So let’s talk Drupal 7, and some bits and bytes about Drupal in general. Central Web Services maintains a central Drupal installation. Like any piece of software, it has multiple versions. Drupal 5, 6, 7, and 8 which is in development. The CWS stable version is Drupal 6. Drupal 5 is no longer supported. Right now we are getting numerous requests for Drupal 7.
We want to let you all know that we are actively working to get Drupal 7 tested, documented, and functional for the needs of OSU. Well, why can’t I just get it now, it’s just a download, you ask? The answer is, while if you were hosting on your own ISP this would be the case, the OSU infrastructure is such that we have to ensure security, reliability as well as integrations with other solutions, such as authentication, themes and modules in use by OSU CWS Drupal sites. We have a number of concurrent activities happening to make progress toward rolling this out for the University, including actively working on the theme necessary for Drupal 7 (yes we have to rewrite the theme to work for new Drupal versions). This is in partnership with the rock-star team over in Web Communications.
Now more importantly, what we are trying to do with Drupal 7 is reduce our site footprint and number of individual sites. Can you believe we have over 400 sites? That becomes a maintenance and support headache. With Drupal 7, there will be a new feature called Organic Groups. This will allow us to have a smaller subset of sites, and areas and departments within the same site but still allow the finer grained control that some of you desire. With Organic Groups, you will be able to take control of the portion of the site that is your relevant content, and have control so others cannot access that portion of the site as a Drupal administrator to modify something in error. This is where we want to go and what makes sense for Oregon State University.
So when will this be done? With Organic Groups, we are in the pilot stage with Information Services, and then we are going to ensure we have it done right by piloting the College of Liberal Arts. Doing this we will ensure we understand the technology well enough to teach, document, and support it going forward so people are not left out on their own to figure things out.
Individual main colleges in working with Web Communications can look at Drupal 7 with the Doug Fir Theme (the theme that we have available for Drupal 7), and then incorporate changes for Organic Groups as we roll that out. Science and Liberal Arts main college sites are already in Drupal 7.
Departments however, we will not be rolling out with Drupal 7 at this time, as they are to be incorporated into Organic Groups, working with your colleges, once we roll out Organic Groups.
For those sites that are in Drupal 6 and want to look like the main college sites that are using Drupal 7 Doug Fir, we are working on a version of Doug Fir for Drupal 6.
What is Doug Fir? So besides being an evergreen confier species, Doug Fir is an OSU responsive Drupal theme. This means that the site resizes depending on the device that you are on. Liberal Arts is a good site to see using this theme.
For us it is imperative that we do this right and do not add to the overhead and support it would take to enable OSU. This is why you might hear us say that we are not providing Drupal 7 to individual sites at this time.
Our rough timeline as of now is:
- Spring and Summer to test and roll out Organic Groups.
- Winter: Migrate Drupal 6 sites to Drupal 7
- 2014 Drupal 6 moves to maintenance fixes only
- 2015 End of Life (EOL) Drupal 6
With all of this we are re-architecting the infrastructure, and then we will have Drupal 8 on the Horizon.
We hope this information helps you to be aware of the progress we are making.