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DrupalCon Portland 2013: A Big Sloppy Love Letter to Drupal

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I went to Portland for my third DrupalCon this year, having previously been to Chicago 2011 and Denver 2012.  They continue to get better every year.  This was the convention for Drupal 8 hype, something which I wholeheartedly buy into (just as Drupal 7 was worlds better than 6, and 6 was better than 5).

But I don't want to write a convention recap.  Rather, I want to take a moment to discuss the touchy-feely side of why I use Drupal.

I don't use Drupal for its technical side, or rather I do, but that's not the reason that I love it.  Drupal does have some amazing technical pieces -- the module system is insanely flexible, and allows it to scale up from very small mom-and-pop business sites all the way up to sites like  It's also amazing how much stuff is prebuilt by the community.  Odds are, if I want to do it, somebody already has, and it's only a matter of configuring it to get it to work for me.

I stick with Drupal for the community.  I don't mean I have tons of friends there, but rather that the community's values align with mine, both professionally and personally.

1. Drupal is open source.  Not only does this mean the software is Free as in Beer, this means that the community generally aligns with my philosophy regarding software design.  Software is better with more people, as more people mean more ideas, and better code.

2. Drupal is accessible.  It's possible to go up and talk to Dries, the founder of Drupal, at DrupalCon.  Just wander up there!  Say hi!  Other big name Drupal developers I've seen are the same.  I've never had a developer refuse to talk to me, no matter how big they are in the Drupal world.

3. Drupal is modest.  Just because Dries founded the software doesn't mean that he pretends to know all of it.  He's freely willing to admit that he doesn't know everything and that's okay.  Somebody else will know it, because that's how open source development works.  At the code sprint, Dries committed some code to Drupal 8 for demonstration purposes, and when talking about some version control flags, he said something to the effect of "I don't know exactly why I do this, I only know that if I don't do it, everybody will get angry with me."  That's a level of modesty and dependency on other people's work that a lot of developers are way too insecure to admit.

4. Drupal is inclusive.  There's a strong ideal in the Drupal community, one that says everybody should be able to engage with Drupal.  And this doesn't mean just young, white, straight men, as is the frustrating culture of startups and Silicon Valley.  No, this means everybody.  Not that Drupal is a perfect multi-culti software paradise, but I feel that there's an understanding of the problem and an interest and willingness to break boundaries that is missing in many tech communities.  This is the same Drupal community that called out Michael Lopp's use of the computer-dumb mom as the lazy stereotype it is, and devoted one of the very first sessions of its biggest conference to how we can increase diversity in our community, just so we'll have that idea in the forefront of our mind as we go through the rest of the conference.

5. Drupal is not for-profit.  There's a huge number of non-profits, educational, and government institutions that have used Drupal.  They, in large part, are willing to give back to the community, and adopt a worldview that is not profit-maximizing.  This is a big deal in a wider tech culture that is largely focused on economic exploitation.  I'm not anti-business, and neither is Drupal, but I get tired of things being constantly framed in monetary terms, as if life was just a giant zero-sum game.

That's it.  Those are the reasons I use Drupal.  I love it.  Come join us!  If you are local, come to DrupalCamp Twin Cities.  If you're not, check out or just contact me.