Drupal 7, the cocoon and the butterfly

There exists an interesting story about a man and a butterfly cocoon. It is about a man that found a cocoon, and brought it home to watch it turn into a butterfly. As the butterfly inside matured, it struggled to get out of its cocoon, but couldn't quite get free of it. One day, the man became tired of waiting and decided to help the butterfly. He removed the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly was pleased, but it had a swollen body and small, wrinkled wings. As a result, the butterfly never succeeded in flying and spent its entire life crawling around.

What the man didn't understand was that the struggle required for the butterfly to break out of its cocoon actually forced fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom. It is the struggle that causes the butterfly to develop its ability to fly.

I feel the same way about Drupal 7. Seeing Drupal 7 getting steadily closer to its release, is like watching a cocoon grow into a butterfly: the inevitable results are going to be spectacular. Release management and fixing bugs is hard work, the work of a determined caterpillar. However, I think Drupal 7 will be quite a metamorphosis relative to Drupal 6. Not only will it look different, it will function differently -- making users and developers feel like Drupal spouted wings.

And like the caterpillar that grew into a butterfly, it won't be the Drupal many of you used to know. It will be a nicer looking, more powerful, and more scalable Drupal that is easier to use. If you overlooked Drupal previously in favor of another system, you might want to revisit Drupal once Drupal 7 is released. I think you will be surprised at the difference. Or if you know someone that overlooked Drupal in the past, you might want to echo this story.

Comments

alex (not verified):

Nice metaphor!

July 8, 2010 - 13:07
jam (not verified):

And you can take that butterfly for a test fly right now.

Set up a Drupal 7 site, see the new administrative back end, get a feel for how massive and incredible this release is going to be over at http://drupalgardens.com!

Disclaimer: I work there, but Drupal 7 really is a whole new kind of release.

- jam/horncologne

July 8, 2010 - 13:26
Patrick C. (not verified):

Haha I just watching the episode of LOST where Locke whips that metaphor out! Works very well for both content management systems AND British-band drug addicts :)

July 8, 2010 - 15:07
sun (not verified):

If I'm allowed to translate that into

get ya handz off se pressa

then I fully support it.

Don't panic. Thanks!

July 8, 2010 - 15:21
Joe's Pferde Au... (not verified):

Wishing drupal 7 a succesful takeoff with a frowing userbase. :)

July 8, 2010 - 16:16
Ronald (not verified):

I don't usually go for metaphors and parables but this one struck a chord. I think it is very very fitting. Very well said!

July 8, 2010 - 16:17
MacDillon (not verified):

I so hope Drupal's UI is improved with version 7. I tried it a couple of years back and couldn't figure it out without help. Using a forum to learn is often like yelling down a well. I had no choice but to follow other CMS paths (Joomla & WP). Come on, little train that could, bring it on!

July 8, 2010 - 16:24
Dries:

There are a lot of people like you; i.e. people that decided to use Joomla or Wordpress in favor of Drupal because Drupal is harder to use. The people that persisted with Drupal often had to because of missing features or lack of flexibility in Joomla or Wordpress. Based on early feedback from Drupal 7 users, I'm confident that Drupal 7 will be a game changer in this regard. This is an important message to carry out to designers and developers outside of the Drupal community. We can only change the collective opinion if the message is loud and clear.

July 18, 2010 - 02:35
Sentient (not verified):

A nice metaphor for a great CMS.

My initial contact with Drupal was forced upon me. It was the only CMS that had all the features that we needed.

During our analysis we read everywhere that Drupal was hard to use as compared to Joomla or Sharepoint and had a steep learning curve.
So when we decided to go for Drupal I was a bit trepidant. But thanks to some books, Pro Drupal Development and Using Drupal, we completed the project succesfully and on time.

What I have seen so far of D7 is looking mighty promising and will help Drupal getting rid of it's steep-learning-curve stigmata.

Go Drupal Go!

July 8, 2010 - 21:36
John D. (not verified):

Good books are really crucial to "get" Drupal. Unfortunately the only two books available on D7 (Beginning Drupal 7 Apress and Beginning Drupal Wrox) are just introductory books. I'm waiting for the third edition of the "Drupal bible" (Pro Drupal Development), but on the Apress website there is not yet a publication date for this title...

July 8, 2010 - 22:39
sun (not verified):

They'll hopefully wait until D7's APIs are finally completely ultimately frozen before publishing anything. (0 criticals)

July 9, 2010 - 00:03
Robert Douglass (not verified):

John, I'm working as a technical reviewer for Pro Drupal Development D7 and it's on its way. It'll take some time still but the team is hard at work.

July 10, 2010 - 00:04
Benjamin Melançon (not verified):

Also forthcoming from Apress is the Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 which takes a takes a pretty advanced approach to all aspects of site building, from making modules and themes to running projects to taking part in the Drupal community (disclosure: i'm on that project), and from Packt there's a title by Matt Butcher and a bunch of Palantir-affiliated greats on learning Drupal 7 module development.

July 13, 2010 - 23:23
Zach (not verified):

We've opted out of Drupal in the past (and chose to go with Joomla! or Wordpress), but after watching some recent videos of Drupal 6 and screen shots of the Drupal 7 back-end, I think it's time we come 'round again :)

July 16, 2010 - 16:08
Dries:

Many other design agencies and web development companies will look at Drupal again with a fresh pair of eyes -- at least if we succeed in getting the word out that Drupal 7 isn't the Drupal they used to know.

What is the best way to reach design agencies, and how do we convince them that they should reconsider Drupal? That's the question because I don't think they are reading my blog ... ;)

July 18, 2010 - 02:21
Steven Howe (not verified):

I'm looking forward to Drupal 7, though it would be good to read somewhere how much of my very newly-acquired Drupal 6 knowledge will be portable to 7.

I used to be a proponent of Joomla! but find it too restrictive.

I like WP but find it too single-minded.

If I'd done my most recent project in WP I would have finished it by now. But since I'm using Drupal it's taking longer. I chose Drupal because I know, in about 6 months time, I'm going to be asked if the site can do X or Y and I know that if I'd gone with WP the answer would be "no".

I'm a very recent adopter of Drupal 6 and love it - though it's feature-rich complexity can be a little frustrating when you want to do something simple sometimes.

...and I think that may be the perception of Drupal in the design community - Drupal is seen as a pretty big CMS sledgehammer and you'd better have something bigger than a nut to crack if you want to use it.

Maybe D7 needs a "dumbing down" option for common site implementations (like a WP style blog) to make it appeal to a wider audience?

July 26, 2010 - 17:46
Derek (not verified):

I've been working with Drupal 6 for the past year, and while I like it's backend functionality, it's administrative organization and theming have been the two weakest points. I've played around with Drupal Gardens, and it seems like Drupal 7 will address some of that. I'm excited!

July 28, 2010 - 20:23
Kurt Schlatzer (not verified):

First, what a great metaphor! I'll certainly kick the tires on this release. As a long-time Wordpress evangelist, I'm looking forward to seeing the new Drupal.

July 28, 2010 - 21:37
Ray (not verified):

Well said Dries, love the metaphors.

I stumbled across Drupal a few years back when I was looking for something that would give me that extra bit that Wordpress wasnt doing. Being a coder by nature I fell in love with it instantly but have always found my clients to struggle slightly learning the UI when I hand over the site.

I always ensure I get a local copy running on the clients machine early in the development (the stack installer rocks!) to give them more time to get used to using the system and it gives them the opportunity to ask questions during development. By the time of the project handover they are loving the flexibility and ease of use as much as I do.

I eagerly await the final polished version of Drupal 7, its gonna take over the world.

July 28, 2010 - 21:51
Christopher (not verified):

I like D6 and have absolutely no Problems with the UI. Everything I saw till now from D7 looks nice (Thx to Dries who gave a live preview in 2009 at Froscon) but you could have achieved most of the eye candy with a good Admin Theme also. But I will have to take a closer look, as soon as my D6 Projects give me some time to do so.

July 28, 2010 - 22:53
Reed Botwright (not verified):

We can't wait! We use D6 for all of our custom work, but the possibilities in Drupal 7 are amazing. Our initial thoughts to invest the time and energy to learn the intricacies of Drupal have amply paid off. Now we can look forward to the barrier of entry being even lower for agencies and users alike! Kudos!

July 28, 2010 - 23:23
Simon Hobbs (not verified):

I'm still thankful for the Forms API. That'll see me out for at least 3-4 more years.

July 28, 2010 - 23:48
Tine Müller (not verified):

Looking forward to version 7. Still struggling after a year to understand Drupal 6 but love it. Still can't figure out to make a module but again I'm not a php programmer. :-)

A lot of us are retweeting your message on Twitter.

See you at DrupalCon Copenhagen http://cph2010.drupal.org/

/Tine

July 29, 2010 - 10:54
eigentor (not verified):

Now that we (almost) built D7, marketing it will probably the next big challenge. When I look how the competitors do it (say Magento) we have a lot to catch up. They are omnipresent and managed to create a big hype even without a product.

Are planning on a marketing push in Germany specifically (very low visibility of drupal in our country). From what I read here "What is the best way to reach design agencies, and how do we convince them that they should reconsider Drupal?"

I think we this should be made this a broader initiative.

Needs different media (screencasts, presentations, texts, long articles for magazines, flyers, brochures, appearances in podcasts, in-person-presentation, gathering of agencies) targeted at different personas (designer, marketing guy, executive and decision maker, programmer) and then be spread.

Probably this should be done in a coordinated effort and then just adapted and translated to locally-specific markets.

Lotsa work but for about say half a year after release Drupal 7 will be new enough to label it new release.

July 29, 2010 - 16:05
Martin Bavio (not verified):

Well said Dries, very nice metaphor. About the topic of how to reach massive targets with your phrase ("Drupal 7 isn't the Drupal they used to know") I think a good idea might be to open a special website dedicated to spread this message, with articles and tutorials about how easy and cool is to create and manage sites in D7. What do you think?

July 30, 2010 - 19:57

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