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Drupal birthday cake

Because Drupal turned 8 years old last week, I got the Acquia team a special birthday cake. Pictures have since emerged so I'm sharing a couple of them here. Yum, yum!
Happy eighth birthday drupal
Happy eighth birthday drupal
Happy eighth birthday drupal

Jeff makes sure that I get a taste too.

Drupal.org redesign code sprints

As promised, we're organizing a series of sprints to help push the drupal.org redesign closer to completion. The drupal.org redesign is a massive project, and, when implemented, will be an important milestone for our community.

The Drupal.org website was originally launched in 2001 and last redesigned in 2005; over time we've simply outgrown it. The community has made it clear that new features were needed, and the Drupal Association has made the Drupal.org redesign one of its top priorities. By improving the navigation, the design and the organization of the site, we hope to further expand Drupal's reach and to provide us better tools to communicate and collaborate.

Most of you are likely familiar with the open redesign process that has occurred in the redesign group with the help from Mark Boulton, Leisa Reichelt and many other people in our community. Now it is time for us, the community, to take these designs and to implement them.

To that end, we're organizing a number of redesign-specific sprints over the next two months, each concentrating on a specific area of the process. Even though we won't be able to completely upgrade the entire site during these sprints, we will make valuable progress and form plans that will allow us to move forward to completion. Many Drupal contributors have already agreed to participate, and a number of companies and individuals have come forward to donate time, resources and money. I've included a Chip-in widget on this page, and I encourage you to contribute as well.

  • Köln Hackathon, January 17 -18 -- While in Germany to attend DrupalCamp Köln, Gerhard, Robert, and I are going to sit down and prepare for the upgrade, hash out the modules to be used, plan the details of the new search feature, and make some other important design decisions. Anyone at DrupalCamp Köln is welcome to join us as we make these preliminary plans.
  • Boston, Cambrigde, January 26 - 30 -- The Boston sprint is dedicated to upgrading drupal.org's Drupal 5 platform to Drupal 6, in preparation for the redesign. During this week-long sprint at the OLPC offices, we plan to get a working upgrade path for the existing drupal.org databases, port the project infrastructure to Drupal 6, and implement Views, among other issues. The redesign infrastructure team group contains many posts detailing the current status of the upgrade process. Gábor Hojtsy, Derek Wright, Chad Phillips, Damien Tournoud, Neil Drumm, Dave Reid, Kevin Hankens, Susan MacPhee and myself have all committed to attend, and many others are available contingent on funding.
  • Paris, February 9 - 13 -- At the Paris sprint, we'll start implementing Mark Boulton's redesign on D6. Though it will take longer than this week to do, we plan to be well on our way by week's end. Gábor Hojtsy, Gerhard Killesreiter, Damien Tournoud, Neil Drumm, Joeri Poesen, Robert Douglass and myself have committed to attend, and many others are considering it. I also called up Mark Boulton, and he is tentatively scheduled to attend the code sprint in Paris.
  • Washington DC, March 4 - 7 -- While at DrupalCon DC 2009, we plan to continue to work on the upgrade. When, where and what will be worked on is still to be defined.

Though our meet-up in Köln will be essentially free, the week-long sprints in Boston and Paris are not. We need to raise around $15,000 USD to fund the sprints. The money will be used to cover flight, food and hotel costs for the sprinters. All sprinters are generously donating their time to make this happen. Any excess money will be used to add more people, or will be donated to the Drupal Association.

While the Drupal Association may be able to provide some funds, we'll only reach our goal through your generous contribution. A number of organizations, including Acquia, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), AF83, Four Kitchens, DrupalTherapy, OpenBand and Looforyoo have already come forward with donations of money and resources to help make these sprints be successful.

We'll make sure to highlight companies and individuals that make a significant donation. But more than anything else, we need people that are willing to step up and help. If you're available to attend these sprints, and if you have the time and dedication to work on the drupal.org redesign before, during and after the code sprints, join the redesign infrastructure team, let me know in the comments and we'll figure out how and when you can best participate. We certainly welcome more people, especially those who can pay (most of) their own way.

Please consider making a donation using the ChipIn widget or help us raise funds by spreading the word. Drupal.org is our home on the web, and it needs your help. Thanks!

DrupalCamp Köln

On January 17-18, I'll be in Germany to attend DrupalCamp Köln (aka DrupalCamp Cologne) and hang out with the German Drupal community. DrupalCamp Köln is organized by Thomas Narres, Daniel Niehaus, Jürgen Brocke, Torsten Zenk, Florian Latzel, and others in the Köln/Bonn users group.

The venue is sponsored by GFU, a leading German IT training organization. Other sponsors include Host Europe, the Kölner Internet Union, O'Reilly, Packt Publishing, APress, Martinsfeld and Acquia.

With so many good presentation proposals, it's hard to point out just a few. An incomplete list of sessions include SEO, fields in core, Acquia, SimpleTest, Ubercart, performance optimization, installation profiles, Solr, module writing, theming and many more.

This is the first ever Drupal-specific camp (or Drupal un-conference) that Germany has ever seen, and so far a little more than 150 people have signed up. The organizers are expecting to max out the venue with around 180 participants. Prominent German Drupalistas attending and/or presenting include: Konstantin Käfer, Hagen Graf, Daniel Juling, Ben Birkenhagen, Gerhard Killesreiter, and plenty of other great contributors. International Drupalistas coming include: Morten (King of Denmark), Mikkel Høgh (Denmark), Florian Loretan (USA / Switzerland), Roel Demeester (Belgium), Jo Wouters (Belgium), Damien Tournoud (France), Joeri Poesen (Belgium), and many more.

Three people from Acquia will be present; Robert Douglass, Jeffrey McGuire (aka Jam) and myself. I'll do a keynote on Drupal. Robert plans to demonstrate the latest ApacheSolr improvements and will give a first glance at Acquia's hosted search solution. Robert and I will also be holding an Acquia Q&A session, and Jam will be ready to help with your Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 upgrade problems, pesky Views 1 to Views 2 conversions and hosting a moderated discussion on Upgrade as a Barrier, and how to move adoption forward.

Two other things you shouldn't miss are the Drupal.org upgrade and redesign hackathon -- your chance to get your hands dirty with the big Drupal.org redesign project -- and the Ubercart workshop that takes place on January 19 and 20, right after Drupalcamp Köln. The Ubercart workshop is organized by Commerce Guys and AF83.

Acquia supports everything Drupal 6

Last year, Acquia opened for business, offering commercial support for a defined software distribution called Acquia Drupal. One could purchase commercial support for all the modules in Acquia Drupal. As I mentioned last week in my 2009 predictions for Drupal, one of the things we learned relatively fast is that people wanted more than just Acquia Drupal. They wanted support for all modules, themes and custom code.

No surprise, but when we set out to build Acquia little more than a year ago, we weren't quite sure how we'd go about supporting everything with the limited resources we had available. We have since learned and grew a lot, and we decided that we're finally ready to start providing technical support for all of Drupal 6.x -- not just Acquia Drupal but all modules and themes available on drupal.org, as well as custom code.

So last week we rolled out a big release of the Acquia Network, the new Acquia Network connector (available from drupal.org, see Gabor's blog post for details), a 156 page "Getting Started Guide" on Drupal, and a ton of new content on our website. Starting today, we're ready to give many more customers what they want: support for everything Drupal 6.

We'll continue to tweak and experiment with our offering in 2009 so we didn't make a big deal out of this change (i.e. no press release, no analyst briefings). However, I wanted to bring this to your attention because I'm really excited about it. It means it will be easier for us to help take Drupal to the enterprise, and that Acquia will contribute to more and different parts of the Drupal project.

While Acquia Drupal no longer defines our support boundaries, it is still a great on-ramp for people getting started with Drupal. We are continuing to invest in Acquia Drupal so watch this space for more Acquia Drupal announcements.

Kudos to the entire Acquia team for making this milestone happen. Thanks!

My predictions for 2009

It is that time of year again. Time to reflect on 2008, and to put on my Drupal Nostradamus hat and look forward to 2009. But first of all, thanks for 2008! It's been a pretty crazy ride.

Drupal

My personal Drupal highlights for 2008 include the Drupal 6 release (the best Drupal release ever!), both DrupalCon Boston and DrupalCon Szeged, the Drupal.org redesign that is in progress, and, of course, beating Joomla and Wordpress at the Packt awards. ;-) As I predicted last year, more than ten books were written about Drupal, compared to a single book in 2007. The increase in Drupal books is another highlight as I actively helped connect authors to publishers. I truly enjoyed being part of the Drupal community in 2008.

My personal low for 2008 is regret that some key modules lagged behind the Drupal 6 release. The majority of these modules have now been released, and Drupal 6 is finally getting on the fast lane now. The message is clear: we'll continue to see tremendous growth and adoption in 2009.

Why?

  1. Drupal 6 is easier to use, runs faster, and comes with many great new features. The work we did on Drupal 6 throughout 2007 and 2008 will pay off in 2009.
  2. Economic pressure will help accelerate Drupal's growth, and that of Open Source in general. More site owners will discover that with Drupal, you can build a better website cheaper than with many of its proprietary counterparts.
  3. Social publishing (blogs, forums, wikis, social networks, etc.) will become more pervasive and continue to make inroads in organizations seeking to facilitate collaboration between teams and departments. These applications, while nothing new, make many aspects of business better, are here to stay, and will mature over time. Drupal continues to be in that sweet spot.

I'll continue to have a software love affair with Drupal in 2009. At the moment, I'm very excited about the community's growing interest in the semantic web -- and all the related interoperability and decentralization technologies. The seed of what I hope will become a strong marriage between Drupal and semantic web technologies was planted in my DrupalCon Boston 2008 keynote in February (with the help, hard work and preparation of many others), and will continue to grow in 2009. Drupal continues to be a technology pioneer in 2009.

I predict that Drupal 7 will be released in the fourth quarter of 2009. The two most exciting features in Drupal 7 core will be custom content types and radical improvements in usability. To reduce the risk of important modules falling behind in support or update path, a significant portion of the Content Construction Kit (CCK) related modules will move to core and we'll pave the way for the Views modules. The same holds true for other important contributed modules, including token module, path auto module, and image handling functionality. In 2009, core becomes bigger, not smaller. The Drupal 7 code freeze will be longer than expected regardless our new continuous test framework, and the upgrade path to Drupal 7 will be more painful than hoped for. But like always, we'll come out stronger than before ...

Despite Drupal being loved by many, we'll have to work hard in 2009. The thing that holds Drupal back is failure to execute many of the ideas and plans that we have. As a community, we need to grow more mentors in 2009, and we must all make sure that they are set up for success rather than failure. The community's responsibility to itself should be to remove barriers to participation and single points of failure. Alarm bells should go off when there is a desire to introduce red tape, unnecessary hurdles or dependencies, or when we fail to collaborate and make progress in key areas of the project. At the same time, we need to help more Drupal companies figure out how to contribute back to Drupal in substantial ways. Contributions are gold, talk is silver. Helping people contribute must become platinum.

Last year, I predicted that we would see the first signs of consolidation in the Open Source CMS market. I believe that prediction was correct. The "big three" (i.e. Wordpress, Joomla! and Drupal) continued to grow in 2008, while many of the other systems faded into the background a bit. I think that trend will continue in 2009. In the long run, the winners will be platform providers that enable people to connect, create and share value in different ways -- and that do so with the lowest barrier to entry. Expect other systems to (continue to) attack Drupal from both below and above. We're the best platform today, and others will have to move in to stay viable.

Oh, and IBM starts to embrace Drupal in 2009!

Acquia

I'm proud of Acquia. Acquia is the Drupal company that I started with Jay Batson. We announced the start of Acquia at the end of November 2007, and we announced our funding just before the end of 2007. People had a lot of questions about Acquia early in 2008, but throughout the year we demonstrated over and over again that we're committed to Drupal's success and that we want to do what is right for the community. We built a great team and grew from 2 employees early in the year to 30 people today. In September 2008, we launched our first products and started to offer commercial support for a defined software distribution called Acquia Drupal. Today, 3 months after we opened to doors for business, we are serving customers. We worked hard and made our milestones. It has been fun to see a new business take off. I also racked up way more frequent flyer points (i.e. air miles) than what is generally considered healthy.

The first thing you learn when selling in tough economic times is that you must figure out how to give customers exactly what they want and you must do it fast. It didn't take long for us to realize that people wanted more than Acquia Drupal: they wanted support for everything Drupal 6.x -- all modules, themes and custom code. The good news is that Acquia is a nimble company so the last weeks we worked on changing our support model to address customer demands. Starting tomorrow, we will support everything Drupal 6.x -- not just Acquia Drupal but all modules and themes available on drupal.org as well as custom code. I'm still a firm believer in Drupal distributions so Acquia Drupal still has a role as a packaged on-ramp for people getting started with Drupal. However, anyone will be able to connect any Drupal 6.x site to the Acquia Network -- helping us achieve our goal of helping people build and operate great websites with Drupal. Keep an eye on acquia.com if you want to learn more about these changes.

We're passionate about getting our value proposition right, so expect us to continue to tweak and extend our current offering in 2009. We'll also launch a number of new products. Some, like our hosted search service, we've already talked about, and I think we'll finally be ready to talk about a few others in the first quarter of 2009.

Regardless of the down-turn in the economy, I think that Acquia's business will continue to take off nicely in 2009. My heart and gut are convinced that Acquia has a tremendous opportunity to do well, and to do good. I believe (and hope) that Acquia will have the success it takes to continue to invest in Drupal.

Mollom

Together with Benjamin Schrauwen, I also launched Mollom, a web service whose purpose is to dramatically reduce the effort of keeping websites free of spam and the quality of user-generated content high. Mollom is a self-funded company and nowhere near the size or scope of Acquia (Acquia is my full-time commitment) but nevertheless, a lot of progress has been made. We announced Mollom in March, and opened the doors for business at the end of September 2008. Today, we're actively protecting 4,500 websites of which 75-100 have paid subscriptions. Mollom has caught almost 21 million spam messages since it started.

In 2009, I predict that Mollom will continue to experience steady growth and that we'll introduce a premium subscription (i.e. "Mollom Premium" in addition to "Mollom Plus" and "Mollom Free") with enterprise level features. I also predict that our efficiency in blocking spam will raise from our current 99.88% (i.e. 12 in 10,000 spam messages were not caught) to 99.95% or more (i.e. 5 in 10,000 spam messages or less were not caught). While this might sound like a marginal improvement, it actually means we make 2.4 times fewer mistakes.

Mollom has a ton of potential and is great fun, so I have all reasons to believe that 2009 will be a good year for Mollom. If fact, I predict that 'good' will be an understatement.

Conclusion

2008 was a great year, and continues Drupal's great run. The economic realities of 2009 will present challenges, but also opportunities. I believe Drupal's success will continue -- and accelerate -- in 2009, though we'll have to work hard. I predict we'll do exactly that.

Fields in core code sprint debrief

I just got back from the Fields in core code sprint at Acquia that I helped organize. Our participants all had the same goal for this five-day sprint: get CCK functionality into Drupal 7. The participants were Yves (CCK maintainer), Karen (CCK maintainer), Barry Jaspan (CCK contributor), Moshe Weitzman, David Strauss, Florian Loretan, Károly Négyesi, David Rothstein and myself.

It was a very productive week. For 14 hours a day, we discussed CCK, aligned our visions, tackled important design questions, wrestled with terminology, wrote code, and hit some important milestones. We can, for example, "field-enable" any object using a clean API. As a prototype, we've field-enabled both users and nodes. While the new Fields API isn't in core yet, a lot of progress has been made and I'm confident that we'll get something in core soon. Work continues now we're all home. To learn more about the current status, or to help drive this home, please consult the fields in core group. Expect to see more detailed and technical write-ups from participants to appear within the next couple of weeks.

Fields in core code sprint

© Chuck D'Antonio

All things considered, this sprint was a big success, and I'm now toying with organizing a "drupal.org upgrade" sprint at Acquia during the last week of January. The goal would be to upgrade drupal.org from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6, and make progress on the drupal.org redesign work. Is anyone interested in participating in or helping fund this sprint? If so, more soon.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped make the fields in core code sprint a success, and give a special mention to:

  • Yves, Karen, Barry, Moshe, David, Florian, and Karoly for their time and energy -- and for putting up with the jet lags and snow blizzards.
  • Everyone who provided remote help.
  • Four Kitchens for paying for David and providing Karoly and Florian accommodation.
  • Acquia for hosting the sprint and for donating Barry's time (as well as some of mine).
  • Our 146 sponsors -- only by all of us bringing a small piece to the table have we been able to pull this off. Together we were able to raise $5,682 USD to support our Fields In Core sprint. Special thanks to Chapter Three, LLC and Gravitek Labs for donating $500 USD each.
  • And, special thanks to Pieter De Clercq, who sold his Guitar Hero 3 game and donated the money to this code sprint. Respect!

Fields in Drupal core code sprint

Good news! During the week of December 15, we're organizing a 5-day Fields in Drupal core code sprint at Acquia! The goal is to get CCK functionality into Drupal 7.

So far, Karen, Yves and Barry have signed up -- Karen and Yves are the main CCK maintainers, and Barry has done a lot of work on CCK as well.

To help us fund the sprint, please consider making a donation using the ChipIn widget on this page. We need money for airline tickets, hotel rooms, food and transportation. It would also be great to fly in a few additional people with extensive core and CCK experience.

I've tentatively worked out a budget of $7,000 USD, which covers flight, food and hotel costs for at least four people (Karen, Yves, and two additional people). Since Acquia is covering my travel expenses and allowing Barry to participate all week long, that gives us six people working on CCK-fields-in-core for an entire week. Any excess money will be used to add more people, or donated to the Drupal Association.

To guarantee that Yves and Karen can attend, Acquia is funding Yves' and Karen's hotel and airplane tickets if enough money can't be raised through donations. Acquia is also providing working space in our Andover office.

We'll try to allow people to participate in the sprint remotely, and provide a daily update on our progress. If you're interested and available to participate, join the Fields in Core group, enable e-mail notifications, and block time in your calendar between December 15 and December 19. We'll use the Fields in Core group to plan and to let you know how you can contribute and participate.

This sprint could be an important moment in Drupal's history, so we're counting on your help. Please consider making a donation using the ChipIn widget or help us raise funds by spreading the word. Hopefully, fields in core can be this year's Christmas present. Thanks!

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