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Passive income and Open Source

Everyone dreams of making money while asleep. The term "passive income" is often defined as income that is received on regular intervals without requiring a great deal of work to sustain it. Usually some effort has to be put in upfront, but the payoff from passive income can last for years. Passive income is particularly relevant when it comes time to retire. Two techniques often recommended by financial planners are (a) rental properties and (b) dividend investing. Both can work well, not only as a retirement plan, but as a way to build steady income. Certainly the idea of collecting checks for the rest of your life with minimal effort sounds appealing.

Quite a few people that try to retire early are documenting their journey publicly. For example, Jason is trying to retire by 40 by investing in dividend growth stocks and Mr. Money Mustache retired at the age of 30 through rental properties. Many other great examples exist online; I love reading up on their stories and progress. There is a lot to like about their lifestyle too; a common theme among them is that they live frugally.

So what does this have to do with Open Source? I love Open Source and Drupal and would like to see even more contributors. I think a lot of developers would love passive income so they have the freedom to contribute to Open Source more, preferably even full-time. Many developers also live a frugal life; passive income may be a good option to explore. But also, what about a third passive income technique: (c) websites? I know several people who have a number of websites, some of which they haven't touched for months, yet they still bring in around $500 a month. Owning a few websites could provide a wonderful chance to earn passive income, and it so happens that many of us in the Drupal community have a talent for building websites ... Food for thought.

State of Drupal presentation (May 2013)

Two weeks ago at DrupalCon Portland, I gave my traditional State of Drupal presentation. A total of 3,500 were present at DrupalCon, a new record for DrupalCon attendance.

In good tradition, you can download a copy of my slides (PDF, 29 MB) or you can watch a video recording of my keynote (keynote starts at 14:00). The video of the White House guest appearance and the Drupal 8 demo video area also embedded in this post.

WYSIWYG and in-place editing for structured content

Karen McGrane gave a great keynote at DrupalCon Portland on future-friendly content with Drupal. It's worth watching the video recording. I agree with Karen's vision for the future. With the proliferation of different devices, screen sizes and input devices, there is a growing need for structured content that can be reused in multiple channels.

From the early days, Drupal has been doing structured content and content reuse better than most competitors. Drupal's node system was introduced in Drupal 3 in 2001, and was ahead of its time compared to the "page tree"-model used by most competitors. With every release, Drupal has gotten better and better at structured content and content reuse, leading to things like CCK and Views in core. Still to date, Drupal is one of the leaders in modeling structured content and content reuse. It is is one of the primary reasons we've seen so much growth. It was great to see that recognized by Karen.

One of the biggest gaps in Drupal has been the authoring experience. Two of the most noticeable authoring experience improvements that we are adding to Drupal 8 core are WYSIWYG editing and in-place editing. Where I disagree with Karen is with her belief that in-place editing and WYSIWYG editing are bad. Sure, WYSIWYG and in-place editing definitely can be problematic when combined with structured content. However, I believe we’ve implemented them in a good way -- it can't be compared to Microsoft Word's blob-like approach. I wish that Karen better understood how we have implemented this functionality. It would have been helpful if she had offered concrete suggestions on what better solutions would look like. Until we know what better tools look like, I'm convinced that Drupal 8's approach to WYSIWYG and in-place editing are a big step forward. It makes for another intermediate step towards a bigger vision.

We've been talking about the advantages and disadvantages of WYSIWYG for more than 10 years now, and we still haven't figured out better approaches. The best we've been able to do is to evolve WYSIWYG editing and in-place editing to apply to individual chunks instead of the entire page, to generate clean markup and to better guide authors to make them aware that their input may end up in many forms of output.

While implementing Drupal 8's WYSIWYG and in-place editing functionality, a lot of attention was spent on ensuring that these features are compatible with structured content:

  • WYSIWYG editors used to generate bad markup. Drupal 8's WYSIWYG editor guarantees clean markup thanks to the new "Advanced Content Filter" feature in CKEditor.
  • Drupal applies WYSIWYG editors to individual form fields instead of the entire page. You are encouraged to break up your content in many fields. Similarly, in-place editing is triggered on the entity level, not the page level, which means the user declares his intent to edit a specific entity and can then edit a specific field within that entity. In-place editing is only designed for quick edits, it wants to delight the author for those small edits, rather than forcing him to go back to the potentially overwhelming back-end form every time. At no point are authors given the impression they are editing the entire page.

For a more detailed explanation, see Wim's article: “Drupal 8: best authoring experience for structured content?”.

Want more features in Drupal 8? Help fix bugs!

In Drupal core, we use issue thresholds to manage technical debt. Both critical (release-blocking) and major (non-release-blocking, high-impact issues) are considered. When we have more open issues than our thresholds, we do not commit new features.

Currently, we have 27 critical bugs, 41 critical tasks, 155 major bugs, and 149 major tasks. This is more than twice our current thresholds for critical issues, and about 50% more than our thresholds for major issues. We need your help to resolve these issues so that we can resume adding new features to Drupal 8. That would be a very exciting place to get to!

There are many ways to help, including not only programming but also updating these issues' summaries, testing the patches, and making sure the patches still apply. I encourage everyone to collaborate on major and critcal issues, and to consider making them a focus at the DrupalCon Portland sprints.

Alex Pott

I'm pleased to share that Alex Pott (alexpott on drupal.org) has accepted my invitation to become another Drupal 8 co-maintainer, to help move along important issues as we gear up to head into code freeze and then release.

Alex has been working in Drupal for almost 6 years. While relatively new to the core development team, he has nevertheless been an instrumental force in the Drupal 8 Configuration Management Initiative (CMI). This development experience has given him a detailed understanding of various underlying Drupal 8 APIs, which makes him ideally suited to the task of reviewing and signing off on highly technical patches. Alex is furthermore thorough and patient in his technical reviews, and he has been a reliable leader and problem-solver during the Drupal 8 cycle. He is also currently taking time off from work, in order to have more time to dedicate to his family and to Drupal. It's a perfect fit.

When catch, webchick and myself were discussing who would be best to join the core maintainer team, Alex's name was enthusiastically +1ed from each of us. Please make him feel welcome!

The Red Press of Drupal

A couple of weeks ago Acquia, the Red Hat of Drupal, reached out to fellow CMS founder, Matt Mullenweg of WordPress, to see if he would consider switching to Drupal. As luck would have it, this was enticing to Matt. He has long understood the value of the Drupal community and has been looking for ways to leverage our community to make WordPress even better. When Acquia suggested switching to Drupal, it dawned on Matt that this was certainly the easiest way to integrate with Drupal without irritating his webmaster.

"I have always wanted to be part of the Drupal community, where technical expertise is sought after to create some of the most advanced websites. This move demonstrates the synergy between WordPress and Drupal without the possibility of function name conflicts." - Matt Mullenweg

We, at Acquia, couldn't be more excited to have Matt and the Automattic team on board, because some things are just better together ... like e-mail and spam filters.

Several months ago I started working with some of our top developers to try to come up with a practical integration strategy between Drupal and WordPress. We had been struggling with this for some time when webchick said jokingly: "It would be a lot easier if they would just use Drupal instead".

To be honest, I felt a bit silly even talking to Matt about using Drupal, but I didn't know at the time that he had been struggling with exactly the same goal and the same problems. webchick's inadvertent idea has ushered in new possibilities for innovation and frankly this is such a fundamental change for us I can't even imagine the world as it was before.

I am very excited about this collaboration. WordPress and Drupal form a killer combination that can't be beat in today's CMS market. I can hardly wait for the WordPress developers to get their drupal.org accounts set up, so we can work together in ways that were never possible before. I also suggested xjm to setup extra "WordPress tables" at the DrupalCon Portland code sprint.

A new Drupal module has been created to ease the transition. The "WordPress_iframe" module will be available on drupal.org soon. It facilitates a rapid integration of existing WordPress sites into their Drupal counterparts. We are excited about the debut of this new module because it embodies the Drupal community's open acceptance of this partnership while it allows us to roll out literally millions of these new Drupal/WordPress sites over the coming weeks.

As part of the agreement, Matt didn't want to completely move away from the WordPress branding, so we have incorporated it into Acquia's logo. Phonetically Acquia is pronounced ah-kwee-uh, so we've swapped out our Q for the well-known WordPress "W". The name is still pronounced "ah-kwee-uh" but will now be spelled "Acwuia". This visually puts WordPress right in the center of our logo - exactly where it belongs. This is WordPress, powered by Drupal.

Red press of drupal logo

We are very proud of this partnership and look forward to serving many more customers as a result. You can expect many more great things from Acwuia coming soon.

Matt, your Red Press of Drupal t-shirt is on the way. Let's stand together as brothers, united in Drupal!

Red press of drupal tshirt

New Mollom content moderation platform launched

Today I'm excited to announce that we've released the next generation of Mollom - our Content Moderation Platform. For the past five years, we have worked hard to help companies stay ahead of the curve when it comes to content moderation. With today's release, I feel like we've secured our place as the leading enterprise-ready content moderation system.

With over 2 years in development, and 600 beta users, the new content moderation platform is built to help companies handle extensive amounts of user generated content with ease. The main features of the Content Moderation platform are:

  • Easy team management. Site admins can add moderators, assign privileges, and monitor how moderators are performing - keeping an eye on productivity while trusting that no malicious content is making it to their site.
  • Fast moderation. If we know it's spam, your team never sees it. If we're sure it's good content - we'll publish it to your site. For the content we're unsure about - moderators now have a very easy user interface where they can view the contributor, their comment, and their reputation, spam, and profanity score all within seconds. They can approve or decline, and even take bulk actions to speed things up.
  • Custom filters. The system allows each user to create custom filters so they can focus on a specific subset of commenters. If they only want to see users with low spam and profanity scores - creating a filter takes just a couple seconds and they now have a customized view.
  • Multi-site management. All customers can have from one to hundreds of sites in their system - which makes moderation for big brands with multiple site properties very easy. Adding a site takes just a couple minutes, and customers can view analytics separately across all site properties.

You can learn more on the Mollom site, the video below, or in the press release we issued this morning.

I'm really excited to finally show this off to the world, and continue to help more companies embrace social without fear!

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