Django vs. Drupal

Published 2013-02-05

I spend most of my work day hammering on a Drupal site which is why I (re)built my free-time website in Django.

Django isn’t “better” than Drupal. It has a different philosophy.


I’m a designer, not a developer. I know just enough programmery stuff to get myself into trouble. If you’re looking to pick a fight about “Django is better than Drupal,” you’ve brought your brass knuckles to the Quaker church, my friend. It will not be a fun fight.

So here’s how I experience it:

Drupal is a Dream House In a Box

You push a button, more or less, and voila! instant Dream House. Which is great if you’re OK with someone else’s idea of a Dream House. If you aren’t, you have to start knocking down walls.

(Or, you can attach stuff to your Dream House with modules. Which is like bolting a Dream Bathroom in a Box [or a Dream Kitchen Remover in a Box!] onto your Dream House in a Box.)

You cannot believe how much that drives me nuts. I hate undoing things that aren’t actually screwed up. Personality insight alert: I’d rather do without than be given something I don’t actually want. This is why the stock Drupal reaction (“there’s a module for that…”) unsatisfies me.

Plus there’s a whole side effect where knocking down Drupal walls is really hard. Indeed, I spend half my time finding the wall I need to knock down. I learned web development by building ever-more-elaborate treehouses, which positioned me poorly to demo a Dream Kitchen.

Django is a cleanly-prepped building pad

The utility hookups are all there and someone poured a foundation, and with a little poking around you find a big stack of plywood and corrugated steel. In about two hours I’d built a wee shed over a corner of the pad; with another 8 hours of labor I’d built out a few more rickety lean-tos to hold my stuff. There never was a Dream Kitchen, I’m basically still heating cans of chili over a propane burner back here. It’s not a Dream Kitchen but it’s my dream kitchen.

You can see where this is a huge step up from treehouses. Bonus: if my shabby kitchen proves unsatisfactory, it’s comically easy just to push it into the ravine behind the work pad and start over.

And for my skewed brand of “perfectionism” this is perfect.