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I tweeted, but in 140 characters I wasn't able to be clear, and some people are misunderstanding what I was tweeting about, so I'm using G+ here with more space to try and provide some clarity to what I'm trying to say.

What I'm responding to is non-specific, merely second hand information I've received because people talk to me. What I've heard -- from multiple sources -- is that my withdrawal from the community is a sign that Drupal itself is decaying or failing. I'm not trying to justify anything about myself, or my choices, but I also don't want to be used as evidence for something that isn't even true.

The idea that the Drupal project is dying can't be farther from the truth. There are several misconceptions to begin with:

1) I haven't left the community, but I have reduced my involvement.
2) I still work full time doing Drupal things, but
3) My current source of income is primarily for internal work that isn't something that will (or should) ever be shared.
4) I don't have the patience to work full time, have a family, have a hobby, AND contribute to open source in my spare time.
5) My early involvement in Drupal was always going to end up unsustainable, and everyone knew that. The fact is, for several years, I had a corporate sponsor that made it possible. But when that corporate sponsorship went away, my involvement scaled back (and back and back).
6) Contributing to open source on a large scale is mentally taxing.

Now, the project itself is thriving, and is bigger than ever. It is one of the top open source communities in existence. It's true that Drupal 8 will be another bellwether of this, but every Drupal release to date has been. This isn't new.

The community -- in particular the Drupal Association responsible for the maintenance of the infrastrcture -- has morphed from a hobby-based piece of software that was pretty big to something that is ultimately managed by professionals who need to be paid to do it. This is because the Drupal ecosystem is huge. There's a lot to do, there's always a lot to do, and volunteers aren't reliable. And when they are reliable, it's because they're burning themselves out.

People who are paid are more reliable. Mostly.

So the Drupal Association has finally decided to take the step to try to pay people to make core happen.

This is a good thing. Sure, Drupal is driven by the interests of business; if this statement is offensive, then there is a massive misunderstanding of what Drupal is all about, and has been since at least 2007. But Drupal is what it is today because there is money to be made. And that money needs to flow back into the project, where it can, and the people who actually do the really heavy work can be rewarded.

And the last part is this: It doesn't have to always be the same people. The only reason that I had the impact I had in Drupal is that I devoted a lot of time to a project for personal reasons. But let's be honest: I am and always was an exception to the way things really work, and an unsustainable exception at that. For one, what I did wasn't truly innovative, it just didn't exist in the Drupal context before. But Views was modeled on software I used in the 1990s; the basic ideas had always been there. For two, it took a lot of different iterations to get to where it was even decent. Views had a long path of growth including a complete rewrite to get to be something that was on nearly every Drupal site every created.

What I did isn't the model for moving forward with Drupal, and the fact that I'm not spending my full time job doing that isn't a bad thing for Drupal.

What would be a bad thing for Drupal is if there weren't businesses paying to have their people contribute to the project. When that's happening, that means there are businesses getting so much value out of Drupal that they are able to repay that value back so that, in the future, they will continue to get more value from the contributions.

I'm not looking for thanks (really, please don't post/comment just to thank me) -- I've gotten a lot of thanks for my contributions. I'm proud of my contributions. I'm still in the community, even if it wasn't the way I was once in the community. But the community is large, it is vibrant, it continues to grow, and just like anything that grows, the changes sometimes make it look vastly different than it was before. My seven year old looks very different than when she was a toddler, and even more different than when she was the baby wearing the Drupal hat. And in another few years, she'll look different still But she's prospering and she's growing and she's still vibrant.

So is Drupal, and so is the community. If you want to use me as evidence, turn it around. I stopped paying attention to the issue queues most of two years ago and...your sites didn't burn down. You didn't have to switch away from Drupal because I didn't answer issues anymore. Other people are still writing patches and issuing releases of (most of) my modules, and nearly all of them are supported by companies who see value in their work.

And if those contributions continue to be valuable, when they move on, other people will step up and take their places too. And your sites will continue to work.
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31 comments
 
The people may change, but the project lives on.
 
Sadly G+ doesn't embed images in comments like FB. The first one is the "Don't hack core" video, the second is a random shot of Sprout from DrupalCon Denver and the 3rd is her in the Drupal hat.
 
"...volunteers aren't reliable. And when they are reliable, it's because they're burning themselves out."
That is a hard thing for people to admit. We want to put forward the hero effort.
 
Oh god, Sprout is 7 now?  I feel old...  (She still owes me a game of chess from Paris.)

Oh yes, and +1 to everything Earl said.  The myth of the bottomless volunteer hero developer is harmful, and the sooner we accept that and start resourcing open source properly (ie, like a closed source project) the better for everyone involved.
 
Worse,  +Larry Garfield , she'll be 8 in just over a month.

We haven't taught her chess yet, but there's about a dozen board games she'd be happy to play. Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico, Order Up, Fluxx... 
 
I applaud your choices Earl, you've always had my respect ( for whatever that is worth )
 
All make sense. I'm not thanking you (you asked us not to do that) but I'm telling you I learned an awful lot about data structures by using Views in D6.
 
I totally understand and see your point. Good luck with your new endeavours. 
 
I know you say "no thanks" but I thank you anyway. Your post makes a lot of sense, on a very meaningful manner. Won't say good bye though. See you around Mr Miles!
 
Like I said, I'm not gone, just not as involved as I once was.
 
+Earl Miles what you did with Ctools, Panels and Views is probably the single most important factor that interested Enterprise, Educational and Nonprofit organizations in using Drupal. When clients ask me about the history of Drupal, that is always the turning point. I remember printing nodes inside nodes in Drupal 4 - Panels made that kind of nesting a lot easier. (Thanks :)

I wish I had more time for the Drupal community, and participation in sprints and stuff. My work and personal life don't allow time to be as involved as I would like. I made a very small commit to D8 core, and because it was backported someone else took the credit, which doesn't really bother me. I volunteered to mentor at DrupalCon LA. I think you are saying even small contributions by many individuals adds up to community.

As a Solutions Architect, I am usually more focused on extending Drupal to solve business problems, than figuring out how to improve Drupal core itself. Most solutions for specific cases are not generally useful, so after 10 years using Drupal, I am planning to convert one of my custom modules into my first Contributed Module.

As a Drupal Gun-for-Hire consultant, I can say the demand for senior-level Drupal experts far exceeds the local supply everywhere; many more organizations are building teams including remote members to satisfy the demand.

There's not much buzz outside the Drupal community about the changes coming in Drupal 8. I expect the buzz to grow as organizations adopt Drupal 8 for production applications, and find out that their Symfony and Twig developers can also work in Drupal. It will no longer be some strange separate beast requiring shamans from a software cult.
 
I'm saying that small contributions are important, and that sustainable contribution requires funding. It's great that people contribute in their spare time, but Drupal's scale makes that much, much harder than it was when I started.
 
One of the common complaints from people who try Drupal is that everything doesn't work automatically without some debugging (particularly when using an assortment of contrib modules). I explain to them that is common with Open Source software, because the developers cannot anticipate every use case, and combination with other modules and libraries. Someone recently said his frustration with Drupal caused him to build his own custom CMS. That is an understandable decision, perhaps even the "right" decision for his needs. I noted that then he owns his application, and cannot benefit from community enhancements and progress.

I see an analogy between Drupal Association supporting Drupal, and Canonical supporting Ubuntu, or Red Hat supporting CentOS. Each sponsoring organization has a stake in keeping the Open Source software popular, through improvements. I get it that DA is a little different than the other companies, but the goals are similar.

Compensation encourages top developers to contribute. A mature framework needs the support of top developers, it cannot rely on willy-nilly good will contributions from the community, and risk losing major contributors who decide they cannot keep doing important work for free, or spend time finding individual sponsors.
 
according to the site Builtwith CMS report, Drupal is reasonably steady in the past 12 months (Drupageddon didnt kill it)... http://trends.builtwith.com/cms (select the graph)

Wordpress is eating the market for smaller sites, and I think that will continue (as does Pantheon).

The Minimal Viable Product of Wordpress, must be close to, say 500$ the Drupal site, $5000. Total Cost of Ownership must be say, $5000 for entire lifecycle of Wordpress site, $50000 for Drupal. Thats just my guesstimate. But, its totally possible to make a Wordpress site, with content and nice theme for 500$, in a day (hosting, domain, premium theme). To do that in Drupal, it would take at least a week and thats the real cost...

The big companies, the Drupal website agencies and the hosting cloud lords, are enclosing the commons for talent.

I'd suggest its a generational thing also. I bet a lot of the first generation Drupal community people now have families and cant just do Drupal 24/7

For younger types, the money is just too good for paid work, the contrib space is already super crowded, and rents, in San Francisco, NYC, name your global city or urban hipster down town, are obscene.

And lets not talk about student debt, costs of homes, credit card debt, debt slavery etc....(the Occupy Wall Street issues didnt go away, in fact, I think its worse)

I'd also suggest there is another DOT COM bubble thing happening, and nowadays, Drupal is a part of this, with sites like weather.com getting on board, Drupal is a player in that space... so, gold rush mentality vs open source community...

http://www.businessinsider.com/bill-gurley-silicon-valley-is-taking-on-too-much-risk-2014-9

so, objectively, looking at those charts, Drupal isnt changing much, but Wordpress IS

last 12 months

top 10,000 sites, Drupal static, Wordpress UP
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7g31Jw1RakjNXRNQ0J5LU1tVkk/view?usp=sharing

top 100,000 sites, Drupal static, Wordpress rising
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7g31Jw1RakjVGlybTR3c2hJOUE/view?usp=sharing

top million sites, Drupal down slightly, Wordpress UP
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7g31Jw1RakjWWRXWWhxQ2pFMGs/view?usp=sharing


entire internet, Drupal up slightly, Wordpress up a LOT
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7g31Jw1RakjYk5QY2pBRDM4eEE/view?usp=sharing

NOTE: if Builtwith had linkable / url friendly charts I'd link instead of screenshot

regarding the Drupal Association, I think this is exactly the right way to go.. the DA should get bigger, paid more staff and generally become a more effective and powerful organization within the Drupal ecosystem

its the missing element in the Drupal ecosystem, the DA should be making sure that the basic install of Drupal matches Wordpress, that the total cost of ownership is LOW

the 100s of distros/install profiles could be converged into a super sleek base install...
 
(I'm not trying to hog this thread, but I'm very interested in the topics discussed here)
+Nicholas Roberts I think the major competition to Drupal now comes from custom frameworks built on Symfony and Angular, not from other CMS frameworks. I have noticed over the past year that some orgs are using Drupal as a back end for front ends built with these technologies. Some are replacing Drupal with them. Perhaps D8 with Symfony in core will change this dynamic, or at least ease the integration in the hybrid platforms.

You are also correct that the commitments of "adult" life and the demands of client work make it difficult to be as involved as some would like in the community. The demands of being a caretaker for my mom & then my spouse caused me to drop out of the NYC community for a couple of years; now I am re-engaging.

There is a custom module I built leveraging CORS that I want to generalize and convert into a contrib module. Finding the time is a challenge.

Yesterday I found out about BuiltWith. They report interesting data, I think their historical data dates back to at least 2012. There are also BuiltWith browser plugins. The BuiltWith extension for Chrome, along with with Wappalyzer and Appspector, can provide a lot of info about a web application.
 
You'll never look back with disappointment on the time you spent with your family. +++
 
Geez +Earl Miles, I was reading points 1-6 and it sounds like I wrote it, exactly the same thing is going on in my life. 3 kids, working mostly internally on projects that I can't talk too much about, not contributing much anymore at all, not in the community much anymore at all, because, well, I want a life with my kids too.

Thanks for the article, I have thanked you many times for everything else :)
 
+Randall Goya Drupal was built by millions of human hours of small website building and if we just focus on the apex of the pyramid and say, hey, Drupal should be just social middleware, than why not just do a custom middleware app? with a modern stack MEAN? JS/Node/Ruby/NoDSQL etc etc etc

I think the Drupal ecosystem is like a coral reef or a rain forest, and if we decide, lets just kill the plankton or clear the trees, so we get clearer view, than, well

the ecosystem dies

complex ecosystems are only so robust, too much change, and they die
 
When I stumbled across Drupal for the first time about 3 years ago, it was the power that Views and Panels gave me that drew me in.  I, like alot of other newpies, became addicted to Drupal and was in awe of  the community and the brilliance of it's developers.  For a guy like me, you sir, Earl Miles, was Drupal deity.  Your modules made me look like I was smart and knew what I was doing.  It is great news to know that you are still a part of the community.

I rarely comment on articles like this but, I wanted you to know the positive impact you've had on people like myself.
 
+Earl Miles, you mentioned "...Views was modeled on software I used in the 1990s;". what software you were modeling views from? just curious.
 
Microsoft Access. Maybe inspired by is more accurate than modeled after, as they are very different pieces of software. But there's a lot of ideas I took from Access that I used in my implementation.
 
very 1990's indeed +Earl Miles :) might make an interesting drupal trivia question someday. thanks for sharing and for being inspired to create views.
 
I think I know where you coming from Earl. I have spent the majority of the last 2+ years trying to figure out a whole lot of things about my own life and especially about my interaction and collaboration with others both AFK and online. I'v had to re-evaluate a whole lot of stuff I was doing wrong and also how I behaved in various situation. Especially why things haven't work out the way I hoped.

What I learned is that we live in a very special time of history, so much is changing that is affecting things on a global scale. The internet have only helped us exponentially make those changes happen even faster.

After all, it is only 25+ years since the wall symbolising the cold war was torn down. In the history of everything what is 25 years in respect?

Now I m slowly returning to those places the old me was visiting and participating in. Hopefully this time I will do things much better for everyone.

I don't believe those who know what you have contributed to the Drupal project, and #OpenSource  in general, are the ones who are vocal and/or see your personal role and involvement as a sign of things going wrong. The, me included know without having the need to ask you for clarifications etc...

However, some of those who are new to the project and/or are in the process of making Drupal part of their of future needs might see this as scare news. Even worse, for many this is often a sign a prominent person in a project is leaving due some conflict of sorts.

Lets not forget that 1+ million, and growing, number on drupal.org boosting about how many active members the Drupal community now have. Of course it takes experience and a smoothly working organisation to make that happen.

As you mention, the Drupal Association has really stepped up the last few years and are now managing a lot of the grunt work to make sure the common member can better focus on what they want to contribute to the project with.

I am personally amazed about just how much maturer and better the community has become while I was mostly away.

Thanks for all you valuable contributions and everything I have had the honour to learn from you Earl. Good luck with all your new ideas and projects.

See you around whenever in the communities we continue to share both AFK and online. Be it Drupal or something else...
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