Gitting Earth Hour & Drupal



February 26, 2011

We've used CVS, SVN over the years and are now using Git. If you've not a programmer you probably wouldn't be familiar with tools like Concurrent Versions System or Subversion which allow for precise sharing & collaboration between thousands of people but with over 150,000 lines of code in Drupal Core, you really need to have a way to manage these details to ensure that you've got the highest quality control possible.  Git is the latest in social coding and because if it's distributed framework it should allow many more people to evaluate, experiment & collaborate with the Drupal community.  

Git & Drupal

Knowing that Drupal was adopting Git, we made the move to adopt it, replacing many of our other repositories.  There is quite a learning curve to get it set up and integrated with our processes, but it's been very impressive thus far.  Our ability to quickly integrate around a standard tool set that allows us to both track & centralize changes for our projects is already beginning to pay off.  Configuration files, default error messages, custom modules, client themes, not to mention Drupal core and community contributed themes/modules.  

I've been quite involved in the Drupal 7 development process, striving to improve accessibility within this great CMS.  This was all done using CVS, which worked, but there were many times where this old version control tool hampered the effective participation.  I am very excited to know that there are thousands of other Drupal developers who are also jumping onboard which will help make Git easier & more powerful for everyone to use.

Working on Drupal 8 with Git should make it easier for us to make the next version of of this content management framework even better than it is now.  The Git Team lead an extensive process of upgrading to be able to facilitate better support through the web site, which was completed this last week.  Since the Drupal community uses Drupal itself for project management, issue tracking & discussion, this was a huge task that went off very well.  

Earth Hour Module

To help test out this new framework after it launched, I updated the Earth Hour module we posted two years ago. There is now a functioning Drupal 6 and 7 version of this module.  There is still more work that I'd like to do, but it will be easier for people to clone the repository, make wide range of changes to it and contribute that back to the community.  I found the documentation was done well and that I was able to more easily push releases than I was previously using CVS.  

As there are hundreds if not thousands of Drupal sites out which are run by environmentally conscious individuals and organizations, I hope that this module makes it easier for us as a community to shut down and reflect on what we are doing to our planet, if only for an hour a year.  The badge that is on OpenConcept's site for the next month (until the last Saturday in March), is a simple proactive way to remind people about this period for global reflection.  It will not actually physically turn off our servers, but by limiting the page queries in this period there should be a nominal power reduction.  

Reflections for Earth Hour

It's a bit of a stretch to compare Earth Hour to a piece of software, but I think that there are some points for consideration:

  • Only through more effective collaboration are we going to be able to make effective change over the long haul.  I ran across this old quote used in Larry Garfield's blog, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." With so many issues in the world today, we need to find easier ways to work together to build the world we want to live in;
  • The details matter. Whether it's a missing ';' or an LCD monitor left on over the weekend, all of the little problems add up to have a huge effect on the whole.  Taking a some time to reflect on how we use technology to run our organizations and our busy lives does matter (even if it's only an hour a year);
  • It needs to be distributed, inventive and easily shared. We should be encouraging each other to build on the ideas of others and be creative with how they build their websites or reduce their environmental footprint on the planet.  There are so many ways to do more with less and perhaps we can be inspired to share what we've done with others;
  • They are both small but important pieces of a much bigger challenge. Drupal and Earth Hour are both global movements.  Will one hour out of 8765 really make a difference to our sustainability as a planet?  Will better free software tools help facilitate build more freedom in our society and culture? 

I'm hopeful enough to get engaged and hope you are too.  If you've got ideas on how to contribute to any of the projects here, please add a comment.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.