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Drupal Gets Social Software Facelift

Acquia's Commons 2.0 community management tool provides Facebook-style activity feeds with like and share buttons for the open source content management system.

Drupal 7 Simplifies Web Content Management
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Slideshow: Clicking Through Drupal 7's Features
The open source Drupal web content management platform is getting a social software facelift.

At the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, a UBM TechWeb event, Acquia vice president of marketing Bryan House got a few minutes on stage to argue that "no one should ever write another check for social business software licensing again."

Enterprise 2.0
Because Drupal is an open source product, Acquia doesn't make money on licensing per se, although it does charge for enterprise support contracts, application hosting, and other services.

Acquia provides distributions of Drupal and selected add-on modules, and this week it introduced Commons 2.0, an update to a Drupal distribution that is specific to community management. The new release provides support for activity streams in the mode of the Facebook news feed, as well as the ability to "like" and share content. Other social features include social profiles and connections, blogs, wikis, badges to recognize community participation, and analytics for monitoring social activity.

Drupal fans in the developer community tend to like it because of the wide range of ways it can be configured with different modules, which are also available as freely downloadable open source software. Enterprise requirements are another matter, House said. "The business buyer doesn't necessarily want to experiment, they want a solution." Acquia simplifies things by providing a distribution that includes only tested and approved modules. The Commons distribution also includes a control panel that presents an administrator with a series of checkbox options for what social features to turn on.

Acquia supports some other purpose-built distributions, too, such as OpenPublish from Phase 2 Technology. House said Acquia created Commons itself because the social software application of Drupal is a match for so many different types of communities and because it had learned so much from the developer community, which of course runs on Drupal.

Acquia already supports such ambitious Drupal installations as the U.S. military's developer community and a New York Stock Exchange private social network for CEOs.

House said Commons is primarily used on public social websites that want to offer social and features. Acquia is not pursuing the enterprise social media market for internal collaboration as aggressively, House said. Although Commons works just the same on an internal site, intranet applications tend to require file and document management features that aren't Drupal's strength, he said.

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