DrupalCon Boston 2008 Notes from Communication Cooperation Collaboration

I want to thank all the folks who participated in the session “Communication, Cooperation, Collaboration: Can Drupal Shops Work Together”, based on the conversation during the session, and subsequently during the remainder of the conference that answer is, “Yes, we can, and we must.” What follows are notes from the session which thanks to Robin Barre for taking notes. I have taken my best shot at redacting and organizing them.


Communication: the imparting or interchange of thoughts,
opinions, or information
Cooperation: To work or act together toward a common end or
purpose. (Making Drupal the best open source CMS in the world)
Collaboration: To work together, especially in a joint
intellectual effort. (Specific modules, business process, or

Communication Strategies

  • Conferences
  • Email Lists
  • d.o and g.d.o
  • Conference Calls
  • One on One Calls and meetings
  • Blogging about work and module development
  • Podcasts and screencasts


Builds trust, Builds community


Takes time, Costs money, Clients take precedence

Goals for Drupal Shops

  • Don’t let code die in client projects
  • Don’t duplicate module development
  • Determine points of overlap on projects, modules and requirements

Specific Challenges we are all facing:

  • image handling
  • events
  • feed aggregation

Performance and Scalability

  • Sharing Knowledge
  • Metrics and Bench Marking
  • Detailed Implementation Plans and strategies

Strategies to Improve Communication, Cooperation, Collaboration

  • Create back channel: direct communication among interested parties, email, phone call, im
  • do research on existing modules or efforts before coding
  • blog effectively about what you are doing
  • Blog more, Blog Better. it is not cheap! But is is worth the investment
  • Claim “name space” on drupal.org early and make intentions clear
  • Get Clients to FUND good development
  • Work with the existing COMMUNITY g.d.o
  • Get our teams to work with focus on generalized/reusable solutions
  • Design Sprints – Fund Them
  • process/relationship between commercial community and project maintainer. Pay for enhancements

Share business processes

  • contract templates
  • role descriptions
  • project workflows

Priorities: What can we do better this year

  • Gregory – stop duplicating module development
  • Robert – code developed for a client that just stays there, should it be contributed
  • Bill – let’s identify some key challenges and work on their solutions as a group e.g. image handling
  • Eric – feed aggregation, invest in communication, create a back channel for shops. Blog about development, start posting on drupal.org when starting something new, announcing can bring about change.
  • Michael – when you’re setting up your shop, how are thinking about how much you’re going to contribute, performance metrics and benchmarks, sharing knowledge about performance, bringing your client in for financial support,
  • Laura – we’re all in the community, collaboration, but that’s what the community does already, providing patches, not just applying an individual to supporting a feature but providing a team to support

Closing Comments

Some closing thoughts from the panel: all shops/firms should get listed on the services listing of drupal.org. Get your blog feed for posts tagged “drupal” included in drupal planet. Get involved in drupal.org redesign effort. Drupal shops should support small targeted gatherings and sprints. Developers working on client facing work should look for solutions that solve 90% of the cases rather than creating many modules that solve 50% of cases. Communication (and resulting collaboration) really does pay for itself in the long run, look at i18n. Testing in drupal is going to take a real shift from the way things have typically been, it is a mindset change for many developers.

Next Steps: keep the conversations going. Blog More! Publish case studies, best practices and business process documents. Pick up the phone and check in with other shops.

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