There is a lot to love about Drupal 7. These are my top eight changes from Drupal 6 to 7.
No, not Drupal 7. Seven the theme. One of the biggest Drupal 7 changes is the new admin theme Seven. Past versions of Drupal did little to differentiate the front end and the admin sides. While this had its upside for some use cases, generally most people found it somewhat confusing.
There were admin themes in D6 that gave the admin side a different look and improved navigation. In D7, Seven changes the game, taking admin themes to a whole new level.
7. Administrative overlays
I believe that over time, module developers will leverage this new capability to build more Web 2.0 style admin widgets that will make Drupal administration much faster, easier and fun (yes, I said fun Drupal administration). My head is already spinning with how to leverage this for the new SEO Tools
UI for Drupal 7.
6. Authenticated user permissions cascade
If you worked in D6, you no doubt are familiar with the massive page of checkboxes that is the user permissions page – home to some of the most popular gotchas in Drupal. One of the most common gotchas has been solved in D7.
The fact that custom roles inherit authenticated user permissions has always been a little confusing. Couple that with the fact that some admins would check off custom roles in addition to the authenticated role and some would not lead to an even more confusing permissions page.
5. Toolbar & shortcut bar
The Toolbar gives you quick access to administrative functions, and looks great. It solves much of the same problem that the admin menu did in Drupal 6. The Shortcut bar is a whole new level of cool though.
Now you can add custom shortcuts to the admin menu navigation and create several different ones for different users. You can customize the admin menu tools for different responsibilities such as admins, editors, authors, designer and site builders. I think that as people understand how best to use the power of customized shortcuts this new feature will end up having the one of the biggest impacts on D7 usability.
4. Vertical tabs
Like many things in Drupal 7, this is a contrib module in Drupal 6. And it doesn't do anything that earth shattering functionally. But cleaning up those long scrolling pages of collapsible fieldssets is a big UI win in my book.
3. Fields and entities
In Drupal 5 & 6 CCK allowed you to add fields to nodes. This allowed site builders to customize data to their hearts content. You can add text, links, dates, number, location, files and more. But what if you wanted to add fields to a user profile? Users aren't nodes. Comments and vocabularies aren't nodes. CCK doesn't work on them.
No longer. A major change in Drupal 7 is the generalization of common data structures into entities. Nodes are entities. So are users, comments and vocabularies. You can add fields, now in core, to any entity. Thus, now you can do CCK stuff to users, comments and vocabularies.
2. Customizable admin dashboard
In versions previous to D7, the administrative home page, e.g. /admin, was an overwhelming matrix of links. Many of those links were not of interest for knowledge workers and general admins.
Drupal 7 replaces this with a customizable dashboard. You can build your own dashboard using blocks. Now your admin page can benefit from the wonders of views.
Are you an editor and want to see a list of recently updated nodes? Are you a marketing manager and you want to see traffic to the site or how many people purchased your widgets or submitted your contact form? Now you can - just make a block view of something and add the block to your admin home page.
1. Automated module & theme installs
Drupal has thousands of add on modules and themes. A typical project will use several dozen of them. However, installing the files for these modules then periodically having to update the files was fairly tedious. It involved techy, server stuff like; FTP, CVS checkouts or Drush.
No longer. Drupal 7 provides a simple browser only method for installing and updating modules and themes. While this might seem like a no-brainer improvement, there were some significant technical hurdles the team had to overcome to make this happen in a secure way.
Well, that's my list. What are some of your favorite Drupal 7 changes?