A passion for PHP, as well as a strong developer community, has been vital to Drupal’s success, founder Dries Buytaert said.
Speaking to Computerworld Australia, Buytaert said Drupal’s growth can be partly attributed to the fact that the open source content management system (CMS) is written in PHP.
“I think one of the reasons Drupal grew and is one of the dominant systems on the Web is because it’s written in PHP,” he said. “The reason is that PHP is very accessible, it’s very easy for developers to open the code and make any changes.”
While Buytaert has no regrets writing Drupal in PHP, he said the company’s growth has resulted in an increased need for PHP developers.
“We need many more Drupal people because the growth is exploding,” he said. “We need to train really solid PHP developers and sometimes PHP is stigmatised for not being the cool tool, although I think a lot of people don’t realise that Drupal is another new layer on top of PHP.”
The popularity of Drupal has meant a large increase in public faces since its inception, with Buytaert saying that this number has increased from the original figure of 200,000 in 2007.
“Now there are over one million [public faces], and we actually did a crawler because people were asking me question; how many Drupal sites are there?,” he said. “It’s hard to know because you can download Drupal from a number of different locations.”
While calculating the exact number of Drupal users has proved difficult, Buytaert said the open source giant has attempted to paint a clearer picture of such growth.
“We crawled 100 million websites and of these 100 million, we found that a million of these were Drupal sites,” he said. “So if you use this as a statistic, Drupal powers more than one million websites or more than one per cent of the Web.”
As well as having a passion for PHP, Buytaert said Drupal modules like CCK and Views have “changed the way people build websites”.
“[With] a lot of other systems, if you want to build something [then] you have to have developers,” he said. “Whereas CCK and Views have empowered non-developers because they can link things together through an easy to use interface.”
A strong developer community is also important to Buytaert, who said Drupal forums have played a large part in these communities.
“We’ve built a lot of tools that allow people to work together online on Drupal.org, so people can discuss things on forums,” he said. “… It empowers small groups to self organise and to work on bigger things and bigger chunks of code and to push them to me as bigger chunks of code.”
Buytaert also spoke to Computerworld Australia about why leadership in the open source movement is different than in the rest of the IT industry.
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