Drupal Commons is growing
by Jay Batson
At the start of DrupalCon San Francisco, we let folks know that we were working on a new Drupal Distribution called Drupal Commons. As a reminder, Drupal Commons is integrating groups, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, documents, and events into a single packaged solution. It is designed to meet the business needs of enterprises who are looking at solutions like Jive. At the time, I made a screencast to give people a quick look at what it's capabilities are.
Since the time since that initial screencast, we've had a gratifying level of interest in Drupal Commons, and so I thought an update would be useful to share. The interest has been gratifying in two respects: First, that a lot of enterprises immediately see the potential for benefit in their organizations, and second, that these enterprises are providing terrific feedback to us on what they need Commons to do for them. I love being customer-driven, and so we've been working really fast hard to respond to customer desires, and growing Drupal Commons' capabilities to provide what they've been asking for.
The process has been so rewarding I can hardly express my enthusiasm. It has highlighted the beauty of Drupal: speed of development due to the breadth of things available from the community. The Drupal mantra "There's a module for that" has held true in spades. And to our joy, most of the modules we've looked at incorporating are solid, stable, and provide most of what we need. Which means our development speed has been blisteringly fast. And our customer excitement with the results is, well, ... huge. That said, as is also normal for Drupal, there is usually a need to tailor the UX of some of these modules to make a smoother experience for users. (I consider the Commons Theme and the UX still a work-in-progress; but we're working with some of our partners to make big strides here in the next few weeks.)
One of the things we've paid attention to since that original screencast is a question we hear from customers, who ask "How do we grow our community?" We've noticed that, among our customers, many are anticipating having a designated Community Manager whose job it will be to help find ways to build community. This totally rings true for us; not only is Dries a spectacular community leader, and we here at Acquia have subconsciuosly internalized a bunch of the things he says he does to nurture the Drupal community. Leveraging this experience, we've been adding in some tools for community managers into Drupal Commons - like a home page where the community manager can promote featured groups, content, and events as a way to give visibility to things that will grow the community.
So at this point, we've stabilized the key features of providing a solid community groups capability, with support for group documents, discussions, wikis, RSS feeds, and events. In our most recent work, we've also made it a bit more fun, by adding avatars to the Recent Content stream on the dashboard, adding reputation points to user profiles, enabling users to have a more rich profile, showing more complete user listings, adding some drop-down menus for efficiency, etc. We've taken lots of inspiration in these areas from successful community sites like Symantec Connect, Novell Communities, and other successful Drupal community sites.
Given all the changes, I've re-recorded the screencast for Drupal Commons to include all these new changes. Whether you watched the old one or not, go watch this one, and then tell us whether this interests you, and how you'd like to use Drupal Commons for your own needs.
Watch for more progress here as we proceed towards our summer release. To learn more about how social business software will help your business, check out our white paper on Building Enterprise Social Communities using Drupal.