Founder of Drupal (drupal.org), Dries Buytaert (buytaert.net) and founder of WordPress, (wordpress.org) Matt Mullenweg (ma.tt) go head to head in this discussion of open source software competitiveness and the open source community. The discussion was moderated by Schipulite David Stagg (schipul.com/people/david-stagg/) in Houston, TX at the Norris Conference Center for Schipul's 2 day tech/geek conference -
That wouldn't, that wouldn't last for too long
so, we use both of them and as a third party somewhat neutral person
I feel like it's the right tool for the right job. That's what I believe.
Now, I think if you ask anyone else in here they'd say they want to see you two fight to the death, so
What do you two make of this competition?
So the question is what do we think about the competition?
I think there's two ways to answer the question
You know I do think that we run into each other, and that we, compete sometimes
But I think you summarized it well
At least that's my feeling. Like, on the low end if you build smaller sites like you know
I'm sure you bump into your WordPress quite a bit, but on the high end you see them less.
At least from where Acquia, my company is sitting. We do a lot of work in the enterprise
We don't usually run into WordPress that much
I think there's a long tail of smaller Drupal companies that I'm sure are like in the WordPress versus a Drupal camp a lot more
Dries was just going on saying how, I don't know if you could hear him or not
but he doesn't bump into WordPress a lot on the enterprise level, but on a smaller scale level it is definitely there, so
You know if one one up one up.. is this working?
Or we can start shouting
There's just so much awesomeness
All right, so but I don't know at the same time
We're also sort of on the same side of things right, we're fighting the same fight
proprietor. I don't - right.
I don't feel like we're competing in the traditional sense of competing, to be honest, so
I guess where we probably run into each other more now is that
Traditionally, if you go back five years
Drupal was a very powerful tool that has been becoming easier to use.
WordPress is an extremely easy to use tool that's becoming a lot more powerful
I think that today there's not anything you could do in one platform
that you couldn't do in the other.
I haven't seen a user facing feature or a site that couldn't be built in either of the systems
If the technology works, oh there we go. If the technology works
your team knows, and also you know,
That are you serving to develop or something that lots of journalists are going to need to use.
Lots of end users, things like that
Okay, so the question the question was it seems to me, okay
Being a designer developer working in that world
that designers seemed to fall in love with WordPress more easily and fastly
It feels like developers seem to fall more in love with Drupal faster and easier
I'm curious, Matt, first if that was a conscious decision on your part
From the early early beginning you had a beautiful back-end theme
And you kept that going. It took until Drupal 7 to get, some kind of momentum going for that, for you Dries
So if you could touch a little bit on designers and Dries, you on developers.
Sure, it wasn't anything we ever specifically targeted, although certainly when starting WordPress
I had sort of a few dream users- like a few folks, like a Mark Pilgrim or Jeffrey Zelman that was like if someday
we can make the software good enough
and they all run it now, which is kind of cool. Every single one of that original list is now on WordPress.
I actually went here, University of Houston, and studied political science.
But just for two years, I dropped out
Which is kind of funny, because I'm in their new campaign like "Cougar Pride" or something, which I find hilarious in and of itself
I always thought of things as a means to an end, so
I learned a ton about code and programming and back-end systems and everything like that
mainly because it had sort of a vision for a user experience that we want to realize and
the easiest way to do it was to just
do it ourselves
and so it was kind of able to grow up with the system, and so we've made certain design choices
from a technical point of view that, to me, were more intuitive. I think that
Developer APIs have a user interface
just like the interface does
So for example, instead of doing a - there was a big pressure, two big pressures early on in WordPress's life
You'll probably remember this because you're also old school. I love that. Everyone wanted us to adopt a templating system, particularly Smarty
because movable-type had a templating system. Remember Smarty? Where are those guys now?
And two- they wanted us to go sort of a strict object-oriented model
so you could extend everything WordPress does, like through
classes, essentially, and
in sort of looking at how, what we were doing, which actually isn't that complex, like, we take text, we put in a database,
spit it back out
add some glorified widgets around that but
it seemed like a simpler approach or even better
so we took sort of an action-oriented plugin approach where we have
actions and filters that can modify any part of the system
and we've seen that with over 15,000 plugins, I think approaching 20,000 now, people have done everything you can possibly imagine
But it wasn't a strict object-oriented approach
That perhaps is more correct from a computer science point of view, but I think is a lot harder to use for people just getting started
So we just sort of take a pragmatic approach, whatever works best for the given problem.
So, I can tell you my side of the story, which is, I mean there's a couple of things here
One- when I started drupal I was in college to get a computer science degree
So I was almost an engineer when I started, so
I think I applied a lot of engineering best practices to Drupal, and as a typical engineer
I wasn't too concerned about, the user experience and all of these other things, and I was very very obsessed about the
architecture, and you know, applying the right, and having the right APIs and and all of these things, and so when I finally
released Drupal as open source, I think it naturally attracted an audience
of developers, because obviously that's the only person that could use it.
And I think that that's basically what happened, like the initial community was developer community
And it started to expand to more and more developers
And as we expanded to more and more developers, I guess that emphasis on, sort of
architecture and and all of these other things just was reinforced.
And so we've tried to change that, and we're actively still trying to change that
And I think it's slowly starting to work, but I think it's very much
historical, if you will, so
I was actually one of those developers. I looked up my drupal.org profile today, and it was user ID
And I've been a member for eight years in one week
So just past the anniversary.
Another thing, I found interesting on the profile was, you know how you have the interest and you can click the interest to see
what they were? I put in these interests, who knows how long ago
But I'm one of 71 people who are interested in typography on drupal.org, but I am the only person who lists simplicity as an interest
So, I vaguely remember being, and I don't know if it's still there a but wasn't at some point, didn't you give like a credit to Drupal?
On wordpress.com? It's still there
It's still there, really?
You had a bit of code in the early versions of WordPress. I was looking through our source and I saw
Cribbed from Dries at Drupal
Yeah, it was a ping bit chorus. Remember the weblogs.com ping stuff, so I think we just copy and pasted that function
We're both PHP and GPL. So you know, things can- in theory, you could copy and paste anything between them and
and it was in there for a long time, years
Now it's your turn to get some code in Drupal.
I have an account
So, let's have a little bit more fun. You guys are both
you know, in college, nerds, geeks programming away and became super successful, very attractive men
went on to do well
That being said, Dries, I'm gonna start with you. What do you wish you had done that Matt did?
Wow, let's stick with technical stuff
but I think, I think
I think Matt did a lot of things right
You know, he started his company sooner than I did, which I think was a smart thing to do
I think wordpress.com is a tremendous asset to get more people involved with WordPress
And so I think that was a very smart thing to do
Its focus on usability and design I think is is key, and I think in today's world
it's even more obvious that that was a very important thing to do early on, and so in a way
we're paying the penalty of not doing that
early on. So I think these two elements are probably, two things I would do sooner.
I thought I could skip that one.
The thing when I look at the the Drupal community
The thing I like, I'm probably more envious, most envious of is how the software runs the community itself.
So like, the bug tracker's Drupal, the forms are Drupal, the issues are Drupal ,everything's Drupal
And I think that's super cool, and also just the third-party developer community.
I would say even though
WordPress has more web sites, we have fewer of the large
based around it.
We sort of have three or four of the big ones that can take, the big you know
hundreds of thousands or million dollar projects
where you guys seem to have like twenty.
Like every place I go
I meet like some other, like a phase three or like, something like that, and like wow it's like a 60 person company
just doing Drupal consulting. Capgemini, you know all these crazy things and
That's something I think that there's a real dearth of in the wordpress communities. There's a huge demand
but the projects tend to be
building the same site for whatever reason tends to cost less in WordPress. So it just supports a smaller ecosystem
Yeah, I think that's one of the major
success factors for WordPress is how easy it is to launch quote-on-quote out-Of-the-box. Drupal Garden started, what, last year?
last year, and wordpress.com in some version of it has been a long a little bit longer, kind of like you said, now
Let's talk a little bit about open source
You both have that common ground, you both have that common footing, and leaving evil proprietary softwares out of this,
how do you, how do you both benefit from the other person existing?
Is the question how do I benefit from Matt existing, or proprietary vendors existing?
I think if if WordPress wins, Drupal wins, because that means open source wins, basically.
I think competition is always good. I mean, it pushes you to be better
Joomla or Drupal or CQ5 or any of these guys
does something amazing, the bar has been raised, and I think that's what's been really interesting from our point of view is that,
because WordPress is used in so many places
we kind of end up competing with a lot of different people in a lot of different spots.
So there's two other open source Php my sequel
GPL content management systems that are really good. There's, for the social blogging site with wordpress.com there's tumblr and
blogger and you know all these other folks, or Twitter and Facebook depending on how you
you categorize them on the CMS side. We got Squarespace and
Acquia Gardens, Drupal Gardens, I mean, almost at every single level there's a strong competition, and it just forces us to be better
which I think is good for you guys.
So let's, you mentioned raising the bar higher
You keep talking, I asked you directly between yourselves
But let's talk about proprietary software then. Do you feel like they can help raise that bar for you guys?
When you have people dedicated being paid a lot of money to do something and create something great, or their job depends on it,
do you feel like they can also raise the bar for you guys?
Proprietary software often has short term advantages, in that you can, whoever is directing
it can tell people what to do, but I think over the long term open source dominates every single area it enters.
That's taken a very long time with desktops. It took a very short time with content management software.
It was just five or six years ago when, Movable-type was the dominant system out there.
Blogger, all these other things that we don't even talk about anymore.
That's happened very quickly, and I think that
people being told what to do or working for money are never gonna match people working for passion
and a community, and the ecosystem benefits that would spring up around this. And,
you just see that story playing out again and again and again.
And, I mean, it's not a bad thing to write your own Cms. I mean, we both did it.
But um, I think that open source is, is not just the future of technology and content management, it's the future of society and
it's something that everyone should be embracing or thinking about embracing, regardless of your business model or anything else.
You know, I agree with that. You know, I firmly believe- every cell in my body believes- that open source is the way forward
especially when it comes to websites, but you know, also beyond just websites.
At the same time, to come back to your question, I do think we can learn from, proprietary competitors.
I mean, they're doing a lot of things right, like
you know, open source is great, but there's also things which we don't always do well and
you know, things like maybe marketing and promotion.
And, I'm not saying we should do
you know, like evil bad marketing and promotion
but, that's something that we often can learn from, right, because we don't necessarily sell ourselves
the way that we could, so
I think that's kind of the areas where we can learn from them.
You guys do a ton of that now.
We do a lot of marketing
How many sales people, about?
We're about, we're a total of 160 people and we have about
I would say 15
Wow, that's awesome.
And what about the size of your company?
Automatic is 93, and I guess we have one-and-a-half sales people
Yeah, we're very much technology and consumer internet focused
We have a vip group, which is probably where we end up running into each other. We have a group
that works with the highest end sights, and
CNN, New York Times, Fox News, Wall Street Journal- basically all the media companies
and then, some fortune 500s and stuff like that and
And they look a little more like a traditional enterprise company, that little block, but the vast majority of the company is
either a support, which is 20 people, which is the largest team, for
operations or overhead, depending on how you call it, and then everyone else is product focused
Including me. You're not the sales guy?
I always tell them what they're doing wrong.
Like when I go into these enterprise things, and they're like "we want a seven stage workflow for our blog", I'm like no you don't.
That is dumb
That's why Twitter gets the story 15 minutes before you do
I mean, you don't need all those levels of Enterprise crap, like it's terrible and so I'm really bad at that.
Dries, you mentioned that every cell in your body believes in open source, so
taking a step back from the content management systems, in particular, a lot of people including
probably some people in this room, if I were to say open source they would categorize it as free. How do you respond to that?
Well yeah, I mean open source is a license. As a license,
you know, it means you can use a software without having to pay so it's free, so usually it means, well it means
open source wins on price, right, but I think more importantly- and I talked about this in my keynote yesterday
the other elements of the open source license essentially
encourage collaboration. Collaboration leads to community, and community leads to innovation,
which is reflected in the fact that we have, 10,000 modules or
15,000 Plugins or whatever, and
because of that, we're actually winning because we are the better technology. The innovation coming from our communities is what makes all the difference
so it's kind of cute that we've been on price, but the real deal is that we win because we're better, so
Well if you think about it, if you're like a young kid passionate about this stuff
That's probably someone here in this room, like you're not gonna
go to Adobe and work on CQ5, like that's not at the top of your list.
You're gonna get involved with an open source project, contributing, hacking on it
And so you're gonna get a job from that. You're gonna become a contributor, I mean,
that's the best way in the world say get involved with these things, so I feel like the best and brightest, that's the direction
And just so these guys can see up here from you all
Will you raise your hand if you have used or developed on Drupal before
Keep it up
Okay, and then raise your hand if you have used or developed on WordPress before
I think it's I think it's pretty incredible to see the, that's where I started
I mean, I started a WordPress when I was a lot younger as well
And now I work for a proprietary software company. How about that, so
Matt, what do you think?
What do you think Drupal, as a software's, biggest advantage is?
I think time and time again, I go back to this ecosystem of
consulting firms, because the software by itself is a blank canvas, and you go to one of these companies
and let's be candid- they don't have the tech talent in-house to implement these things effectively so they always work with a third party, and
you know, phase three is a great example.
You guys are a great example.
As a partner, it can help these
enterprises or businesses or people or whatever create something far far better,
and they would be able to own their own, and that's awesome.
And you also have how the association works. Actually by the way, I'm an association member as of this morning.
When I was checking out my profile, I donated the 100 bucks, so
I love that though. And that's something that I think as, that we're trying to improve
We definitely, that's that's part of the untold story is like, from the beginning
we've always looked to each other, and we even co-developed some things like. I feel like we got into photography
like kind of in parallel, and
you know, I was definitely keeping an eye on Drupal in the early days. They were keeping an eye on us.
It's been, like we've kind of grown up together
and so that's why I think that now we're kind of winding up in a similar place because the context of
We were against Java Script.
They were against Java, yeah, it was called DhTml and it was used for lame effects and stuff like
It was the web as a document model, not as an application model, and as that's changed, as browsers
have, increased in capabilities 100-fold, broadband, the complete you know,
shifting, the web has 100 percent changed in the past four years through social and mobile
and we just can't think about the world in the same way
And that's, I think, why we're going in similar directions. We're both tackling some of the same problems.
so the question was
Yes, I think we talked about this already, I think
One of the reasons why, and you know, people don't WordPress over Drupal often is usability, and so I think that's a huge advantage
And another thing I would say, so while we have a very large and very thriving ecosystem
you know, I've always been like focused on trying to create a well-rounded ecosystem
if you will, and I think an area where we can do better as Drupal is
relative to designers, and I think that's an area, again, where WordPress excels
And so, I'm trying to get more designers into Drupal
So what's the biggest advantage of Drupal over WordPress?
The biggest advantage of Drupal over WordPress?
I think it's our architecture and the additional flexibility that it gives us
in terms of, I think we have some really really powerful modules like CCK views
which, I don't think there's
There's some equivalence, but I don't think they're in the same category of strength, and I think it's enabled by
the underlying architecture
So, I don't know
I would actually put that as well as the community architecture where things like CCK
seem much tighter to core development than in WordPress, where some plugins are kind of all in their own lands
So the way, I like to - I don't know if you use the same approach
But the way I like to think of it is, you know
contributed modules as we call them, They're a great area for people to
launch ideas to start up some, experiments, and then what happens
is that some of these modules, all of a sudden everybody's using them and so they've effectively become
infrastructure, if you will, and that's a good time to move them into core, and so we've just did that with CCK, for example.
You know it's a great way
Yeah, well actually they took more than five years
because we recognize the success of CCK
and then we started to think about it, and like, actually if you want to do this well
we first need fix this, and then need to fix this and so
you know, we've been sort of paving the path
to get CCK into core for many many years, and finally were able to do so in a way which
satisfied our architectural bar, if you will, so.. that's, how we evolve. Actually, another
interesting difference is on on backwards compatibility, which I think
relates to this, like
Drupal- in Drupal we're not afraid to change our APIs or to break backwards compatibility, and that actually allows us to make our
architecture better, and to evolve our architecture to enable things like CCK to be done well and to be integrated in core
at a very deep and fundamental level, so
We, we're backwards compatible, like you can take a theme written for WordPress 1.0, and it still runs today.
We just go all the way back, and it's a huge pain in the butt, and there's certainly things in WordPress like stylistically
especially that just drive me crazy
Like and the post table. There's a capital ID and every place else is lowercase. I'm like ah
but to change that would, cause some amount of breakage and
Yeah, and was the same question
Backwards compatibility is definitely, I would say actually speed of release, which is somewhat a function of wordpress.com
On wordpress.com we have 25 million beta testers, and we essentially- on wordpress.org run trunk on wordpress.com
We run trunk, but it's merged
sort of periodically, and
so basically, we have the latest development code being tested by a bajillion people
for user things, but also for performance things so
you know, one of the things
it was uncertain of, call it five years ago, was if the architectural choices
we chose would ultimately, make WordPress unscalable. That was one of the big criticisms
we had, particularly with our multi-site version- called multi-user at the time- that like this will never scale this will never scale this will never scale
So eventually we're like well heck, we're just going to do it
you know 25 million blogs later it still scales really well and
so we've been able to prove out some of those choices, but that
environment where we deploy code to wordpress.com, anywhere from forty to sixty times per day and
it's just a very very, it's a crucible for everything- user experience, for performance, for
almost anything you can imagine. I think you're starting to develop that with Gardens. It's like, it's a huge event.
I think a lot of people here may be
freelancers, or just kind of just hearing Drupal for the first time, maybe yesterday
and they go back to their house
and they downloaded, and they start investigating and checking it out.
What kind of advice would you have for those people- and I'm not just thinking back as when you guys were college students. like
What would you tell yourself then when you were first starting off, like
These people who even, I mean, whether you're 20 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old, some people may want to be getting out
of what they're in right now and doing something new, and you guys have that
luxury to from a young age to grow up
and you know at least have each other and other, when the web was exploding and
What kind of advice would you give those people today? Kind of the same question- if you could email yourself ten years ago,
what would you tell yourself?
Buy Apple stock
And then i would say
I think we both
The path both of us took is what I'd recommend. If you're coming up in the world today
and you want to learn to program, or to be a better developer, or a better designer, or anything
open source is the best way in the world to do it.
It's ridiculous when you think of it, the accessibility
You can't walk up to Facebook and, like, open the code behind the homepage and say hey, I could make this ten percent more effective.
The best engineers in the world on these web scale platforms
you know for, some of the top websites or behind proprietary systems
but you can get involved with Drupal, which runs one of the largest websites in the world, and drop a patch and Dries is gonna read it
or one of the other coders who he considers the best in the world is gonna read it and review it and give you feedback
and critique you and, like, that's better than any school you could go to an entire world like, I can't even
just the equality for opportunity out here right now is
is mind-blowing. I mean, WordPress started here in Houston, Texas.
That's, they say that's not supposed to happen, right?
You have to be in San Francisco to start something big, or you have to be- neither of us were in the tech centers
Or just, and partially maybe that's why it happened- because there wasn't that much else to do, and it was hot outside
There's a ton to do here, but it was hot it was hot outside.
Let's be honest.
That environment I think is
access to information and incredible people to work with.
Great answer, I think one thing I would add to that is like
I was just, and I still am, extremely passionate about what I do and so I, in a way, it's like
I was naive
and I followed my passion, and I just started writing code, and I kept writing code for many many years and
you know, looking back it wasn't
necessarily the smartest thing to do, if you will, like because there's already other CMSs, and yet it just kept going, you know
what I mean? I just ignored the world. I'd never installed a proprietary CMS
and I just made things up and just followed that passion, so I think if you follow your passion
that's when you get to places, so
I don't know if this happened when you launched, but when WordPress launched people were like the world doesn't need another CMS
It doesn't need another blogging platform there. What was the website where you could try like 50 of them?
It's still going it's like
Is it opensourcecms.com?
Yeah, I think so, opensourcecms.com, and it still has like 50 different things you can try. There's a bunch out there.
we have about 20 minutes left and
normally, we reserved like 10 minutes or so for questions and answers, but I think that
everyone in this room has a very privileged opportunity today
to ask these guys anything that's on your heart whether it's their favorite fruit or if it's something about the way they code
I won't ask you that. So, I'm gonna walk around if you
Matt's going banana
If anybody does have a question go ahead and raise your hand
I'll get to as quick as I can. I'll start with you, Todd, over here. I'm gonna walk away from you guys
Here you go, Todd. Thank you
That's loud. Sorry about that
My question is- one of the things that's really interesting to me about the Drupal community is that the
ecosystem in which themes and modules are developed is service based, as opposed to product based
Hey, test test test test. Oh
Joomla, for example, you you get to buy a lot of the plugins and buy a lot of premium themes and things like that
and there are a couple of models like that in Drupal
and I'm pretty sure that there are a couple models like that in WordPress as it relates to
themes, or premium themes, because certain graphical elements are exempt from the GPL
I'm curious to know your thoughts on how the ecosystems in
Drupal and Joomla are
maybe the same, or are different, in terms of economics of service based versus selling products, or selling plugins, and how
those compare to Joomla
I'll clarify something really quickly because I think is very important- the reason there's a huge theme marketplace for WordPress isn't because certain element
because certain elements are exempt from the GPL. In fact,
there's now tens of millions of dollars going through WooThemes and StudioPress and everything like that, and their code is, and their graphics
and their CSS and everything is 100% GPL
So you can build an amazing business on top of 100% GPL code, which
I think we both exemplify, so
don't think that the business model is trying to run away from open-source- your business model should be embracing open-source
And I just want to say that.
So I think a lot of the success, again
and we talked about this, is the value of the ecosystem. And often that's a commercial ecosystem, frankly
so the ability for people to make money, with Drupal or WordPress is key
I think to the success of our communities, at least for Drupal
that makes it interesting, right, because
if people like to mess with the licensing you know, whatever, but it opens up new business models in a way.
At the same time, it's something that in Drupal we've never done, right, if you go to drupal.org, everything is a hundred percent
GPL. There's no, right, non GPL code so and I like to stick to that. I really feel like
it's the better thing to do, is to not allow
you know, proprietary licenses on
I think Joomla made a huge mistake there as well, and they reversed their decision, I guess recently, because it was just killing
it was killing the community, really. I think that to get your original question about the difference- I think it's that
at least my perception, and feel free to disagree with this, is you know when you get Drupal out of the box
you really have something else in mind. That's not sort of the stock
Garland well, it's not garland anymore, saw you just killed Garland
Made me sad. That was our last big controversy, was Garland.
You want something that's pretty customizing. So you're gonna
drop a hundred grand or 200 grand customizing it, where WordPress is more of a mass-market. I mean
there's, over 50 million sites now, and a lot of these people
don't have even a thousand dollars to spend on the site. They get an $8 a month account at DreamHost
They do the one-click install, and then they go buy a $60 theme
that, premium theme that does everything they want, or they find a pre- theme, or they buy gravity forms
to, make it easy to get feedback from their users and things like that
and so we're definitely more, because of the mass market, and
just lower price points that people want to match, it begets a- not a consulting model
beets a product model, where people sort of package things, and all these guys started as consultants
you know, AD who does WooThemes used to just make sites one at a time, and thought, well instead of making five grand for a site
I can take the same theme, same amount of time, and sell it for 50 grand a pop and sell 2,000 of them
3,000 of them
10,000 of them, and that's a more scalable business model. What you have to be careful of, though. is that
I'm, at least for me, I'm a little bit more biased towards, or like premium themes better than I like premium plugins
partially because I think that part of the value of a theme or design can be in its scarcity
where, for features, for plugins which are essentially features, that power in the WordPress community often comes from the ubiquity and
we've had it a million times, just like you guys where, a plugin gets really popular
and we bring it in the core, and that's always a good thing.
It's like an honor, like that is like you won
We end up rewriting it as well. I don't think we've ever brought a plug and just stock in the core
But, that's just because we're anal.
But let's say there's a premium plugin, and now we want to bring something into core
but this guy's paying his mortgage with it, and even if it's 100% GPL
he's not gonna want to participate in bringing that feature in the core, and so I think it you run a danger of a vulcanizing
both of our systems. Every mature open source system develops a plugin
framework, whether it's called modules, or plugins, or extensions, or whatever
Every single one has. It's because it's just a sort of, it's like the natural evolution
of a large software project. You need to let off steam. Everything cannot go on core.
But it is yet to see how proprietary extensions interact.
There aren't that many examples
If you have a question if you wouldn't mind coming right here
So I don't have to run back and forth and bring them the mic so here's one and Jim- Jim, you want to come up here for a second?
I've already done so much workout today
So, my question for you guys is when you initially built the software and you started to gain some traction
What was it that you did that began kind of the rise of getting
non-technical non-developer people using the software, people that were running their business side or people that were maybe bloggers that, they didn't really
know how to install or configure MySQL or WordPress, but they were using it to power their blog?
Yeah, and feel free to line up. I didn't mean, like, everybody had to walk to me.
I meant like we could start up start a line over here
A conga line?
It's a good question. I don't
I don't think there is a single
tipping point,if you will. I think it's been a series of tipping points, like one of
You know, one thing I came to mind is sort of the first
book that was written on Drupal. That was huge for us because all of a sudden, if you have a book
It's like people start to take your project much more serious. It's like real now.
So that was one tipping point, and then some bigger sites switching over to Drupal- these are
huge tipping point, so if I look back at the history of Drupal, it's been this, continuous
you know, stream, if you will, of these kinds of tipping points, and they get bigger and bigger.
But it's like, the snowball effect. So there is not a single thing that I can point to that
you know, changed the game for us.
And how surreal was it the first time you saw something
he worked in, like in print, or do you remember the first
well, I guess this is probably easier, but I remember the first time I saw WordPress in another language, like I spazzed out.
I was like oh my goodness. It's like Bizarro. It was Japanese and
we didn't have a translation framework
so the guy had gone through and opened up every single PHP file and gone line by line and changed all the text.
and I was like wow.
That's incredible, and it's so beautiful as well.
Um, I don't remember the question.
I just kind of make up my own answers to imaginary questions. It's not even important. I'm just going to talk.
Yeah, that was a good one
We actually kind of lucked into something that, like, in hindsight was kind of brilliant behavioral
psychology and framing, but we didn't really realize that at the time, and that when we had maybe all of a dozen users
I made this documentation page that was called the famous five minute install.
It wasn't famous.
You know, we had, it was so small at that time
but the alternative, like, our big competitor at the time was movable type and
to configure that particularly on most web hosting accounts, you had to put certain files in the CGI bin and set the permissions and put certain files
over here, and it like, it was a pain.
And we focused a ton early on, on just the ease of installation, and I think that that really
hooked people, like just the idea- it was still technical like you still the FTP files and Untar things.
We made a zip file. None of our competitors had zip files at the time.
That definitely helped. Me being on Windows I think helped early on
So just a few things. Oh, another big thing- line endings
I would open up, on Windows when you open up things with just CR line endings
it would shows one jumbled giant file, and so for files that we wanted to be user editable
We did the CRLF line endings
so they'd be usable across both platforms, because Macs and Linux were smart enough to figure it out and Windows
just worked with it, like just lots of little things like that I think
super helped in the early days.
Just mainly Drupal wise and
looking at just the open source community in the way
y'all kind of do versioning and updates
like currently, I use Drupal 6 and I know, I guess the
latest release would be 7, but if you look at the API, I mean, you still see functions for Drupal 8, which is kind of
how do you
how do you get developers who are working on things like really important
modules or plugins for your CMS to
to update their software when you all make these big changes and
I mean, because if you don't have some of these modules or plugins you might lose a lot of users because they're kind of just
'everyone uses them' sort of things?
Did y'all get that?
Yeah, I guess
I don't know, there's, I mean like
what I find is that you know people
are, a lot of people are passionate about their modules that they maintain and so they want to upgrade them, right, they want to take
advantage of the latest and the greatest
functionality, and often they can actually rewrite parts of their modules to make it more elegant, make it more clean, and that's something which is
rewarding, right, and then there's other people that write those modules, say for a customer project
they upload it, and then, whatever, they moved on in life, and they don't necessarily care that much about their module.
These are the more tricky ones, of course, but, essentially there
we try to find a new maintainer or, what sometimes happens is their customer, they want to upgrade from six to seven because there is
so much new, features or value of things that they would really like to have and
that's when, they go back to this developer and pay them to upgrade their modules
so it's a combination of people taking pride in their work and willing to to show off and
and people getting paid to upgrade modules, but there is not a secret recipe to like, you know
I mean, I obviously we don't pay people to upgrade module then I can't hurt them if they don't upgrade their modules either, so
not much I can do
People are really into their modules
really passionate about that. I would say that
it's actually, funnily enough, I think one of the reasons the Drupal ecosystem, consulting ecosystem, is better, bigger
that you know people will be on six
they'll spend another 100 grand 150 grand to upgrade to seven, and so every few years this, sort of like new cycle of revenue
you can get from upgrading.
WordPress has almost the opposite of that. We try to release a major update, like a point release, three times a year.
We now have basically all the one-click, all the hosting partners, and all the 1-click installs do auto updates, so it'll update
whether you want it to or not, and
the method we're going for is auto update for everything, so auto update for Plugins auto update in core
regardless of whether the host supports it or not. Your work, like, you shouldn't care about, what version of Facebook do you use ?
I don't know. Today.
I mean, that's how
software should work on the web, like, you shouldn't care what version of WordPress you use. It should just be WordPress today and have all the
latest greatest things like, as
I get so passionate about, like, the new features and the new functionalities we've launched, and the improvements
I just want to get them in the hands of users as soon as humanly possible. That's one of the reasons
we did that software as a service on wordpress.com, because we can do that.
We can have an idea and ship it an hour later and
And the closer we can get the distributed
open source side to that, the better.
So, Dries, yesterday you talked about Drupal being a community of leaders, and how you take kind of a hands-off approach
to the development community, and I think Matt, you're a little bit less laissez-faire about the development of WordPress.
Do you see as your communities continue to grow in the next year, five years beyond that, how would your roles change in that?
So I think our developer communities actually work quite differently, I think, at least from the Drupal core versus WordPress core point of view.
You know, the way it works, we, I don't know actually, maybe it's the same. Yeah, so I can explain you
how we work.
You know, for Drupal 7, for example
you know, I accepted patches from more than a thousand different developers
and that you know, accepted, more than, many more submitted patches but, a lot of them get rejected as well
right, so we have a lot of different people contributing to Drupal, a lot of different companies contributing to Drupal, so it's truly a
effort, which, and my understanding is that in WordPress's case, that balance might be slightly different, where automatic is is a
It's a little different, so
our release cycles are
typically shorter, like four or five months, but we'll have somewhere between 150 and 250 unique contributors
with patches accepted to every single release, and
yeah, I think a lot about the balance between automaticians and non-automaticians in the community because, for all the reasons we both know,
when a company dominates the open source side of things, like, just bad things happen
and even the appearance of that can be bad, so we're very very careful to
You know, the downside is core people keep applying for jobs. You've had the same thing, I imagine, but
But we try to stay completely out of it, and there's a formal separation between automatic
wordpress.org, the WordPress Foundation
there's no overlap, and in fact, one of the things automatic used to hold the trademark for WordPress and
one of the things I convinced the board of directors and investors to do was donate that to the nonprofit WordPress foundation
Even though at that point, wordpress.com was already huge and the trademark was worth tens of millions of dollars.
They did that because they sort of saw the long-term benefit of this balanced ecosystem, the checks and balances, I like to think of it
and why that's better.
That makes a lot of sense
Let's see, to come back to the question like my role, and you know, my role is interesting, I think, because
you know, in many ways as a project leads I'm sort of the
you know, I'm responsible, ultimate responsibility
for the code, right, so a lot of patches go through me
and the way we work is, for every major release of Drupal
I appoint what I call a co-maintainer
And so there is always two or sometimes three people that are able to make changes through core
and then when we start a new version of drupal
these co maintainer are sort of left behind, if you will. I mean, they go they help maintain liver to maintain it, right, and then
a new co-maintainer is appointed.
And that's been working, well for us.
More recently with Drupal 8 development, which is what we're working on right now
I started this concept of having initiatives, and so we have an HTML5 initiative
and we have a web services initiative, and each initiative basically maps onto
you know, a big thing that we want to do in Drupal 8, and I've appointed initiative owners, or
leaders, if you will, for each of those initiatives, and their task is to go and work with other people in the community
and then I maintain a high bandwidth communication with these initiative leads so we've, we're making some changes through the way we
In order to help accelerate our development and, as well as to scale my role, basically
because it was one thing to review patches from a hundred people, it gets a little bit more work
if it's a thousand people, and you know if we continue to grow
you know, it's gonna be increasingly more challenging so, and then technically we also changed our tools
we switched from CVS to Git, and so we can, adopt some of the
the new features of Git, if you will, to help scale development as well
It's something that we're actually pretty good at, I would say, in the Drupal community. We are always like reinventing the way we work and tweaking
the way we work in order to scale.
You guys have really excellent developer tools. I think it's super sweet
I forgot the question.
I'm like a goldfish.
Oh yeah, the development. It's changed a ton. It used to be, my role was very very similar. We're
committing a ton, reviewing a ton of patches, everything like that
we scaled up
on the company side, especially, I sort of
have two people now who do what I used to do.
sort of does what I used to do on the design usability and community side, and
then Ryan Boren took over as tech lead, essentially, so as lead developer.
I find that
I'm a lot more effective now at the sort of architecture level and on the people level, if that makes sense.
So, I spend a ton of time with the core team, and with Jane, and with the team leads and automatic, and everything like that
working on things
making it better, right? We have very very very high standards for everything that goes out now. We didn't always.
I'm somewhat agnostic
and I definitely see, to go back to the proprietary question
some things are a lot harder to do on the open source side of things.
I think it's easier for
It's more natural for an open source community to make incremental improvements and, particularly in blogging, I think we're at a juncture
where you need something radical
and, so a lot of my time this year has been actually reimagining
the dashboard from the ground up
as almost a non-dashboard, like almost non-existent, and radically reimagining the simplicity of the WordPress user experience.
That's why simplicity is one of my interest listings. I think that it can be
so much easier than it is today, so much more social, so much more engaging
and I'm really excited because the growth of WordPress so far
has been cool, but it's been with almost a complete absence of social features and mobile
and, as we invest in both of those, we see the curves just change. Like, I don't care about the 50 million blogs that out there.
I want the 500 million or the 5 billion people that publish on the web, because that's when we'll have realized our goal of democratizing
publishing, making it easy for anyone in the world in any language, any cost, to have a beautiful website, and to do that
it's not gonna look like it did five years ago, and a dashboard, for all its
remains functionally equivalent almost to B2, which is the predecessor to WordPress.
I mean, so many things are very much the same and so, as we rip it out
that's almost impossible in the open source site. It's not impossible, but I don't have the time.
So, what we're doing is, I'm doing these experiments on wordpress.com as experiments and
whatever works, of course everything we do there is open source, and whatever works now will have
sort of some data behind why a different thing is better
and we can start to incorporate that in the
incoorporate that into the open source side, and it'll become even better then. A great example is distraction-free writing.
You guys know about the zen mode in WordPress? Anyone ever use that before to write a post?
Oh cool. So it's basically this idea where
I don't like interface
and so, there's a button in WordPress when you're writing a post that goes into zen mode, where it goes full screen and
then everything just fades out, and all you have is sort of a blinking cursor on your text and
as you move your mouse towards the top, things will fade back in so you can do your images and things like that
but basically, like the ultra minimalist mode, and this is it as a concept
and it was an idea
I was really passionate about because I'd seen things like WriteRoom for Mac
and other things, felt like we could do a good job of it on the web, but
almost the most consistent thing in the history of WordPress, and you've probably seen this as well, is the less I've done, the better
The more people involved with it, the better it is, and that sort of germ of an idea
as it was going through the open source iteration process and different designers, different feedback, different developers
became something so much cooler than I ever had imagined.
I had imagined something like WriteRoom, and what we created was something I think, ten times cooler.
and I think that's the balance
and to compete with Facebook and Twitter
we have to have a hosted platform, and we need to iterate on it extremely quickly
but long term, I don't want to host every WordPress blog in the world. I don't think that's good for the web.
I think the web lends itself to being distributed
but we're in sort of a, probably the nadir of a cycle right now, a super cycle of
proprietary closed networks and
it's just the network effects are almost insurmountable
from a competitive point of view, so open source doesn't win by being more free or being more philosophically pure.
That's why guys like we choose it, but it wins when it has better products
but it does something for users that they couldn't be able to do otherwise, and
there are some huge challenges out there right now. It's honestly never been more exciting to be working in this space.
Okay, I think we have time for one more quick. No, okay. We're out of time? Sorry about that. Yeah, I'm getting this from Katy
Please please please give these guys a round of applause.