Drupal’s Dries dishes on D8 development

The creator of Drupal recently answered questions on Reddit about the popular open source CMS and its next major release

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Drupal creator Dries Buytaert

Image credit: flickr/Kathleen Murtagh

Drupal, the popular open source content management system, officially turned 13 last week. To help celebrate the start of Drupal's awkward teenage years, Dries Buytaert, Drupal's creator and the founder/CTO of Acquia (which provides professional services around Drupal), took part in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. During the session, Buytaert shared some information on the development of the next major release, Drupal 8.

The biggest question, of course, is when will Drupal 8 be released. Drupal 7 was released three years ago, and folks are wondering when D8 is coming. Buytaert was non-committal ("No comment"), so no word just yet and when to expect it.

When asked about what he thought they had gotten right in Drupal 8, Buytaert said "modernizing the code base to use standard best practices". The biggest implication of this is moving to object oriented PHP which, as he wrote last year, should help make Drupal-based sites less complex and easier for non-Drupal experts to maintain.

On the flip side, when asked what he thought they've gotten wrong in D8 so far, Buytaert indicated that part of the reason for the extended development time has been poor management of technical debt.

"... I feel like we have not done a good job of managing technical debt during the Drupal 8 release cycle. The extensive technical debt resulted in unstable APIs, and efforts to improve them taking longer than they should because we had to keep building on a shifting foundation."

Buytaert also responded to a concern that Drupal doesn't have enough core committers.

"We have 4 core committers for Drupal 8, plus one documentation committer. I believe that is working out well as most of the time we're not blocked on core committers but on quality reviews. These reviews can and should be done by everyone; it is not just a core committer task."

Looking ahead to what might still be missing from Drupal 8, and what they would be addressing in Drupal 9, Buytaert had this to offer:

"...one area that Drupal core is still weak in out of the box is media support. My hope is that in Drupal 9, or possibly even in later Drupal 8 feature releases, we can continue to improve this critical piece in core. Another area where we did not achieve quite as much as I'd hoped is in the area of layout tools. ...Drupal core itself still lacks the ability to do any kind of flexible layout management."

Buytaert also discussed some of the history of Drupal, his thoughts on open source development and what kind of company anyone considering a starting a Drupal-based startup should consider. All in all, the full thread is a good read for anyone with an interest in Drupal. 

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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