[consulting] Drupal considerd dangerous

Jeff Eaton jeff at viapositiva.net
Tue Dec 26 21:31:01 UTC 2006

Kaliya * wrote:
> They thought because it was Open Source and an established platform 
> that they the smart developers would be able to get up to speed and do 
> what they want. You are all experts hyping a platform you are all 
> experts in and then charging people high prices. Obviously it is 
> working to some extent and some folks are getting 'hurt' and that is 
> the way it is.
I'm all in favor of being open and honest about the limitations of 
Drupal and any other piece of software. But I don't think implying that 
there is some conspiracy taking place is helpful.

I've worked as a developer and a consultant on a wide range of projects 
since the late 90s, with Perl, VB, VBScript, PHP, C#, ASP, ASP.Net, 
Java, ColdFusion, Xoops, MovableType, WebForms, and a few custom-coded 
monstrosities that emerged from the depths of the early 90s. I have seen 
companies thrive with those platforms, and I have seen them crash and 
burn. I've seen companies burnt by OSS software that didn't live up to 
the hype, and I've seen companies get burnt by Microsoft hyping 
technologies, then pulling out the rug. Heck, I remember the days when 
companies tried to build their businesses around Apple's cutting-edge 
OpenDoc system. Remember those companies? Either does anyone else. ;-)

I discovered Drupal two years ago after working with and hacking on half 
a dozen of the top-flight OSS CMS packages. I embraced it because it was 
the best I found for what I needed to do, and I spent two years working 
with it and building on it for no pay. Worked on it during the evenings 
and weekends and lunchhours (as my wife can attes). Eventually I took 
several jobs at rates that can easily be considered 'starvation level' 
in contract programming and consulting circles, because they offered 
opportunities to enhance and build the Drupal platform.

Drupal is powerful and flexible, but like any other piece of software it 
has limitations due to its origins, its design, its intended uses, and 
the finite pool of manpower for development. There's a lot of enthusiasm 
in the Drupal community, and sometimes a lot of blindness to Drupal's 
weaknesses and other systems' strength. But, as others have said... that 
phenomenon is in no way exclusive to Drupal's developer community. I 
have ColdFusion vs. ASP flamewar archives from 1999 to prove that. ;-)

None of us are happy when a company using Drupal is hurt, and all of us 
are thrilled when a site using Drupal succeeds. It's not some master 
plan. It's not some evil conspiracy. In all my conversations with Drupal 
developers, I've yet to meet one who charged exorbitant rates -- the 
issue is that Drupal's growth is currently in the 'upswing' of the 
statistical hockey-stick pattern and the pool of developers with strong 
hack-fu is smaller than the demand.

That's it.

That's the big story.

It doesn't make things easier if you're part of a startup project that 
desperately needs experienced Drupal folks and doesn't have the capital 
to hire them away from wherever they're at. That's no fun. But it's the 
same with any other framework. Sorry if I come across as touchy on the 
subject; I just wanted to respond to the 'experts hyping a platform 
we're experts in, and charging premium rates for it' comment.


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