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Excessive dogfooding and zealotism

In software development one is eating his own dog food when he is using its own product (i.e. the software he develops). I'm using Drupal for my personal website, so I'm eating my own dogfood. Drupal.org is using Drupal, so the Drupal community is eating its own dogfood. Many developers in the Drupal community, or the Open Source community in general, eat their own dog food.

There are a number of well-known advantages to eating our own dogfood: it provides evidence that Drupal works and that we are confident using it ourselves. Furthermore, as users of our own software, we help discover bugs and identify shortcomings. When developers are users there is plenty of incentive to fix bugs and the feedback loop doesn't become much shorter than that. For those reasons, eating your own dogfood is a common strategy in software development.

Now, in the May-June edition of IEEE Software (volume 23, issue 3), Warren Harrison provides some good arguments against excessive dogfooding:

In a market-driven industry such as software development, developers must understand not just their product but the products of others. It's the rare company indeed that can't learn something from its competitors. Engineers who use their own company tools exclusively tend to propagate all the bad aspects of their tools because they might not even realize an alternative approach exists. At the same time, they often fail to either understand or appreciate the good points of other companies' tools. I recall a discussion I once had with a well-placed manager at a dogfooding company I'll call "ABC Corporation". He snorted that it had been years since anyone at the company had read anything that wasn't marked "ABC Confidential".

New engineers who come into a dogfooding company with exposure to other toolsets are often forced by peer pressure to conform to the party line that all other tools are inferior and the company's approach is superior. Often, when hiring new engineers, managers consider exposure to other companies' toolsets as negative rather than positive. Some companies that proudly tout their dogfooding simultaneously display a surprising degree of arrogance along with a corresponding degree of cluelessness. It isn't clear, however, if the arrogance begets the dogfooding or the dogfooding begets the arrogance.

Maybe don't use Drupal for your next project and learn from that experience? Either way, make sure to dabble your toes in the waters of other systems once in a while! I, for one, enjoy chatting with Steven Noels from Daisy, I thouroughly enjoyed myself with Joomla, and time-permitting, I hope to dig deeper and to explore other content management systems as well.

DrupalCon Hungary

Just to add to the craziness: the weekend after DrupalCon Brussels, I'll be in Budapest to attend the first Hungarian Drupal conference. The conference takes place on the 30th of September, and brings together the key players of the Hungarian Drupal scene. All presentations are in Hungarian, except mine. (The one Hungarian word I know is "gulyás"; it makes for a good dinner but not exactly for a great presentation.) Registration is required prior to attendence, so sign up at the DrupalCon Hungary website.

MTV using Drupal

MTV UK is now using Drupal! According to the official press release, the new Drupal-based MTV UK website will continue to host news and information for their broadcast channels.

The interesting part is the fact that the new website will act as the front-end for MTV Flux, a new social networking website that lets viewers interact with MTV and each other. Angel Gambino, VP Commercial Strategy & Digital Media, MTV Networks UK & Ireland explains:

"Our users now have the ability to create and upload content to mtvflux.co.uk that will also be showcased on the broadcast channel. Drupal’s social networking capabilities make it a good match for our local development team’s needs and the software’s extensibility has allowed the creation of modules to interact with our on-air systems as well as SMS mobile and Flash-based interactive systems."

Mtv flux

Drupal 5.0.0 frozen

The next version of Drupal will have a lot of great improvements, including an installer, requirement checking for modules, a reorganization of the administration pages and file structure, custom content types, the inclusion of a Javascript library and much more. After 4 years of Drupal 4 work, the stars have aligned, and we're finally ready to call the next Drupal version, "Drupal 5.0.0". Today, we froze the code in preparation of what promises to be an amazing Drupal release. Soon, the era of Drupal 5 begins ...

Forrester report in the mail

I received a free copy of the Forrester report that compares blogging platforms (including Drupal). Thanks Forrester!

The report is concise: it presents the final results of their comparison and formulates platform-independent recommendations for IT managers. Very useful but free of (interesting) details and nuances.

Fifteen pages, 995 USD, freed from many worries ... add to cart.

Forrester report
Forrester report
Forrester report

Drupal vs Joomla: popularity

Google trends is a tool that analyzes Google web searches and that can visualize search trends over time using so called "search-volume graphs". These graphs usually provide a good mechanism to compare the popularity of two or more products.

Here is the search-volume graph that compares Drupal and Joomla:

It is worth pointing out that Joomla has been around a lot longer than the graph suggests. In 2005, the bulk of Mambo's core developers left Mambo and started Joomla after a dispute with Miro Corporation, the company that founded Mambo. Keep this in mind when interpreting the graph. (I tried adding Mambo to the graph but the term Mambo isn't unique to Mambo, the content management system.)

That said, you can see that Joomla is more popular than Drupal, and that Joomla has been growing a lot faster. Why? The general consensus is that Joomla has a more appealing balance between functionality, flexibility, performance, quality of code, ease of use, documentation, user interface design, support and product marketing.

I want to add that Drupal is not trying to compete with Joomla. We are actually pretty good at ignoring the competition, and just do what we think is best to do. Regardless, there is significant overlap in functionality and many of our users ask questions about the differences between both ...

Drupal vs Joomla: hosting costs

Sun's new Fire T1000 and T2000 servers are much touted for their low power consumption. According to the Sun Fire T2000 power calculator, an idle Sun Fire T2000 with 4 cores and 8GB of memory consumes 203 watts, and a busy one consumes 251 watts, resulting in a difference of 48 watts.

Now, hosting companies pay something like one dollar per month in power and cooling costs for every 6 watts of power used. Thus, a Sun Fire T2000 costs 33.83 USD per month (203 watts divided by 6.00 watts/USD/month), and a busy one costs 41.83 USD per month (251 watts divided by 6.00 watts/USD/month).

Imagine that you have one such machine for your Drupal website and one such machine for your Joomla website. Now, say that the Drupal website is on average 100 times more efficient than the Joomla website (a theoretical example) and that the Drupal machine's workload is 0.8%, while the Joomla machine's workload is 80%. That means that the monthly cost to power and cool your server is 33.90 USD per month (203 / 6 + (0.008 * 48 / 6)) for Drupal and 40.23 USD per month (203 / 6 + (0.8 * 48 / 6)) for Joomla.

In this simplified and hypothetical example, you save 6.33 USD per month by choosing Drupal over Joomla, or 75.96 USD per year! Three years will save 227.88 USD. ;-)

That, and Greenpeace will love you! (Greenpeace UK, by the way, has chosen Drupal as their platform of choice.)

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