Lots of changes are starting to take place here at CMS Report. We're now running on a new version of the Drupal content management system!
Over the weekend, I decided to pull the trigger and upgrade CMSReport.com from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7. It's hard for me to believe that it has been almost half a year since Drupal 7 was released. This was a frustrating upgrade for me as I've traditionally upgraded CMS Report shortly after any new release of Drupal is out. In fact, I have sometimes upgraded a site before the release is official. As a content management system, my five-year hate-love relationship with Drupal is still going on strong.
Despite the usual learning curve associated with a major Drupal upgrade, I ran into two additional problems I've never had to face with this site. First, the CMSReport.com of today is a much more complex site to run, maintain, and upgrade then it was in 2008. With the number of readers and sponsors this site now sees, I just don't have the luxury of blowing up the site and say "oh well" lets start again. Secondly, the selection of premium or contributed themes available for Drupal 7 just plain sucks (there, I said it). I must have spent half of my upgrade time just searching for and then tweaking a Drupal 7 theme. People often complain about the lag time between a Drupal release and the availability of third-party modules. In my opinion, it is the lack of theme development going on with Drupal that is the real problem with Drupal upgrades.
In February of this year, Phase2 Technology acquired control of the popular Drupal-based Open Atrium system from its creator, Development Seed. Open Atrium is a team collaboration solution built on the Drupal CMS. Open Atrium is often used in team situations, including intranets and project management environments. The system comes with a blog, a wiki, a calendar, a to do list, a shoutbox, and a dashboard to manage it all.
We tracked down the Phase2 Technology team to ask them about their plans for Open Atrium. CEO Jeff Walpole and Product Manager Karen Borchert were kind enough to take the time to answer our questions.
Q. What are Phase2's plans for Open Atrium?
Phase2 is very excited to be involved with Open Atrium, but we did not want to move too quickly to change something so many people use and love without first serving the community and providing maintenance to its underlying module stack. Earlier this year, we released support packages around Atrium that allow more users the ability to implement and use Atrium with the help of our team's services. In the months since taking over Atrium, we've been delving more deeply into the involved and vibrant Atrium community to try to understand best what users are looking for in this product. We've talked to users about everything from technical needs to theming to documentation to community involvement. We've built some training around Atrium that we've conducted with some clients, and we're currently preparing a stable 1.0 release (it is officially still in "Beta" status). One thing that is certain is that we are looking to this community to be part of that road map and part of the growth of the product. We want to start by giving the community a more public place to see and find contributed Features that they might use for their own Atrium instances. And then we want to see more community involvement in building and improving Atrium in the future.
SubHub.com today launched its new Drupal 7-based Content Monetization Platform (CMP), featuring the world’s first Drupal-powered app store.
SubHub's new CMP enables anyone to design and launch a content website in under five minutes, and make money from their content by incorporating optional apps such as paid membership.
The app store -- the first of its kind for Drupal modules -- enables website owners to add functionality simply by selecting an app and adding it to their SubHub website. Initial apps include MailChimp, Google Analytics, content feeds and YouTube. Some of the apps are free (e.g. Google Analytics) and some of them will carry a small recurring charge (e.g. paid membership functionality).
Any developer can submit an app to the SubHub app store to be made available to SubHub’s growing network of website owners. New apps will be added regularly. SubHub will share revenues with the app developer.
“We have two core objectives. First we want to give non-technical people the opportunity to build an outstanding website using Drupal, one of the leading open-source content management solutions," said Evan Rudowski, co-founder of SubHub. "Second, we want to give Drupal developers the opportunity to make money from the modules they have spent hundreds of hours building.
"Our customers gain great functionality, and developers make money -- it's a win all around," Rudowski said.
CMS Expo in Chicago last week gave me a great opportunity to learn about a variety of content management systems. I spent most of my time at the conference getting out of my comfort zone by visiting with those companies and open source projects that I knew the least about their products and services. Unfortunately, this strategy also prevented me from visiting with my personal favorite CMS, Drupal. By the end of the conference, I felt I needed to treat myself by attending one of the final sessions in the Drupal track, "Social Drupal".
What key activities should you integrate? In what scenarios might you be smarter to leave the heavy lifting to an outsourced solution? What elements are critically important right now when building your social relevance in the market? Find this out and more at this practical advice session on how you can be using Drupal to capture the Social Media audience which awaits.
My hope for the session was that it would give me good pointers for how to connect my Drupal sites better to the social web. Lullabot's Blake Hall led this information packed session. Blake began the session by pushing his vision that this session should not just be called "Social Drupal" but also "Community Plumbing (without the crack)". The proposed rewriting of the title for this session is a reminder to the audience that Drupal has always been social.
Blake started the session reminding that one needs to take a look at the bigger picture by taking a look as your site's Social Media Strategy. This strategy would include the following elements:
Engage your audience
Activate the social media
While the big picture is always nice consider it's the details that help determine whether your site is going to succeed. From this point forward Blake focused on specifics and I feverishly did my best to keep up. Some of the notable remarks from Blake that caught my attention:
First step is to take a look at your business goals and the resources you have available when building/supporting your site. Blake of course sees Drupal as being able to address both ends of this equation.
Some of the social modules for Drupal he recommends include Feeds, Flag, Twitter, Dashboard, Fivestar, Messaging, Radioactivity (gotta check this one out!), and Organic Groups.
For the blogger, the most difficult day of the year has to be April Fools' Day. This is the day where jokes are played and stories are made up. Computer geeks and CMS junkies easily get into the spirit of this celebrated day by pulling all kinds of online pranks. One of my fondest April Fools memories is from 2007 when the official Japanese and Russian Drupal sites migrated for a day from the Drupal CMS over to Joomla!. Good times, good times. The folks over at ocProducts have gotten into the 2011 April Fools spirit by announcing ocPortal 7 with HTML6.
I need your help! Please help me keep track of all the CMS related April Fools' stories that you find online. Please feel free to add to my list by of content management pranks via a comment below or through Twitter. If you prefer to tweet the story instead I suggest we start using the Twitter hashtag: #aprilfoolscms.
List of Fake Content Management Stories on April Fools Day 2011
A couple weeks ago my family spent some vacation time at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. If you have ever been to a Disney theme park then you know full well that it takes a lot of work in those parks just to have fun. Some of the most popular rides in these parks have waiting periods of up to two hours due to the long lines of people wanting to get on board. Luckily, my wife brought a Disney tourist guidebook that gave our family the helpful hints, recommendations, and information we needed to beat those long lines. In the end, we ended up with a very enjoyable trip (so enjoyable that we got to ride Space Mountain twice!). That travel guide was a valuable asset to my family's vacation.
Mastering Drupal is very similar to visiting a theme park as it takes some effort on your part to ensure you get rewarded for your effort. If Drupal is the amusement park then consider Drupal's modules as the park's attractions you're wanting to ride. With this line of thinking, I easily recommend that you let Earl and Lynette Miles' book, Drupal's Building Blocks, be your valuable tourist guide into the wonderful world of Drupal. I only review a few books each year and this is a book I gladly invested my time reading.
Drupal's Building Blocks is a tutorial, reference, and cookbook for some of Drupal's most valuable modules including CCK (Content Construction Kit), Views, and Panels. The primary purpose of this book is to give you the quickest route to mastering the modules as quickly as you can in order to help you create more powerful, flexible, usable, and manageable Web sites. The audience for this book isn't only for Web developers or designers, but also site administrators, content architects, and consultants. There is some code in this book, but what is there isn't the scary code you often find in a developer's library.
Although I've worked with Drupal for more than half a decade, I am still among the newbies who struggle with how best to use Drupal's contributed modules. I've built several sites using CCK and Views but I've always ran into hurdles that keep me from fully discovering what these modules can do for me and my sites. This book will provide you the information you need to realize the full potential of these modules. Anybody who has seen Drupal, CCK, Views, and Panels mature over the years can't help but read this book and enjoy not only the author's technical expertise but also the author's cultural and historical understanding for how the module came to be in Drupal.
In the first chapter of the book, "Introducing CCK and Nodes", there is a section titled "Quest for the Grail: How CCK Was Born". This section alone reads like an adventure story that starts by talking about the challenges site administrators originally had with Drupal needing to acquire development skills just to control the form content would take in Drupal. The story continues with Drupal 4.4 and how a contributed module named Flexinode gave non-developers the ability to create new content types yet limitations remained. I was reminded that with Drupal 4.7 CCK became Flexinode's replacement and with each successive release of Drupal the module continues to improve. For someone like me who started with Drupal 4.6 and watched Drupal 5, 6, and now 7 evolve this book spoke to my inner geek. I simply found this book to be good bridge to the more technical aspects of CCK, Views and Panels.
UK-based website publishing company, SubHub, has launched SubHub Lite, a new Drupal 7 powered web CMS which opened its doors on November 1st in beta and which now already has a few thousand users.
SubHub Lite has been built around the concept of outstanding ease of use.
With the majority of content management systems making the assumption that their users will have a certain level of technical expertise, a lot of people who would like to build and manage their own website are left out in the cold. Why? Because they are clueless about how to install a CMS, configure plugins and modules, add design themes and generally customize what they're building.
SubHub Lite embraces any kind of user and make it as easy to set up and manage a website, even if you’re not particularly technically minded.
From an easy to use site builder, to the use of drag and drop functionality (apps) and simple design tools, the SubHub team have tried to make their Lite platform as intuitive to use as possible. As a hosted platform there’s also nothing to download or upgrade.
After three years of open source development, Drupal 7 has finally been released to the public. As Ric Shreves previously mentioned in his article, there are literally hundreds of changes in Drupal 7. I've included below a list of the more significant changes from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7. I've also included a nice Drupal 7 marketing video via Jeff Robbins at the bottom of this post. Also there is always official Drupal 7 announcement for additional information on this latest version of Drupal.
Barring any unforseen changes to how I manage this site, I expect we will be upgrading CMSReport.com from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 within the next few months. I've been playing with Drupal 7 off and on this past year, but I must confess I haven't been as aggressive in my testing of this version of Drupal as I was with Drupal 6.
Some of the more significant changes in Drupal 7 since the release of Drupal 6 include:
1. Overhaul of the User Interface
Work has been done to improve the user experience and administration interface. The new administration theme "Seven", the overlay module, the dashboard and the configurable shortcut bar, all lead to a much more user-friendly interface.
2. Custom Fields
Drupal 7 bundles in the ability to add custom fields, similar in functionality to the Content Construction Kit (CCK) module. However, fields are no longer limited only to content types; they can be added to users, taxonomy terms, and other entities. Fields also have support for translations.
3. Image Handling
Drupal 7 brings native image handling to core. Image fields may be added to content, and have image styles applied to them, such as scaling, cropping, and other effects.