Help Wanted; QLDfloods.org Drupal 7 Multiple-server Configuration & Infrastructure

There is currently severe flooding in Queensland Australia. An area twice the size of Texas is underwater. Entire homes are completely inundated. Bridges and cars have been washed away like toys. In Brisbane, airports are closed and the CBD has been closed down. There are at least 15 dead and more than 60 still missing.

QLDfloods.org is a Drupal 7 website set up by several members of the Australian Drupal community to provide information, track missing persons, find resources and people that need them (like beds), track damage and provide support. It was mentioned four times on CNN on Wednesday and multiple times on Australian national media.

The site builders are seeking help with Drupal 7 multiple-server configuration & infrastructure. Do you have expertise to help? Join #Drupal-AU on IRC, speak up in g.d.o/australia or contact Ryan Cross directly.

Coincidentally, DrupalDownunder is just 9 days away in Brisbane city. At this stage the venue has not been damaged and everything is still on track. Keep an eye on DrupalDownunder.org/flood-update for any changes to that.

Celebrating 2010 & the Achievements of the Drupal Association

2010 has been a big year for the Drupal Association. Early in the year new members were brought on and the Board of Directors saw some changes. But most noteworthy is what the Drupal Association did for the Drupal community;

Screenshot of the newly redesigned Drupal.org.

Drupal.org Redesign Completion

Drupal.org has a new look and feel. If you have not seen it (have you been under a rock!?) go check out Drupal.org right now!

It took a few years and many iterations and volunteers, and even that was not enough. This year the Drupal Association came to the party with funding to finish the job. Contracts went to tender and were won by Neil Drumm, Achieve Internet and 3281d Consulting.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Drupal.org redesign for all your hard work and effort to pull this off. And especially thank you to the Drupal Association for funding the last several miles that could not be covered by volunteers alone.

Drupal.org will never be the same again! Find out what is next for Drupal.org.

DrupalCon San Francisco

Photo of chx with a large DrupalCon San Francisco logo on the projector screen behind him.
Photo by Kathleen Murtagh

How could we ever forget? DrupalCon San Francisco, was epic. By all measures, it was the largest and most spectacular Drupal event yet.

The Drupal Association bootstrapped the funding and locked in critical contracts in order to secure the venue and other services. Many of the DrupalCon San Francisco committee members also serve the Drupal Association. The Drupal Association managed all the finances for the event and coordinated the local team and service providers with the rest of the Drupal community.

And that is just the beginning of what the Drupal Association did to make DrupalCon San Francisco a reality!

Git Migration

Photo of Sam Boyer posing with a Druplipet on his head.
Sam Boyer. Photo by Fox

The Drupal Association recognized the urgency to update Drupal.org's version control system (currently CVS).

Drupal has an active, amazingly awesome and amiable community. One of the reasons for this, is that Drupal.org is our home. It has everything Drupal developers need, all in one place. However the last couple of years has seen a trend for contributions to be distributed elsewhere.

The Drupal Association realised that if Drupal.org did not offer modern version control and code-distribution tools, then Drupal.org would cease to be a central repository for contributed Drupal code. And that would ultimately be damaging to the community and the project.

Git logo

So earlier this year, the Drupal Association hired Sam Boyer to work on detailed planning and foundation work in preparation for the migration of Drupal's gigantic CVS repository, including about 9000 contributed themes modules and other projects, to Git.

This work is underway and is making good progress, but has some way to go yet. Sam is leading the effort but the success of the project is highly dependent on volunteer effort too. You can get involved on g.d.o.

Paid Staff

Early in the year, Treasurer Jacob Redding was hired as full-time General Manager for the Drupal Association. More recently, the Drupal Association hired Neil Kent as a Events Manager and Megan Sanicki as Sponsor Wrangler (Fundraising Manager).

Jacob does a wide range of tasks including managing financial assets and tasks, lawyers, accountants, contracts, bills, Drupal Association meetings and boot load of other tasks that arise.

Neil is working hard on a range of administrative, logistic and financial tasks related to DrupalCon Copenhagen 2010 and DrupalCon Chicago 2011, as well as trying to document it all and make DrupalCon production more sustainable, so that it is not so much work to reproduce DrupalCon in a new location every 6 months.

Megan is working on raising funds and managing relationships with past, future and potential sponsors, for both DrupalCon and other projects of the Drupal Association. She is also exploring new avenues of revenue.

These funds allow the Association to;

  • pay salaries of staff
  • fund hardware that keeps Drupal.org online
  • fund projects like the Drupal.org redesign and the Git migration
  • pay contractors to keep Drupal's websites up to date, secure and useful to the community

Megan's, Neil's and Jacob's responsibilities are critical to the health of the Drupal Association. Which is in turn, critical to the Drupal community and the resources they depend upon, such as Drupal.org and many other infrastructure services.

Legal and Financial Achievements

Through the careful management of Jacob Redding, the Drupal Association has managed to achieve all of this with less than 25% overhead. That is incredibly low for any non-profit or trade organisation.

DrupalCon Inc. received its 501c3 (not for profit) status, which allowed tens of thousands of dollars to be put right back into the Drupal community. This was a major process to work through the processes of the Internal Revenue Service agency of the US government.

Additionally, the Drupal Association;

  • got payment time for invoices down to less than 30 days (from more than 60)
  • turned over more than a million US dollars
  • registered for tax purposes in four countries
  • was a fiscal agent for 3 major DrupalCamps in the US; NYC, Colorado and Chicago

Mission Statement

Another important achievement of 2010 was updating our mission statement. We began this process in April in San Francisco at our full-day-long meeting, then iterated on it over the following months to reach the final wording.

You can read more about the process and work that went into the missions statement in this blog post by Robert Douglass. Or you can just skip to the result;

Mission Statement

The Drupal Association fosters and supports the Drupal software project, the community and its growth.

The Drupal Association does this by:

  1. Maintaining the hardware and software infrastructure of Drupal.org and other community sites.
  2. Empowering the Drupal community to participate in and contribute to the project.
  3. Protecting the GPL source code of the Drupal project and its community contributions.
  4. Protecting the Drupal project and community through legal work and advocacy.
  5. Organizing and promoting worldwide events.
  6. Communicating the benefits of the Drupal software.

The mission statement helps guide the Drupal Association in it's decision-making, and makes it clear to the community what the Drupal Association does and does not do.

Priorities

Another of the main outcomes of the full-day-long meeting in San Francisco was a list of the five highest priority goals;

  1. Completing the implementation of the Drupal.org redesign
  2. Continuing to build a sustainable model for DrupalCons
  3. Improving internal processes and decision-making
  4. Hiring permanent staff to help the DA better execute on its initiatives
  5. Improving the technical infrastructure of drupal.org

We completed items 1 and 4. Double yay!

We made excellent progress on item 2, including hiring an Events Manager and outsourcing website development to Growing Venture Solutions. However scaling the production of 3000-person bi-annual events is a large project that will take time and never be completely finished.

Similarly, item 5 is never really "done". Maintaining Drupal.org hardware, software and infrastructure is a never-ending job that volunteers work at tirelessly and with very little thanks from the hundreds of thousands of members and visitors to Drupal.org. The Drupal Association applauds their hard work and thanks them sincerely. The Drupal Association funds some of this work from time to time when volunteered time is not sufficient, and also pays for hardware and expenses required for the task.

As for item 3, the mission statement is one significant achievement towards this goal, but there is a lot more to it than that. Additionally, the Drupal Association has hired a consultant experienced with non-profit organisations to help us determine changes to structure that will help us achieve this goal. We are looking forward to report the changes that we decide to implement and how this will improve the efficiency of the Drupal Association to better serve the Drupal community.

Thank You!

Thank you for empowering the Drupal Association with your financial contributions and volunteer effort. You can continue to donate to the Drupal Association by;

Dries Buytaert in Brisbane for DrupalDownunder

DrupalDownunder is just 2 months away and is expected to be a sell-out event, with Dries Buytaert (the Drupal project lead and founder) presenting a keynote and attending.

The keynote speakers are:

DrupalDownunder is on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 January 2011. Registrations are now open at drupaldownunder.org/registration. The earlybird price is $132 AUD.

I am really looking forward to DrupalDownunder, meeting more of the Australian Drupal community and visiting Brisbane. I have already registered, booked flights and a room at the Central Summit. I am looking for a room-mate. Contact me.

NZ is Free of Software Patents!

Snoopy Cartoon: Celebrate the little thingsWe did it! NZ is (very nearly almost) free of software patents!

"We recommend amending clause 15 to include computer programs among inventions that may not be patented. We received many submissions concerning the patentability of computer programs. Under the Patents Act 1953 computer programs can be patented in New Zealand provided they produce a commercially useful effect. Open source, or free, software has grown in popularity since the 1980s. Protecting software by patenting it is inconsistent with the open source model, and its proponents oppose it. A number of submitters argued that there is no “inventive step” in software development, as “new” software invariably builds on existing software. They felt that computer software should be excluded from patent protection as software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques. In general we accept this position.

— Commerce Committee's recommendation on the Patents Bill, Part 2, Patentable inventions (Emphasis mine)

While I support and agree with the commerce committee's conclusion and recommendations, I do not agree that the increasing popularity of open source software has anything to do with it, and I regret their use of the term "open source" and emphasis on open source software as the reasoning. Software patents are almost as impactful on proprietary software as they are on open source software. The main difference for open source software is simply that proprietary software license sales are centralised and the central enterprise is more likely to be able to play the patent game. Playing the patent game is usually an impossibility for open source software vendors. By contrast, open source software vendors are usually distributed and each generally generates revenue for itself by selling services – not licenses on behalf of a central enterprise.

Many people worked very hard to help NZ's members of parliament understand why software should be excluded from patentability. Including; NZOSS, InternetNZ, Guy Burgess, EndSoftwarePatents.org's wiki on software patents in New Zealand (supported by the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center), Egressive, Bevan Rudge (myself) and numerous other companies and software developers.

Others worked hard to preserve software patentability. There were two types of enterprises arguing the other side of the debate, with obvious motives that are inconsistent with the interests of New Zealanders and the people and companies NZ patent law is intended to protect;

  1. Large software vendors and producers (which are all foreign) that already have patent portfolios, or can afford to assemble them. Patent portfolios are valuable business weapons used primarily by such organisations to mitigate patent threats from other large competitors (also wielding patent portfolios), and also to maliciously bully smaller competitors who cannot afford patent portfolios. Examples include Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Novell.
  2. Patent attorneys that work for companies (like those above) who seek and can afford to fight patent battles. Examples include AJ Park and Baldwins.

As for my own efforts Dave Lane, Jonathan Hunt and I met with Lianne Dalziel, Chairperson of the Commerce Committee and Labour Party MP and had a very productive discussion about the issue. We followed up with written and oral submissions. (Though I could not make the oral submission myself).

I also did a lot of research for, and maintenance of, the EndSoftwarePatents.org wiki on New Zealand and helped co-ordinate others' efforts through the NZOSS; particularly for written and oral submissions, and also meeting with MPs, what to write, what message to send and where to. Though a lot of that work has now been deprecated and is in the history archive for that wiki article.

But wait! The game is not quite over yet. There is still a (small) chance of parliament doing a "Tizard" on us. This is when parliament overrules the committee's recommended law and makes last-minute changes to the final draft of the written law and executes it, without time being made available for public comment. This is now referred to as "Tizard" in New Zealand's technology and intellectual property circles after Judith Tizard's controversial actions in early 2009, that rendered draconian section 92a copyright laws effective after they had already been removed.

We need to keep an eye out for this to prevent it, and react quickly and loudly if it happens. Keep an eye on TheyWorkForYou.co.nz, Legislation.govt.nz and the SWPat.org wiki article on NZ for updates.

Starting at Palantir

Logo of Palantir.netToday is a new beginning. Today is my first day at Palantir.net. I am now a "Palantiri"! (That's Palantiri-speak for someone who works at Palantir.net. ;)

Palantir.net is a high-end Drupal consulting & services company based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Palantir.net has a great team of Drupal developers and contributors, including some friends and past colleagues from CivicActions and NowPublic. And I am excited to be a part of that team!

"Bevan joins our Front-end Development (FED) team as a senior front-end developer. A permanent member of the Drupal Association, Bevan is an active community member and a jack-of-all-Drupal-trades with expertise in theming, Javascript, and module development.

Palantir.net/blog

This means that I will be traveling back to North America again in June already, for a one-week long Palantir on-site, DrupalCamp Chicago and one-week working in-house in Palantir's offices.

My title at Palantir.net is "Senior Front End Developer" (aka "themer", or "FED").

To new beginnings...

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