The Growth of Drupal and the Drop of Closed Source

22 January 2014

Indianapolis: The development of Drupal since its inception to the open source community in 2001 is an important benchmark for the growth of how the open source community and commercial private enterprises interact in the digital arena.

In the mid-90s, cautious observers were witnessing a new kind of financial system emerging because of open source. This economy was based on creators liberally sharing and further refining superior quality content with users who would offer helpful feedback and frequently, make contributors of their own. More than a flourishing ecosystem generating user- sensitive content and thoughts, however, open source communities stood, and presently stand, for an outlook of communal work and association. Open source communities are driven by a commitment to the achievement of the combined and to user contribution.

It is comprehensible then that politically-savvy open source community members saw a usual merge between the group and the public area. And, if users and creators could collaborate to build a maintainable, flourishing online network around helpful content, surely open source principles could be effectively included in many other industries and social groups of people too. For one, the open source community has become one of the leading proponents of democracy on the Internet.

Imminent designers, developers and creators can learn from Drupal’s inheritance of maintaining such a powerful force in endorsing open source projects as starting points for urging more democratic communities. The ideology of open source expansion transmuted into a movement for open source supremacy, with an importance on the value of consideration and educated compromise among participants. The steps made by the open source community give a ongoing instance of how a group can function efficiently and create outstanding projects and thoughts, demonstrating the potential for participatory democratic systems.

As we all know, one of the biggest strengths of all open source communities is their flexibility – open source projects can comply to users’ requirements with great efficiency, allowing development to stay quite unshackled from commercial pressure.

Drupal is a leading example of this. Drupal’s first real distribution was the outcome of the self-governing project: DeanSpace, created in 2003 by Zack Rosen and Clay Johnson as the vital platform for Howard Dean’s online presence for the 2004 presidential election. Dean supporters carried on to cheer groups around the country to build their own websites and network with DeanSpace. The flexibility and freedom each web enclave of Dean Supporters imitated Drupal’s program structure – a core + module format.

DeanSpace served as the community’s command center, organizing wider activities, while local groups mass sourced outreach policies and events. This provided consistency in core functions and added flexibility where required. Dean’s campaign stood out from the rest of the superPAC-funded contenders with its grassroots organization and crowd sourced funding. The campaign personified a promise to voter representation and made a vast stride towards a more lively political dialogue between citizens and agents.

After Dean’s removal from the race, DeanSpace was dissolved and recreated into CivicSpace—a platform that allows competent and flexible civic engagement and synchronization. Users for smaller affiliated groups can create a tailored node and use the tools at hand to create events, post pictures, and provide local news on the subject; all the while keeping up connection to the bigger association, allowing for wider coordinated activities.  The managers of CivicSpace get started to make the project more than just an offshoot of the Drupal community; they wanted it to be a major contributor. At present, CivicSpace is normally considered to be the first Drupal distribution.

In addition, the formation of CivicSpace elevated Drupal as the CMS/CMF of the people. As a result, those citizens who chose an online platform (Drupal) to sort out their attempts became known as thenetizens. The notoriety Drupal attained through enabling such a leading voice for civic engagement became a shining feature of both the product and the community, a feature that would cause greater success. With the dawn of the age of the careful consumer, the public had become ever more disappointed with products of the commercial industry, and the opportunity to turn to the open source community for software development became not just monetarily tempting, but ever-more ethically compelling. As stories of persistent corporate exploitation increased, citizens became doubtful of corporations with which they had were familiar and trusted.

Thus, the rise of Drupal agrees with a movement that values thoughtful cooperation over aggressive competition. In contrast to many proprietary software organizations and products, open source projects tend to become more and more user-friendly and the communities around them keenly work to welcome newcomers to the fold. The driven and radical altruism of many open source communities offered this new movement the genuineness they hungered for and one-upped the commercial competition’s major selling point—affordability.

It wasn't long before the usability, affordability, and philosophy driving the popularity of open source began to pose a major threat to the commercial software industry. At first, the industry reacted with indifference, but one infamous case wherein Microsoft released a series of attack ads against the open source giant OpenOffice disclosed that open source was becoming well-liked than anticipated. When members of the industry realized, however, that open source wasn’t going away, the market began to settle in. Software giants started their own open source projects, some as an effort to court open source users and others as a way to endorse further interoperability between systems. Open source communities began to control new projects and the foundation of a new economic model.

In 2007, Dries Buytaert founded Acquia, a Drupal consulting firm that bonds with businesses, non-profit organizations, and government departments to offer dedicated insight and Drupal support. Other companies began to sort out, reflecting the sustained appearance of an industry built around access to specialized knowledge and intellectual property. Open source consulting agencies offered an extra bridge between the community and the wider public, building a new market for open source development. Many projects from the open source community had to incorporate to the new demands of the wider market, compelling further innovation in the areas of wider usability for non-experts and data management.

This only widened their innovative base and drew in new developers and voices to the community. This new direction did not co-opt open source communities and drag them toward commercialized software models, and only open source platforms like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress overlapped the lines between private use and commercial enterprise.

Larger, more famous companies began to change their software and webdev needs to open source solutions, and, consequently, built demand for increased technical support and expert advice. There arose new niches for open source to fill. What started as a severely private and user-driven experience grew more and more susceptible to market demands, but still maintained to be first and foremost a community committed to genuine user-driven innovation and collaboration. The developments remained relatively untethered from the dictates of the sometimes-panic of the company boardroom.

In 2009, Drupal underwent a Cambrian explosion of notoriety when they grabbed what is possibly their most high-profile user to date – Whitehouse.gov, with Acquia consulting the change. News outlets hummed about the purpose behind the move due to the reality that the White House itself described the shift to Drupal as suggesting a new, more open and transparent government. The collaborative nature of open source software and code was expanded beyond the practical reality to include a message of civic engagement and cooperation. Impressed by the safety and abilities of Drupal, other important clients like the U.S. department of Commerce, the Louvre, and the International Monetary Fund became clients and users as well. At this time, in order to guarantee universal access to quality code and support further stability, Dries Buytaert instituted a code freeze to the core Drupal code. This freeze locked down Drupal's source code in order to avoid extra bugs from swarming out of a programming misstep in the source code, protecting the creations built by the varied community of users.

With fresh themes and plug-ins added every day, Drupal goes on to be one of the most flexible platforms obtainable. For tasks Drupal cannot achieve, the community continues to innovate and combine with other platforms, improving the functionality for all users.

So, what’s next for Drupal? Gauging by their history, we can anticipate Drupal's appeal and use to maintain to widen throughout the civic, social, and business spheres. Additionally, it seems improbable for it to stray from its roots as a collaboration-driven, operator-sensitive system with supporters, users, and developers firmly well-established in the open source community.

Read more: Drupal Development Indianapolis

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