If you search Drupal’s module library within the ecommerce module category you’ll find there are two main solutions for providing a full ecommerce framework for Drupal — Drupal Commerce and Ubercart.
Creators: Commerce Guys’
Initial 1.0 Release: Aug 23, 2011
Current # of installs: 65,771*
Initial 1.0 Release: Jun 4, 2008
Current # of installs: 44,202*
At first glance, based on the current number of installs, it appears Drupal Commerce is the top choice. This is true! However, it wasn’t always this way. In June of 2008, way before Drupal Commerce entered the scene, there were a handful of options for adding ecommerce functionality to your Drupal website. Ubercart launched and took the Drupal community by storm.
*As of January, 2016. Based on usage stats gathered by the Update Status module which has been included in Drupal core since version 6.x. Actual stats may differ.
Ubercart gained popularity, with both users and developers, and quickly gained a large following. It had its flaws but was the clear choice for the time. By October, 2012, when usage stats became part of core Drupal, Ubercart had 46,062 installs. At it’s peak, in March, 2015, Ubercart had 61,063 installs. Since then, usage in the community and developer activity has gradually declined. As one of our senior devs put it, this decline is mainly attributed to Ubercart being “dead in the water, no new development being done [by the core Ubercart maintainers].”
Drupal Commerce, maintained by Commerce Guys’, entered the scene with an initial 1.0 release in August, 2011. It quickly gained momentum as it had a dedicated core group behind it, hungry to make a name for themselves in the Drupal community. It appears that the community as a whole, both users and developers, liked what they were seeing. By October 2012, Drupal Commerce had carved out a name for itself with 18,506 installs. This number continued to grow and by June, 2014, Drupal Commerce had matched Ubercart in usage. Currently, Drupal Commerce enjoys approximately 65,771 installs, it’s highest number of users yet! It isn’t showing any signs of slowing and has both the user base and developer base to keep the momentum.
A Bit About Open Source Solutions
“Open Source: Denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified.”
Drupal as a platform, as well as both Drupal Commerce and Ubercart, are open source software. This means that anyone can use, develop from, and modify any piece of the software freely, without restrictions. In the world of ecommerce websites this has a number of benefits.
From client point of view, this means that you own your data. To use this software there are no initial purchasing or licensing fees, no ongoing fees and no software limitations. You own your website and all of your data within it. Any customization to the software if well within your usage rights because it’s yours.
From a development point of view, this means that there are no barriers when building and customizing an ecommerce website for a client. If part of the software doesn’t quite do what is needed, we modify it. If a requested feature doesn’t exist, we build it.
The software maintainers also benefit, because any new features made, any bugs fixed, are usually given back to the maintainers.
In essence, the maintainers and development community maintain and add to the software, while the client community helps drive the software’s evolution.
Choosing Your E-commerce Software
Choosing what ecommerce software to use on your Drupal site can be tricky if you’re not sure what to look for. When considering ecommerce software, the main things to consider are; open source, ease of use, extensive and developer friendly, and activity from both the community and maintainers.
The benefits of open source software is explained above so we won’t repeat it here. Both Drupal Commerce and Ubercart are open source. Booyeah!
Ease of Use
This is focused on our clients — how easy it is to use the e-commerce software to manage your online store. Adding, maintaining and promoting products, receiving and managing orders, configuring shipping options — these are all key aspects for the store managers maintaining the website. We can build whatever they want, but if they can’t use it, it becomes useless to them.
Drupal Commerce initially has a steeper learning curve, but continues to evolve with end-user management as a core focus. It’s support for large, complex product variations is excellent.
Ubercart is more of a closed system and, being more matured, tends to be easier to use out of the box for simple stores. However, Ubercart struggles when complex product variations are required.
Extensive and Developer Friendly
It is very rare that e-commerce software is everything you need right out of the box. The need to add or modify existing features is important. Both platforms have a very good initial feature set, and a ton of additional modules to extend. We’re virtually limitless in what we can do with the software because what we don’t find pre-packaged we can add or create.
Drupal Commerce shines in its developer friendliness since it was built based on the existing Drupal API. Any Drupal developer would be comfortable extending it. The software has been built to Drupals standards with help from the community, so being developer friendly is part of its core culture.
Ubercart, although also extensive, has it’s own API instead of following Drupal’s. It’s more difficult from a developer standpoint to get started and therefore fewer developers would be available to add custom features.
Activity by both the Community and Maintainers
Simply put, the more activity by the community (users and developers) and the maintainers, the better the product. Based on the stats covered earlier, Drupal Commerce has the clear advantage here. The success of Drupal Commerce continues to build because of its active following and dedicated core group of maintainers.
|Drupal Commerce Pros||Uber Cart Pros|
|Built to handle ANY e-commerce scenario and therefore better at handling product variations.||Easier management of simple, singular products.|
Best for large, complex stores.
|Best for small, simple stores.|
|New features can be developed by any Drupal developer.||Payment and shipping fulfillment included.|
|Drupal 7 native (Drupal 8 version in alpha release).||
Better coupon management.
Basic and customizable admin interface.
Easier to initially set up and use.
Strong core and community developer support.
|Drupal Commerce Cons||Uber Cart Cons|
|Newer and still evolving.||
Lacking product management features for stock levels and product variations.
Requires technical know-how to setup. Steeper learning curve.
Drupal 6 native, later ported for Drupal 7 but not rebuilt for it (Drupal 8 version in alpha release).
Payment and shipping extensions must be added separately. Less third party shipping and payment integration (although more are continuously being added)
Custom API instead of using Drupal (meaning less Drupal developer friendly).
|Core and community developer support is practically non-existent.|
What Do We Use?
Many of the developers at Acro Media have experience working with Ubercart, but, as a development house we choose Drupal Commerce. We use it because it meets ours, and our diverse clients, needs. It’s customizability is a huge plus to us. Also, with the momentum that it has in the community, and now our vested interest in the platform, we believe Drupal Commerce is the future of ecommerce.
Ubercart Website: http://www.ubercart.org/
Ubercart Drupal - Project Page: https://www.drupal.org/project/ubercart