Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Sugar On Drupal

Have you seen the new hosted blogging platform? It's Drupal powered, built by the fashion / pop culture publishing empire that is Sugar, Inc. (CrunchBase link for background info).

In many ways, it is what I have often been waiting for. Drupal is a very good multi user system. This is not an install profile, spawning sites, nor is it as simple as "one" site. It is a very interesting implementation of a hosted blogging platform.

I would like people to look at it, and test it, and think about it, because this is the kind of stuff you can build with Drupal. You can theme the node forms, you can add AJAX popups / overlays, and you can add innovative features while stripping out the knob twiddling options for the person that just uses the thing.

There are two features that I see as truly innovative. The first is the image insertion.

OnSugar Image Insertion Screenshot

You've got your images, and upload and image...and then you've got "Search Getty". You know, the largest commercial database of images online. And then ShopStyle and FashionWeek, two other Sugar properties. Wow: a shared platform where any one user has easy access to images across the system. That's fantastic! I had previousy done some mockups of a Flickr Search button for TinyMCE -- one can easily see OnSugar expanding the images to include (or adding the functionality to the other insertion buttons? top links? top videos? quote the top blog posts, and so on...). A mass system built on sharing (or at least shared access), imagine that.

The second innovative feature is the themes. Well, sort of. Themes and control for end users is HARD. There are a list of shared themes that you can either use directly, or that you can copy. The copy part is magic. You can copy a theme, rename it, edit it, and then even share it back out again to have someone else use (or use as a base for their own copy/edit/share). There's that sharing again! The theme layer seems really comprehensive. That is, you can edit CSS, the page outline, post outlines, and even comment outlines. Seems a bit hard for the average end user, but it IS cut and paste simple ... so some people will build cool things, and others will cut and paste it into their own creations. The template reference file shows you the snippets you can use. Is this Smarty, or did they build their own engine?

Anyway, I hope you kick the tires on the system, and think about what it means. My co-founder at Bootup, Danny, met with Brian briefly while down in San Francisco, and I look forward to continuing the conversation. You can find me at, and you'll find some other Drupal folks like walkah kicking the tires as well.