Drupal Review
The key differentiator to other solutions is the way that content is structured and managed.

What is most valuable?

  • Content type definitions: One of the best features of Drupal, and maybe the key differentiator to other solutions, is the way that content is structured and managed. In Drupal Version 8, this was improved. The global process of creating a content type with fields, relations, and translations is more refined and advanced than before.
  • Views: In the Drupal Core, views are a quick and advanced way to create listings of content. When using the UI, it is possible to query contents and have the results sorted and filtered by any element. Combined with the template engine, the output can be easily transformed into whatever is required from the design.
  • Inclusion of symphony framework: Drupal Version 8 shifted to a full OOP API. The inclusion of pieces from the symphony framework provided some modern patterns in the Drupal core.
  • Configuration management: A CMI was implemented for Drupal Version 8, a centralized place to handle and store configurations. This is a huge improvement when compared to Drupal Version 7.
  • Content moderation: This wasn’t included in the original 8 version but was incorporated later as an experimental module and will be released as stable on Drupal 8.3. The possibility to have custom workflow around the contents and different states (e.g. draft, published, pending, etc..) is critical for any medium/big website.

How has it helped my organization?

My organization sells services around Drupal Version 8.

What needs improvement?

The admin interface could be improved. Compared to Version 7, it was a huge improvement. I think it is not enough for current user needs. Creating complex content types (involving translations), is still a very slow and painful process.

I believe that a new admin interface that stands up with modern UI patterns is critical. A good example is what WordPress did by replacing the old admin interface with a JavaScript based one.

All API functionality is covered by the documentation, but in most cases, it is very limited and lacks good examples. Mostly, it is required to debug into the core of the CMS to understand how to solve some more complex issues.

Drupal 8 lacks a media manager where all assets like pictures, videos, and other media files, can be managed. This is present on other solutions and is a core need for any CMS. There are some contributed solutions but they are unstable or do not meet all the required functionalities. In such case the community is aware and the media initiative (https://www.drupalmedia.org) is in progress with the promise to solve that soon in next updates of Drupal.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Drupal Version 8 is a more or less mature product, since it was launched more than one year ago.

However, when combined with custom implementations and contributed modules, some things seem not stable. Being an open source solution with a large community, it is easy to find a patch or a workaround. However, this requires some knowledge.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is something that can be related to many factors, depending on your needs and the budget you have. It is also related to the way you architect your solution and therefore how you implement your Drupal website. A bad architecture, in terms of content, can drastically reduce it.

Drupal Version 8 is based on a typical PHP + MySQL/MariaDB + Apache/NGiNX stack. These have been in the market for some time. They are hosting providers who are selling Drupal cloud services with promises of scalability.

How is customer service and technical support?

Drupal version 8 is an open source solution, so the support is focused on the Drupal community itself.

In most cases, help is present in the form of forums, discussion groups, chats, etc. However, when entering enterprise grade, it is recommended to obtain support from a Drupal specialized company.

There are several available in the market. Some include people who are involved in maintaining the core of Drupal.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I worked in the past with different CMS solutions. Perhaps Vignette was the most relevant. I believe, at that time, it was the most complete and advanced CMS. However, It faced the same issues as many other solutions. It was heavy, lacking in flexibility, and slow to adopt new tech trends.

Drupal is the opposite, since it is not closed software and it does not rely on only one company.

How was the initial setup?

The Drupal Version 8 setup is pretty straightforward. You can do it on the cloud without any technical knowledge or you can do it on your local environment.

To test on the local environment I recommend using:

  • DrupalVM (https://www.drupalvm.com)

For a quick test, you can use https://simplytest.me. (You can virtually test any version and most of the main modules.)

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There is no cost regarding licensing. Costs should be calculated based on the required support and training efforts.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I started with Drupal in 2009. I was working with Vignette and investigated other open source solutions, such as WordPress, Joomla!, and TYPO3.

What other advice do I have?

First invest in internal knowledge and your way to handle strategic decisions, and then find a good provider/partner who can support you when you need it.

Free your mind from other concepts that may be related. This is mostly relevant for people who are quite accustomed to SharePoint and/or other commercial solutions. This is a shift in the paradigm. Embracing Drupal while trying to achieve similar results as these other solutions will never work.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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