Drupal 7 launched this week!

Drupal 7 launched this week!

Drupal 7

Drupal 7 is out!

Late Tuesday night was one of the most exciting Drupal events I've yet to be part of: the official release of Drupal 7. I've been working on the Drupal 7 documentation for over a year at this point, and crunching really hard the last few weeks on the Install and Upgrade guides, and core module documentation. I knew the day was coming, but it was even more inspiring than expected being a part of those last few days and hours leading up to the launch.

When Angie (aka. "webchick", Drupal 7's core maintainer) started rolling the release, it was quite obvious how excited everyone was on IRC, as this went on for about five minutes straight after she created the final release:

D7 Release IRC log

After some final cramming to get the rest of the launch related pages on updated (Lisa Rex, Bojhan Somers, Steve Karsch and Neil Drumm really deserve a special thank you, a they did a fantastic job getting that finished!), the launch page was finally published. Then the official tweet went out and the community rejoiced!

You can see a great list of all the contributors to the core Drupal 7 code on the homepage (for as long as it's up). We're really proud to have four of the Affinity Bridge crew listed on there among the almost 1000 contributors: Shawn (langworthy), Tylor (tylor), Tom (thegreat), and I (arianek) all contributed core patches along the way.

I know I've only been a party to a fraction of all the hard work that has gone into making Drupal 7 as fantastic as it is, but it's been such a great learning experience and wonderful way of getting familiar with the changes in Drupal 7 even before it launched.

What this means for us

We started planning for, and developing in, Drupal 7 ahead of the launch as soon as it was feasible. This has helped us start to get up to speed on the changes early, as well as provide our clients the benefit of one less upgrade to do in the next few years (especially since the Drupal 6 to 7 upgrade has a lot of big changes). It has also allowed us to help out a bit with finding bugs with the early Drupal 7 release candidates.

Drupal 7 core has a ton of improvements that impact both us (as a development team) and our clients (as end-users), and we're excited to transition to it. If you're relatively technical, I strongly encourage you to watch this fun and informative Drupal 7 Overview video from Lullabot (which is available free until Jan. 12, 2011). Some of the highlights of what I'm most excited about are:

  • There's been a ton of improvements to the user interface (UI). 
    • The new administrative overlay, allows site administrators to perform some administrative tasks without navigating to the admin section of the site. 
    • There are also new contextual links, which allow you to do things like modify the content of a block right from any page of the site, without having to go to the admin section of the site.
    • The new admin dashboard and shortcuts bar make navigating the admin area more intuitive, and allow you to set up a collection of custom links for admin pages you visit frequently.
  • Fields in core!
    • The Custom Content Kit (CCK) module from previous versions, which allowed you to configure additional content types is now part of core as the Field module/Field API, and updated Field UI.
    • Image handling in core! At long last, you can add image fields (with fancy cropping, resizing, and other manipulations) to content types in core without installing a single additional module! Fantastic!
  • Update manager is the new and improved version of the Update status module. Now, not only will it tell you what's out of date and provide a link to the recommended version, but you can install and update modules and themes through the admin interface! How cool is that?! 
  • The improved installer and default install profiles make installing Drupal 7 so quick and easy! The standard install profile takes care of a bunch of extra configuration that it didn't used to, and you can also select the minimal profile if you are a developer and want to start with a stripped down to the basics install.
  • We now have both public and private files at the same time by default. This means that it's easy to set up the site so some or all of the files you upload are private and can't be downloaded off the website from an unauthenticated user. This will be great for people who want to have collections of private or internal documents for their organizations, without having to worry someone could find them through a URL, or that they might get indexed in search engines.
  • RDFa in core. I've been working on wrapping my head around the semantic web and RDF for a while, and finally had an "aha" moment at Lin Clark's talk at DrupalCon Copenhagen in the summer. This is really exciting stuff! The basic idea is that RDFa adds markup that turns sites into structured data that can then be referenced by other sites. It basically turns all websites using RDF into a big shared database that can be cross-referenced. This is fascinating as far as the future of the web, as it will continue to increase collaboration between different sites and organizations, and help allow for single sourcing of information on the internet (ie. if you change something in one place, it self-updates wherever that information is being referenced).
  • On the much more technical side, there are things like:
    • The minimum of PHP 5.2.4 for the server requirements has allowed for a more object oriented (OO) system. This means that more kinds of content, not just nodes (pages, articles) but also users, taxonomy (ie. "tags"), and comments are now what are referred to as "fieldable entities". So before, where we used to only be able to add extra fields to nodes, we can now for example add extra fields to taxonomy terms, or comments.
    • More options as far as what kind of database you can use because of the DBTNG ("Database The Next Generation", the new db abstraction layer in Drupal 7).
    • Various security improvements
  • Theme improvements mean nicer looking, more interactive, efficiently built themes.
    • jQuery in core means lots of nice looking fancy UI and design elements that don't need Flash.
    • Fantastic new default themes ship with core, makes for great looking admin backend, and nice looking, usable out-of-the-box theme for your site.
    • New theme system opens up even more doors for the possibilities when you build custom themes (like we do for all of our clients).
  • Automated testing coverage! Drupal 7 core has fantastic coverage by the built in Testing (aka. Simpletest) framework - sleep well knowing that all of core is working as it should!

For more details, you can also watch the overview video on the Drupal 7 release page, or there's also a pretty detailed article on Linux User Magazine (just make sure to find the pager at the bottom of the body text, there are 4 pages to the article).

Finally, for anyone in and around Vancouver, come celebrate the Drupal 7 Release tonight at the D7 Release Party!