For the past two years, I've published the Who sponsors Drupal development report. The primary goal of the report is to share contribution data to encourage more individuals and organizations to contribute code to Drupal on Drupal.org. However, the report also highlights areas where our community can and should do better.

In 2017, the reported data showed that only 6 percent of recorded code contributions were made by contributors that identify as female. After a conversation in the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Slack channel about the report, it became clear that many people were concerned about this discrepancy. Inspired by this conversation, Tara King started the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team to understand how the Drupal community could better include women and underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions.

I recently spoke with Tara to learn more about the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team. I quickly discovered that Tara's leadership exemplifies various Drupal Values and Principles; especially Principle 3 (Foster a learning environment), Principle 5 (Everyone has something to contribute) and Principle 6 (Choose to lead). Inspired by Tara's work, I wanted to spotlight what the DDI Contribution Team has accomplished so far, in addition to how the team is looking to help grow diversity and inclusion in the future.

A mentorship program to help underrepresented groups

Supporting diversity and inclusion within Drupal is essential to the health and success of the project. The people who work on Drupal should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software. This includes building better representation across gender, race, sexuality, disability, economic status, nationality, faith, technical experience, and more. Unfortunately, underrepresented groups often lack community connections, time for contribution, resources or programs that foster inclusion, which introduce barriers to entry.

The mission of the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Contribution Team is to increase contributions from underrepresented groups. To accomplish this goal, the DDI Contribution Team recruits team members from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, and provides support and mentorship to help them contribute to Drupal. Each mentee is matched with a mentor in the Drupal community, who can provide expertise and advice on contribution goals and professional development. To date, the DDI Contribution Team supports over 20 active members.

What I loved most in my conversation with Tara is the various examples of growth she gave. For example, Angela McMahon is a full-time Drupal developer at Iowa State. Angela been working with her mentor, Caroline Boyden, on the External Link Module. Due to her participation with the DDI Contribution Team, Angela has now been credited on 4 fixed issues in the past year.

Improving the reporting around diversity and inclusion

In addition to mentoring, another primary area of focus of the DDI Contribution Team is to improve reporting surrounding diversity and inclusion. For example, in partnership with the Drupal Association and the Open Demographics Project, the DDI Contribution Team is working to implement best practices for data collection and privacy surrounding gender demographics. During the mentored code sprints at DrupalCon Nashville, the DDI Contribution Team built the Gender Field Module, which we hope to deploy on Drupal.org.

The development of the Gender Field Module is exciting, as it establishes a system to improve reporting on diversity demographics. I would love to use this data in future iterations of the 'Who sponsors Drupal development' report, because it would allow us to better measure progress on improving Drupal's diversity and inclusion against community goals.

One person can make a difference

What I love about the story of the DDI Contribution Team is that it demonstrates how one person can make a significant impact on the Drupal project. The DDI Contribution Team has grown from Tara's passion and curiosity to see what would happen if she challenged the status quo. Not only has Tara gotten to see one of her own community goals blossom, but she now also leads a team of mentors and mentees and is a co-maintainer of the Drupal 8 version of the Gender Field Module. Last but not least, she is building a great example for how other Open Source projects can increase contributions from underrepresented groups.

How you can get involved

If you are interested in getting involved with the DDI Contribution Team, there are a number of ways you can participate:

  • Support the DDI Contribution Team as a mentor, or consider recommending the program to prospective mentees. Join #ddi-contrib-team on Drupal Slack to meet the team and get started.
  • In an effort to deliberately recruit teams from spaces where people of diverse backgrounds collaborate, the DDI Contribution Team is looking to partner with Outreachy, an organization that provides paid internships for underrepresented groups to learn Free and Open Source Software and skills. If you would be interested in supporting a Drupal internship for an Outreachy candidate, reach out to Tara King to learn how you can make a financial contribution.
  • One of the long term goals of the DDI Contribution Team is to increase the number of underrepresented people in leadership positions, such as initiative lead, module maintainer, or core maintainer. If you know of open positions, consider understanding how you can work with the DDI Contribution Team to fulfill this goal.

I want to extend a special thanks to Tara King for sharing her story, and for making an important contribution to the Drupal project. Growing diversity and inclusion is something everyone in the Drupal community is responsible for, and I believe that everyone has something to contribute. Congratulations to the entire DDI Contribution Team.

The Composer Initiative for Drupal

At DrupalCon Nashville, we launched a strategic initiative to improve support for Composer in Drupal 8. To learn more, you can watch the recording of my DrupalCon Nashville keynote or read the Composer Initiative issue on Drupal.org.

While Composer isn't required when using Drupal core, many Drupal site builders use it as the preferred way of assembling websites (myself included). A growing number of contributed modules also require the use of Composer, which increases the need to make Composer easier to use with Drupal.

The first step of the Composer Initiative was to develop a plan to simplify Drupal's Composer experience. Since DrupalCon Nashville, Mixologic, Mile23, Bojanz, Webflo, and other Drupal community members have worked on this plan. I was excited to see that last week, they shared their proposal.

The first phase of the proposal is focused on a series of changes in the main Drupal core repository. The directory structure will remain the same, but it will include scripts, plugins, and embedded packages that enable the bundled Drupal product to be built from the core repository using Composer. This provides users who download Drupal from Drupal.org a clear path to manage their Drupal codebase with Composer if they choose.

I'm excited about this first step because it will establish a default, official approach for using Composer with Drupal. That makes using Composer more straightforward, less confusing, and could theoretically lower the bar for evaluators and newcomers who are familiar with other PHP frameworks. Making things easier for site builders is a very important goal; web development has become a difficult task, and removing complexity out of the process is crucial.

It's also worth noting that we are planning the Automatic Updates Initiative. We are exploring if an automated update system can be build on top of the Composer Initiative's work, and provide an abstraction layer for those that don't want to use Composer directly. I believe that could be truly game-changing for Drupal, as it would remove a great deal of complexity.

If you're interested in learning more about the Composer plan, or if you want to provide feedback on the proposal, I recommend you check out the Composer Initiative issue and comment 37 on that issue.

Implementing this plan will be a lot of work. How fast we execute these changes depends on how many people will help. There are a number of different third-party Composer related efforts, and my hope is to see many of them redirect their efforts to make Drupal's out-of-the-box Composer effort better. If you're interested in getting involved or sponsoring this work, let me know and I'd be happy to connect you with the right people!

One of the most stressful experiences for students is the process of choosing the right university. Researching various colleges and universities can be overwhelming, especially when students don't have the luxury of visiting different campuses in person.

At Acquia Labs, we wanted to remove some of the complexity and stress from this process, by making campus tours more accessible through virtual reality. During my presentation at Acquia Engage Europe yesterday, I shared how organizations can use virtual reality to build cross-channel experiences. People that attended Acquia Engage Europe asked if they could have a copy of my video, so I decided to share it on my blog.

The demo video below features a high school student, Jordan, who is interested in learning more about Massachusetts State University (a fictional university). From the comfort of his couch, Jordan is able to take a virtual tour directly from the university's website. After placing his phone in a VR headset, Jordan can move around the university campus, explore buildings, and view program resources, videos, and pictures within the context of his tour.


All of the content and media featured in the VR tour is stored in the Massachusetts State University's Drupal site. Site administrators can upload media and position hotspots directly from within Drupal backend. The React frontend pulls in information from Drupal using JSON API. In the video below, Chris Hamper (Acquia) further explains how the decoupled React VR application takes advantage of new functionality available in Drupal 8.


It's exciting to see how Drupal's power and flexibility can be used beyond traditional web pages. If you are interesting in working with Acquia on virtual reality applications, don't hesitate to contact the Acquia Labs team.

Special thanks to Chris Hamper for building the virtual reality application, and thank you to Ash Heath, Preston So and Drew Robertson for producing the demo videos.

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Microsoft acquires GitHub

Today, Microsoft announced it is buying GitHub in a deal that will be worth $7.5 billion. GitHub hosts 80 million source code repositories, and is used by almost 30 million software developers around the world. It is one of the most important tools used by software organizations today.

As the leading cloud infrastructure platforms — Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc — mature, they will likely become functionally equivalent for the vast majority of use cases. In the future, it won't really matter whether you use Amazon, Google or Microsoft to deploy most applications. When that happens, platform differentiators will shift from functional capabilities, such as multi-region databases or serverless application support, to an increased emphasis on ease of use, the out-of-the-box experience, price, and performance.

Given multiple functionally equivalent cloud platforms at roughly the same price, the simplest one will win. Therefore, ease of use and out-of-the-box experience will become significant differentiators.

This is where Microsoft's GitHub acquisition comes in. Microsoft will most likely integrate its cloud services with GitHub; each code repository will get a button to easily test, deploy, and run the project in Microsoft's cloud. A deep and seamless integration between Microsoft Azure and GitHub could result in Microsoft's cloud being perceived as simpler to use. And when there are no other critical differentiators, ease of use drives adoption.

If you ask me, Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, made a genius move by buying GitHub. It could take another ten years for the cloud wars to mature, and for us to realize just how valuable this acquisition was. In a decade, $7.5 billion could look like peanuts.

While I trust that Microsoft will be a good steward of GitHub, I personally would have preferred to see GitHub remain independent. I suspect that Amazon and Google will now accelerate the development of their own versions of GitHub. A single, independent GitHub would have maximized collaboration among software projects and developers, especially those that are Open Source. Having a variety of competing GitHubs will most likely introduce some friction.

Over the years, I had a few interactions with GitHub's co-founder, Chris Wanstrath. He must be happy with this acquisition as well; it provides stability and direction for GitHub, ends a 9-month CEO search, and is a great outcome for employees and investors. Chris, I want to say congratulations on building the world's biggest software collaboration platform, and thank you for giving millions of Open Source developers free tools along the way.

The title of this blog post comes from a recent Platformonomics article that analyzes how much Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle are investing in their cloud infrastructure. It does that analysis based on these companies' publicly reported CAPEX numbers.

Capital expenditures, or CAPEX, is money used to purchase, upgrade, improve, or extend the life of long-term assets. Capital expenditures generally takes two forms: maintenance expenditure (money spent for normal upkeep and maintenance) and expansion expenditures (money used to buy assets to grow the business, or money used to buy assets to actually sell). This could include buying a building, upgrading computers, acquiring a business, or in the case of cloud infrastructure vendors, buying the hardware needed to invest in the growth of their cloud infrastructure.

Building this analysis on CAPEX spending is far from perfect, as it includes investments that are not directly related to scaling cloud infrastructure. For example, Google is building subsea cables to improve their internet speed, and Amazon is investing a lot in its package and shipping operations, including the build-out of its own cargo airline. These investments don't advance their cloud services businesses. Despite these inaccuracies, CAPEX is still a useful indicator for measuring the growth of their cloud infrastructure businesses, simply because these investments dwarf others.

The Platformonomics analysis prompted me to do a bit of research on my own.

The evolution of Amazon, Alphabet, Google, IBM and Oracle's CAPEX between 2008 and 2018

The graph above shows the trailing twelve months (TTM) CAPEX spending for each of the five cloud vendors. CAPEX don't lie: cloud infrastructure services is clearly a three-player race. There are only three cloud infrastructure companies that are really growing: Amazon, Google (Alphabet) and Microsoft. Oracle and IBM are far behind and their spending is not enough to keep pace with Amazon, Microsoft or Google.

Amazon's growth in CAPEX is the most impressive. This becomes really clear when you look at the percentage growth:

The percentage growth of Amazon, Alphabet, Google, IBM and Oracle's CAPEX between 2008 and 2018

Amazon's CAPEX has exploded over the past 10 years. In relative terms, it has grown more than all other companies' CAPEX combined.

The scale is hard to grasp

To put the significance of these investments in cloud services in perspective, in the last 12 months, Amazon and Alphabet's CAPEX is almost 10x the size of Coca-Cola's, a company whose products are available in every grocery store, gas station, and vending machine in every town and country in the world. More than 3% of all beverages consumed around the world are Coca-Cola products. In contrast, the amount of money cloud infrastructure vendors are investing in CAPEX is hard to grasp.

The CAPEX of Amazon, Alphabet, Google vs Coca-Cola between 2008 and 2018
Disclaimers: As a public market investor, I'm long Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Also, Amazon is an investor in my company, Acquia.