Lessons from DrupalCon Amsterdam

Posted by
Alex Malloy on 13 Oct, 2014

Teaser image credit: Michael Schmid / Leader image credit: Steffen R

Most of the 2300 of us who made it to the annual European edition of DrupalCon held in Amsterdam this year will have got themselves up nice and early (well, it felt early!) to make it to Tuesday’s opening keynote. As a broad speech, summarising the Drupal community’s updates and Dries’s updates on from the year past, it wasn’t the most technical, though still remains a very important part of the event. It’s really great to see Dries Buytaert’s take on the past year in Drupal, what the future holds, and also hear him address some of the Drupal community’s own ideas and thoughts. Dries, for any non-Drupalists reading this, is the founder of Drupal and holds his own keynote speech at all the big Drupal conferences. This time around, however, a Dries imposter decided to hold up the stage for the first few minutes and proclaim the wonders of platinum sponsor, Wunderkraut. ‘Security’ managed to swap him over for the real Dries, though. (Phew…)


1413219424-DrupalCon DriesNote Teaser_2


Saying thank you


As an open-source framework, Drupal is made up of contributions from Drupal developers from across the world that are all added to and documented on Drupal.org: it’s free and relies solely on its contributors, volunteers and a few full-timers. Dries focussed much of his speech on thanking the global community members for all their work, especially for Drupal 8 and the beta 1 version which released last week.

As well as focussing on thanking everyone as a whole, he broke things down a bit and looked into exactly who we should be thanking, how we should be doing it, and why.


Publicly crediting contributors provides an incentive to do more


“Better incentives mean more contributors, and more contributors mean that we can try more things and do things better and faster. It means we can scale Drupal development to new heights and with that, increase Open Source’s impact on the world.”

In one of his blogs (and quoted above ^), Dries nicely sums up why we need to incentivise contributors. Thankfully, we do have a huge base of people and organisations who make Drupal what it is – but we can still do more; go further. To combine the thank-yous and incentives, he spoke of implementing three profile types on Drupal.org: for individuals (developers), organisations (Drupal agencies), and for the end users (clients). And these profiles would show the level of involvement and contributions. An openness and honesty regarding the contribution level of the three user types would help to address the “two things” Drupal agencies are looking for: “customers and Drupal talent.” …Another Dries quote from the same blog – and at a basic level, it’s true that those are the two things an agency relies on and continually has to strive for.

So, when end users are looking for an agency, they can go and have a look at their Drupal.org; when individual developers are looking for a job, they can look at agencies’ profiles and vice versa.

When a bug is fixed, a commit is made, or any kind of contribution is inputted, only the individual is credited: why not extend this range of thanks to everyone involved? If this system is implemented, Drupal.org would much more clearly reflect the global community it’s made up of, and at the same time would encourage a few more people to get involved, too.

In his keynote, he didn’t mention a specific method of implementing this incentive system, however, others did…


Open Badges and Drupal.org


Rachel Lawson ran a session called Recognising achievements and contributions with Open Badges just a couple of hours after the Tuesday keynote – that’s why this topic really stuck in my head throughout DrupalCon.

Open Badges Drupal.org Rachel Lawson slide


A collaborative project between Mozilla and the education charity MacArthur Foundation, Open Badges are open source (our favourite kind of source) and can be implemented into Drupal sites. Rachel spoke about the range of platforms that Open Badges can be used on (pretty much anywhere) and of course spoke about Drupal.org being one of these. She did stress though, that Mozilla Open Badges are just one option – badges are just images with a small amount of code required to implement so they can be custom made. Also, badges would just be one aspect of the credits and achievements, along with the tags I mentioned previously and other ideas.


How do we distinguish between the ‘Acquias’ and the two-man Drupal shops?


This was my immediate question. With this credit and recognition system, the largest agencies would constantly be miles ahead with their contribution numbers and depending on how details of the system would work, they could be way ahead with badges, too. Not every agency aims (or necessarily wants) to go global, yet they could be contributing at a great rate for the size of their team.

Another one to think about: would agency and end user profiles be backdated with old or would it begin from implementation? It would be great to see past achievements but this would be an extremely arduous job – it could even start to get a bit messy with the potential for people to start claiming contributions that aren’t theirs. And how far would we actually backdate to?

Lastly, just because Dries has brought this up doesn’t mean it’s going to happen instantly. If you agree this would be a good step forward, or even if you don’t agree at all, make your views known to the Drupal Association!


Tags: Drupal, Drupal community, Drupal Conference, Drupalcon