Joomla - Drupal - What's the diff?

, posted: 25-May-2008 21:48

Last week i was over in Sydney and caught up with some truly awesome people - i drank heaps of rather good beer, ate some kangaroo, rode on the world's steepest incline railway, went to cebit, and booth babed for the linuxchix and the drupal stalls. (not necesarily in that order) While at cebit drupal stand, I got frequent questions on what's the diff between Drupal and Joomla. Never having used Joomla I had no idea, so i cruised over to the joomla stand, to ask questions. Unfortunately it wasn't their techies manning the stand (or the guy really misunderstood my questions) because my "how do you change the look and feel".. "themes?" "templates?" questions just got me a view source and a guy trying to explain CSS to me. "no no.. what theming engines" i asked.. "smarty maybe". but no luck.. He just wanted to show me css. I didn't even attempt to ask about api or modules. Perhaps my drupal vocabulary doesn't suit asking a joomla person...

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Comment by Randy Williams, on 26-May-2008 01:35

I wasn't the guy at the booth, but I sure could've been. I don't know a thing about Drupal. Joomla's method for changing "themes" is a template, and one can custom build a template using a tiny bit of PHP and all the HTML, CSS and ECMA Script one desires.
One could also purchase a template from one of about 100 or so custom template developers hawking their wares on the net, and there are also thousands of free templates available one can hack up to suit.
I hope that answers your question.
Now, how does Drupal do it?

Comment by dvessel, on 26-May-2008 03:45


In essence, Drupal uses a system of hooks. There are many types of hooks in Drupal but "theming hooks" allow the theme to alter just about any chunk of html through theme functions and templates. There are always reasonable defaults to fall back on but when the theme has an override, it has complete control.

Also, depending on the theme engine that's installed, templates can be written in various tagging languages but the default PHPTemplate engine is the default and most popular.

More can be read here in the handbooks (theming docs).

Author's note by taniwha, on 26-May-2008 12:48

In my answer to questions i said Drupal and Joomla were much of the same - two projects with similar goals sharing the same developers in some cases. The 2 projects are friends, and share both knowledge and code. Someone switching fron vignette to joomla is a win :-) i do get the impression Joomla is more product than project. Kinda like mysql. It's owned by a company - and like Randy says you can buy templates. Over in Drupal land it's rare to buy a theme. you make one inhouse in a matter of minutes (given the html+css for linux conf, i made a phptemplate in 4 minutes flat). There's also a thousand or so GPL-ed ones on that i've used for community websites like , The pixel surgeons here at catalyst picked up phptemplate really quickly.

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Wally (Brenda) 
Te Whanganui O Tara
New Zealand