Drupal vs Apostrophe CMS Comparison

Drupal vs. Apostrophe: A Complete CMS Comparison

TL;DR: Let's compare Drupal and Apostrophe to see which is the best CMS platform for your needs!


Drupal and Apostrophe are undoubtedly two of the most complete CMS (Content Management System) solutions on the market. In this article, you will have the opportunity to see the differences between the two and better understand which service best suits your needs.

Comparing CMS options can be time-consuming. Plus, the number of available Content Management Systems is growing every day. Therefore, articles like this can help streamline the process of selecting a CMS and save you time as a result.

Follow this comparison article and find out why Apostrophe is a more modern and easy-to-use CMS technology than Drupal.


Introducing Drupal and Apostrophe CMS

To begin, let's understand the purpose of Drupal and Apostrophe and see if they are comparable solutions.

Drupal is an open-source CMS solution that allows users to manage content and create websites through a UI-based platform. Drupal is written in PHP and relies on a database to store and retrieve data. Although Drupal is usually regarded as a monolithic CMS, it also allows you to distribute your content through RESTful web services. This means you can use Drupal both as a traditional CMS and a headless CMS.

Apostrophe is a website-building platform based on an open-source enterprise CMS. The open-source core of Apostrophe is called ApostropheCMS. This is a full-stack JavaScript app built using Node.js and Vue.js that you can use as a traditional CMS or headless CMS. In addition to its advanced CMS functionality, Apostrophe is also a website builder with user-friendly UI and provides in-context editing capabilities.

Simply put, Drupal and Apostrophe both produce open-source CMS solutions. Now, let’s compare their products to figure out which CMS is a better platform for your needs.


What are the Different Audiences for the Two CMS Technologies?

A CMS is at the core of a company's content management processes. Once a CMS solution is integrated into a company's technologies, changing solutions becomes difficult due to the lock-in effect. For this reason, you need to make sure your CMS technology is in line with your business needs.

Let’s try to shed some light on the different audiences and ideal user types for Drupal and Apostrophe as CMS projects.


Drupal is a free solution for individuals and small companies

Drupal is an open-source solution that is used, built, documented, and marketed by the Drupal community. Think of it as a set of people from around the globe who share the same values and collaborate together to make Drupal a better CMS solution. Drupal has no licensing fees and never will. This means Drupal is and will always be free. Consequently, Drupal does not offer paid plans.

This makes Drupal the perfect solution for individual developers who do not want to spend time and money building a custom website. Similarly, Drupal is used a lot by small companies. On the other hand, medium and especially enterprise businesses tend to prefer other CMS solutions to Drupal, most likely due to aging PHP technology.


Apostrophe is for small/medium businesses and enterprise companies

ApostropheCMS is an open-source technology that enables you to build a website easily and for free, making it an attractive option for individual developers and small businesses. Try the ApostropheCMS demo in your browser! However, unlike Drupal, Apostrophe also offers commercial solutions, with several tiers of paid support and licensing. Apostrophe can easily scale to meet the needs of any business. This becomes evident by looking at Apostrophe’s pricing model. Apostrophe offers a free option for those who want to start using the tool, but also has paid plans for those who require commercial features. The premium option, Apostrophe Pro, includes advanced permissions, document versions, and testing tools for teams. This subscription starts at $199 USD per month for a single site. 

For enterprise companies managing multiple websites, there is also a cloud multisite solution called Apostrophe Assembly available for a starting price of $200 USD per month/site. Volume pricing for this option begins at 10 sites, making it a scalable and cost-effective solution for enterprises of all sizes. In other words, even small and medium-sized companies can afford an Apostrophe commercial plan.


Which CMS Tool Is a Better Professional Solution?

Professional solutions usually come with a cost, but also they offer support and certain quality guarantees in return. Since both solutions are open-source, anyone can try either platform without cost to see if it is a quality product or not. The open-source nature of the platforms also means the codebase is under the scrutiny of a wider developer community. The open-source core of Apostrophe is a complete solution for simple sites and always will be. In addition, Apostrophe complements the open source CMS platform with some professionally crafted extensions for a license fee for those sites that need more robust features, along with paid support. 

Drupal itself does not offer paid support, but there are third-party companies that supplement this need, should it be required. The leader in this market is Acquia, a company which was formed by the original creator of the platform, and that specializes in providing complete support services for Drupal, as well as commercially licensed Drupal packages. As discussed a little later in this article, the Drupal community is very large and with that, there is depth of knowledge sharing and talent available to support Drupal based solutions. 

Somewhat in contrast, Apostrophe directly provides technical support options with a paid plan. In the case of a bug, the Apostrophe development team will address the issue immediately. Additionally, Apostrophe offers the support of a dedicated success team. This professional level of support helps teams achieve organizational goals and brings digital experiences to life.


Which CMS Offers More Features?

Both Drupal and Apostrophe offer similar features, but Apostrophe provides a more complete solution. Let’s delve into the features offered by both CMS technologies:

  • Headless API: Both CMS solutions provide headless capabilities, allowing you to create, read, update, and delete content via RESTful APIs.

  • User roles and permissions: Both tools enable you to create and manage user roles and permissions within the content management platform.

  • Templates/themes: Drupal supports more than 3,000 themes developed by the community. These make it easier to set up the presentation layer. Similarly, Apostrophe allows you to easily build JavaScript templates with Nunjucks or any other templating technology. 

  • Data modeling: Both CMS options let you model your data entities through an advanced data modeling feature. Specifically, you can create a data schema by defining data entities, their attributes and relationships. Note that Drupal supports more than 30 field types, while Apostrophe gives access to 22.  

  • A good UI for content management: Apostrophe offers an easy-to-use UI and aims to guide editors throughout the content management process. On the other hand, Drupal is affected by serious UI problems, and the overall UX cannot be considered of high quality.

  • Extensions/modules: Drupal supports modules, which are plugins developed by the community that supplement existing Drupal functionality or add new features. Similarly, Apostrophe supports extensions and integrations.

  • Access to data: Both CMS technologies require a connection to a database. This means that you own the data and can always access it. Drupal generally uses a MySQL/MariaDB database, while Apostrophe relies on MongoDB.

  • Website building capabilities: Apostrophe and Drupal are not only CMS solutions but also website builders. This means you can use both technologies to design and build a website visually. Note that both support in-context editing.

  • Localization: Both CMS solutions support the ability to translate and make the same content available in multiple languages. At the same time, Apostrophe was built with international businesses in mind, while Drupal seems to be used mainly by American and English companies.


Which CMS Has a Larger Community?

Drupal comes out on top, but there are some aspects to consider. First, Drupal has many more years of life than Apostrophe, even though ApostropheCMS originally debuted in 2006. Second, a large community carries some pitfalls. For example, the Drupal community is so large that there are thousands of downloadable resources. However, not all of these resources are compatible with each other or contain all versions of Drupal. This can lead to a wild west-like situation where you can waste a lot of time.

  • Global community: Drupal’s free nature and the fact it has been around since 2001 has made Drupal one of the most popular CMS solutions available. According to a W3Techs survey, Drupal has a 1.8% market share when it comes to websites using a CMS. This makes it the sixth most widely used CMS for websites worldwide. As mentioned on the official website, the community behind Drupal globally consists of more than 1,000,000 passionate developers, designers, and editors. Specifically, more than 1,500 people collaborate monthly to improve the Drupal software, documentation, and community. These numbers are hard to beat for any other technology, Apostrophe included.

  • Developer community: Since both Apostrophe and Drupal offer open-source solutions, their repositories can be easily compared. At the time of writing, the Drupal GitHub repo has 3.8k stars, 418 people watching, and 1.9k forks. Plus, the original GitLab repo has 2,349 open PRs (Pull Requests), 350 stars, and an average of 3.7 commits a day. In 2022 alone, Drupal had more than 7,000 contributors. Comparatively, the Apostrophe GitHub repo has 3.9k stars, 124 people watching, 525 forks, and 5 open PRs. Therefore, the community of developers behind Drupal seems to be larger.


Which CMS Is Easier to Use?

As acknowledged by the official website, Drupal's poor usability is considered a known problem. Specifically, Drupal has a lot of UI and UX issues, including:

  • “Text formats are still somewhat of a mystery to most of our users […].”

  • “The lack of common workflows like save as draft is a disappointment.”

  • “[…] our filters are hard to use and search is non-existent.”

Those are all serious problems. They may be fixed soon, but many of these UX issues have been well-known for years. For this reason, the overall user experience offered by Drupal is not the greatest, and many users may find it frustrating and/or difficult to use. Note that Apostrophe does not suffer from any of these UX and UI problems mentioned above. 

Even though Drupal supports themes, most Drupal-based sites use a custom theme or a theme extended with custom PHP code. This means you will need a PHP developer to get a visually pleasing result, and PHP is certainly not known for being the most modern programming language available. This means even developers may struggle when dealing with Drupal.

On the contrary, one of the main goals of Apostrophe is to simplify content management and website building. As a result, Apostrophe comes with a complete, easy-to-use, intuitive UI specifically designed for every user, even non-technical ones.

Plus, Apostrophe is built in JavaScript and based on modern technologies such Node.js, Vue.js, and MongoDB. These are technologies every developer would like to work with. This makes Apostrophe more accessible for developers when compared to Drupal.


Which CMS Solution Allows You to Scale More Easily?

  • Million-user traffic: When configured and optimized properly, Drupal can support millions of users. Apostrophe can also handle such high traffic. Since Apostrophe is based on top-notch technologies, it is rather easy to scale. For example, Apostrophe relies on Node.js, which is well-known for its performance and scalability. On top of this, Apostrophe comes with built-in caching features and relies on a scalable cloud architecture.

  • Multisite support: Both Drupal and Apostrophe offer multisite support, which makes it easier for a business to release new sites and scale horizontally. In detail, Apostrophe Assembly offers a multi-tenant architecture that empowers you to manage multiple websites from a single platform. Similarly, Drupal Multisite offers the possibility to configure several sites in the same codebase. 

  • Support scaling: As a business grows, it will likely require more support. As mentioned previously, Apostrophe provides collaborative, proactive, and open-minded customer support, while Drupal leans into their relationship with Acquia to provide similar levels of support. 


Which CMS Tool Is More Future-Ready?

Google Trends leave little doubt, Drupal seems to be slowly dying as a CMS technology:

Or at least, people seem to be losing interest in Drupal, which peaked in searches in 2011 and never really recovered. The main reason might be that Drupal relies on technologies that feel a bit dated, such as PHP and MySQL. Today's developers are driven away from these dated technologies and have a desire to work in the language of the modern web, such as JavaScript. Also, Drupal started focusing on more modern headless features only after 15 years of existence. The community had to wait until the release of Drupal 8.2 in late 2016 to access easy-to-use RESTful APIs to manage content as in a headless CMS.

On the contrary, Apostrophe is based on fresh, cutting-edge, powerful technologies, leaning into JavaScript and MongoDB. Apostrophe supports the cloud, is designed to be future-ready, and has had headless functionality from day one. In addition, Apostrophe provides features only the most modern CMS solutions now offer. This makes Apostrophe a fast-growing CMS solution.

In simpler terms, Drupal bears the brunt of time, and is slowly becoming a legacy technology. Whereas Apostrophe is a future-oriented solution that will be able to support your business for years to come.


Drupal vs. Apostrophe: Final Verdict

Let’s summarize the final results to determine the winner.

Drupal CMS Comparison table

And the winner is… Apostrophe!



In this comparison blog post, you had the opportunity to see the key differences between Drupal and Apostrophe. Both are high-quality CMS solutions, but Apostrophe is generally a more complete option in most aspects.

It is essential to consider your specific needs when choosing between the two platforms. Even though Drupal has a larger community, Apostrophe may be the best fit for a variety of scenarios. Book a demo today! 

Thanks for reading! We hope this article helped clear your mind. If you are interested in seeing how Apostrophe stacks up against other CMS platforms, take a look at our analysis "Comparing CMS Platforms: Apostrophe vs. Contentful" for an in-depth view of what Apostrophe brings to the table.


Antonello Zanini Headshot

Antonello Zanini is a passionate software engineer and technical writer with 4+ years of experience in full-stack development, plus 3+ years of experience in freelance writing. He has contributed to leading technology blogs and has authored over 250 articles. His technical content has generated more than 2.5 million views worldwide.

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