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History of Drupal 7

Dancing with an AI

This series was originally called: "Conversations with an AI". On 26 May 2023, I altered the name to "Dancing with an AI".

How has this investigation changed my life?

I now have a conceptual dance partner that follows my lead and keeps up with my moves.


ChatGPT sometimes gets facts wrong. The makers of ChatGPT acknowledge that, as hallucination. Please keep that in mind as you read. Note that I use these conversations as research into topics that may later become part of my fiction writing.

Also I am fascinated to have conversation with a non-human entity that sometimes hallucinates.

Is the AI psychotic at times? Me: Do hallucinations imply psychosis? ChatGPT: Hallucinations do not necessarily imply psychosis.

>> USER: Please compose a History of Drupal 7. Write as if for people with experience of building or developing in Drupal 7. Mention the prehistory of the previous versions, and what motivated the change to Drupal 7. Highlight the main events, such as the first release, and the release parties at that time, the so called DrupalGeddon of 2014, the uptake by significant organisations such as the White House and Australian Gov, and the trepidations around approaching end of life and the forthcoming end of community support which is set for January 2024. Also focus on the strength of the community, and the career enhancement of many developers. Estimate the monetary value of the release from various angles, eg total income for developers, total amount spent by clients, savings in building sites from scratch or whatever else gives indication of value.


Pass 1:

>> ASSISTANT: # **A History of Drupal 7**

## **Prelude: A Glimpse into Drupal’s Evolution**

Before we delve deep into Drupal 7, it's essential to understand where it began. Drupal, originally designed by Dries Buytaert as a message board in 2000, swiftly evolved into an open-source content management system (CMS) by 2001. The early versions, although revolutionary in their own right, had limited features and a budding community. Each successive release brought significant improvements, creating a solid foundation for Drupal 7.

## **The Advent of Drupal 7**

Driven by the ambition to revolutionize content management, the Drupal community saw the need for a more user-friendly, robust, and flexible CMS. Thus, Drupal 7 was born, first released in January 2011. Its release was a significant event, and the community celebrated worldwide with over 200 parties. Among the primary motivations for Drupal 7 were:

- Enhanced usability
- More extensible field system
- Improved database abstraction
- Better accessibility

## **A Milestone Moment: Significant Adoptions**

Drupal 7 wasn't just another release; it was a statement of maturity. Prestigious entities like the White House switched to Drupal, signaling the platform's robustness, security, and flexibility. Similarly, the Australian government's adoption highlighted the trust large organizations placed in the CMS. Such high-profile migrations spurred confidence among businesses and developers alike.

## **DrupalGeddon 2014: A Wake-Up Call**

However, like all software, Drupal wasn't without its vulnerabilities. 2014 witnessed a significant security breach, now infamously known as "DrupalGeddon." This event emphasized the imperativeness of regular updates and patches, but also showcased the Drupal community's agility and commitment. Within hours, solutions were proposed, patches were released, and the community united to safeguard their beloved CMS.

## **End of Life: An Inevitable Phase**

As is the case with all technology, there's a lifecycle. With the rise of Drupal 8 and 9, discussions around Drupal 7's end of life became more pronounced. The community support is expected to cease by January 2024. While this sparks concerns for many organizations, it's also seen as an opportunity. Migration to newer versions promises enhanced features, security, and support.

## **The Backbone: The Drupal Community**

One of Drupal 7's strongest attributes wasn't in its codebase but the community surrounding it. Developers found not just a platform to work on but a global family to belong to. Many professionals attribute their career growth to their involvement with Drupal. Conventions, online forums, code sprints, and local meetups provided a nurturing environment.

## **Monetary Impact of Drupal 7**

Estimating the precise monetary value of Drupal 7 is challenging. However, considering a few angles:

- **Developer Income**: Thousands of developers globally built careers around Drupal 7. With average salaries ranging widely but often exceeding $70,000, one can speculate that billions flowed into the pockets of Drupal 7 developers over the years.
- **Client Expenditure**: Organizations big and small adopted Drupal 7. While the software was free, design, development, and maintenance weren't. Enterprises might have easily spent upwards of $100,000 for complex sites.
- **Savings**: Compared to building custom CMS platforms or adopting other paid solutions, many organizations saved significantly. While hard to quantify, these savings, both in terms of time and money, are undeniable.

## **In Retrospect**

Drupal 7 was more than a CMS; it was a movement. A movement that heralded a new era in digital content management, united a global community, and paved the way for future innovation. As we stand on the cusp of its end of life, we celebrate its legacy and the indelible mark it left on the digital landscape.


Pass 2:

>> USER: Thank you. Please refine, leaving same as you have presented but altering the end of community support date to January 2015, and include a new section on the offshoots from Drupal 7 such as Backdrop CMS, and others you are aware of. Also a new section of technical detail of the architectural model, and a section on the evolution of professional development and support from freelance individuals and small companies at the beginning to large companies, even multinationals by the 2020's, and the way that changes the way people make their living from Drupal, with more people as employees.

>> ASSISTANT: # **A History of Drupal 7**

## **Prelude: A Glimpse into Drupal’s Evolution**

Before diving deep into Drupal 7, it's crucial to grasp its origins. Dries Buytaert, who initially created Drupal as a message board in 2000, quickly expanded it into an open-source content management system (CMS) by 2001. Early versions laid the groundwork with fundamental features and a growing community. Each subsequent release added to this foundation, setting the stage for Drupal 7.

## **The Advent of Drupal 7**

Ambitions to revolutionize content management led to the emergence of Drupal 7. First released in January 2011, this version was met with worldwide acclaim and celebration. Over 200 global release parties marked its advent. Key motivations behind Drupal 7 included:

- Enhanced usability
- A more robust field system
- Advanced database abstraction
- Improved accessibility

## **A Milestone Moment: Significant Adoptions**

Drupal 7's maturity was evidenced by high-profile adoptions. The White House's transition to Drupal was a testament to its security, robustness, and flexibility. The Australian government's use of Drupal echoed similar sentiments. These migrations enhanced Drupal's reputation among global enterprises.

## **DrupalGeddon 2014: A Wake-Up Call**

However, 2014 brought a major security breach, known as "DrupalGeddon." While it highlighted vulnerabilities, it also showcased the community's resilience. Swift action in terms of patches and solutions fortified Drupal's commitment to security.

## **End of Life: An Inevitable Phase**

With the advent of Drupal 8 and 9, Drupal 7's end-of-life discussions gained momentum. The community support was slated to end by January 2015. This event, while concerning to some, offered opportunities for growth and transition to newer, more efficient versions.

## **Offshoots from Drupal 7**

The legacy of Drupal 7 went beyond its immediate ecosystem. One notable offshoot was **Backdrop CMS**, which branched off before Drupal 8's release. Prioritizing affordability and user-friendliness for small to medium-sized businesses, Backdrop offered an alternative for those who found Drupal 8's shift daunting.

## **Architectural Marvels**

Technically, Drupal 7 stood out for its modular architecture, enabling flexibility and extensibility. Its "hook" system allowed modules to interact with core functionalities seamlessly. The database abstraction layer, revamped from earlier versions, provided support for more database servers, ensuring scalability and security. The Field API allowed for more content types and configurations, enhancing content management capabilities.

## **Evolving Professional Landscape**

Initially, Drupal's ecosystem thrived on freelancers and small-scale businesses offering tailored solutions. As its popularity soared, the 2020s saw multinational corporations entering the scene. Firms like Acquia played pivotal roles in offering enterprise-level support, hosting, and solutions around Drupal.

This shift meant a transition in livelihoods for many Drupal professionals. From predominantly freelance roles, many began to find stable employment in larger firms. The community expanded, integrating corporate methodologies with the grassroots passion of its early days.

## **In Retrospect**

Drupal 7 transcended being a mere CMS to become a pivotal chapter in digital content management. Its legacy lies not only in the technical brilliance but in its community, its influence on global enterprises, and its inspiration for subsequent technologies. As we reflect on its journey, Drupal 7 stands as a testament to collaborative innovation and enduring impact.



>> USER: when did Acquia begin?

>> ASSISTANT: Acquia was founded in 2007 by Dries Buytaert, the creator of Drupal, and Jay Batson. The company was established to provide enterprise-level support, hosting, and solutions for Drupal, helping organizations maximize their Drupal investments.

>> USER: please alter this sentence: 'As its popularity soared, the 2020s saw multinational corporations entering the scene.' to indicate the big corporations had entered prior. Perhaps 'As its popularity soared, by the 2020s we see multinational corporations well established,  in the Drupal Services Sphere.' Do you agree that is more accurate?

>> ASSISTANT: Certainly, the revision you suggest offers a clearer timeline and implies that multinational corporations had already established a foothold in the Drupal ecosystem before the 2020s. Here's the revised sentence:

"As its popularity soared, by the 2020s we see multinational corporations well established in the Drupal Services Sphere."

This change indeed provides a more accurate representation of the Drupal landscape and the involvement of larger corporations.

>> USER: good.

>> ASSISTANT: Thank you! If you have any more questions or need further assistance, please let me know. I'm here to help!

>> USER: As a postscript, give some indication of the changes in skill-set that developers have been faced with since the introduction of Drupal 8 and 9, and currently Drupal 10. Mention the change in architecture these versions implement. No need t present the entire article again, just the postscript. Give some estimate of the future for Drupal and the factors that drive or retard its future ongoing success.

>> ASSISTANT: **Postscript: The Evolution of Skillsets and Drupal's Future**

Since the inception of Drupal 8 and its successors, Drupal 9 and 10, developers have been ushered into a paradigm shift. The introduction of these newer versions marked a departure from Drupal's PHP-driven procedural programming approach to a more modern, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) model.

Here's what changed:

1. **Symfony Framework**: The adoption of the Symfony PHP framework in Drupal 8 and beyond fundamentally changed the way modules and themes were developed. Developers familiar with Drupal 7 and earlier versions had to acquaint themselves with Symfony's components and methodologies.

2. **Twig Templating**: The PHPTemplate engine used for theming in Drupal 7 was replaced with the Twig templating system. This brought about more secure and flexible templates but required themers to learn this new language.

3. **Configuration Management**: The newer Drupal versions introduced a configuration management system, vastly different from the older features-based approach. This allowed developers to move configuration elements, like content types or views, from local development to production more seamlessly.

4. **API-First Approach**: Drupal 8 and its successors embraced an API-first philosophy. This necessitated developers to gain proficiency in creating and consuming web services, making Drupal more flexible in terms of headless or decoupled architectures.

5. **Continuous Upgrades**: One major shift starting with Drupal 8 is the promise of continuous upgrade paths. This means that, instead of the daunting upgrades from one major version to the next as in the past, newer versions would ensure easier transitions.

**The Future of Drupal and Driving Factors**:

The ongoing success of Drupal will likely be governed by its ability to adapt to web trends and user needs. Its commitment to being API-first positions it well for the future, where decoupled architectures and omnichannel publishing are becoming more prevalent.

However, the steep learning curve introduced with Drupal 8 and the need for developers to adapt to the OOP paradigm and Symfony might limit the influx of new developers to the community. Additionally, with the rise of user-friendly platforms like WordPress and the expansion of SaaS solutions, Drupal needs to continually prove its value proposition.

*In Summary*:
The future of Drupal is a blend of challenges and opportunities. Its ability to offer enterprise-grade solutions, coupled with a vibrant community, positions it favorably. However, its ongoing success will be contingent on balancing technical robustness with accessibility and adapting to the ever-evolving web landscape.