I just finished watching James Walker's "Why I Hate Drupal" presentation on the flight back from DrupalCon DC. The presentation was a perfect exclamation point to the clarity I received about Drupal this week.
I have always been a big believer in open source. We built our own distribution of osCommerce. We built many blog sites and a couple of modules with WordPress. We’ve done the phpBB, phpCollab, Mantis thing also. Before using Drupal we used Silver Stripe, a very well architected CMS and framework. Eventually we switched to Drupal because its coolness trumped them all.
I was planning on going to DrupalCon to learn even more cool stuff about the tool. If you have ever looked at Drupal, you've probably heard about the community. This is how James Walker explains Drupal to others:
- Content Management System
- Content Management Framework
He gives his gripes about the CMS & CMF – you can only grow by recognizing your mistakes. However, he struggled to come up with legitimate gripes about the community and even asked if Drupal was really more like a movement. Then I realized that I came to DrupalCon to learn about cool features, but learned much, much more about the cool people that make up the Drupal Community.
I wouldn't call myself a seasoned networker but give me geeks and beer and I can mingle. I talked to over 100 people. I can't remember one uninteresting conversation - and yes, I remember the conversations despite Morton's best efforts.
The first person I met was David Reid, an unassuming young programmer from Nebraska. With a little prodding I learned that he has developed ten modules and is a significant developer on core. As the night wore on I meet many other contributors to the cause: Jose who built the messaging and notification modules, Andy and Jes who gave us Ubercart (a whole heck of a lot of e-commerce code), the team behind Calais (a very cool semantic metadata engine) and may more.
At the end of the second day I was in a Birds of a Feather session that was almost surreal. The session was about feature reuse using profiles, patterns, spaces, context and what have you. The discussion migrated into a theoretical discussion about core level changes to permanently address this need. Despite the problem being fairly abstract, each had an intimate understanding of the problem and some had insightful solutions. The driver was how can we get a fix into core before the code freeze for Drupal 7.
If you didn't know any better, the discussion would be like one you could see a product R&D team at IBM or Microsoft or a university research team having, yet the people in this room came from all parts of the globe. They were not brought together by an employer or an institution. It was like a scene out of a sci-fi movie where some pending doom threatens to render humans extinct and suddenly the world's scientist unify together to craft a solution.
The next day I caught Neil Giarratana's(from Lucidus) presentation on selling Drupal. He made many great points but one really stuck with me. Neil posed the question, "In two years what will be the dominant web publishing platform? Commercial platforms that are losing money and laying off people or open source that are attracting ever more talent?" which brought me back to David and all the other great techies I met that week.
I learned a lot about cool Drupal features, but what really inspired me is all the great people behind the project. Thanks all of you. Hope to see everyone at DrupalCon Paris.