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Umbraco vs. Drupal

Chase Burandt, Lead Umbraco Developer, breaks down the reasons why Blend evolved from working with Drupal to Umbraco.

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Categorized

  • Thoughts
  • Umbraco
  • Development

Over the past several years, Blend has made an effort to move away from Drupal toward a .NET content management system (CMS) called Umbraco. And, during the past several years, I have been the lead developer for both systems.

Which begs the question — why did Blend decide to shift from Drupal to Umbraco? Here are my thoughts on why the choice made the most sense.

The system specs.

The biggest between Umbraco and Drupal is at the very base level: Drupal is built with PHP, Symphony, & Twig, while Umbraco is built using C# MVC .Net, .NetCore, & Razor. You don’t need to know the details of this technology change, except to say that both systems are very different from each other in the basics of how these sites run.

Blend has been a .NET focused development shop for a long time, and it made the most sense to switch our CMS offerings so that we could be fully .NET. But, it’s not just about the language. Another big difference is how pages get rendered — and the extra steps that come into play.

The rendering model.

In Drupal, a twig file renders out and cascades down to additional template files — and this happens a lot. This means that, with each render and each cascade, there is a lot of extra markup to be accounted for when implementing a theme for the site. Meanwhile, in Umbraco, there is no cascading through templates. The only markup is what the developer adds to the site.

Additionally, Drupal starts out with a basic rendering of your available model. This might sound like a head start, but in reality — at least, when developing a site with custom code — developers can struggle with getting their front-end markup to align with Drupal’s rendering. Meanwhile, while Umbraco does have some built-out components, Umbraco requires you to complete your markup in another file for those components.

What this means in real life is that, as a backend developer, I found myself spending more time in Drupal copying twig files, renaming them, and adjusting the default markup to match front-end requirements. Now, with Umbraco, I simply focus on coding functionality.

An easier learning curve.

Speaking of coding functionality, let’s focus on the learning curve for both systems.

In Drupal there is very little coding in PHP. Instead, a developer must use admin UI to build out complex queries to be placed on a page.

Without a doubt, this level of complex queries can be very daunting, providing a very high learning curve. Even simple queries that a developer should already know how to code can become cumbersome as they clunk their way through a UI to hopefully (fingers crossed!) get the desired results.

On the other hand, running queries is much easier and more straightforward in Umbraco. The developer writes c# code to execute queries and has complete control over desired functionality without having to learn how to use Drupal’s user interface.

Final thoughts.

It’s pretty simple — in my analysis, Drupal was created for designers and frontend developers, and because of this I don’t believe there’s as much backend development necessary for success. Instead, Drupal developers overwrite default templates to the markup that is desired.

But, I am a backend developer. I prefer to focus on what I do best: making the site function. I am not much of a designer or front-end developer, so I prefer Umbraco over Drupal, focusing on site functionality while front-end developers and designers handle what they do best.

Each system is right for a different group of people. But, here at Blend we — and I, especially — choose Umbraco.

Blend Interactive is an Umbraco partner.

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Blend Interactive is a Gold Solution Partner with Umbraco Certified developers on staff and our very own Umbraco Master!

Blend & Umbraco

The friendly, open-source CMS that supports your workflows, empowers your editors, and takes your website’s performance to new heights.

Learn which plan is best.

Blend has been working with Umbraco since 2013, and has developed sites in numerous verticals.

2024 Platinum Partner.

Blend is a Platinum Solution Partner with five Umbraco-certified developers on staff and two Umbraco MVPs.

Contributing Partner

In addition to being a Gold partner, Blend is one of 2023's Contributing Gold Partners, given to agencies that go above and beyond to contribute to Umbraco's open-source project and community.