Drupal 7 status update and release plan

Drupal 7 is moving along nicely, and is becoming increasingly stable. We just released a second alpha release, fixing a number of critical bugs, following our initial alpha release in January. Alpha releases are to give Drupalistas something to download and test, so they can report and help fix bugs.

When will we switch to betas? We will switch to betas when the upgrade path from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 is working. Once we hit beta, we will become increasingly strict about accepting any more changes and we'll also commit to making HEAD to HEAD upgrades work.

Finally, we'll start rolling release candidates once the number of critical bugs is zero (or close to zero). To help us focus on critical bugs, we're working on adding a 'major' severity level to our ticketing system, making the options 'critical', 'major', 'normal' and 'minor'. 'Major' bugs would be really bad, but not necessarily block a release. For example, bugs that don't prevent Drupal from working, or that only affect a fraction of the Drupal population would be prioritized for fixing in follow-up releases. Critical bugs are those that badly break Drupal, or that are a major regression compared to Drupal 6.

Archdiocese of Saint Louis Migrates to Drupal

In early 2009, the Archdiocese of Saint Louis determined that it needed to upgrade its website, mostly for security concerns. After investigating a move from Joomla! 1.0.x to Joomla! 1.5.x, the Archdiocese determined it would be more cost effective and a more future-proof decision to migrate the over 49 individual Joomla! sites that comprised www.archstl.org into a single Drupal installation.

This upgrade/migration provides many benefits, not the least of which are a better end-user experience, a better administrative experience, and much improved page load and search indexing performance. In addition, Drupal's structure and content presentation provide much greater flexibility in design and information structure, as well as SEO (search engine optimization) than other popular CMS frameworks that were investigated.

Drupal 7.0 Alpha 2 released

Update: Drupal 7.0 Alpha 3 is available now!

Our first Drupal 7 alpha version was released just over a month ago. Today, we're proud to announce the release of the second alpha version of Drupal 7.x for your further testing and feedback. The first alpha announcement provided a comprehensive list of improvements made since Drupal 6.x, so in this announcement we'll concentrate on how you can help ensure that Drupal 7 is released as soon as possible and is as rock solid as the previous Drupal releases that you've grown to love!

The most notable change for developers is moving $form['#field'] to $form_state. This makes field forms more resilient to form_alters and debugging became a lot less tedious. Comment body became a field and new fields can be added to comments through the field UI module. And congratulations to the docs team and associated helpers for their outstanding work in enhancing and correcting lots of API documentation this release.

We've also fixed a number of issues since the previous alpha, most importantly one that caused all files to be deleted after six hours. Oops. :P This is a great time to reiterate...

It is important to note that this alpha version should not be used for production sites. We've resolved most errors reported so far, but there are outstanding known issues (including security issues) and most likely some problems that have not been reported as of yet. It is expected that there will be at least one more alpha version followed by a few beta versions and at least one release candidate before Drupal 7.0 is finalized. You can help us reach the final release date sooner by testing this alpha and providing feedback.

PharmQD: A Community Website for Pharmacists

From the earliest days of the Internet, many firms have tried to build community sites for medical professionals. Large sums of money were expended on technologies, and expectations around these feature-rich sites became very high.

So when a longstanding client, Jobson Healthcare Information (JHI) in New York, wanted to build a community website for America’s 200,000 pharmacists, we at ISL Consulting took it on as a welcome challenge. Given JHI's strong position in the market – they publish the most popular professional magazine for US pharmacists – we knew there would be no shortage of domain expertise or marketing prowess. The question was whether Drupal would permit us to build an affordable yet world-class website with everything from e-commerce to personalized pages, an elaborate friend activity notification system and other community features medical professionals have come to expect from professional sites.

New Drupal Book - Drupal 6 Performance Tips

Drupal 6 Performance TipsDrupal 6 Performance Tips, by Trevor James and TJ Holowaychuk, is a newly-published title from Packt Publishing aimed at Drupal beginners, developers, designers, and webmasters who utilize the Drupal content management system to create robust websites. It provides crucial performance-related information for Drupal users of all experience levels, including module contributors, webmasters who simply configure and maintain Drupal websites, and even themers.

The book contains basic and advanced topics on Drupal performance that will appeal both to the Drupal novice and the advanced user or developer. With this book you will learn how to maximize and optimize your Drupal 6 framework using best practice performance solutions and tools. The book covers how to vastly improve performance through upgrades, caching, configuring and optimization using core and contributed modules.

As a reader of drupal.org, you can receive a 15% discount (see below) and benefit the Drupal Association!

Vital Signs – An educational citizen science project

Vital Signs 2.0 (VS) is an educational citizen science project consisting of an extensive Drupal website created by Image Works in Portland, Maine for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) and funded by the Hewlett Foundation and a generous in-kind donation of services by Image Works.

The VS project provides students, teachers, scientists, and citizen scientists with the tools to monitor environmental conditions throughout Maine. The project includes a structured central data repository, tools and protocols for identifying, mapping, tracking and analyzing the occurrence and spread of invasive species into and around the state. Beginning in fall 2009, these resources and supporting programs are being utilized on the laptop computers provided to all Maine middle school students and will be made available to all interested parties starting early 2010.

The project's site is composed of 13 original custom Drupal modules, approximately 2 dozen Drupal core modules, more than 40 contributed modules, Google Maps and other web services. In order to give back to the community that made this project possible, we are releasing the full source code for the website under the GPL license and adding it to the Drupal.org project repository.

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