Drupal Can And Should Become Friendlier For Users
As we noted when April's DrupalCon conference took place in San Francisco, the open source content management system Drupal has gained substantial momentum. There are many trends driving its momentum, including adoption by publishers seeking more cost-effective content platforms, and the fast-growing sophistication of the platform. We know about that last issue well at OStatic, because our site runs on Drupal. Now, though, there are many people wondering if the next step for Drupal is to extend beyond its open source roots, possibly alienating some people.
As The Register notes, Drupal 7--the next major release--will include "a redesigned user interface that targets, gasp!, non-technical users...it will hide features that devs know and love." Also coming is Drupal Gardens, a hosted version of the CMS that can compete directly with other online content management systems, and is in beta tests. The Register quotes Drupal creator Dries Buytaert (who has weighed in on the future of open source here on OStatic), in a recent interview:
"We are doing really well. We are growing rapidly and have a lot of big wins like Whitehouse.gov... but at the same time, I like to paint the picture of where we could go. Drupal 7 will take a very big step forward in terms of usability. We made it the number-one priority...We made a big transformation where Drupal used to be a tool for developers by developers for developers. We are starting to switch to make Drupal...much more optimized for the end users versus the person building the site."
This is a completely logical step for Drupal to go in. It already runs one percent of web sites, according to Buytaert, including many prominent ones. But it has had a developer-focused gestalt for a long time, and usability should be a point of focus for Drupal to gain market share. It can gain market share, and can produce more favorable economics at many cash-strapped publishing houses. The open source community shouldn't deride Drupal for putting on a friendlier face. Drupal remains one of open source's best "the kid done good" stories.