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Drupal 7 code sprint at Acquia on August 17

On Tuesday August 17, Acquia is sponsoring a day-long code sprint at our offices just outside of Boston. During the sprint, we'll concentrate on addressing as many of the core Drupal 7 critical issues as possible.

Moshe Weitzman and Stéphane Corlosquet (scor) have already signed up along with various Acquians including Barry Jaspan, David Rothstein, Peter Wolanin, Alex Bronstein (effulgentsia) and Gábor Hojtsy. I will be reviewing, testing, and committing patches throughout the day.

If you're in the Boston area (or can get there) and you know how to fix bugs, write tests, and submit patches, you are more than welcome to join us. Acquia's exact address (along with a Google Map) is available at the bottom of the Acquia contact page. Space is limited, so please leave a comment if you plan to attend. This way we can plan accordingly and start coordinating the sprint ahead of time.

I hope to see many of you there, including plenty of new faces.

Capgemini promoting and using Drupal

This year in my keynote at DrupalCon San Francisco, I mentioned that the elephants are coming. Well, earlier this week Capgemini, one of the world's foremost consulting providers with 95,000 employees, announced a new service, Capgemini Immediate. I'm pleased to say that they're using Drupal as a foundational technology for their new Immediate platform.

Capgemini Immediate is an offering which helps organizations to build and run on-line services. It consists of a number of preferred technologies (i.e., Drupal, MySQL, Salesforce, Lithium, etc.), best practices, and an ecosystem of preferred partners of which Acquia is part.

Capgemini Immediate is already being well received and making news. The Royal Mail, the national postal service of the United Kingdom, has signed a large six-year IT contract with Capgemini to transform their on-line services using Capgemini Immediate. With almost 200,000 employees, Royal Mail is the second biggest employer in the UK. Signing of Royal Mail received significant press coverage, including the Wall Street Journal.

The Capgemini stamp of approval, and the fact that Royal Mail will be using Drupal, is tremendous news for all of us. This could be a very important milestone in the history of Drupal -- similar to when Dell and IBM decided to ship machines with Linux pre-installed in 2007.

Incidentally, Capgemini is using Drupal to power their own 95,000 person intranet.

Drupal Gardens now in open beta

Today we’ve reached another important milestone at Acquia: Drupal Gardens is now in open beta. No more beta codes. No more waiting to try the service. Now anyone can access Drupal Gardens and create a free Drupal 7 site!

It’s been fun to watch Drupal Gardens grow and mature during the private beta. In addition to building out the feature set, we’ve spent a great deal of time improving the stability and underlying performance of the service. And we’ve had a wild ride on Drupal 7 HEAD along the way, as Jacob Singh describes so colorfully:

Running from an Alpha versus HEAD is like the difference between playing Jenga on a sleeping elephant to playing Jenga on a cocaine addled elephant riding a skateboard being jabbed in the [rear] with a hot poker.

We’ve also invested plenty of time with Drupal Gardens users - gathering feedback, performing user tests, discussing potential features. One request that was added in the latest release is site duplication. This is the ability to clone an existing site, including its design, functionality, information architecture and content, to create a new site. It’s one of the first Enterprise Drupal Gardens features, enabling site builders and designers to do rapid prototyping in Drupal Gardens and roll out new sites quickly according to pre-defined templates. Site duplication will evolve into site and theme marketplaces where anyone can share site templates for use by others.

Drupal Gardens continues to advance with great strides. I encourage you to take Drupal Gardens for a test drive and to share your feedback with us.

Acquia Search: an update after one year

About 20 months ago, at Acquia, we began working on a hosted offering for Apache Solr, an open source enterprise search platform from the Apache Lucene project. Exactly one year ago, we launched it commercially as Acquia Search. Time and the public reaction have proven that we made the right choice. In the past year, Apache Solr has received a tremendous amount of traction in the Drupal community. Most large sites launched recently use Apache Solr because it provides a faster, more scalable search solution, as well as improved search accuracy and more features than the built-in search features of Drupal's core.

If you want to install, run and maintain Apache Solr yourself -- assuming you have the resources required -- you can of course do so. However, many organizations lack the technical expertise to deploy, maintain and scale Java applications. Even if they do have the resources, it's often cheaper to use Acquia Search. Acquia Search has been part of our overall plan to sell simplicity and enhance the experience of using Drupal. Today, the majority of our customers that subscribe to the Acquia Network, which includes very large Drupal sites, actively use Acquia Search instead of maintaining their own or using Drupal core's built-in search. In the past three months we have handled about 20 million search requests on behalf of our customers. These are important proof-points of our strategy.

The growth in popularity of Apache Solr and the story of Acquia Search haven't finished, though. This week we released some excellent new features for Acquia Search which we believe will further help drive adoption of Apache Solr and Acquia Search. We added support for attachment indexing (e.g. search PDF and Word documents), multi-site search (i.e. search multiple Drupal sites at once), and other additions. For more details on this latest release of Acquia Search, check out Peter Wolanin's blog post on the subject. I think our customers will be quite pleased at the improvements we've made in this release. And if you're not using Apache Solr or Acquia Search, you should seriously consider implementing it. It's cool stuff. :-)

10,000 Drupal Gardens sites

Earlier this year, we launched Drupal Gardens in private beta here at Acquia. A couple of days ago, we hit the 10,000 site mark! I want to thank all the people that that continue to help test Drupal Gardens, and whom created 10,000 new Drupal Gardens sites in such a record time. It is great to see more and more people build real sites on Drupal Gardens, and to see the platform that once was only envisioned, come to life.

We decided to build Drupal Gardens because we believed that many individuals and organizations want a killer web site, but have no idea that Drupal is a great way to build one. Even if they did hear about Drupal, few non-technical people succeed in installing a Drupal site, creating a nice-looking theme for it, and keeping Drupal up-to-date. We also learned that there are plenty of organizations that maintain tens, and even hundreds of micro sites and that Drupal Gardens has real promise in the enterprise. Our goal is to make Drupal Gardens a good fit for all of these audiences.

Talking to Drupal Gardens users, and reading people's reactions on Twitter, I'm convinced Drupal Gardens can be the game changer that we envisioned it to be. It's frickin' exciting!

Now we've passed 10,000 sites, our goal is to work towards an open beta, rather than a private invite-only beta. This means that over the next couple of months, you'll see us focus more on fixing bugs and fine-tuning so we can open our doors for more people. Of course, we'll continue to add new functionality too. A lot of big new features are already in the design and planning phase, but more about our plans in a future post.

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