November 4th, 2014
Drupal.org is an amazing installation of Drupal. At nearly 13 years old, it is one of the largest, continuously operating examples of Drupal. It is difficult to fathom, but Drupal.org has been upgraded in place from version to version for this entire timespan. I can think of no other site that has gone this long without a significant content and structure migration.
Over the years, Drupal.org has grown from a single server owned by a contributor to multiple racks at the OSL data center, plus cloud resources and content distribution networks spread across the globe. Drupal.org is more than a single site. There are over 20 services and subsites that make up the ecosystem that powers the Drupal community. Each month, over 20 TB of data passes through the Drupal.org infrastructure.
With such a huge impact, it is important that we have a strong plan for the direction of Drupal.org. With that, we would like to introduce you to the Drupal.org Roadmap.
Read on to find out how we set this strategic direction.
Volunteers built up these systems focusing on their passions with community initiatives. Many times these volunteers gave up days of their life – unpaid – to make sure that people could continue to build websites with Drupal and to build Drupal and its contributed projects.
While the result is impressive, there are many areas of Drupal.org that received little or no attention in this model of development. If a developer burned out, or there was no one in the community with a passion for the area of needed improvements, that area remained unmaintained.
For several years, the Drupal Association has funded the infrastructure that runs Drupal.org. The Association pays for the hosting facilities and the hardware to keep Drupal.org running.
The evolving role of the Drupal Association
In 2013, the Drupal Association board made the decision to begin building up an engineering team. This team would support both the infrastructure and software development activities behind Drupal.org. Our goal is to accelerate the development of the new features and to help build a cohesive roadmap so that Drupal.org would help unite a global community to build the best of the Web with Drupal. (Hint: that is the mission of the Drupal Association.)
Hired in March of 2014, the Drupal Association CTO was tasked with building a team and gathering feedback from Working Groups and the Board of Directors to set a strategic direction for Drupal.org.
Prioritizing the work
There are three primary working groups that guide the development of Drupal.org: Drupal.org Content Working Group (DCWG), Drupal.org Software Working Group (DSWG) and Drupal.org Infrastructure Working Group (DIWG).
New development of features for the Drupal.org community of sites and services was determined through weeks of careful deliberation and research:
- Previous years of feature ideation
- Working group feature ideation
- User research project
- Working group prioritization
- Board of Directors input and feedback
- Staff ideation on maintenance and performance improvements
One of the key influences in our prioritization process was the user research that was conducted during and after DrupalCon Austin in June of 2014. We interviewed over 30 individuals that represented a wide range of Drupal.org users from those that were just starting with Drupal, to longtime members of the community, and even those that had once used Drupal and had transitioned their careers to different technologies.
This gave us four key areas in which to focus:
Sustaining support and maintenance
These efforts are the ongoing work that keeps the servers up and running and performing well. The Drupal.org Infrastructure issue queue is the primary place for this work, but there are several other related queues where staff and volunteers from the infrastructure team are focusing their work. Work that staff is tackling will be assigned to a staff member and tagged with d.o support.
- Support for users: Drupal.org issue queues and email support
- Performance: uptime, page response, ongoing testbot deployments and maintenance
- Improving automated tests to make development and deployment reliable
- Maximize hardware and migrate to cloud services where appropriate
Fund Drupal.org and future tools
While the majority of funds supporting Drupal.org come from our partner programs (Supporting Partner, Technology Partner, Hosting Partner), we are looking for ways to diversify were we raise funds.
- Drupal Jobs
- DrupalCon websites (Latin America, Los Angeles, Barcelona, etc.)
- Drupal Store
- Drupal.org advertising and partner program improvements
- Tools to help promote and add value to a Drupal Association membership
Board and Working Group Priorities: Drupal.org Staff Initiatives
These initiatives represent the work that Drupal Association technology and engineering staff will be focused on in the near term through 2015. By being focused on these initiatives, we will get the related features launched on Drupal.org faster. We will still need help to vet and test these features, so follow the issue tags you are interested in and get involved in the related issues.
- Better account creation and login
- Organization and user profile improvements
- Responsive Redesign of Drupal.org
- Issue workflow and Git improvements
- Make Drupal.org Search Usable
- Improved tools to find and select projects
- Groups migration to Drupal 7
The Drupal.org Roadmap provides much more detail about these key initiatives.
There is always more work to do on Drupal.org. We need committed and active volunteers to help with key initiatives that showed up in both our user research and the prioritization from the working groups. These are projects that we can support the efforts of contributors that have the time and skills to push these initiatives forward. Three examples with strong community leadership include:
- Support localize.drupal.org
- Next generation testbots (DrupalCI)
- Two-factor authentication
You can help
In addition to these initiatives, we would love to support a community member that would be willing to step up and lead an initiative to organize our Q&A and support on Drupal.org. There is a huge need for people to be able to find answers to their Drupal questions. Stack Overflow fills part of this role, but there are many more opportunities on Drupal.org itself.
We will also need a community driven effort to help us establish project ratings and reviews once these tools are in place. It will take a group effort to make these affective quickly.
All of our initiatives need community involvement. Whether it is commenting on issues posted to these projects or joining in at sprints to move these initiatives forward, we can use your time and commitment.
This planning and work would not have been possible without the financial support from our partners, the direction and leadership of the board, the time commitment of our Working Group members, and an incredibly dedicated Drupal Association staff.