Lego vs Playmobil : Is Drupal that hard, or is building a site hard?

When I was a kid I kind of looked down on the Playmobil Kids. I preferred Lego. It gave me huge power to build my own toys, and allowed me to be creative. It allowed me to build what I had in mind, not to only play the way some marketing department thought I should play.

Recently I thought this actually describes an underlying problem with Drupal. Too many people rant about Drupal being hard to grok. Or about Drupal not being able to built this and that kind of site. And a lot of them rant about the none existing web installer.

But if we have an installer? Will all difficulties suddenly disappear? Will then, from that moment on, everyone be able to build his or her drupal site? Off course not. An installer, is just a part of a big puzzle. Its not some Magic Potion To Solve All Worlds Problems. It will address certain issues, but I doubt it will suddenly make drupaleering a lot easier Making it easier or cheaper to buy Lego, does not mean that you can suddenly build beautiful racing cars.

Drupal is like a sack of Lego. I am talking oldschool Lego, not the recent stuff. Wordpress, or PHPbb, on the other hand is like the playmobil. With playmobil, you buy a race car, so that you can play your own racing stories. Lego on the other hand allows you to build your racing car. Whether you build it from your own fantasy, or from a recipe, the biggest fun lies in building it.

Would you be happy if the Lego came in a prebuilt state? Or if you only had to press a button and you have your racing car? I would not, because I chose Lego for its power. For the ability to not follow the recipe and come up with my ideal racing car.Wordpress brings you a blog. Ready to start blogging. PHPbb brings you the forum stuff, ready to roll out a forum. But as soon as you become creative, as soon as you think: Hey, I want my race car to be able to turn into a 4x4 so it can do a Paris Dakar; wordpress and PHPbb fall short. They are hard to deploy beyond what they were intended for. Drupal is not intended for anything. With a sack of Lego blocks and some creativity you can make anything. Including a 4x4 sub marine racecar. with drupal you can build your own weblogforumbusinessdirectorybrochure. And more. So this puts some constraints on the one using Drupal. People will still need quite some knowledge of the web. Of web marketing, of security, of site-mappings, and of SEO. Wordpress has all that optimised for blogging. PLaymobil has a perfect Racing Car for you to play racing. But Drupal requires you to know about blogs, about how people navigate blogs, about what features your clients will look for and what not. Needing to know all this is he first hard part. Drupal requires quite some knowledge and creativity from the ones building a site. the next hard part is to map these ideas to Drupal “stuff” What to do in themes, what modules do what, and what theme can do what. It is perfectly possible to built your PHPbb site entirely in Drupal Provided you know the right features you need. Provided you know what you want. is it PHPbb you want? then use PHPbb. is it certain features from PHPbb you want, then please look for those Lego bricks in your sack, that can help you build these features.

The answer most probably is “yes, Drupal can do ‘that’”. But remember that Drupal is not a ready made system to do ‘that’. You are the one building ‘that’, not Drupal.

This article was published on And migrated to this blog.

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About the author: Bèr Kessels is an experienced webdeveloper with a great passion for technology and Open Source. A golden combination to implement that technology in a good and efficient way. Follow @berkes on Mastodon. Or read more about Bèr.