Drupal upgrade to be slower but more scalable

Founder of the Drupal project details plans for the open source content management system

Drupal, the popular open source Web content management system, will sacrifice speed for scalability in the upcoming Drupal 7 upgrade, the founder of the project said on Monday afternoon.

The upgrade to Drupal, meanwhile, could be available perhaps in the June timeframe or as late as September, said Drupal project founder Dries Buytaert in a presentation at the Drupalcon SF conference in San Francisco. Ideally, version 7 would be available this month, he said.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Open Sources blogger Savio Rodrigues explores whether the Open Government Directive will boost Drupal usage. ]

"Unfortunately, Drupal 7 will be a little slower than Drupal 6, but it will be much more scalable" and able to power bigger sites, Buytaert said.

A slower Drupal did not upset conference attendee Jerome Hughes, a freelance developer. "He's also talking about it being able to scale," Hughes said, "so when he says it's slower it means out of the box. "

If version 7 is easier to develop with but a little but slower out of the box, then the speed reduction "is probably not going to be that big of a deal," Hughes said.

Buytaert reflected on the emergence of Drupal as well as where it is headed. The immediate upgrade, Drupal 7, features 70 modules, including an image API, and a substantial growth in code size, said Buytaert.

Buytaert stressed the urgency of Drupal 7. "First of all, it's very important that we get it out as soon as possible" to maintain momentum, he said.

Currently, Drupal powers about 1 percent of Websites, trailing WordPress, which runs about 8.5 percent of the Web, according to Buytaert.

For the subsequent Drupal 8 upgrade, developers are seeking enterprise capabilities, including configuration management and staging, Buytaert said. Usability and performance improvements will be needed for both high- and low-end Drupal sites, he said.

Companies such as IBM and Microsoft are getting behind Drupal, with IBM releasing a number of Drupal sites and Microsoft making moves such as backing the Acquia Drupal distribution and linking the SQL Server database to Drupal.

"I think it's another example of the big elephants stepping into the game and investing in Drupal," said Buytaert.

Also on the horizon for the Drupal project is a shift from the CVS (Concurrent Versions System) for software revision control to the Git distributed revision control system. The switch will be made probably during the Drupal 8 development cycle, Buytaert said. "I think it will give us new ways of working together," he said.

Buytaert offered little optimism for the future of proprietary CMS, which require license fees. "I think long-term, open source will win," he said.

Buytaert also hailed the emergence of the Semantic Web, which is intended to link documents contextually on the Web; RDF (Resource Description Framework), enabling information to be pulled from other Websites; and cloud computing and SaaS. He is CTO and founder of Acquia, which is developing a hosted version of Drupal called Drupal Gardens.

"I'm very passionate about cloud computing and SaaS," he said, calling it a new stage in computing.

Currently, there are 19 different distributions of Drupal. Buytaert lauded the culture built around Drupal as well as its growth. "It's a culture of sharing and collaboration, and it's absolutely key to everything we do," he said.

"When I started Drupal [10 years ago], I didn't have a grand vision for the project at all," said Buytaert, adding he expected it would be used by only 10 people.

The San Francisco conference has attracted 3,000 attendees but some people could not make it because of the volcano in Iceland, which has disrupted air traffic in Europe, Buytaert said. This has led to staging of local Drupal conventions instead in places such as Antwerp and London, he added.

"It's really, really truly amazing to see people self-organize like this because they're so passionate about Drupal," Buytaert said.

This article, "Drupal upgrade to be slower but more scalable," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter and on your mobile device at infoworldmobile.com.

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