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Opinion

State of Drupal presentation (September 2007)

Robert Garrigos from the Drupal Catalan user group just uploaded a video of the State of Drupal presentation that I gave at DrupalCon Barcelona 3 months ago. The presentation shares the results of a survey that I conducted in August; the survey ran for 30+ days, collected more than 1000 responses, and should do a pretty good job capturing the Drupal Zeitgeist.

Have a look at the video below (my presentation starts 12 minutes into the video) and/or download a copy of my slides (PDF, 14MB).

The future of snail mail

A video in Dutch about what we might tell our children about the world we lived in -- nostalgic memories of my childhood and why it is acceptable to close down more post offices. Via Bart De Waele.

Gartner on pricing pressure

In a research note, Gartner predicted what most people already knew: proprietary software is going to face serious pricing pressure from a range of different software trends. Specifically, Gartner identified seven trends putting pricing pressure on software business models:

These include business process outsourcing; software as a service (SaaS); low-cost development environments, such as China and India, combined with modular architectures and service-oriented architectures; the emergence of third-party software maintenance and support; growing interest in open source; the rise of Chinese software companies; and the expansion of the Brazilian, Chinese and Indian markets.

I wonder how many executives took a poop after reading Gartner's research note ... Not too many, you would hope.

Anyway, it looks like Drupal is in good shape: it is open source software with a modular architecture that lends itself to delivering web services. Also, Drupal 6 is all about reaching out to more people; I'm confident that Drupal 6's localization (l10n) and internationalization (i18n) improvements will help us get more traction in Brazil, China and India. Plus, with Drupal companies like Raincity Studios opening offices in China, there have been talks about organizing a Chinese Drupal conference.

Reaching out with Drupal 6

I continue to be amazed about how many people believe that Drupal 6's localization (l10n) and internationalization (i18n) improvements aren't a killer feature.

Time to beat some sense into the nay-sayers: according to the CIA's factbook, only 4.84% of all the people in the world have English as one of their native languages. While it is believed that one out of every five people on earth knows some English (but not necessarily much), the fact remains that for more than 95% of the people in the world, English is not the main tool for communication, nor is English part of their cultural identity.

Admittedly, I knew that l10n and i18n improvements weren't going to be compelling for a large portion of our current install base, but I placed my bets, and wanted to see this happen nonetheless. That is exactly why I made Gábor a Drupal 6 branch maintainer.

I learned that every time we release a new version of Drupal, Drupal attracts more users. In other words, making a better product translates to a bigger install base. Every major Drupal release asserts this observation. It took me a couple years to realize that it was actually that simple a formula. Thus, I'm confident that the l10n and i18n improvements in Drupal 6 will convince many more people to use Drupal.

Also, Drupal isn't a panacea, but I'd like to believe that the l10n and i18n improvements in Drupal 6 could mark a small but important step to make a positive change in the lifes of folks in remote parts of the world. I'd expect that NGOs (like Greenpeace or Amnesty International) -- or even the NATO -- take interest in seeing Drupal's translation community flourish.

So if you want to learn more about the l10n and i18n improvements in Drupal 6, or how they compare to those of other Open Source CMSes, I'd encourage you to read Gábor's master thesis (PDF, 650KB, mirror) or to check out DevelopmentSeed's comparison chart.

NowPublic in De Standaard

Belgian newspaper De Standaard (read daily by 80,000 people in Flanders) picked up the news about NowPublic's series A funding and published a one-page article on NowPublic and citizen journalism.

As my photos illustrate, professional journalists and media companies need to loosen up a little or they might go numb. Amateur journalists have learned to drive; it's almost time to hand over the keys -- or at least, to let us be the co-pilot. Denial will not protect the barricades around your residual self image.

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

Standaard

The one page article about <a href="http://nowpublic.com">NowPublic</a> and citizen journalism as published in the August 4 edition of <a href="http://standaard.be">De Standaard</a>. The article has good things to say about NowPublic.

Standaard

<a href="http://www.mict.be/personeel/dr-steve-paulussen">Steve Paulussen</a> (post-doctoral fellow at <a href="http://ugent.be">Ghent University</a>) states that Belgian's most popular city blog, <a href="http://gentblogt.be">Gentblogt</a>, can't compete with <a href="http://standaard.be">De Standaard's online news outlet</a>. Steve argues that Belgium doesn't have enough amateur journalists.

Standaard

Pol Deltour, secretary of the <a href="http://www.agjpb.be/vvj/">Flemish Association of Journalists</a> claims that citizen journalism is less credible and not as trustworthy as professional journalism. He argues that <a href="http://nowpublic.com">NowPublic</a> does not have the resources to verify the correctness of their correspondents' footage.

On hiring Drupal talent (2)

Because the demand for Drupal talent exceeds the supply, it's incredibly hard to hire talented Drupal developers. In a recent blog post I advised people to hire good Java or PHP developers, and to get them up to speed on Drupal.

In an interview with CNET, JBoss founder Marc Fleury was asked where they found Open Source developers:

We tried once to create an open-source developer out of a normal developer, but it completely failed. We never tried it again. Truth be told, I had an aversion to it. An open source developer is a self-starter. He's competitive - this is someone that wants to prove that they can do something better than you can. As such, it's a great recruitment/qualification vehicle, because you can see their work before you ever think of hiring them. You can see if they'll work out for the company. We definitely took that approach to hiring.

I believe there is a lot of truth in that. First, developers with impressive resumes don't necessarily grok Open Source software development. Second, having experience with Open Source software development is becoming an increasingly valuable asset on any developer's resume. So let me refine my advise:

Hire good Java or PHP developers that are active in the Open Source community (at large), and get them up to speed on Drupal.

On hiring Drupal talent

A lot of people have been looking to hire talented Drupal developers but can't seem to find any. I know because every single day, I get e-mails from people asking me if I know any good Drupal developers looking for a job. Alas, I don't, so please stop e-mailing me.

The problem is that the demand for Drupal talent exceeds the supply. As such, most of the Drupal developers I know are maxed out.

So for months, I've been advising people to hire developers with a formal education in computer science and to train them to become Drupal developers. Hire good Java or PHP developers, and let companies like Lullabot get them up to speed with Drupal. It strikes me as the winning strategy.

But still, it begs the question: how can we grow the pool of Drupal talent and help Drupal companies scale? But also, how can we raise the bar for Drupal professional services firms?

These are important questions to ask so let's collect some ideas and prioritize them by importance, viability and ease of execution.

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