It's that time of year again where we are gearing up for another great DrupalCon. Next week, 3000 Drupalists, including more than 70 Acquians, will be migrating out west to the Rocky Mountains for an action packed week filled with sessions, stickers, beer, and lots of face time with the best open source community on the planet.
There is one remarkable event that caught my attention and that speaks volumes about an important trend we're seeing: the Higher Ed Drupal Users meeting on Wednesday.
Why is this so interesting you ask? Well ... it all started with one of Acquia's team members reaching out to a couple of universities from Canada to organize a meeting at DrupalCon where they could connect and share insider tips for what works for them at their respective university. However, it turned out they were already talking on a regular basis and what they really wanted was to talk to others from universities outside of their immediate circle. Word spread, and now what began as a lunch meeting has turned into a meet-up with approximately 50 Higher Education Drupal users coming together to talk about how they can grow Drupal on their campus and overcome the common challenges they are facing. This is what DrupalCon and the Drupal community are all about!
As Drupal adoption has grown, so has adoption in Higher Education. We recently found that out of 3260 universities that we tracked, over 35% of them are using Drupal including 71 of the top 100 universities like Harvard, Duke, MIT, UPenn, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Stanford, McGill, and many more. That is pretty amazing!
But it makes sense because Drupal provides significant advantages to universities, including support for large scale mulit-site deployments, fit with centralized IT organizations, low end-user training requirements, lower costs, appeal among digital natives and young developers, support for integration with campus authentication and authorization systems, and strong content relation capabilities - particularly taxonomy support for libraries.
I look forward to meeting with this unique group of Drupal users as they learn from each other, and undoubtedly teach us more about the specific needs in higher education. DrupalCon here we come!
If you look at the source of University of Washington at Tacoma's new site, you'll immediately notice it's running Drupal. What's not immediately apparent, however, is the path they took to get it in place.
I recently got an e-mail from a member of the UW Tacoma web team, who explained that they migrated to Drupal from a home-grown system running on IIS and mostly based in ColdFusion. Their system often required manual editing of HTML for even the simplest of content updates, and synchronizing between development and live versions of the site was (as we all know) an ever present problem.
Sounds familiar? I've heard this story so many times.
The team looked into a Joomla based solution, as well as one based on Plone, but eventually gravitated toward Drupal due in large part to the helpful Drupal community. As I've always maintained, our software rocks, but our community is what continues to make Drupal a success.
The e-mail concluded with a great quote that I hope James Woods, its author, won't mind me including here: "Once I learned how to stop fighting Drupal and embrace the automagical function naming hooks, I've come to love Drupal.". I think that quote probably describes the experience of many, many Drupal developers.
Way to go, James, and congratulations to you and the rest of your team for a great looking site.
Drupal goes to Mars, or rather, Drupal helps us go to Mars ... eventually. NASA's Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University is doing a lot of advanced work with Drupal. They have a number of Drupal sites, each with a different purpose, but all used to share information about Mars as discovered by ASU's THEMIS camera on the Mars Odyssey orbiter. All of the sites have some interesting integrations with other software, including LDAP, legacy authentication systems, Java Servlet based web services, Flash, Java desktop clients, map servers or Google Earth.
Their main portal, http://themis.asu.edu, features news, images and articles about THEMIS and the Odyssey mission. Another Drupal site, http://viewer.mars.asu.edu offers a search portal for millions of images and data from eight instruments on Mars orbiters. It uses Drupal and jQuery as the interface to a Java Servlet backend database and integrates "Deep Zoom" style image viewers.
Ever wanted to help explore Mars? No problem, http://suggest.mars.asu.edu is for you. On this Drupal site you can suggest places on Mars for scientists to photograph with the THEMIS camera aboard Mars Odyssey. The site shows you where Odyssey will be orbiting in the next week, and it integrates with Google Earth's desktop application and the Google Earth browser plugin to let you zoom around mars and choose a place to suggest. After it made the suggested photographs, it will send you an e-mail with a link, where you might be the first human to see that particular spot on mars in such detail. If that makes your inner geek jump up and down, make sure to read their technical write-up. Cool stuff!