I took a few days off from work to spend some time with my family -- I haven't had more than a 3 hour break in the last 4 weeks and was away from home during the weekends. DrupalCon Paris ended about 48 hours ago, so I'm sitting here with post-DrupalCon blues, staring at the waterfront, thinking about how fun and exciting the conference was. As usual, I wasn't able to attend more than a couple of sessions, but nothing beats talking to Drupal users and brainstorming together. And I talked to many Drupalistas ...
Looking back at DrupalCon Paris, it struck me that sometimes we can generate ideas faster when we work alone, and that sometimes creativity happens best in groups. The same is true for solving problems. The time leading up to the conference, the time at the conference, and the weeks after the conference provide a unique blend of individual and collective idea creation and problem solving that is so important for Drupal. Let's not underestimate that. I certainly value the retrospective that seems to be part of the post-DrupalCon blues (and the waterfront Mojitos that help fuel it).
With 850 Drupalistas attending DrupalCon Paris, I wasn't able to talk to all of you -- I feel sad about that because we have such an amazing community. To those people who I have been able to talk to and brainstorm with: thanks for inspiring me!
As always, DrupalCon is largely driven by volunteers, and many of them have a full-time job. It takes a lot to coordinate an event like this and it is not something we should take for granted. Everyone involved -- from the local volunteers to the Drupal Association to the event planning staff -- has my thanks! Great times!
Just a short time ago, I announced the refresh of Drupal.com. As I announced in my post, Drupal.com has a couple of purposes: one of its key purposes is serving as the current home of the official Drupal trademark policy. As of today, version 1.0 is available and published at http://drupal.com/trademark.
I invite you to read the Drupal Trademark Policy in detail. It's full of illustrative examples, and I hope that we've made it as community-friendly as possible. We can't cover every possible scenario, but I believe it addresses most situations that are likely to occur within our community. It may -- and certainly will -- change over time as we keep in sync with the changing needs of our community and, if necessary, to account for unforeseen situations. That is important to keep in mind.
I've owned the Drupal trademark for a long time. The lack of a Drupal trademark policy doesn't mean the trademark was unprotected -- it was protected by trademark law. The lack of a Drupal trademark policy meant that it was unclear what was allowed and what wasn't allowed, and frankly, that you were bound by trademark law. By creating a trademark policy and a licensing procedure, we've provided us options we did not have before.
The goal of our new policy is to provide guidance and clarity on how the Drupal trademark is allowed to be used. The only community model that really works is one where there is a fair-level playing ground for all people and organizations. Ultimately, that is what this policy seeks to accomplish.
The entire process of developing the policy was a community effort, with help from a variety of legal experts. We worked on the policy over the course of almost two years. A draft version of the policy was posted at http://groups.drupal.org/node/19068, and through the community feedback that developed there, we ironed out many of the wrinkles of my original draft. Larry Garfield, the Drupal Association's current legal representative has provided feedback, and both my own attorney (DLA Piper) and additional attorneys from the Software Freedom Law Center and the Drupal Association were part of the policy's development. To help validate our work, we reviewed other similar policies from sister projects to make sure that we were in-line with the current legal trends in open-source development.
As the owner of the trademark, protection of the trademark falls to me, and is managed by me with the assistance of my attorney, the Drupal Association, and potentially even local Drupal Associations. I personally bear substantial personal costs as part of sustaining the trademark in all its various geographic jurisdictions. To help offset the costs of managing the trademark, the trademark licenses, and to actively pursue those who infringe or inappropriately seek to use our brand, I will sell some advertising space on drupal.com and may also charge a small licensing fee to those that do not qualify for an automatic trademark license (section 1A) and that need to follow the license grant procedure (section 1B). Now the policy is published, I plan to work out the financial details in the next months so stay tuned for an update on that.
Most of you who use Drupal, commercially or otherwise, need not worry about how the new policy may impact you, though I certainly encourage you to study it and to apply for a license if required. For instance, in many cases, you are allowed to use the name 'Drupal' in domain names. Conversely, there are some Drupal domain names in particular that the policy seeks to protect for the good of the community and to create a fair-level playing ground. The introduction of the official policy is only intended to help ensure that the effort of hard-working Drupal contributors is not misappropriated. I think it will make us even stronger, as a community!
Every once in a while, the discussion of Drupal cerification comes up. Is a Drupal certification program a good thing or a bad thing? Are certification programs overrated? Isn't one's track record as a contributor on drupal.org the best measure of someone's past (and possibly future) performance? Should the Drupal Association manage the program, and if not, then who? What do other Open Source projects do?
Lots of unknowns and lots of subjective questions always make for a good discussion.
While I'm often skeptical about certification programs myself, I do see the value in them. Certification isn't for everyone but for some people it is valuable. A masters degree from MIT, an MBA from Harvard or a Ph.D. from Stanford is a form of certification too. But, just as there are good examples, there is no lack of examples where bad certification programs deliver certified engineers that don't know what they are actually doing. That fact, though, doesn't invalidate the valuable certification programs that do exist; for example, the CISCO certification program is very thorough and valued by the market. Similarly, I think that employers do value certificates achieved in higher education. All things considered, I believe there is value in having a well-executed high-quality Drupal certification program, especially as Drupal continues to grow.
My personal view is that the Drupal Association is not the best body to create "the" Drupal certification program. It is my belief that we are best served by allowing many organizations to create their own Drupal certification programs, and have the marketplace set their value -- similar to how universities build reputations. Competition around Drupal certification programs could be a great thing, because it would likely improve quality and allow for specialization. A certification, of course, is ultimately only as valuable as the organization standing behind it. In such a scenario, it is very important that the certification programs are labeled properly; that is, "ACME Drupal certified" rather than just "Drupal certified", where ACME is the name of the company or organization providing the service. It has to be ACME's reputation that is on the line for the quality of their participants. The Drupal trademark policy is designed to help achieve that.
I also don't believe that a certification program is a zero-sum game: that is, holding a certification doesn't imply that your track record on drupal.org (through your user profile) is of either less or more value. Again, the market and the buyer will determine the value of a drupal.org user profile versus a certification program versus a resume versus a portfolio versus degrees obtained through higher education. In any event, it is unlikely that one would hire someone solely on the basis of having a Drupal certification. I certainly wouldn't.
When we launched Acquia two years ago, we announced a Drupal certification program code named 'Yellow Jersey'. That program hasn't materialized yet, and we're not putting resources in it at this point in time. Building a high-quality certification program is a significant undertaking and we're not ready to take on such a program. And last but not least, the marketplace hasn't demanded these types of programs to a sufficient degree. Yet.
Other Open Source projects like MySQL, Zend, Linux, Ubuntu, RedHat, BSD all have certification programs so I think it is a matter of time before we see one or more Drupal certification programs emerge. Personally, I would support a well-executed high-quality Drupal certification program.
Ever wanted to see the Media Lab at MIT? An almost mythical place where "...the future is lived, not imagined ... a world where radical technology advances are taken for granted, ..." and technology is designed "... for people to create a better future".
I've visited the Media Lab before and it is highly recommended. This is your chance.
On Friday, June 12th, we're conducting a one-day Drupal.org redesign sprint at the MIT Media Lab. Designed to bring home our kicking re-design for Drupal.org designed by Mark Boulton and Leisa Reichelt, all Drupal designers and developers who would like to contribute to theming our new home at drupal.org are welcome, invited, and encouraged to attend. Attendance is limited, so you must sign-up in advance.
Even if you're "just" a newbie, we'll make sure to have you ready for attendance by activating your infrastructure.drupal.org account, by creating your own hosted copy of drupal.org for your localized testing, and by training you in working within the redesign theme issue queue.
If you are interested in helping -- and I hope you are -- please sign-up to schedule your training by visiting http://groups.drupal.org/node/22036. Thanks!
The summer is off to a great start again. Google just announced that they will sponsor 18 Drupal developer stipends in this year's Summer of Code program (SoC). Google provides a stipend of 5,000 USD to each student developer, of which 4,500 USD goes to the student and 500 USD goes to Drupal Association (or to the mentors). With 18 accepted applications this adds up to a 90,000 USD investment over a three-month period. In addition to Drupal, they are supporting a ton of other Open Source projects, including PHP, which Drupal heavily depends on.
The accepted students, their projects, and the mentors are listed on the official Drupal.org announcement. Congratulations to all successful applicants, and thanks to the Drupal Summer of Code organizers, the Drupal mentors, and last but not least, Google. Awesome!