YACMSQ (Yet another Content Management System Question)
June 24, 2005 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Mambo vs Drupal: which CMS is right for me?

I run a website that reviews toys, and am moving to a cms. Both these seem to be the best for what I need, having the best range of features. Sites done with Mambo tend to look better- is it is because it is easier to customize the look? One of the key features is customization. Templates need to be able to create custom fields. For example, each toy reviewed has certain stats that need to be cross referenced, so you could, for example, click on a manufacturer and see a list of all the toys by that manufacturer.

Link to the current site is in my profile. It needs to do everything the current site does, but include commenting, user profiles and other neat CMS add-ons. But primary is keeping the integrity of the review format intact.

Any help would be appreciated. I've read all the previous CMS AskMe answers, and they led me to these two as finalists.
posted by quibx to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I've used both and I prefer Drupal. It's probably mostly a matter of taste, as you're going to be able to solve most of the same problems out of the box, and both are highly configurable to do whatever it is you want to do with them. Mambo is better supported and maybe a bit easier to install. I find Drupal easier to work with, though. Mostly I just find the Mambo interface clunky and counterintuitive, and the Drupal one makes more sense to me.

If you're a PHP programmer, you may find Drupal easier to relate to in the sense that its inner workings are pretty straightforward and understandable, and the phptemplate engine lets you do whatever you want, presentation-wise, with little effort.

But the next person will probably say the exact opposite.
posted by vraxoin at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2005

I second vraxoin's comment. I demoed both for a project and went with Drupal for reasons I can't really remember. It was really easy to add and "turn on" new features. The only thing that's not super easy is customizing the look if you don't know (or are unwilling to learn) PHP.

I know HTML, javascript and XML, but had never done anything with PHP before. I had a completely new design I wanted to incorporate and wasn't able to get things rolling without help from someone more familiar with PHP. If you like the designs Drupal comes with or if you know PHP I definitely recommend Drupal. Once you have everything up and running, site maintenance couldn't be easier.
posted by awegz at 2:38 PM on June 24, 2005

Yurp - I'm really not even a big PHP fan, but I've yet to find another CMS that comes close to Drupal, in pretty much every sense. And I've tried. In fact, let me cheat a little:

Drupal is a great choice. But has anyone found a decent Python-based CMS?
posted by freebird at 3:22 PM on June 24, 2005

I went with Drupal on gut instinct after narrowing the field, and while and I can't say anything about Drupal as compared to Mambo as Mambo wasn't among the CMS's I considered, I can't say anything negative about it so far, either. Some of its built-in features (such as logging) are more robust than stand-alone programs that claim to do the same thing. The community is substantial and friendly, too, so there's lots of support out there should you need to google your way out of a rough spot at some point (and who doesn't?).

Installed to up-and-running to tweaked and starting to play with look and feel took probably four hours spread out over two evenings after work with lots of playing around, and it was a pretty enjoyable little journey. In the three instances where things weren't going quite right--getting Smarty up and working, setting the Apache DocumentRoot to Drupal's content folder, and enabling clean URLs--the messages in Drupal's own error logs pointed me to the immediate cause of the problem (and thus to resolution) in two cases and old messages in Drupal forums worked for the other (DocRoot).

I almost feel like it was cheating because I run Ubuntu, so it was a matter of sudo apt-get install drupal smarty followed by a few spots of trouble enabling extras followed by playing around.
posted by littlegreenlights at 7:35 PM on June 24, 2005

I evaluated both Drupal and Mambo a few months ago. I found that while Mambo looks great, it lacks certain features (lack of custom fields was a deal breaker for me). I went with Drupal because it seems extremely solid and well written.

Mambo is shiny, Drupal is a _great_ application.
posted by null terminated at 8:10 PM on June 24, 2005

I just started using Drupal and I like it. The one thing I have not figured out is how to apply the taxonomy terms to content.
posted by john at 9:32 PM on June 24, 2005

John, when you create a vocabulary, Drupal will ask which module types you want to associate it with. Pages of the checked module types will then be able to use it. So a quick adjustment of your vocabulary's settings should solve the problem.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:50 PM on June 24, 2005

Ah HAh! You know I saw that like of node types and I assumed that meant they were included. I clicked on them, saved settings, and bingo! Thanks a bunch!
posted by john at 10:16 PM on June 24, 2005

We went with drupal and are checking it out now. Thanks so much!
posted by quibx at 4:05 PM on June 25, 2005

Drupal is amazing. Good luck to you quibx.
posted by tozturk at 8:16 AM on June 26, 2005

I've never spent more than five minutes with Mambo, so I can't compare the two, but to answer your question about custom fields: There's a Drupal module called flexinode that lets you create content types with your own fields.

But it sounds like you'll also want to play with Drupal's "category" system. It's really a powerful taxonomy system that lets you do all sorts of cool things. For example, you could have one category group called "manufacturers," listing all the manufacturers. When a user enters data, the form will have a list of those for him to pick. You can have more than one taxonomy, so the user could, say, pick a manufacturer and type of toy. Drupal then auto-generates pages (and corresponding RSS feeds) for all these categories (you could even have it auto-generate forums based on your main category group).

If you install the phptemplate "engine" and its bluemarine "theme," you can do quite a bit of UI customization without knowing PHP. Also make sure to turn on the localization module so you can customize all your prompts through a simple admin interface instead of digging through lots of Drupal files. However, you will need PHP if you want to get beyond cosmetic UI stuff. As a longtime Movable Type user, this is one thing I found a bit hard to figure out at first - there really isn't anything comparable to all those tags MT gives you.
posted by adamg at 7:19 PM on June 26, 2005

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