August 12th, 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.
The Drupal Association engineering team has been continuing to refine our focus for the next 12 months. In July, we worked through the details of setting new priorities for our work, after the organizational changes earlier this summer.
As part of this prioritization process, we've set up a technical advisory committee: a collaboration between a few members of the staff, a representative from the board, and two members from the community. This committee will help us refine the roadmap for Drupal.org for the short term—while the Association is focused on fiscal health and sustainability—and will provide strategic vision for the long term, as our fiscal stability improves.
As a result of these changes, you'll begin to see our updates in this blog series evolve. Expect a greater focus on:
- The adoption journey for users evaluating Drupal.
- Systematic improvements to make maintenance of critical Drupal.org services less labor intensive and more affordable.
- Community initiatives, where we're working together with community contributors who want to help us improve Drupal.org.
So without further ado, let's talk about what we did in July.
We've moved the user activity links (Login/Register, My Dashboard, My Account, etc.) to a user menu in the top navigation. This change is live on www.Drupal.org and all of the sub-sites that use the Bluecheese theme. The immediate effects of this change are a better look and feel and more vertical space for content on every page. But these weren’t the primary motivation. The larger reason for making this change is that it’s the first incremental step towards upcoming editorial changes on Drupal.org.
More incremental changes will follow in August, including accessibility improvements to this new user menu and a new search icon to replace the embedded search box in the header.
Better Packaging Behavior
One of the basic features of Drupal.org's project hosting is packaging the code committed to our git repositories and providing tar.gz and zip files of releases. The packaging process, while generally reliable, has had its share of infrequent but persistent quirks and race conditions. In July, we fixed several aspects of packaging to eliminate race conditions and reduce the need for human intervention if it runs off the rails. The changes we made were:
- Storing and using commit file hashes instead of relying on timestamps to find files changed since the last packaging run.
- Considering the committer date for packaging.
- Update project release tables immediately when packaging occurs.
Taken together, these changes have made packaging faster, more efficient, and less prone to race conditions that require staff time to fix.
Supporting Drupal 8.2
Deprecated unstable releases
In July, we also deprecated the use of the “unstable” release tag for projects hosted on Drupal.org. Per our naming conventions, the unstable tag was intended to represent a release without a stable codebase, api, or database schema. However, this definition is largely redundant with the alpha tag and/or simply using dev releases. Beyond that, “unstable” is not a standard tag in semver, and is thus not supported by tools that rely on the semver standard, such as Composer. Existing releases tagged “unsable” on Drupal.org weren’t affected by this change, but no future releases with this tag will be packaged.
Drupal.org Composer repositories beta period continues
We’re still observing how the community uses the Drupal.org Composer repositories, and collecting feedback and issues as we move towards designating the service stable. We encourage you to begin transitioning your Composer-based workflows to use Drupal.org's Composer façade. Package names are stable, and downtimes will be planned and announced. For more information on how to use Drupal.org's Composer repositories, read our documentation.
Sustaining support and maintenance
A raid array failure in our data center resulted in a brief outage in July. Fortunately, we were able to mitigate the issue and restore service until the affected array could be replaced. The rebuilt array increased our redundancy to avoid future outages when we experience multiple disk failures.
We also updated our backup process, and are now using a combination of Borg and rsync.net. The combination of borg for data deduplication and encryption and rsync.net's resilient cloud platform gives us an efficient and economical solution for backup and selective restoration.
Community initiative updates
These are initiatives to improve Drupal.org, driven by members of the community in collaboration with Drupal Association staff for architecture, review and deployment.
Migration into the new documentation content types that began in June continues. The first sections of documentation being migrated are the Drupal.org docs and the Understanding Drupal guide. More volunteers to help migrate documentation are welcome!
if you are interested in helping, or sign up as a maintainer for some of the new documentation guides.
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.