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For some, Drupal is a powerful content management system; for others, it's a development framework.

With more than 2m downloads and high-profile users like MTV UK, Estee Lauder, Fox News, and The Economist, however, there's no disputing the fact that Drupal is a great example of a successful open source project.

But all may not be well in the Drupal community.

A post published last month by Drupal contributor Daniel F. Kudwien has sparked a debate about Drupal's future.

Some worry that Drupal is becoming bloated, while others lament that Drupal has never truly decided what it is (eg. a framework or a product).

The influence of Acquia, a company formed by Drupal creator and project lead Dries Buytaert, is being called into question and to top it off, it appears some contributors are simply burning out.

All of this begs the question: is Drupal experiencing growing pains, or could it potentially be on the brink of decline?

Only time will tell, but in either case, the 'crisis' some see today demonstrates that even mature open-source projects are not insulated from issues that threaten their stability and progress.

At some point, those with divergent interests can pull a project in a direction that may be unpopular and undesirable to a majority or significant minority of other participants.

Additionally, influential commercial entities can emerge even late in the game, throwing into question whether the interests of the project or the interests of the commercial entity are being put first.

All of these things can create great risk and discomfort for those who have previously adopted. In a best case scenario, an open source project becomes stronger through advertisty. In a worst case scenario, however, the situation gets so intolerable that adopting another solution becomes necessary.

Of course, it should be pointed out that commercial solutions aren't immune from similar issues, but, in my experience, many businesses and organizations have different due diligence standards for commercial solutions and open source solutions.

While the latter should be just as rigorous, oftentimes they're not. Due diligence is often left at "it's mature and there's a great, active community," and as a result many risks are underestimated.

None of this is a knock on open-source. Open-source is fantastic, and in many product categories, open-source solutions are often far superior to their commercial competitors. But Drupal's bumps in the road are a reminder that there are never any guarantees.

Patricio Robles

Published 12 September, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

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Steve Purkiss

To complete your article you may want to add Drupal core developer @chx's article "The Drupal Massacre or what happened the last ten days with Drupal?":

http://drupal4hu.com/node/304

IMO the Drupal community showed its strength and has come out the other side of these conversations stronger than ever!

almost 5 years ago

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Steve Parks

Paticio,

You say: "All of this begs the question: is Drupal experiencing growing pains, or could it potentially be on the brink of decline?"

This fails to identify a third option which is that all the preceding debate you mentioned shows that the Drupal community is vibrant, open and able to handle healthy debate without falling apart.

As a community member, I'm proud the questions and challenges were raised - and I'm proud of how the issues were then discussed, and the positive results that are already coming out of these discussions.

In reality, debates like this go on behind the scenes in closed source companies - in Drupal we just prefer to have an open debate.

Embrace such open discussions, don't fear them

Regards
Steve

almost 5 years ago

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Thomas

Maybe it would be good if you include some follow up posts in your blog post as well. There were many discussions after Sun's blogpost was written and that only emphasized the strength of Drupal community, quite opposite of the message of post.

almost 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Steve,

I think it's fair to say that the type of debates taking place in the Drupal community represent growing pains. Growing pains, of course, are a part of life and aren't always bad.

At the end of the day, however, the proof is in the pudding. There appear to be some significant issues coming to the fore, the least of which is "What is Drupal?", and while optimism is healthy, if everything I've read is any indication, it would be naive to assume that healthy discussions and debates have resolved some of the big questions and challenges the Drupal community faces about where the project goes.

All this said, the point of this post was really that due diligence of mature open source solutions often underestimates *risk*, and the recent Drupal "crises" highlight that.

almost 5 years ago

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cwgmpls

More objectivity please. You lost me with your lead-in question that already states your desired conclusion without exploring the facts first. It's like asking someone "When did you stop beating our wife?"

almost 5 years ago

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Steve Parks

Following my earlier comments, for those interested in finding out more about the actual detail of the debate, how it is spurring some exciting developments in the future of Drupal, and why I think it's a good thing, I wrote it up last week for DrupalRadar:
http://drupalradar.com/turning-point-drupal-core

almost 5 years ago

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Steve Parks

Interesting. Following my first comment I followed up with a link to a more in-depth and balanced article on this very subject that I wrote for Drupal Radar (the non-commercial trade magazine for Drupal) last week. It was directly relevant to this post, and a useful next step for those wanting more detail.
My post got deleted by the admins here. Hmmm.

almost 5 years ago

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Rebercca Caroe

I agree with Patricio that 'growing pains' and differences of opinion are normal in any community - particularly one with an open source set-up.

However, the very nature of open source development is that it's amorphous and in some ways un-directed. This is not commercial, profit-driven and it's not trying to pursue a world domination masterplan but within the community are informed people with strong opinions.

"What does not kill us makes us stronger" is definitely true here. And it would be a great shame to lose or retire one of the leading successes in Open Source CMS just as a result of the past 10 days.

Those of us working for commercial CMS offerings, need you guys too. So stay strong, please.

almost 5 years ago

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Wallace Morrison

No word as if maybe WordPress might be their problem as well. Look out Joomla, you can be next.

almost 5 years ago

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Nick Hurst

I've been using Drupal for about a year now for small web builds which only need updating every now and then, small company profiles etc and I've personally found it an excellent bit of kit. I hope it's not in decline. Although if it is, I'm something else will pop up in it's place. Or maybe back to Joomla?

almost 5 years ago

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Innes

Like anything, Drupal is fine depending on which business industry you are in, how big the business is and also how many times you want to update the website. It has been fine for our sister website but it wouldnt be ideal for this one.

almost 5 years ago

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Insurance cover note

In autumn there is a list of useful home maintenance. Some homeowners are largely ignored. For quick print where you want to do it.

over 4 years ago

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