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August 24, 2011

Drupal 8 to be about mobility, tablets, usability

More than just bug fixes going into next rev of popular open source CMS

By Jason Stamper

 

Dries Buytaert

Dries Buytaert, inventor of Drupal, founder of Acquia

The inventor of popular free and open source content management system Drupal, Dries Buytaert, said that Version 8 will have a big focus on the building of mobile applications for tablets and smartphones as well as key improvements to usability.

Speaking to CBR, Buytaert said that Drupal 8, expected later this year, will feature native support for HTML 5, making it what he called the, "go-to place for devs to build mobile applications". The current version, 7.7, can be configured to support HTML 5 but it’s a bit of a chore today, Buytaert said.

He also told us that usability will again be a big theme – it was the biggest theme for the version 7 release.

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Buytaert conceded that there is a "big learning curve" for developers getting to grips with the open source CMS – already used by millions of websites including ones as large and busy as Whitehouse.gov, Mozilla and NASA. "It’s easy if you just want to build simple websites but today everyone wants to build a Facebook," Buytaert said. "It gets easier with each new version and it will get easier again with version 8."

Buytaert also started a company in 2007 to help companies who have built their websites with Drupal to maintain and manage them – Acquia. Acquia, which has 140 staff, offers solutions, tools and support. But as well as the developers at Acquia and Buytaert himself, each new version of Drupal is contributed to by the open source community. Buytaert claims that there are thousands of active developers, though every change is approved by a team of up to 12, and signed off by Buytaert himself.

Buytaert originally developed Drupal as a message board, but soon started to add additional functionality that turned it into a full-blown CMS. He open sourced it under a license equivalent to the GPL, and it took off virally. Buytaert had originally wanted to call the thing Dorp, the Dutch word for village, but he spelled it wrong on a website registration application and ended up with ‘drop.org’, which he then morphed into drupal, the Dutch for droplet.

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