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Now for something completely different...

This is my first week at Acquia, and I have to admit that I'm surprised to be here. Despite my commitments of time and code to Drupal over the last couple years, I was also working full time as a scientist at a start-up that is a spin-off from the lab where I did my post-doc.
A number of my friends and family have done a bit of a double-take when I told them my plans - usually something along the lines of "but that's nothing like your current job!?". So, that's true, but I'm excited to be here. I've enjoyed programming since elementary school, and I seriously considered majoring in CS as... More

Growing Drupal through local groups

##Acquia and growing Drupal
Part of my responsibilities at Acquia are to help grow the number of Drupal users. The Drupal community is growing quickly and the credit for that growth belongs to thousands of contributors and hundreds of Drupal evangelists. I've been personally working on growing Drupal for years, but recently I've begun working closely with my fellow Drupal association members Jacob Redding and Moshe Weitzman to explore how we can work with local groups to grow Drupal. In the rest of this blog post I cover information that I've gathered working with various members of the... More

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Administration

This is the seventh blog post in a series about user experience improvements in Drupal 6. In my research, several core developers suggested that improvements to Drupal's administration were significant enough to warrant its own category. Improvements to administration come from the application of UX heuristics and
from focused efforts on a particular administration work flow like installation.
Four important changes to administration usability were related to that of security administration. The addition of a password checker helps administrators who are constantly reminding their users to... More

Thankful Friday

This morning I went into the kitchen at work and found a case of imported beer on the table. It's not an uncommon sight at Acquia on a Friday - as we normally have a little relaxation time as a team before the weekend begins.

Now I'm an exotic ginger ale guy myself (every open source company should have at least one). But for some reason this box of beer caught my eye. Upon investigation, I discovered a nice note from our friends at ... More

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Interaction Design

According to Wikipedia, "Interaction design defines the behavior (the "interaction") of an artifact or system in response to its users." In previous versions, Drupal has mostly used static interfaces that update when the user submits a form, or navigates to a new page. Beginning with Drupal 5, Jquery was added to the core and Drupal core developers began using this javascript library to improve the user experience of Drupal through improved user interactions. With Drupal 6, significant improvements were added to the core with the... More

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Theme system

This is the fifth blog post in a series about user experience improvements in Drupal 6. Drupal is very popular with developers who want to leverage the contributed modules to meet their feature requirements. Previous versions of the theme system have favored powerful theming through programming rather than simplicity for designers. Three significant changes to the theme system have reduced the need for designers to learn how to program to use some of the theme engines most powerful features. The addition of sub-themes and CSS and Javascript improvements also help themers with re-use and... More

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Installation

This is the fourth blog post in a series looking at user experience improvements in Drupal 6. One of the principles of the Drupal project is that Drupal should have low resource demands, and "have minimal, widely-available server-side software requirements. Specifically, Drupal should be fully operational on a server with Apache web server, PHP, and either MySQL or Postgresql." In order to support such a broad platform, Drupal has to balance keeping its resource requirements low, while at the same time performing lots of checks to ensure the... More

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Error prevention

This is the third blog post in a series which examines the user experience improvements in Drupal 6. There are no widely accepted measures of usability, but I like to measure four attributes when testing the usability of an application. These measurements include: time on task, number of errors in task completion, goal completion, and a users qualitative assessment of the experience. In this post, I review the user experience improvements that reduce the errors it is possible to make with Drupal. This is how usability... More

UX improvements in Drupal 6: terminology, grammar, information presentation, walls of text

This is the second blog post in a series examining Drupal 6 core contributor user experience improvements. Improving the user experience in Drupal is one of the biggest challenges the Drupal community faces, mostly due to a competitive pressure best described as The Ockham's Razor Principle of Content Management Systems. From a contribution standpoint, the most user experience improvements come in the form of information based improvements. I further categorize information improvements as terminology,... More

Taking advantage of PR opportunities like Red Herring 100

We announced yesterday that Acquia has been selected as a Red Herring 100 North America winner for 2008. A cool honor - and another data point that speaks to the growing interest in Drupal and to the validation of Acquia's business model to provide commercial support for Drupal.

Every year, Red Herring editors create their list of the top private companies in both North America and Europe. Its good publicity for the magazine trying to... More

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Internationalization

This is the first blog post of a series of posts that will examine the Drupal core contributors user experience (UX) improvements in Drupal 6. My intent is to help shed some light on the kind of user experience improvements the core contributors are good at and the kind they need help with. I will identify the number of contributors and the number of patches, and I will also help the community understand how we can best make further user experience improvements in Drupal 7. There are currently thousands of designers and other user experience professionals who are capable of helping improve... More

Winning More by Hating Professional PR Less

Bert Boerland just posted his take on press releases by the Drupal Association and Drupal community members. Like many developers I talk to, Bert is suspicious of professional PR and marketing. He would rather see more leveraged use of the community to get the word out about Drupal.
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Need your vote - Acquia round 2 video @ Enterprise 2.0 Launchpad

Thanks to everyone who voted for Acquia in the first round of Enterprise 2.0's people's choice (aka American Idol) contest for their Launchpad event. We received 80 votes in the first round and made it to Round 2. The top 4 vote getters in Round 2 will present on stage at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference.
Please take a moment to view & vote for Acquia's 2nd round video.
In the 2nd round, the top 8 vote getters were given 2 minutes to demo and tell their story. Demonstrating Drupal in 2... More

Drupal.org re-design business kick-off meeting

Last week we had a business kick-off meeting for the Drupal.org re-design. The purpose of this meeting was to start two important efforts: establishing business objectives for the re-design, and begin the re-design request for qualifications and request for proposals process.
Drupal.org is many things to many people, and there are a lot of ideas about how to improve the site. The Drupal association has limited cash resources, and limited volunteer resources to implement a re-design so it's important that the association has clear business objectives to help prioritize the scope of this... More

The DX Files: Improving Drupal Developer Experience

I am declaring a personal crusade to improve Drupal’s “Developer Experience,” which I hereby abbreviate as “DX.”
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Joining Acquia!

I have joined Acquia! I am excited to be joining Acquia for two reasons: 1. I have never joined a startup before, and I cannot think of a better opportunity to work with a group of smart and dedicated people; 2. the vast majority of my work so far has been spent developing proprietary software and I see this as a tremendous opportunity to spend more time with open source software.
I am coming from Openwave Systems, Inc. where I spent most of my time working on the JavaScript front end of a highly scalable email system. I hope to bring the expertise I developed at Openwave to the Drupal... More

On Measuring Open Source Partner Effectiveness

Last week Matt Asay posted a list of ways to muscle integration partners into pulling through licenses of Alfresco's Enterprise Edition ($$$) versus just delivering solutions on the Community Edition.
Kris Buytaert doesn't care much for Matt's approach. For Kris, Matt's rules don't accurately capture the full spectrum of the ways a partner contributes to an open source vendor's success. He thinks vendors should consider contributions... More

Drupal Search: How indexing works

This article explores the process of taking HTML content from Drupal nodes and indexing it for the purpose of search and text retrieval at a later time. The code examples apply to Drupal 6.
Finding what to index
Indexing happens when cron.php is run, and the search module starts the whole process by invoking hook_update_index. This gives each module the chance to keep its search index needs up to date. This article follows what happens in the node module's ... More

Acquia selected as Finalist for 2008 MITX Technology Awards

Acquia has been selected as a finalist in the Collaboration and Social Networking category for the 2008 MITX Technology Awards. This is the fifth year MITX has offered the awards to recognize innovative companies and technologies in the New England region across nine categories:
Analytics & Business Intelligence
Collaboration & Social Networking
Content Management & Search
Data Management
Data Protection
Enterprise Technologies
Relationship Technologies
The selection process... More

Minnesota Search Sprint: Your top-five feature requests

In the same way that the Internet itself would not have achieved greatness without the ability to search it easily and efficiently, Drupal's greatness will always be tied directly to the effectiveness of its core search solution. Improving core search for Drupal 7 will be no small task, however. The current implementation is both elegant but complex, robust yet inflexible. The seven coders participating in the Minnesota Search Sprint this weekend have a great challenge as well as a great opportunity. Here are some of the... More

My Marketing Toolbox

Today I participated in the Sigma Partners VP of Marketing Summit for their portfolio companies. Roger Krakoff asked Gitti Crowley of HiWired and I to lead a discussion about online marketing best practices. In that discussion, I talked a little about a few marketing tools that we use and/or plan to use at Acquia and agreed to share links to the resources we discussed. Here's the rundown.
Drupal... More

50 Drupal Newspaper and magazine showcase video from Newstools 2008

Last week I helped organize Drupal day at Newstools 2008. At our peak, we had 65 journalist in the room and 35 watching online. We had several presentations:
* Introducing Drupal for Newspapers
* Showcase video (shown below)
* Jose Zamora on the Knight Drupal initiative
* Neil Drumm's presentation of mashing-up congressional voting records with campaign... More

Money versus time in Open Source

I think Sun/MySQL's Marten Mickos nailed it when he said "There's a difference between organizations that have more time than money and organizations that have more money than time". Read Savio Rodrigues' post on InfoWorld and Matt Asay's post on CNET for more background.
Companies or individuals that have more time than money, don't mind asking support questions on the drupal.... More

Vote for Acquia @ Enterprise 2.0 Launch Pad

<p>Acquia is participating in another <a href="/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://launchpad.enterprise2conf.com/">Launch">http://launchpad.enterprise2conf.com/">Launch Pad</a> event, this time for the <a href="/%3Ca%20href%3D"http://www.enterprise2conf.com/">Enterprise">http://www.enterprise2conf.com/">Enterprise 2.0 conference</a>. For this Launch Pad event, technology companies were asked to submit a one-minute video pitch to be voted on by the Enterprise 2.0 community. There will be multiple rounds, with four companies eventually on stage at... More

Acquia video channel at acquia.blip.tv

We've set up an Acquia channel on the Blip.tv site - acquia.blip.tv. We'll be posting new videos, screen casts and demos here for folks to check out and share.
So far, I've uploaded the first two in a series of conversations with Dries and Jay talking about Drupal and Acquia. In addition, I have uploaded the final video from the Web 2.0 Expo Launch Pad event - this one has been edited to include both our presentation slides and our demo (unlike the one in... More