Earlier this week, Lullabot showed a preview of Buzzr (previously announced as "Codename"), a hosted version of Drupal 6 with a new user interface and user experience. Interestingly enough, the new user interface has remarkable similarities with the work that Mark Boulton and Leisa Reichelt have been doing for Drupal 7 (D7UX). It is my guess that the growing momentum around Mark's work encouraged Lullabot to give us a sneak preview behind the scenes of what was brewing since they first announced Codename. And from what I saw, Buzzr looks great!

Because the goal of Buzzr is to help make Drupal usable, some people asked me if there is a conflict with the work of Mark Boulton and the Drupal community, and the work we have been doing at Acquia with Acquia Gardens, which we'll build on top of the Drupal 7 usability work. I wanted to address some of these questions in this post.

First, all of us in the community have always shared a common goal. That shared goal is to make Drupal better. I think it is great when different groups of people independently arrive at a shared vision of how Drupal could become more usable. It implies that the approach embodies a lot of common sense.

Second, and while I can't speak for Lullabot, it is my hope that Lullabot will join the D7UX project to help advance the entire community. Their Buzzr work is based on Drupal 6, which might or might not make it easy to contribute.

At Acquia, we decided against building Acquia Gardens on Drupal 6. Our goal is to introduce Drupal to millions of new users so we decided to invest in Drupal 7 up front so we can stay really close to Drupal, create a tight feedback loop, help promote Drupal "as it is" and eventually, worry a bit less about upgrades while creating the best experience for new users. We want the Drupal project at large to win, despite some of the extra work, complexity and challenges such a strategy brings.

Either way, as a community, we can learn from Buzzr and identify what we like and dislike, what works well and what doesn't. Everyone, including Lullabot, benefits from that kind of feedback. So in all, it is great to see Lullabot provide more visibility into their work, and to contribute even more to Drupal. In many different ways, it paves the path to even more Drupal 7 usability improvements. In fact, Mark and Leisa have already been talking with members of the Buzzr team.

So if you ask me, I'm eager to see the exciting changes for Drupal that can result from the combined learning and work of the Lullabots, Mark and Leisa, Acquia and many of the other great members of the Drupal community.


mixel (not verified):

"people independently arrive at a shared vision" or "great minds think alike". Both Lullabot and the D7UX team have great people.

I won't be surprised if they find a great way to merge their shared vision as well.

It is an interesting phenomena those shared visions, I'm wondering how a community can stimulate them.

Jeff Eaton (not verified):

I'm eager to see the exciting changes for Drupal that can result from the combined learning and work of the Lullabots, Mark and Leisa, Acquia and many of the other great members of the Drupal community.

Amen to that!

The decision to go with Drupal 7 for Acquia Gardens is definitely a good one; development for the Buzzr project started a year ago, about a month after the release of Drupal 6. We went through a lot of nail-biting moments during the early development process when D6 versions of essential modules were full of alpha-level bugs, but over the life of a project those things get sorted out.

I'm curious how the decision to improve core rather than building a custom product on top of Drupal will evolve. We started out with that goal as well, but discovered very quickly that it would be necessary to do both. Building a user experience that's tailored to a particular audience really requires hiding large swaths of Drupal functionality. I got obsessive enough about that that I registered a domain just to serve as a reminder. ;-)

There's a lot of work to be done, and every way we can push the core experience forward without crippling it for edge cases is a huge win for everyone involved!

Jeff Eaton (not verified):

Also, on second reading, I should clarify that my registering the domain and shaking my fist about simplicity shouldn't imply that I'm a UX genius. ;-) Karen McGrane's work over the past year has shaped the UX philosophy for Buzzr, and seeing Mark and Leisa arrive at many of the same conclusions is a real validation.

Let's make it happen!