The ecosystem that surrounds any piece of software is just as important as the software itself. Much like Drupal, concrete5 has a lot going for it community wise.
Concrete5 Core Team
In the Drupal world we’ve got Dries at Acquia. Concrete5 has CEO Franz Maruna, CTO Andew Embler and a number of other folks who make up the Core Team. Concrete5 began life as a closed source CMS solution for the core team’s web shop. In 2008 they decided to open source the project and it has grown tremendously. The Core Team pays their bills by implementing concrete5 for their own clients and from commission on the sale of items in the concrete5 marketplace.
Concrete5 is released under the MIT license, which means you can do basically whatever you want with the core. There’s a nice page a concrete5.org that lays this out if you’ve got questions about the details.
We rely on drupal.org to serve up countless indispensible modules and themes. The concrete5 Marketplace at concrete5.org serves the same purpose and offers both free and paid items to expand concrete5. Yes, there is a cost for some themes and Add-ons (think modules). While there are plenty of great free things available many themes and Add-ons are priced at $15 USD. Complex Add-ons are often priced between $45 – $100 USD.
The concrete5 Marketplace is operated by the Core Team and sells a number of their items but most items are developed by community members. Lots of folks get up in arms when open source software and money appear in the same the same sentence. The Core Team has posted their approach to this topic. Personally, I like free things as much as anyone but I don’t mind paying fair prices for great software.
Marketplace Peer Review Board and Support
Everything sold in the Marketplace is vetted by the Peer Review Board and Core Team. The intent of the review process is to make sure that nothing in the Marketplace will break your site. All community members that sell things in the Marketplace are also required to provide support and you can check out their average response time on each item’s product page. If a seller doesn’t make good on support they risk having their items pulled.
The Marketplace is designed to integrate directly with each of your concrete5 installations if you want it to. Your account at concrete5.org offers a nice interface for defining projects and assigning free items and paid licenses to each of your projects. It’s a nice way to keep organized and get a bird’s eye view of what Add-ons you’re using on which sites. You can either download zip archives for your add-ons and themes and manually upload them to a site’s directory structure or connect your site to the Marketplace and perform a direct install much like you can in Drupal 7.
Like Drupal, the official concrete5 forums are where much of the collective wisdom is available for your searching convenience. A quick browse of the conrcrete5 forums will give you a good bead on the strength of the community. Questions on the basics tend to be answered quickly and there’s plenty of discussion of higher level topics.
Core Team Engagement
CEO Franz Maruna and CTO Andrew Embler post frequently and share significant information about where the project is headed. Like any good collaborative project, the leadership is engaged and accessible.
If you visit the Community Members page at concrete5.org and sort by the Community Leaders option you’ll get a listing of community members ranked by the number of karma points they’ve earned. Karma is awarded to members who answer questions in the forum, contribute to the core and otherwise help out to move the project forward.
If you want to get a sense of how talented developers solve problems using concrete5 I recommend sorting the members list by Community Leaders and exploring the forum posts of the top members. These are cool people who get things done that are not shy about sharing their ideas with the community.
The volume of documentation available at Drupal.org is staggering. If that’s not enough, there’s a massive number of tutorial articles and how to videos available on other sites. Beyond that, there’s an almost literal mountain of books available on implementing Drupal.
While the quantity of concrete5 documentation doesn’t match the quantity of Drupal documentation the quality certainly does. I have built many large and small websites with conrete5 and done some fairly intense custom development. I can honestly say that the documentation has never failed me. In the rare cases that I’ve had a question that hadn’t already been answered, forum members have helped clear things up.
Concrete5.org is the primary source of information for all things conrete5. The basics are laid out very nicely in the Getting Started documentation as well as in a series of tours aimed at site editors, designers, developers and agency owners (perhaps your boss).
The meat and potatoes documentation is clearly written and nicely organized:
- As is the case with Drupal, the official forums are a tremendously valuable resource. Searching past forum posts will provide answers to many of the questions you may have.
- The Developers Guide breaks down all major aspects of concrete5 and includes concise explanations and examples of how most features work and what they’re good for.
- The How-To’s section contains a sizeable collection of articles with each one addressing how to achieve a specific goal. The articles in this section are largely contributed by the community.
- A phpDocumenter generated complete API reference is available. The core is well documented so there’s a lot of worthwhile information for custom development.
In 2011 Packt published the first book on conrete5:
While ‘Beginner’s Guide’ is in the title, the book covers much more than basic site construction and management. Theming, Block customization, Block development, Single Page development and more are all covered in detail.
Totally Random: Weekly concrete5 Webcast
CEO Franz Maruna and CTO Andrew Embler host a weekly video web cast on most Fridays at 10AM PST. They generally spend a good hour talking about the direction of the project, highlighting new features, recognizing community members and answering questions. The live webcasts are broadcast via UStream and offer live chat for direct interaction. Archived webcasts are available on the concrete5 Youtube channel. Plenty of valuable information is shared in every episode and receiving frequent state-of-the-union type updates keeps the community up to speed on the major goals of the project.
Concrete5 core development is coordinated with github making it tremendously easy to gauge what’s going on with the core and to contribute back code of your own. Hit the link, browse around and check out the notes on what’s happening.
Overall, concrete5 has great core team, an active community and all the documentation you need to get your projects across the finish line. Are there other aspects you look for in a CMS community? Let me know in the comments.