Today it was announced that Acquia is the eighth company on the Inc 500. This means we are the eight fastest growing private company in the United States. With nearly 7 million private companies in the US, being honored as number eight is an enormous accolade. In addition, we are the first software company on the list, making Acquia the fastest growing software company in the US. The current print edition of Inc Magazine also has a two page profile on Acquia.
This honor is attributed to each and every Acquian. I’m so proud to be part of such a hardworking and dedicated team! Go Acquia! Go Drupal!
The Spark distribution is a Drupal 7 distribution which aims to prototype cutting-edge authoring experience improvements that we hope to propose for inclusion in Drupal 8 core. Since we announced Spark back in May, we've shown videos of prototypes of inline editing, responsive layout building and mobile administration. The rest of the Spark team (Angela Byron, Kevin O'Leary, Wim Leers, Gábor Hojtsy, Jesse Beach, Preston So and Dharmesh Mistry) has also been working hard to make these designs a reality.
There has been a lot of great progress over the past months, and with the release of Spark 7.x-1.0-alpha4, Spark is now ready for some community testing! Each module/theme that Spark builds upon is a separate, standalone contributed project that can be integrated into existing sites. This alpha release includes:
If you'd like to try the distribution out without downloading and installing it, check our demo site at http://demo.sparkdrupal.com. (Note that since this site is open to anyone, it might look a bit funny at any given time. If things are really broken, please check back later.)
There is still much to do, but hopefully this release will provide a good understanding of the direction Spark is taking, and what we hope to propose for inclusion in Drupal 8 core. We greatly welcome feedback, bug reports and patches in the Spark issue queue.
At DrupalCon Munich next week, we'd love to talk more about how we can move some of these things into Drupal 8 core. We've setup various Spark sessions and BoFs at DrupalCon Munich to plan and brainstorm about this.
After a lot of discussion and testing, we decided to adopt the Aloha Editor as the WYSIWYG editor for Spark, and possibly for Drupal 8 core. Check out Wim's blog for the details. In short, it is the best HTML5 based WYSIWYG editor; fast, well-written and future-proof.
Here is a screenshot of our latest designs of how we envision integrating the Aloha Editor in Spark on a mobile device:
I also wanted to give a big thank you to Haymo Meran, creator of Aloha Editor and Director of Product Experience at Gentics Software GmbH, both for hosting a Drupal/Aloha collaboration sprint at his company's offices in Vienna last month, and also for changing the license of Aloha Editor to GPLv2+ (from AGPLv3) so that it could be used with Drupal!
It's an incredible gift to the Drupal project and the Open Source community at large. Thanks!
For the foreseeable future, Mollom will continue to be offered as it is today. I will continue my role as general manager of Mollom, Ben will continue to lead the development of our products and the Mollom team will remain unchanged. If you are a user or customer of either Mollom or Acquia, everything will remain exactly the same.
When Ben and I started Mollom almost 5 years ago, we wanted to do something important. While most people were trying to figure out the social web, we were paddling out ahead of the wave, knowing that many websites would soon have to deal with increasing amounts of spam and content moderation. In the past five years, we have helped tens of thousands of people fight spammers on their websites, including some of the world's leading organizations.
We have blocked almost a billion spam messages since we started. It has been very rewarding for us to see that we have helped make the web a slightly better place. At the same time, we also built a healthy business. We successfully bootstrapped Mollom, and organically grew a team of 6 people.
The social wave keeps on growing; we're helping more and more people and organizations every day. But now that social wave has grown so big, we can't rest on our laurels. There are more business opportunities to explore, some of which we have been working on for a while.
At the business level, it made a lot of sense to merge Mollom into Acquia. Ben and I were looking to raise capital for Mollom to help fund future product development and expand our operations. It was clear that it would require a long-term commitment of my time – just at the point when I wanted to focus more on promoting Drupal globally and driving Acquia's growth and expansion. By having Acquia acquire Mollom, I can still be a part of Mollom, and Mollom could receive the resources to accelerate our efforts and create an even more exciting future for Mollom. It also allows me to double down on Drupal and Acquia. In short, I'm really excited to have Mollom as part of the Acquia family.
Keep an eye on us!
Today, I'd like to share an HTML/JS prototype we've created for a mobile toolbar and dashboard for Drupal that we hope to include as part of the Spark distribution and then propose for Drupal 8 core as part of the Drupal 8 Mobile Initiaitve.
Drupal 7's default administration tools (e.g. Toolbar module and Shortcut module) were not designed in a “mobile first" way, and as such can be difficult to work with on tablets or smartphones. For example, here is a screenshot of what happens to the Toolbar and Shortcut modules when using a responsive version of the Bartik theme on an iPhone:
We set out to do justice to the complexites of Drupal's administration layer while accounting for the constantly evolving universe of devices. We think what we've come up with is scalable, responsive, and usable.
Here is Preston So, author of the prototype, demonstrating the functionality in a short, 7 minute video:
As we begin work on this feature, it will live at the Mobile friendly navigation toolbar project as a contributed module for Drupal 7 first. If these changes are well-received, I hope we can target this functionality for Drupal 8 core, as a replacement for the Toolbar and Shortcut modules.
As mentioned last month, on July 16 - 17, 2012, several community leaders in the Drupal project sat down with several community leaders from other open source projects and tried to hash out a governance structure to support the Drupal community's continued growth. "Governance" in this case, encompassing all the things we do to organize ourselves, make plans and decisions together, get things done, and resolve conflicts.
Here are the proposals we came up with, and we are actively seeking community feedback on the ideas within.
We began the sprint by brainstorming a list of problems we're hitting, given the scale of our community. This list included items such as:
Over the course of two days, Drupal community members Dries Buytaert, Angela Byron, Randy Fay, Greg Dunlap, and David Strauss met and discussed a variety of these and other governance topics, and we also received input from Jono Bacon, community manager for the Ubuntu project, Jared Smith, former project lead of the Fedora project, and David Eaves.
We propose the creation of a number of "working groups" that essentially make more explicit community structures that already exist. Each working group would consist of ~5 people, appointed by Dries, in charge of collaborating with the community in order to establish effective policy. Each working group will have one "lead" member (chair) who communicates major items and works with Dries. Some working groups will have a set duration (e.g. life cycle of a Drupal core release), others may have terms. Dries, as project lead, also reserves the ability to terminate a group at any time if it feels like they are overstepping their scope (charter).
The summary, in essence:
The "Drupal" groups encompass areas that touch Drupal core or contrib, or the Drupal community itself. The ultimate "buck stops here" with these groups is with Dries Buytaert, the Drupal project lead.
Inspired by the Fedora Community Working Group, this group would be responsible for maintaining a friendly and welcoming community, and their charter will likely consist of items such as:
In other words, this working group tries to make sure the "people" side of our community is functioning well. It doesn't set technical policy or intervene in any code-related matters; this is the role of the Technical Working Group. The ideal make-up of this group would be community-minded people with extreme amounts of patience, empathy, and diplomacy skills.
A corollary to the Community Working Group, this group would set and maintain policies around the technical aspects of our community, including:
In other words, this working group tries to make sure the "technical" side of our community is working well. "People" problems would be escalated to the Community Working Group. Nevertheless, the ideal make-up of this group would be community-minded people who are also technical, known to be fair, and adverse to making new rules.
A lot of time was devoted at the sprint to discussing Drupal Core, and how to address some of the challenges surrounding its development. For example, there is currently a lot of tapping of internal networks to move things along in core, and those without access to those networks can feel blocked out. It's also very difficult to get an answer as to whether or not something is "core-worthy" until far too late in its development process, making major feature development a risky affair.
The recommendation from the Governance Sprint is something like the following, which would not take effect until the Drupal 9 development cycle.
This group works with Dries Buytaert, the Drupal project lead, in order to tackle strategically vital initiatives within Drupal core. Membership includes the initiative leads. This would entail a bit more formalized structure, including milestones and progress tracking, bi-weekly meetings among the various initiatives, and so on.
This would be essentially formalizing what already exists today with the Drupal 8 initiatives and initiative leads.
At the Governance Sprint, we agreed to continue not to impose any additional governance structure on contrib, by design. This allows contrib to be an incubator not only for technical solutions, but also for governance itself.
The exception would be conflicts between maintainers or maintainers and their users which are not able to be resolved among the individuals. These would then go to either the Community Working Group or Technical Working Group, as appropriate.
We have a few overall "Teams" that touch elements of the product, including the Documentation Team and Security Team (we also discussed the establishment of a Support Team). As part of the new governance model, we recommend creating charters for these teams that make it explicit to others what their roles and responsibilities are, how to join, and what is expected of them. It's likely these charters will be modeled after something like the Documentation Team and Leader Responsibilities page.
These groups act in support of the Drupal project and its community. The ultimate "buck stops here" with these groups is with the Drupal Association board instead of Dries. Many of these have a financial impact on the Drupal Association and greatly affect its ability to get things done in support of its mission.
Next to Drupal core, this is probably where we spent the most time discussing. Drupal.org is special, in that it straddles both the community side of things, as well as the operations / support side of things. It functions through a combination of numerous volunteers as well as funding via the Drupal Association for support staff and development on major initiatives.
At the moment, the best place to put Drupal.org seems like it's at a halfway point between the "Drupal" and "Operations" sides of things, and for the charter of this working group to include the necessity to work with the Drupal Association and community members alike. Though eventually, for both legal and simplicity reasons, it would be better for this to be located under the purview of the Drupal Association board.
A few areas there was broad agreement on, however, were the following:
We're very interested in community feedback on this direction, either in comments below or privately. We'll provide an update on the progress at DrupalCon Munich.
We encourage everyone to come and get involved in this discussion. As our community grows, it is essential that we come up with a governance structure that matches our core values and allows us our community to be more sustainable for the long haul.
I helped start the Drupal Association in 2006 because we needed a checking account for the $10,000 or so required to produce a Drupal conference and to support our infrastructure. In a short six years, we grew the Drupal Association from a volunteer-run organization to one of the largest Open Source non-profit foundations with an operating budget of $3 million USD and 8 full-time employees. Today, we support over 18,000 developers, 9,000 conference attendees, 2,300 individual donors, 800 organizations, and a web presence that reaches over two million people every month.
A lot of that credit goes to Jacob Redding, who took the position of Executive Director two years ago. Under Jacob's leadership we have broadened our activities, streamlined our operations, and significantly increased our revenues. We have supported the Drupal community in its exponential growth from 70,000 members to over 800,000 and from 700 committers to over 18,000. And we are just getting started.
Today, we are announcing an important leadership transition at the Drupal Association. We're sad to say that Jacob, who has worked tirelessly and effectively to grow the organization to where it is today, has told us he intends to step down later this year. Needless to say, it was a difficult decision for Jacob to leave, but he has agreed to stay on until the right replacement has been found, and plans to stay involved as a member and volunteer after his responsibilities have been transitioned.
This transition doesn't come as a surprise for the Drupal Association's Board of Directors. With Jacob's help, we have been preparing and planning for this transition for a while. The Drupal Association is in a good place; we are better organized than ever before and have more momentum than ever before.
This leaves us with a tremendous opportunity ahead. We are now seeking someone to help lay the foundation for our next stage of growth. Someone to help drive us to become the largest Open Source non-profit organization. This will need to be an experienced executive to take over Jacob's responsibilities and to grow the Drupal Association from a $3M organization to a $10M organization over the next few years so we can better support our massive growth as a community and project.
If you are interested, or if you know someone that is interested in this job, please take a look at the job description. I think this truly represents one of the most exciting opportunities out there for someone with a strong leadership background, and that is interested in fostering enormous growth within a non-profit and collaborating with an extensive and active volunteer network. Together with the Drupal community this person could change the way the world builds websites.
The Drupal Code of Conduct, heavily borrowed from our friends at Ubuntu, does an excellent job enshrining the characteristics we aim to foster, in order to ensure people "Come for the software, stay for the community". However, there are still some gaps. For example, how to deal with conflict resolution, and how an individual best goes about proposing new governance policies.
Key Drupal contributor Randy Fay has done a tremendous amount of research into governance models of other open source projects, which you can read more about on his blog. For those who have not been following Randy's posts, he and I are holding a sprint about Drupal Governance on July 16 and 17 in Portland, Oregon just after the Community Leadership Summit. Randy, Angela Byron, Greg Dunlap, David Strauss, and myself will be in attendance.
This sprint is a first for Drupal. The goal of this sprint is to come up with a proposal for subsequent community discussion with recommendations around some of the following topics:
If you have other topics you'd like to propose, or would like to provide feedback on these items in advance of the sprint, please chime in in the Governance project issue queue. It is important work to streamline and evolve the governance of our project, so thanks in advance for your contributions.
Today, I'd like to share designs we've created for a "responsive layout builder" for Drupal that we hope to include as part of the Spark distribution. I'm very excited about this because it brings mobile and responsive web design to the masses.
We've worked on this "responsive layout builder" concept for many weeks, and I believe the result is groundbreaking. While other layout building approaches hand-wave responsive design and produce messy markup, our approach promises to be simple to use, produce clean and semantic markup. At the same time educating the user on the logic of responsive design. Once implemented I think that this is something that could really push Drupal to the forefront of the competition.
What better than to show you what we have come up with? The following 8-minute video walks through the designs, and also provides a bit of background on the Spark project:
Special credit goes to Kevin O'Leary from Acquia for being the driving force behind this work.
Technically, this is intended to layer on top of the Panels module, for better forwards-compatibility with Drupal 8. We hope to integrate this work with the research and prototyping actively being done for the Drupal 8 Blocks and Layouts initiative.
Acquia is actively seeking implementation partners for this and other important work. If interested, please contact Angela Byron. We'd love to work with others on this.
You may remember that two weeks ago, I shared a video of an in-line editing prototype that we'd like to add to the Spark distribuion in addition to this responsive layout building tool. Its implementation is well underway in the Edit module.
As you can see, things are starting to move along quite nicely. Please join the discussion in the Spark issue queue if any of the above functionality sounds exciting to you and you'd like to help!
In the interest of further increasing the velocity of Drupal 8, I am giving Angela "webchick" Byron commit rights to the Drupal 6.x and Drupal 8.x branch. Angela was already a Drupal 7 core co-maintainer, but with this new appointment she is also a Drupal 6 and Drupal 8 co-maintainer. This appointment is primarily to help with Drupal 8's development, and does not automatically extend itself to Drupal 9.
In her new role, Angie will do what she does best: supporting the other core maintainers and core developers with general core patch reviews and commits in order to ensure better throughput of the patch queue.
The following chart explains the relationship between all of the people with core commit rights in graphical form:
Please join me in welcoming Angela to her new role!
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