Thursday, January 25, 2007

I almost forgot that Drupal was run by techies

So, I did up a Drupal import module for my employer. We're starting to use Drupal a lot. The first hurdle: 40,000 legacy records that are built in 50 different ways (literally-- so we have 8 to 5000 records formatted in 50 different ways). I needed a universal import tool that plugged material from any of these formats into a CCK developed content-type, regardless of whether they had associated content or not or multiples or multiple sources or multiple destinations.

Unlike the Import/Export tool that was developed via funding from Google's Summer of Code, what I came up with works in my experiments (eg. 20 experiments). I spoke with my bosses and they tentatively think that distributing our house-built code is a good idea. So, I have a tool that works, a theoretical buy-in the idea of opening our source and a belief that this tool would be of benefit.

What I was missing was access to the CVS to post my code. So, I "applied" for an account. They ask your motiviations.

Motivation message:
To make Drupal more viable by helping to develop new features and soldify existing code.
- I would like to help with bringing some of my favorite 4.7x modules up to 5.x
- I would like to develop import modules to allow data to be broughtcinto a Drupal environment
- I would like to share back fixes I have done to my local code base. (e.g local patches to taxonomy_theme to allow it to sniff for taxonomy_theme matches in amongst multiple terms)

Remember what they say about talking to cops? Say NOTHING? Well, in making my application I said too much:

We are sorry to inform you that your CVS account request has been declined due to the reasons outlined below.

Message from the CVS maintainer:
Hi, thanks for your interest in Drupal and contributing in general. Regarding upgrading modules from 4.7 to 5 and sharing back fixes, the patch issue system allows you to do that by supplying your fixes back to the maintainer in question. Please use that system in the first instance. Regarding developing modules, it's a good idea to do the developing before requesting a CVS account.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss this further, as we can still review our position.

Kind regards,

At Microsoft, you apply to add your code and they pay you and give you a nice office. In Open Source-land, you apply to add your code and you can be turned down, unpaid and do it all from the spare room in the back of the house. I understand that maintainers are there to maintain the quality of the code. But, they're gate keepers and peddlers in asymetry. Just as closed-source code is gated from tinkering, Open Source has become the same. Unfortunately, Open Source is to Closed Source as the Anglican Church is to Catholicism: they've broken out on their own, keeping only the bad parts.

Drupal has several active champions-- both individuals and companies. They control development and steer the core. That's common to all projects. 1% may do 99% of the innovation; 1% may work and 99% may spectate. Getting to that dynamic by default is just the way of things when the natural order occurs. The problem is that gatekeepers have emerged. Their legitimate function is to establish order and keep out the bad actors. What they have also done is block differences of opinion and do so based on mood. Dubious modules get in and good modules have to sit off of the beacon on someone's own blog. The net effect is that you have 1100 known different modules, and an unknown number of other ones elsewhere out there on the web. Some of them are similar to each other. If you attempt to release a module that aggregates several sets of these into a single package, that would be derivative and you would not be allowed to have a CVS account to do that. Drupal has dramatic greats and dramatic strengths. This approach will stymie the development of Drupal and may make it ultimately at risk. Five years ago PostNuke was the real deal and Drupal was a mutant. There is no reason to expect that Drupal will not go the way of PostNuke.

Web 2.0 has hit the Internet. No sign of when it will hit the Internet development community.

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