Hopes and Predictions for Drupal in 2011

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 2:34pm -- Isaac Sukin

Dries has already posted his Drupal 2010 retrospective and 2011 predictions. You can contribute your own thoughts in the comments on the related "Predictions for 2011" thread on Drupal.org. I agree with most of what's been written in both places. Here is my compilation of developments that I hope or expect to see this year.

Increased participation from designers.
Changes to the theme system in Drupal 7 as well as the Drupal Git migration is going to lower the barrier to designers to get their content on Drupal.org. Designers have never had it easy with open-source projects, but we are slowly breaking down the wall of having to learn some PHP to build Drupal themes.
Distributions will lead Drupal growth in the enterprise.
Distributions represent the movement toward Drupal as a product. They are like pre-build websites -- units that are more easily sold to large corporations. They are also a lot easier to use than building a Drupal site from scratch, so if momentum builds behind community distributions, they could significantly lower the entrance barrier to building certain kinds of Drupal sites.
Performance on low-end systems will become a major priority.
Drupal has gotten very good at scaling to meet the needs of very large websites, but it still requires more resources than are typically healthy on low-end shared hosts. Either low-end performance becomes a priority for Drupal, or Drupal will gain a reputation as being unfriendly to the low-end market, which we certainly don't want.
UX and DX will continue to improve dramatically.
Drupal 7 made huge strides in terms of improving usability, both in terms of the administrative interface and the developer back-end. As in any large project, however, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Life cycle management tools will become much more robust.
Currently, one of the hardest problems to tackle with Drupal (and most other CMS's) is managing deployment of code and configuration to various development and production environments. These kinds of tools have recently picked up (in the form of Features, CTools exportables, and Drush) and you can expect to see them maturing and ultimately ending up in Core.
Better infrastructure on Drupal.org.
Drupal.org has long been a pain point for the Drupal community. CVS sucks, there's no module recommendation system, and the old interface was clumsy. The first big step has already happened, with Drupal.org being redesigned to a much nicer (albeit fixed-width) interface. Soon the migration from CVS to Git will be complete, and the Documentation team has been working hard to update the docs to D7. By the end of 2011, we should see Drupal.org running Drupal 7.
Better Media and WYSIWYG support.
For a long time, a significant criticism of Drupal was that media handling and WYSIWYG editing was seriously lacking. In Drupal 7, the Media and WYSIWYG modules present a much more fluid solution. These modules and those that support them will erase this complaint.
Panels and Views in Core.
Panels attempts to provide an intuitive layout system that basically allows designing website layouts via the UI, without editing template files. Something like this is likely to end up in D8 under the name Butler. Some form of Views will probably also end up in core.
Education and evangelizing efforts will become better and more prominent.
Educational materials and seminars about Drupal have been gaining momentum lately. Expect to see this as one new, important way of bringing new members to the Drupal community.
Module support becomes a larger issue.
As the community grows, the number of issues in modules' queues will proliferate. Most Drupal modules are basically maintained by one person, and it is unrealistic to expect one person to both support and develop a large module. We may find that Drupal modules become segmented into those that are too large to support thoroughly and those that are too small to bother maintaining properly, with too few in the sweet spot in the middle.

2010 was an exciting year in the Drupal world, and 2011 promises to be another.