DrupalCon Sydney: Looking beyond content management

Drupal creator Dries Buytaert sees opportunity for the open-source project to challenge proprietary systems in the WEM space

Drupal 8 will continue the open source project’s move beyond being purely a content management platform, Drupal’s creator, Dries Buytaert, told the inaugural DrupalCon Sydney, held in Coogee.

The next version of Drupal, Drupal 8, is due to enter feature freeze on 18 February, followed by a code freeze on July 1. Drupal 8 will be released at the end of the year or “whenever it’s ready”, Buytaert said. So far more than 4700 patches have been submitted for Drupal 8, by more than 1000 contributors, he said.

Highlights of the next version include better mobile support, including responsive design to adapt sites for display on devices with different form factors, improved configuration management to make it more attractive for larger, more complex sites, and better integration with third-party services.

“People are excited about the direction we are going in for a number of different reasons. But even despite the fact that Drupal 8 looks very promising, I do believe we have a long way to go,” Buytaert said.

Drupal currently runs 2 per cent of the world’s websites, Buytaert said, but there’s no reason the community shouldn’t aim for it to run 10 per cent of them. Drupal’s creator cited Linux and Firefox as examples of open source projects with significant market share.

“Why aren’t we there today? What’s holding us back?,” Buytaert asked. He said that part of the reason was that larger enterprises wanted complete solutions that don’t just incorporate content management, but also marketing automation, CRM, digital asset management, SEO and more

“I think one of the things we see is that large organisations need content, they need community, and they need commerce. And traditionally these have been all separate systems. And one of the things we are seeing is that they’re consolidating and that people are looking for platforms that do all of these three things in one system.”

“We’re going from a world where people just publish content to running their business [on the Web] -- whether it’s selling stuff, whether it’s running the government, whether it’s sharing information, for some people that’s their business… or it’s, say, teaching students, educating students,” Buytaert told the conference.

“The Web obviously is getting at the core of every business around the world and our industry has started to refer to that as Web experience management or Web engagement management…

“These big websites – if you want to get the Apples, the Amazons, that kind of stuff – we need all of these tools. So we need to start thinking bigger because we are still very focussed on content management, but not really thinking about all of these tools.”

Many of the world’s biggest websites still rely on proprietary Web experience management solutions from vendors such as Adobe. Buytaert said that there was an opportunity for Drupal to replace these systems.

“They’re building closed systems only accessible to a few people who have a lot of money,” Buytaert said. “And I think we have the opportunity to bring these tools to the masses just like we did with Web content management systems. And when we do so we’ll be open… we’ll be cheaper… and we’ll be faster.”

Rohan Pearce is the editor of Techworld Australia and Computerworld Australia. Contact him at rohan_pearce at idg.com.au.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

IDG is the official media partner of DrupalCon Sydney.

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