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Plone vs. Drupal

Note: a more recent comparison of Plone 5 and Drupal 8 was completed in the Fall of 2016.

plone vs drupal.jpg 

Who doesn't know about Drupal, one of the "top 3" Open Source CMS? Every day, we hear about multi-million Drupal deployment for major corporations, associations, or administrations. How could we not try and take a look at Drupal to see how it compares to Plone and what we can learn from it?

Comparing Plone and Drupal isn't trivial. They are definitely not fit for the same use case and I simply cannot mention a few categories and announce a winner. Instead, I tried to think from a non-technical end user prospective and take note of what struck me when deploying a Plone/Drupal website.

My first steps as a Plone developer started about a year ago, so I still remember my first deployment, the documentation I could find, the parts of the user interface (U.I.) I found intuitive, but also the major difficulties and issues I faced.

As for Drupal, I just finished a dozen hours of discovery, during which I got to play with many features and customizations we use in Plone on a daily basis.

The following questions appear to me to be of importance when comparing Plone to Drupal:


  • How long does it take to find and download a distribution?
  • How easy is it to configure your computer to run the distribution?
  • How simple is the installation/deployment process?
  • Is there easy-to-find and easy-to-follow documentation to guide inexperienced users?

Want to know more?
Read "Plone vs. Drupal: Installation"

Out of the Box

  • Is the U.I. intuitive, how long to get used to it?
  • What features come with the out-of-the-box distribution? what is badly missing?
  • How "fast" does the site respond with no content?

Want to know more?
Read "Plone vs. Drupal: Core Features Comparison"

Adding Products/Modules

  • Given a feature that requires an add-on, is the product easy to find?
  • How long does it take to install a new add-on? many new add-ons?
  • If an add-on is out of date, what to do?
  • Are the add-ons easy to use, documented, and tested?

Adding Content

  • How long for non-technical people to be ready to enter content?
  • How "fast" does the site respond with thousands, millions of items?
  • Is it easy for an administrator to manage users, permissions, workflows, and notifications?

Source Customization

  • What is the rate for 1h of development?
  • How easy is it to find developers?
  • What level of expertise does source customization require?
  • Is there good and easy to find documentation about it?
  • How does framework extension work?


  • How many pre-made themes can I download, how easy are they to install?
  • Is theme customization though the U.I. available and easy?
  • How to build a theme from scratch?

Upgrading and Migrating

  • How long does it take to migrate customized code vs. create it?
  • How is data migrated


  • How much does it typically cost per month per instance for professional on-site hosting
  • How many companies have expertise and proficiency in hosting this CMS?
  • What are my "cloud" options? How hard is it to deploy and how cheap does it get?
  • What are the solution stack requirements? How is the documentation about it?

Load and Availability

  • What are my caching and proxy caching options?
  • How much of it can be made through the U.I.?
  • How easy is it to implement clusters for high-availability and load balancing?


  • What is the history in terms of security cracks and how critical were they?
  • How much maintenance time has to be spent to keep the security up to date?


  • Who owns the trademark?
  • How many contributors out there? Who are the top ones?
  • How long has the platform been around?


Thank you Roberto Allende, Youenn Boussard, Mikko Ohtamaa, Petri Savolainen, Christopher Warner, and David Whelan for your contribution!

My objective is to investigate as many of these points as possible and post the findings on this blog. To be continued...

Do you see a critical question I forgot to ask? Do you have the answer to some of them? Have experience with both Plone and Drupal that you can share? I will make sure to use your input for the coming posts!

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