[consulting] Supporting core Drupal development

Zack Rosen zack at civicspacelabs.org
Thu Feb 9 00:01:10 UTC 2006

As posted here: http://www.zacker.org/supporting-drupal-platform- 

One year ago at the DrupalCon in Vancouver there were about a dozen  
of us. In Portland six months ago there were thirty or fourty. Today  
there are well over one hundred Drupaler's in attendance hanging out,  
learning, hacking, discussing, drinking beer, and scheming for Drupal  
world domination.

The Drupal software, the user base, and espescially the economy  
around the platform have seen an explosive growth in the last year.  
When we started CivicSpace a year and a half ago there were only a  
few of us who made a living in and around Drupal. Today there are  
well over one hundred people employed to hack on Drupal between the  
contract firms and the user-developer base. With a little napkin math  
I estimate that in a year the Drupal economy has grown from ~$500K a  
year (10 X $50K) to well over $5M a year!

Despite this phenominal growth I have some concerns about what the  
next year holds in store for the Drupal platform and the community  
around it. As I see it, most of the value created by the Drupal  
community that vendors and consultants rely on to sell as services to  
ther customers come from unpaid core contributions. Examples of this  
are the majority of 4.7 improvements: multiple block regions, new  
forms API, installer work - these were all unpaid contributions to  
the community by volunteers or pro-bono work from Drupal firms. At  
the same time though many of the seasoned Drupal core hackers are  
getting job offers left and right to come and do Drupal consulting  
full time. This is creating a scenario in which while many more  
people are paying their bills through Drupal hacking and more and  
more business are built around business value created by the Drupal  
community, it is not getting any easier to make sure the heavy  
lifting on core work is getting done. For example: I know of no  
funding availiable to support key work on Drupal core projects such  
as continued forms API work, actions & workflows development, CCK,  
and most importantly; usability improvements.

In the next year I am expecting the economy around Drupal to continue  
on it's fantastic pace. I would not be surprised if by 2007 the  
economy was well over $20M annually. My big question here in  
Vancouver is: What can we do now to make sure that some of the money  
coming into the community over the next year is put back in to  
supporting the core work that we as a community are relying on?


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