Ubercart vs. Drupal Commerce: Which Should You Choose?

Choose a Drupal Shopping Cart Depending On Your Needs

Ubercart vs Drupal

So, you're interested in unleashing the power of a Drupal e-commerce site. But you face a dilemma: Ubercart or Drupal Commerce?

Drupal Commerce: Ubercart Reboot?

In some ways, Drupal Commerce is a "reboot" of Ubercart. The lead developer for Drupal Commerce, Ryan Szrama, used to be the lead developer for Ubercart.

Longtime Ubercart users might expect that Drupal Commerce is basically "Ubercart Improved." Not so much.

Like a Hollywood reboot, Drupal Commerce has some radical divergences from the original canon.

The choice between Ubercart and Drupal Commerce is not trivial. You want to get this right the first time. You don't want to have to migrate your site from one to the other.

Which Is More Popular?

Currently, Ubercart seems more popular, with almost 47,000 Ubercart installations to almost 26,000 Drupal Commerce installations.

Still, both projects have a lot of installations, so popularity isn't necessarily a guide here.

Which Is Future Proof?

Drupal Commerce obviously has forward momentum, but Ubercart looks like it's here to stay as well. As far as I can tell, both are equally likely to continue in active development for the foreseeable future.

Which Has More/Better Features and Configurability?

Myself, I've only built Ubercart sites so far, so my viewpoint is biased. But both Ubercart and Drupal Commerce are extremely configurable.

I've done extreme configuration on Ubercart sites myself. And Drupal Commerce seems openly, even ostentatiously geared towards complex configuration. (See this quote from the devs on how Drupal Commerce is a "framework" more than an "application".)

Plus, both projects have spawned many third-party modules (of varying quality).

Different Edge Cases

In real life, either solution will seem extremely flexible until you hit the wall of that one missing feature you desperately need. Then you'll search ​drupal.org for a module, and wander the forums, and if you can't find what you need, you'll wish you'd used the other solution.

Both projects have different edge cases. There are things you can only do in Drupal Commerce, and there are things you can only do in Ubercart.

Do your homework. ​Plan your site, list all the features you want, and check the documentation. Spin up a test site and try to build the "unique" parts first.

Which Is Easier?

Now for the big question. Which is "easier"?

Ease of use and advanced features tend to be in direct opposition. Alas, we usually want both (especially in the Drupal world).

If your site has an edge case, then whichever solution handles your edge case will be easier. Period.

But for basic usage, Ubercart seems to be easier than Drupal Commerce.

I should clarify: when I say "Drupal Commerce" here, I really mean ​Commerce Kickstart. Commerce Kickstart is an installation profile, a particular configuration of Drupal Commerce that aims to offer an easy-to-use cart "out of the box". Without Commerce Kickstart, the devs themselves say you can easily spend "weeks" trying to configure Drupal Commerce from scratch.

(With great power comes great perplexity.)

Even with Commerce Kickstart, Ubercart still seems intrinsically easier. Why? Drupal Commerce has introduced a new layer of complexity to the concept of a "product". Some people seem to find it confusing.

On the other hand, maybe not. When I spun up a Commerce Kickstart site and tried adding a product, I found the process fairly intuitive.

Still, "intuitive" for a guy who writes about Drupal professionally may not quite work for you. You should probably just try it.

Integration With Other Drupal Modules and Themes

How about integration with other Drupal modules and themes?

I know from experience that Ubercart plays well with other modules. I can't speak to Drupal Commerce yet. Anyone care to comment?

Anything Else?

Commerce Kickstart comes with a pretty sweet theme. Even better, it's an Omega subtheme, so it's amazingly responsive -- shrink the browser and see what happens.

Plus, you can leverage your Omega CSS expertise if you need to tweak. (At least, you can in theory. Anyone tweaked the Commerce Kickstart theme yet?)

Bottom Line: Plan Your Site, Try Both

Sometimes, with this kind of decision, you can read an article or two and make the call. But shopping carts are just too complicated.

If your shopping cart site will be extremely simple, you can probably go with either, and Ubercart is still probably easier.

If your site is even faintly "unique", you'll need to do a little research and test them both. You want to know you have all the modules you need, for your version of Drupal, before you build.

Learn More

This lengthy article on how Ubercart compares to Drupal Commerce offers a detailed discussion of how Drupal Commerce has tried (and sometimes failed) to improve Ubercart. By now, the article's a bit old, so some problems may have been fixed. My favorite quote:

... carts are often maintained by non-technical users who demand that systems are both easy to maintain, but endlessly configurable.

Again, when I tried Commerce Kickstart myself, the product complexity he talks about seemed fairly straightforward. Maybe they've improved the workflow since he wrote.

Also, this ​thread on drupal.org has more recent comments. The consensus still seems to be that Ubercart is easier.

Have you tried either or both? What do you think?