As nearly every article we publish on the topic attests, there is no best CMS -- there's only best fit given the context, if that. At the recent DrupalCamp in Helsinki Exove, a Finnish technical consulting company focused on open source solutions, presented their take on how to choose the best CMS given the client's project context.
Given the context, it's no surprise that their point of reference was Drupal. But what convinced us to mention the presentation was their concise yet useful take on how the 4 products differed and in what circumstances they encouraged the use of one versus another. Let's have a look.
Drupal vs. WordPress
WordPress has its strengths and Exove acknowledges this. What they point out is that the product excels in blogging scenarios and fares OK in the community and UGC areas.
WordPress, as they point out, is not meant for sophisticated or large corporate websites, nor is it terribly strong on the caching side. Lower implementation costs and simplicity were boons they noted for this option.
Drupal vs. CMS Made Simple
Simplicity is not what Drupal is best known for. CMS Made Simple obviously attempts to lay claim to this domain, and it does. The key themes for CMS Made Simple were low cost, ease of administration and ease of implementation.
It's not a product you want to extend much and it is not a good fit for multi-lingual environments. When requirements fit the CMS Made Simple features list well, this is when Exove goes with this option.
There are probably a number of well known Web CMS options that fit in at this level -- barrier to entry is low, competition is healthy.
Drupal vs. eZ Publish
eZ Publish is a sophisticated content management system that is backed by a commercial entity, eZ Systems. When we look at the line-up that Exove has chosen, it's eZ and Drupal who we consider most competitive with one another.
eZ Publish Strengths
The strengths for eZ Publish include sophisticated caching, a flexible admin -- either a simple toolbar approach to content management or a fully featured and extensible administrative back office, commercial support and the ability to more easily implement complex workflows (this is also an area of active development for eZ Publish).
A strong point for eZ Publish is the web publishing space. They company has invested considerable effort to meet the needs of online publishers and also has the eZ Flow add-on which gives sophisticated content controls to newsroom managers.
The downsides to eZ which Exove points out are that it is not as strong as Drupal with UCG or community features, that the product can be harder to extend and that the last release cycle was a bit slow.
For the most part, I'd say that these are fair criticisms. Though I know from my many conversations with eZ Systems that 2008 was a restructuring year for them, and they have now changed their release process such that it's locked on a 2x per year schedule.
When does Exove choose Drupal over eZ Publish? The say often this is a client request -- Drupal has better brand awareness. Other deciding factors are the level of UGC or community features required -- Drupal is strong here -- and the amount of customization required. On the customization side Drupal can win for 2 reasons.
For one, the huge body of contributed modules means rapid prototyping and/or implementation of new production ready features tends to be faster than with products that have a less energetic community. The second reason is just familiarity. If you have a dev team that knows one product or the other better, then customization is going to be faster with the better understood product and API.