Drupal 7

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Drupal 7.0 Unstable Releases Begin!

In listening to the pleading voices of many developers, the infamous Drupal 7 maintainer, webchick, just created the first unstable release of Drupal 7: Drupal 7 Unstable 1. Thank you, Angie!

These unstable release tags will probably never have actual release nodes, and they are before the beta, or even alpha releases, so you generally shouldn't use them on your production site. But, if you're up for an experiment in the bleeding of bleeding edge, try it out. I'm not too sure if they upgrade path will be supported, so we'll have to wait and see. I think I'll wait for the Alpha releases to update my site to Drupal 7 to be on the safe side.

Drupal 7 Code Freeze = Two Months?

There was some talk recently about releasing pre-alpha versions of Drupal 7 for development and testing purposes and this got me thinking about the actual Drupal 7 code freeze. For those of you who are "in the cold" and don't know what a code freeze is (horrible pun, sorry), it's a given amount of time where features are denied from going into Drupal. Although it's sad to see additional features not be able to go into Drupal, it gives the developers a bit of time to fix bugs and optimize performance before the official releases go out.

If you have a look at Dries' Drupal 7 Timeline, you see that he predicts a November 15th code freeze if we have full test coverage. Now, if you have a look at the Drupal 7 test coverage report, you can see that we're pretty close! So, assuming that we get the three month code freeze, that means we only have about two months left to get all the features and awesomeness that we so ever want in Drupal 7. What awesomeness is missing from Drupal 7, you ask?

Here are the items remaining on my wish list:

Although Drupal 7 has already achieved its awesomeness status, having these items added to its mastery would absolutely blow my mind.

Drupal's Next Generation Database Layer

Everyone rejoice, as Dries has just committed the long standing Drupal Database Layer: The Next Generation patch. This was one of the items on my original Drupal 7 wishlist, and is one of the major steps that will make Drupal 7 a killer release. This patch does a number of awesome things, as outlined by Crell:

  • Allows fancy PDO database queries (foreach through a result-set, select columns of result-sets, etc)
  • Connect to multiple databases simultaneously
  • Database replication
  • Type-agnostic prepared statements, so we don't need to bother with %s or %d
  • Proper support for NULL values
  • Adds support for transactions, while allowing them to not die on non-transactional databases
  • Support for "INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE ..." on MySQL or whatever the database-specific equivalent on other databases
  • Support for multi-insert statements, on all databases, using the appropriate database-specific mechanism
  • "INSERT DELAYED" support on databases that support it or some equivalent, which should help performance on logging and similar "don't need it back immediately" queries
  • Fully-structured INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE queries with a simple fluent API (chainable, like jQuery) syntax
  • A Fluent API query builder for SELECT statements that weighs in at only a few hundred lines (not counting comments)
  • .... And that's just naming a few of the benefits

Congratulations everyone! Crell, chx, bjaspan, catch, swentel, recidive, you guys rock!

Drupal 6? What about Drupal 7?

Drupal 6 was released last week and everyone has been talking about how much greater it is than the previous release.  I particularly like how powerful the new menu system is, the new caching and performance features, and all the new AJAXy goodness.  But what is coming up next year in Drupal 7? This is a list of issues on Drupal.org that I am looking forward to see in the next release...

Add hook_file()
This would allow for a very nice File API, allowing us to interact with files at a new level.
Handle File Uploads in Form API
Right now when you have a file field in Forms API, nothing is returned when you submit it. It would be nice if Forms API handled some of that.
Descriptions for Permissions
This would allow modules to description their permission sets in the administration section.
Data API
Providing a common interface for all data types within Drupal (Nodes, Users, Taxonomy, etc).
This would severely increase performance, allow more database abstraction, and get more PHP5 goodness into Drupal.
External JavaScript files for drupal_add_js()
Make it easy to reference external JavaScript files through drupal_add_js() and then cache them.
Custom CSS and JS for Blocks
Adding CSS and JS for blocks through hook_init() isn't very clean, so this will fix that.
Examples for form fields
Having an example for every form field would allow better usability for Drupal.
Hook Registry
Increase performance in Drupal even more.

With these additions, and the implementation of a web service platform in core, we'll have ourselves a slick Drupal 7 release. What are you looking forward to in Drupal 7?

Battle Plan for Drupal 7: Services

Now that Drupal 7 is open for development, people have started thinking about their personal battle plans for the next release. In the announcement, Dries mentioned the 11 wish list items that the community thought would make an excellent Drupal 7 release. I will be focusing, with Scott Nelson and the other Services people, on number 10: Better external APIs (import/export, webservices). Well, the Web Services part.

The Services module provides a slick API to implement common web services across a number of different protocols (XML-RPC, SOAP, REST, JSON, etc). Web services have become a very important part of how the websites interact with the user (think Flickr, Last.fm, Google, del.icio.us, etc). Getting parts of the Services module into core would mean that Drupal would have the ability to act more as a web service for external applications. It would allow Drupal to grow beyond the web, allowing interaction with the user in new platforms and in different ways.

Scott will be hosting a session on Services at DrupalCon 2008, so if you're interested in seeing where we'd like to see Services in Drupal 7, I think you should attend.

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