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More Drupal 7 Details at DrupalCon

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More Drupal 7 Details at DrupalCon

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At DrupalCon 2010, project founder Dries Buytaert presented more details about the upcoming release of Drupal 7 to the community.  Version 7 of the popular open source Content Management System will be slower than Drupal 6 out of the box, but it will have better scalability says Buytaert.  Drupal 7 also features RDF support for linking data.  The release is expected as early as June but could be as late as autumn.

The next release of Drupal will feature 70 modules and a larger codebase.  One of the modules will include an image API.  Buytaert talked about Drupal 7's dive into the Semantic Web with RDF support for linking data between sites.  Version 7 will be easier to develop with and more scalable as well.  Some developers say that the reduction in speed will not be a significant issue.

Buytaert also talked about SaaS, which he is very passionate about, and his hosted Drupal service, Drupal Gardens.  This service is provided by his startup company, Acquia, which is now being backed by Microsoft.  Microsoft is also supporting open source Drupal with its SQL Server Driver for PHP 2.0.  This version adds support for PHP Data Objects so PHP applications like Drupal can integrate easily with Microsoft's SQL Server.

Buytaert says that it is difficult to narrow the timeframe for Drupal 7's release because there isn't enough widespread contribution from the open source community (surprising, given Drupal's popularity).  In fact, 50% of the patches for Drupal 7 came from just 25 contributors.  Buytaert said that if all the attendees at DrupalCon divided into groups of 30, they could fix the 114 critical bugs preventing the Drupal 7 release within an hour.

The Drupal contributors are working hard to fix the 114 critical bugs left in order to keep momentum going for the project's adoption.  Right now Wordpress runs around 8.5% of the web while Drupal runs about 1% of websites, said Buytaert.  This is partly due to the simpler Wordpress tools, but Buytaert is determined to close the gap.  Joomla adoption is also competing with Drupal in job offerings.

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.  

Buytaert said that Drupal must improve its rate of adoption if developers want to make it a dominant force on the web.  Even though major sites like whitehouse.gov and The Economist use Drupal, Buytaert found that only 2% of the top one million sites use Drupal.  "That was a little bit of a wake up call," he said.

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