Drupal isn't only for work: it's also for play, as "FarmVille" creator Zynga proves. While their games usually appear as apps on social networks such as Facebook, its main site is on Drupal. It's a terrific example of how Drupal is used in the entertainment industry. After all, Zynga's annual revenue in 2010 was almost a billion US dollars, and is aiming for an initial public offering that values the company at $15-20 billion.
Drupal continues to rack up successes among large developer communities, with x.commerce joining Twitter, which made the move last month. X.commerce is a new division of PayPal that serves as an open, central meeting place for over 700,000 developers for eBay, PayPal, Magento, and other eBay properties.
These communities join those of Brightcove, Symantec, DivX -- and, of course, Drupal. All told, that's millions of developers relying on Drupal-run sites for coding tips, product info, and idea exchange.
x.commerce's communities were formerly run on Jive, a proprietary package. Through Acquia, eBay engaged VML to create the site, with additional consulting by Cyrve (now part of Acquia) to migrate data. Acquia provided a Technical Account Manager (TAM), who helped coordinate resources to put the site into production and will be on call as it grows.
Like many developer sites, x.commerce centers around its documentation and its communities. The latter are a model of social networking at its best, in the service of a question-and-answer format. Developers help each other by responding directly to questions, either publicly or through private email; vote on questions (and answers) to highlight those of importance; promote conversations through other social sites such as Facebook; and bookmark discussions to form personal collections. The results are evident in the enormous level of activity within the forums (which, by the way, are built on Organic Groups).
This project is an excellent example of how open-source software drives innovation. Under Jive, eBay wasn't able to develop features that it needed. If eBay needed to do something that wasn't in Jive's roadmap, that was just too bad. Drupal, of course, allows them to create whatever they need, or developers outside the company to do it. That jibes well with x.commerce's ethos of open development, as is demonstrated by the extensive APIs it provides for eBay and PayPal, and the freedom the company allows its developers. I believe that their openness is a key factor to their success -- there are over 4,500 apps on Magento alone -- and that their move to Drupal will allow them to grow at the speed of their community.
If you watch the stream of new modules going through drupal.org, it's easy to miss those with special meaning. So you might not have noticed the appearance of Content API, an add-on to the Services module. The module was born of efforts by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make 350,000 of its documents more available to the public, as part of a site that will enter public beta in a few weeks, My.FCC.gov. Like many government agencies, the FCC has been enthusiastic about Drupal lately, attracting a detailed write-up about its "reboot as an open government platform" on O'Reilly Radar last April. (FCC.gov also uses web services extensively, although without benefit of the Content API module.)
Seabourne Consulting in Washington, DC led the development, publishing a preview video of My.FCC.gov's prototype last May. Seabourne's Mike Reich told me that Drupal let them go from concept to working prototype in three weeks because they could leverage its existing features and add-ons, such as the Services module.
I consider web services to be a crucial area for improvement in Drupal 8. In fact, I made it the second Drupal 8 initiative back in April, and am very happy that Larry Garfield (aka Crell) has agreed to take on the challenge. In the meantime, the Content API module will give organizations like the FCC easier access to the power of web services right now, and its development could help guide efforts toward putting such tools in Drupal 8's core.
This is a big deal for Drupal -- it's not every day that one of the hottest technology start-ups switches one of its sites to Drupal. At Acquia, we have been working with Twitter on this site but couldn't talk about it for the longest time. I'm glad we finally can because it's a great use case for Drupal.
Twitter has 750,000 developers who have created nearly a million apps, making 13 billion API calls per day. Those are some astonishing figures! A population that big requires a lot, as we in the Drupal community know.
Fortunately, Drupal handles big communities well. Developer communities have been quick to recognize that and have adopted Drupal at a remarkable rate. Among them are the Brightcove developer community, Symantec Connect's developer community, DivX's developer community, and many more. Drupal's own website, Drupal.org, has more than a million registered users and is one of the largest developer communities in the world. Needless to say, drupal.org runs on Drupal.
Twitter is a curious case. On its face Twitter only has to do one thing -- deliver short messages in one-to-many mode. But its published APIs (and enormous popularity) have led developers to create a lot of interesting things. That's also why Drupal sites can publish to Twitter, and vice versa, via the Twitter module.
In the end, that is what good developer communities are all about. Developers are like molecules, vibrating with intensity and vigor. Their individual movements can seem random. But together in the right environment, they can form waves -- or snowflakes. Nurturing a community in which both are possible is the challenge every software project faces; I'd like to think that Twitter, through Drupal, is creating the right environment.