In addition to the rush the Drupal Gardens team gets when adding cool new features, we like to get things right, striking a good balance between power and simplicity. In the last sprint, we spent a bunch of time polishing the powerful XML Sitemap and Media modules with a focus on simplifying the UX and providing smart defaults so they work immediately after site creation. Out of the box, these modules are highly customizable with many configuration settings. Our goal was to reduce complexity but still expose the power the Drupal Gardens audience needs. While we'd like to think we got it right, ultimately our beta testers will be the judges. We are looking forward to their feedback!
When we started planning Drupal Gardens 18 months ago one of our goals was to help break down the barriers to creating stunning Drupal web sites. To that end we developed the Drupal Gardens' ThemeBuilder -- to allow people to point and click to create uniquely designed web sites, even if they don't know what CSS is or don't have the time to learn Drupal 7's powerful theme system.
Last week the Acquia engineering team finished its first post-DrupalCon sprint and upgraded nearly 9,500 Drupal Gardens sites to a new release. For an invitation-only beta, that is a lot of sites. Considering that this effort is combined with running on recent daily builds of the Drupal 7 alpha, the team has no shortage of challenges.
Yesterday we completed our pre-DrupalCon sprint and are excited to introduce several great new features, with a special focus on designers and site creators who need an awesome looking site. Specifically in this release we have added great support for professional fonts. As designers know, font selection is one key area where average web sites are separated from remarkable sites. In the past, font options for web sites were limited or complex to implement: you could create your own images with embedded expensive licensed fonts, or you could purchase, install and embed fonts yourself.
Yesterday we completed our 3rd sprint since Drupal Gardens went into private beta at the end of January. Following our Scrum development process, the Acquia engineering teams commit to delivering new features and bug fixes in every 3 week sprint. Before each sprint the designers craft rough visuals or mock-ups of every major feature to be developed. Within each sprint new features are planned, developed, tested and documented and pushed live. It makes for an intense and fun three weeks!
In these early days of the Drupal Gardens beta, we are adding new features, beta testers, and cloud servers around the clock. Since our last update 3 weeks ago, thousands more beta testers have been added, and they have clicked to create thousands of new Drupal Gardens web sites. And of course, being a social platform, those sites in turn are attracting their own communities. It's a lot of fun watching the garden grow.