2 June 2010
In preparing a “Drupal 7: New Features” video series for lynda.com, I decided to go waaaay back to when we were just starting to plan Drupal 7. Lo and behold, Dries wrote a blog post in February 2008, a few weeks before Drupal 6 was released, with a list of features he wanted to see in Drupal 7.
Now we’re pretty darn close to Drupal 7’s release. How’re we doing? I think we can break down his 11 points into three categories: Done, Sort Of Done, and Not Done. (Special thanks to chx (Károly Négyesi) for providing some details via IRC.)
- Usability improvements comprise the most-visible changes. The intense work of many people resulted in great advances, with Acquia‘s funding of Mark Boulton Design providing strong direction.
- Custom content types in core: Win! Most of Content Construction Kit (CCK) is now part of Drupal 7, although that popular module will continue to be available for some functions that didn’t get into core.
- Automatic upgrade functionality: This is a HUGE win, making Drupal more accessible to people without the knowledge or access to make direct changes on their web server.
- Better internal APIs: I’m not a qualified to talk about these from first-hand knowledge, but chx and Heine gave two convincing examples: the new database layer, which allows Drupal to connect to any database, with the appropriate driver; and stream wrappers, which let Drupal treat remote files as though they’re local.
Sort Of Done
- Better media handling: Media handling in Drupal 6 stank, and there’s no denying that it’s a lot better in Drupal 7. Before, you had to add several contributed modules — CCK, ImageField, ImageAPI, FileField, and ImageCache — to do the most mundane tasks. Those have all been incorporated into Drupal 7 to some extent, with intelligent defaults. Further, the built-in Article content type includes space for a single graphic. However, it’s a far cry from the sort of media handling that would be possible with a true WYSIWYG editor that allows you to place as much media as you want, wherever you want it.
- Better external APIs (import/export, web services): This is another area that I’m unqualified to talk about directly. chx says this “deserves a tick, too” because of such matters as delivery callback. But I haven’t heard much else about this point, and welcome clarifications.
- Better tools to structure/organize content show up in the improved user interface. For example, clicking “Content” in the toolbar takes you straight to a list of content on your site, whereas that took at least two clicks in Drupal 6. Other changes, such as fields in core, affect content management. But there’s nothing really groundbreaking here.
- Better performance: As Dries stated at DrupalCon San Francisco (and was reported elsewhere), Drupal 7 is actually slower than Drupal 6. On the other hand, changes to caching and storage make it far more scalable, so perhaps for large sites performance is “better”.
- Basic Views like module: Not in core. I’m sure it’ll be in Acquia Drupal, and a SimpleViews-like module will be in Drupal Gardens.
- Improved node access system. I haven’t seen any evidence of this. Could anyone comment?