We recently had a popular local Drupal meetup comparing and contrasting various Content Management Systems (CMS). Although Monarch Digital does a large proportion of its work with the Drupal content management system, we do work with other frameworks and recognize the value of flexibility.

Occasionally we receive requests from clients to work with other systems, so even just for our own benefit we felt it would be useful to do a broad analysis of features and capabilities between some of the various popular CMS offerings in the marketplace. And, since the meetup we help organize is first and foremost a Drupal group, we decided to structure the comparison in relation to how the different CMS's compare to Drupal.

To help organize our discussion we created the following broad evaluation criteria couched in Drupal terminology:

CMS Comparison Criteria

Getting Started With the CMS

  • Learning curve. How intuitive is setup and configuration? (At the meeting, we referred to the legendary Drupal learning curve graphic. Yet, someone offered that site builders, a.k.a. non-coders, can accomplish a great deal without encountering the learning curve required of developers.)
  • Content types and fields. How does the CMS handle content with unique structures and fields?
  • Permissions and access control. How does the CMS manage users, permissions, and access control?
  • Community. So, you run into problems, where do you turn? What are updates like?

Customization, Modules, or Plugins

  • Theming. How easily can the site be skinned?
  • Contributed ecosystem. How does contributed code work, like Drupal modules and themes, paid and free, support...?
  • Plugin/module development. How extensible is the CMS to incorporate custom functionality?

Applications for Business

  • E-commerce. How suitable is the CMS for e-commerce, especialy dynamic data?
  • SEO. How SEO friendly and configurable is the CMS?

System Administration

  • System requirements. How is installation? What is required to run it?
  • Scaling. Is the CMS more appropriate for small or large sites? Can the CMS scale for high volume?
  • Other categories. Release control, backups and restores, security, specific features, etc.

Presentations and Findings

The presentations were for the most part, made by actual members of our local Drupal community who had used other content management systems besides Drupal. Some of us had actively used the alternative while others researched the CMS without having actually built a production website with it.

There are certainly more CMS alternatives out there which are probably great, but due to realistic time constraints we couldn't do an exhaustive industry analysis. So we apologize in advance to the many other Drupal CMS alternatives and frameworks that could have been covered.

We just took a first-come, first-serve approach based upon who would volunteer to present, or had a good deal of experience with that system. Also, if you are a proponent or evangelist for one of these or another CMS not mentioned here, I just want to reiterate that this CMS evaluation was organized by and for people who typically work with Drupal.

This shouldn't be seen as a way to aggrandize Drupal within the industry, but rather to help us expand our knowledge-base from within a context and discussion that is familiar to us already. Drupal is a fantastic content management system and development framework, but we always strive to identify the right tool for the right job.

Summary of Notes and Discussions

But enough of all of that, let's dive into the information that readers are probably actulaly interested in! Below is a list of links to overviews of the presentations, and notes taken on the discussions pertaining to each CMS that was reviewed.

These links will be updated over the coming week as we finish sorting through the notes on each discussion. Please leave your comments or questions in the comment section on the blog post relevant to the CMS you are mentioning.