Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Drupal says farewell to PHP 4

Well, this certainly wasn't on my radar. Gábor Hojtsy, Drupal 6 lead maintainer, announced that starting March 1, 2014 support for PHP 4 in Drupal 6 will end. I wasn't surprise to hear about Drupal developers dropping support for PHP 4. Instead, I was in shock to hear that Drupal didn't drop support for this ancient version of PHP sooner.

To put this announcement in perspective, the PHP project developers said their goodbyes to PHP 4 back in 2008 and I personally said my "see ya later" back in 2007. Needless to say, I don't think anyone with merit can complain Drupal is dropping PHP 4 support. In Gábor Hojtsy's words:

Drupal 6.0 was released almost 6 years ago in February 2008. The Drupal community is committed to release Drupal 6 bugfixes until Drupal 8.0 is released and with recent changes provide security fixes much longer.

The hosting and development landscape was very different in 2008 though. PHP has gone a long way since we released Drupal 6. While Drupal 6 is still supported on PHP 4.x, the PHP developer community itself end-of-lifed PHP 4 just half a year after Drupal 6.0 came out. According to public statistics and data available to us about Drupal 6 sites, we estimate that there is a very small number of Drupal sites which may still run on PHP 4. We also don't believe it is in our best interest to support Drupal 6 on a possibly insecure but definitely unsupported base system, so we discussed and decided to drop support for PHP 4 on March 1st 2014.

Typically, Drupal has dropped support for an older versions of Drupal when a new version of Drupal is released. The expectation was Drupal 6 support would be dropped when Drupal 8 becomes an official release. I suspect the delay in dropping Drupal 6 support is postponed partially due to a change in Drupal 8's new site migration approach. There is a new workflow for site migration that has the potential for site owners to migrate their content not only from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 but also allow Drupal 6 sites to migrate directly into Drupal 8. Until the new migration approach is proven, it is in everyone's interest to continue support for secure Drupal 6 sites. For the "secure" mandate to be supportable no website should be running on PHP 4. 

Joomla! allows you to go your own way with Joomla Framework 1.0

A couple years ago, if you would have asked me what I thought about Joomla! I would have told you I think they've lost their way. Their community of developers seemed to be searching on how best to innovate and take risks with a well established stable content management system. I feared that the open source group was stuck looking back and that all we could expect was dull incremental changes to their CMS. Despite the fear, I knew better. Open source communities have a way of reevaluating their priorities and creating spectacular results where you least expect them to do so.

In the second half of 2012, we started seeing something "new" from Joomla! As they started to embrace displaying and managing content on mobile devices, they also embraced the idea that not all core development has to be confined "in-house". With Joomla 3.0 they became the first major CMS that included the Twitter Bootstrap framework to help make their CMS better in the mobile arena. This week, Joomla! has turned the tables and now offers the opportunity for you to allow their framework to make your own web applications better. With Joomla Framework 1.0, Joomla! has proven that they're much more than content management but also a platform for developers to spread their wings.

The Joomla Framework is a new PHP framework (a collection of software libraries/packages) for writing web and command line applications in PHP, without the features and corresponding overhead found in the Joomla! CMS. It provides a structurally sound foundation that can be adapted and extended. This new initiative enables developers to more easily combine features from the Joomla Framework with features from other open source frameworks as they custom-build their own app or CMS.

Technology is no longer a disruptive force

Google Fiber

When Google announced in 2012 that they were bringing Google Fiber to Kansas City, my father called me and said he was interested. As an information technologist, I was excited. I told the “old man” that Google Fiber was going to change everything. Last month, Google Fiber finally came to my parents' neighborhood, and I made the six-hour drive to visit the house I grew up in.

After watching my parents interact with Google Fiber, I confirmed not only that Google Fiber was a game changer, but I also discovered something I hadn't expected: in a world where technology companies prefer to deliver shock and awe, Google made every effort to deliver no surprises to homeowners. On the surface, my parents weren't doing anything different than they had before Google brought their tech to town. This ultimate game changing disruptive technology could not be more non-disruptive to the families who are about to consume it.

My review of e-Spirit's FirstSpirit CMS

In September's CMS-Connected show, I once again had the privilege of being a guest reviewer for their "CMS In the Spotlight" segment. This time around I reviewed e-Spirit's FirstSpirit CMS. Never heard of it? Honestly, I hadn't either until CMS-Connected Producer Gary Eisenstein assigned me the gig. Come to find out, FirstSpirit CMS helps run a number of international sites from companies like Bosch, KLM, Speedo, Sterling Jewelers, and Nintendo of Europe. While doing my homework, I walked away from the demo impressed with the amount of effort e-Spirit had done to improve usability for authors and editors. 

On a personal note, I've heard a number of people praising my performance in this September show. I don't do well with praise so to tell you the truth I think I did just "average" for this one. I'll let you decide on this one. Embedded below is my segment from last month's CMS-Connected. Once you do watch this segment, be sure and check out the complete show at CMS-Connected. I especially encourage you to watch the segment with Sprout Content's very smart Dechay Eaton Watts.

End User Perspective: Drupal 8 Begins Making Headlines

While Drupal 8 has been been under development for two and a half years, I haven't talked much about it. I learned long ago that it doesn't do much good to talk about an upcoming release of a CMS until the software crosses over from what most of us would consider "vaporware."

The software needs to be close to beta, allowing for normal folks to actually be able install for testing purposes with a reasonable amount of certainty we don't need to be a developer. If you're a loyal reader of Planet Drupal, by now you should be getting a sense that the time has come to finally talk about Drupal 8.

There are a great number of changes coming with Drupal 8. So many, that I'm bound not to understand them all at this point. However, if you take a look at the core initiatives you can see where the core developers are working their hardest in improving Drupal 8.

Some of the great things planned for Drupal 8 include better HTML5 and mobile support, improved multilingual features, and setting up Drupal 8 on a modern web development framework (Symfony). Additional focus includes configuration management improvements and support for Views in the Drupal 8 core. While there is still work to be done, the core developers are starting to see the finish line in their sight.

As I mentioned, there are some headlines within the Drupal community that tells me from the user point of view it's time to show some interest in the upcoming Drupal 8. Some of the recent blog posts within the Drupal community I see worthy of mentioning can be found below.