Drupal Association blog: Request for Information: Drupal Association seeks Infrastructure Services vendor
March 9, 2017
The Drupal Association seeks a Infrastructure Services vendor to manage critical infrastructure for the open-source Drupal project. While internal Drupal Association staff will continue to manage the sites and services that the Drupal Association maintains, we will rely on this partner to maintain the underlying infrastructure. We are interested both in partners who offer comprehensive datacenter and infrastructure services, as well as partners who would offer systems administration consulting on our existing hardware.
If your organization is interested in receiving the full Request for Proposals(RFP), please submit a letter of interest to the Drupal Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your letter of interest, please include a brief summary of your organization's experience in managing enterprise infrastructure for Drupal and non-Drupal sites and services at scale, as well as your key team members Drupal.org profile links. Based on demonstrated experience a small selection of vendors will be sent the full RFP.
We request that all interested parties submit their letters of interest by March 24th, 2017.About the Drupal Association
The Drupal Association is a non-profit organization—US 501(c)(3)—dedicated to helping the open source Drupal project flourish. Drupal powers millions of websites and software applications, from personal blogs to the largest enterprises, media publishers, universities and government agencies.
The Drupal Association provides the support, infrastructure, and funding to: grow the Drupal community, support online collaboration on the software at https://www.drupal.org, and produce and host DrupalCon events and other events around the world. Funds to support these programs come from memberships, sponsorships, and donations. To learn more about the Drupal Association and its mission, visit https://drupal.org/association/.
Proposals to improve the Drupal contribution process have been heavily debated for the last few years.
Until now, the only thing everyone could agree on was the current process was broken.
Currently, many submitted modules are hung out to dry, because very few people have time or energy to fight through the submission process. You are lucky if you get your module accepted within 6 months. Many developers have waited much longer.
We were astonished to learn that our theme, called Breeze, was the first theme project to complete the approval process in 2016. And it was published in September! There were no new theme contributors for the vast majority of 2016.
Fortunately, big changes are finally about to come to the approval process for code on Drupal.org.
User roles are one of the things that is usually dealt with only while developing the website from scratch or when adding new features. Since standardization is the key to consistent results and more streamlined development process, you should have some sort of a strategy when it comes to user roles.
The fun is where the Drupalers are. Stay with us at the partner hotel - Hilton Baltimore - to network and socialize after sessions end. You’re likely to run into an old Drupal friend at the Lobby Bar or meet the person who can answer your Drupal question in the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. And, it’s close to the Baltimore Convention Center - Only a 3 minute walk.
As you may know, Drupal 6 has reached End-of-Life (EOL) which means the Drupal Security Team is no longer doing Security Advisories or working on security patches for Drupal 6 core or contrib modules - but the Drupal 6 LTS vendors are and we're one of them!
Today, there is a Highly Critical security release for the Services module to fix a Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability.
The Services module provides a standardized solution for building API's so that external clients can communicate with Drupal.
The module accepts user submitted data in PHP's serialization format ("Content-Type: application/vnd.php.serialized") which can lead to arbitrary remote code execution.
This vulnerability is mitigated by the fact that an attacker must know your Service Endpoint's path, and your Service Endpoint must have "application/vnd.php.serialized" enabled as a request parser.
See the security advisory for Drupal 7 for more information.
Here you can download the Drupal 6 patch.
NOTE: there's a pre-existing, unfixed security issue in the Drupal 6 version of Services from 2013 (see SA-CONTRIB-2013-051 - Services - Cross site request forgery (CSRF)), so using Services in Drupal 6 isn't recommended in general, however, that issue is much less critical than the one announced today.
If you have a Drupal 6 site using the Services module, we recommend you update immediately, or disable the Services module entirely.
If you'd like all your Drupal 6 modules to receive security updates and have the fixes deployed the same day they're released, please check out our D6LTS plans.
Note: if you use the myDropWizard module (totally free!), you'll be alerted to these and any future security updates, and will be able to use drush to install them (even though they won't necessarily have a release on Drupal.org).
Not even three months into 2017, and already two industry articles have appeared that claim that this is "the Year of Decoupled."
If so, this is propitious development for Drupal, and the Acquia Developer Center. Because we've been publishing "decoupled"-related (AKA "headless," AKA "API-First") thinking for a while now.
Wouldn't it make sense to start organizing it into one stream? That's what we thought.
So here's our first installment of a blog series that will point to some of the best thinking on decoupled in general, and decoupled Drupal in particular.Tags: acquia drupal planet
DrupalCon prides itself on its diversity, which comes in many forms, including all the nationalities that are represented. We recognize that there is lack of clarity around the recent U.S. immigration changes, which can make international travel to our event challenging.
To help our international attendees, we created the following list of things to know as you plan your travel.Key Points
Given the uncertainty, contact your local U.S. consular office for more information about your travel to the U.S.
Drupal 7's Features module was a complicated way to export configuration - Drupal 8's Configuration Management makes everything much simpler. Let's break it down.
See how a custom module in Drupal 8 leverages data visualization with D3.
In the development community, diversity has become a buzzword; an initiative to be boldly undertaken. Here at Mediacurrent our team is about 25% women. We’re developers and project managers, digital strategists and designers, account supervisors and marketing professionals. Still, at some of the largest companies in the country, the number of women is dreadfully low. At Google only 17% of the computer professionals are women.
Previously we published 17 tips and trick for OpenLucius users which was well received by OpenLucius users, this sequel was inevitable.
The use of standard features in OpenLucius is usually readily apparent, for example: adding groups, members, tasks, messages, files, folders and book pages.
There are many useful functions in OpenLucius that make working in it more fun and easy, but are a little less obvious:
One of the key reasons that Drupal has been successful is because we always made big, forward-looking changes. As a result, Drupal is one of very few CMSes that has stayed relevant for 15+ years. The downside is that with every major release of Drupal, we've gone through a lot of pain adjusting to these changes. The learning curve and difficult upgrade path from one major version of Drupal to the next (e.g. from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8) has also held back Drupal's momentum. In an ideal world, we'd be able to innovate fast yet provide a smooth learning curve and upgrade path from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9. We believe we've found a way to do both!Upgrading from Drupal 8.2 to Drupal 8.3
Before we can talk about the upgrade path to Drupal 9, it's important to understand how we do releases in Drupal 8. With the release of Drupal 8, we moved Drupal core to use a continuous innovation model. Rather than having to wait for years to get new features, users now get sizeable advances in functionality every six months. Furthermore, we committed to providing a smooth upgrade for modules, themes, and distributions from one six-month release to the next.
This new approach is starting to work really well. With the 8.1 and 8.2 updates behind us and 8.3 close to release, we have added some stable improvements like BigPipe and a new status report page, as well as experimental improvements for outside-in, workflows, layouts, and more. We also plan to add important media improvements in 8.4.
Most importantly, upgrading from 8.2 to 8.3 for these new features is not much more complicated than simply updating for a bugfix or security release.Upgrading from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9
After a lot of discussion among the Drupal core committers and developers, and studying projects like Symfony, we believe that the advantages of Drupal's minor upgrade model (e.g. from Drupal 8.2 to Drupal 8.3) can be translated to major upgrades (e.g. from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9). We see a way to keep innovating while providing a smooth upgrade path and learning curve from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.
Here is how we will accomplish this: we will continue to introduce new features and backwards-compatible changes in Drupal 8 releases. In the process, we sometimes have to deprecate the old systems. Instead of removing old systems, we will keep them in place and encourage module maintainers to update to the new systems. This means that modules and custom code will continue to work. The more we innovate, the more deprecated code there will be in Drupal 8. Over time, maintaining backwards compatibility will become increasingly complex. Eventually, we will reach a point where we simply have too much deprecated code in Drupal 8. At that point, we will choose to remove the deprecated systems and release that as Drupal 9.
This means that Drupal 9.0 should be almost identical to the last Drupal 8 release, minus the deprecated code. It means that when modules take advantage of the latest Drupal 8 APIs and avoid using deprecated code, they should work on Drupal 9. Updating from Drupal 8's latest version to Drupal 9.0.0 should be as easy as updating between minor versions of Drupal 8. It also means that Drupal 9 gives us a clean slate to start innovating more rapidly again.
Why would you upgrade to Drupal 9 then? For the great new features in 9.1. No more features will be added to Drupal 8 after Drupal 9.0. Instead, they will go into Drupal 9.1, 9.2, and so on.
To get the most out of this new approach, we need to make two more improvements. We need to change core so that the exact same module can work with Drupal 8 and 9 if the module developer uses the latest APIs. We also need to provide full data migration from Drupal 6, 7 and 8 to any future release. So long as we make these changes before Drupal 9 and contributed or custom modules take advantage of the latest Drupal 8 APIs, up-to-date sites and modules may just begin using 9.0.0 the day it is is released.What does this mean for Drupal 7 users?
If you are one of the more than a million sites successfully running on Drupal 7, you might only have one more big upgrade ahead of you.
If you are planning to migrate directly from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9, you should reconsider that approach. In this new model, it might be more beneficial to upgrade to Drupal 8. Once you’ve migrated your site to Drupal 8, subsequent upgrades will be much simpler.
We have more work to do to complete the Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 data migration, but the first Drupal 8 minor release that fully supports it could be 8.4.0, scheduled to be released in October 2017.What does this mean for Drupal developers?
If you are a module or theme developer, you can continually update to the latest APIs each minor release. Avoid using deprecated code and your module will be compatible with Drupal 9 the day Drupal 9 is released. We have plans to make it easy for developers to identify and update deprecated code.What does this mean for Drupal core contributors?
If you are a Drupal core contributor and want to introduce new improvements in Drupal core, Drupal 8 is the place to do it! With backwards compatibility layers, even pretty big changes are possible in Drupal 8.When will Drupal 9 will be released?
We don't know yet, but it shouldn't matter as much either. Innovative Drupal 8 releases will go out on schedule every six months and upgrading to Drupal 9 should become easy. I don't believe we will release Drupal 9 any time soon; we have plenty of features in the works for Drupal 8. Once we know more, we'll follow up with more details.Thank you
Congratulations to Ixis Developers Paul and Paul who passed the Acquia Certified Developer exam recently, and to Andy for passing the Zend Certified PHP Engineer exam.
Development Manager Paul Byrne said “Our developers taking the Acquia Certified Developer exam did so with little preparation (if you discount their combined Drupal experience of almost twenty years!). Taking the multiple-choice exam without ‘revision' time was a good exercise in determining whether our current skill levels were sufficient to be certified here and now. Both developers passed with high scores and are now considering the next tiers of Acquia certification”.
Not to be surpassed, Senior Developer Andy took the Zend Certified PHP Engineer qualification using part of his training budget and study time offered to Ixis employees. Andy locked himself in his local library for a week, away from scheduled projects and day-to-day responsibilities in order to focus and prepare for his exam. Andy emerged victorious and passed, stating “The study guide was a useful resource allowing me to concentrate efforts on subjects either unfamiliar or not commonly used at work”.
Comparing the two exams, one criticism emerged with Zend - Andy would have only received a Pass or Fail, and no feedback on which topics scored lowest. This would obviously be useful feedback for the continual improvement Ixis promotes. Conversely, the Acquia Certified Developer results were very transparent.
The Engineering Team provides support to many community members and everyone at the Association. Every day, the team helps people who are at different stages of the Drupal adoption journey. As part of our membership campaign, we're taking a close look at how the team makes an impact throughout this cycle through the work to support a few different Association programs.Industry Pages: convincing decision makers to adopt Drupal
The team played a key role in the Industry Pages project—from conception to execution. The industry pages help decision makers see how Drupal achieves the vision Dries' set forth when he described Drupal as the platform for ambitious digital experiences.
The first three industry pages for media and publishing, higher education, and government are now on Drupal.org. These pages tell stories of success with Drupal for three verticals with geo-targeted content to show our global audience the solutions that are most meaningful to them. We plan to learn from this project and to expand into new verticals. By highlighting what Drupal can do for you, and connecting decision makers to service providers and industry peers, the industry pages are a powerful tool for leading the way to wider adoption.Drupal Jobs: wider adoption leads to more career opportunities
The team is responsible for Drupal Jobs, the subsite dedicated to helping employers and job seekers connect for Drupal-related opportunities. Ever since Drupal Jobs launched in 2015, it has helped increase awareness of the Drupal project. As the pool of employers grows, so do the career opportunities. When more Drupal jobs are available, our ecosystem grows. Wider Drupal adoption becomes possible.DrupalCon: Events site brings us full circle
DrupalCon unites our global community and people who want to know more about the project. On the Events site, the engineering team supports everyone—event organizers who post content, speakers who submit sessions, and attendees who register using Drupal Commerce and CoD. With a great UX on con sites and fun theme implementation, we show users what Drupal can do for you.Around we go, thanks for coming along
As the adoption journey goes full circle and we see these efforts continue to help maintain and grow a strong ecosystem, we appreciate that you are coming along with us. To help sustain the work of the Drupal Association, join as a member. Thank you!
This year, the Business Summit is focusing on issues and challenges for organizations with 5 to 25 employees. You are invited to learn from and network with other Drupal company leadership for a day of candid discussion and knowledge sharing.
Usually I do a big rundown of Drupalcamp London, trying to tease out themes, talking about bigger pictures and patterns. This year, however:I spent much of the camp volunteering (which, incidentally, was an absolute lark—except once my sprained ankle swelled up), so I was sometimes room-monitoring and therefore not necessarily following my nose when it came to talks; and I've gone straight from the camp into a three-day onsite client meeting, meaning I can only spend so much time writing blogposts.
With both those limitations in mind, I'm afraid that this year you're just going to get a bullet-pointed list of thoughts I had during and since:
Two days back and I find myself still exhausted from an exhilarating DrupalCamp London 2017!
To me this felt like the best one so far, with a number of contributing factors - the new entrance and layout to the our host City University I believe was a major contributing factor with all but the keynotes on one subterranean floor which meant much less wandering from floor to floor between sessions and far more opportunities to chat with fellow attendees it being all in one space. Crowded at times for sure, but much better than spread over multiple areas - this is one thing I've learned about Drupal events, the more close together everything is the more interaction it creates.
With Drupal 8 development fully in swing and growing in functionality at a pace no previous versions experienced due to the adoption of semantic versioning (i.e. 8.1, 8.2 and 8.3 very close as we speak) there's also a lot to catch up on, and being from an OO background before my Drupal days I find the sessions far more interesting. Many of my camps of late I have spent in the sprint rooms or the BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions, however this weekend I went to quite a few sessions which I'll provide summaries of below.Friday - CxO Day
Billed as an event primarily aimed at Drupal service providers I attended the first few CxO days however as the ticket price increased and as a veteran of many events I felt I knew most of the attendees already (I'm a networking junkie!) I had decided to skip last year's CxO Day and sprinted instead. This year though they had a much more affordable ticket price for freelancers and charitable foundations/NGOs (they may have had it previously too but I must've missed it) so I decided to attend as I thought the audience would also be a little more diverse with the new tickets. One of my current clients is an NGO, so thought it would be great to meet more as they do operate quite differently to for-profit businesses and it's good to understand where their needs differ.Organisational Stupidity
The day started off well with an inspiring session on the 'stupidity paradox' from City University Professor of Organisational Behaviour André Spicer where he outlined the trouble with organisations wanting to hire the best people but not providing the best environments for them to excel in. One of the examples he covered was the Ford Pinto issue they had where the petrol tank was badly placed and caused explosions. When it first happened an employee had a hunch there was something serious but due to peer pressure of other work colleagues saying did he really want to take it further up through all the management levels and so on, he had decided not to however of course it turned out there was and it caused untold amounts of mayhem.
Having been independent for the past 16 years I don't have much love for the corporate infrastructure so found these stories quite amusing and pondered what better ways there are to organise. I've been investigating cooperative infrastructures for the last few years and find they have many issues too, most seem to be around decision-making at scale. A third way - and the way Drupal works - is Commons-based Peer Production ('CBPP')where both individuals and organisations alike collaborate on products. This works well with the production of software, although does suffer from a few issues around influence however due to the openness of the framework the opportunity is there to make changes if you want to, and of course forking of projects as a last resort is always possible although not favoured, especially with a community the size of Drupal! CBPP is not perfect though, especially when it comes to issues around the 'Tragedy of the Commons' - something which I am trying to address by creating a 'Platform Coop' where community members can collaborate on initiatives and issues at a commercial level - hop on over to DrupalDynamics.com if you'd like to get involved.A tale of Drupal woes
We then moved on to the second session from Paul Reeves ('reevo') who took us through his Drupal journeys, focusing most on his time at mega-corp Viacom working on their various media sites, mostly the MTV UK ones. Paul seemed very nervous but I don't know why, he'd presented before at a CxO event and sure knows his Drupal stuff!
Paul detailed how over the years they had adapted Drupal for their needs and created a system they called 'NOAH' (Node Object Affinity Hub) as content they created went out to a number of different websites and systems, for example the text snippets of info you see appearing at the bottom of the screen when a song is playing.
When Paul presented previously in 2013 I asked whether they had collaborated with any industry peers on this functionality as to me it seemed something which was fairly generic and could be useful to others and of course would help share the workload of building and maintaining something of this size in terms of complexity and functionality. Paul said they hadn't but would like to - after all, it's Viacom/MTV's content that provides their competitive edge, not the code they use for their systems. Sony understood this years ago and that's why we have the Drupal Views module as they wanted functionality their non-technical people could use and decided to contribute the outcome back to the Drupal project, and views is now part of core as of Drupal 8.
Sadly it seems this sharing didn't happen and seems to be a major contributing factor as to why MTV UK and the other brands are now moving away from Drupal. I feel bad as I've said for many years we need to help people at the industry level to share more - it's only by sharing code that Drupal is what it is now, and to build and maintain such functionality as NOAH provided is not an easy task, especially with a team of four or five people as Paul had. Neither I or anyone else has successfully created a comfortable environment for sharing at the industry level yet. Acquia have their 'LSD - Large Scale Drupal' initiative however that's pretty closed so I don't know what goes on much there. There's also the Thunder Drupal distribution for publishers and a sprinkling of others including the interesting FarmOS however I do believe that with Drupal 8's more OO architecture and adoption of many tools to make distribution creation and maintenance easier such as composer, configuration management and continuous deployment, we have the opportunity to re-visit a re-address this area by creating more industry-specific distributions. Linux has various distributions, but Drupal's can be geared towards business functionality as that's where the value is with Drupal, it's built-in business experience from many years of real-world implementations as opposed to other systems where functionality is made in order to sell licence fees - most Drupal functionality is built because someone needed it.
I was a little disappointed as the session ended as I go to Drupal events to be uplifted about Drupal, not to be disappointed that we failed in a situation, and although it's good to present these retrospectives, perhaps it was the time slot being the first Drupal-related session and just after an inspirational session that made me feel like that. I also thought it wasn't a great intro to Drupal for anyone who had attended from 'outside' of the community, especially with the new tickets for charities and NGOs. I realise the event is billed for Drupal service providers, I do feel as it's on a Friday it's going to attract those interested in adopting Drupal and although the camp organisers said they'd changed the line-up due to feedback from previous years, the people providing the feedback aren't necessarily the 'customers' you want to follow the needs of 100% - a point which was covered in the next session.
When asked what he'd do differently if given the chance, Paul did point out collaboration as a key ingredient, as mentioned now we have better tooling hopefully we will be able to change these sorts of scenarios in the future. I still see a lot of duplication when it comes to areas like local councils - unfortunately the mix of business pressures in terms of competition and ability to sell hours of time, along with no independent bodies funding core Drupal initiatives it is not an easy nut to crack - again something I'm trying to address partially with DrupalDynamics - we will see. As economic pressures mount, hopefully the want to share and lower costs the idea will become more attractive to industries.What to build next?
The third and final session of the morning was by Ben Finn OBE, who gave a presentation on how he calculated which were the most important features to create for the music software that he created then sold for millions. I found much of the content very interesting, including the part I mentioned earlier with regards to who you listen to - often the loudest ones aren't the ones who actually make you money. I did find it a little hard to work out how to apply his methods of calculation to our Commons-based peer produced software where we are not selling licence fees - it is an entirely different minefield of a multitude of options and it would've been good to get his thoughts however I realise this is not his area of expertise. It did make me happy I'm no longer working in the proprietary software world and do have control over the features I want, although I left the session wondering what actual value the talk had to the Drupal world - I realise they wanted to make the talks more diverse, to me this was a little too diverse. Interesting nonetheless.A Trip Down Memory Lane
After eating the substantial lunch (food is *always* good at the CxO day!) I felt a little deflated and tired from the very early start so I decided to skip the afternoon and take a short walk down the road to Exmouth Market where I lived 17-odd years ago back in the dotcom days when I worked for a J2EE software company which basically did the same as Drupal but proprietary and in Java. We had the first modular web app software with modules covering content management, commerce and collaboration along with a web management interface where you could create your own content types... sounds familiar ;)
Exmouth Market is one of these little havens in the middle of a city which you wouldn't necessarily know but is a small community unto itself. I walked past my old flat (pictured, above the tattooist), which was next door to a blue plaque commemorating Joseph Grimaldi, the first 'clown' and visited my old local Cafe Kick, having a little giggle on the way at the sign next-door for 'Barber Streisand'. It was nice to see an old friend too as the Portuguese lady who runs the kitchen there is now approaching her 20th year of service. We remarked on how things had and hadn't changed, I sipped my drink, then went to check in at my hotel only to return to Cafe Kick later to meet up with my colleague so we could catch up on the next day's session we were running and on old times as although he lives in London it's been two years since we last met in person back at Drupal Developer Days Montpellier.
Happy hour at Cafe Kick is 4-7pm 7 days a week, so with £2.50 beers fun times ensued although I noticed a considerable difference in the clientele this time round with it mostly being students as opposed to city workers as it mostly was when I lived there, and the music was far more commercial then the cool tunes I had been used to in days of old - I'd discovered Manu Chao, St Germain and many others there!Saturday - The Main Event
After a disturbed night of sleep and a much needed Full English at the Thistle Barbican (the closest hotel to the venue, just a short 5 min walk - book on their site for a free breakfast!) the camp 'proper' kicked off with a keynote from Matt Glaman who works for CommerceGuys, creators of the awesome Commerce suite of modules and associated native e-commerce functionality for Drupal. I say awesome as, unlike some others, I believe native commerce is the way to go for Drupal so fully support their efforts - I prefer my clients to invest their budgets in virtualising their business models as opposed to continually paying for external integrations often into SAAS products which may change their APIs at any time or disappear off the face of the earth if their business model changes or doesn't work. Integrations may be more lucrative for the supplier but costly for the client in the long run - integrated is the way forward - IMHO of course and based on my previous experience with winning clients back in my J2EE days which not many also experienced so guess I see it from a different angle.
I was a little hesitant at first as this keynote was different than many others previous but I was extremely glad they did make this choice as Matt really hit the spot talking about his journey from delivering beer to delivering Drupal. Coding had been a hobby of his and something he didn't even think he could make a living out of, let alone one which enabled him to live anywhere he liked and travel the world in the process. It was a refreshing change from the 'normal' keynote we have at 'camps and 'cons and gave a really good insight into the Drupal community and how it can help people of all walks of life build a future doing something they enjoy. It's certainly helped me massively over the last thirteen years since I first encountered Drupal through the now-defunct ecademy.com business networking community which ran a heavily customised version of Drupal, and his talk provided a great intro to those who may have only just joined the community perhaps as part of their jobs. Too often people don't really understand the community and this was the perfect intro so a big thanks to all who made it happen, and of course to Matt for coming along and sharing his journey with us!The Future of Content and the Unknown Consumer
First session of the day for me was from Richard Jones whom I know well from the Drupal Brighton Group I'd set up many years ago when I first moved to Brighton. Richard always seems to be doing a talk somewhere on Drupal and has provided much support to the Brighton group over the years and I was interested to see his latest talk 'In Real Life'.
Richard covered the multitude of devices which now deliver content as opposed to just the website and how we can prepare and cope for these - mostly down to understanding that content is separate from design, something many from a print background need to understand more as you never know where or how your content is going to be consumed - by a talking box in your kitchen or as one interesting example he showed where a billboard in Piccadilly Circus showed a kid pointing at aeroplanes as they flew above, listing out the actual flight details as they went past, as seen in the video below:
Richard's talk was entertaining and informative, and anything which helps make people think twice and again about putting anything other than content in their content is a Good Thing in my books!The Empty BoF
In the coffee break between sessions I went along to a BoF session as it was entitled 'How we can help other projects' and being run by the organisers of the camp. As they had just become - and the first DrupalCamp to do so - a Premium Supporting Partner of the Drupal Association I thought I'd go along and see if they'd be able to help out with the DrupalDynamics Platform Coop I'm creating to support the community. There's many areas I'm going to need assistance with apart from just gathering members - all the operational sides of building a cooperative and advice on legal sides of things, and so on.
Sadly the BoF had been cancelled and removed from the whiteboard but not the website so I sat in an empty room for a while, but eventually caught up & understood with the hectic day it was just not possible to squeeze the BoF in too and we agreed to catch up in the future to chat about it.Change your life with Xdebug
Second session of the day for me was a practical session on getting Xdebug set up with Ed Crompton. Despite having spent many years previous to my Drupal days using debuggers, I've never managed to successfully get Xdebug working on my machine. I've been close many times but just didn't manage to get everything hooked together right so I was determined I wasn't going to leave the room until I did, not sure if Ed appreciated that but with his help and that of his colleague we finally figured it out so big thanks to Ed & co, now I don't have to keep all those variables in my head lol ;)More than a CMS: Native Drupal CRM & BPM
After lunch it was time for the session I had organised for my friends who've been building native CRM & BPM functionality in Drupal for 7 years now but have little coverage in the community for a number of reasons. They're not a VC-funded operation and although they've tried before to work closer with the community to incorporate their work they've been knocked back for various reasons unknown as what they've built could seriously place Drupal in a league of its own. Sure, Drupal provides content management functionality but it's a platform, and when it comes to CRM functionality it shines, especially with Views as they provide a great interface for creating reports. Again I guess I see many of the benefits due to my previous experience with integrated functionality - we used to win deals all the time as our competitors used to propose a number of different packages plus integration costs whereas we could provide a set of common modules and only charge for the business-specific functionality to be built on top, thus providing a complete 100% solution instead of having to maintain a number of different packages and relying on other people's business models for your core business model. The integrated approach IMHO is far better and enables clients to virtualise their core business models, then connect to any beneficial third party software as and when they so wish.
I believe Drupal trying to compete just in the CMS marketplace is not a winning formula in the long run and doesn't really market what Drupal does well, providing sovereignty over code and content, and a platform for functionality which is integral to the operation of today's web-based businesses. With integrated content management, commerce, and CRM/BPM, Drupal stands out in a league of its own. There are many far more polished CMS systems out there, but none which include the sort of functionality Drupal can provide organisations of all levels, and the more we support those integrated projects like the modules James and his team at FreelyGive have been working on, the better Drupal the product will become. That takes a bit of forward-thinking though, and many of the business people just go for what's already proven and easy to implement - to me that's never been the way Drupal the project works and as I'm in this for the long term I'm more than happy to provide what support I can to such efforts, hence organising this and a few previous sessions we've delivered.
Photo courtesy @wmortada
I provided a short introduction and James then gave his talk, which sadly had changed since I'd last seen it as he'd spend the previous day with his commercial manager (I had suggested his time would be better spent networking with the CxO attendees that day as many agencies were there who could be potential implementers but hey, I can only do my best to advise!) and to me seemed to be a bit OTT on the sales side saying how much money there is to be made providing this functionality to clients and not enough of the 'meat' of what it is they've actually built, with only a couple of screenshots at the end which, to be honest, aren't great as it's software developed by developers and lacks the more polished design of functionality that's out there in the community and being used by many people like many of the other CRM options there are in the Drupalsphere.
This was a shame as having now worked with James and his team on a number of commercial projects I've had nothing but amazing feedback from clients who much prefer the integrated nature as opposed to them having to fiddle around with often huge external CRM systems and not being able to get exactly the information they want, or having to go through often manual workflows of exporting data in CSVs, manipulating in spreadsheets then importing into other systems in order to gain the management insights they need. Instead with native CRM functionality the exact information you need is there, in realtime, when you need it, and Drupal's built-in functionality of content types, fields and views make it super-simple to customise to your exact requirements. They have implemented systems with over 200k contacts using this system and built an amazing event ticket system as many of their clients have particularly complicated needs where for example one person is in charge of organising the tickets and others pay deposits and so on. Due to the integrated nature those contacts who then later want to perhaps change their details can do so and the system will acquire the details and create full user accounts for them on the site.
In Drupal 7 they've had to do some pretty complicated code to create a 'userless user' but what they have built means you can build systems which simply cannot be created using the other CRM offerings as they all depend on a 'contact entity' as opposed to this system which uses the notion of a 'marker entity' which stores the data about contacts. James did detail a number of systems like this they've created, such as one where they have thousand of people camping and need to be able to organise which part of the camp people are going to be in based on a number of factors - a process which used to take two to three months which now only takes a couple of weeks with their system in place.
I've signed James up to do another talk on this at Drupal Developer Days Seville in a few weeks which as a previous attendee he knows is more developer-oriented so will bring out more of the 'meat' one would hope. I think I put it down to they're just really keen to get more people involved and it's hard to know how in the Free/Libre Open Source Software world without talking about how it can make them money. Drupal 8 will hopefully make things a lot easier as it provides a much easier architecture to work with, so they now have the Decoupled Auth project along with Contacts providing the base for their work. James has shared a google doc of the plans for a Drupal 8 MVP to make things more visible and easier to use for other community members so looks like it won't be long before things will move which is great.
Ever since I first met them a few years back when I recorded their Native Drupal CRM session at DrupalCamp Cambridge in 2012, then hosted their 36-hour BoF at our DrupalCamp Brighton I've been a big fan of their work - it's how Drupal should be built and is a shining example of the amazing things Drupal can achieve as a platform and so much more than just a CMS. Sadly it's not always the best technical solution that wins (I always cite the Atari Jaguar as an example of this - the first 64-bit games machine you've never heard of!) but the one which is marketed the most, the latter is where I've been trying to help, and hopefully my work with DrupalDynamics will also provide more support too in the long run.Native Drupal CRM BoF
The guys had booked a BoF session for the coffee break after the next session so I hung out with them for a debrief and although the feedback I had from a couple of people I knew was good, that's kinda what your friends are going to say. I guess the perfectionist in me is saying that - one person did turn up to the BoF, but of course it would've been nice to have a room full of people ;)
All in all I'm glad they did give the presentation - getting anything noticed in Drupal is not always an easy thing, especially when you're covering an area as big as CRM. It's also a continuous effort - you've got to keep at it and be present as much as possible. I've built a number of communities up over the years and it does take a huge amount of effort, but I believe it pays in the long term as the more people you have using your stuff, the better your product becomes and the more help you get.Freelancers BoF
To finish off the day I went to the Freelancers BoF Farez organised. These BoFs have become a regular thing and we generally discuss the same things but this time I took the opportunity to hand out sets of the profile cards I'd designed along with my awesome illustrator I met back in Brighton, Lucy Irving. I love her work and she seems to understand my ways of thinking, and more importantly puts up with my crazy rants (as you obviously do too if you've made it this far lol!) - I highly recommend her work if you need anything done!
I explained the four different characters and how they are associated with four different frequencies - Dynamo - Spring energy always asking the question 'What?' which I am, is all about the ideas, promoting other people's products and services, and good at starting things but not so good at finishing hence the need to work in flow with other profiles. Then there's Blaze - Summer energy who's all about connecting with people and is always asking the question 'Who?'. Tempo - Autumn energy and all about the 'When?' and 'Where?' and is concerned with the timing of things, very down to earth - total opposite of my Dynamo energy - my sense of timing is awful at best! Finally there's Steel - Winter energy and all about the system and the details.
I first discovered this system through ecademy.com which I mentioned previously was my first experience of a Drupal site where I met Roger Hamilton who has his system of 'Wealth Dynamics', essentially all based on the I Ching. There are numerous profiling tools out there, but this is the only one I've found which really lets people discover what their 'flow' is. For example, although I can code and have done for many years, I am definitely not the person you want sitting in your office all day coding. I thrive when I'm promoting other people's products and services, and whenever I do projects like this the result is always far greater than even I expect so that's why I'm continually working towards focusing on that as a business model, along with my 'core process' - another tool I discovered through my ecademy connections and came out as 'fostering connections', which totally described what I do both in terms of technology and people.
I believe this profiling is something essential to us being able to collaborate at scale with others around the world. When you work closely with people, perhaps even in the same office, in time you get to know what the person is like but with the disparate nature of our community we often don't get the chance to do that and this helps us discover quickly who we could be teaming up with in order to achieve results. Many in our community, especially freelancers, do *everything* whereas if we teamed up and stayed in our flow we could collaborate and be able to sustain our lifestyles without the usual thing that's happening that people end up giving up and going back to employment or long contracts because they can't survive on the feast and famine environment they create by trying to go it alone.
So anyway, I gave the cards out and explained about the DrupalDynamics project and how the previous incarnation worked well with matching skills tags (see this issue on GitLab for more background and forward thinking on that) and how we can promote our services and collaborate on products there but I'm not sure I managed to explain myself very well as people were still asking about how we could continue the conversations after the event - I guess we will see, I'm going to be continuing to build the system at pace now anyway! It happens at every freelancer BoF we have, also all the marketing meetings over the years. ATEOTD the *.drupal.org infrastructure is good for sharing code and is the reason Drupal is what it is today, but when it comes to collaborating at scale and having discussions of a less technical flavour it's really hard to get traction on there, so instead of just talking about it for years I'm going ahead and building it, but this time with a business model attached so I can sustain it!
If you want to find out your profile, register on the DrupalDynamics website and follow the one-time login link which will then show you a link to GeniusU where you can take a free test to find out which profile you are then paste your GeniusU profile link back into your DrupalDynamics link so we know which profile you are. The free test only takes a few minutes and I believe it can help anyone improve their life by knowing what their 'flow' is - many don't follow their flow as it doesn't seem like work when they do (like me typing now heh!). The GeniusU also has more products but you don't have to buy anything it's just I can't link the test up unless I pay loads of money which I haven't got for a partnership so I'm hoping in time we will have enough members to attract more interest from Roger's crew to build a partnership. These four profiles are only one part of the education, there's much more to it and I hope others will join me on my journey through it as I've learned a lot about how I'm going to build my legacy - I also think many of their members would benefit from Drupal systems so plenty of opportunities to be had on all counts! Their community reminds me much of Drupal - doing something good but often misunderstood, meets regularly offline and sits around tables collaborating on projects, and so on.
Finally on this topic I thought I'd explain why I decided to make these profiles a required field and thus a requirement. First, it's free so doesn't preclude anyone joining, and second to be honest I'm tired of trying to collaborate with people, wondering why things aren't moving as I had imagined, then finding out it's simply because I didn't know what frequency they are, for example a few days after I submitted the CRM session I finally managed to get James to do the test as he hadn't wanted to as I'm sure many others out there feel but seriously just do it. Turns out he's Steel energy and I watched Roger's video on 'Your Losing Formula' which I've embedded below where he says the last thing Steel wants to do is go out and meet everybody I just need to analyse everything! Also Steel is metal energy and chops down my Dynamo wood energy, so every time we brainstorm my ideas just get shot down every time. The worst thing about this is it's not personal - it's just the different energies, so whatever you think about this system just give it a go as I've as much belief in it as I have of Drupal and I've been in both communities for 13 years now but this is the first time I've brought them together. I've been to many Drupal events around the world and tried my hand at many different parts of Drupal wondering where I 'fit in' but it was only last year when I was looking back and realised this is where my life experiences fit in, bringing the WealthDynamics to Drupal, hence the name DrupalDynamics, so do join me on this journey of discovery!Sunday Sessions
After the big night out on Friday I didn't stay that long at the Saturday social so missed out on lots of singing and dancing I see, but was up bright and early for JAM's keynote. Jeffrey's a well recognised figure in the community having presented at seemingly every Drupal event there is so it's always good to see what his latest topic is about, this time it's diversification and raising the level of services you're providing clients. So not just talking about Drupal - in fact not necessarily mentioning Drupal at all - but the value you're providing for clients instead of just coding websites. He went through a number of examples like roomify.us which provides hotel booking systems all based on Drupal, and a QA tool probo.ci. The gist of the talk was to help raise what we talk about with clients so we're not just moving things around a page of a website which many can do, but focusing on what our specific areas of expertise are. It's the generic platform nature of Drupal and its ability to provide any number of solutions which enables us to do this, and fantastic as we are only on this earth once AFAIK so we might as well be the best we can. So thanks once again JAM for another interesting and inspiring talk, you rock the Drupalsphere!Configuration deployment in Drupal 8
Although I understand the concepts of the configuration management system, and indeed it's very similar to how we used to do things back in my Java days, I haven't used it that much yet in complicated scenarios so I went along to this session to find out more. Gabriele Maira took a great approach to splitting up the various use-cases of configuration and made sensible separations between different parts of configuration, for example often you'll want things on development but not in production, there's parts you don't want clients to be able to change, and so on. The slides for Configuration deployment in Drupal 8 are already online, however things are moving fast in this area as best practices are still being figured out so doesn't mention the new Configuration Filter module created recently as a result of Drupal MountainCamp, or another interesting effort by Andrew Larcombe - Environment Config, which both go to help the workflow in their own ways.Dependency Injection and Service Containers
Another session where I've used the functionality but don't feel I'm totally confident in it (although now I do!). When I was helping the Drupal Rules module upgrade some actions and conditions I learned a lot about dependency injection and a little about service containers so it was great to have a brush-up on these by Ashish Thakur, who gave a detailed walkthrough of the work he's been doing on this not only in Drupal 8 but also Drupal 7 as well - crazy stuff!
By far my most favourite part of Ashish's talk though was his introduction when he referenced the previous day's keynote and explained that he was from the mountains but now lives where he wants to near the beach, and it's Drupal that's enabled him to do that. Awesomesauce!Closing Keynote - Danese Cooper
After lunch the closing session was upon us where the organisers gave out some key stats like how much coffee we drunk, details of a £5k spend in the bar at the Saturday social, and the youngest attendee being only 5 months old!
Once the stats were done the final keynote was upon us and freshly flown-in from Frisco was Danese Cooper. I've had the pleasure of meeting Danese previously during my time back in 2012 as the first community-elected Director of the Drupal Association (if you're reading this before 18th March 2017 go vote in the latest round of the Drupal Association community elections now! when you've finished reading this!) and whilst I'm more of a fan of copyleft due to wanting to know what code is running inside of my body if I get implanted with tech in the future, I'm in total admiration of her stern work over the years moving the Open Source world forward.
A veteran of the Open Source industry, Danese presented an enlightening talk on the history of Open Source with a fleeting mention of the founder of the Free Software movement Richard Stallman, and asked us all to stop arguing about the difference between Free Software and Open Source as apparently it's all the same, upon which I was seemingly in a minority of one who didn't join in the round of applause from the audience. I'm not sure RMS would've joined either, and I do tend to agree that we all want to not confuse or alienate community members old new and forthcoming. With my love of copyleft licenses as I believe that's the way in which the organic world works where freedom is inferred as opposed to restricted if placed into other products ("here, you bee, you can take my honey but you other bee, no you can't") actually think my beliefs go further than the Free vs Open argument, something I call "organic software". That's a much nicer term, but a much longer conversation than this blog so I'll be ending it here and saving that can'o'worms for another lengthy post.Final Thoughts
Well if you've made it here then thanks for reading, I hope it's given you a little more insight into last weekend's proceedings and the things I'm working on at the moment, and I look forward to posting more updates soon!
Finally as always a massive thank you to all involved in organising, attending, speaking etc. at the weekend, your hard work is much appreciated and I look forward to catching up again next year, same time same place, right?!
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