In his morning keynote, open source CMS Drupal creator Dries Buytaert offered a vision of what to expect at this week's DrupalCon, and explained the expectations for Drupal 8.
Before introducing Buytaert at the morning keynote, Jacob Redding, Executive Director of the Drupal Association, answered the question of who owns Drupal, the popular open source content management system. “You do," he said. "You own Drupal. Whenever you contribute code you become a collective owner." Redding says that the goal of the Drupal Association is to foster the growth of Drupal and its community. One of his slides showed one of the 22 Drupal servers housed at the OSU Open Source Lab. “We want to make you guys rock,” he said.
Buytaert took the stage next and said, “What I wanted to talk about today is winning the hearts and minds.” He discussed past products that have won “hearts and minds,” such as Kodak products, and he looked at current innovators, including Facebook and Google. Buytaert says that the difference between innovators of the past and the current companies is continuous innovation. Kodak, he says, invented digital photography but never capitalized on the company's invention by reinventing itself. “This reminds us to continue to embrace big changes,” he says.
According to Buytaert, Drupal 8 is in the development phase, whereas Drupal 7 just reached the maturity phase. Drupal 5 and 6 are now on the decline. In fact, Drupal 7 grew 2.5 times faster than Drupal 6, growth that was measured by how fast Drupal 7 reached 100,000 installations. Because Drupal is just one product, each version must be innovative and better than the previous version to stay relevant. Mobile, according to Buytaert, is a threat to Drupal, so it shouldn't be seen as just an afterthought.
What Keeps Buytaert Up at Night
Buytaert says that the rudimentary authoring system is a weakness for Drupal. In the past, IT departments were involved in the CMS selection process, but now content authors have a strong say in which system gets chosen, so the emphasis needs to be on the authoring experience. He also says that the aging web development framework is a weakness. The small Drupal talent pool is also a problem, but the Drupal Association is making it a priority with outreach efforts, such as Google Summer of Code participation.
An estimated 1.5 million sites are built on Drupal, but Buytaert points out that that's only 6.7% of all CMS sites. Only about 30% of all sites are even built on a CMS. Buytaert says the biggest opportunity for Drupal is in mobile, then he showed a slide that said, “Time to kick ass with Drupal 8.”
What to Expect in Drupal 8
Drupal's creator says that Drupal 8 will focus on three audiences: developers, site visitors and authors. Buytaert says that although Drupal is currently the most powerful CMS, the market is changing and Drupal needs to take this opportunity to reposition and reinvent itself to be a leader of tomorrow.
When it comes to site visitors, “We need to build a great mobile experience,” Buytaert says. "We need to do it before the rest of the world does it,” he adds. “We need to build Drupal so that it's ready by the time the rest of the world wants it.” Although Drupal wins on technical merits, Buytaert says that if you look at the authoring experience, “Frankly, most of the other systems are better.” In-line editing is a particular weakness, he explains.
Buytaert says that content authoring can be easier if more is added to Drupal 8 core, such as more in-line editing, improved content admin tools, better media support, and page and layout building tools. He says that this will make the core bigger, but it needs to remain pluggable. He acknowledges that it's difficult to get consensus on what is good user experience, and what belongs in the core or doesn't.
Drupal 8 is targeted for release in August 2013 at the DrupalCon Europe event. According to Buytaert, Drupal 8 needs to focus on authors, site visitors and developers, which are key to winning hearts and minds.