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Talk is silver, code is gold: Acquia's code contributions to the Drupal project

In the Drupal community we have a saying talk is silver and code is gold. For over a year now, members of Acquia have been both talking and coding, and I think it's time to bring some of this to light. In future posts I'll also highlight Acquia involvemnet in Drupal code sprints and other Drupal events, but for now I'll just focus on code.

Over a year ago Acquia started quietly contributing to the Drupal project. At the time we were in stealth mode, and we didn't want a lot of attention. Our first major contribution back to the Drupal community was hiring Gábor Hojtsy, and having him work full-time on maintaining Drupal 6. He did an outstanding job with Drupal 6 and worked with over 700 core contributors. Drupal 6 had twice as many patches as Drupal 5 and having a dedicated rock star like Gabor working full-time made a huge difference. You can read more about it in the Drupal 6 maintainers perspective.

Drupal 6 is the foundation of Acquia's supported subscription and building on that foundation has been really great. At the time Gabor started at Acquia, Dries was still working on his PhD. But a little over a year ago he completed the bulk of his research and began working part-time as the co-founder of Acquia. Dries wore many hats at that time: new father, grad student, Acquia co-founder, Acquia CTO, a member of Acquia's executive management team, Drupal book promoter, Drupal 6 co-maintainer, Drupal association president, Drupal trademark protector, and Drupal project lead. Someday I should write a separate post just focusing on the eight jobs Dries does in parallel. But for now I'll just point to his public track record. There are 85 pages of patches Dries has committed in the last fourteen months. That list of patches does not include several hours a day he spent working with Gabor and other Drupal maintainers discussing architecture, and reviewing patches that others will commit. Those discussion aren't captured in the code repository commit logs but he's working diligently behind the scenes to keep improving Drupal.

As project lead and maintainer for a core release, Dries and Gabor have special roles to play in contributing to Drupal. But they are by no means the only contributors working at Acquia. We are fortunate to have many other contributors, which I've listed below along with links to lists of their contributions.

Engineering

Professional services

Support

Themes

The Acquia marina theme is being made available for free under the GPL.

Many of the people listed above have recently been focused on building our back-end infrastructure, support ticketing systems, and other Acquia-specific work. However, as you can see, many have also been working hard on Drupal 7, contributed modules for Drupal 6, and playing key roles on the Drupal security team.

Many Acquia team members have been contributing to the Drupal project for years. While it is true that we now get paid to work on Drupal, we also contribute because we find it intellectually stimulating, because our friends ask us to help them, because we think democratizing social publishing creates a better world, and because we believe it is good for our customers. Some of the patches listed were done on personal time and we can't take credit for that. But we like to think that we make it easier for our team to contribute more than they otherwise would.

And one more thing. Because there is sometimes confusion about what a commercially supported distribution of open source software actually means, I want to make a few things really clear. Our distribution of Drupal is a free download - we don't charge for it. All code in our distribution is GPL licensed - there are no proprietary bits. And all patches we make to Drupal are are contributed back directly to the Drupal project. So all the effort we invest in Drupal benefits everyone, not just paying Acquia customers.

Comments

Posted on by Ryan (not verified).

Let's not forget the support you provide contributed module developers like myself and others through ideas, bug reports, patches, etc. I'm thankful for Barry's input and his sessions lately, and I believe Peter had a big hand in the Admin Menu module as of late which still blows me away. Actual sponsorships are nice, but I appreciate just having very knowledgeable engineers checking out the code in various contributed modules around d.o. That reaches very far and benefits everyone, imo.

Posted on by Tom Geller (not verified).

Nicely put.

Posted on by Aston (not verified).

I think one of the most exciting things about Acquia, is not necessarily the services it will offer (although they will be quite appealing I'm sure), but the way Acquia will contribute to the Drupal project - helping make it more stable, secure and scalable far quicker than would have been otherwise possible.

I have a feeling Drupal 7 will be something special... thanks to the help from Acquia - and I look forward to hearing more about its progress.

Posted on by Robert Wetzlma<r (not verified).

I consider it a noteworthy approach to work both on an open source product *and* earn a living with it, in a sustainable and commercially sound way. This isn't easy at all, because of the inherent "no money involved" attitude some members of the open source community consider crucial - but I think commercial succes is a key point to longevity for a renowned project like Drupal.