dotCMS vs drupal


Having used both dotCMS and drupal in a university setting. I have had the experience of building the same website using both dotCMS and drupal. I prefer to keep my university anonymous but we are a large university with 28,000 students.

This is not a technical article, just a general overview of what I have seen with both CMSs.


We initially went with dotCMS, as the back-end was more intuitive and made it easier for content contributors to use. Additionally, creating page templates was fairly straightforward using containers within our templates.
The learning curve from both a developer and content contributor standpoint was much less with dotCMS compared to drupal.

It was build on top of Java, so you would frequently utilize their API to get some tasks done, but other then that, it was pretty straightforward.

One thing I did notice was that pulling dynamic content using a Lucene query caused some major slow downs. Basically you would execute a query and loop through the results, similar to how you would in most web scripting languages. It was discerning especially since the data being query was a relatively small amount. (50 or less records in some cases) We were running  PostGres for our database.

As the building process went on, we constructed our entire university website in dotCMS and the slow downs continued to get worse. Note, we were using the Community version 1.7 build and we did pay a few thousand dollars for the dotCMS Appliance and for their support. We also had dotCMS attempt to fix our server, and although they "fixed" it, it was still very slow. If this was a server we built, I could understand maybe it was a configuration issue, but we were using their appliance that they configured for us.

We also noticed that running maintenance would sometimes create indexing errors.

Overall, we were sold by the ease of use that dotCMS offered, but when problems did arise, the lack of a support community on top of the slowness caused us to move to drupal.


A big push for drupal was that other departments on campus were using it so not only did we have a huge support community that backs drupal, but we also had an internal support community within the university.

We installed drupal in a Fedora OS running PHP/MYSQL. Note that we used an appliance that was originally intended to serve as a load balancing machine for our dotCMS website to build our drupal server. So the specifications between the dotCMS server and drupal server were identical.

dotCMS has an easy installer that guides you through the install process. drupal is more a traditional open source PHP web app where you have to do more hands on work. Fortunately, we have experience installing Word Press installations, as well as other PHP web apps; so drupal was much of a similar task.

After installing drupal, setting up themes and getting familiar with the drupal terminology was definitely a steeper learning curve compared to dotCMS. Fortunately, drupal has a huge support community and excellent documentation; so although drupal is much more complicated than dotCMS, the documentation really supports the product well and can get you started fairly fast.

After setting up our various themes, learning about blocks, content types, taxonomy, modules, and other drupal elements also had a steep learning curve to it; but again the support community behind drupal lessened the blow.

Overall, the modularity of drupal is a huge benefit, basically 90% of everything we needed for our site was already built in a module, and the other 10% of custom needs were handled by either using the Views Module or writing some custom code in PHP Blocks. So in summary, although drupal has a steep learning curve, the modularity, flexibility, and support community sold us.

I will say that drupal is not for everyone; there is a steep learning curve associated with it and for smaller sites it may be more advantageous to use a system like Wordpress.

dotCMS has a lot of potential, it just needs to be fine tuned and their support community needs to be improved. Also, the Enterprise Edition of dotCMS is not free, so for their top-tier product, you will have to pay for it. That fact alone will impact the decision making process of a lot of people wanted to use it.

In conclusion, drupal is a very flexible, widely accepted product that does have a learning curve attached to it; while dotCMS is much easier to use and setup, but has limited support and tends to run slow especially when querying for data.


--Testing Results

For our A-Z Index which pulled about 200 rows of results, dotCMS took about 2-3 minutes to load the page, while drupal took 2-3 seconds for the page to load.

Keywords: dotcms vs drupal

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Posted on: Dec 28, 2010 12:11 pm

Tahnks for the info, even iam into a educational project, but they use dot cms as cms, and iam very fine with drupal, both are identical in many ways is what i learned from ya, and ofcourse wehn i was learning drupal the suuport community made me learn drupal within 2-6months, but dot cms.. poor community cos of the price for their full package.. hands up to drupal.. and thank you very much..sir.