Last December, I mentioned my excitement about Drupal's project lead, Dries Buytaert, along with Jay Batson starting a company called Acquia. While it was known that the $7 million startup would focus on Drupal for the enterprise, what was not known was the products and services that would be offered by the company. In a press release today, Acquia finally unveiled its roadmap to commercially support Drupal.
The company announced the two initial products and services it will be offering, Carbon and Spokes. Carbon is Acquia's commercial supported version of Drupal which will focus on social publishing applications. Spokes is an update will be an enhanced update notification sercice that provides "site owners personalized alerts with actionable recommendations". At this time I'm, not clear as to whether Spokes will be available for just Carbon or for all Drupal distributions. Both services will be available through a subscription offering.
Why did we move to phpBB3? Good question, and there is a simple answer. Whilst SMF was great for us, it is not licensed under GPL, and as a result many of our users who like to follow the choices we make were going to run in to integration issues in the future. As well as that, the team at phpBB have been great, with many of them offering to help, especially with the conversion. In any case, we’re not going back, and the future is phpBB3!
Last night, I took the opportunity to spend some time with the Drupal community at a Twin-Cities Drupal Meetup. My trip to Minneapolis for the meetup was on the tail-end of a 1300 mile drive. Those miles covered a drive that looped me south to the state of Missouri and then eventually back north. My activities during the past week ranged from sleeping in the Missouri woods at an old scout cabin with outhouse included...to having conversations in Minnesota with some of Drupal's brightest and most active members. This was a week of contrasts for me and now that I'm back home, I can't help but acknowledge that there was something different about attending a Drupal meetup in comparison to other meetups, workshops, and conferences I've attended in my fields of interest, information technology and atmospheric science.
I have a long history of using Windows and Linux systems at my place of work. I'm not into Windows bashing as the operating system and other Microsoft software historically has been a much needed standard for the business world. When my workplace had a choice of either installing a Windows 2003 server or a Linux server to support administrative functions, I chose Windows over Linux. However, as much as I wanted to see Windows Vista succeed in the office, I just don't see a future with Vista. Vista reminds me too much of Windows ME.
Last October, Packt Publishing sent me one of their latest books on the Plone CMS, Professional Plone Development. This is a book I had been saving for review until I had a chance to install and use Plone myself. Plone is one of those CMS that I've really wanted to learn more about by installing it on the server myself. Unfortunately, too many things on my "I want" list have had to compete with my "I need" list and I never got around to installing Plone. With no Plone on the server, I unfortunately never got around to reviewing the Plone book written by Martin Aspeli either.
This book is aimed at "developers who want to build content-centric web applications leveraging Plone’s proven user interface and flexible infrastructure". Given the fact that I haven't installed Plone myself, I can't honestly give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the book. However, what I can do is talk a little about the book and let you decide for yourself if this book is worthy of your hard earned money.
A few days ago, I mentioned that "Drupal 6 feels ready to me" for public release. Evidently, that was more than feeling as Drupal 6 was released early Wednesday morning.
As a user of Drupal, let me start by saying thank you to all the developers and advocates that brought Drupal 6 to light. I've been watching Drupal 6 grow from a distance this past year and have made some observations. There is a lot more sweat, tears, and love put into Drupal than most outsiders realize. Those of us that have used Drupal during the past six years owe a lot to those of you active in the Drupal community.
You can check out the release announcement at Drupal.org for all the new features and enhancements that have been rolled into Drupal 6. Let's look at some of the highlighted features in Drupal 6 which I've listed below.
Improved Web-based installer - First introduced in Drupal 5, but not really completed until Drupal 6.
Drag-and-drop administration - The drag-and-drop interface is available for blocks, menu items, forums, taxonomy terms, uploaded files, input formats, profile fields, and more.
Actions and triggers - Customize how your site responds the way you want it to respond.
Support for OpenID - With OpenID, login to all your favorite websites and forget about the online paperwork.
Update Status module - No more having to check Drupal.org's "Browse by Date" tab to see if the modules or themes you're using needs to be updated.
Improved theming - Drupal has always been a developer's CMS, now it has finally earned the right to also be called a themer's CMS. Theming for Drupal is finally in par with Joomla and Wordpress (IMHO).
"Make your boss happy" security improvements - Password strength checking, Granular permissions, PHP input format secured, and a community backed security team.
Performance improvements on the "inside" as well as the "outside" - For example, performance improvements in the past from Drupal's built-in caching were directed at those users not logged into the system (anonymous users). Now logged in users can also enjoy these improvements as caching covers them too.
Usability taken seriously - Improved polls, forums, path alias managment, anonymous commenting, teaser handling (no need to remember
Alfresco Software released a press release on the results of a survey by them intended to help determine "how companies evaluate and deploy open source and proprietary software stacks in the enterprise". There is some very interesting numbers summarized in the press release that should be of interest to not only using those Alfresco products, but to almost anyone using enterprise software. Some of the more interesting numbers and statistics pulled from the study:
Operating system: “Users evaluate on a Windows laptop and deploy on Linux” – 41% of evaluations were on Windows, dropping to 26% for deployments, whereas 51% of deployments were on Linux.
Linux: “Ubuntu and Red Hat pull away, SUSE remains flat by comparison in the US” – Ubuntu 24%, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 21%.
Windows: “Users stick with XP and 2003, Vista lags at 2%” – XP 63%, Windows 2003 28%.
Databases: “Sun still shines on MySQL” – MySQL 60%, Oracle 14%, MS SQL Server 13%.
I especially find it interesting that while open source MySQL is the dominate database used on the enterprise, two propriety database systems (Oracle and MS SQL) follow. I wonder where PostGresSQL falls on the list? But wait, there are two points I want to make about this study.
Yesterday evening, I spent about two hours updating my site from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 RC 4 for another weekend test at my site. About 30 minutes was spent backing up the site and installing Drupal 6. The rest of my time was spent with tweaking things via Drupal's admin menus as well as looking at the contributed modules and themes available for D6. I'm currently using the Salamander theme and only two contributed modules, Image and CAPTCHA. I also spent some time placing snippets of PHP code in my blocks to replace many of the functions I was doing with Views. The end result is that with only two hours of work, I am just fine running CMSReport.com on Drupal 6
As I said last week, it's amazing how many people overlook the power of Drupal...even without its contributed modules. Yes, I'll be glad when the Views, Panels, and even the TinyMCE contributed modules are ready to use with Drupal 6. But I've always looked at contributed modules as modules of convenience and not necessity. I'm convinced that most people do not have to wait for Views to move onto Drupal 6. Views only automated a number of SQL tasks that can easily be done with PHP. Some Drupal users are going to object when I say it is "easy" because they are not PHP developers, but you know what, I'm not a PHP developer either. In fact, I'm kind of slow, but I seem to manage along just fine with D6.
As usual during this period of the development process, people are wondering if the new version of Drupal is ready to be released or if there will be another release candidate. Whether this is the last release candidate or not for Drupal 6 I'm not sure anyone can really say. All I will say is Drupal 6 feels ready to me.