acquia_logo_2009.jpgInstalling and setting up a CMS might not be the most complex thing you'll ever do, but it's enough to cost many non-technical users a few chunks of hair. At DrupalCon Paris, Acquia (news, site) announced a new service that helps people create, configure, and launch a Drupal 7 site with relative ease.

What is this Service?

This new service is Drupal Gardens. Right now it's in a pre-alpha stage, so discussing launch-time features is a bit premature, but in general Drupal founder and Acquia member Dries Buytaert says to think of Drupal Gardens as a or Ning for Drupal: Drupal 7 as a service.

Right now, the plan is to offer the base Drupal Gardens service for free. A user will be able to sign up with the service, create and populate their Drupal 7 instance, and either leave it on Drupal Gardens to run there or export the site, theme and database to any other Drupal 7 installation.

The goal, says Buytaert, is to "provide people an easy on-ramp ... to grow beyond the capabilities of Gardens without locking [people] in."

Can I Try it Now?

While Drupal Gardens is not yet available to the public, there is a demo video available (see the end of this article). In this demo, Chris Brookins shows off the export feature, a custom theme builder and how simple it is to export your Drupal Gardens site's data. Also, he shows how you might import the exported data using Acquia's Drupal Stack installer if you choose to go this route.

The theme builder is a sophisticated tool making it easy to customize your Drupal 7 site. It lets you point and click your way through setting colors, images, text sizes, fonts, spacings and even page layouts. Included is a color palette selector for those who aren't confident of their ability to choose a matching set, and you can add your own custom CSS and other code.

So far, just the power of theme builder alone might tempt some to give this service a try. When it becomes available.

To learn more about Drupal Gardens: