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Drupal 7 and Drupal Gardens are on the Way

· Web Dev Zone
The new hosted Drupal service called Drupal Gardens, was recently given beta status.  This announcement means that anyone can now go to the site and start using the beta for free.  The leaders of the Drupal community have also announced that the next version of Drupal should have its beta release sometime in August.  However, they're going to need plenty of help from the community to fix the remaining bugs by August.

Drupal Gardens

Drupal Gardens is the creation of the recent start-up Acquia, which was co-founded by Dries Buytaert, the creator of Drupal, who is now the company's CTO.  Acquia's goal is to take back some of the low- to mid-end market from simpler platforms like Joomla and Wordpress.  Drupal is targeting businesses who want to set up "micro sites" to manage projects, events, and ad campaigns.

   

The route to Software-as-a-Service for Acquia was the reverse of well-known SaaS  vendors like Salesforce.  While Salesforce started with SaaS cloud services and then provided a Platform-as-a-Service, Acquia began with the platform (open source Drupal) and then moved to a hosted SaaS.  This means Drupal Gardens is coming into the web ecosystem with plenty of custom functionality already.   The long term goal for Drupal Gardens is to set up a marketplace where developers can offer application templates for the content management system, much like an app store.

The best thing about Drupal Gardens is that it will remain free even after the GA.  In 2011 it will open up its two additional subscription plans with more advanced features.  The two plans will cost $19.95 and $39.95 per month.  The great thing is, if a customer wants to switch from the hosted service to an in-house implementation, they can just download the Drupal Gardens source code and cancel the service.

The editor in Drupal Gardens


Drupal 7

The development for Drupal 7 has been slow and frustrating for project leaders, who aren't getting as much help from the community as they'd like.  At the time of DrupalCon in April, there were 114 critical bugs.  Today, there are about 44 that need to be fixed before the release.  

Version 7 will be slower than Drupal 6 out of the box, but it will have better scalability (the loss of speed will be minor).  Drupal 7 also features RDF support for linking data.  Support for Microsoft's SQL Server and Oracle DB will be present in Drupal 7 along with 70 modules (including an image API) and a larger codebase.

Drupal has been around for ten years, and thanks to high-profile use cases (whitehouse.gov, Warner Bros. records) and plenty of custom modules, the free software package has reached over 2 million downloads.  The job market for Drupal developers is thriving.  John Faber, the COO at AF83 (a Drupal development shop) says that the demand for Drupal developers is outpacing the supply.  He's had to turn away business because he's had so many customers.

Buytaert wants the community to start thinking about features for Drupal 8 because it will be a major change in direction for the CMS.  He says that Drupal will need configuration management and staging if it wants to focus on the enterprise.  For the low end, Drupal will need to focus on better experiences and simple rich tools.  Drupal 8 will be shifting from the CVS (Concurrent Versions System) for software revision control to the Git DVCS. 
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