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.
Dries Buytaert recently posted his Fields in core code sprint debrief, in which he mentions toying with the idea of organizing a Drupal.org upgrade sprint at Acquia. This is what Dries has to say:
All things considered, this [Fields in core] sprint was a big success, and I'm now toying with organizing a "drupal.org upgrade" sprint at Acquia during the last week of January. The goal would be to upgrade drupal.org from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6, and make progress on the drupal.org redesign work. Is anyone interested in participating in or helping fund this sprint? If so, more soon.
From my previous involvement and blog posts, it is probably not big news that I am very interested in helping out with that. Are you?
Just over a week ago, I've been in New Orleans to talk about multilingual Drupal website building at the Do It With Drupal event organized by Lullabot. I've been happy to join fellow Acquians for a short time at the office and then at the Do It With Drupal seminar to represent the company. It was a fun experience to hook up with so many other people looking into using Drupal for the first time or even selling Drupal services already. It was a good mix, and was a very different target audience compared to Drupalcons. This event was more focused on the path seekers and the beginners with high detail and cross-discipline talks over four days. I've enjoyed several sessions, including Robert's session on Solr.
Unfortunately (for my enjoyment of the conference), my session was at one of the last slots, but it had a good turnout nonetheless. I've been prepared well in advance with a completely rethought line of thought (compared to previous, more developer focused events), and a slideshow done from the ground up. So despite talking about this topic before elsewhere, I needed to have a totally fresh look at the topic and present all the latest developments to date.
Since I do not have the permissions to upload my session to the website of the event, and the slides I sent in by email were not uploaded yet, I figured I'd better share them here with those eager to look into them soon. Happy holiday's reading if you are about to take time to learn more about multilingual Drupal solutions!
In first of a series of posts, I'd like to go ahead and talk about project handling functionality, one of the most important tools behind Drupal.org. At this moment, Drupal.org is running Drupal 5, and a big chunk of modules which don't have a Drupal 6 version to migrate to on Drupal.org is the project module family: project (also includes project_release and project_usage), project_issue, pift_server, cvslog and even comment_upload.
Except the comment_upload module (which allows file uploads on comments in a general way), maintenance for these modules are headed by Derek Wright and Chad Phillips. An outstanding thing about these modules is that they keep improving and being adjusted to user needs. Automated testing integration tools were developed and keep improving, so patches submitted against Drupal 7 get automated testing. This is just plain great. However, all this huge amount of motion is going on in the Drupal 5 version of the module. And given that Drupal.org needs a stable environment, it takes considerable effort to maintain a stable Drupal 5 branch with all these feature improvements and changes coming in.
While these modules do not even have a Drupal 6 branch yet, Adam Light went ahead and worked on a Drupal 6 port for project module. He hosts this in his own private Subversion repository (see http://drupal.org/node/157694#comment-891587 and the rest of the comments there). Since he started off long ago from a then current version of the module and implemented Views integration (instead of the one-off SQL based pages in the Drupal 5 version), the Drupal 6 port has a largely refactored codebase and does not carry the improvements made to the Drupal 5 version since then.
The lead maintainers however are at this point more interested in working on a new stable release for Drupal 5, given that some bigger changes they are planning to make would be easier to manage on their own instead of as part of a bigger porting and migration work to a new Drupal version and to a Views based backend. This gets us to a message of "please help with a new stable Drupal 5 release of project module before Drupal 6 work can be considered". While these patches are relatively big, they are far from how big of a monster patch is the Drupal 6 upgrade. All-in-all the possibly awkward conclusion is that maintainers look for help with the Drupal 5 version before Drupal 6 work can be started.
For concrete action items, Adam Light summarizes it well:
Creating a D6 branch itself will not really unblock things. Hunmonk or I could also do that ourselves. However, the ported code that is currently in my SVN repository contains a *lot* of changes, and all of us agree that those changes should not just blindly be checked into the project cvs repository without at least some review.
Yes, we all realize that this is a non-ideal situation, and that the port is moving much slower than anyone of us would like. The best way anyone could help move the port forward would be by helping to write or review patches for any issue not yet finished in the list of things to do before the next 5.x release. Mostly, that means reviewing the $node namespace patches in the issue I linked to above. The unfortunate part of this issue is that it is huge, but really boring. And none of the sites run by the project* maintainers use a combination of modules that actually causes this bug to reveal itself. But at the same time, we realize that lots of project* users *do* use such a combination of modules (eg. they use pathauto with project), and so we need to fix this bug soon.
So there are numerous big issues affecting Drupal.org which will be solved as part of the Drupal 6 port, but the main issue holding back the port from even starting is an issue which does not even affect drupal.org (and therefore is not going forward on any reasonable speed).
In summary, there are difficulties in how improvements on drupal.org are expected by some people right now instead of after an upgrade, and the maintainers are taking on work on these items; and issues not affecting drupal.org holding back our most important upgrade ever. So you can help at least three ways with the project module upgrade:
Put away some of your cool feature ideas for project modules on drupal.org for now. Let's focus on porting and bugfixing or we are not going to get over new feature requests anytime soon.
Help test and fix existing issues in the Drupal 6 port of project module. It at least has Views integration issues coming from the RC2 API changes in Views. See my pending patch at http://drupal.org/node/157694#comment-1069892 which still needs work.
We definitely need your help in many ways. Let's do good for the drupal.org upgrade / redesign!