In my opinion, the early Internet was an amazing force that fueled imagination, innovation and creativity. Programmers and developers were working closely together to find common ground. And that sparked the need for community.
It was in the year 2000 that Dutch computer science student Dries Buytaert built the precursors for what would soon become the back-end system for at least 1.5% of all websites online. Although permanent, dedicated connections were at a premium. Buytaert and his fellow University of Antwerp student Hans Snijder set up a wireless bridge to share the ADSL connection with six other students. The connection inspired Buytaert to create a community centered on this wireless bridge, so he built a message board and gradually added to the code behind it. When Dries Buytaert graduated and had to leave the dorms, the small community placed this message board online as the site "www.drop.org." Its unique back-end design soon attracted more visitors who shifted the dialogue toward new web technologies and experimentation. In January 2001, Buytaert made the program behind the design public as an open source project. Called "Drupal," hundreds of thousands of others have since contributed to its development. Indeed, Drupal is one of the success stories of the open source movement. The following four years represented an explosion of users, with Buytaert taking an active, but not overpowering role in a community of hundreds of programmers and web developers. This open source, worldwide community maintained constant communication between developers of the back end and users of the system to develop websites, ensuring that new versions would be better and better suited to individuals' needs. In May 2004, CivicSpace was developed using Drupal. CivicSpace was behind the explosively popular web-centric presidential campaign run by Howard Dean. The first Drupal consultancy company, Bryght, was also founded in 2004, and one of the most prolific Drupal developers, Karoly Negyesi, first discovered the platform this year. In October 2004, Drupal 4.5 was released, revolutionizing the interactive possibilities of developed websites, and just four months later, the first Drupal convention was held in Antwerp. Over the next two years, four more conventions were held in Portland, Amsterdam, Vancouver and Brussels. A global Drupal developer community which once housed hundreds now saw the involvement of hundreds of thousands. The explosive growth of the Drupal project made it necessary, in 2006, to develop some sort of centralized body to organize the confusion. Still wanting to keep the open source focus, Dries Buytaert interviewed some of the leading open source researchers of the time, and eventually created the Drupal Association. This improved sense of focus eventually led the company to win numerous CMS awards, including the awards for Best CMS in both 2007 and 2009. Since then, millions of modules, editors, themes and profiles have been shared with the community. As of 2011, Drupal 7 has been released. While the learning curve is steep, once developers become a part of the community they become excited by the simultaneous power and relative ease of use for the web development platform. Drupal continues to grow and develop, and only time will tell where the Drupal developer community will take the productive, never-ceasing Drupal conversation in the years to come.