My Drupal predictions for 2008

My personal Drupal highlights for 2007 include the Drupal 5 release, bootstrapping the Drupal Association, the two Drupal conferences we organized, the Pro Drupal development book, and co-founding Acquia.

But more than anything else, I enjoyed being part of the Drupal community and helping it navigate through some of its growing pains. Thanks to you, 2007 was a blast.

In good tradition, here are my Drupal predictions for the next year.

Growth predictions for 2008

First, let's predict Drupal's growth in 2008. The short answer is that Drupal will continue to grow more, not less.

Much of Drupal's growth in 2008 will depend on the work we did in 2007. I'm extremely happy with the upcoming Drupal 6 release as it will be easier to use, it will run faster, and it will come with some great new features. Our work on Drupal 6 will pay off in 2008.

Many metrics can be used to predict Drupal's growth in 2008, so let's use a non-conventional one: to date, four books have been published on Drupal, but only one of these was published in 2007. In 2008, ten Drupal books will be published ...

What I care most about is not Drupal's growth, but that we will continue to democratize web publishing and web development in 2008. By growing Drupal and giving it away for free we accomplish two things: (i) we empower more individuals to publish online and (ii) we help grow a successful ecosystem that allows more people to make a living with web development. So not only will Drupal continue to grow in 2008, it will continue to make a positive change.

The more you give away, the more you get back, and because of this, working on Drupal will continue to be a labor of love in 2008.

Market predictions for 2008

We are still in a young market: there are hundreds of Open Source CMSes, there is no real competition amongst them ("We're all colleagues and friends!"), not to mention we all benefit from what seems unwieldy growth. (Note that I'm talking about the Open Source CMS market, not the proprietary CMS market.)

However, near the end of 2008, we'll see the first signs of consolidation in the Open Source CMS market. The Open Source CMS space will become less fragmented; the "big three" (i.e. Wordpress, Joomla! and Drupal) will continue to grow but the growth of many other systems (i.e. Plone, Typo3, Xoops, e107, ezPublish, dotNetNuke, etc) will slow down significantly.

The good news is that the Open Source CMS market becomes easier to shop in. The bad news is that there will be a competitive edge.

Unless we manage to put more effort into (i) marketing, (ii) support, (iii) documentation and (iv) drupal.org this might turn out to be a tough battle for Drupal. Drupal.org will be our biggest challenge in 2008, and much of that will determine whether we'll be one of the "big three" Open Source CMSes at the end of 2008.

End-user predictions for 2008

From an end-user's point of view, 2008 will be characterized by the fact that we'll continue to give our users what they want. There will be a big and concentrated effort to further improve Drupal's ease of use. As a result, Drupal 7 will ship with one or two install profiles, many UI improvements, more AJAX, a basic WYSIWYG editor (or better WYSIWYG support), some wizards, and improved image and file handling. Yes, that is a lot.

Developer predictions for 2008

While we listen to our users in 2008, most of the excitement will be developer-centric.

A significant portion (but not all) of the Content Construction Kit (CCK) will move to core and we'll pave the path for Views by extending Drupal 6's query builder. There are three important motivations for this: (i) the desire to write less and less code to improve developer productivity, (ii) the desire to reduce the risk of these modules falling behind in terms of support and updates and (iii) drupal.org becoming dependent on them.

Integration of the CCK and Views will trigger a strong focus on improving our internal data models and APIs. While unheard in Drupal circles right now, object-relational mapping (ORM) will be the buzzword du jour by the summer of 2008. This, in turn, will lead to better web service integration, RIA integration (specifically Flex), and improved import/export functionality in Drupal 7.

The desire to reduce risks, combined with drastic API changes and a growing code base, will lead us to adopt a test driven development methodology. Drupal 7 will ship with some first regression tests.

All in all, the net result is that Drupal 7 will be an even better web application development platform. Comments and users as nodes continues to be a pipe dream though.

My final prediction is that I will get all of this year's predictions right, but that you still want to get a second opinion.