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Drupal's Milestone Week

What do NASA, MTV, Tim Berners Lee and Mozilla all have in common? They use the open source Drupal content management system (CMS).

The Drupal project celebrates two major milestones this week: the release of Drupal 5.0 and the sixth anniversary of the project. It's a long way away from the project's humble beginning in founder Dries Buytaert's dorm room.

Drupal 5 introduces a long list of improvements to the venerable open source CMS, including retooled administration pages, a Web-based installer, more logging reports and performance improvements.

Buytaert told internetnews.com that for him the most exciting new things about Drupal 5 are the many usability and user interface improvements that make for a better experience.

Buytaert isn't sure yet what new features will make it in the next Drupal release. That's not to say that he doesn't have a plan.

"With Drupal 5, we focused a lot on improving the user experience," Buytaert explained. "For Drupal 6, I'd like to focus on making Drupal easier to develop and theme for. In addition, I'm really interested in working on Drupal's end-user programming functionality (custom content types, query builder), internationalization and performance."

At this point however Buytaert and his cohorts at the Drupal project will first need to see how Drupal 5 gets deployed and used, which will help to shape the requirements and the feature list for the next Drupal

"At the end of the day, it is all about giving the Drupal community what they want," Buytaert noted.

Though Drupal may well be displacing proprietary CMS solutions, competition with either proprietary or open source CMSes is not the focus for Buytaert.

"I don't really care about the competition," Buytaert said. "I follow what other Open Source CMSes are doing not because I want Drupal to compete, but because I thoroughly enjoy myself researching and playing with Web technologies."

Buytaert added that since the open source CMS market is a young market, most projects are growing rather than competing. In the open source world, CMS project are colleagues and not competitors, in Buytaert's opinion.

One thing is for certain, though, Drupal has come along way from its humble beginnings. For the Drupal 5 release there were over 492 contributors submitting 1,173 patches.

"I started working on Drupal from my dorm room and I didn't even have a name for it back then, let alone any expectations," Buytaert said. "Little did I know that six years later, thousands of people would use Drupal, write books about it, organize conferences around it, start Drupal companies, and so on."

"It's incredible how successful Drupal has been," Buytaert said. "Just like many other people, I continue to be amazed about the Drupal community every single day. I'm proud about what we've accomplished together, and excited about what is to come."