Category: Technical Communication

Drupal Poised to Move into the Enterprise

Last night I was about to go to sleep when I saw a tweet from Dries Buytaert, creator and benevolent dictator of Drupal, saying that he was about five minutes from delivering his State of Drupal Keynote. I really wanted to see it, so I stayed up for another hour to participate with the Londoners.

Most of the keynote revolved around the results of a survey of Drupal users and developers. Drupal’s core developers tend to follow the priorities of the community. Listed among the top opportunities for the future of Drupal was replacing legacy applications in the Enterprise. According to Dries, many large organizations grew their intranet and web presence organically and they now find themselves with multiple incompatible and expensive systems that support the main website, the CFO blog, the internal wiki, maybe a few microsites for special events, and let’s not forget SharePoint. I agree with Dries that this situation presents an excellent opportunity for companies to standardize on a single platform—Drupal—that can replace all of them. Standardizing on a single platform would make it easier and cheaper to maintain these sites.

I have been a Drupal user since 2003. I am really impressed with Drupal 7 and have been able to use it for many projects. Drupal is well-documented and extremely flexible. It is an excellent platform for small to medium-sized websites. It’s flexibility means it can do almost anything. It is extensible through plugins and the thriving developer community means that there is a plugin already available that allows Drupal to be used for almost anything.

I am looking forward to seeing where Drupal 8 takes us, but Drupal 7 is an amazing thing already. The user-centric development model Dries has embraced will continue to propel Drupal to ever-higher levels of notoriety and adoption in the Enterprise.

Using Social Media Boosts Productivity

When I’ve got a particularly difficult problem and I’m trying to figure out my options or puzzling over which option is the best, nurse the answer rarely comes while I’m straining to get it right. The answers come through diversions or performing menial tasks. Sometimes the best way to figure things out is by communicating with someone else about it; that’s where using social media comes in.

My job is inherently creative. While most of the people in my department have prescribed tasks that they do over and over again using the same prescribed tools, I am often asked to do things that no one has ever done at our company before. This kind of work requires access to as many research tools as possible. In the February 2002 issue of Wired, Brendan I. Koerner wrote an article called How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive. While I agree that Facebook is probably not very productive, I argue that Twitter is one of the best resources I have for innovative ideas. I have a network of creative contacts who will respond within minutes to requests for ideas. Some workers might waste time, but creative, passionate workers will use these tools to get their job done.

Twitter is also an outlet. Sometimes I just want to let someone know what I’m thinking, feeling, or doing. Instead of bothering my coworkers while they are working away, Twitter is an easy way to take a quick step back and summarize what I’m currently doing. If I’m not getting much done, I don’t have much to say. One reward for hard work is being able to post something meaningful to Twitter. It might seem silly, but it is true for me.

Knowledge workers should be trusted to get the job done. Don’t worry if they seem like they’re spending a lot of time away from what is strictly called work. Typing faster doesn’t make me more productive. Having more ideas makes me more productive, and using social media helps spark my creativity.

Relation Browser and the UN

I am looking for a good way to be able to map multiple IT governance and compliance frameworks (like COBIT, SOX, TOGAF, ISO 20000, etc.) to one another and be able to interactively browse through them. A week ago I came across Moritz Stefaner and his Relation Browser indirectly through an article called A Cosmological Approach to IT Governance about how the UN put together some software called 6 Degrees to do something similar. Mr. Stefaner responded to my email within a few hours while the author of the article working at the UN hasn’t responded yet.

The only real problem is that the software is written using Flash and Actionscript. I know nothing about either so I’m working from the ground floor trying to get a grasp on what’s going on. Both Relation Browser and 6 Degrees are reportedly open source, but I can’t find 6 Degrees anywhere and the source for Relation Browser is not directly linked to anywhere that I could find (I had to ask Mr. Stefaner for the link).

Moritz Stefaner is a master of visual representation of data using newer technologies. I hold him in high regard and consult his work for inspiration much as I do Edward Tufte and his work.