Google vs. China – The Good vs the Evil?

As Dries Buytaert, the creator and head of development of Drupal, announced on Twitter, the new major (pre-)version of Drupal, namely Drupal 7 alpha 1 has been released! This was on the 9th birthday of Drupal.

This is great news and the release notes are mentioning some aspects why this is so:

Revamped User Interface
An incredible amount of work has gone into improving the user experience and administration interface. The new administration theme “Seven”, the overlay module, the dashboard and the configurable shortcut bar, all lead to a much more user-friendly interface. In-place editing is enabled for blocks and nodes by default, so modifying the content of a site becomes much simpler.

Custom Fields
Drupal 7 bundles in the ability to add custom fields, similar in functionality to the Content Construction Kit (CCK) module. However, fields are no longer limited only to content types; they can be added to users, taxonomy terms, and other entities. Fields also have support for translations.

Image Handling
Drupal 7 brings native image handling to core. Image fields may be added to content, and have image styles applied to them, such as scaling, cropping, and other effects.
Update Manager
Building on Drupal 6’s Update module, which keeps site administrators informed when new module and theme releases are available, the new Update Manger module can also install and upgrade modules and themes.

Front-end “under-the-hood” improvements
A new render API allows for highly granular theming, core template files have been revamped to provide more semantic markup, Drupal 7 now has built-in RDFa support, includes jQuery UI and a new AJAX framework, and a new core theme “Stark” which exposes Drupal’s markup directly for those who want to dive in and start theming.

In addition, Drupal 7 has several major accessibility enhancements, making it the most accessible release of Drupal to date!

Back-end “under-the-hood” improvements
A revamped database layer resolving nearly all limitations in the Drupal 6 database layer, automated testing framework, new PHP stream-based file API that supports private and public files simultaneously, revamped node access system, new hooks for more flexible system interaction, an Entity API, a job queue API, and many, many, many more improvements.

Drupal 7 is also the most scalable release to date, with features such as built-in proxy server support, advanced caching techniques, and Content Delivery Network support for static files.

Alone the inclusion of CCK and Views are great news, whereas all PostgreSQL users will benefit from the new database layer under the hood. I’ve tested a pre-alpha development version some weeks ago and that Drupal 7 experience was already great. So, it would be nice to see Drupal 7 in Debian soon as well, but I guess a alpha 1 version might be too early to be packaged.