Drupal 4.7: Taking Drupal One Step Closer to World Domination

It seems to me that Drupal 4.7's bugs no longer overshadow its great new features. Last night, I built the beginnings of my latest project using Drupal 4.7 beta-3. It went so well that I took pictures of some of the huge improvements, and cool gizmos that only work with 4.7.

There is also a common theme in these modules that is  relevent to recent posts by Civicspace Labs Director Zack Rosen, and Lord Protector of Drupal, Dries  Buytaert.


The Control Panel Module 


One small module, one huge step for drupal in the intensifying opensource CMS wars. What we have here is no static Mambo/Joomla! admin section - this is a menu that's been transmogrified into a control panel from an actualy menu tree. In otherwards, its fully dynamic, and customizable from the the menu administration page. Notice how it deals with nested menus "logs", and "settings" and you'll suddenly recognize what menu your looking at. Hopefully, we can eventually build an api into the control panel so that modules can include their own icons for use in the control panel.

TinyMCE updates: 


You now have control over every single button on TinyMCE. Only include the one's you need, and screw the rest. Yes, this makes us very happy. There also appears to be new room for extending the interface, allowing (possibily) plugins like img_assist  to exist within the tiny_mce interface. That is another big one for Drupal when it happens. TinyMCE actually makes its profit off of the text editor by selling plugins that basically do what img_assist, and upload modules do. If we could integrate upload, and img_assist into tinymce -- we'd have the holy grail of opensource CMS WYSIWYG editors -- no competition -- none. Folks, I think these are the types of features 95 percent of users care about.

Nice Menus (javascript, css dropdown menus) 


My cursor isn't seen, but my its currently hovering over "user agents". Why is this signficant? Well, I used to have to go through at least 4 page refreshes (which translates to 14 something seconds) to get to that point. Now,  this is a big improvement. Any feature that shaves off time (and this module shaves off easily 3/4ths of the time it used to take) it takes for me to get where I need to go receives an A+


Again -- key feature that most every user could use: graphs to help them sort through the hundreds of thousands of rows that can end up in their traffic logs. GraphSTAT appears to be a perfect base for a new generation of logs which put emphasis not on data, but displaying the data in a meaningful way. Simple solution, huge improvement in my humble opinion.


In a recent blog entry, our great leader said (with some qualifications involving prerequisites) that Drupal needs better asthetics and interface if it is to rise above its competition. I think these modules are all PRACTICAL examples on how we could begin to improve the experience of using drupal.  

What do all of thse modules have in common? For one, they don't so much add super-amazing-flying-new-features, as they make existing core features friendly to humans, and other earth bound creatures. They achieve this specifically by:

ONE: Designing the interface using images, and non-text based helpers. This not only eases the amount of effort it takes users to find what they are looking for, but it also  helps them understand where links lead. Moreover, it looks better.

Some elitists may scoff, "sort of like drupal for preschoolers", but I say screw these types. They are sad, lonely pathic people who think that the more difficult the interface they use, the more of a "man" they are. They usually can be found using an old version of opera as their browser, and an obscure linux distribution as their OS. Ignore the opinions of these types. Any thinking man knows powerful tools are worthless if no one can figure out how they work.

TWO: Every single one of them saves users time, and/or  helps  simplify complex tasks, and interfaces.

And that's it. There's two things that could enormously improve drupal. There are more difficult, and probably effective ways to improve Drupal's UI, but they are impractical. I think asking ourselves (in an almost neurotic manner) questions like "Does this simplify or complexify things?" we could actually do some serious damage to drupal's more byzantine quirks. I wonder if anyone has actually read this far. That said, I need to get back to work. Take this as food for though. And remember, thoughts don't necessarily always mean "why isn't someone else doing this for me?" Food for thought, not requests that "other people" do this work. :-)