Omeka vs. Drupal: why might one use Omeka instead?

Hi all,

Posting the question here at your forum, and not the Drupal forum. The standaard reply on a Drupal forum would be: because we are more flexible, powerful, extensible... because we're sort of a framework and not a...

But I wonder what the Omeka community thinks about it all. Apologies in advance for a rather lengthy post.

A bit more specific pro's for both:
- Dublin core is in both
- OAI PMH is in both

Pro's for Omeka:
- Works out of the box
- Specifically tailored for collections

Pro's for Drupal:
- Huge community and plenty of developers anywhere in the world
- Any metadata can be added to Drupal
- A huge amount of modules
- lots of third party integrations
- Easily create multisites
- Building collections is rather easy through content types and views

What I don't know:
- Are files organized in a specific folder structure
- Can I add files to a folder through FTP and add them as such to Omeka?

More specific questions:
- Why did the developers decided to build another CMS and not simply build packages for Drupal?
- What is possible in Omeka and not in Drupal?




There are lots of feature-oriented responses, but I tend to choose one over the other more for the data model, and what that means in terms of display.

First the data model. Drupal with CCK (D6) or Fields (D7) and Views, is great for a complex model of interrelated content types. For example, if you have People and Institutions and Departments, with various fields connecting them, Drupal's data model is very well set up to handle that complexity.

On the other hand, Omeka, being built for cultural heritage institutions by CHNM (H for History), is designed more around producing a narrative of Items with the Exhibit Builder plugin. So you create your Items and put them in Collections, then produce a narrative informing them with Exhibit Builder.

So the model of Omeka is much more items-in-a-narrative (but of course you can view individual items and collections, too), while the model of Drupal is much more any type of content, with complex relationships between the types of content.

One upshot is that to make good use of Drupal, it does call for some significant up-front work figuring out the data model for your particular project. But when that's in place and you build the content types and views, it's beautiful.

On the other hand, if your mission is to get Dublin Core data for items (be they images, audio, etc.), and put them together into a presentation more along a linear narrative, then Omeka is likely the way to go.

Full disclosure -- I work on both Omeka and Drupal at CHNM (though more Drupal for right now).

Hope that helps,

Hi Dirk,

You might find this blog post on Omeka and its Peers to be useful to see where we think Omeka falls in the landscape of Collections Management Systems, Content Management Systems, and Digital Repositories:

You can also read our recent report to IMLS on Omeka's development:

You sound like you may be a developer who is comfortable using Drupal, and Drupal is good at building very large sites with different content types that all must be customized and managed by someone with some serious technical skills. Sometimes that is exactly what you want. Other times, you need something less complicated.

We developed Omeka to provide museums, libraries, and archives with a standards-based system for creating digital archives and exhibits (web publishing) pretty much right out of the box. This way, a non-programmer can install and run Omeka without needing a wide array of programming skills. Omeka is also flexible and extensible enough so that designers and programmers can create a highly customized site, while the administrative backend remains straightforward and simple for the content creators adding items and building exhibits.

Files: You can use the Dropbox plugin to transfer files to the Omeka installation, and then the administrative users can associate those files with items by hand, or you can create new items for each file within a couple of clicks.

You'll see when you download Omeka that there is an /archive directory. Within it, there is a files folder where original files are stored.

If you are interested in talking more about the development side of things, please join our developers' Google group. We have a great community of end users and developers using Omeka working in digital humanities centers,libraries, museums, archives, higher ed:

And if Omeka isn't your thing, it's not. And that is ok.