September 16th, 2010
Our last Drupal 7 alpha version was released about two months ago. Today, we're proud to announce the release of the seventh (and hopefully final) alpha version of Drupal 7.x for your further testing and feedback. The first alpha announcement provided a comprehensive list of improvements made since Drupal 6.x, so in this announcement we'll concentrate on how you can help ensure that Drupal 7 is released as soon as possible and is as rock solid as the previous Drupal releases that you've grown to love!
This release includes:
- HUGE number of upgrade path fixes, including automated tests for updates. We are *very* close to a totally working upgrade path! Please test!
- Great usability improvements, including the installer not greeting you with a red error of death anymore on shared hosts!
- Field UI improvements to allow it to be further extended from contrib.
- Numerous Form API fixes and improvements.
- Numerous accessibility fixes.
- A variety of PostgreSQL and SQLite fixes, almost at 100% automated tests passing on both!
- Lots of polish on coding standards compliance and API documentation.
- Markup improvements, and a new default jQuery UI theme.
- Numerous security fixes, including 'forward-ports' of Drupal core SAs, and fixes to private files.
- Performance improvements.
- There have been several API changes since alpha6 to fix critical issues. These are broadcast to the development mailing list by Randy Fay.
When will alpha become beta?
We have identified several "beta blocking" issues, and itemized these at the Drupal core community initiatives page. It's expected we will have a few beta versions and at least one release candidate before Drupal 7.0 is finalized. We can potentially reach beta within the next month by focusing on this short-list of issues! Please help!
Updating from previous versions
While we do not support 7.x => 7.x upgrades yet (that happens in beta 1), the upgrade path from 6.x => 7.x is actually working reasonably well right now. We need people to test this like crazy! But please note that there are still known security issues in Drupal 7, so alphas should be installed for testing only.
Always make backups of your data and never do testing on your live site to make sure you keep all of your information intact even if something goes wrong.
So when does 7.0 get released?
The release version of Drupal 7.0 will be ready after (a) there are no more critical bugs and (b) we've had at least one release candidate (RC) without adding any more issues to the list.
When will that be? Well, it depends entirely on how many people chip in and help out! The more people help, the faster we can find and fix bugs, and the faster 7.0 gets released. The faster 7.0 gets released, the faster we can start adding new features to Drupal 8.0. So help out where you can, and let's make this the best and most solid release of Drupal yet! :)
How do I help test the alpha?
Start by either installing a new Drupal site or upgrading an existing one running on a previous version (see INSTALL.txt or UPGRADE.txt in the package). When setting up a new site, you can use the Development module to generate some test data (content, users, etc) to help you start testing quickly. As with everything still in development, we do not recommend running pre-releases on a live site. Also, always make sure to backup of your data before performing an upgrade or start testing.
New Drupal Users
Are you completely (or relatively) new to Drupal? Or do you know just enough to be dangerous? Are you used to working with other content management systems and willing to lend your perspective in improving the way Drupal works? If so, you're a perfect candidate to help with usability testing and improving documentation! As you're going through Drupal 7, take notes on things you find difficult or confusing, and translate those notes into an issue which will show up in the issue tracker. Make sure to be as clear as possible about what the problem was and provide suggestions on how to improve it -- this makes it easier for developers to help!
Do people often congratulate you on your ability to break things? Are you a creative individual who likes to experiment in unconventional ways to see what happens? Do you enjoy looking over other peoples' work and picking nits in order to make it as good as it possibly can be? If any of these apply to you, you could make a great tester! We need testers both to try out different aspects of Drupal itself, as well as take a look at the issue queue, checking bugs to see if they're valid and testing patches to verify they work properly. Read more about setting up a testing environment and applying patches.
Module and theme developers
There is no better way to shake out any lingering bugs with the API and to ensure that your modules and themes will work with the new version of Drupal than to update your modules and update your themes! Make sure to file any bugs that you find! And try coding some upgrade routines to help make the process smoother for the next person!
Drupal Ninjas and Ninjas-in-training
If you're adept at Drupal hacking, or are eager to learn, a great place to start is with the bug tracker or the patch queue. Even if you don't have a full solution for a problem, often even a step in the right direction can be enough for another developer to take it home! Read up on how to create patches.
Drupal interface translators
The interface strings of Drupal 7.0 are mostly frozen. The days of major changes to the UI strings are over, but we still are changing texts to fix bugs or to lend clarity in the interface. Around release candidate 1, a formal "string freeze" will be declared at which point it should be safe to start translating.