The Open App Standard: Better Usability, Drupalwide

It's no secret: the concept of "apps" in Drupal is a hot topic. The Drupal community is experimenting with different concepts around apps, and has launched the first few "app store" concepts. At Phase2, we developed the Apps module (now available on drupal.org) and built an app console into OpenPublic. And the UK firm SubHub launched their first "app store" concept with their SaaS offering earlier this year.

Karen Borchert
#Drupal | Posted

It's no secret: the concept of "apps" in Drupal is a hot topic. The Drupal community is experimenting with different concepts around apps, and has launched the first few "app store" concepts. At Phase2, we developed the Apps module (now available on drupal.org) and built an app console into OpenPublic. And the UK firm SubHub launched their first "app store" concept with their SaaS offering earlier this year.

With these developments and experimental concepts comes and important question: "What happens when a third party wants to build a 'Drupal app?' Who defines the standard?" And because this is open source, the answer is simple: we all do. Today we're excited to announce the Open App Standard initiative, a community effort to help build greater usability for Drupal through an open standard around the concept of "apps."

At its core, the concept of apps is simple: package Drupal modules, themes, views, and configurations together to create a single, one-click solution to a specific problem for a specific audience. It's not unlike "apps" concepts for smart phones or tablets - make functionality easier to find, install, use, and uninstall, and you create a more vibrant ecosystem and economy around that software.

Clearly, the concept of apps brings the possibility of integrating more third party services into Drupal distributions and products. But interoperability issue is key: if multiple "app" concepts occur in Drupal, third party service providers will be frustrated by one app concept here, and a different one somewhere else -- it's up to the community to make it simple for service providers to participate and for the community to grow the apps concept.

We hope you'll join us in this effort. A group has been formed at groups.drupal.org, where we welcome community participation in the discussion. We've begun a draft of the Open App Standard document, and will continue the process as we gain more participation and discussion.

And if you're at DrupalCon, we invite you to join us at Robert Douglass' session: "Taking Stock of Drupal Products and App Stores" on Wednesday at 1:45pm, where we'll be talking about the Open App Standard, and to the Apps BOF on Thursday at 11 am.

Karen Borchert