September 13th, 2016
Read our Roadmap to understand how this work falls into priorities set by the Drupal Association with direction and collaboration from the Board and community.
Our latest update about Drupal.org comes as the Drupal Association has moved out of our central office in Portland, OR, and gone to an all-distributed team. A move of that sort always creates some upheaval but amidst the move we’ve continued to push forward on several initiatives to improve Drupal.org.
At the same time we’ve been pushing forward towards DrupalCon Dublin at the end of September- and we hope to see you there!
A new home page, coming soon
As we recently previewed on the Drupal.org blog, some changes are coming to the home page. We’re building some new editorial tools to allow for more flexibility with the home page content, and to enable an increased focus on the adoption journey for visitors to Drupal.org. You’ll see styles reminiscent of the Drupal 8 release announcement pages, and a continued modernization of theme.
The launch of the new home page is coming soon, but as a precursor we’ve been making some small improvements. The new user menu which we launched in July has been updated for better keyboard accessibility, and to show a user picture as an indicator that a user has logged in. We’ve also moved the search feature into an icon in the top navigation. This gives us more flexibility with the header, which can be customized per-page type or per-section with the overall site search box still being present. For example, the header in the new documentation section features search box specific to this particular section, so while you are there you can search for other documentation without having to go through the full-site search and then filtering down. Lastly, we’ve merged the ‘Get Started’ and ‘Download & Extend’ pages. 90% of the content on these pages was duplicated with each other – and the new page presents a cleaner experience with the essential details needed for getting started with Drupal.
The new front page is beginning editorial review, with the help of DA staff, a marketing task-force from the Drupal Association board, and a few key community members.
We’ve also just launched our fall membership campaign, and we’ve used this opportunity to beta test some of these new editorial tools to build the campaign landing page. Your support makes our work possible. Thank you!
There’s some news to report on the documentation front as well. Firstly, as mentioned above, we’ve updated the header of the documentation section to default to a documentation-specific search box. While not so important for other areas of the site,, we want to preserve and improve the highly-visible, in context search for Documentation.
We’ve also made some updates to the new system for Documentation maintainers. Authors of new documentation guides will now automatically become maintainers of those guides and automatically ‘follow’ the guide content so that they will receive notifications of activity in that guide. Any user following a guide can modify notifications settings at any time from their user profile. Within the notification settings a user can select their prefered method of receiving updates – via email or via their tracker page.
Tvn has continued to spearhed the migration of documentation from the old book pages, to our new documentation system.
We have completed the migration of the majority of the ‘general’ documentation. While that is done, there is still a lot of work to do to make the documentation content better using the new tools that are now available.
We need community volunteers to take on small sub-sets of documentation to clean them up post-migration and to maintain going forward.
If you don’t want to commit to maintaining a guide, you can still help out by doing some of the pending tasks for any of the documentation pages.
Lastly, if any Drupal developers are interested in contributing code to the new documentation system to clean up a few minor bugs and features, please contact tvn. And if you are going to be at DrupalCon Dublin, consider joining us at the sprints!
Quality of Life Improvements
We also took the time in August to make a few quality of life improvements, both for our end users, and for our own team. Firstly, we’ve made it easier than ever to download a copy of your invoice for DrupalCon. Any user can now log into events.Drupal.org and any time, go to “My Account” -> “Orders” and download a pdf of their invoice for any past event. If your company is sending you to DrupalCon, this makes the process easier than ever. (And if they’re not, here are some tools to convince your boss!)
Behind the scenes, we’ve made some additional improvements to our sophisticated spam prevention system, which focuses on preventing bad actors from even registering on Drupal.org in the first place. For those few bad actors that do get through, the system is also tuned to allow us to prevent those users from making multiple account registrations, as one of the primary methods for targeting Drupal.org in the past has been to make a large number of ‘sleeper’ account registrations that can be later updated with spam links. Unfortunately, on rare occasions this tool can make it difficult for legitimate users to register an account, so we’ve updated the system with a whitelisting system that allows legitimate to register, without opening the floodgates to the bad actors.
Virtualization and better Drupal.org dev sites
On the infrastructural side we’ve been focused on improving the maintainability, stability, and portability of our infrastructure with our smaller engineering team. In particular we’ve been focusing on virtualizing all the components of our infrastructure.
In August in particular we completed the virtualization of pre-production services. We’ve optimized the snapshotting and whitelisting process that allows us to create staging and development environments to make that process more efficient and easier to manage. We’ve also replaced our drupal.org dev site architecture with a new architecture that is no longer vulnerable to docker-fs faults which have multiple times resulted in data loss on our development environments. Drupal.org contributors who’ve been affected by dev site fragility should find dev sites to be much more robust moving forward.
Community Initiative Updates
Finally, here are some updates on our active community initiatives. Community initiatives are a collaboration; with dedicated community volunteers building improvements to Drupal.org with the architectural guidance and oversight of the Drupal Association engineering team.
Drupal 8 User Guide
The Drupal.org user guide is an effort lead by jhodgdon and a number of other contributors to create a highly produced, tightly editorially controlled guide to using Drupal 8. This user guide has been written to the standard of an industry publication, and uses a custom editorial workflow with git + asciidoc. Jhodgdon has been building out functionality to publish the user guide to a Documentation guide on Drupal.org.
A few interrelated initiatives are in progress to improve how information about project security is displayed on Drupal.org. Mlhess has been working on a new security advisory content type for Drupal.org, which will allow security advisory content to be more easily related to project releases, among other things.
With the input and collaboration of quite a few community members, including the security working group, we’ve also deployed an update to project pages.
This update adds a shield icon next to stable releases. This shield icon indicates which releases are covered by the security advisory policy. This small change is also part of the groundwork for a project application revamp.
Community initiatives are not work that the Drupal Association can tackle on our own. Our mandate requires us to remain focused. That said, whenever the community has arrived at a strong plan and individual volunteers are ready to contribute code, the engineering team can provide architectural advice, code review, and deployment support.
As always, we’d like to say thanks to all the volunteers who work with us, and to the Drupal Association Supporters, who made it possible for us to work on these projects.
If you would like to support our work as an individual or an organization, consider becoming a member of the Drupal Association.