It is undoubtedly difficult for any project being operated by and contributed to by thousands of people, in an uncentralized manner, to keep pushing that project at a rate such that it is always at the front-end of the curve of innovation. At companies like Apple, a singular, unwavering, and incredibly inspired vision put forth by a leader like Steve Jobs helped keep a steadily growing company at the front of its competition despite no longer being just a tiny group of innovators working in a garage.

Drupal, as a community and an open-sourced project, as aged quite well over the years. In many aspects it has kept evolving and growing to keep up with changes in the industry, and in other some ways it has no doubt contributed back to the industry in terms of establishing best practices and conventions.

In one area where some could argue that Drupal (at least in its core aspects) has not kept pace has been the user experience, or "UX". While functional and clean, the UX as it relates to the core system processes (module, user, content management, etc.) has been a point of contention within the Drupal community for many years now.

A plethora of contributed modules were created to address some concerns, like enhanced administrative menus, module management or permissions pages filtering, but some could say their mere existence suggested that Drupal core was lacking what were considered fundamentally important UX features. That some of these contributed modules are gradually being incorporated into Drupal core shows that the community leadership "gets it", and new features in Drupal 8 like editing in place on content show a commitment to making UX a priority.

A recent blog post by Dries Buytaert describes a vision for taking the user experience in Drupal to an altogether new level. Now, while I wouldn't say that the UX aspects which Dries describes in his article are altogether innovative, you can find many of them in already existing custom Drupal modules like Glazed for example (not a free module), incorporating them into Drupal core would firmly take the project into what is easily considered the state of the art with user experience.

The kind of utility that he describes where you can edit or manipulate core features such as blocks and menus within the actual presentation layer of the page, is the kind of experience that many users have come to expect with apps and websites. Of course the goal of UX isn't to just blindly meet expectations, as sometimes what users expect isn't actually how they subconsciously prefer to use interfaces when observed during testing, but it is critical for the viability of an interface-driven system to be concerned with those things.

Dries' "outside-in" version of Drupal shows me that the Drupal leadership is aware of these issues and expectations, and will continue to make them a priority for the advancement of Drupal core. Regardless of whether all or some of these features eventually get implemented in a future version of Drupal, it is a good sign that the conversation and vision on this topic is moving into the present state of user experience convention.