Drupal for (distributed) development teams
and reliable, staged, single-command deployments

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Drupal 8

With Drupal 8 beta releases being pumped out by our beloved core developers and the number of critical issues only decreasing, it is time to think about the future of Kraftwagen.

Kraftwagen in its current form only works for Drupal 7. We need to think about if Kraftwagen or parts of it are still needed for Drupal 8. And if we still need Kraftwagen, how we are going to implement this.

Please join the discussion on Trello.

One of Drupal’s core values is “easy to use”. Yet what that means to end-users (who use FTP to upload Drupal to a web host, and customize it through the admin interface), is different from what that means to developers (who customize Drupal extensively, need staged deployments and use version control systems to collaborate).

Kraftwagen makes Drupal “easy to use” for developers.

Kraftwagen consists of a Drush extension and set of Drupal modules, all open source and hosted on github. It reuses existing work where possible, for example: install profiles, Drush Make, Features, version control systems (git, subversion, mercurial, etc.) and Capistrano.

Because Drupal stores a lot a configuration details in the database, version control systems cannot be used to track changes. This makes it hard for a team of developers to collaborate, or to stage changes to a separate deployment target before rolling them out in production. Kraftwagen primarily solves this issue by using manifests to sync aspects of Drupal project’s different installations to the same state. These aspects can be: configuration details in the database, creation of base-line content, setting up static files or any other aspect of a Drupal project that can be controlled from PHP.

Kraftwagen extends Drupal with:

Besides these extensions an integration with Capistrano facilitates single-command deployments. A must in the age of continuous delivery.

The following goals were set when developing Krafwagen:

Everything in code™
We wanted to make sure all the required information to run an application or website is in source code. If some developer checks out the project from a repository, he should be able the get it running, without manual steps in Drupal’s admin interface or copying database dumps.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
A lot of effort has already been done in this area and we wanted to build on top of that. That’s why Kraftwagen is built on top of Drush. Kraftwagen commands are only thin convience wrappers around existings commands or sequences of commands. This also means that most concepts in Kraftwagen should sound familiar to any seasoned Drupal developer.
Version control independence
We didn’t want a tool that completely locks us into Subversion, Git or any other version control mechanism. Of course we all love version control and use it whenever we can, but a toolchain should not depend on a specific flavor of version control. Currently there is one Git dependent command: the command to start a new project uses Git to download the skeleton.
Environment awareness
Drupal itself doesn’t make any difference between staging, production and development environments. In production you’ll want the Devel module disabled, while in development environments it should be enabled. When copying around database dumps this is almost impossible to do automatically. Kraftwagen’s kw-environment module extends Drupal with the notion of environments.
Transparent in use
Developers should naturally understand the workflows that Kraftwagen facilitates. Therefore Kraftwagen’s command line commands report what they are doing and error messages are constructive. Getting started with Kraftwagen should be a breeze for any seasoned Drupal developer.

Kraftwagen is a open source project that welcomes contributions from the community. All development happens on our Github respositories; needless to say that we welcome pull-requests and issue tickets.

There is also a mailing list for Kraftwagen, it allows for discussions, sharing of insights and posts of otherwise Kraftwagen related stuff. We will also announce release there, so make sure to subscribe.



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