Professional Blog Software Reviews – Drupal

Todays post is the final review in our blog software reviews. In this post I will be looking at Drupal, probably the most general-purpose of all the software thus far. Let’s see how well it performs as a blog.

Like CommunityServer, Drupal is meant to be more than just a blog or a CMS, there are modules for every conceivable function with a bias towards community-oriented functionality. Blogging is what these reviews are about though so we need to keep that in mind when looking over the features. The evidence of your own eyes tells you that a blog is possible, performancing is a Drupal blog, but how easy is it?

Drupal is open source, released under GNU GPL so is free to download and you need PHP plus MySQL or PostgreSQL database server. To keep up to date with releases, subscribe to their newsfeed.

install

Installation

Installation consists of downloading and uncompressing the zip and following the instructions in the “install.txt” file. No easy and attractive wizard to hold your hand here. It’s not tricky to setup thankfully but the others in the review try harder to make life easy.

Ease of use

Now it might be because I have been using Drupal a long time as a user but I found the whole thing very logical and straightforward. The only thing different to the others that might be a surprise is there is a concept of “blocks”. Because Drupal is more of a portal they have this system where modules can be placed in left or right columns and switched off or on (kind of like “widgets” and “web parts” in other portal systems).

posting
To post you select “create content” from the navigation and you have a choice of creating a static page or a story. By using a “break” comment you can split the introduction and full article and it automatically will show a “read more” link. If you have enabled individual blogs you will have a new function to post a blog entry in your own blog and promote it to the homepage.

Format can be a reduced set of HTML tags or full HTML, even PHP. Carriage returns are automatically turned into HTML breaks.

admin

Administration of users, permissions and blogs could not be easier. RSS feeds are available at the site, blog and category level.

Comments

Comments can be anonymous or through registration and are moderated.

Search

Search is available, you just need to enable it.

Ping and Trackback

Trackbacks are catered for but you need to download the module. Pings are available through a module in the default download, it just needs to be enabled.

URLs

Through Apache you have friendly URLs or the slightly ugly “node” type URLs. With IIS you are stuck with querystrings.

Overall Search Engine Friendliness

The code is clean enough. The template I chose used tables rather than pure DIV/CSS but there is nothing here too offensive to even the pickiest of search engines.

Template flexibility

themes
There are a few templates included and switching between them is easy. There are more themes available and the best ones seem to be ports from other blogging systems. Drupal has the most flexibility of all the reviews as far as themes and templates as not only can you download and create new themes but also theme engines (smarty, phptempate xtemplate,..). This can make it a little confusing at first but the documentation for each theme will tell you what is required. There is even a module to allow individual users to choose blog themes.

Extensibility

Like the best of the other systems there is good scope for building on Drupal, through modules or hacking the code, but as mentioned earlier there are loads of modules available so you might well find someone else has already built something ideal.

Support

There is a good community behind Drupal with the forum, email list and projects. There is also seemingly a good market in third party commercial and hosting support too. Check out the support page for more information.

API/EMail

Blogger, MetaWeblog and MovableType APIs are supported. It appears you can do blogging via email using the MailHandler module if you need to.

Stats and reporting

stats
Very basic stats are included in the administration section but you can improve on these somewhat with the Xstatistics module.

Summary

Well, Drupal has it all. Apart from the shabby (comparatively) installation process Drupal pretty much has the full house. I think for a single blog WordPress has it beat, the experience is just more finely tuned to the needs of bloggers. As a platform for multiple authors and multiple blogs it is top class. Feature-wise CommunityServer pretty much matches it, beating in some areas (eg. individual blogs can choose themes without having to add a mod) and being beaten in others (eg. usability). The choice between those will probably be down to platform, at least until version 2 of Community Server arrives.

Conclusion

Now here is the tough decision, the overall rankings ..

  1. WordPress
  2. Drupal
  3. Community Server

Read the other reviews:

  1. Introduction
  2. CityDesk review
  3. Movable Type review
  4. WordPress review
  5. bBlog review
  6. DasBlog review
  7. CommunityServer review
  8. Drupal review

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