OpenPublish for Drupal 7 - alpha release

Today, we issued the Alpha release of OpenPublish on Drupal 7. This is truly a "developer's release" focusing on core capabilities necessary for a news and publishing website. Unlike OpenPublish releases in the past, it comes with no flashy sub-themes, no bells and whistles. This is an early release of OpenPublish, meant for testing, use, and contribution by experienced developers in the Drupal community. You won't find a "website in a box" here, and we have good reasons why.

Tirdad Chaharlengi, Senior Developer
#Drupal | Posted

Today, we issued the Alpha release of OpenPublish on Drupal 7. This is truly a "developer's release" focusing on core capabilities necessary for a news and publishing website. Unlike OpenPublish releases in the past, it comes with no flashy sub-themes, no bells and whistles. This is an early release of OpenPublish, meant for testing, use, and contribution by experienced developers in the Drupal community. You won't find a "website in a box" here, and we have good reasons why.

What's in it and why

The anticipated release date of OpenPublish on Drupal 7 has been one of the recurrent questions we've heard in the past 8 months. With the transition to D7, we have done a thorough re-evaluation of the distribution, its goals, and its roadmap.

There are two goals that drive the new OpenPublish: A focus on a lighter, better performing distribution, and an emphasis on releasing code to the community while processing contributions back more quickly, easily and regularly. Ultimately these goals drove our core decisions on what we want to keep, what to focus on and what to trim.

Shedding a number of pre-packaged features and functionalities may initially seem strange for a distribution often touted for the number of features it provides "out of the box" until you examine the essential nature of what OpenPublish aims to accomplish. In OpenPublish for D7, we are creating a solid foundation on which to build Drupal sites in the realm of publishing, no matter how much custom work inevitably occurs down the line. More "out of the box" features and functionality means more assumptions are bolted in place from the start. And when you're eventually spending more time wrestling with those assumptions rather than gaining a head start on your site with the distribution, you may be losing more than you gain.

This initial alpha release is one aimed primarily at developers and is derived from the version we've been using on a number of projects that have recently launched or that will do so in the near future. It is not identical, as feedback from those experiences reshaped some Drupal 6 era precepts. It aims to be lean and flexible, but will be gradually enriched with additions through future releases.

Alpha includes:

  • an installation profile with a selection of crucial modules.
  • a features set that provides functional yet restrained content types, meant to be extended through additional features and minimizing the need for overrides.
  • Section Fronts - an alternate and highly usable approach to inline page layout management in Drupal through Boxes and Views Boxes.
  • integration with Apps.
  • Omega base theme - a contributed base theme focused on supporting responsive design from the start.

At this stage, OpenPublish is a compact starter kit for developers, one that we already use internally and tailored for that purpose.

What's next

Of course the distribution will grow over the coming months, and some of the key additions will be:

  • an Omega-based default theme, which will move us away from a custom theme highly reliant on pre-processing to a more extensible one built on one of the most popular and well supported base themes for Drupal 7.
  • usable demo sub-themes (also based on Omega), courtesy of our own Phase2 design team, as well as community contributions.
  • a number of key apps, including a revamped version of OpenCalais.

Is OpenPublish Alpha Right for us?

In summary: if you're a publisher seeking an "out of the box" website that shows you a demonstration of OpenPublish's theming, content handling, and integration capabilities, we'd recommend waiting for a future release. But if you're a developer, hoping to build a site on OpenPublish on Drupal 7, Alpha is a great release for you. We hope that you'll start testing, building, and contributing back. We are working in earnest on the roadmap defined above, and will continue to refine the roadmap as we see OpenPublish in practical use for news and publishing sites around the world.

Tirdad Chaharlengi

Senior Developer