The state of open source content management systems

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The state of open source content management systems (e.g. Backdrop, Drupal, WordPress) monthly nonprofit-oriented Drupal (and sometimes Backdrop) conference calls:

ATEN's Drupal distro for libraries and other space-centered groups:

Backdrop 3/6

  • Fork of Drupal 7 (now is at Drupal 10(?))
  • Tailored for non-profits
  • Upgrades to Drupal break backwards compatibility. Backdrop has more compatibility with Drupal 7
  • A lot of overlap with CiviCRM community
  • Zulip chat is active
  • Drupal 8 and beyond is very different - would be extremely difficult to try to port something from one of those to Backdrop
  • Can still bring Drupal 7 modules over to backgrop as support continues beyond end-of-life
  • Backdrop needs more developers. A lot of the developers are also interested in CiviCRM
  • A lot of the larger Drupal community does not pay attention to Backdrop, but folks who are still supporting their Drupal 7 sites are starting to look toward Backdrop. Will get more attention from the Drupal community that way.
  • CiviCRM has an official release on backdrop

Drupal 4/6

  • Drupal & Backdrop both have (over WP)
    • Publishing flows
    • Structured content
    • Views module
    • (better) CiviCRM integration
    • Can be harder to use if you just need to add content to a page

Wagtail 2/6

  • Django-based CMS -
  • Responsive, has built-in A/B testing
  • Seems easy to use on the user/content editor side; a simple front-end for that.
  • Has Django's advantages built in, e.g. emphasis on security

Wordpress 4/6

  • Have been feeling some of the workflow problems on WP
  • Wordpress has gotten better in dealing with version control for content
  • Vast resources in the WP community!
  • Interesting time in WP right now: a lot of effort towards the "page builder mentality," augment core functionality, build designs out one block at a time
  • Core software is moving in that direction, though more slowly in order to maintain commitment to backwards compatibility
  • If you want to do lots of custom design out of the box without writing much code, WP prioritizes that
  • More design controls available in WP without lots of custom code, declared through json instead
  • Good for agencies who want to give clients only the options they need to build the kind of design developed for the site
  • Using WP more as a platform for developing web application. With the DB behind WP, you can build a fairly sophisticated database app for the web like that. Started as a blogging platform but you can do so much more with it. Web app is not so much the focus as page builder is, but still a worthwhile consideration as a dev platform.
  • Backwards compatibility commitment is a double-edged sword
  • The plugins available on top of Wordpress - are there some that create more problems than they solve? How much would you recommend that clients stick with the "stock" wordpress
    • i.e. having Elementor on top of Wordpress to make custom pages that look good with little to no code
    • you're locking yourself into an "extensions" way of doing things, and it may be hard switching it up
    • There's always going to be a niche for adding something even easier than what you get "out-of-the-box. Many of the reasons people turn to page builders like Elementor is going away as more is shipped along with Wordpress.
    • New folks coming in and learning alongside those who may have not-as-up-to-date knowledge, which will effect the way forward
  • Complicated with CMS in general is separating the job of the designers from the people writing the text. The various systems aren't always great at it.

Note: I wasn't able to join this group, but if people are interested in talking about challenges with Drupal 7 to 9 upgrades, I'm always happy to talk about our experience working with a variety of nonprofits on this upgrade. The monthly NTEN Drupal calls are great and I'm a regular participant. - 312-505-7461 - Tim Nafziger