Drupal Changed Our Lives

It is very rare that something so powerful can change a company overnight. Our long history as a web development company can be defined in single word: "Custom". Custom web designs, custom web programming, and custom web applications. These skills are things that we are most proud to promote. However, a "custom" Website doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. Today, with the power of the entire contributed Drupal community, things are different. There have been so many advances in Drupal’s open source solutions that it is impossible for any web development company to ignore. The Drupal framework only enhanced our ability to develop custom Websites for our clients. Drupal changed our lives — It opened up new doors for all of us at Nu-Designs and our clients.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is an open source platform for creating a Website. Thousands of web developers world wide use the Drupal platform. Many of these developers have contributed additional functions to the platform. These new functions are contributed to the Drupal community in the form of a Module. A Drupal module is a widget of code that works with the Drupal framework. The module basically plugs into the Website, adds new functionality and can be configured in a variety of ways. Today there is a library of over 8,000 Drupal modules available for any project. As a Drupal developer, Nu-Designs can leverage this module library for the benefit of our customers. We can utilize existing modules or we can make "custom" modules to meet our clients needs. The point is: why do something from scratch when it has already been done before? To find out more information about the Drupal framework, visit the Drupal.org Website.

If you are a Drupal developer be sure to check out our Drupal community site Made With Drupal.

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News and Updates from Drupal.org

February 12, 2015

Back in December, as part of our ongoing efforts to improve Drupal.org, we kicked off a content strategy project with Forum One. Drupal Association engineering and marketing/communication staff partnered with the Drupal.org Content Working Group and met for a two-day workshop to help get the project team from Forum One (content strategists and user experience designers) up to speed on Drupal.org and the ecosystem of sites and services that our community uses to build and use Drupal.

Over the past month, we have pulled together many detailed documents to help guide our work. While we are only about halfway through this project, we wanted to share a bit of the work-in-progress that will influence Drupal.org’s content strategy in the coming months.

What is Content Strategy

Content strategy is the practice and process of planning content creation, delivery, and governance. Its purpose is to create a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process for a website.

Drupal.org is a very unique website. It serves many purposes:

  • Drupal.org is the home of our community. That makes different things to different people, but at its heart, Drupal.org is about the collaboration that allows us to build Drupal the software.
  • Drupal.org is the canonical source for Drupal the software. Drupal.org binds together the respositories for Drupal core and contributed projects, issue queues for requesting features and reporting bugs, and packaging for automated building of releases that are tied to an integrated update process.
  • Drupal.org is the hub of our commercial ecosystem. Companies that sell Drupal services and/or Drupal hosting are brought together with customers of Drupal the software—organizations using Drupal to power their websites.
  • Drupal.org is a communication channel and it feeds other communication channels. We link to a lot of content on Drupal.org and the homepage gets lots of unique traffic.
  • Drupal.org is a source of information. The site provides information about Drupal the software, Drupal.org the site, and the Drupal Association.
  • Drupal.org is a place where people go to evaluate Drupal. Developers, Designers, CTOs, CIOs, and more go to Drupal.org to read about features and success stories to make a decision to use the Drupal the platform to build their content management solutions.
  • Drupal.org is a starting point for support. Many users ask their first questions to the community using the Drupal forums or issue queues. The find answers by searching the Internet and being pointed back to the answer on Drupal.org.
  • Drupal.org is a collection of documentation. Our canonical API documentation is generated from the repositories associated with Drupal.org. Our community has built pages upon page of documentation to help users understand how to build with Drupal and how to contribute to building Drupal.

With so many purposes and competing objectives, a cohesive content strategy that takes in input from many contributors and users of Drupal.org is critcal.

Setting a Content Strategy Vision

To keep us aligned, we outlined three major areas to keep measuring our work against: the big ideas, key messages, and our objectives for content on the site.

Key Messages
  • Drupal.org is the home of Drupal and the Drupal community. It is the source of code, information and collaboration, which enables people all over the world to build flexible and scalable technology solutions together.
  • We are a global community of web practitioners—from project managers and writers, to designers and developers—contributing our unique skillsets to building and growing the adoption of the free and open source software that is Drupal.
  • Drupal is used by nonprofits, government, and Fortune 500 companies to architect customized, appropriate solutions for a wide array of organizational needs.
Content Strategy Objectives
  • Improve quality and findability of relevant content so that users can efficiently move through proficiency levels.
  • Reframe Drupal.org around all user roles and proficiencies so that all audiences are addressed.
  • Develop content governance for Drupal.org to improve the overall quality of content.
  • Improve user engagement within the Drupal.org community so that members form deeper relationships and become Drupal promoters and contributors.
Identifying Content Types and Gaps in our Content

We have 17 active content types and over 1.2 million pieces of content on Drupal.org. (Really, this is just nodes, we have even more taxonomy terms and views that also represent displays of data.) That’s a lot of content. It’s more than 29,000 projects (modules, themes, distributions, etc.) and over 789,000 issues posted to those projects. We also have over 330,000 forum topics being discussed.

The Curious Case of the Book

With all of that content, 17 types does not quite give us the flexibility or degree of classification that we need to provide truly structured content. We have some content types that are used for so many different kinds of content that they're virtually meaningless. We have over 12,000 nodes in our “book page" content type. Our book pages can be anything from documentation to landing pages to resource guides to topical pages to module comparisons… really we use them for just about everything.

During the content strategy project, we will explore ways to break our book pages into more meaningful content types that help new users find what they need.

What’s in a Forum

Another content type that gets used for more than it should is the forum topic. We use forums to post news, security announcements, discussions and even support requests. Yet at the same time, it is clear that forums are used far less now than several years ago. We had over 50,000 forum posts in 2008. We had only 11,000 in 2014.

For support and questions, our forums do not have comparable functionality to systems like Drupal Answers—powered by Stack Exchange. Many community members that provide support have already moved to that site to answer questions. Drupal.org is still a starting point for many newcomers to Drupal. One goal of the content strategy project is to make some decisions about where we can best direct newcomers for support.

Where are the Marketing Materials to Help People Choose Drupal?

A key classification of content that we are missing in our information architecture on Drupal.org is marketing materials. We create tons of documentation and handbooks, but we do not have a ton of great materials that tell business evaluators (CIOs, CTOs, managers, and decision makers) why they should choose Drupal. We have a good start with content created to promote Drupal 8, but there is a lot more we can do to help sell the qualities of Drupal.

These are just a couple of the gaps that we have found and are working with the Drupal.org Content Working Group and the Documentation Working Group to address.

Auditing What We Have and Mapping What We Want

We took the time to map our community’s content production over time and the totals were amazing.

The height of our community’s content creation was in 2012, when we created more than 195,000 nodes on Drupal.org and Drupal Groups. As Drupal 7 has matured, we have slowed down a bit. In 2014, we created 116,514 nodes on those two sites. That is still a huge amount of content.

Nearly 39% of all of the content on Drupal.org and Drupal Groups was created before 2010. More specifically, 55% of all book pages were created prior to the launch of Drupal 7 in 2011—that’s 5,665 book pages. Only 32% of those book pages have been updated since. That gap of 23% of all book content is a good place to begin an audit.

We are working now to finalize a process for identifying what content could be archived or removed and what content needs to be updated. The community has done admirable job of classifying our documentation by page status, but there is more work to be done. We need an automated process for regularly auditing our content.

We need a better map of related content—content we have and content we need—that can be used to build a better information architecture for new users.

One of the key deliverables for our content strategy project is a site map of what we want the site to look like in 3 months, 6 months and 1 year.

Creating a Governance Plan to Better Support our Community of Creators

We are hard at work reviewing and documenting community processes for maintaining content on Drupal.org. If users have been around for a while, they might have found their way into the content issue queue and wondered at the process and how to start helping. They may also have jumped in and helped edit a documentation page in one of our numerous books. (6,452 of community members have edited 12,326 book pages over 92,000 times.)

The problem is that these processes are not well known and not built into our tools at a level that helps users know what they should and should not do in the system. Learning the “right way" to contribute requires finding policy documentation that is often difficult to get to, and sometimes out of date. Therefore, along with our new content types, we are assessing and testing the user experience for creating, curating and maintaining all of the content on Drupal.org.

As we document the existing rules that govern how contributions are made, it’s become clear that one of the greatest barriers to contribution, especially for new users, is the sheer difficulty of learning the “right way" to make a contribution. We want to change the way these users interact with the site, so that the correct process and procedure for each type of contribution is baked right into the workflow.

Making our Communications Count

The last key deliverable that is being finalized as part of our content strategy is our communications plan. We have 50+ channels that are used by Drupal Association, working groups, social media volunteers, and maintainers to communicate with the community—everything from Twitter to newsletters to the Drupal.org homepage. We do not want to flood you with too much information, but we would like to be able to give you the information you want to see when you want to see it.

Right now, Drupal Association staff and the Drupal.org Content Working Group are mapping our messages to our audiences, our message to our channels and our channels to our audiences. It will be easier than ever to subscribe to the information you want—both email and on the site itself—in the coming year.

Next Steps

We will be wrapping up our content strategy work as March comes to a close.

We will publish more findings along the way. Stay tuned for new content types on Drupal.org—including news, posts, topic-based taxonomy term pages, and better ways to access and help write documentation.

February 4, 2015

It’s time for another community spotlight, and this month, we’re highlighting a community member who has made huge contributions to the success of the Drupal project and of DrupalCon — and not only through code.

Paul Johnson (pdjohnson) of Manchester is currently the Drupal Director of CTI Digital, and is the social media lead for most DrupalCons. He also maintains the @Drupal Twitter account. Paul has grown the DrupalCon social media program from a small following on twitter to a set of huge, engaged channels. (Image credit to Frank Crijns on Flickr. Thanks, Frank!)

The Drupal Association sat down with Paul in late January to talk about some of his accomplishments and passions.

DA: How did you get involved with Drupal and volunteering with DrupalCon?

Paul: I got involved in 2005 or 2006 by accident when I found it on Google, though I don’t really remember the exact moment. The company I worked for at the time wanted to move from their own homegrown CMS to something else, so I was looking for other solutions. While doing research I came across Drupal, and before I knew it I’d gone to DrupalCon Barcelona [in 2007].

Not long after that, I got really in to twitter. I was going to DrupalCon London in 2011 and I was fiercely excited about going, and I was expressing it on Twitter. Out of the blue, Isabel Schulz -- a nice woman who worked for the Drupal Association at the time -- reached out to me. She said, “it sounds like you want to get more involved.” It was like lighting a touch paper. Before I knew it they’d given me the username and password to the DrupalCon account and said “right, get on with it."

DA: That’s a big responsibility!

Paul: At that time social media wasn’t so prevalent, and I don’t think anyone in the Drupal community realised how it could make a big contribution to the success of the conference— how it could reach a wider audience and get help in executing the conference.

I had no rules, and I made mistakes… I was really quite daunted by the prospect. Looking back, I might have destroyed my reputation with Drupal but thankfully I didn’t! I grew and learned, and then in Portland the social media aspect started to grow more quickly. I began writing formal processes to help myself, but it became apparent that as DrupalCon was growing, the success of the social media was perhaps leading towards other people getting involved.

I suppose I’m an unusual person — I find it difficult to find my place in the Drupal community. There are a lot of people out there who are better developers than I am, and I have this thing in my head that held me back from getting involved. I suppose it was quite a long time before I realised I had something valuable to contribute to the community. There has been this idea that contributing modules or contributing to core is cool, but there are lots of us who fall outside that immediate group of people, and who have-- until recently-- felt orphaned from contribution.

I’ve always thought about when the Association reached out to me. It was a small bit of recognition, but it felt very empowering. It had a big influence on me, and because of it, I’ve always tried to shout for these people who have enthusiasm, and try to ignite it.

DA: Do you have any good examples of that?

Paul: Sure. DrupalCon Portland took place at the same time as that awful Oklahoma tornado. Before it happened, I had always wanted to use social media to watch out for these kinds of things, because… with a very large audience, we can do things and help people very quickly by using the broadcast mechanism.

When the tornado hit, I saw guys in our coder lounge hacking together a solution to help people on the ground, and I used social media to draw attention to it. It snowballed, and before we knew it, FEMA was involved, and that sends shivers down my spine. I love it when social media translates from something that’s just a conversation on the internet to something with a positive, real-world impact.

DA: Switching tracks a little bit, can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced when working on the DrupalCon social media?

Paul: I’ve grown up with the Drupal Association and the project, but in many respects, the biggest attraction is also one of the biggest challenges. The diversity of the Drupal community is… well, in being responsible for representing the Drupal Association and the project and the community, you have to be quite careful. You’re an ambassador, and you have to have to have the highest level of conduct. You can’t always speak your mind.

Sometimes I’ve gotten upset. It’s a big part of my life, Drupal, and people will say things to the official accounts that are upsetting, and you have to rise above that. And sometimes, people will say things from within or without the community that can be quite cutting, and I suppose that’s one of the hardest things. But, ultimately you can draw many positives from that because it becomes a question of, how do you work towards enhancing the minds of people who think like that.

Another challenge was that, in the early days, nobody knew it was me behind the accounts. It does take a reasonable amount of my time — a half an hour or more a day every day, oftentimes more. I didn’t mind [not being known] necessarily, but it’s really nice to get recognition — and, if anyone writes anything valuable I try to give them credit on social media, to encourage and celebrate people who make the effort, and put them on a pedestal so that it spurs others to do the same.

Along those lines, I so often hear, “I don’t go to local meet-ups,” or "I’m not good enough," or "people will think I’m not clever enough or that my contribution isn’t sufficient.” I think it’s really important that people appreciate that, no matter where you are in your Drupal journey, you know more than the person who just started. You don’t have to be chx or morten or webchick-- they all started at nothing, too, but they started a long time ago.

DA: What’s your favorite thing about the Drupal community?

Paul: When our community gets behind an idea, stuff really happens, and it happens really fast. Whether that’s code, or whether it would be to crowd source some funding for a blind man who lives in Italy and wants to go to DrupalCon Portland, it is just magnificent how fast things can happen if the will of the community is drawn.

And, you know, the Drupal community gives me the opportunity to meet or converse with people I would never imagine having the chance to do so with otherwise. It makes my life so much richer. It’s not about the code, Drupal is providing me with the most unimaginable opportunities. It has allowed me -- in my career and my personal life — to take on challenges that would never have been available to me before.

Drupal has allowed me to be brave and to take a few risks, like interviewing Dries at the end of his keynote. I like to hide behind social media.. but then I’m projecting it onto a stage. And another thing about the community is, rarely do you meet someone who’s not nice.

DA: What’s your favorite thing about volunteering?

Paul: The thing that I enjoy the very most of volunteering is making a difference. There have been a few things where, I don’t know, I’ve seen a small smoldering fire and I’ve been able to ignite it into a bigger thing.

I was given the keys to DrupalCon, and then in the last few years I’ve taken ownership of the Drupal twitter account. Previously, it had become an abandoned channel, but under my stewardship it has gone from 30k followers to over 55k. And, you know, there are lots of people in media who are watching Drupal and who might be loosely interested. The Drupal twitter has so much opportunity to reach a wider audience with big achievements. So I love to use social media to show that Drupal is more than just America, more than just Europe — there’s a lot going on in India and in Africa and elsewhere.

I welcome anyone to approach me with news of things that they are doing in their local community that we can celebrate on official channels. I love to help grow something that’s a great idea into something that’s really big, because I think we’ve succeeded in growing the community in the USA and Australia and Europe. For me, the next big thing is to support the community in those regions that are about to flourish. How can we help them to make things happen more quickly?

DA: Who are you when you aren’t online?

Paul: I do seek solitude, and I really have a strong appreciation of wilderness. I’m a dad, and I love kids, and I suppose most of my time is spent cycling with my family. We go to The Lake District quite often in the UK, which is a beautiful and mountainous area.

I am passionately into road cycling on my bike, and mountaineering too. I like challenging myself — in everything I do, I always like to push myself. I’m always trying to climb higher or go faster. I’m no happier than when I’m in a mountaintop in the snow, even — especially — if it’s in a blizzard. I love being in a hostile environment where perhaps other people wouldn’t be able to cope. I love to explore places and trek the untrodden path. So even if I go back to the same place, I’ll take a different road.

DA: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us today?

Paul: With Drupal 8 on the way, I started a twitter account called @drupal8iscoming. It’s starting to grow and grow and grow now: it celebrates all things Drupal 8 on the internet — you know, articles, tutorials, events, and also how to help to get the word out to organisations about Drupal. Please check it out!

February 2, 2015

It’s a great time to be part of the Drupal Association. We’ve done some amazing work in the last few years, and we’re in a great position to work with the community to continue to improve and grow fully into our mission. As a Drupal Association At-Large Director, you’d be in the center of the action. The At-large Director position is specifically designed to ensure community representation on the Drupal Association board and we strongly encourage anyone with an interest to nominate themselves today.

Nominate Yourself Today

The Board of Directors of the Drupal Association are responsible for financial oversight and setting the strategic direction of the Drupal Association. New board members will contribute to the strategic direction of the Drupal Association. Board members are advised of, but not responsible for matters related to the day to day operations of the Drupal Association, including program execution, staffing, etc. You can learn more about what’s expected of a board member in this post and presentation.

Directors are expected to contribute around five hours per month and attend three in-person meetings per year (financial assistance is available if required). All board members agree to meet the minimum requirements documented in the board member agreement.

Today we are opening the self-nomination form that allows you to throw your hat in the ring. We're looking to elect one candidate this year to serve a two-year term.

Log in first and...

To nominate yourself, you should be prepared to answer a few questions:

  • About Me: Tell us about yourself! Your background, how you got into Drupal, etc.
  • Motivation: Why are you applying for a board position? What initiatives do you hope to help drive, or what perspectives are you going to try and represent?
  • Experience: What Drupal community contributions have you taken part in (code, camps, etc.)? Do you have experience in financial oversight, developing business strategies, or organization governance?
  • Availability: I am able to travel to three in-person board meetings per year (either self-funded, or with financial sponsorship)
  • IRC Handle
  • Twitter Handle

We will also need to know that you are available for the next step in the process, meet the candidate sessions. We are hosting 2 sessions: 

Session One
  • Tuesday, 24 February 2015 at:
  • 8 AM PST in the US and Canada
  • 11 AM EST in the US and Canada
  • 1 PM in Sao Paulo Brasil
  • 4 PM in London
  • 12 AM Wednesday, 25 February in Beijing
  • 3 AM Wednesday, 25 February Sydney Australia
Session Two
  • Wednesday 25 February 2015 at:
  • 4 PM PST in the US and Canada
  • 7 PM EST in the US and Canada
  • 9 PM in Sao Paulo Brasil
  • 1 AM Thursday, 26 February in London
  • 8 AM Thursday, 26 February in Beijing
  • 10 AM Thursday, 26 February in Sydney Australia
Session Three
  • Thursday 26 February 2015 at:
  • 12:30 PM PST in the US and Canada
  • 3:30 PM EST in the US and Canada
  • 5:30 PM in Sao Paulo Brasil
  • 8:30 AM Friday, 27 February in London
  • 4:30 AM Friday, 27 February in Beijing
  • 7:30 AM Friday, 27 February in Sydney Australia

The nomination form will be open February 1, 2015 through February 20, 2015 at midnight UTC. For a thorough review of the process, please see our announcement blog post.

If you have any questions, please contact Holly Ross, Drupal Association Executive Director.

Flickr photo: Kodak Views

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