We've been waiting for Drupal 6 for some time. But not as long as we reckoned, because its release last week came a little sooner than expected. Don't get me wrong: I am excited. But I was supposed to be playing golf this morning against this rube accountant acquaintance of mine, who I know from long experience would bet on two flies walking up the wall.
Instead, I had to scratch that to look under the hood of this major new release of the Mothership of community-building Open Source Web CMS. Let this be a lesson to you all. Life is just not fair. Buytaert et al; this better be good... What's New in Drupal 6?
Designed to ease and streamline installation. Import translations of the Drupal interface to get going in your own language right from install.
Drag and Drop UI
Remember those darn weights you had to assign to elements to get them where you wanted them? Forget about that -- Drupal finally goes drag'n drop. Menu elements can now be dragged into place.
Blocks are also drag'n drop enabled. As are forums, taxonomy terms, uploaded files and most of everything else.
Some wonderful features here. Multi-language management has been granted residence in the core, and management of multi-language content from the interface has gotten a whole lot easier. D6 allows you to translate to multiple languages from the UI, supports right-to-left languages out-of-the-box, and allows the option of automatically choosing a language based on user settings, url info etc.
You can also automatically import translations when adding a new language, installing modules or enabling themes. Download the Localization Client Module to translate the Drupal UI. Gregg Knaddison walks you through Drupal's new internationalization features in this screencast.
New Core Modules
There are a couple of interesting new core modules packaged with Drupal 6:
* OpenID: yup, Drupal brings OpenID to the core, so that OpenID customers can become members of your site. If you wish.
* Update Status: Keeps you up to date whenever new versions of your modules/themes or updates/bug fixes become available.
'Almost all' themable content is now broken down into individual, intuitive template files, leading to much easier theme hacking. A new Theme Developer module has been built to aid theme developers, so we can hopefully look forward to lots of snazzy new makeovers throughout Drupal land.
Perhaps the most fundamental cosmetic changes, though, are applied to region management. Region dependencies and features can now be defined with with theme.info files. No php code will be necessary to modify themes, 'opening the door to slim CSS-only themes'.
* Password-strength checking in real time, a la Google.
* Granular permissions: 'Role-based permissions are much more refined'. They were pretty darn refined already, but whatever you say...
* Quicker user load times: through splitting core modules into small chunks and only loading what's needed.
* Scalability: Criticisms of Drupal so often hinge on its perceived lack of scalability. So what have they done in this regard? 'For large sites, Drupal 6 performs properly when running behind a reverse proxy like Squid or Pound.' r... take that, naysayers!?
* File handling: Files are keyed to users instead of posts. New validation functions to check file sizes, extensions, resolutions.
* Event Logging: Choose between database or OS-level logging. Integrate your own enterprise logging tools with consummate ease. Maybe...
* Schema API: "Drupal 6's Schema API provides rich support for creating and maintaining data tables, improving compatibility of both core and contributed modules with databases other than MySQL."
* Script from the Command Line: If things get that bad, you can revert to type with a new drupal.sh command line script.
A couple more things...
* Forums: Include polls, quiz forms etc. into forums. Use granular permissions to hand out local moderator rights.
* Better anonymous commenting: Anonymous commenters are remembered through contact details.
* Sticky Table Headers: Table headings scroll with you as you go up and down the page.
Drupal 6 can be procured from Drupal.org. Witness here a Drupal screencast running through the wonders which await new users and updaters.
If you want to see a site running Drupal 6, then John Forsythe invites you all to go his.
Now that that's out of the way... anyone fancy a quick nine holes?