Drupal growth

The graph above is made based on the project usage statistics collected on drupal.org. As ever with statistics of this sort, they don't tell the whole story. This is because only sites running the update status module report data back to drupal.org. This module is part of Drupal 6 and the installer prompts the user to enable the module when Drupal is first installed. It is not required to enable this module. People upgrading from Drupal 5 aren't even prompted to enable it. Plus, many Drupal sites are hidden behind corporate firewalls. As a result, we don't really know how many Drupal 6 sites there are.

Either way, based on the growth data that we do have available, we can predict that we will near 240,000 Drupal 6 sites by January 2010. See the black trendline on the graph. The R-square represents the variability in the data set that is accounted for by the prediction model. Its value indicates how likely the predicted values are -- the closer to 1.0, the better. If Drupal 6 continues to grow like it did the past 9 months, our prediction should be pretty accurate. It would mean that the number of Drupal 6 sites will double over the next 9 months. Not bad.

I always believed that the best way to grow Drupal is to make the software better, and that is why we continue to work hard on Drupal 7. But until Drupal 7 is released, there are a lot of things that we can do to help people get started with Drupal 6 -- from offering .zip-files instead of .tar-files, to launching the drupal.org redesign, to sharing more Drupal 6 success stories, and more. There are a lot of barriers that could be removed and that would result in faster growth.

Once in a while, it is good to make lists. You're all invited to share your list of "things you think we should do" in the comments of this post. I recommend that you prioritize your list so the most important item is at the top. If you are actively working on any of the items on your list, let us know too. Bonus points for ideas that have high impact, require minimal effort and benefit the Drupal community at large. Penalty points for people that recommend Drupal 7 features based on self-interest. Ready, steady, go!


Eaton (not verified):

Zip based downloads are an excellent idea; simple when you think about it, but it removes a layer of unnecessary cruft from the process of a new developer evaluating the platform.

The ability to upload an install profile package and have it 'zipped/tarred' as a full download of Drupal 6, with the required modules, would be a pretty significant leap as well. There are a lot of wrinkles to it, but I think it could have a huge impact; at present profiles are useful only to developers who already understand how to 'assemble' them into a client-ready install process.

Gerhard Killesreiter (not verified):

I am opposed to offering zip-based downloads:

1) With regard to Drupal I define myself as an Open Source developer. The zip-format (although not created by them) reminds me of Microsoft, a corporation who does not only not share my Open Source ideas, but one that also has fought them on a number of occassions and has threatened to do so again (http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/28…). From that follows that I do not want to see software that I contributed to packaged in this format.

2) Dropping the tgz format is also highly unpractical if you ever need or want to download a Drupal module directly onto a server. Most servers run Linux. There exists an unzip utility for Linux but it is often not installed. Asking system administrators to install it just because we want to placate the Microsoft using masses doesn't strike me as a good idea.

In summary, I fear that Dries has been talking to too many US business people recently. I also fear that moving to .zip as download format would remove some of the Open Source "street cred" from Drupal and make it less attractive to other Open Source users and developers. However, these are the kind of people we need in order to further improve Drupal.

rapsli (not verified):

well, why not offer them as zip and tar? If you don't like zip.. who about 7-zip -> it's at least open source.
I would definitely love to see this, because it's annoying to always have to unzip it twice (on my vista using 7zip).

Gerhard Killesreiter (not verified):

Can you explain to me what you mean by "[I] always have to unzip twice"? I have to admit that I don't know Windows at all and can therefore not comprehend why tgz should be a problem.

Adding any other kind of downloadable archive does not so much depend on the Open Sourceness of the packager (both the zip and the unzip program are part of my Debian install and I guess they must be OS then), but it would require quite a few changes on how we package projects and offer files for download.

Jeff Burnz (not verified):

If you use Alzip it does it one shot.

seutje (not verified):

same with winrar, opens them in 1 go instead of 2

I use winrar for unpacking tar.gz files and 7zip (powerarchiver2009 at the office) to create them

But I don't see any problem in offering files as both .tar.gz and .zip

jhereg69 (not verified):

Gerhard, a .tar.gz file has to have two operations performed on it: one to uncompress it (the gz part of the file) and another to unarchive/untar it.

I'm a multi-platform user, but my servers run Linux, so I would prefer, if .zip is going to be the way things go, that we also have the .tar.gz available for those who prefer to use unencumbered formats (note: IANAL, but I believe there are patents on the .zip extension, or probably more accurately, the compression method algorithm; algorithms shouldn't be patentable, but that's another kettle of fish)

Gerhard Killesreiter (not verified):

Can you try to rename a .tar.gz file to a .tgz file and try to unpack this? I recall Windows being picky about file extensions...

millionleaves (not verified):

Why not use something like WinRar instead? I use this, and it only requires one unzip. I know it's not open source, but I'd rather use that than sub-optimise just to stay open-source.

Sean (not verified):

The advantage of going with the .zip format is as of Windows XP there's been Zip support in the operating system and users are more familiar with the format. By providing .zip users aren't required to download another application to look at the archive.

Adrian B (not verified):

I think comments like these represent why Drupal is considered developer friendly but not user friendly, and rightfully so.

It's more important to have "Open Source 'street cred'" than to be user friendly? And just because it's so common on the Windows platform it's supposed to be avoided at all cost? Even though it's actually the standard compression format used by Mac OS X and that has nothing to do with Microsoft - on the Mac it actually represents a shift from the closed StuffIt format to the open zip format. But hey, it could ruin the most important thing about Drupal - the "Open Source 'street cred'" - so forget about it!

Well, that will really help Drupal growth...

Gerhard Killesreiter (not verified):

Frankly, I am more concerned by Drupal growing too fast than it not growing fast enough.

Actually, that we did manage this growth without offering a "user friendly" way of downloading our software may tell us something. Maybe the windows users that aren't able to deal with zip-files are actually not the kind of people who'd run a website themselves and this actually need Drupal.

ddwornik (not verified):

As a Drupal user I am willing to bet the Open Source street cred is a huge part of the greatness of my user experience.

Drupal has many people contributing to modules and giving them away for Free. The wealth of quality Free modules help set Drupal apart from a project such as Joomla that requires wading through piles of pay modules to find what you are looking for.

As an end user I want the developers catered to beyond all else, for I derive my value from them. As a user the cost of installing 7-zip is very low, and if just one developer gets cranky and stops contributing I lose.

Boris Mann (not verified):

As always when I see this stated ... yes, yes, and yes!

My "trojan horse" would be to work towards native language downloads on Drupal.org, which should require us to build the necessary packaging scripts to make any other kind of install profile possible as well.

And, yet again, I'm working hard on bringing up the thorny question of "What should Drupal do out of the box?", in the context of the default.profile that ships with core.

Here is my current straw man write up: https://groups.drupal.org/node/19812

Derek (dww) Wright (not verified):

We should provide both .zip and .tar.gz:

- .zip because it's less of a hassle for many of our users, they won't need to download another piece of software just to extract a release of Drupal.

- .tar.gz because there are probably 1000s of scripts in the wild that people use for automating various tasks related to creating and updating drupal sites, test frameworks, etc, etc, which are all written to assume .tar.gz. If we stopped shipping .tar.gz, all of that would break and have to be re-written, which is a HUGE burden to place on one part of our user community for the benefit of another.

shyam (not verified):

One way to help people along would be to have Drupal stacks with a bit of pre-defined taxonomy and terms added in. This would help reduce the prep time each installation needs to get it to resemble a product that a framework.

You could, for instance, have a blog stack (for using it only as a blogging site), a publication stack (for using it as a CMS) and have preloaded sample data.

This will help users get a feel of using it than to spend hours reading up on how to set it up.

Michelle (not verified):

One thing I would really like to see but don't have the b/w to make happen is a really simple system for sharing the modules and settings I use on a site. I need it easy on my end. Just click a button and get a tar with all the modules I'm using and a santiized data dump. Then I could hand it out to people and say there you go, social networking in a box. :)


Jeff Geerling (not verified):

I absolutely love reading a good case study, and salivate every time Planet Drupal digs up another one. Seeing what other people are doing with Drupal, and more specifically, seeing their motivation for certain choices they made while turning ideas into a reality, is something that really motivates me.

I know little to no PHP (only enough to get by theming and tweaking), but have grown to embrace Drupal practically as much as I embrace Apple and Macs for my design work!

Drupal has a lot of momentum right now - keep the code/developer-friendly spirit, and continue to push out stories of people's successes, and the momentum will stick.

fireangel (not verified):

Better logged-in user performance is a must, and I don't think anyone is working on a solution right now. An idea: if Drupal was aware of what parts of a page are truly dynamic in a user-specific way, we could cache everything else and only recalculate these, which in most cases would not even account for 1% of the queries on a typical page. In this way, logged-in user performance would be close to anonymous user performance, which would allow more complex sites being built with Drupal. See https://www.drupal.org/node/300935.

ddorian (not verified):

I really need performance too with logged in users.

Robert Castelo (not verified):

Provide more face to face training and encouragement, and raise the quality of help provided.

Statistics of community growth are very positive, but can seem abstract and remote to new users. Being able to talk to experienced Drupal people makes the amazing talent and support available in the community much more tangible, which is very reassuring for new users and organisations getting in to Drupal.

Philippe Jadin (not verified):

Never release a major Drupal without important modules updated at the same time (Views and CCK), or include them in core. At least current users will upgrade faster.

Add more inline edit buttons (like the block edit buttons that appear when you move over them), there could be more edit buttons, like an edit button after each node title wherever it is (inside a list in a block, in a view, etc...)

Use more AJAX stuff for this kind of editing. People love to navigate the site and be able to edit the content inline. It's best navigation scheme, the one they know best : their site navigation.

Allow the basic "I want to put an image for my computer after this particular paragraph" out of the box.

Allow users to reuse uploaded files OOB.

Add some basic WYSIWYG module, linked to one of the editing filter, OOB. Power user are able to remove the module if they don't need it.

Provide better content discovery. A boosted content manager would help. With good filtering capabilities. Like "Give me all the pages I authored last week", "Give me the latest content, my colleague created today", "Give all the unpublished nodes since more than 3 months (= stalled content) ... without the need to create a view.

Make Drupal as intelligent as possible, whatever that means. :-)

I have tons of those, feel free to contact me. :-)

Martin Anderso… (not verified):

One area I think would be extremely helpful is improved error handling. Years ago I used to use Gallery quite a bit, and one of its features that was really helpful was when it hit an error it could show a detailed list of not only which file encountered the error, but the chain of files through which that file had been called.

A number of times I've run into some serious errors where the file in which the error occurred was common.inc or database.mysqli.inc, but in truth the cause of the error is further upstream. Some custom error handling to help people better diagnose problems would make it easier to solve these kinds of problems.

I definitely agree with comments about an integrated wysiwyg editor and AJAX, and as far as the latter goes even things like the improved table heading have been a big win in Drupal 6.

If we could allow for some kind of preconfigured and simplified "contributor mode" I think that would also help, as out-of-the-box I find that Drupal as a CMS has many more options than most people need.

One other suggestion might be to have more submit buttons on long edit forms, similar to what phpMyAdmin does. I've often found it a minor source of frustration if I need to edit a page and change one small thing (say, a character in the title) that I need to scroll down a very long page to find the submit button. It wouldn't be hard to add a button at the top of the form as well, and maybe even partway down for especially long forms.

zzolo (not verified):

I think the design will make a huge difference in both getting new people and really propelling the already awesome Drupal machine.

The node input form needs some love. This is pretty much the hub of every site. It would be really nice to get some better control over this, both with permissions and options for content types. It is really difficult now to make this form really streamlined for users (without coding or theming) and ensure they have the right amount of control.

Adrian B (not verified):

Themes, themes, themes!

More high quality themes would benefit a lot of people. Both goodlooking themes for those not wanting to build their own design and good starter themes for those who creates the design from scratch.

Since theming in Drupal can be quite a lot of work the starter themes (like Zen, 960 etc) are great to help people in the right direction.

I realize that high quality themes requires a lot of work, but I doesn't require any modification of the Drupal code so it would benefit the Drupal 6 users immediately.

Jeff Burnz (not verified):

Automagic one click core upgrades. Several other CMS's have this and it makes life very easy.

John (not verified):

Definitely; core upgrading should be improved.

Cary Gordon (not verified):

I think that your projections are pessimistic. From my point of view, D6 didn't arrive as a viable product until Q1 2009. I predict that their will be move into an arithmetic rate increase in the next few months. Probably not going logarithmic, although we can hope.

As far as packaging goes, as I proposed in Szeged, I think that we should have a seeded install where you download a small drush-like executable that pulls in the rest of the package, ideally configured with modules on the fly.

Users go to a form, check off the modules and theme they want, then click-bang.

NIck Lewis (not verified):

Some form of commenting system at api.drupal.org that lets people comment on specific functions*

Come on:
1. Anything is better than the "let the user search for gotchas via google" reality of now. You might say that "wrong information" is worse, but I think comments at api.drupal.org will help with this (for example, is form state passed into hook form? Is it by reference? Anyone remember? Have the docs been updated?)
2. Code comments are no place for in depth discussion, or to link to the API function you are ACTUALLY looking for.
3. And handbooks make terrible place for commentary on API functions. And they will never achieve a better organizational strategy for programmers, or drupal ninjas. So why put it off longer?


*no, it doesn't have to be a node centric commenting system... we need a user id, title, api reference, time, and a few other fields... drupal_write_record makes those easy to create, but there's not very much information on that very useful function.

Martin Baker (not verified):

Make module developers aware of the crucial need to provide documentation on their work. It gets very frustrating to read about a module that seems to fit your needs but when you download it, there's a complete lack of even basic documentation on how to set it up. Setting up by trial and error is a massive waste of time and ultimately reflects badly on the module developer.

Anonymous (not verified):

After the redesigned drupal.org site has been launched, release the current theme under the GPL.
Enable the drupal.be site to be trilingual, or at least add the French language to the interface. This would engage Wallonia and other French-speaking communities into Drupal. (they have the drupal.fr site, but I feel they are a bit left out on the current .be site.)

Jesse Longacre (not verified):

I would like to see Drupal.org website more mobile web capable. If there isn't this capability already being implemented I would love to have the opportunity to work with the community on the project.


Lucas (not verified):

Glad to see that Drupal is growing at such a pace. I've tested Drupal a few months back, and I have to say that it's a great application. We are using it for Ubuntu Singapore, ubuntu.sg that is.

Rock on Drupal developers & users!