Mikkel Høgh

Coding the web since 1999

27 Aug 2009

Going to the edge with Drupal 7...

So, my fellow Drupallers, we are only inches away from the code freeze. Are we afraid yet?

A common trend amongst Drupal developers is that we’re all mostly on last years version. Many Drupal programmer blogs have only recently been upgraded to Drupal 6, or are even still running Drupal 5. Not picking on anyone in particular.

I think that’s a good indicator of a problem with Drupal. Upgrading is hard, and when the very people that do Drupal 24/7 are not upgrading, how can we expect anyone else to? And yes, I took a long time upgrading as well.

I think that’s part of the explanation for the long lag before modules were ready for Drupal 6. Everyone was still on Drupal 5, and there was no need or demand to upgrade your module.

This is bad for the community in many ways, and therefore, I’d like to challenge you, fellow module and core developers, to upgrade your blogs to Drupal 7. In September, or October at the very least When the first release candidate comes out. Yes, before the final release.

This is uncommon in the Drupal world, but if we look at other open source projects, like Linux or the BSDs, the developers there are mostly eating their own dog food, running their main working computer right out of CVS/SVN/whatever HEAD. For inspiration, check out this video about the OpenBSD release process. Websites are public facing, so it’s a bit worse when something is broken, but shouldn’t we at the very least be able to run HEAD on our blogs when in the code freeze?

Yes, this is likely to be a painful experience. You will need to make patches for the modules you’re using. You will probably have to live without Views or Panels for a while. But you can also help Drupal 7 become our most successful release ever.

If enough developers do this, we will have a much better tested Drupal 7 core when it is released. Not just unit tests, but real, live sites. We will have many more modules available from day 1. Users looking to try out Drupal will be able to hit the ground running, instead of having to choose between the new release (Drupal 7) and the widely supported release (Drupal 6).

I know this is a lot of work, but is that not what we do as developers? Are you mice or are you men? Dare you come along on a perilous journey to the bleeding edge?

It is fraught with struggle and danger, but the rewards will be enormous.

P.S.: I forgot to mention it when first posting this, but this idea is highly inspired by Moshe Weitzman’s #D7CX – this is basically an extension of that, with more people pitching in.

P.P.S.: Edit: After taking a bit with Heine Deelstra on #drupal, who kindly explained to me that Drupal 7 HEAD contains several security vulnerabilities at the moment, I have opted to postpone the public-facing part of this challenge a few months. I will continue running a Drupal 7 version of my blog on my development setup, but the real, online copy will stay Drupal 6 for now :)