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Open Source Software Up the Stack

Dennis Byron

Drupal open source founder sees end of publishing

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UPDATED 3/6/2008 to better explain why open source helps users if it turns out they don't like what Buytaert/Acquia does with it.

Dries Buytaert is the creator and project lead of the popular Drupal open source content management software that lets an individual or an entire community of users publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. 800 friends and associates heard his state-of-the-project keynote March 3 at Drupalcon, which is co-located from March 3-6 with the AiiM show in Boston.

I give him high marks for clarity and courage in his presentation.

The over 800 attendees at the Drupalcon conference are mostly designers, developers and webmasters that both use and contribute to the Drupal open source software (OSS) project. Dries said he envisioned a future where designers, developers and webmasters are no longer needed.

He was preceded on the dais by an executive of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which "invests in journalism excellence worldwide" (along with other charitable efforts). The executive had just announced the next stage in the ongoing Knight News Challenge, a program of grants likely to help the Drupal community. The foundation descends from (but is no longer related to) the Knight-Ridder publishing empire. Buytaert said in his speech that he foresaw a future without publishers too.

He provided strong technical and market proof points in delivering the information that the audience presumably would not want to hear. But it was well received. He made it clear that he was talking 'future," some point after the Release 7 currently in process and scheduled for a November 2008 code freeze is completed.

Of course, one of the major benefits of OSS is that anyone that does not buy into the Buytaert vision if Drupal can take a fork and move forward in another direction. Related to that possibility, in a press release issued at the conference, Dries also put some substance around Acquia, a company he co-founded in December 2007 with funding from North Bridge Venture Partners, Sigma Partners and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. The company plans to commercialize Drupal along the lines of other for-profit ventures tied to community projects (e.g., Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Fedora, IBM WebSphere Community Edition to Geronimo, Iona Fusion to Apache Software Foundation ServiceMix and ActiveMQ). Dries' co-founder is Jay Batson, previously founding CEO of open source VOIP software company Pingtel. They have been joined by Jeff Whatcott (formerly of Adobe/Macromedia/Allaire) who will run marketing.

(As an aside, AiiM is now known as the Enterprise Content Management association but we greybeards will always know it as the Association for Information and Image Management.)

Dennis Byron’s blog on open source software: A longtime market research analyst follows what “the movement? means to business integration—in applications, infrastructure, as services, as architecture and as functionality.

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