Trying out Drupal 5

I just grabbed the latest CVS build of Drupal 5, to poke around and see what's new. I'm really surprised and impressed at how far it's come. Here are the big changes I've seen in about half an hour of playing with a new test site:

  • New theme. Garland feels much more modern than Bluemarine. Nicely done.
  • Revamped admin interface. It's been reorganized by task and by module, making it easier to find where to modify a given setting. Much of the time spent administering a Drupal 4.7 site is wasted poking around the admin screens to find where a bit needs to be twiddled. "Is it in admin > content > content types? Or rather admin > settings > content types ? etc..." The new "Content Management," "Site Building," "Site Configuration," "Logs," and "Help" admin sections should make it much simpler to run a Drupal site.
  • Tweaked page cache settings - not sure if the rumoured filesystem cache system is included here (is that the "aggressive - experts only" cache?)
  • Includes a lite version of Content Construction Kit, making it easy to create simple content types (title + description/body). Why is that cool? Because you can assign different taxonomies and access controls to the various simple content types, so different users are able to create different types of content, classified differently. I'll have to see what the potential issues may be with running the full CCK module for managing complex content types. Our new, soon-to-be-released TLC website makes extensive, obsessive use of several complex custom content types, so I'll be spending some time checking this out.
  • Separate "main" and admin themes. Instead of trying to shoehorn admin functions into a production custom theme, you can pimp out your site's theme while retaining a fully functional admin theme. Yay.
  • Lots of little improvements, making the admin interface more task-oriented. Things like the Clean URL setting have been moved into more appropriate spots, rather than dumping them all into One Giant Config Screen.
  • Support for multiple image libraries. It was there in previous versions, but required adding a secret file to support Magick. I'll have to install ImageMagick on my PowerBook again to try this out.
  • Site installer. You still have to manually create the database, but Drupal will now install the tables and a default set of data automatically. I'll have to play with the profiles feature to see how that might tie into the Provisionator.

I'm looking forward to the release of Drupal 5. I've got a LOT of compatibility testing to do before going live with it, though. I've got several sites running older versions of some modules, because the module versioning system is confusing enough that they break a little if updating them to "current" versions. That's one area I'd really like to see get some loving. Tagging a module as "4.7" and then making changes to it that break things depending on exactly which version of the 4.7 module you're running (or have run). Very confusing and frustrating.


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