Contributing to Open Source

by: Baddý Sonja Breidert, CEO and co-founder of 1xINTERNET

At 1xINTERNET we actively contribute to Open Source, mainly Drupal. We do this for a reason: it's a key business advantage for 1x to be at the very centre of the technology we rely upon and we see a lot of value in contribution to Open Source. Therefore we have done our math on why this is good for us as a company and employees, as well as for our business strategy.

Submitted by baddysonja on Tue, 08/20/2019 - 08:32

 

Open Source is increasingly popular and many companies actively contribute to Open Source projects. A lot of research is ongoing on the topic, “why contributing is valuable for companies” and Dries also wrote a blogpost about "The investment case for employing a Drupal core contributor".

In this blogpost I want to describe, why 1xINTERNET contributes and what is our rationale behind it. 

Then I will put this in perspective of contributions to the Drupal project. 

Finally I’m interested in hearing from others how they are contributing and how they calculate the value of contribution. 

What’s your math?

project management community events sponsorship membership documentation source code

How does 1xINTERNET contribute to Drupal?

1xINTERNET was created as an agency that delivers projects based on Drupal. Therefore we feel responsible to contribute back to the project and participate in its growth. We make sure to create an environment for our employees to be able to contribute during work time and we encourage and enable them to attend and organise events.  

We have analysed the year 2018 and looked at the contributions 1xINTERNET. 

Our contribution to the Drupal project can be divided into 3 areas:

  • Community work
  • Events, sponsorships, and memberships
  • Source code 
     

Community work

In 2018 we spent a lot of time organising Drupal Europe together with other community members. We also actively participated in Drupal camps as well as in various boards such as the Drupal Association board, the board of the German Drupal Business Association, and the board of the Icelandic Drupal Association. We help promote Drupal in Germany and Austria by organising the Splash Awards and we encourage our employees to actively participate in Drupal events.
In 2018 we had on average 20 employees. When we calculate the time spent on community activities, it adds up to ~5% of our workforce which is equivalent to ~1 full-time-equivalent (FTE).

Sponsorships and memberships

In 2018 we invested in the following events and memberships:

  • Sub sponsor at Frontend United in Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Gold sponsor at Drupal Dev Days in Lisbon, Portugal
  • Bronze sponsor at DrupalCamp Essen, Germany
  • Co-organisation of Drupal Europe in Darmstadt, Germany
  • Organisation member of the German Drupal Association
  • Founding member of the German Drupal Business Association
  • Premium Supporting Partner of the Drupal Association
  • Donation to the Promote Drupal fund

In total we spent ~1% of our total budget in sponsorships and memberships related to the Drupal project.

Source code contribution

We also actively contribute source code to the Drupal Project. Some projects we strongly support. For others we contribute patches.
We support over 13 projects and have over 406 credits counts. We are currently ranked nr. 42 of the organisations that contribute most back to Drupal. We are really proud of this considering the size of our company is currently “only” 28 employees.

How much did we contribute in 2018?

If we add up our efforts in community work, sponsorships and memberships, and source code distribution, 1xINTERNET contributes an equivalent to ~7,5% of our annual budget to Drupal.

Why do we contribute?

Visibility and partnerships

1xINTERNET has a lot of visibility in the Drupal ecosystem. We can easily transport our marketing messages and position ourselves as experts delivering ambitious Drupal and React projects. Because we are recognised as experts, we cooperate with some of the largest organisations using Drupal and get to work on challenging projects.

Recruitment

Team event in Conil, SpainFor us it is easy to recruit Drupal talent because other members of the community notice our contribution and want to participate in shaping some of the important parts of the Drupal project. Our employees see benefits for personal growth as well as increasing their skill sets by working on the Drupal project. 

Also our team is diverse with 30% female staff, over 15 nationalities, and 5 different religious views. Our company language is ("broken") English and we have offices in Germany (Frankfurt and Berlin), South of Spain, and Iceland.

Because we can recruit top talent, we can grow our team the way we want to have it. We have a very strong collaborative spirit within our company and friendships between team members. This all helps us to build the best team and would not be possible without the visibility through our contribution.

Project delivery and development expertise

Contributing to Drupal has direct impact on the quality of our workforce.

Through source code contribution, our developers constantly increase their development skills, as their code is being reviewed by other developers. From this our clients benefit directly, because we can deliver higher quality software solutions.

The same is true for community work, because giving public talks, mentoring others, or organising events helps our employees increase their personal, organisational, and management skills.

Sales

Lastly we directly benefit with sales. We actively get invited to participate in tenders. We also get direct client requests for Drupal development, digital consulting, Drupal trainings, and Drupal audits. 

Do we contribute enough? What is our math?

Given the fact we spend 7,5% of our budget which leads to having strong advantages in visibility, recruitment, sales and collaboration, we feel that this is a sensible spending.

However, we don’t know how our advantages would change, if we contributed differently.

Questions we ask ourselves are:

  • Does it make sense to spend 7,5% of the total budget into Drupal?
  • Would we get the same kinds of benefits if we spend less on contribution and spend more on marketing activities? 
  • Would we benefit more, if we contributed more code and did less sponsoring?
  • Or should we maybe spend even of our total budget to further increase our competitive advantages?
  • What about our competitors? We often ask ourselves, why they should benefit from our contribution while contributing much less to the Drupal project?

When trying to answer these questions we have also looked at research. There is a lot of research going on at Harvard and other universities. Most of the findings confirm our observations, how we as a company benefit from contribution. 

In “Learning by Contributing: Gaining Competitive Advantage Through Contribution to Crowdsourced Public Goods” the author Frank Nagle from Havard writes:

Quote from Frank Nagle

Is this model scalable? If we spend 15% of our budget in 2019, will we see even more increase in 2020? If this works so well for us, why are other companies not doing the same?

We can start by looking at other companies in the current Drupal contribution ecosystem to see if we can find a pattern or a solution to make this scalable to both grow the ecosystem as well as the contribution to the project.
 

Top 50 contributing organisations in last 3 months
Top 50 contributing organisations in last 3 months

The Drupal contribution ecosystem

In order to get an idea of how other companies contribute to Drupal, we analysed the available data.

Unfortunately available data is mostly centered around source code contribution. There is only very little data available on community work and other types of contribution.

For the Drupal 8 core the top 55 individual contributors account for approximately 47% of the total credits. Those individuals are sponsored by around 35 different organisations such as Acquia, MD Systems, Burda with Thunder, Bio.logis, Previous/Next, Palantir, Pfizer, Acro Media Inc, etc.

Looking at the whole of Drupal 712 organisations have received a total of 9.639 contribution credits in the last three months. Similar to core contributions, the top 50 organisations account for approximately 60% of the total contribution credits. Again, we see a similar list of organisations.

Drupal Europe community project on drupal.org
Drupal Europe community project on drupal.org

Since there is too little data about contribution in community work, we are actively working on extending Drupal’s credit system and collecting more data.

Since organising events, sponsoring events or paying membership fees is equally important, the Drupal Association recently provided the option of creating community projects that can be used for any purpose that supports or enhances the Drupal project and community.

Those projects don’t contain modules or themes but give people opportunities to create issues and credit individuals for their work. 

Since this recently started we don’t have enough data yet. Until today we have around 120 community projects of which 78 have been added in the last year on Drupal.org. 

Main sponsors in the last six large Drupal conferences
Main sponsors in the last six large Drupal conferences

Then we looked at sponsoring and memberships. For large events data is available, but again the quality of data could be increased.

We listed down the main sponsors (Diamond, Platinum and Gold) at the recent 6 Drupal conferences and here is the list of top 20 companies sponsoring those events. What can already be seen when comparing source code contributions with community contributes is that some companies are more actively contributing source code. Others are more actively sponsoring or organising events, some are actively doing both.

This mostly related to the nature of the companies. Companies selling paid services for contributing to projects such as MD Systems who maintains the popular paragraphs module, or Centarro who maintains Drupal Commerce naturally contribute heavily with source code contributions.

Companies who sell professional services typically organise and sponsor events. Prominent examples are Previous/Next, Mediacurrent, FFW, Trio Interactive, Kanopi Studios and more.

Infrastructure providers like hosting companies typically sponsor events. Prominent companies are Acquia, Pantheon, Platform.sh and Amazee IO.
Companies who internally rely on Drupal for running their digital platforms often contribute source code and sponsor events. Here we have seen IBM, Bio.logis and Pfizer.

What's your math?

Call to action - what's your math?

In this blogpost we have laid down how much our company contributed to Drupal in 2018 and how we calculate the value of our contribution. We have analysed source code contributions to Drupal, community work and sponsorships.

We see a lot of great companies contributing to Drupal, so many people are thinking about how much to contribute.

We don’t know if we should contribute more? Or if we should contribute differently?

In order to make better decisions, we need your input. We want to learn how you value contribution. Please share, what your math is.

I think this is a valuable discussion to have in our community. It is important for all members to understand the value of contributing, so we can grow as companies and together let Drupal prosper into the future.

Please respond with a blog post and let me know either via twitter at @baddysonja,  send me an email to b.breidert@1xinternet.de or write a comment here below. I will share your posts and link them in this post.

Comments

Submitted by Manuel Willert (not verified) on Thu, 08/22/2019 - 15:18

Hello Baddy,

super statement. We are also in the process of finding a way to sort ourselves into Open Source and I have to admit that I couldn't find a better "contribution" than yours so far.

I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Best regards. Manuel

Submitted by Lizz Trudeau (not verified) on Thu, 08/22/2019 - 17:02

Hi Baddý,

This is one of the best blogs about contribution ever. I'm wondering if the culture of contributing impacts your employee retention? I've noticed that community work has an immeasurable way of making people feel valued, happy, and included within Drupal. I know the Association uses a tool to try and capture sentiment of employees, but there's nothing set to measure this across the Drupal project currently and I don't think surveys or net promoter scores would truly get at the heart of this magic of Drupal community.

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Baddý Breidert

»Let's talk about your project and how we can help!«

– Baddý Breidert M. Sc., CEO

Phone: +49 69 976 711 50
Email: office@1xinternet.de