Commercial Drupal Modules & Themes

Posted by Ravish on Just Skins See other posts from Just Skins or by Ravish
Published on Wed, 11 Aug 2010 09:49:56 +0000 Indexed on 2010/12/06 16:57 UTC
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A discussion at Drupal.org forums prompted me to give my input about commercial ecosystem around Open Source Content Management Systems.

WordPress and Joomla have been growing rapidly since past few years. But, growth rate of Drupal seems to be almost flat. Despite being the most powerful CMS around, Drupal is still not being adopted by masses. Many people will argue that Drupal is not targeted towards masses, but developers.

I agree, Drupal is more of a development platform than a consumer CMS. Drupal is ‘many things to many people’, and I can build almost any type of website with it. Drupal is being used for building blogs, corporate websites, Intranet portals, social networking and even a project management system. Looking at the wide array of Drupal implementations, it deserves to be the most widely adopted CMS.

Growth Trend of Drupal, Joomla & WordPress


I believe there are few challenges that Drupal community needs to overcome. To understand these challenges, I surveyed some webmasters who use Joomla or WordPress but not Drupal. I asked them why they don’t want to use Drupal, following are the responses I got from them:

  • Drupal is too complicated, takes time to learn.
  • Drupal is great, but its admin panel is overwhelming.
  • I couldn’t find any nice themes for Drupal.
  • There is no WYSIWYG editor in Drupal.
  • Most Drupal modules do not work out of the box. There aren’t enough modules like Ubercart which provides any out of the box functionality. I tried modules like CCK, Views and Panels. After wasting several hours struggling with them, I decided to give up on Drupal.
  • I don’t use Drupal because of pushbutton and Garland theme. I had hard time trying to customize Garland and it messed up the whole layout.
  • There are no premium modules and themes for Drupal. Joomla has tons of awesome themes and modules.
  • I don’t want a million hacks like CCK, Views, Tokens, Pathauto, ImageCache and CTools just to run a simple website.

Most of the complaints from users are related to the learning and development curve involved with Drupal, and the lack of ecosystem. While most of the problems will be gone in Drupal 7, ecosystem is something that needs to be built by the Drupal community.

Drupal distributions are a great step forward. There are few awesome Drupal distributions available like Open Publish, Open Atrium and Drupal Commons.

I predict, there will be a wave of many powerful Drupal distributions after Drupal 7 release. Many of them will be user-friendly and commercial supported.

Following is my post at Drupal.org forums:

Quote from: http://drupal.org/node/863776#comment-3313836

Brian Gardner (StudioPress) and Woo Themes launched premium WordPress themes in 2007, the developer community did not accept it at first. Moreover, they were not even GPL licensed. There was an outcry in WordPress community against them. Following that, most premium theme providers switched to GPL licensing.

Despite controversies, users voted for premium theme and plugins by buying them. Inspired by their success, hundreds of other developers started to sell premium themes and plugins. It is now the acceptable and in fact most popular business model among WordPress community.

Matt Mullenweg once told me, they would not support premium themes. If he supported, developers would no more give out free GPL themes & plugins. He pointed me towards Joomla, there were hardly any nice free themes & modules available.

Now two years forward, premium products are not just accepted but embraced by the WordPress community – http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/commercial/

The quality and number of themes & modules has increased, even the free ones. This also helped to boost the adoption and ecosystem of WordPress.

Today, state of Drupal is like WordPress was in 2007. There are hardly any out of the box solutions available for Drupal.

Ubercart, Open Publish and Open Atrium are the only ones I can think of. Many of the popular Drupal modules are patches and hole-fillers. Thankfully, these hole-filler modules are going to be in Drupal 7 core.

Drupal 7 and distributions will spawn a new array of solutions built upon Drupal. Soon, we will have more like Ubercarts and Open Atriums.

If commercial solutions can help fuel this ecosystem and growth, Drupal community will accept them eventually.

This debate will not stop your customers from buying your product. If your product is awesome, they will vote for you by buying your product.

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