Drupal: It Takes a Village to Raise a CMS

As you may well know, Elevated Third does a lot of work in Drupal, a free, open-source CMS built entirely through community contribution. Everyone from individuals to large corporations have added code, modules, themes and all the various working parts that make Drupal a successful platform. Contributing has become a great way for a small firm to enhance its reputation for having knowledgeable developers, for an individual to provide a beneficial product to the world at large and for everyone to ensure that the software they use is topnotch. However, a vast of the majority of Drupal contributed modules are built by developers working within a programmer’s mindset; there is a dearth of modules built for or by designers, project managers, business users, or non-tech-savvy admins.

I develop in Drupal everyday and enjoy pushing code back and forth: bitwise transforms, encryption, serializing and complex arrays make me happy, but unfortunately not every site I build can be dedicated to generating regular expressions, and all of Elevated Third’s sites feature the hard work of everyone at the company. However, a vast majority of Drupal contributed modules address issues that I face as a developer, such as altering data and changing variables, and eschew interface and experience for pure functionality.   

Because of this, there is functionality or features that are important or even necessary for business or the user that have not been addressed by existing modules. I’m sure there are use cases and functions designers, project managers, and users encounter every day that are prime targets for development of a contributed module that I, as a developer, would never consider or come across. These people are the missing factor in the Drupal community, the experts in interface and documentation, the people who have ideas that never cross a developer’s mind.

How do we solve this? It certainly is not by limiting the number of developers contributing modules. No, instead we developers should be encouraging and embracing the contributions made by non-developers in the Drupal community. Someone to make sure the user experience is top notch, that documentation and interface is sensible and friendly to ensure that our contributions to the community are more than just blunt tools that only provide benefit to developers. Elevated Third could not function or produce great work if it was only the dev team, just as we developers benefit greatly from their experience and knowledge, so too can the Drupal community. It is definitely time to get all the non-developers involved and make the community even stronger.