DrupalCon San Francisco didn't even start, and already we have a first announcement to make! If you follow the Acquia blog, you might have read that we've begun building a free Drupal distribution, named "Drupal Commons", to go after social business software such as Jive Software. Drupal Commons will integrate groups, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, events into a single packaged solution. If you need a communication or collaboration website, or a corporate social network, Drupal Commons might be for you.

Over the last few months, I talked to a lot of Drupal users, customers and Drupal development shops, and it is clear that many of them need a distribution like Drupal Commons, but that the lack of a prepackaged solution was holding them back. Enterprise users weren't 100% sure Drupal could do what they needed it to do and had trouble convincing their boss about Drupal, and Drupal development shops and system integrators struggled convincing their customers without spending weeks building a functional prototype. In some cases, Drupal is too much of a framework.

We've only started working on Drupal Commons a few weeks ago, so we obviously have a long way to go. As soon we have a base version working, we'll share it on drupal.org under terms of the GPL like any other Drupal distribution. We hope others will join us in helping to build Drupal Commons.

Drupal Commons is also a good response to some of the FUD that Jive Software has been spreading about Open Source software, and Drupal in particular. The screenshot below, taken from a Jive Software whitepaper, shows how they position themselves against Drupal, and how they justify charging million dollar license fees to their customers. I don't know about you, but we'd love to show how Drupal can run circles around Jive SBS for a lot less money.

Jive drupal fud
A screenshot from Jive Software's whitepaper called: "The unique advantage of Jive Social Business Software over Open Source Software".

Last but not least, I've been supporting and championing distributions since 2006, and I still firmly believe Drupal distributions will be critical to Drupal's success. Without Drupal distributions, we won't be able to successfully compete with commercial vendors. Drupal distributions have great potential, but we have to do them right, and we have to figure out how to make them sustainable. By building a distribution ourselves, I hope to learn a lot, both on the technical side and on the business side. We already have a number of ideas, and will be announcing some of these shortly. Stay tuned!


Levi (not verified):

I don't understand Jive's last point (about Drupal being 10 years old), for two big reasons:

1. This is a good thing, not a bad thing, as far as proving software quality goes.

2. Jive is more than 10 years old. I know this for a fact because I launched Jive-based message boards on iVillage UK in 2000, then on BobDylan.com for Sony Music in 2001. Jive was then a popular open source platform (launched by Matt Tucker and Bill Lynch, who now run Jive Software), but the foundation of the software remains the same.

I've enjoyed working with Jive as well as with Drupal. Both are solid packages. For what it's worth, I do all my work these days in Drupal.

Good luck getting the message out, Dries!

sun (not verified):

I'm both happy to see progress in this area, but also a bit worried about this move. No public details from my side, so as to not spread even more FUD. Let's see how this goes.

John (8BIT) (not verified):

wow. that's so bogus.

i've worked with jive and they've got some good stuff... but it's definitely not for everyone.

the attacks on Open Source are definitely not necessary.

Shibby (not verified):

The biggest advantage that Drupal has over Jive is the open source approach and a vast community behind. I find it difficult to contribute to Jive because of their licensing model. I'm glad that Drupal Commons is in the works. Open is a better way.


Tim (not verified):

I've implemented both Drupal (for CMS as well as Community) and Jive SBS for client projects. While I really like Drupal as a CMS alternative and have had great success, I didn't find the same positives in community projects.

The *community* feature set in Drupal didn't string together into as nice of a user-experience as Jive and we found we consistently had a right a lot of new custom code to replicate features found out-of-box with Jive. Maybe Drupal Commons will address some of this.

The Jive implementations I've done were pretty successful and clients were happy with Jive (or.. at least they were as happy as they get in the world of enterprise software :).

I understand your points about the Jive sales sheet, but realistically sales sheets always going to include some far-reaching "messaging." Still though, clients did care about a lot things mentioned in that sheet (services, ops, support, etc.)

I'm excited to take a closer look at Drupal Commons as well as the upcoming release of Jive. They had a pretty awesome 4.0 release (sharepoint integration, mobile, etc.) so hopefully we'll see more cool stuff soon. Would love to see both products pushing each other so this domain stays vibrant and innovative.

Tom Erickson (not verified):

There are a few differences. The most notable will be the ability for Drupal Commons to be added to another Drupal installation in a fairly straight forward manner, using basic Drupal constructs. Our technical team can get more specific.

We are big fans of Dev Seed and Open Atrium. Stay tuned for news during Drupalcon on this!

Tom Erickson

moshe weitzman (not verified):


The name 'Commons' is not at all descriptive. What do you like about it? If its a distro focused on social networking, then do Drupal SN or something. Or perhaps Drupal BS for 'Business Social' :)

Tom Erickson (not verified):


tough decision. We considered Drupal Social, and even had it registered, but it did not work for all of our team members. "Commons" is derived from the word for "a meeting place, a town square", as in the country's oldest park, the Boston Common. It fit well naming wise with Drupal Gardens as well ... i.e., Boston Public Garden.

Glad you think it's nifty. Hope to work with you on it.


James Carlson (not verified):

We tell our customers that we use open source software, especially Drupal, because the reason they work with us is for us--our brains, our people, and the relationships we form. They know their money is going to pay for our brainpower, not a license fee, and our brainpower is more valuable--especially when you multiply it by the immense brainpower of the Drupal community.

We are excited to support Drupal Commons and proud of what Acquia is doing to advance the Drupal community. Open is a better way!

Anonymous (not verified):

I have a question:
Will Drupal Commons be appropriate to build a community social network e.g. a social network for music lovers(upload their videos,photos etc).
Because I started building on my own such a network(testing different modules etc..) .
Shoud I wait until Drupal Commons will be released?
Thanks in advance

moshe weitzman (not verified):

Is Commons based on Drupal 7? I'd guess that it is, since Gardens is based on 7. Acquia seems to be taking on a lot of work to build up friend modules, activity modules, etc. Drupal contrib is pretty chaotic in these areas, and I'm not sure how far along they are in their D7 ports. OG for D7 is in good shape, fortunately.

Mark Woodward (not verified):

I've signed up for updates on Commons, but so far haven't received any news? Can you offer an idea of where the development process is, and when mortals might expect an alpha or beta release?


Necati (not verified):

I am also curious.

I ceased working on my own social network implementation a month ago and I am anxiously waiting to get my hands on this.

Isn't it early summer already?

Khalid (not verified):

This is totally expected when your proprietary closed source product has to compete with a very capable and free product on merit: FUD.

Matt Asay is covering the Jive FUD about Drupal.

Nate (not verified):

Apple's developer forums are powered by Jive, so I think scalability is also key to why companies may choose them.

A. Prem Kumar (not verified):

Unfortunate to see a 'battle' unravel between two real good options in the social software space.

I am a big proponent of Free/Libre & Open Source (FLOSS) as well as Social Software in enterprise circles, and I can tell you from my own real life experiences that pushing either of them for enterprise acceptance is very very tough, especially in large enterprises, specifically for large implementations (my experience is essentially with Fortune Global 2000 list of cos).

IIRC, Jive Software itself has Open Source associations (OpenFire?) and understands the hindrances to FLOSS in enterprises, which I guess they have tried to capture in the above mentioned white paper. It is good in a way they write thus, because they are validating the value of FLOSS (because they are worthy of denouncing; you don't write FUD against a nobody).

It is indeed great to see that the Drupal community has taken this as a challenge & is embarking on a Jive SBS kind of a product suite. However, it has to be said that without the kind of support infrastructure that Jive has managed to build, any FLOSS would have limited acceptance in enterprises where they would not like to have a dedicated team setup for support of their FLOSS implementation.

IMHO, the open source social software community needs to position their wares as businesses solutions (solving either the needs or problems of enterprises & corporates), state the business benefits, make the software easier to use for the implementers (who are cross b/w admin, development & support/maintenance teams), provide better documentation for end users & implementers, etc.

Interestingly, BuddyPress & Elgg already do what Drupal Commons would achieve. However they are in their infancy. Would certainly like to see how they evolve.

Lastly, the social software space is only heating in the enterprise arena, I am sure there is space for everybody. A lot of innovation needs to happen in this space. The last ten years the consumers have been using the social software very effectively. Now enterprises & corporates want to use them, essentially to collaborate with consumers. FLOSS options for Social Software need to look at their enterprise readiness now. I believe Jive SBS is gearing up for that. Is the FLOSS community gearing up?

Prem, Social CRM Evangelist, Cognizant.com
http://j.mp/prem_k | https://twitter.com/prem_k

drupdrips (not verified):

Actually Drupal has something to learn from Jive. Its how to do marketing and with Acquia I would say it is a force in the right direction indeed. The Drupal community is evolving slowly to the likes and tastes of business / especially Corporate-Enterprise class. When I saw IBM had a Developer Community built around Drupal CMS framework, I already knew Drupal was getting noticed enough to garner Corporate interest. All it takes is some Marketing push to be adopted with arms wide open. With Jive you get closed source code, and licensing fees and ongoing support fees ..and who wants to build a social network that cannot evolve with changing tastes and requests / dislikes for customers. How much would new feature requests cost with Jive for custom coding those ? With Drupal, once a basic package is implemented and a core group of internal people are trained well of which one/two should be strong techincally (and preferably developer type w/ sys admin knowledge), a client would be set for a long-term lower total cost of ownership.


drecute (not verified):

"Drupal Commons will integrate groups, discussion forums, blogs, wikis, events into a single packaged solution." - Dries Buytaert

So does Open Atrium. If Drupal will truly like to position itself as an alternative to Jive SBS, then I will suggest a merge of Open Atrium and Drupal Commons. I have delved closely into Open Atrium and I think there's still a lot of work to do. The success of Open Atrium obviously relies on Features. Hence, the easier we can create Drupal Features the better. At Opevel we have started extending Open Atrium, but we will like a joint work of combining Open Atrium and Drupal Commons.

Kayode Odeyemi
CTO, Opevel