Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Magnolia Publishes Roadmap, Loses Reference Site

The Magnolia International team has been at work charting out their roadmap and increasing their transparency by publishing their plans on their wiki and stepping up their blogging (Boris, Philipp, and Gregory).

According to the roadmap, the upcoming version 3.6 (due out in June) will have mainly infrastructural improvements with better integration with JSF and Spring and enhanced caching and clustering. Feature-wise, the biggest changes will be an improved import/export system for backups.

For a user's perspective, the biggest changes will come from a special project called Genuine that will revamp the administration and content contribution user interface ("Admin Central"). Genuine started with a critique of the current UI which lead into an initiative to improve Admin Central's usability and extensibility. The project appears to be at a conceptual stage with few commitments on milestones or other details. The ideas driving the project are best summarized in the Concept Presentation slide deck. Magnolia's usability is generally regarded as being quite good. That they are able to critically look at their own work for ways to improve shows their drive.

In other (totally unrelated) Magnolia news, Drupal's Dries Buytaert reports that France24 is now running on Drupal. France24, France's answer to CNN, used to be a high profile Magnolia site. Dries doesn't know the circumstances of the migration. Personally, I think that Drupal is a better functional fit for media and publishing oriented sites than Magnolia because of how Drupal structures and organizes content. Magnolia content is typed at the "paragraph level" rather than at the asset level and is organized in a rigid hierarchical structure. Drupal content is typed at the asset (or node) level and is organized by keywords (called vocabularies). This makes it easier for articles to surface on multiple pages for a richer, faceted browsing experience (with more ad impressions). Drupal is turning into a popular choice for the media and publishing industry. For example The Onion, MotoGP, Fast Company, and Lifetime all run on Drupal. There is also a nice little video showing all the newspapers running Drupal. Magnolia, on the other hand, is better for corporate internet and intranet sites where site authors like tight control over the organization and display of the content.