Drupal vs Joomla: A Developer’s Take on the Open Source Platforms

July 7, 2015 Published by: Deepa Ranganathan

Drupal vs Joomla

Drupal and Joomla, the up and coming open source platforms, offer incredible web solutions! Both are known for their complexities, and enterprise level performance. They love challenging the users with their dynamism and versatility, which is essential for any CMS developer.

For long, there’s been a debate over which platform is better- Joomla or Drupal. You will realize that comparing a CMS open source platform from a developer’s perspective requires more parameters than you can actually imagine. Here’s an in-depth comparison that helps understand which platform is better, and why.

Usability vs Complexity

Usability & ComplexityIf you consider ease of use vs complexity graph from a webmaster’s perspective, you would find that Joomla falls in the middle while Drupal is considered to be difficult to use and suited for highly complex projects. But, the developer’s take on the same differs. Joomla is easy to install as well as configure when compared to Drupal. If you want to include custom functionalities to your Joomla based website, it is relatively easier as compared to Drupal.

Drupal offers a modular approach for user interface design as well as content entry, which is why it probably considered majorly for complex projects. On the other hand, Joomla is not as powerful as Drupal to develop complex web pages.

While Drupal is at the frontier when it comes to developing complex projects, Joomla offers more flexibility in terms of adding custom functionalities, and moving contents within the webpages.


SecurityWith hackers waiting on websites, it is time developers pulled up their socks and devised ways to define a more secure site. Drupal offers to be a very secure platform; an excellent example of which is the website for the “White House”. Joomla also offers excellent security, and it seems both the platforms are competing against each other to prove their prowess in offering better security. The support communities are bringing out the best in both the platforms. But, currently, from a developer’s perspective, Drupal definitely ranks higher when it comes to offering security.


DatabaseFor a developer, database and system logs are a matter of concern. Whenever you need to customize a few things on your platform, the logs are the place you are bound to visit. A detailed study of the database for Drupal reveals the below mentioned details

  • Your views are stored in the database, which simply means you cannot collaborate on creating views or even have a version control over them. If you want you can override the default views, but that means adding some complex codes.
  • if you are one of those developers who likes building web applications after creating an entity relationship diagrams, then Drupal will make the whole process a nightmare for you. A new content type in Drupal means adding a few database tables which eventually means structural changes within the database, and that simply means your ERD is unreliable for you
  • While most platforms store the logs in files, Drupal resorts to the old method of holding on to the database. This simply means the data is hard to access/analyze. With time, your database becomes inefficient. If you have been checking into a high traffic site, you will find it difficult to analyze the logs within the database. This platform does not support log rotation or archiving the logs. Of course, you have the option of installing syslog, in case you don’t want to store the logs in the database, but that means disabling dblog, which is a complex procedure.

Core Architecture

Core ArchitectureWhen you compare the two open source platforms for their core architecture, you will see that Joomla offers a clean core API while Drupal offers a complicated spaghetti code.

Joomla: Joomla forms a tree hierarchy. The core is the main trunk which offers branches in the form of API. You can attach components or modules and widgets, (leaves) to the branches. You can easily plugin a component thus integrating with the security element. There is minimal contact between the different sub branches.

Drupal: The code can be easily compared to a bucky ball. The numerous surfaces touching the ball are known as modules in this platform. You can hook in any of the extensions to the modules available on this ball. This simply means all the modules, extensions, etc. are interlinked with each other forming a difficult to read code. The code quality is low, and the overall appearance of the code seems to lack elegance.

While Joomla can be debugged easily with the modern debugging tools, a developer faces nightmares when they need to debug Drupal code with the modern debugging tools.


PerformancePerformance benchmarks the usability of the platform from a developer’s perspective. When loading simple pages, Drupal makes around 100 database queries per load. This simply means everything in Drupal needs to be first abstracted and then cached heavily which just adds to the complexity of the platform.

On the other hand, Joomla can be considered as a lightweight and a more optimized platform. The recommended memory for Joomla is 512MB while that for Drupal is 2GB. Even without adding the caching tools, Joomla happens to be considerably faster and smarter than Drupal. Joomla outsmarts the performance delivered by Drupal, when it is loaded with the necessary caching tools.

When it comes to handling complex projects, from a webmaster’s perspective, Drupal definitely is the knight in the shining armor. It offers a secure platform to build complex pages easily. But, when it comes to flexibility, Joomla is the preferred platform. It offers better caching and performance; it thrives on flexibility when it comes to custom development. Again the core architecture and database storage is better in Joomla when compared to Drupal.

Both the platforms are competing head on with each other, and offering better support. It is the community support that seems to be making the choice difficult.

Choice of platform depends greatly on the kind of business you are into. Semaphore Software is a leading CMS Web Development company, that offers solutions based on the business needs, and goals. Get in touch with us via Email info@semaphore-software.com if you want to consider bespoke solution to further your business.