Today is a happy day for us, and for all web developers that use Drupal as their main tool for building feature-rich websites for their clients. After more than two years of active development, quality assurance and testing, Drupal 7 is finally out in the wild!
Drupal has a history of staying ahead of the curve when it comes to innovations on the web, and each new major version usually contains big changes to all aspects of the system. Drupal 7 is no exception, and the following are some of the highlights. (If you want to know more about why we use Drupal in the first place, please read this page.)
Easier to setup and use
For site builders and administrators, Drupal 7 has a lot of improvements in the user interface. Early on in the development process, Mark Boulton was hired to help rethink the administration interface in collaboration with the Drupal community. The new interface will hopefully make a lot more sense to new users, and make day-to-day tasks easier and quicker to perform.
What also lowers the barrier to entry in this version is the improved installer. You can now easily and securely install and update add-on modules right from within the site's administration interface, which is especially useful for small sites on shared host accounts.
Powerful content management features
The old Content Construction Kit that's been around for a number of years as an add-on module has finally been incorporated into Drupal core, which means that Drupal now allows site builders to create a completely flexible content structure out of the box.
The new version also has a whole new file handling system, which allows for advanced file storage setups, including support for content delivery networks, which is great for large websites. Full support for image content and a great image processing system is now included in Drupal core – finally.
Improvements for site builders
From a developer's standpoint this release has a lot of new features that will facilitate our work, but also requires some new learning. The theming layer makes it easier to do crazy things with the page layout and gives a lot of additional power to site builders.
Among the more under-the-hood features is the new, modern database layer which makes it possible to run Drupal on several new database engines. Performance and scalability has also improved with the new caching mechanism, among other things. Also, stability should be the best ever, thanks to the extensive test framework that has been developed and deployed on drupal.org since the last release.
Good news for site builders who want to get going with Drupal 7 right away is that a majority the most commonly used contributed modules are already ported to the new version.
We've been using Drupal 7 for a couple of months on a project that is currently in development, and with the exception of the few problems that are to be expected with pre-release software, we're really liking it! It will be very interesting to see how the new version is received by the general CMS audience. Give it a try today!
To all contributors to Drupal 7 – congratulations, and good job!