This week, Andrey Mikheychik, xTupleCommerce’s lead developer, and I will be heading to the largest annual Drupal event in the world: DrupalCon 2017, this year held in Baltimore, Maryland.
Drupal, for those who don’t know, is an open source content management system (CMS) for building websites. Our team has used it as the foundation for xTupleCommerce. Andrey and I have been working with Drupal for over a decade, and we have extended the technology in some extremely innovative ways. This will be my third DrupalCon and Andrey’s fifth, and we’re excited about what we know will be a great conference featuring topical tracks such as UX, DevOps, project management, and PHP.
Every year thousands of Drupal developers, Web designers, and Drupal site managers come together at DrupalCon to talk shop, swap coding tips, share modules, and discuss Drupal. From the outside looking in, I wouldn’t be surprised if this all sounds pretty “geeky" or a few stops short of Comic-Con, right? Well, it depends on how you look at it.
Drupal has one of the most impressive technology communities I’ve every engaged with. Around the world, over a million developers have worked together to build one of the best open source software systems for building websites. When I say over a million people have worked together to build the software, that’s exactly what I mean.
Drupal is proudly open source with the General Public License (GPL) which means it is a 100% public and accessible system that continues to be extended by a community of coders. People either volunteer their time to improve the system, or they improve the system while working on customer-paid projects.
One example of how this community contribution model works: a developer has built something new (a new module, for instance) and they submit the code back to the community for review. The community decides whether to pull the code into the core code, or not. If it is pulled into the core, other developers can find and use the module for free. They can even extend the code to improve it or include additional features. This all happens without a dictating company or organization. It's 100% community driven with some major leaders such as Acquia and the Drupal Association simply helping to "steer the ship."
The Drupal community represents one of the largest open source communities on the planet, and the software powers over 30 million websites today. This includes such sites as NIH.gov, Mint.com, NCAA.org, Harvard.edu, MSNBC.com, and many more. Here is an impressive list of the top Drupal sites worldwide — http://www.topdrops.org.
What I really appreciate about Drupal community members, though, is their desire to share incredibly powerful knowledge. Not only about coding and which modules are best for solving specific challenges, but even insights about business, how to win jobs, what marketing tactics work best, how to identify and handle “bad” customers, and how to be more successful.
In many industries, businesses keep these secrets to themselves, but the open source world is different. That's what originally attracted me to the open source world: the people involved in open source sincerely have a passion for seeing others grow. There is a true belief that, as the cliche goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats."
So next week, I look forward to meeting new people, sharing some knowledge and potentially meeting some developers that are interested in learning about our xTupleCommerce system. Since xTuple is also open source, my guess is that we’ll get some attention. But regardless, I know I’ll come home with new knowledge and a fist full of business cards and new connections in the community.