What the Drupal 7 release date means

Regular readers know that I’ve been working on a Drupal 7 book for beginners. We — meaning Peachpit Press and myself — are now faced with a decision. We could release it before, after, or at the same time as Drupal 7’s release. Each option has its pitfalls. Release it too early, and it might not match the final Drupal 7 software. Too late, and we could lose the “first mover advantage” to another book.

Whatever our decision, we have to provide some date for potential distributors, booksellers, and customers. So we boldly decided we’d try to release it at the same time as Drupal 7 itself — and announced the 24 January 2010 date you currently see on Amazon.

Webchick, when asked when Drupal 7 will be released, always says “When it’s ready”. Neither she nor co-maintainer Dries will set a date at this point, and for good reason: Neither of them are in control of when “ready” will be. Of course they could release it any time they like — in an unready state. That would be bad for everyone who relies on Drupal, wants to switch to Drupal, has built a business around Drupal, who teaches or writes about Drupal… in short, bad for everybody. So their silence is as it should be.

But we, like IT professionals around the globe, still have to make decisions. In our case, we have to guess at Drupal 7’s release date a few months in advance if we’re going to hit that goal of simultaneous release. (Book publishing takes time!) And the sooner we make the decision, the better.

I’d personally love to announce the availability of Drupal 7: Visual QuickStart Guide on the same day as Drupal 7’s own release. But I’m nagged by unknowns. What would it mean if it came out early? What if it came out after a similar book? Which situation is worse?

What do you think?

18 replies on “What the Drupal 7 release date means”

Acuracy is the ticket
I wish I could say we had too many good Drupal books to choose from. That isn’t the case. I think it’s important that you have an accurate book covering the features in the official release and contrib modules. Beginners have enough problems without searching for errata sheets.

Best wishes

My 2 cents: be on the safe side…
I would shoot for a later date. Historically software releases tend to be delivered behind schedule. I hope this won’t be the case with D7 (tests should help!) but I wouldn’t bet against it. Having the additional time will also give you an opportunity to talk more about what is available in contrib. I don’t see people building larger D7 sites until at least a few months. I’m not in publishing so I have no clue if there is a first mover advantage on the marketing side.

Best of luck with the book!

Book for beginners would not touch last minute changes
The beginners I see starting with Drupal now are writing content and CSS, not PHP code. The last minute technical changes to Drupal are about fixing internal code, not changing themes and does not affect beginners. There could be admin layout/ui changes that would affect them and I would look through issues posted in that area.

All the modules of interest are available for D6. Some are going into core and will look the same. Image support and fields will look different to their ancestors. Your book should be stable when those two items have stable admin pages.

If D7 is delayed, there are a lot of people who will still want the book to prepare new sites using a D7 beta with a view to launching their sites as soon as D7 is declared stable. There are also a pile of Web students who should start their 2010 courses using D7 instead of D6. I have 6 people to introduce to Drupal in November and will get them started on D7, not D6. I would buy them a decent D7 starter book now if there were one in the shops.

Books might seem old fashion to some but most students have notebooks and cannot fit on the screen their lesson outline, three drupal.org documentation pages, an editor window, and the Web browser showing the result. Visual guides replace the first four items, leaving the notebook screen free for the remaining two windows.

Good points
Good points — and you seem to be the only person saying that there’s value in coming out early. ๐Ÿ™‚

Regarding the UI issue, I was reminded the other day that there’s a UI/string freeze on 15 November. That suggests that screen shots will be stable from that point on — unless an intractable bug forces Dries and webchick to remove functionality. That’s my big fear.

Thanks again!

I will give more margin..
I will give more margin.. ร‚ยฟFebruary? and better focus your efforts to make a quality polished book, not “first mover adventage” … that sounds, sorry to say, like a looser mentality. like the people who make comments “First!” in digg. Be first (for some days) is not all. What is important is that when compared with other “D7 books”, yours is the best.

That’s my opinion.

PS. I see that ur book is going to be based a lot in screenshots. Will be quite bad that screenshots don’t correspond to the reality.

First is actually not best – Lets look at D6
How many books on D6 would you purchase that were published in 2008? All the authors of those books really knew were the API changes and the improved interface. Now, after building thousands of sites on D6, there emerges the obvious building blocks of D6: Content Types, CCK, Views, Ubercart, … wait … what makes Drupal great isn’t just core?

Yep, beginners actually don’t care as much about core as you might think. So what’s the problem here? Very few contrib modules have made the transition. We don’t know yet what March or April will hold for the contrib universe. I would strike at the three-to-five month mark AFTER it’s released. You’ll have super stable screenshots for Core, you’ll be releasing a book that thousands of people will be wishing they had as it’s now time to “kick the tires.”

People are afraid of change, and those that aren’t won’t make use of your book. The silent majority will wait a few months (maybe more) and then go on a hunt for books that can help them get started.

You know how to drum up some awesome anticipation? Release a FREE 10-step visual guide to starting with Drupal 7 on the day after screen and text string freeze. Early adopters will flock, just to “see the new shiny thing” and then you can plug your book due to be released “when it’s ready” (people will laugh).

Thanks for the thoughtful response, particularly the promotion idea. I’m making sure the Peachpit folks see this. ๐Ÿ™‚

UI Freeze
There will be a UI freeze at 15 november 2009, see http://drupal.org/node/578446; so the documentation team can start writing documentation with screenshots that won’t change anymore. So after that date the UI should be ok for your book.

The only thing that would worry me is that Earl Miles (Views) has not signed the d7cx (http://drupal.org/project/modules?solrsort=sort_title%20asc&text=d7cx&display=table) promise to be ready with views on the day Drupal 7 launches. And a book that does not talks about Views will be a bit limited.

Seeing that D7 is yet to be,
Seeing that D7 is yet to be, where are you with you book release date decision making ;?)

I’m basically just on hold.
I’m watching the Critical Issues count and waiting for a Release Candidate before continuing. (We’re going to sit out the alphas and betas.) Then I’ll work as quickly as possible to get it done. Thanks for your interest!

Thanks for the link
Here’s another: http://drupal7releasedate.com . It appeared long after I wrote this post. Its predictions are calculated from regressions based on how fast bugs have been fixed up until this point.

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