A Brief Personal History of CCK & Views

I think back not so fondly of the Flexinode days. My first experiences with Drupal included the now defunct flexinode module and I never really got comfortable with it. That's probably part of why I went to Xoops for awhile. I comfortably ran a community site around Biometrics on Linux for a year or so on Xoops and think it is still an option worth looking at, but when I came back to Drupal after the release of version 5, everyone was raving about CCK and Views.

I didn't shed a tear when I found out Flexinode was done. It pioneered the idea of describing your content rather than putting it all in one big box, but CCK clearly trumped over it in implementation. Drupal 5 had become much more interesting. At this point, I had yet to really learn Views and part of that was because views was still ugly and unruly in the interface. It clearly had power to demonstrate the potential of CCK, but only if you could wield it. I messed with Views some, and put it to a bit of use, but the true power evaded me because the interface didn't communicate how the module worked. Module developers were beginning to move toward CCK and solutions to many problems that had previously required custom content types began to be solved by new modules that extended both CCK and Views and recipes to put all the pieces together. This helped to solidify Views and CCK as part of the vast majority of Drupal sites.

With Drupal 6 came rumors of a rewrite of both these modules including major interface improvements. The community was buzzing and then the community was waiting, and then the community was begging for versions of these modules that were stable and worked with Drupal 6. Those not familiar with the Drupal 6 release know not the torture of seeing a beautiful and powerful new Drupal Core and not having the proper modules to take advantage of it for months on end. I tested alpha and beta versions of CCK and Views on many occasions. The first time I saw the new Views UI, I drooled and things started to click. I understood how the various parts affected the whole and I had a preview of the view to show me when I broke it! This was good. CCK went into beta, maybe even a Release Client, before we saw what was to become the UI. The lateness of this change came under a bit of scrutiny, but the strength it added to the whole is certainly valuable and speeds the definition of a new Content Type.

The Future holds some interesting moves for both CCK and Views. In Drupal 7, "Fields in Core" has become a rally cry for the community. As of now, it is implemented and being tweaked out. It seems likely that the CCK module will remain as an interface to the Fields API for some time as well as the addition of certain extras, such as some field types that won't become part of Drupal 7 Core. Views isn't likely to make it into core, but will be dramatically affected by Fields in Core movement. It seems that Views will benefit by becoming much simpler in the back end and I'm hopeful that this will result in things like a decreased resource footprint and speed improvements. From the new Views UI in Drupal 6 was birthed a module dedicated to simpler help documentation, the Advanced Help module that is becoming a foundation for a new help system in Drupal 7.

It has been interesting to hear rumors of a Drupal 8 Views in Core movement. It seems that as the implementation of Fields in Core settles and matures, the path for Views in Core will be paved. However, we have a lot of time, especially for the Internet world, between now and Drupal 8. Things will change and Views could become irrelevant in the same way Flexinode did, replaced by something of yet unheard of innovation. Either way, it seems that Drupal has a strong history of innovation and being on the edge of where the Internet wants to go. The momentum shows no signs of decreasing, rather shows every sign of further dramatic growth and improvement. Consequently, the future of Drupal shines brightly.

Thanks to the Lullabot Drupal 7 podcast episode for providing the discussion on the future of CCK and Views.