If you ask most Drupal users what they're looking forward to most in the coming year, it's the release of the much talked about Drupal 7. Drupal 7 is said to contain a whole slew of improvements over Drupal 6, mostly on the usability side. After consulting the Drupal 7 project page, and looking at the version release log, I've pulled out some of the best features and improvements that have been made to Drupal 7 so far.
Additional FunctionalityDrupal 7 will be integrating popular contributed modules like CCK (Content Construction Kit), Token, FileField, and Poormanscron into core. This comes with the removal of some core functionality like related terms for taxonomy terms, per-user theme selection, the blog API module and having a minimum number of words on the body field.
Security ImprovementsDrupal sites are already secure. But with the way the web changes, you can never be too secure. Drupal 7 has added the following security improvements to core so far:
- Protected cron.php -- cron will only run if the proper key is provided
- Implemented much stronger password hashes that are also compatible with the Portable PHP password hashing framework.
- Rate limited login attempts to prevent brute-force password guessing, and improved the flood control API to allow variable time windows and identifiers for limiting user access to resources.
Usability ImprovementsIn my opinion, the one obstacle that stands in Drupal's way of total web domination is its usability. Drupal is frequently lamented as having an abnormally steep learning curve. Because lets face it, Drupal was built by developers and programmers, not web usability experts. For Drupal 7, they've pulled out all the stops. The Drupal community has commissioned usability studies in an attempt to make the CMS more friendly to a less technical user-base. Here are some highlighted usability improvements that can be found in Drupal 7 so far:
For more information in usability improvements, consult http://www.d7ux.org/
- Redesigned the add content type screen.
- Renamed "input formats" to "text formats".
- Improved support for integration of WYSIWYG editors.
- Implemented drag-and-drop positioning for input format listings.
- Implemented drag-and-drop positioning for language listing.
- Implemented drag-and-drop positioning for poll options.
- Provided descriptions and human-readable names for user permissions.
- Added a built-in, automated cron run feature, which is triggered by site visitors.
- Added a field specifically for uploading files, previously provided by the contributed module FileField.
- Added a field specifically for uploading images, previously provided by the contributed module ImageField.
Performance ImprovementsFrom a search perspective, Google has made it clear that site speed is an increasingly important factor in their search algorithm. So it's nice to see that Drupal 7 will include many performance improvements, which will help sites run faster. Improvements include:
- Improved performance on uncached pages.
- When logged in, the Drupal system will perform fewer queries for path alias lookups.