Commons 3.3: Brought to you by the GRAMMY Awards & the Drupal Community

We're excited to announce the release of Drupal Commons 3.3 with several great new features and usability improvements sponsored by The Recording Academy, presenter of the annual GRAMMY awards.

Drupal Commons is Acquia's social business software that makes it easy to start a collaborative community website. Drupal Commons has no license fees, is 100 percent open source, and competes directly with software from proprietary vendors such as Jive and Lithium.

We’ve made several key enhancements in the 3.3 release, so we’re breaking this post up into two parts to cover it all. Part one provides an overview of the key new features in Drupal Commons 3.3 and part two will cover the collaborative process between the GRAMMY Awards, Acquia, and its partners Gizra, Metal Toad and Lullabot in developing those features along with participation from members of the Drupal Community.

2013: Building on an initial release

It's been an exciting first half of 2013 for Drupal Commons! In February, we released the completely redesigned Drupal Commons 3.0 and have since grown our engineering team, seen an increase in the number of sites running Drupal Commons and received some great initial feedback from customers and Drupal Commons users in the wild, including being rated as a leader in the latest Forrester “Social Depth Platforms” Wave.

We’ve received lot of positive feedback on Commons 3 from customers, the Drupal community, and through our own user experience testing to help validate the new features we’ve added (many of which were based on requests from the community).

Key Enhancements in Drupal Commons 3.3

A new People directory

Commons 3.3 People directory

  • Spelling suggestions and partial name search make it easy to find the people you're looking for, even if you're not sure how to spell their names.
  • The People directory is powered by Apache Solr search technology, so you'll see search results in a snap, even on communities of thousands of people.
  • You can even add faceted search to the directory, making it easy to filter search results based on any custom user profile fields you’ve added.

Trusted contacts & private messaging

Share with trusted contacts
Commons header area showing new private message and new trusted contact request notifications
New private message

  • Drupal Commons 3.3 adds new features for sites where privacy of content is a priority. A single site can include a mix of public and private group, and Drupal site builders will appreciate only needing a single node access module (OG Access) to manage access control within the site.
  • Now people on the site can add one another as trusted contacts allowing them to privately exchange one-on-one messages and share content with people they trust.

Streamlined Content Creation

New site homepage with revised content creation form

  • We’ve updated the content creation widget to makes it even easier to write a post or ask a question without leaving the homepage.
  • Extra fields are hidden to keep the form simple for end users, and making it available right on the homepage means one less page refresh -- and fewer page refreshes mean happier contributors in your community!
  • Consistent with Drupal's reputation for extensibility, the form is customizable so that site builders can provide a simplified form for any custom content types that exist on your site.

Twitter-style status updates

Twitter style status update

  • One of the most commonly requested features for Drupal Commons 3 was Facebook/Twitter style status updates, so community members can write a quick status update and have it display in the site activity stream.

Streamlined Group privacy controls: More power, fewer settings

  • It’s now easier for community members to find and start contributing to groups that interest them, whether the groups are public or private.
  • Group privacy settings are streamlined in 3.3, giving even non-technical users the power of Drupal's Organic Groups module in a streamlined interface

Responsive toolbar for easier site administration on any device

Responsive admin toolbar

  • Community managers and site administrators now have a brand new, responsive administrative Navbar at their disposal that makes it even easier to administer your Drupal Commons community site from any device.
  • This Navbar was developed as part of the administrative and authoring experience improvements from Acquia's Spark engineering team.

As always, features are loosely coupled, meaning you can easily enable or disable features a-la-carte to create the ideal community configuration for you and your users.

How did we select this particular list of features to implement in this release of Drupal Commons and organize the work so that it resulted in contribution back to the Drupal Commons platform? We’ll cover that in part two of this blog later this month, including a thank you to specific key community contributors to the 3.3 release.

Commons Support Office Hours and your feedback

We're excited about Drupal Commons 3.3 and look forward to receiving your feedback! You can find us in the Drupal Commons issue queue and the #drupal-commons chatroom on IRC. We'll be holding our next Drupal Commons Support Office Hours on Wednesday, August 28th from 1pm to 2:30pm Eastern time (UTC-4) and hope to see you there!