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I've listened to the recent chat on TalkingDrupal about the BackDrop project, a fork of Drupal which is causing much controversy in the community.

Having read the BackDrop website and also read various blog posts there's lots of things to get excited about if you're a D7 enthusiast and some not so great things if you're a Drupal evangelist!

Some people are scared of what it might do to the community, some are overjoyed at its concept but before I cast my opinion here's some of what I've gleaned so far.

We're happy with Drupal 7, we know what it can do but we also know its limitations

We all know Drupal 7 isn't perfect, it's made good strides since Drupal 6 but you might feel Drupal 8 is more of a leap! if you're happy with Drupal 7 and you're already hiding behind your chair having read about what's changing in Drupal 8 then BackDrop could be for you.

They are going to incorporate most, if not all, the Drupal 8 goodness but on a Drupal 7 framework

Worried BackDrop is going to get left behind when Drupal 8 comes out then think again. The idea is to take most, if not all of the new functionality built into the new Drupal 8, such as the built in WYSIWYG, migration module*(see Nate's comment, sorry my mistake, not included at this time), inline editing etc and port them to BackDrop!

Drupal 7 modules will be 90-95% compatible with BackDrop meaning only minor code changes are required

As BackDrop is only a side step away from Drupal 7 all D7 modules will only need minor modifications to become compatible. This is interesting stuff for module developers who can port their module to BackDrop quickly whilst rebuilding it for Drupal 8 at the same time!

BackDrop 1.0 will be released at a similar time to Drupal 8

The idea is to release BackDrop at the same tme as Drupal 8 so you won't feel left behind! If the thought of migrating your site to D8 doesn't appeal then BackDrop could be the way forward for you. Releasing BackDrop at the same time sings to me of competition but competition is healthy right?!

Issue queues will be cross linked

There's already mentions of BackDrop in the Drupal issue queues and this will only increase but they say that solutions in either issue queue can only help, not hinder.

It's not a breakout, more an expansion or sidestep

Only time will tell if BackDrop causes a split in the community but the idea is to keep more people using Drupal, or BackDrop (a version of Drupal) instead of losing them to Wordpress or alike. The founders, feeling turned off by Drupal 8, turned to forking Drupal to stay within the community rather than start over again learning a new system.

Estimated and hypothetical post-D8 growth chart of Drupal audience over time.

Upgrading is dead, migration will be the way forward for Drupal 8 and BackDrop

Upgrading Drupal has never been a straight forward process and the decision has been taken to incorporate in core the migrate module. This will be the same for BackDrop, so whether you try D8 and want to move to BackDrop or vice versa you will be able to do this.

An Eco system will be promoted to match that of Drupal

Just the same as is currently available to Drupal developers the BackDrop team are looking to create a thriving Eco system.

The right tool for the job

I'm excited about Drupal 8 and the direction it's going in and am fully behind the project, as you can read in my blog post Cliff Edge or Path To The Summit.

Some of my larger clients will utilise all the D8 functionality and I'll certainly be using it going forward but is it the right framework for every job, no. Should I migrate all my Drupal 5, 6 and 7 sites to it, or more importantly do my clients have the budget to do this, in some cases no.

Drupal 7 will be around for years to come which gives us plenty of time to learn the new ways of Drupal 8. If you're a site builder then D8 will make it even easier for you to build great sites but if you're a module developer or themer then it's going to take you time to get to grips with the new way of working. Do you have the time or the ability to learn what might feel like a whole new system?

For me BackDrop is a good idea as it will give those people who are more than happy with Drupal 7 the chance to stay in the community for many years to come, before Drupal 9 comes along and security updates are halted on D7.

The learning curve for new users of Drupal has always been steep and Drupal 8 could turn off those who have recently joined the community. BackDrop could give them an out.

Could BackDrop be the answer to those that say Wordpress is a sinch to get started with for non-techies but Drupal isn't?

The notion that BackDrop is a bad idea and one that could spilt the community are founded but it should be a catalyst for improvement in Drupal itself.

BackDrop could help the community make both systems even more popular and spread the word that Drupal is a great framework, or it could be one in the eye for Drupal 8 and we could see many moving across to the forked version. What do you think?

Listen to some great interviews with the founders of BackDrop via the Lullabot podcastModules Unraveled and TalkingDrupal

Update Dec 2014: The first release of BackDrop is due out on the 15th January 2015! Take a look at the latest documentation or download a preview now.


About the author

Richard Dewick
Richard Dewick

Company director of Drupal Centric, a web design and Drupal development company, with 20 years experience in the trade. On this blog he shares his knowledge of web design, Drupal, CRM and App development, in an easy to follow and hopefully fun way.

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