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Mollom now has "CAPTCHA only" mode

We're excited to announce a new release of the Mollom module for Drupal 6. The Mollom 1.7 release for Drupal 6 is our most extensive update so far, and contains a number of new features.

For end-users, the most obvious new feature is our ability to now protect forms with CAPTCHAs only. Previously, all forms enabled for Mollom were protected by Mollom's text analysis algorithms, with CAPTCHA challenges used as backup. Though that is still the default option, you may set individual forms to use a "CAPTCHA only" form of protection. Data on forms protected with "CAPTCHA only" is not sent for analysis, and the forms always present a remotely-hosted CAPTCHA challenge. With these changes, the Mollom module for Drupal can now act as a replacement to the CAPTCHA module. For a screenshot of the configuration page, please see the Drupal module tutorial at http://mollom.com/tutorials/drupal.

Mollom's CAPTCHA service also provides audio CAPTCHAs, an important feature that allows greater participation from the visually impaired. Further, Mollom's CAPTCHA challenges are generated remotely, allowing us to constantly monitor CAPTCHA quality. If (when!) hackers solve them, we tweak them in ways that make them more difficult to crack. We believe this makes Mollom's CAPTCHAs better than locally generated CAPTCHAs.

We've made a lot of other improvements under the hood, including many that will allow greater support for additional forms in the future.

Thanks to Damien Tournoud from AF83 and Keith Smith for their contributions to the 1.7 release.

Drupal.org redesign code sprints

As promised, we're organizing a series of sprints to help push the drupal.org redesign closer to completion. The drupal.org redesign is a massive project, and, when implemented, will be an important milestone for our community.

The Drupal.org website was originally launched in 2001 and last redesigned in 2005; over time we've simply outgrown it. The community has made it clear that new features were needed, and the Drupal Association has made the Drupal.org redesign one of its top priorities. By improving the navigation, the design and the organization of the site, we hope to further expand Drupal's reach and to provide us better tools to communicate and collaborate.

Most of you are likely familiar with the open redesign process that has occurred in the redesign group with the help from Mark Boulton, Leisa Reichelt and many other people in our community. Now it is time for us, the community, to take these designs and to implement them.

To that end, we're organizing a number of redesign-specific sprints over the next two months, each concentrating on a specific area of the process. Even though we won't be able to completely upgrade the entire site during these sprints, we will make valuable progress and form plans that will allow us to move forward to completion. Many Drupal contributors have already agreed to participate, and a number of companies and individuals have come forward to donate time, resources and money. I've included a Chip-in widget on this page, and I encourage you to contribute as well.

  • Köln Hackathon, January 17 -18 -- While in Germany to attend DrupalCamp Köln, Gerhard, Robert, and I are going to sit down and prepare for the upgrade, hash out the modules to be used, plan the details of the new search feature, and make some other important design decisions. Anyone at DrupalCamp Köln is welcome to join us as we make these preliminary plans.
  • Boston, Cambrigde, January 26 - 30 -- The Boston sprint is dedicated to upgrading drupal.org's Drupal 5 platform to Drupal 6, in preparation for the redesign. During this week-long sprint at the OLPC offices, we plan to get a working upgrade path for the existing drupal.org databases, port the project infrastructure to Drupal 6, and implement Views, among other issues. The redesign infrastructure team group contains many posts detailing the current status of the upgrade process. Gábor Hojtsy, Derek Wright, Chad Phillips, Damien Tournoud, Neil Drumm, Dave Reid, Kevin Hankens, Susan MacPhee and myself have all committed to attend, and many others are available contingent on funding.
  • Paris, February 9 - 13 -- At the Paris sprint, we'll start implementing Mark Boulton's redesign on D6. Though it will take longer than this week to do, we plan to be well on our way by week's end. Gábor Hojtsy, Gerhard Killesreiter, Damien Tournoud, Neil Drumm, Joeri Poesen, Robert Douglass and myself have committed to attend, and many others are considering it. I also called up Mark Boulton, and he is tentatively scheduled to attend the code sprint in Paris.
  • Washington DC, March 4 - 7 -- While at DrupalCon DC 2009, we plan to continue to work on the upgrade. When, where and what will be worked on is still to be defined.

Though our meet-up in Köln will be essentially free, the week-long sprints in Boston and Paris are not. We need to raise around $15,000 USD to fund the sprints. The money will be used to cover flight, food and hotel costs for the sprinters. All sprinters are generously donating their time to make this happen. Any excess money will be used to add more people, or will be donated to the Drupal Association.

While the Drupal Association may be able to provide some funds, we'll only reach our goal through your generous contribution. A number of organizations, including Acquia, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), AF83, Four Kitchens, DrupalTherapy, OpenBand and Looforyoo have already come forward with donations of money and resources to help make these sprints be successful.

We'll make sure to highlight companies and individuals that make a significant donation. But more than anything else, we need people that are willing to step up and help. If you're available to attend these sprints, and if you have the time and dedication to work on the drupal.org redesign before, during and after the code sprints, join the redesign infrastructure team, let me know in the comments and we'll figure out how and when you can best participate. We certainly welcome more people, especially those who can pay (most of) their own way.

Please consider making a donation using the ChipIn widget or help us raise funds by spreading the word. Drupal.org is our home on the web, and it needs your help. Thanks!

Faster is better

Through a presentation from Nicole Sullivan, a former member of Yahoo’s Exceptional Performance Team and co-author of O’Reilly's upcoming book on performance optimization, I came across the following data points:

  • Amazon: 100 ms of extra load time caused a 1% drop in sales. (Source: Greg Linden, Amazon)
  • Google: 500 ms of extra load time caused 20% fewer searches. (Source: Marrissa Mayer, Google)
  • Google: trimming page size by 30% resulted in 30% more map requests. (Source: Marrissa Mayer, Google)
  • Yahoo!: 400 ms of extra load time caused a 5 to 9% increase in the number of people that clicked "back" before the page even loaded. (Source: Nicole Sullivan, Yahoo!)

While we all knew this was true (and while I'd like more detail on these tests), it is nice to have some quantitative data from different sources. Long story short: even the smallest delay kills user satisfaction. Let's make Drupal even snappier! (Hat tip: Peter Van Dijck)

DrupalCamp Köln

On January 17-18, I'll be in Germany to attend DrupalCamp Köln (aka DrupalCamp Cologne) and hang out with the German Drupal community. DrupalCamp Köln is organized by Thomas Narres, Daniel Niehaus, Jürgen Brocke, Torsten Zenk, Florian Latzel, and others in the Köln/Bonn users group.

The venue is sponsored by GFU, a leading German IT training organization. Other sponsors include Host Europe, the Kölner Internet Union, O'Reilly, Packt Publishing, APress, Martinsfeld and Acquia.

With so many good presentation proposals, it's hard to point out just a few. An incomplete list of sessions include SEO, fields in core, Acquia, SimpleTest, Ubercart, performance optimization, installation profiles, Solr, module writing, theming and many more.

This is the first ever Drupal-specific camp (or Drupal un-conference) that Germany has ever seen, and so far a little more than 150 people have signed up. The organizers are expecting to max out the venue with around 180 participants. Prominent German Drupalistas attending and/or presenting include: Konstantin Käfer, Hagen Graf, Daniel Juling, Ben Birkenhagen, Gerhard Killesreiter, and plenty of other great contributors. International Drupalistas coming include: Morten (King of Denmark), Mikkel Høgh (Denmark), Florian Loretan (USA / Switzerland), Roel Demeester (Belgium), Jo Wouters (Belgium), Damien Tournoud (France), Joeri Poesen (Belgium), and many more.

Three people from Acquia will be present; Robert Douglass, Jeffrey McGuire (aka Jam) and myself. I'll do a keynote on Drupal. Robert plans to demonstrate the latest ApacheSolr improvements and will give a first glance at Acquia's hosted search solution. Robert and I will also be holding an Acquia Q&A session, and Jam will be ready to help with your Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 upgrade problems, pesky Views 1 to Views 2 conversions and hosting a moderated discussion on Upgrade as a Barrier, and how to move adoption forward.

Two other things you shouldn't miss are the Drupal.org upgrade and redesign hackathon -- your chance to get your hands dirty with the big Drupal.org redesign project -- and the Ubercart workshop that takes place on January 19 and 20, right after Drupalcamp Köln. The Ubercart workshop is organized by Commerce Guys and AF83.

Acquia supports everything Drupal 6

Last year, Acquia opened for business, offering commercial support for a defined software distribution called Acquia Drupal. One could purchase commercial support for all the modules in Acquia Drupal. As I mentioned last week in my 2009 predictions for Drupal, one of the things we learned relatively fast is that people wanted more than just Acquia Drupal. They wanted support for all modules, themes and custom code.

No surprise, but when we set out to build Acquia little more than a year ago, we weren't quite sure how we'd go about supporting everything with the limited resources we had available. We have since learned and grew a lot, and we decided that we're finally ready to start providing technical support for all of Drupal 6.x -- not just Acquia Drupal but all modules and themes available on drupal.org, as well as custom code.

So last week we rolled out a big release of the Acquia Network, the new Acquia Network connector (available from drupal.org, see Gabor's blog post for details), a 156 page "Getting Started Guide" on Drupal, and a ton of new content on our website. Starting today, we're ready to give many more customers what they want: support for everything Drupal 6.

We'll continue to tweak and experiment with our offering in 2009 so we didn't make a big deal out of this change (i.e. no press release, no analyst briefings). However, I wanted to bring this to your attention because I'm really excited about it. It means it will be easier for us to help take Drupal to the enterprise, and that Acquia will contribute to more and different parts of the Drupal project.

While Acquia Drupal no longer defines our support boundaries, it is still a great on-ramp for people getting started with Drupal. We are continuing to invest in Acquia Drupal so watch this space for more Acquia Drupal announcements.

Kudos to the entire Acquia team for making this milestone happen. Thanks!

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