With some interest we read recent commentary by Drupal project founder Dries Buyaert. He was meant to be providing pundrity on the future of open source. Some interesting points include:
- Most people interact with and/or rely on open source much more than they realize
- Mozilla Firefox, with a supposed 20% of the browser market, is in a large part responsible for bringing the face of open source to the consumer
- "web master role that we used to know is dead. Publishing tools and content management systems, like Drupal, replaced them"
We can agree with all that. But there are two other points that go a little squirrelly with me.
- Dries says that "Next is to eliminate the web developer and to make online publishing even more accessible. At Acquia, our goal is to provide anyone who wants to build a website the tools they need to build the website they want. No restrictions."
- Dries says that "I believe that Drupal will be the dominant platform to build websites."
Well, those two things don't make a lot of sense to me.
Eliminating the Web Developer
For starters, Drupal -- no matter how friendly Acquia and the community make it -- is still a download and install bundle of software. It's also one known for having a fairly steep learning curve. The curve can be addressed to some extent, but unless the whole model changes, the download, config, install and server management thing can't.
Sorry folks, but I just cannot ever imagine my mother setting up and managing a Drupal site. I suspect she is always going to have to rely on a systems administrator or some sort of specialist for this. And then when it comes to the template design and development, I again have some doubts as to her capabilities. Sorry Mom, please don't take it personally.
No, in my mind, if web developers are going to be eliminated, it's not going to be courtesy of installed software packages, it's going to be courtesy of hosted (SaaS) solutions with pluggable component architectures and point and click presentation themes. I'm thinking of things like WordPress.com, Google Sites, etc.
Drupal as the Dominant Web CMS Platform
This is a tall order. As our readers know, the web content management system market is a crowded one.
There are many reasons for this -- products have specific business purposes (address different needs), products thrive in local markets, products have loyal customers and communities, products tend to bloat, barriers to market entry are low, etc. etc. Most of these facts are not going to change.
Drupal has some great things going for it. The architecture has some grace about it. The community is thriving. The LAMP platform is thriving. Open source is increasingly accepted in the enterprise. And with Acquia, there is now a funded organization working to make Drupal more attractive to critical enterprise IT managers.
Google Trends -- Drupal, WordPress, Joomla
I'm a Drupal fan. Drupal has a promising future. I recommend Drupal to people all the time. But is Drupal going to be the dominant platform to build websites?
I'll put my money on the project doing well. But in the long run, this is a diverse field and it's going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.