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Acquia (news, site) has released a new version of its social software platform, Drupal Commons. Drupal Commons, based on the open source web content management system Drupal, provides users social tools to help better engage customers. Is release 1.6 an improvement? Yep, it's kind of a big deal.

Acquia’s Social Business Software Gets a Little More Swagger

Drupal Commons allows business to implement functionality that users have embraced in their private lives, friends, walls, profiles and all of those other things that take up endless hours of the day. They say if you can’t beat them, join them, and that’s what enterprises are doing. Organizations are implementing their own social networks in an attempt to spur the same level of closeness to their brands as individuals get from their tight-knit personal network.

CMSWire spoke with Amanda Wilson, Product Marketing Manager for Acquia’s Drupal Commons, regarding the new release. Wilson told us that Commons is a distribution of Drupal developed out of Acquia’s experiences working with enterprise clients building Drupal community sites. Acquia saw an opportunity to create a new product with standard social features such as blogs, wikis, activity streams and organic grouping as a pre-packaged and pre-configured distribution.

Admin Functions Key Upgrade for Commons 1.6

Commons, initially released in August, didn’t include anything new; it’s a configuration of existing Drupal modules. Commons allows companies to get all of their social tools in one package that’s ready to use without figuring out how everything should be integrated. And, with 1.6, the platform has gotten a significant upgrade.

Version 1.6 includes a number of enhancements:

  • The ability to manage features on a per-group basis to make administration activities more efficient
  • Panels, which were previously used for rendering the home page, user profile and group home page have been replaced by Context across the entire platform
  • All of the features within the distribution have been rebuilt, resulting in most of the views, contexts, etc. being renamed and redesigned
  • Commons Invite which allow site users to invite other people to your site
  • Upgraded core with numerous security enhancements

Improvements to Themes

In addition to those features, Commons includes two new themes: Commons Connect and Commons Environs. Acquia split its original theme into two parts, Commons Roots and Commons Origins. Commons Roots is a first step toward creating a set of common theme elements, reducing the amount of time designers need to style a site. Wilson mentioned that some have criticized Acquia’s approach to Commons Roots, due to the theme’s minimal implementation. 

However, according the Product Marketing Manager, the minimalism is intentional. “Since the theme is intended to become a core component, we didn’t want to include a bunch of stuff that people would have to take out when creating their own custom themes.”

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Ready for Download, Test First

As companies increasingly make the decision that it is okay to leverage social in the workplace,  Drupal Commons will likely find its way onto a number of selection matrices. Jay Batson, co-Founder and VP of Acquia, said,

Acquia is excited for this release,  since it's the first to demonstrate Drupal Commons' ability to have various designs with different themes out-of-the-box. These new themes and greater flexibility will allow organizations to build world-class community sites easier and in less time.”

The 1.6 release is available for download now on Acquia’s site. Acquia warns those clamoring to adopt the latest release not to install it on a production without first evaluating the functionality in a pre-production environment. Other than the fact that this makes sense, 1.6 is a significant upgrade that could break existing deployments, because it includes new features and changes to the core platform.

In addition to the release, Acquia is one of the four finalists for Enterprise 2.0's Launch Pad contest for the Commons 2.0 release. Launch Pad is a competition by TechWeb where companies present their platforms to the Enterprise 2.0 community. Entrants get the benefit of visibility on the E2 Launch Pad site, and finalists present their applications live to the Enterprise 2.0 Conference audience.
Will you be downloading the new release? Let us know.