Drupal.org is in need of some makeup, and we know this quite well. It runs on the old and stable Drupal 5 codebase, while Drupal 6 is out for almost one year (and is just as stable but way more useful especially with all the new contributed modules). Drupal.org also sports a design which was last refreshed in 2005. So it does not really give justice to the software it helps to flourish. Therefore the Drupal Association hired Mark Boulton to help with a community based redesign of the site, and the results are outstanding. Now people from the community need to get together and actually implement it.
We are set out to make progress quickly, so Dries Buytaert decided to organize a series of developer sprints where people get together and plan and execute on the redesign. First we need to upgrade drupal.org to Drupal 6, so that we can work with up-to-date APIs to implement the new features. Then we can move on to actually implementing the redesign.
Thanks to Acquia letting me put some of my time on this job and my scheduling over the holidays and some free time put on these tasks, I've contributed work (to upgrading the existing theme, eliminate modules, help upgrade some other modules, etc) and had quite a few overviews, blog posts and call for actions. Now, these code sprints will actually get the real people together, so for example, two lead maintainers to the project module suite will be in the same room to implement, discuss and review updates to Drupal 6. We expect to make good progress this way.
However, your help is still needed! While some exceptional companies help fund and plan this sprint already, we need more funding for some of the people and also other members of the community who are willing to join and do the work. Sprints will happen in Cologne, Boston and Paris over the next few weeks (exact timing and more details in the drupal.org front page post); and we expect we will continue working on it while in Washington DC for Drupalcon and onwards. We found these places with people to help in mind, not so that we can travel around the globe (there is little overlap between the North-American and European sprints in terms of people, but some overlap is required for consistency in setting goals and planning). I've already contributed to the chipin and encourage you to do so!
If you are more into help doing the work, and you're available to attend one of these sprints, and if you have the time and dedication to work on the drupal.org redesign before, during and after the code sprints, join the redesign infrastructure team and let Dries know in the comments of the drupal.org post, and we'll figure out how and when you can best participate.
The most exciting move in Acquia for me so far just happened a few days ago. We rolled out what was called "Big tent" internally, and means much wider support for all Drupal 6 sites. As Dries points out in his blog post, we used to support our Acquia Drupal distribution via forums, tickets and phone support. However, we found that virtually all sites will use other modules, custom code and themes, tweaks to existing code.
I've immediately jumped on the new 6.5 release of the Netbeans IDE when it was released with much fanfare about its PHP support. Netbeans is a free to use IDE sponsored by Sun. I've used it years ago to edit XML documents, but did not look back on it ever since. Now it does indeed have nice PHP syntax highlighting, context sensitive code suggestions and debugger support as you'd expect from a PHP IDE.
One of my first new year's readings was Dries' reflection post on 2008 which includes predictions for 2009. One of the predictions is that he sees Drupal 7 to be released in the last quarter of 2009. He predicts pain but a strong outcome.
I predict that Drupal 7 will be released in the fourth quarter of 2009. The two most exciting features in Drupal 7 core will be custom content types and radical improvements in usability. To reduce the risk of important modules falling behind in support or update path, a significant portion of the Content Construction Kit (CCK) related modules will move to core and we'll pave the way for the Views modules. The same holds true for other important contributed modules, including token module, path auto module, and image handling functionality. In 2009, core becomes bigger, not smaller. The Drupal 7 code freeze will be longer than expected regardless our new continuous test framework, and the upgrade path to Drupal 7 will be more painful than hoped for. But like always, we'll come out stronger than before...
Two key takeaways to spread from my mind are that:
You should seriously move to Drupal 6 instead of staying on older versions, in anticipation of a new major Drupal release around the corner. The key modules are already out, and they are amazingly more useful then their Drupal 5 or earlier counterparts. The action happens in the contributed modules area!
The doors for your work on Drupal 7 are wide open! You should not hold back big ideas on the grounds of a shortly coming Drupal 7 release. We still have time to design and discuss bigger changes. No wonder the fields in core effort needs time to stabilize and achieve "CCK in core" on higher levels that we anticipated before.
Happy upgrading Drupal 5 sites, working on Drupal 6 modules and contributing to Drupal 7 core in 2009!
I've helped recently to unfork the Bluebeach theme (the theme used on Drupal.org and subsites) which was used with different code on drupal.org and groups.drupal.org. So now both sites can use the same source code for their theming. I've also ported the changes to the Drupal 6 port of the theme which was done by Earl Miles earlier, based on the Drupal 5 version. These were all in anticipation of doing upgrades of drupal.org and subsites with the existing theme before going to the next step with Mark Boulton's redesign.