Back from Drupalcon!

I returned from Drupalcon in San Francisco on Thursday and have spent the last few days catching up with work and life. I’m just starting to sort through all my thoughts on this great conference. First, I wish I could have attended even more sessions. But fortunately, they were all recorded and are already available on archive.org.

Additionally all three keynotes were excellent and inspiring both in terms of Drupal and for the open source and open government movements: Dries Buytaert Keynote | Tom O’ Reilly Keynote | Open Government Keynote.

This was the largest Drupalcon yet, and much was made of Drupal’s growth and its growing influence on the web. Dries’ keynote has some interesting statistics on that. Overall, there was a sense that Drupal was quickly transforming from one of several content management systems to a major player in enterprise, government and non-profit sectors. It felt good to be a small part of this community.

I came away with plenty of ideas on business processes, module concepts, the transition to the next version of Drupal due out later this year. I plan to write more about these areas in the coming days and weeks.

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Drupal Gets a Big Wet Kiss

Drupal,the open source content management system that we use almost exclusively for building web sites, is now being used to run the official White House web site, whitehouse.gov. For the general public this will mean little as they won’t see any visible difference in the site. But it’s great news for us,whitehouse the Drupal community and the open source movement as a whole. But it’s also an interesting political statement by the current administration in embracing an opens source platform over a commercial system.

It’s good for us because it lends authority to our choice of systems. While we have no doubts that Drupal is a robust and flexible platform that can be used to build just about any imaginable site, current and potential clients will more easily accept Drupal as a quality solution (perhaps even if they don’t agree with the policies of the current government).  As quoted in the AP article:

“We now have a technology platform to get more and more voices on the site,” White House new media director Macon Phillips told The Associated Press hours before the new site went live on Saturday. “This is state-of-the-art technology and the government is a participant in it.”

That’s quite an endorsement. In case you’re interested, Dries Buytaert, the founder of the Drupal project keeps a pretty current list of other high visibility Drupal sites.

The current government’s use of Drupal  lends considerable credibility to the efforts of the Drupal community as a whole. Drupal has made tremendous advances in the last few years, and the next major release will again move the system out in front of the pack. These achievements have been largely accomplished by hours and hours of volunteer efforts by many developers around the world.

Finally, using Drupal for one of the most visible government web sites indicates a confidence that the open source model will make the site more secure, that the collaborative process of hundreds of developers will help the site remain on top of the tech wave rather than being drowned, and will encourage other government entities to move in that direction.

Tim O’Reilly has some more specific thoughts on the use of open source by the government.

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Humboldt State Switching to Drupal

I’d heard from some people that work at Humboldt State University that they are moving their web sites to Drupal. But a link from a friend on Facebook (thanks Grace!) confirmed it. Not only are they moving to Drupal, but they are installing the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) on the servers. So it looks like HSU is embracing open source big time. This is such a good move considering all the budget cuts the state university systems are facing.

It’s not easy converting such a big institution to new platforms. I hope the conversion goes smoothly. Would love to help them with Drupal if they ever wanted to reach out for some consulting.

Now, if only I could convince Humboldt County to switch to open source…think of the money they’d save.

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Obama Embraces Drupal

What a strange sounding title to a post. But this is just to point out that the new site Recovery.gov released to track the recovery plan is built with Drupal, a content management system and framework that we have been using more and more. In fact, we’re in the process of making our own site over in Drupal, and we’ve just become a partner with Acquia which proivdes professional support services for Drupal users and developers.

Anyway, this use by the Obama administration of Drupal is a big deal. It’s a big deal for Drupal itself, but it’s also a big deal as a stamp of approval for the open source movement in general. This article points out some of the roots of the cross pollination of the open source, Drupal and  Deomcratic party politics.

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Redwood Technology Consortium Site Upgrade

We recently completed an upgrade to the Redwood Technology Consortium web site. A few years ago we converted the site from a proprietary Cold Fusion system to the open source Drupal platform. We felt it was time to upgrade since the site was running on a 4.x version of Drupal. 5.x had been out for a while and all the modules we needed had also been upgraded to the current version. While we were working on the upgrRTC siteade, Drupal released version 6 while progress on version 7 proceeded on a fast pace. All this to say I am glad that we went down the Drupal path. Development on the platform is rapid and core improvements and module development is quite intensive

While for the most part visitors to the site won’t notice much difference since the upgrade, back end functionality is much improved. The system allows multiple users with the proper access privileges to maintain the content and that hasn’t changed. The original design by Carson Park Design remains the same as well.

During the upgrade we did move member management to a major module suite called CiviCRM. This will allow for much easier joining, renewal and display of members. For an all volunteer organization, anything that streamlines the process is a huge benefit.

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