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My personal Drupal highlights for 2007 include the Drupal 5 release, bootstrapping the Drupal Association, the two Drupal conferences we organized, the Pro Drupal development book, and co-founding Acquia.
In good tradition, here are my Drupal predictions for the next year.
Growth predictions for 2008
First, let's predict Drupal's growth in 2008. The short answer is that Drupal will continue to grow more, not less.
Much of Drupal's growth in 2008 will depend on the work we did in 2007. I'm extremely happy with the upcoming Drupal 6 release as it will be easier to use, it will run faster, and it will come with some great new features. Our work on Drupal 6 will pay off in 2008.
Many metrics can be used to predict Drupal's growth in 2008, so let's use a non-conventional one: to date, four books have been published on Drupal, but only one of these was published in 2007. In 2008, ten Drupal books will be published ...
What I care most about is not Drupal's growth, but that we will continue to democratize web publishing and web development in 2008. By growing Drupal and giving it away for free we accomplish two things: (i) we empower more individuals to publish online and (ii) we help grow a successful ecosystem that allows more people to make a living with web development. So not only will Drupal continue to grow in 2008, it will continue to make a positive change.
The more you give away, the more you get back, and because of this, working on Drupal will continue to be a labor of love in 2008.
Market predictions for 2008
We are still in a young market: there are hundreds of Open Source CMSes, there is no real competition amongst them ("We're all colleagues and friends!"), not to mention we all benefit from what seems unwieldy growth. (Note that I'm talking about the Open Source CMS market, not the proprietary CMS market.)
However, near the end of 2008, we'll see the first signs of consolidation in the Open Source CMS market. The Open Source CMS space will become less fragmented; the "big three" (i.e. Wordpress, Joomla! and Drupal) will continue to grow but the growth of many other systems (i.e. Plone, Typo3, Xoops, e107, ezPublish, dotNetNuke, etc) will slow down significantly.
The good news is that the Open Source CMS market becomes easier to shop in. The bad news is that there will be a competitive edge.
Unless we manage to put more effort into (i) marketing, (ii) support, (iii) documentation and (iv) drupal.org this might turn out to be a tough battle for Drupal. Drupal.org will be our biggest challenge in 2008, and much of that will determine whether we'll be one of the "big three" Open Source CMSes at the end of 2008.
End-user predictions for 2008
From an end-user's point of view, 2008 will be characterized by the fact that we'll continue to give our users what they want. There will be a big and concentrated effort to further improve Drupal's ease of use. As a result, Drupal 7 will ship with one or two install profiles, many UI improvements, more AJAX, a basic WYSIWYG editor (or better WYSIWYG support), some wizards, and improved image and file handling. Yes, that is a lot.
Developer predictions for 2008
While we listen to our users in 2008, most of the excitement will be developer-centric.
A significant portion (but not all) of the Content Construction Kit (CCK) will move to core and we'll pave the path for Views by extending Drupal 6's query builder. There are three important motivations for this: (i) the desire to write less and less code to improve developer productivity, (ii) the desire to reduce the risk of these modules falling behind in terms of support and updates and (iii) drupal.org becoming dependent on them.
Integration of the CCK and Views will trigger a strong focus on improving our internal data models and APIs. While unheard in Drupal circles right now, object-relational mapping (ORM) will be the buzzword du jour by the summer of 2008. This, in turn, will lead to better web service integration, RIA integration (specifically Flex), and improved import/export functionality in Drupal 7.
The desire to reduce risks, combined with drastic API changes and a growing code base, will lead us to adopt a test driven development methodology. Drupal 7 will ship with some first regression tests.
All in all, the net result is that Drupal 7 will be an even better web application development platform. Comments and users as nodes continues to be a pipe dream though.
My final prediction is that I will get all of this year's predictions right, but that you still want to get a second opinion.
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).
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.