[Evangelism] The State of Drupal
steve at dcn.org
Sun Nov 22 17:59:07 UTC 2009
While at the Non-Profit SW Dev Summit, I had the opportunity to attend a
couple of Drupal panels (new to Drupal, and what's new with Drupal). Drupal
had their A team at the summit (a couple of core devs and several
evangelists) to do the talks. I wanted to pass on a few things on what I
observed. Share as appropriate.
1) Drupal is also having the framework vs product debate. From what I heard,
the "framework" side is definitely winning. Many Drupal integrators are
actually demanding that some new, friendlier UI in the Drupal 7 preview be
rolled back because they feel it undermines their flexibility as
integrators. Drupal 7 continues to be a micro-core product that is not
really suitable for use out of the box. The Drupal folks emphasize that no
inexperienced person should think they can integrate Drupal by themselves
(for more than a blog), as they need to gain a lot of experience as to which
modules really work together.
2) There is no migration path for add-on modules between 6 and 7. The core
devs emphasize that it will be a rare 6 module that does not need a complete
rewrite to become a 7 module. The integrators in the audience moaned loudly
on receiving this news, and complained that this was awful for them. The
core devs replied that the new APIs would make add on modules more secure
3) Drupal is still very complex for end users. I don't think they really
differentiate between users and site managers. Positioning a node in the
content hierarchy still requires intimate knowledge of how Drupal works (or
add on modules that organize portions of the tree). The ideal Drupal install
is probably either small enough that a single site admin is not a
bottleneck, or large enough that several site admins can be well trained.
4) Permissions and roles are still pretty much global, and workflow is
rudimentary. No ACLs. The organic groups module remedies some of that, but
there was skepticism about whether or not it could be ported to 7.
5) The CCK (content creation kit) is now pretty much integrated into 7, and
is really pretty cool in its ability to allow site admins to add fields to
content types TTW. On the other hand, they don't have a round trip story,
and I heard a couple of conversations, that translated to Plone-speak,
amounted to "we need something like generic setup to handle repeatable
6) Real-life Drupal is actually very resource intensive. The audience was
told that they could do something like a blog on a cheapo host, but that a
real deployment with multiple content authors would require a dedicated
server or large virtual slice.
7) They are still, out-of-the-box, a great blogging platform, and if you're
using Drupal as a "news to the home page site" with a few static pages, it's
easy and fast to configure.
8) The party line on Acquia is that what's good for Acquia and Dries is good
for Drupal. I saw not a hint of discomfort with that.
9) A somewhat contradictory pair of party lines: "it's easy to find PHP
programmers, and they're inexpensive, therefore PHP is the place to be" and
"Don't even think of using a PHP programmer with less than 3 years Drupal
experience to do any customization."
10) Taxonomy was "never meant to provide site structure" and is now
deprecated as a way to build nav trees. The "right" way to do it is with the
new relations fields, which allow you to pick nodes as parents/children.
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