June 28, 2022

Celebrating a new major Group version

Group has just got its first alpha release for the 2.0.0 version and we wanted to seize the opportunity to celebrate that by looking back at where we came from and forward to where we still plan on going.

Image showing the logo of the Group Drupal module, underlined with a blue banner indicating that it is a new version release
Image showing the logo of the Drupal module Group, underlined with a blue banner indicating that a new version of the module has been released.

A brief history lesson

The Group module started out as a hobby around 2013 and gained some traction during Drupal 7’s lifecycle back when Organic Groups was still the big dog in town. At its peak, OG boasted about 30k reported installations on Drupal 7 whereas Group peaked around 1k. Yikes.

Yet it was the enthusiasm surrounding Group that inspired me to keep going. People left and right were telling me how Group’s approach was a breath of fresh air throughout the landscape and in 2015 I was tasked with starting development on a Drupal 8 rewrite. Some of you might remember how big of a change Drupal 8 was compared to previous versions so you can probably imagine how much of a challenge this rewrite was.

Cue February 2016 and a first alpha version was released which coincidentally was a great demonstration of how little I understood of Drupal 8 back then. After a few very painful alpha releases to rectify past mistakes, we finally managed to tag a beta release in July 2016 but it would take another full year before a first release candidate was tagged. Another two years later we finally had a full release in the summer of 2020.

It took over four years to develop the first Drupal 8 version and by the time it was finished, we already had Drupal 9. As you can imagine, a lot of code was written in that time which I later ended up regretting. I started writing the whole thing with zero D8/9 knowledge and by the time I had finished the last few features I could call myself a veritable D8/9 expert.

Out with the old, in with the new

What I absolutely ended up hating about Group was that I had all sorts of special things going on that other developers could not easily interact with or replicate. We had special group roles Anonymous, Outsider and Member, we had a system of Advanced Outsider Roles, an all-access admin permission, a plugin system that could not be easily altered, etc.

So we grabbed all of that with both hands and gave it a big old chuck out the window. Poof, all gone! You’ll find that in Group 2.0.0, a lot more is far easier to interact with and you get more functionality out of the box too.

Another great improvement is the handling of list access. Everything is now taken care of by special query alters that are significantly faster than the old implementation of Entity API’s query access handlers.

There’s so much I could list here, but I’ll just leave it to you to read the release notes over on Drupal.org. Please pay special attention to the detailed talk I gave on the subject of the new handler system at Drupal Dev Days 2022.

Helping you prepare for the future

So now that we finally have this new release, you might wonder how do I upgrade? Well, that’s where we can help out! You could either comb over the change records and figure things out on your own or you could hire us and get all of that knowledge in a fraction of the time.

It’s taken a lot of our resources to develop this new shiny release for you and frankly, we’re all tapped out. While we still plan to slowly develop new features and fix bugs along the way, we’re hoping that the major consumers out there reach out and ask us to help them upgrade their code to the new API. A bit of financial support could really help keep our community contribution team running.

Also, with all of the time invested, we can’t really spend days writing up-to-date documentation yet, so while we’re hoping that early adopters might help out on that front, you could fast-track this whole process by sponsoring some of our time.

The only way is up

Trust me when I say: It’s worth upgrading. The new possibilities will absolutely blow your mind. The longer you wait, the more you’ll end up hating yourself for not having made the decision sooner.

We’ve come a long way and built a ton of expertise and it shows. From the measly 1k vs 30k installs way back when, Group is now the dominant module on the market with an astonishing 12k reported D8/D9 installs compared to about 750 for OG.

With OG and Group still serving a combined 16k Drupal 7 websites (oof!) that will all be needing to upgrade to a D9 release soon, we can confidently say that the only way is up. As demonstrated by the pretty picture below.

image showing the rising number of usages of the Drupal Group module from 2014 with a couple of hundred usages to more than 12 thousand in 2022

See updated statistics regarding usage here: https://www.drupal.org/project/usage/group

Kristiaan Blog Author Image

Kristiaan van den Eynde

Backend Developer