BWPanda's picture

I have a client with a Drupal 7 website. They're an organisation with a committee who make the decisions regarding the website, etc. I'm trying to convince them to migrate their site to Backdrop, and would like some help in knowing how best to recommend Backdrop and allay their concerns...

I originally told them about Drupal's EOL and pointed them to my blog post for more information about their options. They understand the need to move away from Drupal 7, but had some questions about Backdrop. Specifically, they asked me:

As a contributor to [Backdrop] development, are you able to give any idea of the number of users and the number of developers using the platform? A developer we have been in touch with said “having security updates is very important”; in your opinion is there any basis for that and, if so, is it being addressed? [We] would hope that Backdrop is as secure as Drupal 7.

I responded:

It can be tricky to determine the number of users/developers, but see if this helps:

  • The number of websites using Backdrop is around 1,000 (https://backdropcms.org/project/usage/backdrop)
    Note that this figure is taken from the number of websites that have a certain core module enabled and, as such, should be viewed as a minimum number of sites. There are likely quite a few sites that have disabled this module and therefore aren't included in this figure.
  • There are 6 project management committee members and 3 core committers (https://backdropcms.org/leadership)
  • There are 130 individuals, companies and organisations that choose to support Backdrop (https://backdropcms.org/support/supporters)
  • There are over 2,000 registered users on BackdropCMS.org
  • There are over 100 GitHub users in the Backdrop core organisation (only 25 of whom have public profiles however: https://github.com/orgs/backdrop/people)
  • There are over 80 GitHub users in the Backdrop contrib organisation (responsible for writing additional modules, themes, etc.) (only 38 of whom have public profiles however: https://github.com/orgs/backdrop-contrib/people)
  • And finally, you can consider any Drupal 7 developer to be a Backdrop developer, based on the code similarity and upgradability

I agree [that] having security updates is very important. Backdrop also agrees. Here is their Security page (https://backdropcms.org/security) which provides details about their security team, how to receive updates, report issues, etc., and it also lists security advisories Backdrop has previously issued. As Drupal 7 and Backdrop are very similar in terms of their code base, most Drupal 7 security advisories apply to Backdrop as well, though Backdrop has released some advisories in the past that were unique to Backdrop.
So yes, Backdrop is just as secure as Drupal 7.

They've now gotten back to me, saying:

The committee members of our group are nervous about migrating to Backdrop for various reasons, mainly to do with the low take-up and lack of features we may or may not need further down the track.

I understand their concerns - they don't want to commit to a system that might not be popular, have much activity, might disappear in future, etc. So how do I convince them that Backdrop isn't going anywhere, that it's growing, that new features can and are being added, etc.? They haven't told me who else they've been in touch with, but I imagine it'll have been a Wordpress developer, so how do we complete with Wordpress' popularity and feature-set?

This is all very specific to my client's situation, but we can use this discussion to better promote and recommend Backdrop to Drupal 7 clients in general too.

Most helpful answers

I'm committing to exploring BackDrop as a better alternative, and I'm liking what I'm seeing thus far.  I don't have to sell to my current clients as they'll just follow my lead when D7 is extinguished, but for new clients I'll need a pitch.

I been trying to work with Drupal 8.  I'm giving up.  Its the same complaint as others have made - D8 was made by and for people with sites that see more traffic in 5 minutes than my clients see all year.  As a user D8 has a lot of familiarity, but I can't run composer in a shared environment (maybe I'm outing myself as insufficiently techie) and my clients don't need more powerful hosting.

While concerns about the size of the community, support, security, etc are totally valid concerns I think organizations that find me are more interested in a solution that fits.  I'm settling on a kitchen analogy: WP is an easy bake oven, D8 is a big commercial kitchen, BD feels like a well-equipped home kitchen (just like Mom's D7 Kitchen - only without the funny orange colors).

You can have fun with your own analogies! Bears and Porridge comes to mind, as well as cars, boats, computers.

 

@bobchristenson's comments in Gitter:

I’ve been telling clients for a while “watch all the people move to Backdrop once D7 is officially deprecated” when they ask about Backdrop user base.

To me it boils down to the fact that I could do stuff in D7 with a couple lines of code. In D8 it takes, often literally, 10x more code and tons of unnecessary complication. I like that Backdrop is heading the other direction: simplicity as much as possible.

My bottom line argument is this: It doesn't matter how many people currently use backdrop, because at this point, for all intents and purposes, it IS Drupal 7 (with enhancements). It’s not a new platform only used by 1000 people. It has decades of development and millions of users/developers behind it as of now.

Basically, it’s wrong to think of it as “new”. It's not new. Theres probably lines of code in it that were written 20 years ago :)

Plus, as I said…I tell people “just wait to see what happens when people’s choices from D7 are Drupal 10 or Backdrop. You’re going to see an avalanche of new backdrop sites.

I’m not sure how the core team feels about it, but to me the biggest selling point going forward isn’t “its new and awesome!”…it should be “Its Drupal 7 with awesome new tools and toys…and migration is super simple.” Positioning it as ‘new’ would be a mistake for exactly the reasons your client worries about, IMO.

In terms of competing with WP, I always give a car analogy: WP is going to a car lot and picking a model, color, and feature package. You better hope you like what they offer. Drupal/Backdrop is hiring someone to custom build you EXACTLY the car you want…you want it, we can build it. Its a toolset, not a finished product.

Comments

klonos's picture

Here's an argument: the more features/functionality they want to build for their site in the future, the more difficult it will become if they go with an easy/popular CMS now.

...you can tell them that WP is like Word, while Drupal/Backdrop is like Excel: Sure, they both get the same job done when it's all about just storing data/text/images ...but when later on you need to do things with that data, what tool would you use?

...so yes, most people use Word, and that is the most popular software in the MS Office suite, but is it the right tool for your (their) data?

As @serundeputy commented in the Gitter chat:

It might seem like that does not matter to the client, but where it matters is total cost of ownership; when you go to add the next feature, you are either locked into the devs that built the site (vendor lock-in), because they are the only ones that understand it (even then it will take them longer to add features), than with structured app and code.

People also refer to this as technical debt; and in 3 to 5 years, when they need to refresh their site/app again, they will face difficult migration issues with a globbed together app.

 

BWPanda's picture

@bobchristenson's comments in Gitter:

I’ve been telling clients for a while “watch all the people move to Backdrop once D7 is officially deprecated” when they ask about Backdrop user base.

To me it boils down to the fact that I could do stuff in D7 with a couple lines of code. In D8 it takes, often literally, 10x more code and tons of unnecessary complication. I like that Backdrop is heading the other direction: simplicity as much as possible.

My bottom line argument is this: It doesn't matter how many people currently use backdrop, because at this point, for all intents and purposes, it IS Drupal 7 (with enhancements). It’s not a new platform only used by 1000 people. It has decades of development and millions of users/developers behind it as of now.

Basically, it’s wrong to think of it as “new”. It's not new. Theres probably lines of code in it that were written 20 years ago :)

Plus, as I said…I tell people “just wait to see what happens when people’s choices from D7 are Drupal 10 or Backdrop. You’re going to see an avalanche of new backdrop sites.

I’m not sure how the core team feels about it, but to me the biggest selling point going forward isn’t “its new and awesome!”…it should be “Its Drupal 7 with awesome new tools and toys…and migration is super simple.” Positioning it as ‘new’ would be a mistake for exactly the reasons your client worries about, IMO.

In terms of competing with WP, I always give a car analogy: WP is going to a car lot and picking a model, color, and feature package. You better hope you like what they offer. Drupal/Backdrop is hiring someone to custom build you EXACTLY the car you want…you want it, we can build it. Its a toolset, not a finished product.

I wonder about that conversion choice, though. What I've found is that even with full awareness of how difficult rebuilding a site in Drupal 8 will be, there's resistance to consider Backdrop as an alternative. Partly because they haven't heard of it, and neither have their bosses, on up the chain. Partly because of a feeling that what's on the other side of that conversion hell with Drupal is "the future".

People would jump in if they saw other people doing it but nobody wants to go first.

Convincing people to migrate to Backdrop

Here’s a potential method if A) you make building/supporting Drupal a business or B) you yourself already have a D7 web property you can convert to Backdrop.

A) Convert one of your client’s sites to Backdrop without telling them.  See how it goes so you can figure out how much you would bill doing it as a professional.

Once it’s fully and completely converted, you can then use it as a dog and pony for other clients so they see exactly what the original D7 site is and see the conversion to Backdrop along with what the exact cost would be (for that specific site).  You then have the ability to give your other clients very close estimates for conversion costs.

You also should be able to sell the dog and pony site to its owner to recoup your original time investment.

B)  Basically use your own site the same way.  Leave the D7 version up, show the Backdrop version, and present a that costs $NNN to the potential conversion customer.

 

 

 

I'm committing to exploring BackDrop as a better alternative, and I'm liking what I'm seeing thus far.  I don't have to sell to my current clients as they'll just follow my lead when D7 is extinguished, but for new clients I'll need a pitch.

I been trying to work with Drupal 8.  I'm giving up.  Its the same complaint as others have made - D8 was made by and for people with sites that see more traffic in 5 minutes than my clients see all year.  As a user D8 has a lot of familiarity, but I can't run composer in a shared environment (maybe I'm outing myself as insufficiently techie) and my clients don't need more powerful hosting.

While concerns about the size of the community, support, security, etc are totally valid concerns I think organizations that find me are more interested in a solution that fits.  I'm settling on a kitchen analogy: WP is an easy bake oven, D8 is a big commercial kitchen, BD feels like a well-equipped home kitchen (just like Mom's D7 Kitchen - only without the funny orange colors).

You can have fun with your own analogies! Bears and Porridge comes to mind, as well as cars, boats, computers.