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Drupal to Joomla! Migration -

Written by | Tuesday, 01 May 2012 00:00 | Published in 2012 May
With an old, out-of-date Drupal site getting maliciously and successfully hacked every week, Truthout was looking for answers. A few months later, with a complicated Drupal to Joomla! migration behind us, Truthout transitioned to a new, stable, and flexible Joomla! Platform with room to grow.


Objective: move off of an aging, failing Drupal platform and secure the site
Development Team: CNP Integrations
Category: Political News
Technology: Joomla!, Securelive, K2 (highly customized)

The Challenges

This site presented us with many challenges from the very beginning. For starters, we were faced with the task of securing a failing Drupal site that was getting maliciously hacked on a regular basis due to being severely out of date, and ill-maintained. After we got past that we were presented with the daunting challege of a large scale Drupal to Joomla! migration, the first of it’s kind. With combined content of 200,000+ articles alone, each with 15-20 unique fields in Drupal, and tens of thousands of users, this was definitely a unique challenge. Once the migration process itself was nailed down, we were presented with the requirement to clone the site’s previous template from Drupal into a Joomla! template. Finally, due to the high-profile nature of this site, we had to secure the new site as well.

The Job


With the live Drupal site getting hacked on a regular basis we had to act quickly to secure the existing site, and hold it together while we worked on a new site. Fortunately, we were able to turn to the folks at Securelive to help us. I’ve always been impressed with how well Securelive protected our sites, and they didn’t fail us this time either. Since we implemented Securelive on this site, we have not had a single successful hack on the site.

Content Construction

With a move from a Drupal environment, a lot of work had to be done to map out content in a manner that could be imported and presented in Joomla!. We chose the K2 CCK to help answer many of the challenges this posed. While several others were considered, and definitely had benefits to using them, K2 had the easiest architecture to import content from the format that Drupal stores data in. With that decision out of the way, we focused on building an automated importer to bring over the large amount of content from the Drupal sites. Our work didn’t end with import though. In order to meet specific requirements for the client, we built many custom K2 features to assist in both content editing, and presentation.

User Management

One of the biggest hurdles in importing content was the association between users and content. In Joomla! (and K2) a single user can be assigned to a single article. With a news agency like this where multiple authors and jouranlists may collaborate on an article or series, it became important to be able to assign multiple users to a single article. Luckily, we’ve tackled this same problem before for an online encyclopedia we built for the United Nations International Labor Organization, and were able to implement a similar solution here to facilitate the assignment, and presentation of multiple authors for each K2 article.

Content Presentation

The last phase in this build was the site design itself. The primary requirement here was to exactly clone the original Drupal site template. To facilitate the requirements of the site layout, and the unique positioning of different modules and new module positions, we started with the T3 framework from Joomlart to build a flexible template that can easily be expanded as needed. Another unique requirement in the content presentation was the separation of article fields. With each view requiring specific fields in a specific order, most K2 templates had to be largely rewritten to accomodate the specific ordering of fields, or inclusion/esclusion of specific fields for a view.


This was definitely an interesting, and exciting process. With a site of this magnitude, simply building it from scratch is interesting, but the added aspects of immediate security threats when the project started, and a Drupal migration thrown into the mix, it was definitely an adventure. With a stable Joomla! platform as it’s base, and the flexibility afforded to us in expanding the site while still maintaining a high level of usability for non-technical jouranlists, we’re already looking forward to expansions, new ideas, and new sections for the site to better server Truthouts readers!

Development Team

Jon Neubuer - Project Lead/Developer
Rob Joyce - Joomla! Developer

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Jon Neubauer

Jon Neubauer

Jon is a Joomla! Developer based in Charlotte, NC. You can find Jon working in the Joomla! community in the Joomla! Bug Squad, writing Joomla! Documentation, helping organize Joomla! events, and working with Joomla! in higher education.

Hey Jon,

Sound like one hell of a migration and great project to work on. We're face with a similar situation as well but grabbing data from static HTML rather than another database. Don't know what's worse.

Glad you guys made it work though.
hey Peter - thanks for the note!
I can imagine that static HTML is a headache as well - finding and gathering the data stored in many different tables, in different ways in Drupal was a challenge - all in all a very exciting project - and one that we're already duplicating for other clients looking to migrate to Joomla!
Nice work Team CNP Integrations. You guys have cracked another milestone successfully. Best
Can you please give more details on how Drupal had security issues? What version of Drupal Core has the old site using. I have to say im pretty amazed. And going from Drupal to Joomla K2 is a HUGE Downgrade.
Like I mentioned, the previous Drupal site was severely out of date. The specific vulnerabilities have since been fixed, but the time and effort needed to upgrade the site was very prohibitive - almost as if we were taking a Joomla! 1.0 site, and going to 2.5 ... but worse :)

I'm not sure how you can say that the move was a downgrade. With a much smoother workflow for content, we've already taken big steps forward with the site. And, with the capabilities that Joomla! has, we're currently working on some cool new features - features that may be possible to pull off in Drupal, but definitely much easier to manage in Joomla!

All together, I'd still say that Joomla! does, and will offer benefits and much greater flexibility.
Great work, CNP Integrations. Congratulations to you guys :D
Everything sounds good except using T3 framework. Yuck. Frameworks need to go away.
@Pierre - I agree - we used T3 because it helped us with a shorter development cycle in order to get a new site up quickly - but we've had our fair share of T3 related problems and frustrations :)
Thank you for this post!
I have recently moved from Drupal to K2 with cms2cms converter. I really satisfied with the result, Joomla K2 is what I was counting on!
Thanks for all Joomla Developers!!!
are u able to open your joomla website on another computer with wamp server where u had not build it