Dries Buytaert

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Acquia a leader in 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management

1 August 2018 - 11:49am

Today, Acquia was named a leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Acquia has now been recognized as a leader for five years in a row.

Acquia recognized as a leader, next to Adobe and Sitecore, in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management.

Analyst reports like the Gartner Magic Quadrant are important because they introduce organizations to Acquia and Drupal. Last year, I explained it in the following way: "If you want to find a good coffee place, you use Yelp. If you want to find a nice hotel in New York, you use TripAdvisor. Similarly, if a CIO or CMO wants to spend $250,000 or more on enterprise software, they often consult an analyst firm like Gartner.".

Our tenure as a top vendor is not only a strong endorsement of Acquia's strategy and vision, but also underscores our consistency. Drupal and Acquia are here to stay, which is a good thing.

What I found interesting about year's report is the increased emphasis on flexibility and ease of integration. I've been saying this for a few years now, but it's all about innovation through integration, rather than just innovation in the core platform itself.

An image of the Marketing Technology Landscape 2018. For reference, here are the 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 versions of the landscape. It shows how fast the marketing technology industry is growing.

Today, there is an incredible amount of value in community-driven innovation. Just look at the 2018 Martech 5000 — the supergraphic now includes 7,000 marketing technology solutions, which is a 27% increase from a year ago. This accelerated innovation isn't exclusive to marketing technology; its happening across every part of the enterprise technology stack. From headless commerce integrations to the growing adoption of JavaScript frameworks and emerging cross-channel experiences, organizations have the opportunity to re-imagine customer experiences like never before.

It's not surprising that customers are looking for an open platform that allows for open innovation and unlimited integrations. The best way to serve this need is through open APIs, decoupled architectures and an Open Source innovation model. This is why Drupal can offer its users thousands of integrations, more than all of the other Gartner leaders combined.

When you marry Drupal's community-driven innovation with Acquia's cloud platform and suite of marketing tools, you get an innovative solution across every layer of your technology stack. It allows our customers to bring powerful new experiences to market, across the web, mobile, native applications, chatbots and more. Most importantly, it gives customers the freedom to build on their own terms.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this result!

Categories: Drupal

Building digital backpacks for Syrian refugees

30 July 2018 - 8:16am

I recently heard a heart-warming story from the University of California, Davis. Last month, UC Davis used Drupal to launch Article 26 Backpack, a platform that helps Syrian Refugees document and share their educational credentials.

Over the course of the Syrian civil war, more than 12 million civilians have been displaced. Hundreds of thousands of these refugees are students, who now have to overcome the obstacle of re-entering the workforce or pursuing educational degrees away from home.

Article 26 Backpack addresses this challenge by offering refugees a secure way to share their educational credentials with admissions offices, scholarship agencies, and potentials employers. The program also includes face-to-face counseling to provide participants with academic advisory and career development.

The UC Davis team launched their Drupal 8 application for Article 26 Backpack in four months. On the site, students can securely store their educational data, such as diplomas, transcripts and resumes. The next phase of the project will be to leverage Drupal’s multilingual capabilities to offer the site in Arabic as well.

This is a great example of how organizations are using Drupal to prioritize impact. It’s always inspiring to hear stories of how Drupal is changing lives for the better. Thank you to the UC Davis team for sharing their story, and continue the good work!

Categories: Drupal

Microsoft sends strong message about GitHub's independence

27 July 2018 - 6:53am

On the heels of Microsoft acquiring GitHub for $7.5 billion, Google has partnered with Microsoft to provide a continuous integration and delivery platform for GitHub. While I predicted Microsoft would integrate build tools into GitHub, I didn't expect them to integrate with Google's as well. Google and GitHub probably partnered on this before the Microsoft acquisition, but I'm pleasantly surprised that Microsoft has decided to offer more than Azure-based solutions. It sends a strong message to anyone who was worried about Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub, and should help put worries about GitHub's independence to rest. Satya Nadella clearly understands and values the Open Source movement and continues to impress me. What an interesting time to be a developer and to observe the cloud wars!

Categories: Drupal

Failure often paves the way for success

25 July 2018 - 6:05pm

Success and failure are not polar opposites: you often need to endure failure to enjoy success. In Google's 2004 Founders' IPO Letter, Larry Page wrote:

We will not shy away from high-risk, high-reward projects because of short term earnings pressure. Some of our past bets have gone extraordinarily well, and others have not. Because we recognize the pursuit of such projects as the key to our long term success, we will continue to seek them out. For example, we would fund projects that have a 10% chance of earning a billion dollars over the long term. Do not be surprised if we place smaller bets in areas that seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses. Although we cannot quantify the specific level of risk we will undertake, as the ratio of reward to risk increases, we will accept projects further outside our current businesses, especially when the initial investment is small relative to the level of investment in our current businesses.

Think big and fail well — fail fast, fail often, and learn from your mistakes.

Categories: Drupal

Watching former colleagues take it to the next level

24 July 2018 - 6:36am

One of the hallmarks of a great company is that they hire well, and make it a priority to train and challenge their employees to become better. Great companies are a breeding ground for talent. As such, it's always sad when great talent leaves, but it's certainly rewarding to see alumni venture to accomplish greater things.

The Paypal Mafia is an esteemed example of this; many of its early employees have gone off to do impactful things. There are many examples of this in Acquia's history as well.

In 2012, we hired Chris Comparato as Acquia's SVP of Customer Success. While at Acquia, Chris had been advising a local startup called Toast. I remember the day Chris came into my office and told me it was time for him to leave Acquia; he had been waking up thinking about how to help solve Toast's challenges instead of Acquia's. Chris ultimately went on to become the CEO of Toast and under his leadership, Toast is thriving. Just this month, Toast raised another $100 million in funding at a $1.4 billion valuation. Chris is right. If they can, people should try to do what they wake up thinking about. It's advice I try to live by every day. In fact, I still call it the "Comparato Principle".

Chris' story isn't unique. Last week, I was reminded of how meaningful it can be to see former colleagues grow after watching Nick Veenhof's video interview on The Modern CTO Podcast. Nick was hired at Acquia as an engineer to help build Acquia Search. Last year, Nick left to become CTO at Dropsolid, and now oversees a 25 person engineering team. While I miss Nick, it's great to see him thrive.

I feel lucky to witness the impact Chris, Nick and other ex-Acquians are making. Congratulations Chris and Nick. I look forward to your future success!

Categories: Drupal

Exploring Cape Cod

20 July 2018 - 6:41am

This past weekend Vanessa and I took our much-anticipated annual weekend trip to Cape Cod. It's always a highlight for us. We set out to explore a new part of the Cape as we've extensively explored the Upper Cape.

We found The Platinum Pebble Inn in West Harwich by way of TripAdvisor, a small luxury bed and breakfast. The owners, Mike and Stefanie Hogan, were extremely gracious hosts. Not only are they running the Inn and serving up delicious breakfasts, they would ask what we wanted to do, and then created our adventure with helpful tips for the day.

On our first day we went on a 35 km (22 miles) bike ride out to Chatham, making stops along the way for ice cream, shopping and lobster rolls.

While we were at the Chatham Pier Fish Market, we watched the local fisherman offload their daily catch with sea lions and seagulls hovering to get some lunch of their own. Once we arrived back at the Inn where we were able to cool off in the pool and relax in the late afternoon sun.

Saturday we were up for a hike, so the Hogans sent us to the Dune Shacks Trail in Provincetown. We were told to carry in whatever we would need as there weren't any facilities on the beach. So we stopped at an authentic French bakery in Wellfleet to get lunch to take on our hike — the baguette took me right back to being in France, and while I was tempted by the pain au chocolat and pain aux raisins, I didn't indulge. I had too much ice cream already.

After we picked up lunch, we continued up Route 6 and parked on the side of the road to begin our journey into the woods and up the first of many, intense sand dunes. The trails were unmarked but there are visible paths that pass the Dune Shacks that date back to the early 1900's. After 45 minutes we finally reached the beach and ocean.


We rounded out the weekend with an afternoon sail of the Nantucket Sound. It was a beautiful day and the conditions lent themselves to a very relaxing sailing experience.



It was a great weekend!

Categories: Drupal

How Drupal continues to evolve towards an API-first platform

19 July 2018 - 4:06am

It's been 12 months since my last progress report on Drupal core's API-first initiative. Over the past year, we've made a lot of important progress, so I wanted to provide another update.

Two and a half years ago, we shipped Drupal 8.0 with a built-in REST API. It marked the start of Drupal's evolution to an API-first platform. Since then, each of the five new releases of Drupal 8 introduced significant web service API improvements.

While I was an early advocate for adding web services to Drupal 8 five years ago, I'm even more certain about it today. Important market trends endorse this strategy, including integration with other technology solutions, the proliferation of new devices and digital channels, the growing adoption of JavaScript frameworks, and more.

In fact, I believe that this functionality is so crucial to the success of Drupal, that for several years now, Acquia has sponsored one or more full-time software developers to contribute to Drupal's web service APIs, in addition to funding different community contributors. Today, two Acquia developers work on Drupal web service APIs full time.

Drupal core's REST API

While Drupal 8.0 shipped with a basic REST API, the community has worked hard to improve its capabilities, robustness and test coverage. Drupal 8.5 shipped 5 months ago and included new REST API features and significant improvements. Drupal 8.6 will ship in September with a new batch of improvements.

One Drupal 8.6 improvement is the move of the API-first code to the individual modules, instead of the REST module providing it on their behalf. This might not seem like a significant change, but it is. In the long term, all Drupal modules should ship with web service APIs rather than depending on a central API module to provide their APIs — that forces them to consider the impact on REST API clients when making changes.

Another improvement we've made to the REST API in Drupal 8.6 is support for file uploads. If you want to understand how much thought and care went into REST support for file uploads, check out Wim Leers' blog post: API-first Drupal: file uploads!. It's hard work to make file uploads secure, support large files, optimize for performance, and provide a good developer experience.

JSON API

Adopting the JSON API module into core is important because JSON API is increasingly common in the JavaScript community.

We had originally planned to add JSON API to Drupal 8.3, which didn't happen. When that plan was originally conceived, we were only beginning to discover the extent to which Drupal's Routing, Entity, Field and Typed Data subsystems were insufficiently prepared for an API-first world. It's taken until the end of 2017 to prepare and solidify those foundational subsystems.

The same shortcomings that prevented the REST API to mature also manifested themselves in JSON API, GraphQL and other API-first modules. Properly solving them at the root rather than adding workarounds takes time. However, this approach will make for a stronger API-first ecosystem and increasingly faster progress!

Despite the delay, the JSON API team has been making incredible strides. In just the last six months, they have released 15 versions of their module. They have delivered improvements at a breathtaking pace, including comprehensive test coverage, better compliance with the JSON API specification, and numerous stability improvements.

The Drupal community has been eager for these improvements, and the usage of the JSON API module has grown 50% in the first half of 2018. The fact that module usage has increased while the total number of open issues has gone down is proof that the JSON API module has become stable and mature.

As excited as I am about this growth in adoption, the rapid pace of development, and the maturity of the JSON API module, we have decided not to add JSON API as an experimental module to Drupal 8.6. Instead, we plan to commit it to Drupal core early in the Drupal 8.7 development cycle and ship it as stable in Drupal 8.7.

GraphQL

For more than two years I've advocated that we consider adding GraphQL to Drupal core.

While core committers and core contributors haven't made GraphQL a priority yet, a lot of great progress has been made on the contributed GraphQL module, which has been getting closer to its first stable release. Despite not having a stable release, its adoption has grown an impressive 200% in the first six months of 2018 (though its usage is still measured in the hundreds of sites rather than thousands).

I'm also excited that the GraphQL specification has finally seen a new edition that is no longer encumbered by licensing concerns. This is great news for the Open Source community, and can only benefit GraphQL's adoption.

Admittedly, I don't know yet if the GraphQL module maintainers are on board with my recommendation to add GraphQL to core. We purposely postponed these conversations until we stabilized the REST API and added JSON API support. I'd still love to see the GraphQL module added to a future release of Drupal 8. Regardless of what we decide, GraphQL is an important component to an API-first Drupal, and I'm excited about its progress.

OAuth 2.0

A web services API update would not be complete without touching on the topic of authentication. Last year, I explained how the OAuth 2.0 module would be another logical addition to Drupal core.

Since then, the OAuth 2.0 module was revised to exclude its own OAuth 2.0 implementation, and to adopt The PHP League's OAuth 2.0 Server instead. That implementation is widely used, with over 5 million installs. Instead of having a separate Drupal-specific implementation that we have to maintain, we can leverage a de facto standard implementation maintained by others.

API-first ecosystem

While I've personally been most focused on the REST API and JSON API work, with GraphQL a close second, it's also encouraging to see that many other API-first modules are being developed:

  • OpenAPI, for standards-based API documentation, now at beta 1
  • JSON API Extras, for shaping JSON API to your site's specific needs (aliasing fields, removing fields, etc)
  • JSON-RPC, for help with executing common Drupal site administration actions, for example clearing the cache
  • … and many more
Conclusion

Hopefully, you are as excited for the upcoming release of Drupal 8.6 as I am, and all of the web service improvements that it will bring. I am very thankful for all of the contributions that have been made in our continued efforts to make Drupal API-first, and for the incredible momentum these projects and initiatives have achieved.

Special thanks to Wim Leers (Acquia) and Gabe Sullice (Acquia) for contributions to this blog post and to Mark Winberry (Acquia) and Jeff Beeman (Acquia) for their feedback during the writing process.

Categories: Drupal

Kevin Thull's unique contribution to Drupal

12 July 2018 - 9:00am

If you've ever watched a Drupal Camp video to learn a new Drupal skill, technique or hack, you most likely have Kevin Thull to thank. To date, Kevin has traveled to more than 30 Drupal Camps, recorded more than 1,000 presentations, and has shared them all on YouTube for thousands of people to watch. By recording and posting hundreds of Drupal Camp presentations online, Kevin has has spread knowledge, awareness and a broader understanding of the Drupal project.

I recently attended a conference in Chicago, Kevin's hometown. I had the chance to meet with him, and to learn more about the evolution of his Drupal contributions. I was struck by his story, and decided to write it up on my blog, as I believe it could inspire others around the world.

Kevin began recording sessions during the first community events he helped organize: DrupalCamp Fox Valley in 2013 and MidCamp in 2014. At first, recording and publishing Drupal Camp sessions was an arduous process; Kevin had to oversee dozens of laptops, converters, splitters, camcorders, and trips to Fedex.

After these initial attempts, Kevin sought a different approach for recording sessions. He ended up developing a recording kit, which is a bundle of the equipment and technology needed to record a presentation. After researching various options, he discovered a lightweight, low cost and foolproof solution. Kevin continued to improve this process after he tweeted that if you sponsored his travel, he would record Drupal Camp sessions. It's no surprise that numerous camps took Kevin up on his offer. With more road experience, Kevin has consolidated the recording kits to include just a screen recorder, audio recorder and corresponding cables. With this approach, the kit records a compressed mp4 file that can be uploaded directly to YouTube. In fact, Kevin often finishes uploading all presentation videos to YouTube before the camp is over!

This is one of Kevin Thull's recording kits used to record hundreds of Drupal presentations around the world. Each kit runs at about $450.

Most recently, Kevin has been buying and building more recording kits thanks to financial contributions from various Drupal Camps. He has started to send recording kits and documentation around the world for local camp organizers to use. Not only has Kevin recorded hundreds of sessions himself, he is now sharing his expertise and teaching others how to record and share sessions.

What is exciting about Kevin's contribution is that it reinforces what originally attracted him to Drupal. Kevin ultimately chose to work with Drupal after watching online video tutorials and listening to podcasts created by the community. Today, a majority of people prefer to learn development through video tutorials. I can only imagine how many people have joined and started to contribute to Drupal after they have watched one of the many videos that Kevin has helped to publish.

Kevin's story is a great example of how everyone in the Drupal community has something to contribute, and how contributing back to the Drupal project is not exclusive to code.

This year, the Drupal community celebrated Kevin by honoring him with the 2018 Aaron Winborn Award. The Aaron Winborn award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates personal integrity, kindness, and above-and-beyond commitment to the Drupal community. It's named after a long-time Drupal contributor Aaron Winborn, who lost his battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in early 2015. Congratulations Kevin, and thank you for your incredible contribution to the Drupal community!

Categories: Drupal

Why large organizations are choosing to contribute to Drupal

3 July 2018 - 12:27pm

During my DrupalCon Nashville keynote, I shared a brief video of Mike Lamb, the Senior Director of Architecture, Engineering & Development at Pfizer. Today, I wanted to share an extended version of my interview with Mike, where he explains why the development team at Pfizer has ingrained Open Source contribution into the way they work.


Mike had some really interesting and important things to share, including:

  1. Why Pfizer has chosen to standardize all of its sites on Drupal (from 0:00 to 03:19). Proprietary software isn't a match.
  2. Why Pfizer only works with agencies and vendors that contribute back to Drupal (from 03:19 to 06:25). Yes, you read that correctly; Pfizer requires that its agency partners contribute to Open Source!
  3. Why Pfizer doesn't fork Drupal modules (from 06:25 to 07:27). It's all about security.
  4. Why Pfizer decided to contribute to the Drupal 8's Workflow Initiative, and what they have learned from working with the Drupal community (from 07:27 to 10:06).
  5. How to convince a large organization (like Pfizer) to contribute back to Drupal (from 10:06 to 12:07).

Between Pfizer's direct contributions to Drupal (e.g. the Drupal 8 Workflow Initiative) and the mandate for its agency partners to contribute code back to Drupal, Pfizer's impact on the Drupal community is invaluable. It's measured in the millions of dollars per year. Just imagine what would happen to Drupal if ten other large organizations adopted Pfizer's contribution models?

Most organizations use Open Source, and don't think twice about it. However, we're starting to see more and more organizations not just use Open Source, but actively contribute to it. Open source offers organizations a completely different way of working, and fosters an innovation model that is not possible with proprietary solutions. Pfizer is a leading example of how organizations are starting to challenge the prevailing model and benefit from contributing to Open Source. Thanks for changing the status quo, Mike!

Categories: Drupal

Stepping up my photography to make a cookbook

30 June 2018 - 3:52pm

We're going on a two-week vacation in August! Believe it or not, but I haven't taken a two week vacation in 11 years. I'm super excited.

Now our vacation is booked, I'm starting to make plans for how to spend our time. Other than spending time with family, going on hikes, and reading a book or two, I'd love to take some steps towards food photography. Why food photography?

The past couple of years, Vanessa and I have talked about making a cookbook. In our many travels around the world, we've eaten a lot of great food, and Vanessa has managed to replicate and perfect a few of these recipes: the salmon soup we ate in Finland when we went dog sledding, the hummus with charred cauliflower we had at DrupalCon New Orleans, or the tordelli lucchesi we ate on vacation in Tuscany.

Other than being her sous-chef (dishwasher, really), my job would be to capture the recipes with photos, figure out a way to publish them online (I know just the way), and eventually print the recipes in a physical book. Making a cookbook is a fun way to align our different hobbies; travel for both of us, cooking for her, photography for me, and of course enjoying the great food.

Based on the limited research I've done, food photography is all about lighting. I've been passionate about photography for a long time, but I haven't really dug into the use of light yet.

Our upcoming vacation seems like the perfect time to learn about lighting; read a book about it, and try different lighting techniques (front lighting, side lighting, back lighting but also hard, soft and diffused light).

The next few weeks, I plan to pick up some new gear like a light diffuser, light modifiers, and maybe even a LED light. If you're into food photography, or into lighting more generally, don't hesitate to leave some tips and tricks in the comments.

Categories: Drupal

Design 4 Drupal: The future of JavaScript in Drupal

28 June 2018 - 4:44pm

Today, I gave a keynote presentation at the 10th annual Design 4 Drupal conference at MIT. I talked about the past, present and future of JavaScript, and how this evolution reinforces Drupal's commitment to be API-first, not API-only. I also included behind-the-scene insights into the Drupal community's administration UI and JavaScript modernization initiative, and why this approach presents an exciting future for JavaScript in Drupal.

If you are interested in viewing my keynote, you can download a copy of my slides (256 MB).

Thank you to Design 4 Drupal for having me and happy 10th anniversary!

Categories: Drupal

Working together to promote Drupal

26 June 2018 - 3:28pm

The Drupal community has done an amazing job organizing thousands of developers around the world. We've built collaboration tools and engineering processes to streamline how our community of developers work together to collectively build Drupal. This collaboration has led to amazing results. Today, more than 1 in 40 of the top one million websites use Drupal. It's inspiring to see how many organizations depend on Drupal to deliver their missions.

What is equally incredible is that historically, we haven't collaborated around the marketing of Drupal. Different organizations have marketed Drupal in their own way without central coordination or collaboration.

In my DrupalCon Nashville keynote, I shared that it's time to make a serious and focused effort to amplify Drupal success stories in the marketplace. Imagine what could happen if we enabled hundreds of marketers to collaborate on the promotion of Drupal, much like we have enabled thousands of developers to collaborate on the development of Drupal.

Accelerating Drupal adoption with business decision makers

To focus Drupal's marketing efforts, we launched the Promote Drupal Initiative. The goal of the Promote Drupal Initiative is to do what we do best: to work together to collectively grow Drupal. In this case, we want to collaborate to raise awareness with business and non-technical decision makers. We need to hone Drupal's strategic messaging, amplify success stories and public relation resources in the marketplace, provide agencies and community groups with sales and marketing tools, and improve the Drupal.org evaluator experience.

To make Promote Drupal sustainable, Rebecca Pilcher, Director of MarComm at the Drupal Association, will be leading the initiative. Rebecca will oversee volunteers with marketing and business skills that can help move these efforts forward.

Promote Drupal Fund: 75% to goal

At DrupalCon Nashville, we set a goal of fundraising $100,000 to support the Promote Drupal Initiative. These funds will help to secure staffing to backfill Rebecca's previous work (someone has to market DrupalCon!), produce critical marketing resources, and sponsor marketing sprints. The faster we reach this goal, the faster we can get to work.

I'm excited to announce that we have already reached 75% of our goal, thanks to many generous organizations and individuals around the world. I wanted to extend a big thank you to the following companies for contributing $1,000 or more to the Promote Drupal Initiative:

If you can, please help us reach our total goal of $100,000! By raising a final $25,000, we can build a program that will introduce Drupal to an emerging audience of business decision makers. Together, we can make a big impact on Drupal.

Categories: Drupal

Increasing Drupal contributions from underrepresented groups

19 June 2018 - 10:44am

For the past two years, I've published the Who sponsors Drupal development report. The primary goal of the report is to share contribution data to encourage more individuals and organizations to contribute code to Drupal on Drupal.org. However, the report also highlights areas where our community can and should do better.

In 2017, the reported data showed that only 6 percent of recorded code contributions were made by contributors that identify as female. After a conversation in the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Slack channel about the report, it became clear that many people were concerned about this discrepancy. Inspired by this conversation, Tara King started the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team to understand how the Drupal community could better include women and underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions.

I recently spoke with Tara to learn more about the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team. I quickly discovered that Tara's leadership exemplifies various Drupal Values and Principles; especially Principle 3 (Foster a learning environment), Principle 5 (Everyone has something to contribute) and Principle 6 (Choose to lead). Inspired by Tara's work, I wanted to spotlight what the DDI Contribution Team has accomplished so far, in addition to how the team is looking to help grow diversity and inclusion in the future.

A mentorship program to help underrepresented groups

Supporting diversity and inclusion within Drupal is essential to the health and success of the project. The people who work on Drupal should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software. This includes building better representation across gender, race, sexuality, disability, economic status, nationality, faith, technical experience, and more. Unfortunately, underrepresented groups often lack community connections, time for contribution, resources or programs that foster inclusion, which introduce barriers to entry.

The mission of the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Contribution Team is to increase contributions from underrepresented groups. To accomplish this goal, the DDI Contribution Team recruits team members from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, and provides support and mentorship to help them contribute to Drupal. Each mentee is matched with a mentor in the Drupal community, who can provide expertise and advice on contribution goals and professional development. To date, the DDI Contribution Team supports over 20 active members.

What I loved most in my conversation with Tara is the various examples of growth she gave. For example, Angela McMahon is a full-time Drupal developer at Iowa State. Angela been working with her mentor, Caroline Boyden, on the External Link Module. Due to her participation with the DDI Contribution Team, Angela has now been credited on 4 fixed issues in the past year.

Improving the reporting around diversity and inclusion

In addition to mentoring, another primary area of focus of the DDI Contribution Team is to improve reporting surrounding diversity and inclusion. For example, in partnership with the Drupal Association and the Open Demographics Project, the DDI Contribution Team is working to implement best practices for data collection and privacy surrounding gender demographics. During the mentored code sprints at DrupalCon Nashville, the DDI Contribution Team built the Gender Field Module, which we hope to deploy on Drupal.org.

The development of the Gender Field Module is exciting, as it establishes a system to improve reporting on diversity demographics. I would love to use this data in future iterations of the 'Who sponsors Drupal development' report, because it would allow us to better measure progress on improving Drupal's diversity and inclusion against community goals.

One person can make a difference

What I love about the story of the DDI Contribution Team is that it demonstrates how one person can make a significant impact on the Drupal project. The DDI Contribution Team has grown from Tara's passion and curiosity to see what would happen if she challenged the status quo. Not only has Tara gotten to see one of her own community goals blossom, but she now also leads a team of mentors and mentees and is a co-maintainer of the Drupal 8 version of the Gender Field Module. Last but not least, she is building a great example for how other Open Source projects can increase contributions from underrepresented groups.

How you can get involved

If you are interested in getting involved with the DDI Contribution Team, there are a number of ways you can participate:

  • Support the DDI Contribution Team as a mentor, or consider recommending the program to prospective mentees. Join #ddi-contrib-team on Drupal Slack to meet the team and get started.
  • In an effort to deliberately recruit teams from spaces where people of diverse backgrounds collaborate, the DDI Contribution Team is looking to partner with Outreachy, an organization that provides paid internships for underrepresented groups to learn Free and Open Source Software and skills. If you would be interested in supporting a Drupal internship for an Outreachy candidate, reach out to Tara King to learn how you can make a financial contribution.
  • One of the long term goals of the DDI Contribution Team is to increase the number of underrepresented people in leadership positions, such as initiative lead, module maintainer, or core maintainer. If you know of open positions, consider understanding how you can work with the DDI Contribution Team to fulfill this goal.

I want to extend a special thanks to Tara King for sharing her story, and for making an important contribution to the Drupal project. Growing diversity and inclusion is something everyone in the Drupal community is responsible for, and I believe that everyone has something to contribute. Congratulations to the entire DDI Contribution Team.

Categories: Drupal

A plan for Drupal and Composer

15 June 2018 - 7:08am

At DrupalCon Nashville, we launched a strategic initiative to improve support for Composer in Drupal 8. To learn more, you can watch the recording of my DrupalCon Nashville keynote or read the Composer Initiative issue on Drupal.org.

While Composer isn't required when using Drupal core, many Drupal site builders use it as the preferred way of assembling websites (myself included). A growing number of contributed modules also require the use of Composer, which increases the need to make Composer easier to use with Drupal.

The first step of the Composer Initiative was to develop a plan to simplify Drupal's Composer experience. Since DrupalCon Nashville, Mixologic, Mile23, Bojanz, Webflo, and other Drupal community members have worked on this plan. I was excited to see that last week, they shared their proposal.

The first phase of the proposal is focused on a series of changes in the main Drupal core repository. The directory structure will remain the same, but it will include scripts, plugins, and embedded packages that enable the bundled Drupal product to be built from the core repository using Composer. This provides users who download Drupal from Drupal.org a clear path to manage their Drupal codebase with Composer if they choose.

I'm excited about this first step because it will establish a default, official approach for using Composer with Drupal. That makes using Composer more straightforward, less confusing, and could theoretically lower the bar for evaluators and newcomers who are familiar with other PHP frameworks. Making things easier for site builders is a very important goal; web development has become a difficult task, and removing complexity out of the process is crucial.

It's also worth noting that we are planning the Automatic Updates Initiative. We are exploring if an automated update system can be build on top of the Composer Initiative's work, and provide an abstraction layer for those that don't want to use Composer directly. I believe that could be truly game-changing for Drupal, as it would remove a great deal of complexity.

If you're interested in learning more about the Composer plan, or if you want to provide feedback on the proposal, I recommend you check out the Composer Initiative issue and comment 37 on that issue.

Implementing this plan will be a lot of work. How fast we execute these changes depends on how many people will help. There are a number of different third-party Composer related efforts, and my hope is to see many of them redirect their efforts to make Drupal's out-of-the-box Composer effort better. If you're interested in getting involved or sponsoring this work, let me know and I'd be happy to connect you with the right people!

Categories: Drupal

Virtual reality on campus with Drupal

6 June 2018 - 3:13am

One of the most stressful experiences for students is the process of choosing the right university. Researching various colleges and universities can be overwhelming, especially when students don't have the luxury of visiting different campuses in person.

At Acquia Labs, we wanted to remove some of the complexity and stress from this process, by making campus tours more accessible through virtual reality. During my presentation at Acquia Engage Europe yesterday, I shared how organizations can use virtual reality to build cross-channel experiences. People that attended Acquia Engage Europe asked if they could have a copy of my video, so I decided to share it on my blog.

The demo video below features a high school student, Jordan, who is interested in learning more about Massachusetts State University (a fictional university). From the comfort of his couch, Jordan is able to take a virtual tour directly from the university's website. After placing his phone in a VR headset, Jordan can move around the university campus, explore buildings, and view program resources, videos, and pictures within the context of his tour.


All of the content and media featured in the VR tour is stored in the Massachusetts State University's Drupal site. Site administrators can upload media and position hotspots directly from within Drupal backend. The React frontend pulls in information from Drupal using JSON API. In the video below, Chris Hamper (Acquia) further explains how the decoupled React VR application takes advantage of new functionality available in Drupal 8.


It's exciting to see how Drupal's power and flexibility can be used beyond traditional web pages. If you are interesting in working with Acquia on virtual reality applications, don't hesitate to contact the Acquia Labs team.

Special thanks to Chris Hamper for building the virtual reality application, and thank you to Ash Heath, Preston So and Drew Robertson for producing the demo videos.

Categories: Drupal

How Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub impacts the cloud wars

4 June 2018 - 8:16am

Today, Microsoft announced it is buying GitHub in a deal that will be worth $7.5 billion. GitHub hosts 80 million source code repositories, and is used by almost 30 million software developers around the world. It is one of the most important tools used by software organizations today.

As the leading cloud infrastructure platforms — Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc — mature, they will likely become functionally equivalent for the vast majority of use cases. In the future, it won't really matter whether you use Amazon, Google or Microsoft to deploy most applications. When that happens, platform differentiators will shift from functional capabilities, such as multi-region databases or serverless application support, to an increased emphasis on ease of use, the out-of-the-box experience, price, and performance.

Given multiple functionally equivalent cloud platforms at roughly the same price, the simplest one will win. Therefore, ease of use and out-of-the-box experience will become significant differentiators.

This is where Microsoft's GitHub acquisition comes in. Microsoft will most likely integrate its cloud services with GitHub; each code repository will get a button to easily test, deploy, and run the project in Microsoft's cloud. A deep and seamless integration between Microsoft Azure and GitHub could result in Microsoft's cloud being perceived as simpler to use. And when there are no other critical differentiators, ease of use drives adoption.

If you ask me, Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, made a genius move by buying GitHub. It could take another ten years for the cloud wars to mature, and for us to realize just how valuable this acquisition was. In a decade, $7.5 billion could look like peanuts.

While I trust that Microsoft will be a good steward of GitHub, I personally would have preferred to see GitHub remain independent. I suspect that Amazon and Google will now accelerate the development of their own versions of GitHub. A single, independent GitHub would have maximized collaboration among software projects and developers, especially those that are Open Source. Having a variety of competing GitHubs will most likely introduce some friction.

Over the years, I had a few interactions with GitHub's co-founder, Chris Wanstrath. He must be happy with this acquisition as well; it provides stability and direction for GitHub, ends a 9-month CEO search, and is a great outcome for employees and investors. Chris, I want to say congratulations on building the world's biggest software collaboration platform, and thank you for giving millions of Open Source developers free tools along the way.

Categories: Drupal

Unlike marketing efforts, CAPEX doesn't lie

3 June 2018 - 1:23am

The title of this blog post comes from a recent Platformonomics article that analyzes how much Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle are investing in their cloud infrastructure. It does that analysis based on these companies' publicly reported CAPEX numbers.

Capital expenditures, or CAPEX, is money used to purchase, upgrade, improve, or extend the life of long-term assets. Capital expenditures generally takes two forms: maintenance expenditure (money spent for normal upkeep and maintenance) and expansion expenditures (money used to buy assets to grow the business, or money used to buy assets to actually sell). This could include buying a building, upgrading computers, acquiring a business, or in the case of cloud infrastructure vendors, buying the hardware needed to invest in the growth of their cloud infrastructure.

Building this analysis on CAPEX spending is far from perfect, as it includes investments that are not directly related to scaling cloud infrastructure. For example, Google is building subsea cables to improve their internet speed, and Amazon is investing a lot in its package and shipping operations, including the build-out of its own cargo airline. These investments don't advance their cloud services businesses. Despite these inaccuracies, CAPEX is still a useful indicator for measuring the growth of their cloud infrastructure businesses, simply because these investments dwarf others.

The Platformonomics analysis prompted me to do a bit of research on my own.

The graph above shows the trailing twelve months (TTM) CAPEX spending for each of the five cloud vendors. CAPEX don't lie: cloud infrastructure services is clearly a three-player race. There are only three cloud infrastructure companies that are really growing: Amazon, Google (Alphabet) and Microsoft. Oracle and IBM are far behind and their spending is not enough to keep pace with Amazon, Microsoft or Google.

Amazon's growth in CAPEX is the most impressive. This becomes really clear when you look at the percentage growth:

Amazon's CAPEX has exploded over the past 10 years. In relative terms, it has grown more than all other companies' CAPEX combined.

The scale is hard to grasp

To put the significance of these investments in cloud services in perspective, in the last 12 months, Amazon and Alphabet's CAPEX is almost 10x the size of Coca-Cola's, a company whose products are available in every grocery store, gas station, and vending machine in every town and country in the world. More than 3% of all beverages consumed around the world are Coca-Cola products. In contrast, the amount of money cloud infrastructure vendors are investing in CAPEX is hard to grasp.

Disclaimers: As a public market investor, I'm long Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Also, Amazon is an investor in my company, Acquia.
Categories: Drupal

Frontend United keynote

2 June 2018 - 4:00am

Keynoted at Frontend United in The Netherlands about our work on Drupal's web services APIs and our work toward a JavaScript-driven Drupal administration interface. Great event with lots of positive energy!

© Christoph Breidert

Categories: Drupal

Making the web easier and safer with the Web Authentication standard

30 May 2018 - 6:05am

Firefox 60 was released a few weeks ago and now comes with support for the upcoming Web Authentication (WebAuthn) standard.

Other major web browsers weren't far behind. Yesterday, the release of Google Chrome 67 also included support for the Web Authentication standard.

I'm excited about it because it can make the web both easier and safer to use.

The Web Authentication standard will make the web easier, because it is a big step towards eliminating passwords on the web. Instead of having to manage passwords, we'll be able to use web-based fingerprints, facial authentication, voice recognition, a smartphone, or hardware security keys like the YubiKey.

It will also make the web safer, because it will help reduce or even prevent phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks, and credential theft. If you are interested in learning more about the security benefits of the Web Authentication standard, I recommend reading Adam Langley's excellent analysis.

When I have a bit more time for side projects, I'd like to buy a YubiKey 4C to see how it fits in my daily workflow, in addition to what it would look like to add Web Authentication support to Drupal and https://dri.es.

Categories: Drupal

Drupal.org gets videos that make Drupal easier to learn

29 May 2018 - 4:17am

In the beginning of the year I started doing some iOS development for my POSSE plan. As I was new to iOS development, I decided to teach myself by watching short, instructional videos. Different people learn in different ways, but for me, videos tutorials were the most effective way to learn.

Given that recent experience, I'm very excited to share that all of the task tutorials in the Drupal 8 User Guide are now accompanied by video tutorials. These videos are embedded directly into every user guide page on Drupal.org. You can see an example on the "Editing with the in-place editor" page.

These videos provide a great introduction to installing, administering, site building and maintaining the content of a Drupal-based website — all important skills for a new Drupalist to learn. Supplementing user guides with video tutorials is an important step towards improving our evaluator experience, as video can often convey a lot more than text.

Creating high-quality videos is hard and time-consuming work. Over the course of six months, the team at Drupalize.Me has generously contributed a total of 52 videos! I want to give a special shout-out to Joe Shindelar and the Drupalize.Me team for creating these videos and to Jennifer Hodgdon and Neil Drumm (Drupal Association) for helping to get each video posted on Drupal.org.

What a fantastic gift to the community!

Categories: Drupal

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