There's a little controversy in the Drupal world, a fork by Nathan Haug, aka QuickSketch. Last week he tweeted:
I was dragged kicking and screaming into Drupal by my employees -- I thought the architecture sucked, the templating system was stupid compared to Smarty, TemplateToolkit or DTL, it was a bloated memory and performance hog, configuration management was a disaster, simple REST/web services are ridiculously missing, and the lack of any sort of object oriented structure was a real impediment to understanding the code. Yet Drupal got the job done, handled everything we threw at it, quicker than anything else, and I became a convert. Our shop has done all Drupal for the last 5 years.
Drupal 8 pretty much resolves all of these complaints. I'm really excited to see it come about. As long as the community stays behind Drupal 8, I think we'll see a platform poised for even greater success.
As I see it, Backdrop is about preserving the bad parts of Drupal for people who don't want to learn actual programming skills. Users and administrators are never going to notice the difference. Sounds like they're bringing Twig over, so themers won't know the difference either. They're preserving the archaic architecture that makes Drupal so hard to learn for developers, the deployment nightmares for dev-ops, and the resource-intensive loader to keep bogging down performance for everyone. Great plan. Good luck with that!
Looks like this post got picked up and discussed with Nate and Jen on the Drupalize.Me Podcast. They had a very diplomatic response (I started with Drupal 5, by the way!), pointed out that I have some of the basic assessments wrong about what's going into Backdrop, that a big focus of their work is on performance where they are already seeing some gains, and that I will probably be happier in Drupal 8, which is fine.
I think Daniel Kudwein (aka Sun) has the best take on this controversy, basically pointing out that it's a communication breakdown.
I also hear lots of people saying "Forks are a good thing", trying to celebrate this and get all kum-bah-yah about the matter, let's all stay friends. Wrong. The ability to fork is a good thing. An actual fork might be a necessary thing, but it's rarely a good thing. Often successful forks make the original project irrelevant, rarely they split off and both versions get established, but pretty much never do forks manage to continue collaborating and helping the other.
Backdrop is not going to be compatible with Drupal 8 -- it's clearly going a different direction. Sooner or later there will be so little in common between the projects there will be nothing to talk about. For us, by far the biggest problem with Drupal is upgrade pain -- the single biggest reason we're losing customers these days is sticker shock at what it takes to upgrade from D5 or D6 to D7. Both D8 and Backdrop are trying to address this problem, in fundamentally different ways. I think D8 is hitching its horse to a platform and architecture that largely solves this problem, while Backdrop is preserving the architecture that promises to lead to more upgrade pain down the road.
But the biggest reason Backdrop sucks is that it means Drupal is losing some very talented developers and long-term contributors.
For more on forks, you can read a post I wrote back in 2006...