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I got an unfortunate email from the Drupal Association, saying that they have to cancel DrupalCon in São Paulo, due to low participation, low sponsorship and too few session proposals. This is bad news for Brazilian Drupalers, but there’s a silver lining to the cloud.

Drupal is an outstanding content management system. We’ve been active in both Drupal and WordPress in the last few years, and we see that much of the progress in WordPress stems from adding Drupal-like features. The two things that frustrated us most with Drupal were incomplete multilingual support and zero tolerance for paid modules. As such, we could not manage to offer the same level of dedication for our Drupal clients that we have for WordPress.

We have been recommending that our Drupal translation clients rethink their web development strategy and consider building new multilingual sites using WordPress. I know this is not an easy decision. It depends on what you actually need and how your current Drupal functions map to WordPress plugins. I hope that this post will help you make that decision.

Migrating Websites from Drupal to WordPress – Which Plugins?

When you consider moving from one CMS to the other, you already know that it’s not going to be a trivial move. Best practice would be to create new designs in the new CMS, but if you’re completely stuck, you might also consider putting in the effort to migrate existing sites.

The most relevant question is always, whether the required functionality exists. Let’s see.

Multilingual Content

Drupal web developers, building multilingual sites are all familiar with Drupal’s i18n module. i18n is an excellently written and well maintained module. In WordPress, this would map to our WPML plugin. WPML enjoys the same architecture as i18n, adding language attributes to content and separating languages into different elements. In Drupal, they’re called ‘nodes’, in WordPress, they’re called ‘posts’ and ‘taxonomy’.

The fun thing about Drupal’s i18n is that it’s free. The problem with Drupal’s i18n is also that it’s free.

Free means that you’re not paying anything to use it, but the developers also don’t owe you anything. They do their humanly very best to make everything work, but they also have other obligations. In WPML’s case, you pay $79 and you get reliable commercial support. WPML is our living. If we don’t make you happy, we might as well look for another job. We like our work very much and we’re not going to let that happen.

Besides providing reliable support, the income that we get from WPML allows us to keep a full staff of developers, designers and QA testers. We’re always ready with a compatible WPML version before any WordPress release and we have the resources to maintain compatibility with other major plugins and themes.

If you’re serious about building websites that need to reach today’s global multilingual audience, you’re going to need professional tools with good support. It’s no accident that WordPress with WPML is the leader in this area.

Views and CCK

Ask any Drupal developer what they like best and you’ll hear “Views and CCK” (CCK is already in the core of Drupal 7). Of course, Views and CCK let web developers build anything, with minimal effort and with just a few lines of code (if any).

We think that the same applies to WordPress. Maybe it’s fun writing everything from the ground up, but does it really make sense?

WordPress now has its own version for these great modules. We call them Views and Types. It’s an ambitious project that we’ve started about a year ago.

Our Views and Types are written to serve similar needs, but not as clones for the Drupal modules. Drupal is built differently and developers need different tools for Drupal and for WordPress. We’ve tried to make our WordPress Views and Types easier to use and self-contained. Instead of relying on a family of additional modules, we’d like web developers to be able to build complete sites with our plugins.

Types defines content types (like CCK) and Views displays it. Views can query content from the database and display it any way you like.

Just like Drupal modules, the learning curve is not trivial. To help, we’re creating full-length tutorials, short “getting started” tutorials, with  more on the way. Indeed, usability and a mild learning curve is the make or break of any such tool. We’re on it!

Build it or Buy it?

Now we come to the really big question.

Many Drupal sites are built from the ground up. Developers use powerful modules and build the site from scratch. In WordPress, many sites start with a theme and some plugins. The developer would begin by tweaking the theme and gradually add functionality with pre-made plugins..

There’s no right or wrong, only habits. If you’re used to building sites from scratch, this will work great on WordPress too. However, if you’d like to save some startup time, you might want to look for existing themes that look like what you’re getting at and consider using Types and Views for customizations without heavy programming.