[development] D7 contrib module development

Kyle Mathews mathews.kyle at gmail.com
Sun Mar 8 20:49:52 UTC 2009

It seems we're falling into one of two sides of the old argument over design
philosophies. One side says "do the right thing", the other believes "worse
is better." One side builds monolithic jewels, the other side builds simple
modular tools that while messy are simple to use and understand.

More here:

There are also parallels here to a comparison of publishing on the internet
and traditional publishing in print. Publishing a magazine or newspaper is
expensive, very expensive. So nothing is printed until it passes through an
army of editors, fact checkers, graphic designers etc. that mold the content
into something special. Publishing on the internet is, on the other hand,
extraordinarily cheap. Head over to wordpress.com and 5 minutes later, you
have an international publishing platform -- for free. And millions of
people have done that which is why the internet is now full of junk and
useless or so critics will say.

But it's still very easy to find very high-quality useful information on the
internet. Why? Because there's tools which help filter out the good content
by mining the collective intelligence of human of human interaction on the
web. Google works its search magic by discovering which pages have the most
"votes" from incoming links. Collaborative news sites such as digg, hacker
news, reddit, and others work by voting. The best news bubbles up to the
top. Memetrackers analyze new content and discover which topics are being
discussed the most and push those conversational clusters to the top of the
news page. And so on.

Both systems of publishing content are filters -- the traditional system
says -- "publishing is expensive, so we'll filter content
*before*publishing." The second system says "we can't stop people from
publishing --
so let's devise better filters to help the best content still come out on

Many people will argue against the second system complaining about
information overload -- "there's too much stuff on the internet, we need
professional editors to help us know what to read." Clay Shirky talked about
this awhile ago and said "there's no such thing as information overload,
just filter failure." He expanded on the

So, the real question is, how do we design filters that let us find our way
through this particular abundance of information? And, you know, my answer
to that question has been: the only group that can catalog everything is
everybody. One of the reasons you see this enormous move towards social
filters, as with Digg, as with del.icio.us, as with Google Reader, in a way,
is simply that the scale of the problem has exceeded what professional
catalogers can do. But, you know, you never hear twenty-year-olds talking
about information overload because they understand the filters they’re
given. You only hear, you know, forty- and fifty-year-olds taking about it,
sixty-year-olds talking about because we grew up in the world of card
catalogs and *TV Guide*. And now, all the filters we’re used to are broken
and we’d like to blame it on the environment instead of admitting that we’re
just, you know, we just don’t understand what’s going on.

Now I hope I'm not distorting Marcel's argument here (and if I'm wrong I'm
sure he'll correct me :) when I say he's arguing that there's too many
modules, too many "bad" developers, writing too much "bad" code and we'd be
all better off if the module landscape was less messy and more prestine.
Perhaps this is too neat but it seems his argument falls along the same
lines as those who say we need professional editors to filter content before
publishing. I think his idea is a bad one (for our situation -- it works
great for manufacturing, magazines, skyscrapers, etc.) for many of the same
reasons as others have argued. But we do need better filters to help us find
the best and right modules to use (and I'm sure some duplicate modules are
written simply because the author didn't *know* there was an existing
solution). And I think the drupal community is already working very hard to
do just that -- provide better filters to point site builders to the current
"best-of-breed" modules for a given situation. Much of the drupal.org design
was directed at that problem and the (still coming) Drupal distro revolution
will also greatly help at standardizing the module selection and focusing
developer effort.


Research Assistant
eBusiness Center @ BYU

On Sun, Mar 8, 2009 at 3:47 PM, Marcel Partap <mpartap at gmx.net> wrote:

> ...
>> Because 99.9999% of all Drupalers are not really aware of that, I
>> want to take the chance to publicly say THANK YOU to Andy Kirkham
>> (AjK), who does an awesome job on carefully reviewing a bloat of
>> CVS applications - mostly alone. We get several new CVS
>> applications *each day*. Although there are a few other community
>> members who are eligible to process CVS applications, he is the
>> one who takes this on with the required responsibility, discipline,
>> and motivation.
> You're right, haven't noticed him although he probably also processed
> my application.. KUDOS Andy for bearing with the community ;)
>  That's an ungrateful job, because many applicants complain about
>> the slow review process and in parallel, his hard and
>> time-consuming work is not recognized throughout the community. :(
> Yeah being in the jury just never pay off.
>  Thank you, Andy!  You are one of the most important people for
>> Drupal. Without you, Drupal contrib would certainly be a pain.
> Wow i didn't realize it could be far worse..
> Now on to the more profane stuff.
>  It might be difficult and require changes, but in the long run it
>>> will be worth it.
>> That's a nice vision you have there.  But it sounds like you only
>> want to talk about it.
> Well admittedly starting the discussion is only a first small part.
> For much of the work i can not be of help simply because i have other
> obligations, but i volunteered for reimplementing a mailman/drupal
> integration module and would contribute as much as possible.
>  Merging and rewriting most of those duplicated modules from scratch
>> (e.g. Notifications/Subscriptions, eCommerce/Ubercart, etc)
>> requires a lot of development time - much more than simply porting
>> them to yet another Drupal core version.
> Well of course it does, but a) the structural sanity benefit might be
> worth it and b) the license doesn't prohibit code reuse ;)
>  To have any effect in the end, it also requires that all module
>> maintainers agree on the "roadmap", which means that they will let
>>  their own, duplicated modules die in favor of the new, centralized
>>  module.
> No. It does require the community at large to do the work of
> discussing, drafting and finalizing the structural design of these new
> frameworks - module maintainers are not required, but of course their
> experience would be of tremendous use.
>  This has been done before.
> Fine. So uhm let's do.
>  - Wysiwyg API module is the successor of all client-side editor
>> integration modules, because someone analyzed the anatomy of all
>> previously existing modules and thought about a better, generic way
>> to do it with Drupal. Almost none of the other maintainers and
>> developers ever contributed to this vision, which is the reason for
>> why the few developers of this project are completely buried with
>> work, and Drupal users are (even more) confused about which module
>> to choose/install.  Because of that, we won't have better Wysiwyg
>> support in Drupal 7 core.
> Shame on those module maintainers! But still, all is not lost. Let us
> try making it suceed and mirroring the process, without leaving
> current module maintainers out of the equation.
> By the way, a policy change like described would put more pressure on
> those maintainers - if they want to have at least some of their code
> run on D7 - they better be cooperative!
>  True. How does a more swarm-like approach to code committal
>>> hinder that? That'd just channel the flow more tightly.
>> People most often forget that maintaining a project is primarily
>> about responsibility, once it is in the wild.
> Ok now that's a valid point. Maybe it can be possible for people to
> take responsibility without having exclusive access rights to a module?
>  Yet another example: If there was some bad, not carefully reviewed
>>  code committed to Views module, then 72,799 sites could go down.
> So as that has not yet happened it seems responsible developers exist
> in the drupal community.. hurray! ;)
>  I have seen issues where 10 or more contributors reviewed and gave
>>  their thumbs up, but luckily there was this responsible maintainer
>>  who told them that the entire approach is wrong, followed by the
>> proper way to do it.
> That's the scenario where the veto vote i proposed comes into play ;)
>  That is the primary job of maintainers (gate-keepers) and the
>> reason for why it is both excellent and required to have separate,
>>  specialized knowledge and vision per project.
> Well if it work better, that'd be great. However not all individuals
> live up to these standards, which is why i think maybe the drupal dev
> collective at large can better fulfill this role!
>  Your proposal really boils down to the question whether a project
>> maintainer is open to improvements by the Drupal community and
>> thereby takes the required, additional steps to ensure that the
>> community is able to contribute.
> My proposal was to shift the responsibility from individual persons to
> a community process, to minimize possible negative influence of those.
> The process should promote and support taking responsibility by
> anyone, and hinder the opposite.
>  It's about following a certain paradigm - or not.  No automated
>> process or AI will be able to change the paradigms of humans who do
>> not want to follow a certain paradigm.
> True, _but_ individuals who do not want to follow the common shared
> values may be excluded from using the community to publish their code.
> That will teach them ;)
>  We can measure quality in contrib (and there are plans to do so),
>> but putting regulations onto contrib hinders innovation,
>> evolution, contributions, and lastly freedom.
> Yes and no. It restricts freedom, true. But why does experimental code
> need to be committed to the central repository, and how does enforcing
> an open development process hinder evolution?
> --
>  "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take
>  your eyes off your goal."         -- Henry Ford (1863-1947)
>  Change the world! Vote: http://hfopi.org/vote-future
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