Joomla vs. Drupal — A Comprehensive Comparison - Editorial Tools and Rich Media Support

By Justin Kerr
March 15, 2014

Table of Contents

Editorial Tools

A content management system’s editorial tools support publishing and managing content; they can include tools that directly enable content formatting, as well as workflows that support the publishing process. Both Drupal and Joomla contain tools and processes for supporting content production, however, each has significant gaps which must be filled by non-core software solutions.

Drupal iconDrupal

One of Drupal’s primary advantages in managing content is its in-built systemic capabilities to keep track of the saved versions of content as that content is edited and pushed through the publishing process. Drupal can keep track of the changes made to its Nodes (or content items), making it easier for developers to enable versioning capabilities. Drupal includes some basic workflow controls, however, sophisticated workflows require custom development and/or third-party software. Drupal does offer some basic controls for scheduling content publication, but advanced needs will require additional software or development work.

A common complaint about Drupal’s default editorial capabilities is the lack of a WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) editor: a set of content formatting controls similar to those offered by a word processing program. By default, Drupal uses plain text areas for composing and editing content, however, third-party WYSIWYG capabilities can be enabled in Drupal through the application of extra software and configuration work. Other aspects of working with content in a Drupal installation also require installation and configuration of additional software, including server-side image editing, file management and email notifications of changes to content.

It’s worthwhile to note the growing presence of Drupal “distros” – pre-formatted Drupal installations tailored toward the needs of a specific vertical market (for example, the publishing industry). Some Drupal distros will ship with many of these editorial controls already installed and configured for use.

Joomla iconJoomla

Joomla has only recently added content versioning as of their 3.2 release, in winter 2013: The Joomla 2.5 series does not include native content versioning, so enabling this requires installation and configuration of third-party software, which provides basic content versioning. Although Joomla does contain some workflow control capabilities (through its users and permissions system), it does not natively support sophisticated workflows as may be required by publishing operations. Some basic third-party workflow software is available for installation into Joomla, but precise workflow requirements and controls will undoubtedly require custom development.

Joomla natively includes many tools for formatting and managing content. Control panels associated with content items allow for scheduling content expiry and embargoing, as well as the ability to selectively show or hide content item elements (such as titles, bylines, publication dates, intro text, etc.). Joomla also natively ships with a couple different WYSIWYG editor options, however, many developers choose to install and enable a more sophisticated third-party WYSIWYG editor instead. Joomla’s native “Media Manager” area functions as a primary way to manage file uploading and storage.

Third-party extensions for Joomla are required for managing special content types, such as photo galleries or document repositories, and numerous robust options accommodate nearly any content publishing scenario. Readily available third-party software is also required for server-side content manipulation, such as live editing of images within the Joomla installation.

Dollar sign iconCost Conclusions

By default, Joomla includes more in-built editorial tools and controls than Drupal, including a native WYSIWYG editor, scheduling controls and interfaces for managing the presence of content item elements. Although all of these elements can be enabled in Drupal through third-party software and custom development, Joomla’s nature is to expose more of these controls to content producers, whereas Drupal is more likely to only expose those options that have been configured by the Drupal developer to do so. For primary content formatting needs, Joomla offers more tools and options by default.

Drupal shines over Joomla in its native capabilities to handle content versioning. In addition, Drupal also offers greater potential capabilities than Joomla for enabling complex and custom editorial workflows (even though this still requires significant custom configuration and development in Drupal).

Rich Media Support

Rich media consists of video, Flash, audio, image galleries or other non-text elements within web page content. Both Drupal and Joomla support rich media display through the installation and configuration of additional third party software.

Drupal iconDrupal

Drupal requires non-native software in order to easily support rich media display. This is commonly implemented as a special Field type which is then associated with one of Drupal’s custom-configured Content Types. The Drupal developer implements rich media support by integrating rich media Fields, configuring their options and then exposing them to content producers. Some full-blown Drupal Modules also support publication and management of rich media content.

Joomla iconJoomla

Joomla can support rich media display through the installation and configuration of third-party extension software. This ranges from full-blown Joomla “Components” that provide advanced tools and configuration options for rich media management and display, to plugin-style controls that enable a rich media element to be quickly dropped into existing content.

Dollar sign iconCost Conclusions

Both Drupal and Joomla require third- party extension software to support the easy display and publication of rich media elements. Joomla tends to provide discrete tools which handle fast and/or full-featured presentation and management of rich media content: Drop in the Joomla extension, and rich media capabilities (and their configuration options) are immediately available to content producers. In contrast, Drupal tends to approach rich media through integrating new capabilities into existing content architecture, and having the developer specifically configure a more limited set of options to expose to content producers while setting across-the-board defaults for display. Because of this, enabling rich media support in Drupal tends to take more development time than in Joomla, but interface controls can be extremely streamlined and customized for specific production needs.