When speaking about WordPress CMS often the Drupal platform is mentioned as the most viable and more powerful alternative to WordPress. After more than 2 years of development the Drupal community now received what it has been waiting for for a long time: the first Drupal 7 release.
Albeit still only an Alpha release, the bang in the community was big and I suppose for the Drupal users it was very welcome news to finally be able to look forward to certain features like Custom Fields which are standard since a really long time in the blogging community. Drupal 6 already brought an image uploader and tags to the software and Drupal 7 now brings more features WordPress and users of other blog software have known for a while already.
What’s new in Drupal 7? With Drupal 7 come image editing, integrated updater and custom fields.
Revamped User Interface
An incredible amount of work has gone into improving the user experience and administration interface. The new administration theme “Seven”, the overlay module, the dashboard and the configurable shortcut bar, all lead to a much more user-friendly interface. In-place editing is enabled for blocks and nodes by default, so modifying the content of a site becomes much simpler.
Drupal 7 bundles in the ability to add custom fields, similar in functionality to the Content Construction Kit (CCK) module. However, fields are no longer limited only to content types; they can be added to users, taxonomy terms, and other entities. Fields also have support for translations.
Drupal 7 brings native image handling to core. Image fields may be added to content, and have image styles applied to them, such as scaling, cropping, and other effects.
Building on Drupal 6’s Update module, which keeps site administrators informed when new module and theme releases are available, the new Update Manger module can also install and upgrade modules and themes.
Front-end “under-the-hood” improvements
A new render API allows for highly granular theming, core template files have been revamped to provide more semantic markup, Drupal 7 now has built-in RDFa support, includes jQuery UI and a new AJAX framework, and a new core theme “Stark” which exposes Drupal’s markup directly for those who want to dive in and start theming.
In addition, Drupal 7 has several major accessibility enhancements, making it the most accessible release of Drupal to date!
Back-end “under-the-hood” improvements
A revamped database layer resolving nearly all limitations in the Drupal 6 database layer, automated testing framework, new PHP stream-based file API that supports private and public files simultaneously, revamped node access system, new hooks for more flexible system interaction, an Entity API, a job queue API, and many, many, many more improvements.
Drupal 7 is also the most scalable release to date, with features such as built-in proxy server support, advanced caching techniques, and Content Delivery Network support for static files.
If you’re a fan of Drupal or alpha versions, you can read more about the announcement and download Drupal 7 Alpha 1 here. I bet you’ll have to wait until at least 2011 before ‘Gold’ status is reached though.