Choosing the platform or content management system that powers your website is not a decision that should be taken lightly. The consequences of your choice will impact every aspect of the site and every person who works on it, so you need to commit one way or another. And this commitment can only be made by gaining a deep understanding of what each platform can offer you and your business.
Drupal and Django are two of the most popular choices for web publishing; both offer a powerful underlying framework, topped off with a user-friendly interface, but there are significant differences to consider too. It’s imperative, however, to ensure that you have a grasp of the ins and outs of each option, before you come to a final decision.
Drupal and Django can both be used to build your website, but we aren't quite comparing apples with apples here. Drupal is a PHP-powered content management system, think a more advanced WordPress; Django, however, is a Python-powered framework, giving you the raw tools to construct a site, rather than being a user-friendly CMS. Django operates on a lower level and demands more technical know-how from the people that use it, although its admin interface is similar to a CMS in many ways.
Essentially, Drupal makes more choices for you, and takes care of more of the groundwork automatically. Django, conversely, asks you to do more of the heavy lifting, but, because of this, it's more flexible and more suitable for projects where you need a specifically tailored solution or bespoke elements on your site. It can take longer to learn, but you can do more with it.
Scalability and Performance
Both Drupal and Django are suitable for a broad range of end purposes, whether you're an individual web developer or a global corporation, and both can run on Windows and Linux servers. Both platforms are very flexible, though, in line with its core functionality, Drupal is easier to extend, through the use of pre-packaged add-on modules that don't require much in the way of coding or customization.
In terms of raw performance, the two platforms are, broadly speaking, on an equal footing. Indeed, the main factors affecting website speed lie outside of your decision whether to go with Django or Drupal. However, Drupal has an inherent architecture that requires more processing steps than Django. Again, this is because Django is a less structured, more flexible system that you can put together in whatever way you see fit.
Django's clean and streamlined approach to templates is widely regarded as the best approach of the two, whereas Drupal's use of templates can be unwieldy and difficult to customize. Django, in addition, boasts a strict architecture that's heavily object-oriented and more suitable for long-term development, while Drupal, on the other hand, has a much larger user base, which means you're more likely to be able to find help and support, should you run into any issues. What's more, Drupal doesn't require any coding knowledge, although some is helpful; Django, on the other hand, certainly does.
Applications and Testing
For sites and projects that require online apps, the principles mentioned earlier apply once again. Drupal can be thought of as an existing app that you modify to suit your needs. Django, however, gives you the basic tools that you need to build your own apps from the ground up, while also allowing for a more modular approach; so, if different team members are working on different components, they don't necessarily need a detailed understanding of the other parts of the project.
When it comes to the testing stage for sites, and the apps built upon them, the story is the same. Django frameworks can be tested in a variety of ways, using a variety of automated tools, but a more advanced level of technical knowledge is required to launch and understand the tests. Drupal, like any other similar CMS, isn't built for automated testing, so each function must be worked through manually by a human being.
Many people will flippantly ask "which is better?" when it comes to choosing between Drupal and Django, but it's a question that doesn't have a definitive answer. The correct answer depends on what you're planning to build, the team you have to put it together and how you're going to use the site in future.
Drupal's popularity is due, in part, to its "one click setup" interface. Even if you're not a web developer, you can get a Drupal site up and running without too much head-scratching. However, once you get professional developers involved, they may well find Django easier to tweak and customise than Drupal, depending on exactly what you're asking them to do. It's this fundamental difference between ease-of-use and flexibility that's most important when weighing up the two competing platforms.
Which platform do you prefer? Please share your thoughts in the comments area below.