Roadmaps

Now Drupal 4.7.0 is released, people start clamoring for some kind of roadmap. Drupal never had an official roadmap, and will never have one. People perceive a roadmap as a list of formal deliverables; they feel stranded when the roadmap is changed, and get upset when functionality is not completed in time. Volunteer-driven projects like Drupal can't make any guarantees. Things happen, or not. Code is ready, when it's ready. Volunteer-driven projects don't mix well with official roadmaps.

As the Drupal community grows, those who disagree with not having an official roadmap have become increasingly articulate.

Of course, I recognize that it is necessary for people to have some idea of where Drupal is heading. It enhances good communication and creates synergy between developers. Hoping that some people will engage in the opportunities, and that we can collaborate effectively, I'll start talking more about the directions Drupal is heading in, some of the decisions that are made, and the functionality I'd like to see integrated into Drupal core.

At the end of the day, it's all about better communication.

Comments

Itkovian (not verified):

I think roadmaps can as easily drive people away from a project, and make them stick to it. For those that have wish-list items that appear on the roadmap, great. For those that do not, it can feel like a let-down. Usually a roadmap is pretty crammed, or tight and if your feature isn't on it, well, perhaps it will never appear. But because a roadmap, once you have it, should be adhered to, chances are you will never get the feature scheduled for appearance on the map. IMO, it's better if a general direction is taken and broadcasted, and people can come up with stuff to drop on the train as it rides, rather than equipping the train at each station when it stops momentarily.

May 3, 2006 - 16:20
Jeff Eaton (not verified):

I think your statement on the mailing list that Drupal DOES have a roadmap, it's just scattered between a number of developers, is correct. Some way of organizing core-oriented projects (as opposed to contrib projects) might help, but it is about people being in-the-loop.

In broad, general terms though, I think it is useful to articulate a top-down vision for each major release. 4.7, for example, was a very solid 'infrastructure improvement' version. 4.8, from the sounds of it, will focus on building on that new set of capabilities. At a very high level, that kind of guidance can help unify development efforts and clarify the decision-making process, too.

May 3, 2006 - 16:49
merlinofchaos (not verified):

Clearly, the definition of 'roadmap' differs from one to another.

All I want is a "where are we heading"?

It's an amalgamation of:

  • what is in progress?
  • what are people actually working on?
  • what would we like to see?
  • what are we interested in, but nobody's currently taking on?
  • what are we avoiding?

There are directions you don't want Drupal to be going. This is probably the least well communicated right now. It's out there, if you peruse forums and mailing lists, but understanding requires knowing people fairly well. Not everyone does.

May 3, 2006 - 17:12
Roland Tanglao (not verified):

+1 on a brief 1-2 pages "Drupal possible directions document" (you basically already had this in the past as a couple of slides in your presentations at OSCON and EuroOSCON and OSCMS for example). It would be great if you wrote this collaboratively (and updated say once a quarter) with core committers as well as a small (less than a dozen) key contributors e.g. some Lullabot guys, some guys from Bryght, some CivicSpace guys, some of the many cool European developers etc.

May 3, 2006 - 17:44
Jonathan Lambert (not verified):

I agree with you Dries, and here is why (that's my blog).

May 3, 2006 - 18:01
Chris Johnson (not verified):

I'm with merlinofchaos: I just want a summary of where actual work and planned work is heading, and where committers and influential core developers are collectively avoiding going. I don't want to spend a lot of time on something that will never get committed or accepted because it's outside of the mental "roadmap" key developers have. I'd like to cooperate and help projects that are in alignment with my interests. I read the e-mail lists and spend time in IRC, and of course, try to keep up with drupal.org. But it's a lot of information to digest, and the signal to noise ratio with respect to direction only is fairly poor, which makes it a challenge.

May 3, 2006 - 18:30
Jonathan Lambert (not verified):

A reasonable argument about commits Chris.

May 3, 2006 - 19:44
Larry Garfield (not verified):

I have to agree with Chris here. I'm not looking for a promise that 4.8 will have X, Y, and Z features. But, for instance, if someone submitted a patch for a new form element last, say, August, it would never have been accepted because by that point (IIRC) the powers that be had already decided that Form API was The Way(tm) for 4.7, and that 4.7 would be delayed as long as necessary for it to happen. That wasn't globally known, however. I only had a vague idea what this "Form API thing" was until sometime in November, and I was on the development list.

That's something such a submitter would really like to know before he puts in hours of work on it. :-)

May 3, 2006 - 20:39
bertboerland (not verified):

Not to splinter this thread, but I posted my thoughts on my own blog.

May 9, 2006 - 19:30

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