Drupal 6

Updated: Sun, Jul 27, 2008 - 8:25am

So, I just set up this website to keep track of all the open-source software things that I think about and do. Of course, I would never dream of setting up a blog site using software other than Drupal. At my work, and as favors or volunteer work, I've set up a number of webpages using Drupal. It provides the best of a content-management system, and a "web application framework". A website running Drupal can be made into almost anything. There's user-contributed modules for a staggering number of purposes, and it is very easy to build upon work that's out there, to create new modules for your special purposes. Therefore, I think that the Drupal project is significant as a place to collect all the work that is done in the area of web applications.
But in all the work I've done with Drupal in the past, I've always been using version 5.x. Drupal 5 was the one that was out when the popularity of Drupal really exploded. From the legends I've been hearing, this is in part due to the increased flexibility that it offered over previous versions.
Of course, we can't stay with Drupal 5 forever. Module-writers found that the Drupal 5 API lacked some of the features they wanted (one example I've run into: Drupal 5 doesn't allow us to write modules that affect people's access to individual menu items). So, of course, development of the core of Drupal has continued, and Drupal 6 is now out, and has been since February.
What happened, though, is that a large portion of this staggering array of user-contributed modules was written to interface with Drupal 5. Now that the API has changed, the community is faced with the task of adding Drupal 6 support to all the cool, useful, or indispensable modules that they've come to depend on. And this is happening much too slowly, in my opinion.
Of course, how could this not be the case? All these cool, useful, or indispensable modules are written by a highly heterogeneous group of people, each with different goals and requirements. They don't need your stinkin' release schedule.
It's also a chicken-and-egg problem. Lots of modules are set up to depend on one another, and so it's difficult to motivate people to add Drupal 6 support to theirs before all the other modules do it too.
So I just set up my blog to use Drupal 6. I did this not because I thought it was the best choice for me. Rather, I did it for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to evaluate Drupal 6. I often find myself in the position of recommending software to people, so I want to stay informed.
  2. I want to help 'em out. I find that when I use open-source software, the open-source software I use tends to improve. If I'm being driven crazy by a missing feature or a bug, I sometimes pitch in and write a patch. And the times that I don't do this, I want to. I'm hoping that by my using Drupal 6, I can help speed us along, because I will update the modules I want to use.

So here's what I've found so far.

The State Of Things

So, almost all the modules I used were in "release candidate", alpha, beta, or "dev" (without an official release) state for Drupal 6. What I would think would be embarassingly, this includes some of the essential modules without which it does not make sense to run Drupal. This includes Views, CCK, Date, Image, and TinyMCE Integration (TinyMCE for Drupal 6 doesn't support the uploading of Images through the Image module. See http://drupal.org/node/245799). In fact, some of these thing demand that you use the latest cvs snapshot of other modules, or of Drupal core itself.
Also, I'm sure there are many cool modules that I'd like to use on my site that don't yet have Drupal 6 support. Since I haven't spent a lot of time customizing this site yet, I'm not exactly sure what I want it to do. But one that I've come up on already is Autosave.
Hopefully, some of these things will make it into my issue queue.

And another thing

I just realized another reason that this transition is happening so slowly: almost all these module maintainers decided that, rather than straightforwardly port their modules to Drupal 6, this would be the best time to implement all those "wildest-fantasy" features that they've been wanting. Like, "Man, if I had it to do over again, I would've made Views like this."
So we have the conflation of two upgrades here: Drupal 6 compatibility, and enormous rewrites for new features. There's no inherent reason that these things have to block on each other, but the maintainers decided to do it anyway. That's why we have to wait so long for Drupal 6 to become stable.
If it was me, I would've simply ported forward the old module, and then later made all the changes that I'd ever wanted to make. | So, I just set up this website to keep track of all the open-source software things that I think about and do. Of course, I would never dream of setting up a blog site using software other than Drupal. At my work, and as favors or volunteer work, I've set up a number of webpages using Drupal. It provides the best of a content-management system, and a "web application framework". A website running Drupal can be made into almost anything.

Update - I couldn't take it

I couldn't take it. I did my site in Drupal 5 instead. I would love to contribute to all this Drupal 6 business, but you can't really run a Drupal 6 website yet. So if I'm going to help out these modules, it means that I have to go out of my way to develop for them, which means it's probably not going to happen. That makes me sad. Maybe in a few months or so, things will have stabilized enough that I can jump over and start to help out. We'll see.

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