What Install Profiles Mean to Me

What Install Profiles Mean to Me

Thu, 10/08/2009 - 9:24pm

Currently there's a pretty in depth discussion surrounding hosting install profiles on drupal.org and what the legal/other implications of such a thing are.  I feel this is an important issue to highlight to the community at large, and since I feel rather strongly about it, I'm using this forum to point it out, and also to focus a bit on my own feelings concerning this.  For those of you who would like some context, read this post on drupal.org.

Allow packaged install profiles on d.o to pull in code from other sources + sites

This specific issue is surrounding the wonderful new possibilities revealed by the new drush make library on drupal.org.  In short, drush make provides the ability to build a simple file that drush will process and from which, build a full drupal platform.  In terms of install profiles, this could be exceptionally useful as authors could easily build a robust platform of all dependencies that their install profile will need to work properly.  Now the work of building the profile still has to be done, but install profiles are essentially a set of configurations for the various modules your profile specifies. 

Currently install profiles are distributed "as is" on drupal.org.  There is a proposal to start providing profiles as fully built tarballs that are simply ready to be installed, and drush make would make this rather simple to do, however there is a bit of fear that this will open up drupal.org to a large level of legal issues due to various licenses of the softwares involved.  This may seem like a "what?!?" at first, until you understand that drush make can actually pull software from external sources.  In short, if you were inclined to have a fully functional wysiwig editor in your install profile w/o the need for custom configuration/installation, this would be totally possible.  However, the community typically utilize tinymce, or fckeditor which are all external programs from drupal itself, thus the legal issues ensue. (In fact this is just the tip of the iceberg, drush make can even apply patches posted to specific issues on drupal.org, but I digress)

So, all the legal mumbo-jumbo is... non-trivial.  And I'm certainly not trying to trivialize it, however we HAVE to recognize that this is THE killer feature of drupal in years to come.  If we nail this profile thing, you could literally build profiles that replicate the other platforms we compete against, and we'd all still be benefiting from the same core/modules as necessary.  Want a wordpress clone? Want a Joomla! clone? Want a profiles with a simple UX approach to the same core you know and love?  We know that where competition thrives, so does innovation, and the drupal 7 release, while I'm sure it will help significantly with some of our UX woes, is not the "be all, end all" of UX bliss.  Make profile distribution on d.o easier, more powerful and come up with a solution that doesn't exclude external code libraries and we will be well on our way.

In short, fully realized install profiles are a game changer for the entire CMS market (in my opinion).  It essentially reduces "Drupal" to a development platform, and leaves the "content management" needs up to the profile developer. Drupal.org needs to step up and support this as much as possible.  If d.o doesn't I can guarantee that some other site WILL, and that will not benefit the community at the same level.

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