[development] RFC: drupal as a moving target

Earl Miles merlin at logrus.com
Tue Apr 29 00:51:42 UTC 2008

Ivan Sergio Borgonovo wrote:
> On Mon, 28 Apr 2008 14:48:53 -0700
> Earl Miles <merlin at logrus.com> wrote:
>> Ivan Sergio Borgonovo wrote:
>>> It doesn't work for me. I don't want and I can't get so involved
>>> in Drupal core dev. It is over my possibility.
>> Drupal is a meritocracy. In general, those who do very much resent
>> being told what to do by those who don't do. If you are firmly in
>> the camp of don't do, that also puts you in the camp of "doesn't
>> get to tell the rest of us what to do."
> So you'd say that an engineer doesn't have the right of proper
> medical care cos he is not a doctor and doctors don't have the right
> to use cars cos they are not engineers?

I would say that there's nothing even remotely similar in either of 
those situations. 1) doctors and engineers are selling their services, 
2) doctors are in a path that deals with people's lives, 3) so are 
engineers, 4) both are under many government regulations.

In fact, if your doctor believes there is nothing wrong with your 
appendix, and you ask for your appendix to be taken out, I'm pretty sure 
the answer will be "No," and after awhile it will be "Get out of my office."

> And I don't think anyone is willing to scare off someone that is
> going to write a 10K line module just because he doesn't get involved
> in core dev. And anyway it seems that core decisions are made among a
> 10-20 people.

Sure, you're going to write a 10,000 line module but your inability to 
keep track of core ensures that this is going to be 10,000 lines of code 
that will have a high likelihood of not working. See next comment:

> I'd like to know the experience of people behind ubercart or
> ecommerce, i18n, views, panels...

As the author of 2 of the 5 modules you named (convenient, that), let me 
tell you my experience: If core is broken in some way that directly 
impacts my modules, I fix it. When it turns out that core's theming 
isn't quite up to the task of handling something as dynamic as Views, I 
wrote a new theming layer.

I submit patches and if they affect Views, I put in the patch "This 
affects Views" and I find that my patches get rather a lot of attention. 
Because, you see, it turns out the core maintainers care about Views, 
which is funny because most of the core maintainers don't even use it. 
But they are aware that most of Drupal's users do.

My experience porting Views from 4.6 to 4.7 was pretty rough, but the 
result of the port was that I had a better product. I didn't have to 
port Views from 4.7 to 5; I had users that really wanted it, and so a 
group of people put together a patch for me, and Drupal 5 had a working 
Views in pretty short order.

I did not port Views from 5 to 6, because I wanted to rewrite it. After 
    3 major core versions and several years of Views in the field, some 
of the early design decisions I made were being really constrictive. 
I've spent a good 5 months of my life working full time on Views 2, and 
IMO it's an absolutely amazing module. It's going to make Drupal better, 
and the fact that it has singlehandedly made most of the Drupal 
community wait for Drupal 6 is a small price to pay for the amount of 
goodness that the community is going to get.

And Views is one of those modules that has a ripple effect. If you 
really follow contrib, you'll find that most of the really important 
modules have some tie in to Views; even if it's a simple handing off of 
data to Views, but others -- CCK comes to mind -- rely on Views to be 
truly fully functional. So Views' delays have caused contrib to come to 
a standstill.

Now that Views 2 is in beta, I think that's all about to change. Would I 
like the people working on core to spend a little more time on 6? Heck 
yea. Am I going to try and demand they do that? Heck...well, ok, I 
actually have a little bit. [Note: it's only been minorly effective]. On 
the other hand, and this gets back to my original point, I can get away 
with this. Why? Drupal is a meritocracy. I have contributed. I continue 
to contribute. In a meritocracy, it's very important to keep the 
contributors happy.

If the contributors are unhappy, they won't contribute. Drupal, as an 
open source project, lives and dies on the contributions of its users. 
That is the true price of open source software. And right now, the 
contributors of Drupal feel that we have a model that works.

And to be fair, I believe that some of the things you're asking for are 
going to come to pass, but I don't think they'll happen because of these 
conversations on the development list. I think they'll happen because 
the people contributing are going to have their needs shifting, and as 
the needs shift, the nature of their contributions will shift.

But always remember, when you tell the Drupal community that it, or the 
people in it, should do something, you're telling people who volunteer 
their time, their code, their documentation, their marketing efforts, or 
just their time offering support to other users. These people are giving 
up a lot. For free.

Of *course* they don't take kindly to demands.

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