Hi geeks! Did the post title get you excited? Great, because Organic Groups (OG) and Message stack are getting closer to being Drupal 8 ready.

I’d like to give an overview about their state, the amazing community effort around them, and also share some of my personal thoughts about contribution to Drupal 8 in general.

Organic Groups

The heroes: @RoySegall, @pfrenssen @damiankloip, @chx et al.

For years Organic Groups has been one of the proven solutions for multi-sites functionality, in the form of one code base, one database, and one dashboard to rule them all. After so many years and seeing so many different implementations, such as Harvard’s OpenScholar, OpenAtrium, and many others, I’m even more confident OG is doing many things right.

Most of OG7’s concepts are being migrated to OG8, but obviously this is also a good time to fix some old mistakes. One of the mistakes was treating users and content (i.e. non-user entities) alike. But, well, you know - they are not. Because when we came to re-think of it, membership really makes sense only for users. For example, if the membership state is active, pending or blocked, that should indeed be applied only to users. So we’ve changed it:

  • A reference between a group content and a group is done via an entity reference field with a default storage. The link between them is simply registered as a row in the DB.
  • A reference between a user and a group is also done via an entity reference field, however the field storage is custom. It’s the OgMembership entity you know from OG7.

Both those references are done through core’s entity reference. This opens up a lot of possibilities for fine-grained control, thank’s to the selection handler concept.

Having this conceptual shift trickles down to the code, and cleans it up quite a bit. To be sure we are not breaking anything, we’re adding tests. Lots of tests, with a nice mix of unit and kernel tests. Heck, we even check extreme cases like arbitrary, yet work-life balanced permissions :)

If you want to jump in and help, development is happening on a temporary GitHub repo.

Group module

At DrupalCon, a few people asked for my opinion on the Group module. I’m happy to say that none of them were surprised that I was very positive about it - which is probably another great case for open source.

So to repeat the answer I gave back in New Orleans, if Group is working for you, and satisfies your needs, go ahead and use it. For completeness here’s my critique on some of it’s core concepts:

One of the core concepts of Group is that a group isn’t a node. It’s a Group entity. That’s fine, also OG can have any entity as a group, but I’d argue that 90% of the time your group should be content. Because more often than not, groups need to have published/unpublished status. Or because groups need to have privacy options, and even in Drupal 8 we have only {node_access} table, not an {entity_access}.

Furthermore, there are quite a few cases where a single group content should be attached to multiple groups. This is where the power of OG kicks in, doing all the heavy lifting of making sure permissions are being handled correctly. I can assure you this is not a trivial task.

OG alternatives have always been there, and choosing the right tool for the problem is important. Group is actually solving a subset of the challenges OG deals with. If it works for you, go ahead and use it. I know you’ll be in good hands with it because Group’s author @kristiaanvandeneynde is a great person and a wonderful developer.

Message stack

The heroes: @RoySegall, @jhedstrom, @mccrodp et al.

The message stack is mostly ported to D8, and it has already reached a good place. I’m still not cutting an alpha release, because it requires polishing and might have a few data structure changes.

There are no big differences here in terms of concepts, although worth mentioning @bojanz’s suggestion to rename message type to message template. Suddenly it makes it much clearer what the intention of message template is.

If you would like to contribute you are most welcome to the repos: Message, Message notify and Message subscribe

On Contribution and Drupal 8

New major releases can be hard, as you are expected to port all of your modules. At once. It’s a process that takes a lot of time, and skills, and I’m grateful for having such great community members helping with it.

I’d like to reach out to some community members I was talking with in DrupalCon which told me they felt bad they were not porting their modules fast enough: Don’t feel bad about it! “Feeling bad” is one of the main causes for burn outs. Take your time. Do it out of passion, and reach out to the community to help you. It’s your module, but if it’s used by others, they can and should help you.

In my case, for example, OG7 was written (and re-written) in the days I had one kid and Gizra had about seven employees and a single office. Now, I have three kids, Gizra has over twenty employees sitting in both the Israel and US office. And do you know how I feel about my (Drupal) contribution rate? (Most days) I feel marvelous about it. Because I do it on my own terms or work time, I’m not burned out, and I still love what I do.

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Amitai Burstein