Releasing the Coattails

My 'top level' view from Imperial Bowl, Breckenridge, CO after DrupalCon Denver
My 'top level' view from Imperial Bowl, Breckenridge, CO after DrupalCon Denver

It didn't take long after setting foot in the Colorado Convention Center in sunny Denver, to realize how much DrupalCon was going to change how we approach our use of the popular CMS here at Plumb Media. Until now, we've made healthy use of both versions six and seven, casually evangelized its potential, and participated and presented at the local Drupal meetup. Considering our current and future plans for projects built using the platform, I know for a fact that this is not enough.

Drupal, for the unitiated, is a content management system often compared to Wordpress. To the initiated, equating Drupal and Wordpress will draw ire and if you want to crack my introverted shell, just ask me why someday. 

The Drupal community relies on its users, everyone from themers and content creators to site builders and developers, to push the platform forward. Though the system is now mature enough to have an associated oversight body, the majority of its potency comes from its developers contributing and maintaining modules and its users supplying feature and bug tickets and helping other users with their questions and comments.

Like every open source project, the ecosystem survives because its users contribute back to the project in some way. The hope is that it is generally equal to the benefit they take away from it. Many Drupal users may be casual hobbyists whose limited use and financial gain may not imply a need to reciprocate. However, those with the most to gain—agencies and freelancers buildling websites for profit—while indebted to the hard work of those mentioned above, may not have immediate time, understanding, or know-how to find a way to return the favor.

It is at this very juncture that we find ourselves. The consensus from several larger agencies selling Drupal is that they allow for their developers to spend about 20% of their time working on Drupal related projects that bear no weight on their projects. In the past, we've found ourselves so overwhelmingly busy, that alloting ten to twenty percent of our time to Drupal feedback, development, or support seemed insane. I am of the new mind that if we are that busy profiting off the work done to maintain Drupal and unable to give back, we're doing it wrong. 

Whether it's our project process, pricing/budgeting, or something else, our goal for 2012 is to establish a pattern of giving back to the Drupal project in as many ways as we're able.