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.
Recieved an e-mail a couple days ago from ATutor.ca that that there is a new version of ATutor available, version 1.6. ATutor is an open source learning content management system (LCMS or sometimes just LMS). As the project describest, with Atutor "educators can quickly assemble, package, and redistribute Web-based instructional content, easily import prepackaged content, and conduct their courses online. Students learn in an adaptive learning environment."
Jeff WhatCott, Acquia, asked some important and thought provoking questions on his blog, "A Dormant Drupal Opportunity". While the post focuses on Drupal, I think the contents of his post can apply to almost any content management system (CMS) out there.
In the article, Jeff asks whether defining Drupal as a CMS does more harm than good in describing the scope of features Drupal has to offer. In his words, the term CMS is a "20th century term that completely undersells what Drupal is capable of" as social software and a means for collaboration. Considering I really didn't understand what a CMS was until the 21st century, I beg to differ that the term CMS is as ancient as he makes it sound. However, he is entirely correct...many of today's Web applications that we call a CMS, really are not just a CMS.
Jeff asks three questions in his post:
Do you think we should put the CMS term to bed?
Would it be possible to grab some of that team collaboration social software market opportunity for the Drupal community?
Why isn’t there already a billion dollar Drupal services ecosystem for team collaboration? What’s missing?
While I appreciate comments here, please be sure to go over to Jeff's post and respond there too. In fact, if you only want to comment at one site...go there so we don't steal any of Jeff's "thunder". I've already made my comments at his site and I've attached my response to the above questions below.
I'm looking forward to evaluating the new FeedAPI module for Drupal. Though one feature I haven't seen in any of the aggregators I've seen so far for Drupal...a way to snip the original RSS feed. Some sites provide you the entire post in the RSS feed with no teaser. This may be great for the reader, but I'm not sure everyone is happy to see their entire post on someone else's site.
From time to time, I've hacked the core to get me closer to how I would like the content from an RSS feed to display at my site. There has to be another way and perhaps FeedAPI could by my solution...
After being in development for about seven months, we released FeedAPI 1.0 nearly two weeks ago! This is really exciting for me and everyone else who has been craving a more flexible aggregator for Drupal.
A complete copy and paste from Asa Dotzler's blog, but given the interest open source parents may have...I don't think he will mind.
Today, my good friends at Glaxstar have released Glubble 1.0 -- the parental control suite for the Firefox web browser.
But it's more than just parental controls; it's the best way to harness the most important social network there is, your family, to bring just the right parts of the web into your household, and it's the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your young ones are using the very latest in safe and secure internet technologies, produced and supported by the largest open source community in the world.
As most Drupal users already know by now, Drupal 6 is currently at a Release Candidate 3 stage of development. For the Drupal community, this is a time when the developers are wanting people to test, report, and help fix any bugs found in these development version of the Drupal software. At this stage of development, Drupal.org still does not recommend Drupal 6 to be ran on the production server.
As with everything still in development, we do not recommend running release candidates on a live site. Also, always be sure to make a backup of your data before performing any upgrade or starting testing.
Although, I started CMS Report with a beta version of Drupal 4.7, I was a little more cautious when it came time to upgrade to Drupal 5. During the past few months, I've been very cautious in running the site live with Drupal 6 as I haven't wanted to distract visitors to this site from their routine due to a Drupal meltdown.