And now for something completely different: Drupal – the quiet revolution

Like most people in the Drupal community, I have done my fair share of drooling over the Drupal 6.0 released milestone, and it is undoubtedly an awesome achievement. My impression is that it is a focused release, much better usability, from installation, to admin drag and drop, to password strength monitoring… to performance improvements. It kind of takes Drupal to the point of being more "together". Check it out (download) and see for yourself.

That said… I have a few thoughts to share, coming from one of the regular working stiffs who are actually working with Drupal in small independent shops to get sites out the door.

The best way of putting things is, like some wise man said, the new cannot arise until the old has been completely exhausted. Which is a euphemism for (and I quote myself):

Drooling aside, the "semi-core" indispensable modules won’t be production ready for a few months yet. So our policy is, for the moment, build solidly with Drupal 5.x (85% of Drupal 6 stuff is available, in one form or another, in Drupal 5) and offer free upgrades to Drupal 6 (you done it in one big site, you done it in all your sites).

Another thing: the "old" Drupal has recently undergone a mind blowing jaw dropping quiet revolution, overshadowed by the Drupal 6.0 release, but of tremendous consequence to all working with this framework: many moons ago we could use, first cck + views, then i18n in Drupal 5.x; more recently, pathauto thoroughly renovated and ironed out, now we got FeedAPI + Feed Element Mapper, a now thoroughly usable Hierarchical Select for taxonomy browsing (works in exposed filters in views), Panels 2 and nodequeue (a quiet revolution in itself), and very soon Views 2, … (and the list goes on).

This just goes to show the incredible power of the Drupal community and the product of its labor, the Drupal CMS and Web Application Framework. Panels 2 absolutely revolutionizes the way people can work with layouts in Drupal, practically overriding (but still able to utilize) the old block system, for example. Will definitely be one of my topics coming up shortly.

Actually I will be writing a series of "quiet revolution" articles on how I have used a number of really mind blowing recent developments in Drupal modules to get stuff done. I think it will stand in refreshing contrast to some of the we hope not overrated excitement concerning certain stock market speculation bubbles which are emerging here and there. We hope the cute little Drupal "drop" will not become, in some circles at any rate, a huge bloated balloon being bounced around all the speculation and venture capital venues all dressed up with nowhere to go in the context of the looming U.S. and hence world recession, and in the face of a challenging world for techies: the Yahoo layoffs, for a start… the destruction of whole companies looming under the guise of hostile takeovers (like (Microsoft || Murdoch) && Yahoo)… someone has to say it 🙂 … enough said for present, let’s see how this pans out…

So, as I said I will be writing a series of articles, and the first one will be:

Taxonomy reconsidered (or how I overcame bloated cck nodereference abuse)

which will explain powerful 5.x mashups based on a number of modules and tools, together with a concept: RDF, XML in general, OPML in particular, FOF… working with pure hierarchies is powerful stuff! And Drupal (the "old" Drupal) has got it right under the hood (plus views :). And the tools to match:

    full lineage support! flashy dependent dropdowns… apart from node edit forms, also views and exposed filters support… almost ready for version 2 stable release.
    ok, it’s not quite Drupal 6.0 drag and drop yet, but this summer of code module is a great, usable GUI tool!
  • + +
  • adequate tools for Drupal taxonomy <==> OPML/human XML/YAML conversion / and/or import export of taxonomy…
  • choose or fashion some kind of module to relate taxonomy terms to cck fields on a permanent basis, leveraging both functionalities, the lite-weight outline managment system, on the one hand, and the entity relationships of cck on the other.
  • this list goes on… we’ll be showing some concrete examples of…

…the quiet revolution…