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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.
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.
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.)
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.
<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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Growing is learning to take on more and bigger problems. When you were a 4-year old kid, you basically had no problems, except maybe that you didn't feel like eating all those potatoes on your plate. Similarly, newborn open source projects have no problems either.
Once you start school, you might start to lose some sleep over your grades, whether you'll ever make your way through school or why you're not allowed to stay up a little longer at night. Remember how these used to be your biggest problems?
Later when you're done with school, you look back and you realize how ridiculous it was to even worry about your grades. If you'd have to go through school again, it would be the easiest thing on earth, you believe. However, you're now faced with new and seemingly bigger problems: will I ever find the right person to share my life with? How am I supposed to pay the rent? How to raise my kids? How am I going to cope with the loss of a close relative?
So growing is learning to deal with more and bigger challenges. It is no coincidence that the biggest challenges tend to be ahead of you. This is true for your personal life as well as for the life of an open source project.
Right now, Drupal's hardest challenge is to manage its explosive growth. We have raw and untampered ambition but we're left wondering how we can scale our infrastructure with the available resources, how we can attract more top-talent to help get all the work done, how to maintain -- and raise -- the high quality of our work, and how to make Drupal easier to work with. We're also learning how to deal with legal issues, we're figuring out how to better market ourselves, and how to efficiently organize large conferences.
This sounds a lot like "How will I be able to pay the rent?" (infrastructure) and "How can I score more girlfriends?" (more top-talent, easier to use, better marketing). So by that standard, Drupal is a young adult that just moved out from its parent's place. We have many new things to learn and to explore, but we have unlimited motivation and ambition.
I'm convinced that one day we'll look back and realize how ridiculously simple it was to scale our infrastructure, to organize a 400-attendee conference or to better market ourselves at drupal.org. After all, we no longer lose sleep over high-school problems either ...
Peter is right. DabbleDB is awesome, Drupal can do much of what DabbleDB can do, and has been able to do so for a long time. Witness this one year old Drupal screencast. Where Drupal fails short is in making this functionality easy to use.
I still believe that it is of strategic importance that we move more of the CCK and Views into Drupal's main distribution, as opposed to keeping them contributed modules that you need to install separately. And when we do, we need to look at tools like DabbleDB, as there is a lot to learn from their user interface and interaction design.
I wish we had more people willing to make this happen. I'll be the first in line to help, because together we can get the CCK and Views to the next level.