College campuses have long been gathering spots for in-the-know fans. Think local indie bands or obscure French films. But software? That’s what enthusiasts from as far away as Ireland and Brazil came to celebrate last weekend at Drupal Camp on Polytechnic Institute of NYU’s Downtown Brooklyn campus.
Drupal is open-source (read: free) software used to develop and manage content on sites such as FastCompany.com, PopSci.com, and MTV.co.uk. (NYU-Poly’s very own video portal, v.poly.edu, is built on Drupal, and the Institute’s redesigned website is being built on the platform.)
The fact that Drupal is free is a huge draw, but for Drupal fans, a bigger draw is that its code is publically available for developers to modify and build new modules (plug-ins that enhance or extend functionality) for. Code tweaks and custom-built modules (“contrib modules” in Drupaleze) are shared with the online Drupal community where everything is up for grabs, comments, and troubleshooting by developers and users alike.
In its coverage of Drupal Camp, the New York Times captured one attendee’s love for the software with this:
…Andy Thornton,36, a programmer from Astoria, Queens, who works at the United Nations, said the egalitarian nature of Drupal was “almost the epitome of what the Web promised at the beginning. This is very much a democracy. It doesn’t have a top-down authority.”
Drupal Camp was more than a gathering for Drupal devotees. Participants voted on a schedule of workshops that ranged from helping beginners install the program to sharing tips for advanced users to speed up their sites.