First Impressions - Drupal 7.0 Alpha 1
On 15 January 2010, I installed the Drupal 7.0 Alpha 1 release on a Linux server used for testing here on my home network. The server uses the following LAMP configuration:
- Linux – Ubuntu 9.10
- Apache 2.2.12
- Mysql 5.1.37
- PHP 5.2.10
The installation was uneventful. I noticed that it now requires that the following folders be present in the Drupal root. If they are not present, the installer will not proceed until they are created. One must leave the installer and create the folders via the operating system’s file management utility or command line interface.
Other than that, and the much improved UI, my impression is that the Drupal 7 Installer isn’t a big departure from those of previous releases.
The Drupal 7.0 Alpha 1 core contains a number of new features. The subsequent text summarizes those that were, in my opinion, the most significant.
The most visible change in Drupal 7 compared to previous releases is the redesigned Administrator UI. The administration backend has a new default theme called Seven, which looks good with Firefox and Chrome, but needs some tweaking to render correctly in IE8.
The new UI has a top horizontal menu containing links to various management functional areas, along with a configurable “shortcut bar” that can be customized by the user.
In addition, there is a configurable “dashboard” page that the administrator can use to organize administrative tasks and track site information.
For the most part, I found the new UI well organized and easy to navigate. I may be biased here as I am one of what seems to be a small minority that thought the Drupal 6 UI was not really all that difficult to understaqnd and navigate.
There was one change I thought was really not needed:
- Using “People” as the label on the tab that opens the configuration panel that manages “Users.”
One rationale I’ve heard for this is that it is done to make a distinction between administrators and other users (anonymous, registered, etc.). To me this is going a bit too far as the IT industry has historically used the term user to identify people who have access to a particular software application. For example, one can characterize an administrator as nothing more than a “User with Benefits.”
Update Manager - Automated Installation
Drupal is finally on par with Joomla!, Wordpress and a number of other CMSs in this area. I tested this feature by installing the Drupal 7 development version of the popular Views module via its download URL at Drupal.org. No need to download it to my PC and then upload it to the server and do a tar to extract the files. Better yet, for those who do not have shell access to their servers, no more downloading to their PC, extracting the files locally, and then uploading the expanded files to the server.
The Drupal core now supports the addition and management of custom fields. Custom fields can be added to content types, along with other entities such as users and taxonomies. This includes both text and image fields.
The Drupal core now supports native image handling including as cropping and scaling.
Under the Hood
There are also a number of “under the hood” updates and improvements.
There are a number of changes to the theming which I am still digesting. Hopefully, this will be the the subject of a blog entry here in the not too distant future.
Odds and Ends
One thing I noticed is that there is no longer a distinction between “Core – optional’”and “Core - required” modules. The required modules (Block, Filter, Node, System, User) are no longer shown on the Modules page. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader as to why this is a good thing!
Any errors or inconsistencies in the above are no doubt due to oversights and/or technical ignorance on my part. The authoritative source for information regarding Drupal 7 is Drupal.org.