enemy at this point.  I have not even mentioned the usability issues!  Try upgrading a module in Drupal 6 or Drupal 7?  Better have a good FTP client and know how to use it – not a problem for a wirehead, but if you want to appeal to the masses you have to make it user-friendly. Upgrade a plugin in WordPress? No problem, click a button!

No doubt some wire-head will tell you “it’s easy to fix your own problems in Drupal”, but he will obviously be so disconnected from the real-world, that he has no ability to realize that we aren’t all programmers.  Others may also tell you “there is still lots of good support for Drupal” – to those, I would ask them to define “lots” – because unless you are blind, a quick look through the core and module support areas will prove that Drupal support is virtually dead – and it is that lack of support that killed Drupal.  Rest In Peace.

16 thoughts on “Stick a fork in it, Drupal is done

  1. “Drupal is officially dead”

    I don’t think you know what “officially” means. It makes you come off as an immature fool.

  2. I love a good clandestinely controversial blog post. Is that something you learn in your “Earn $100,000 Blogging” post?

    It’s laughable you expect an automatic upgrade between major versions. It’s an admirable goal of the community and perhaps useful for some, but not a reality when you start using a cross-section of contrib modules. The life of a typical Drupal website is still 4 to 6 supported years. Hell, even D6 is still supported today, that’s 7 years of support and counting. Just don’t expect an automatic upgrade to a vastly different product for a 5 year old website, supported entirely by volunteers of varying skill levels.

    I doubt in the real world, at the pace the web and technology move today, people seriously expect a software product to live longer than that without any work on the part of the webmaster to invest in a refresh. If you do, your expectations aren’t based in reality and you should probably just edit static HTML files.

    The reason each major versions are such a leap forward is because backwards compatibility is unashamedly broken and APIs and functionality are improved with every release. WordPress is a ticking time bomb of horrific legacy cruft, where as Drupal 8 can scrap with some of the hottest new frameworks and CMS’ out there (albeit with some baggage and rough edges).

    Drupal is and will continue to thrive. This is just noise.

    1. It’s laughable that you refuse to see that WordPress offers this already. You are rolling a boulder up a hill for no reason.

  3. I understand what you say. But you’re just not meant to be using Drupal IMHO. Drupal is not a plug and play CMS that beginners should expect to be able to use just like that, learn on the fly and it is not a paid solution from which you should expect support. In the 6 years I have been learning and using Drupal, every time I have asked a question, I did not expect an answer to it, because I know the people maintaining the module are volunteers that may not have the time to answer me right now or have bigger priorities. So even though I opened issues, I still was looking for the answer myself and when I’d find it I would come back and post some feedback.
    Drupal is a CMF (framework) that is a gold mine if you know how to use it. And you need to take the time to learn about it before you start using it if you don’t want to tear your hair out. There is a lot to know. You need a lot of patience with Drupal. But Drupal is not dead at all. On the contrary Drupal 7 is very powerful and Drupal 8 will be an ever better solution especially for custom coding thanks to OOP.

  4. Thanks for your post. I’ll keep in mind your thoughts. I don’t know if drupal is dead or not, but I’m learning it deeper at the moment, and working on a few big drupal projects. I do agree with you that it’s hard to find support and that drupal it’s wildly complicated.

    But still for the guys that replied to this post.. I don’t think that you should attack the OP with: ofc its super hard and super inflexible and yeh it has no support, but it’s all because it’s free and community supported, this is why it’s so bad.

    My opinion is that if it’s complex and inflexible, choose another platform. There is no reason to choose something ‘bad’ IF there is a better solution.

  5. After wasting 2 solid months working with Drupal Commerce and having the worst development experience of my life, I would have to agree that Drupal is Dead. It may not be dead for elite backend teams assigned to Whitehouse.gov or Gratefuldead.net, but for most of us, Drupal is Dead.
    There is zero support for Drupal Commerce on Drupal 7. The Omega theme(s) are a complete mess. The bugs are never ending cascades of doom. Drupal Commerce has NOT yet been ported to Drupal 8. You can download a beta using a clunky program called Symfony and many of the required modules don’t work. If you go to Drupal Commerce on Drupal.org, you will see that the maintainers have essentially abandoned it. Anyone that is launching an online shop is going to Shopify or WordPress/Woocommerce.
    Any CMS that does not support online shopping is finished.
    RIP DRUPAL.

  6. You expecting support for free… Drupal is growing in the real business spectrum, what you need is a Charity Management System. Glad to see such users moving somewhere else.

  7. In the media empire i work for we have both wordpress and drupal sites, and as a developer, i really can not endorse wordpress over drupal 7. For example in drupal, you define article as a content type, and you know exactly what it consist of. In wordpress you even dont know what the article is.. it is just a unch of variables wp_query returns, plus anything else some plugin can attach to the posts.

    Also, you are adding a functionality into theme, and over the years you end up with a big blob of code where presentation and functionality is mixed together. Drupal also has its own weak points, but I would still prefer it over WP any time.

    1. Good points, but for the other 98% of us bloggers that dont have a media empire financing a staff of developers to work on our websites, the lack of Drupal support and lack of functioning Drupal modules has forced the majority of us to use WordPress. ie; Drupal is dead..

  8. Drupal and wordpress don’t have the same scope.

    WordPress target non-developper people that just want to run a website fast and easy and generally, install a theme and use at is. No customization (or few).

    In the contrary, Drupal is made for professionnal website maker that have customers with specific, well defined needs and develop website in every details.

    Different CMS for different target. It’s true that most of people are not professionnal website maker and so, use wordpress. It explains it’s popularity. But for the sake of the web, there are still professionnal website developper and customers that know what they want with specific needs and can’t be happy with a CMS ready to use with a template.

    That was the 2 cent of a drupal developper since 10 years.

    1. I can’t say I agree with this distinction. I coded maybe even more customizations in WordPress…and basically anything that can done in Drupal can also be done in WordPress (and vice versa).

      In my experience, WordPress is popular because they care much more about backward compatibility – if you google how to do something in WP, most of the time it just works, and that is very important for beginners who are just trying if some CMS will work for them.

      Another element is, that for some strange reason, drupalists discourage people from charging for their modules. In WP, there are a lot of modules with free and paid versions, and the free one is often sufficient and is of good quality. In Drupal, there are a lot of modules where the improvement died, since there is no motivation to continue with the further development.

  9. Deciding whether to go to drupalcon baltimore eh?

    I read this, took 40 steps down the hall and the decision of “no” came to me quite easily.

    Sure the coding track looks good but it’s just not my job anymore…

    See you at devopsdays.

  10. WP & Drupal has its own market.. in short – WP is for the noob self-sufficient little web designer & small company.

    Drupal is for the initiated, the geek & large corporations with a team of geeks dedicated to support drupal.

    You can even port a drupal by just snapping the mysql & FTPing the files. Doesn’t work even after config. you can easily with WP

    1. Interestingly, my experience is just the opposite. We launched two smaller webs with Drupal, and overall it worked just fine, but when we started to develop a larger site, we were encountering a big devops hurdles on Drupal. The main issue was this: the Drupal code is so tightly coupled with the database, that when a developer switched branches (in git), the locally staged web just stopped working most of the time. And when we were four developers working simultaneously, it was really difficult. We eventually given up and switched to WP, and the development is much quicker, and git checkout mostly works.

      It seems to me Drupal is suited for web developers who works as one-man show…you develop the whole site yourself, ftp-ing it to client and be done. WordPress can much easier handle development of larger sites with several devs and modern devops principles. At least it is not true that WP is not suitable for larger companies.

  11. Drupal is not really built for developer, i think this is its upper hand and also low hand. But 2-3 years ago, i felt this becomes majorly the low hand. There’re quite a few things which are so tightly coupled that made Drupal not a good candidate for latest web solution provider. The way Drupal build website is too rigid, it doesn’t allow you (as a developer) to really dig in the code and play with all possible way if they like, not like NodeJS or AngularJS etc. The pluggable system they had virtually broken if you have more than 10 modules.

    From the business point of view, it lacks the clear goal like WordPress, to save people TIME to create things quickly and move on. You can’t really push the boundary of business person to developer, and this idea actually back fired. It actually costed me more money in the end. Of course I don’t regret using it, since I learned a few lessons here, ex. No free lunch. You need to build things that you like from scratch if there’s no replacement can be found. If you can find one, then you shouldn’t try to build it. You should just live with it. Either case, you can move on to what you were planning to do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.