Hi everyone,
I am a web designer with a pretty deep understanding of HTML and CSS. I am looking at building a database driven website that is something like IMDB.com but not exactly the same idea. It won't be about movies but it will have the same concept of a lot of listings, a lot of authors, a community and contribution friendly website. Almost all of which are searchable, sortable, etc.

I do not write PHP but when I have looked into learning more about the language the backend coding concepts and database integration seemed very much far away from what I was familiar with. So I looked into some of the CMS' out there to help me out. After some research I have come to conclude that Drupal is one of the better options out there, and by no means "perfect", but it does offer a lot more in terms of control. Each module is like a Lego building block so to speak and you can put them together to build your amazing website. OK great, I enjoy Lego so this should be easy, right?

The biggest question I keep asking myself is should I even be using these "Drupal" branded Lego pieces to begin with? Am I wasting my time and in the long run should I just be learning PHP and building my own CMS from scratch for my needs? Or is this an unimaginably difficult task to do from the ground up, and to do well? I do not see any easy custom tailored solution for an IMDB type website with any of the CMS' out there, and after all is said and done with the contributed modules and my own customizations perhaps I am not really saving much time with a CMS after all? For example, I'm sure there is a Drupal module for Google Maps, but then again, Google shows you how to integrate Maps into your website without Drupal too. Maybe I'm buying into this CMS thing like it will save me time but in the long run it really won't?

What are your thoughts and opinions? If I start with Drupal as my CMS and get to some substantial roadblocks with it, will I still be able to export all of my hard earned time and effort with it and re-use almost all of it with my own CMS? I'm guessing that it would be a smart idea to figure out which road I'm going to take now, rather than later in order to minimize the workload..

Any help is greatly appreciated. I will also say that Spark Drupal looks promising (HTML5 in-place content editing) but it may take a few more years until we actually see a stable release. I'm not really willing to wait around, and if Drupal 7 is hard to use will Drupal 8 be any easier? Or should I wait for Drupal 10, or should I not be using Drupal at all and should I start using "CMS XYZ" right now? Learning PHP (the right way) is always an option too, if that is indeed looking like the brightest path to follow too. Perhaps it will be a combination of an Open Source CMS and learning bits and pieces of PHP, in order to really make things the most efficient for now and for the long term for where my training time should be spent?

Thanks!