The first few months of Drupal Commons business for Acquia has been great. We've seen tens of thousands of downloads of the distribution, live sites starting to appear all over the world, and enterprise deployments get underway. With all this activity, we've seen a few trends start to emerge. We've also heard from our customers about the most critical enhancements they wanted. Our new release of Drupal Commons version 1.3 - now in beta - responds to this activity. It also looks a lot prettier.
One of the key things we're seeing is that Drupal Commons has strong advantages for externally-facing communities. Organizations are selecting Drupal Commons because they can combine its community functions with other communications or functional needs. So Commons release 1.3 has several new items designed specifically for them:
- Participation rewards to grow community participation. Users love to become community experts, so we've added new "user badges" that can be earned through active participation. Organizations can create named ranks and assign graphic icons to each rank to reward community members and drive growth in their communities.
- Increased usability to speed community growth. Our first user interface was intentionally somewhat busy and packed; we wanted to expose as much capability as we could as quickly as possible. However, that left many users a bit overwhelmed. So we've decluttered some of the pages and increased the customizability of others so they can start out with a more simple view. We've also taken the opportunity to pretty up some of the graphics to make the defaults more visually appealing. The new home page is a good example:
- Expanded flexibility for customization. We also helped out those who want to do deeper customizations by breaking apart the Commons "Feature" into more granular individual features. This will enable site customizers to have more refined control over what Commons features they want enabled or disabled. It will also facilitate easier release updates.
- Improved multilingual support for global organizations. We've definitely got a highly global community, with sites being deployed from Russia to Brazil. Our non-english-speaking community members helped identify some areas we needed to address in order to assure Commons fully leveraged Drupal's excellent internationalization and localization abilities.
Last but not least, we've also taken a step to open the Commons project to community participation. We've switched to using GitHub as the official project repository for Commons code. This means that other developers will both be able to have access to our current release HEAD as well as directly submit improvements to the repository for inclusion in Drupal Commons. This is consistent with our believe that Drupal Commons both is, and provides Community Powered Innovation.
I'm excited by the terrific early successes we've had with Drupal Commons, by the Drupal Community's growth and ability to participate in adding new capabilities, and by the prospects for Drupal Commons in the marketplace.
Release 1.3 is currently in Beta. It is looking very stable, so I expect we'll release it to GA in a couple of weeks.