The Drupal Release Model and Why it Needs to be Revamped

Drupal today released a total of four versions of the popular open source CMS. Yes, I said four. Drupal 6.23, 6.24, 7.11 and 7.12 releases were put on the servers today.

On the release announcement, they are stating that they want to release version that include only security updates and versions that include security + bug fixes. While I can appreciate that they are trying to follow the “try to make everyone happy” model, they are, in my opinion, just adding to the general consensus that Drupal is a complicated and highly technical CMS.

While this may very well be the target market that Drupal is aiming towards, one would think it would be more sensible to attempt to follow suit with the whole customer experience movement that is occurring right now and try to make things as transparent and easy as possible for the end users.  Unfortunately, it seems that the Drupal team is not heading down this path.

In my opinion, Drupal should offer separate release announcements. One for the 6.x series with a countdown as to when this series will stop being supported so that those on the platform, know when it will be grandfathered and will be better able to plan a transition to 7.x.

For those on the 7.x version, I would personally just offer a single version. However, if it's absolutely necessary to have two types of installs, why not simply offer one version and within the upgrade process have a prompt for the user asking them if they'd like to do a complete upgrade (with security + bug fixes) or a partial just to address security issues and have the system do what's needed. Single file, single download, no confusion.

For release announcements, I think that Drupal needs to spruce things up a bit and write-up announcements that give more detail and less technical terminology akin to the way that the Joomla! and WordPress teams do their write ups. It's a fairly easy change to make and is more likely to get picked up by people and get them excited about the new release. If  the customer wants more technical information, link to a more technical document. Otherwise, follow the keep it simple methodology.

I am aware that the Drupal teams have a ton of work and do the best they can with all of the tasks at hand and I don' t want to come across as someone who doesn't appreciate their efforts. I do, however, believe that there is always room for improvement and it is my hope that they take this writeup as feedback and not as an attack.