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Dec 17 2010
Dec 17

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;

Sep 13 2010
Sep 13

Through Solr integration, administrators gain control over which results are returned and how they’re displayed. Administrators also can “weight” certain data to increase or decrease its significance. Clever “and/or” algorithms, coupled with the weighting principle, allow administrators to easily customize their site’s search mechanism. In other words, Solr puts full control in the hands of people who understand the complexities of their site’s data in order to provide their users with increasingly accurate results. For these reasons and many more, Solr now provides search solutions for massive, high-traffic Web sites such as Netflix.com, WhiteHouse.gov, and StubHub.com.

So what can users expect to see upon full launch of the redesigned Solr aspects on Drupal.org? On the redesigned core pages, the search box in the top right will allow users to perform a Solr search by Modules, Themes, Documentation, or Forums & Issues. As seen in Figure 1 below, users also can customize their searches within the Modules tab by Module Categories, Compatibility (i.e., Drupal version), and Module (i.e., content within the module). In addition, users can sort by elements such as Most Installed, Last Built, Title, Author, Date, etc. Achieve then took it a step farther and introduced sidebar blocks (refer to Figure 1 below) and built out blocks at the bottom of the Downloads page (refer to Figure 2 below). Other features include keyword highlighting, faceted search capabilities, database amalgamation, and body-copy searches that include rich document content. Some of these elements, including the rich searching components, have already been released to Drupal.org in their initial form; these allow users to begin to take advantage of the improved user experience and deeper search capability right away. Others, such as the blocks for Most Installed, will only be released once the redesign is completed.

Similar search capabilities are included on the Themes tab and Homepage (image below). Achieve knew that users would benefit from sub-queries, such as resolution (e.g., 1024x768, 800x600, etc.), but the Solr module does not provide this functionality. To remedy the situation, they generated a system to expand project modules to allow association of vocabularies to top-level project terms (e.g., Modules, Themes, Installation Profiles, etc.). These efforts allowed users to associate vocabularies (e.g., resolution) to any-given project, making it far easier to find what they’re looking for. As seen below, the ability to filter by Drupal version was integrated as well.

Achieve will help launch Drupal.org in early October 2010 and is honored to contribute, in the future, to the advancement of Drupal community. Upon launch, developers will be able to more easily navigate, discover, and share content vital to the evolution of Drupal.

Achieve is uniquely qualified for this project having built some the most dynamic, high-traffic sites for companies such as Disney, NBC Universal, and Viacom. For more than a decade, their team of in-house Drupal experts has been providing architecture, module integration, and other content delivery solutions for even the most challenging environments. For more information on Solr technology and Achieve, visit www.AchieveInternet.com. 

To learn more about the redesign project visit

Drupal.org: Redesign Update Sprint 2 and 3
Aug 13 2010
Aug 13
Home blog

Drupal.org Team

The Drupal.org redesign team just released the results from their first major code sprint started in Portland, OR during OSCON in July.  This first release included a significant amount of infrastructure and under-the-hood implementation.  One of the visible portions of this sprint is the Solr search deployed by Achieve's CTO, Bill O'Connor (cveb10).  Achieve has been contributing code to Drupal.org redesign project since 2009. In 2010,  the Drupal Association made a strategic decision to hire five teams to complete the project. They approached Achieve to implement a critical aspect of the redesign, Solr search, to answer the big question: how to surface the data of nearly one million pages, almost one million users and 6800+ projects without compromising the site's performance. To learn more about the project and the progress being made by the D.O team please visit http://bit.ly/dxjUzn

About the Author

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Aug 02 2010
tim
Aug 02

The Drupal.org redesign team, including recently hired contractors, met in Portland last week to coordinate their efforts and generate a workable project plan.

Among the agreements in place are the scheduling of a development release on August 7th, and the planning of subsequent releases every two weeks after that until project completion.  Additionally, the team will be tracking issues in the public queues and meeting by phone three times each week.

The hiring of contractors was a difficult decision for the Drupal Association, but it was necessary in order to accelerate Drupal development and to enable the project team to appropriately address the highly complex technical issues involved in the redesign.

Achieve Internet is leading the Solr development portion of the project. Solr is a robust search platform used by many large Drupal web sites to improve search speed and capability. Solr works by housing an index of a site's Drupal data and arranging it for easy access via the Lucene Java search library.

Drupal.org is a huge site, with nearly a million pages, nearly a million users, and at least 8600 projects. Project manager Chris Strahl noted that this puts the Drupal.org redesign project on the same scale as some of the largest corporate website projects in the world.

The redesign goes far beyond aesthetic upgrades to include key functional improvements. The project module, for example, is evolving from a Drupal.org-specific tool to a true project management module with robust Views integration. Also, site searching will include the ability to search all *.drupal.org sites, so the information distributed in various areas (groups.drupal.org, for example) will be accessible via one search box. Add to this increased functionality the implications of the GIT migration, and it’s easy to see how significant this Drupal development effort is.

With such a huge project, no task is truly discrete, and sorting out some of the dependencies has been challenging.For example, one of the nagging issues for Bill O’Connor, Achieve’s CTO, has been the difficulty of running an adequate development environment for his Solr work. Also, since searching is so intimately intertwined with the development of the Drupal project module, it has been difficult to build a Solr index on a moving target.

When the team met in Portland, they were able to address these sorts of issues, prioritize aspects of the project, and lay out clear communication paths for development. The infrastructure team has recently been able to provide a Solr index that can be stored locally, removing a key obstacle to Bill’s progress. And Bill and the project team have created a much clearer plan for ensuring that project field types, for example, meet Solr indexing requirements.

Achieve Internet’s part of the project is somewhat different than some of the others, in that there is less  Drupal community volunteer coordination and involvement. Strahl noted that "Since Bill is one of the few people in the world who can work on Solr for a site of this complexity, he’s hip-deep in Drupal.org Solr development.” Bill’s been focused on 1) ensuring that content indexing enables robust faceted searching and 2) enabling the ability to build dynamic, complex queries in Drupal across multiple sites.

Strahl believes the hiring of contractors and the meeting in Portland have had the desired effect. “More issues have been checked out in the last two weeks than in the last several months combined,” he said. “And the August 7th release will most likely include 50 resolved issues.”

Three of the team members--GIT migration lead Sam Boyer, Bill O'Connor, and Chris Strahl--were in San Diego at Achieve Internet on Friday to participate face-to-face in the weekly scrum, with the others joining by phone for a productive meeting.

“There is no lack of brain power on this team,” Strahl said after the call. “With a team of people who are used to being right, sometimes things can be difficult. But so far communication has been great, and I’m excited about the progress.”

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web