DrupalCon: Drupal as the ultimate team collaboration platform
Dave » 9 years 8 weeks ago
It’s Sunday night and I’m on board the WiFi-equipped bus from Manhattan to Boston for DrupalCon Boston 2008. My Digital202 colleague Ben Horst is already there and the both of us are looking forward to a few solid days of learning, connecting with others in the community (many of whom we’ve worked with but never met) and diving into subjects like online communities, collaboration and the future of Drupal.
I wanted to share what we hope to bring to and gain from DrupalCon, and I think that this post will serve to help us make the right connections and participate in the right discussions. We had originally thought to lead a discussion on Drupal as the ultimate team collaboration platform, but have since decided to pull back from that. I felt we’d be more effective joining existing formal and “birds of a feather” sessions that are relevant, and connecting with other individuals and groups to share ideas and form relationships. Read on to learn about what motivates us and what you might hear us talking about at DrupalCon.
Some context. Digital202 is a full service web development shop headquartered in New York. We build gorgeous, interactive websites with a focus on online communities and social networks, and our geographically distributed model lets us work with great people around the world to get things done. We’ve built sites like Data.org and RoushFenway.com and more, and our portfolio is steadily growing. (We’re hiring! If you’re a Drupal rock star, get in touch!)
We’ve cultivated a trusted network of exceptional talent over the years, across a full spectrum of skills and expertise. We work with any number of people at any given time — from places all over the world, like India, Romania, Egypt, Hungary, Ukraine, across North America and elsewhere. We put great emphasis on the tools that help us all work together effectively, which lets us build great products and deliver superior value to our clients. We utilize issue tracking and revision control and other related components as necessary, as part of a broader team collaboration environment (called Workspace) that we’re working to improve and evolve. We’re all about the “future of work” and we pride ourselves on being able to maintain a distributed operation that is agile and effective.
From the start, I’d been fascinated by the ability to connect with others, regardless of where they were, to join forces and get things done. Even before I was swept up by the “dot com” boom as a young kid in Seattle, I was building software with others and leading special interest groups and communities. I went on to work for companies like (then Microsoft) Expedia.com and eventually started Digital202 in 1999. Naturally I sought to work with others to help my clients, and geographical location wasn’t much of a consideration. A colleague put me in touch with a family friend in India and soon I was actively working with our team there. This was all even before Thomas Friedman of The World is Flat fame says this phenomenon began. I felt that the greatest potential lay in openly finding ways to work with others to do great things. I’ve sought to work with others who share that mindset, and it’s a philosophy now deeply ingrained in our culture and our products.
At some point along the way, after a period of research and soul searching, we sharpened our vision, really defined what we wanted to dedicate our company to. Woven was founded, providing a name and an umbrella for our new overarching focus. Woven is dedicated to empowering people with the tools to work together effectively, regardless of geographical location. I believe that represents the greatest need and opportunity in our increasingly integrated world, and the way we can best give forth.
Digital202 continues as a growing consulting company and is effectively the “engine.” We help our clients build great community-based websites, and we’re strengthening our geographically distributed model so we can continue to deliver unparalleled results. As we’ve advanced, we’ve become well versed in the challenges of operating in a distributed fashion. At the same time we continue to identify solutions and these manifest in the form of processes and tools. We share this wisdom and these solutions under the Woven umbrella and we continue to work towards fostering a community of folks that share our vision and the goal of bettering the tools that let us work together effectively.
I believe Drupal has the potential to be the ultimate team collaboration environment. We’ve been experimenting in this realm and some of our work has resulted in contributions like Case Tracker. We’ve followed other activity in the community and what we see are excellent ideas, contributions, and talented individuals that are working towards this in some way. We also see that many of these are disparate efforts and that so much potential is left untapped because of lack of a defined objective and coordination amongst this segment of the community. There is great work being done on what we believe are important pieces: Project, the Version Control API, Organic Groups, the Chat API, and much more. There are various groups discussing issue tracking, project management, and so on. The Drupal project itself relies on the drupal.org collaboration infrastructure.
I believe we need to coordinate our efforts and establish a roadmap towards developing a distribution of Drupal that aims to be the ultimate team collaboration environment. With “install profiles” in place since Drupal 5, the technological infrastructure is there. With Dries’ new startup Acquia promising to create and support Drupal distributions, I don’t think anyone in this community needs to be convinced that this is the right path. With the world where it’s at and team collaboration in such demand, I think the opportunity is clear. We’ve written about it here and elsewhere, Dries has stated he believes there is a clear opportunity here, many others have talked about this as well. Dries has said that Drupal core itself does not have a roadmap, but I imagine Dries would agree that distributions can and should have a roadmap.
I’ve got to wrap up this post, but I certainly do hope to continue this conversation with some of you. Let’s talk about how to coordinate our efforts, how to come together to strengthen a community, create that roadmap and build the ultimate team collaboration platform on Drupal. Drop me a note here, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call if you’re at DrupalCon.