Welcome Drupal 7, a new version with greater interoperability with the Microsoft platform

The new version of Drupal 7 was released a couple weeks ago, and now that people have finally recovered from the many Drupal release parties around the world (like in London), we, at Microsoft, want to formally welcome this new version. From our point of view, Drupal version 7 marks an important milestone because it includes great improvements, some of which are the result of efforts from Microsoft and the Drupal community to bring users greater interoperability and more choices/options.

Let’s review our favorite improvements:

imageIt shouldn’t be too surprising that our favorite addition is support for Microsoft SQL Server (version 2005 or later), which we announced last year at DrupalCon when we shipped the community technology preview (CTP) of the SQL Server Driver for PHP 2.0 with PDO support. The new driver was then released in August. Special thanks to Commerce Guys, who actually developed SQL Server support in Drupal and contributed the code.

Bryan House - Sr. Director, Marketing, from Acquia commented: “The Drupal 7 release with enhancements for the Microsoft platform is a tremendous milestone giving Drupal developers the freedom to use their existing Microsoft resources to build extraordinary web experiences with Drupal. It expands the set of options Drupal developers have to choose from when building the best solutions for their customers and end-users. We’re also pleased to see Microsoft really participating in the community, providing valuable assistance, and taking a long term approach to supporting Drupal.”

What I think is interesting about the SQL Server Driver for PHP 2.0 is that it enables PHP applications like Drupal 7 to use the PDO “PHP style” and interoperate smoothly with Microsoft’s SQL Server database. This reduces the complexity of targeting multiple databases and makes it easier for PHP developers to take advantage of SQL Server’s business intelligence & reporting feature (which is also included in the free SQL Server Express edition), as well as SQL Azure features like exposing OData feeds.

Another neat improvement has to do with Drupal installation packages and modules – those that are current, as well as any that are newly submitted. Previously, they were only available as a TGZ archive but now they’re also available as ZIP archives. This removes the burdens for Windows users trying to install Drupal. Along the same lines, the Drupal 7 Windows package now includes a “web.config” file designed specifically for Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), which is now listed in the supported web servers for Drupal 7. For more on the latest Drupal 7 developments, check out this video with Drupal expert Jim Taylor.

You can get the latest Drupal 7 distribution directly from the community project site, or you can install one of its distributions built by Commerce Guys from the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI), which lets you install not only Drupal, but our entire Web stack in a breeze. And for developers who want to dive deep into Drupal 7 PHP code and start hacking around to customize it, we recommend taking a look at the newly released WebMatrix tool. In response to the WebMatrix announcement, Damien TOURNOUD, CTO of Commerce Guys, said that ”Microsoft has become a citizen of the Drupal world, and the integration of Drupal 7 in WebMatrix is great news for the Drupal community.” Damien is a key contributor to Drupal 7 and the main developer of Drupal 7/SQL Server integration.

Of course we think these improvements are great, and we hope they attract even more developers to our platform. But there’s more on our to-do list and today we’re excited to announce four new generic modules developed by Schakra and MindTree that allow Drupal administrators/developers to provide users with new features:

  • Bing Maps Module: enable easy & flexible embedding of Bing Map in Drupal content types (like articles for example)
  • Silverlight Pivot viewer Module: enable easy & flexible embedding of Silverlight Pivot in Drupal content types, using a set of preconfigured data sources (OData, a, b, c).
  • Windows Live ID Module: allow Drupal user to associate their Drupal account to their Windows Live ID, and then to login on Drupal with their Windows Live ID
  • OData Module: allow data sources based on OData to be included in Drupal content types (such as articles). The generic module includes a basic OData query builder and renders data in a simple HTML Table. The package includes a sample module base on an Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) OData source, showing how to build advanced rendering (with Bing Maps)

To learn more about these modules, check out the Interoperability Hands-On , which shows off Drupal on Windows Azure using Bing Maps + Windows Live ID + OData + Silverlight Pivot Viewer.

As for on-going projects, there is also work under way to create demonstrations of how to harness the benefits of the cloud with Windows Azure and PHP (see azurephp.interoperabilitybridges.com). Drupal is among the popular PHP applications we’ve demonstrated on Windows Azure, using the Windows Azure Companion. Now we’re working, for example, on bringing the full elasticity and scalability of Windows Azure cloud to Drupal and other PHP applications.

Microsoft supports the work of Commerce Guys, MindTree and Schakra , as well as that of the Open Source community, in improving the interoperability of Drupal with Microsoft’s platform. This work is representative of Microsoft’s broader commitment to openness by expanding choice and opportunity for customers, partners and developers. As always, we welcome any feedback, so feel free to leave a comment, or contact us.

Jean-Paoli, General Manager for Interoperability Strategy

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