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Drupal 8 Open Source CMS Starts to Take Shape

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Posted March 9, 2011 By Sean Michael Kerner     Feedback

The open source content management system used by Congress and the White House plans its next major release.

After three years of development, the open source Drupal 7 content management system debuted earlier this year. Drupal developers aren't resting on their laurels and are now beginning to plan for Drupal 8.

Speaking at that annual DrupalCon conference this week, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert detailed what lessons were learned in the Drupal 7 development process and how those lessons will be applied to Drupal 8. Drupal is among the most popular open source content management systems in use today and is used by Whitehouse.gov, Mozilla and NASA, among others.

Buytaert noted that the Drupal 7 release process extended far beyond its initial expected timeframe of 18 months. Among the biggest challenges that Drupal developers faced while building Drupal 7 were a large number of critical bugs which took a significant time to fix. Buytaert also stressed that the project needs to have better priorities in order to deliver a more predictable release cycle. He also noted that Drupal needs to put performance considerations first and not treat it as an afterthought.

Development is now beginning on Drupal 8 and Buytaert is restructuring the project to ensure that the lessons of Drupal 7 are not forgotten. Dealing with bugs is one of Buytaert's top priorities.

"At no point in time will there be more than 15 critical bugs," Buytaert said. "I will not pull in a big change if we know there are known bugs. This gives us the ability to do timely releases because we know at most the release is only 15 critical bugs away from being ready."

From a technology perspective, Buytaert is also refocusing Drupal to be a platform for delivering any type of content to any device. Current iterations of Drupal are focused on the desktop. Moving forward for Drupal 8, the goal is for the platform to be able to output to any number of different devices including smartphones, tablets, TVs and desktop computers.

Broadly speaking, Buytaert also stressed that the future of Drupal isn't just about have more features, it's also about building the ecosystem of users, developers and partners.

"If there are two equally capable platforms, Drupal and something else, the platform that will be adopted is the one with the best ecosystem," Buytaert said.

As part of building a better ecosystem, Buytaert noted that Drupal project will be taking a different approach to development in Drupal 8, by empowering initiative owners to make more decisions.

"The biggest risk to Drupal is getting so big that we become slow," Buytaert said. "Our ability to be open to change, accept change and be agile is key."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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