Drupal's old and busted. What's the new hotness?
June 15, 2010 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a Drupal replacement for a small community with specific requirements.

I run a fairly customized Drupal installation for my local boardgaming group. We use it primarily for planning and post-event discussion. The site's fairly long in the tooth, and web app advancements have opened up some possibilities that make me want to see if there's something out there better suited to my needs. Any suggestions?

  • Member-only access
  • Multi-user accounts for both story + comment creation
  • Email notifications of new content
  • Content is kept indefinitely and searchable
  • Low-cost or free
  • Fully hosted or easily runs on PHP
  • Friendly UI
  • Ability to create and reply to an event
  • Non-threaded (flat) discussions
  • Email reply
  • Integrated login with either Facebook or OpenID
  • Full HTML support in editor
  • Code-level access for customization
Ning's close, but I'm very weary of being at the bottom of any pricing plan in terms of feature restriction, and $20/mo is about twice as much as I'm willing to pay. I'm also not fond of being "one fish in the big pond" where things are not all private by default.
posted by mkultra to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks like you might want to replace Drupal with... Drupal (Open Atrium). Geez, I keep self-linking, sorry. Anyway, yeah, it fits all of your requirements except for the fact that it doesn't like HTML support in editors (because... long story, but developers hate WYSIWYGs on the web for good reason), and discussions are only optionally threaded.

Stay away from Ning... it screwed users in the past and really may again.
posted by tmcw at 9:39 AM on June 15, 2010

Just out of curiosity, is there a specific reason you're looking to replace Drupal? All of the stuff you describe is pretty squarely in the center of what it does (with the addition of a couple plugins like the Date and Calendar modules).

Are there some particular frustrations or hassles that you're trying to escape from? If not, just upgrading to a newer version of Drupal and retooling the site a bit to take advantage of newer features might give you a nice boost.
posted by verb at 9:46 AM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: I've considered rebooting with Drupal. Here are my issues:

- Lack of email reply. It's technically a "nice to have" since I understand the hurdles to overcome, but it's a Really Nice To Have. People have more access to email than the web during the day.

- UI needs a lot of TLC

- Slow

- Plug-ins often require code-level work to behave decently

Now, I'm currently running Drupal 4, so I don't know how much some of that stuff has streamlined (4 to 5 seemed not-so-much), though Open Atrium at least looks like a step in the right direction.
posted by mkultra at 10:55 AM on June 15, 2010

- Lack of email reply. It's technically a "nice to have" since I understand the hurdles to overcome, but it's a Really Nice To Have. People have more access to email than the web during the day.
Does that now. Messaging & notifications modules.
- UI needs a lot of TLC
Context links & Open Atrium tweaks remove most Drupalisms.
- Slow
It's gotten a little better. However, web applications are slow, because databases and PHP are slow. Caching is the only way to make things decent on most websites, and Drupal does that quite well.

Note that Drupal 4 was released in mid-2002, slightly after Windows XP. See how far Windows has come! Oh, wait. Uh, well, Drupal has improved.
posted by tmcw at 11:11 AM on June 15, 2010

Oh, mercy.

Yeah, you may want to go with (or not go with) Drupal, but version 4 is really, really old and a lot less polished. To put things in perspective, most recent major release in the 4.x series came out before Ruby on Rails even existed. A lot of the meat and potatoes tools people use for workflow and group problem solving are inaccessible to you because they were written for the 5.x or 6.x versions.
posted by verb at 11:22 AM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: tmcw: Does that now. Messaging & notifications modules.

I don't see any facility for enabling reply-via-email. Am I missing something?
posted by mkultra at 1:52 PM on June 15, 2010

It's hard to find, but it's in the Mail Comment module.
posted by tmcw at 2:35 PM on June 15, 2010

Drupal 4? Yikes! It's much better, try out the 7 beta to see where things are heading real soon (but it's not suitable for production yet, nor are most modules ready for it and let's face it, if you're using Drupal, it's really for the modules).

If you don't like D7 and still think Drupal is not the new hotness, start looking at other things. If you like D7 (which is where Drupal will be real soon) install D6 and move to D7 once all of the modules you use become available for it. Or hang out with D6 for a while.

Here's two one liners from twitter that sum up (fairly well I think) where Drupal is relative to Wordpress, something more people are familiar with:

WordPress is now approximately where Drupal was around Drupal 5 w/ content types. See you in 2015.

Drupal 7 will hopefully be where Wordpress was around 5 years ago regarding UX.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:23 PM on June 15, 2010

Just chiming in to say I got my start with Drupal 4. Drupal 5 was light years ahead of Drupal 4, and Drupal 6 is ... um ... bigger light years ahead of Drupal 5?

Seriously, I actually liked Drupal 4 a lot, and I loved Drupal 5 in comparison - and Drupal 6 is even more of a joy to use.

I almost never have to touch code in any of the modules I install (which is to say, "Plug-ins often require code-level work to behave decently" hasn't been my experience). Theming can be a different matter, of course.

For email reply, in addition to tmcw's Mail Comment suggestion, take a look at Mail Handler.
posted by kristi at 9:38 AM on June 16, 2010

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