Earlier this month, the international media group Hubert Burda Media (about 2.5 billion annual revenue, more than 10,000 employees, and more than 300 titles) released its Drupal 8 distribution, Thunder. Thunder includes custom modules specifically tailored to the needs of professional publishers.
This is great news for three reasons: (1) I've long been a believer in Drupal distributions, (2) I believe that publishers shouldn't compete through CMS technology, but through strong content and brands, and (3) Thunder is based on Drupal 8.
Distributions enable Drupal to compete against a wide range of turnkey solutions, as well as break into new markets. The number of vertical distributions that can be created is nearly limitless, and the possibilities are endless. Thunder is a great example of that.
Professional publishing is one of the industries that has faced the most extensive business model disruption because of the web. Many companies are feeling pressure on their revenue streams, yet you'll find that some companies still focus their efforts on building proprietary, custom CMS platforms as a way to differentiate. This doesn't have to be the case – I've long believed that Drupal (and open source, more generally) can give publishers endless ways to differentiate themselves at much lower costs.
The following video gives an overview of the Thunder approach:
Custom features for publishers
Thunder adds a range of publisher-centric Drupal modules to Drupal 8 core. Specifically, Burda added integrations with audience "circulation" counting tools and ad servers, as well as single sign-on (SSO) support across multiple sites. They've also developed a theme which implements infinite scrolling.
Thunder users also benefit from a range of channel- and feature-specific enhancements through collaboration with industry partners. The following extensions are already available or in the final stages of development:
- Riddle.com provides an easy-to-use editor for interactive content. The data from the resulting polls and quizzes is available to the publisher.
- nexx.tv offers a video CMS and their video player. And Microsoft will support the video solution with 100,000 free video streamings per month through their Azure cloud.
- Facebook will provide a module for integrated publishing to their Instant Articles, exclusively for Thunder users.