WordPress vs. Orchard CMS

PIN

I have had this website for about a year now. For the most part, I had this site up as more of an online portfolio/resume sort of thing. But about a month ago, I decided to start blogging. And since my then-current website wasn’t designed for blogging, I had a few options:

  1. Look for a CMS that enabled me to migrate easily
  2. Write up a simple CMS of my own

Bravely, I decided to go for option two. But then, after writing only a couple of modules, I came across the Orchard CMS, an open source project backed by Microsoft and written completely in ASP.net MVC3!  It was simply impossible to resist.

Orchard CMS

Backed by Microsoft

Microsoft backing at the least, signifies that it is a serious project, and has slim chances of all-of-a-sudden going on limbo. It may also mean some funding, which could relate to good support base.

ASP.net MVC3

This is the biggest selling point if you are a developer working on the Microsoft stack. You could treat this as any other CMS and deploy it unchanged, get a good deal of editing control via Web Matrix or simply pick on every minute detail by exporting it as a VS2010 solution. As simple as that.

Flexible Layout

The custom module/pluggability option gives you a lot of flexibility in creating custom types, placement and such.

After only a few weeks of Orchard though, on Wednesday, yet again, I found myself installing the good-old WordPress. Don’t take me wrong, Orchard was a great experience and I think it is a wonderful project to explore and play with. But at the end of the day, it comes out as too much of a great “project” rather than being a great CMS.

WordPress

Speed

The speed of wordpress is unmatched. Orchard was simply too sluggish, and perhaps too “programmatic” for a blog. Almost everyone I asked to review my website complained of its speed.

Plugins

WordPress has a wealth of plugins, literally for everything you would need on your blog. Orchard, not so much. And even the ones that exist aren’t very mature. And like I said before, it is great to download those plugins and tweak them yourself but then again, it becomes too much of an experimental project, rather than a practical blog plugin. I needed to put a lot of code into my posts and I struggled to find a proper plugin that could enable syntax highlighting/code formatting. In wordpress, you will struggle by finding too many options.

Theming

WordPress also has a plethora of themes – both free, and premium. If you are a DIY kind of person, there is plenty of documentation on how to write WP themes. I am more of a get a base, then tweak the **** out of it kind of person, which works great as well! If you are into MVC3, Orchard is pretty cool too, as it uses the Razor View Engine and is pretty easy with work with. But as existing available theme options, there aren’t much.

Hosting

WordPress needs PHP and MySQL support for hosting, which is available pretty much on 99.99% of regular hosting services. Orchard CMS requires an ASP.net (IIS) hosting service with support for .NET 4.0+ and MVC3, which isn’t the most common hosting service. I bought a service from WinHost just so I could host Orchard. But after reverting back to WordPress, I was glad that WinHost also supported PHP/MySQL. I can’t say with certainty that the case would have been as simple had I bought a hosting for WordPress and then decided to switch to Orchard.

All-in-all, after giving the Orchard CMS an honest try and sticking with it for almost a month, I would have to say that as a practical and effective blogging engine/CMS, WordPress is still one of the best out there. Orchard has some awesome features and nifty ideas, but it just does not cut it when compared to WordPress. For a ASP.net MVC3 aficionado however, the case may be a bit different.

Even though the “WordPress v Orchard” might be a topic that has been beaten to death, I thought I would put up my personal experience from the standpoint of a person who wasn’t necessarily looking to test them out. I hope this helped. 🙂