Agentic’s primary business is to create websites for clients in the not-for-profit sector using the open source Drupal CMS framework. A big question we regularly ask ourselves is whether we are “innovating” in our day-to-day work.
Because Drupal comes to us so fully formed, it is easy to think that we are just piecing together existing blocks of code in novel ways. This is an over simplification that arises from working with an innovative framework such as Drupal. We forget how innovative we are being just by using Drupal. As sites become more complicated, it is also easy to forget how innovative we had to be to fulfill complicated requirement X, now that we are on to other complicated requirements. We recognize that each challenge in the relatively common task of building a website requires an innovative approach.
In the early days of our development and deployment of Drupal, each day was an educational experience, whether learning about the alchemy of contributed modules that achieved functionality X, learning how to make Drupal do things it was not designed to do out of the box, or strengthening first generation Drupal modules to perform more effectively. This often resulted in long hours of experimentation. In fact, almost every challenge in building a website required some innovative thinking at some point.
This is perhaps a loose definition of “innovation,” but we feel it is a fair assessment of the work we were doing at that point, and continue to do now, even though Drupal and our knowledge of it have matured. As our knowledge of building websites with Drupal grows, so do the feature sets our clients expect, resulting in a constant learning curve in which innovation is not an option, but a prerequisite.
Although we use the Drupal framework, and use many contributed modules, we feel that our innovation is continually in play through the combination, configuration, and customization of Drupal core and contributed modules and themes to achieve required functionality for our clients. The techniques we strategize and implement are often novel or cutting edge to the point that they are not yet documented. More and more, we try to document our innovation for the benefit of the community, time permitting.
We regularly use alpha and beta versions of contributed modules during development and report back issues to assist in the further improvement of Drupal as a world-class development framework. We also innovate in the area of custom CSS as when developing custom themes for the sites we create, often finding innovative solutions to problems posed when installing the creative content delivered by our design partners.
Carefully structured, our custom code is designed to fill gaps in functionality in Drupal and its contributed modules and themes. This effort is in itself innovative, we believe, as we are both working within and working to improve the Drupal framework’s API library.
Our experience, research, and contact with the Drupal community tells us that 70-75% of what we do is standard practice; the remaining 25-30% is research and experimentation with feature sets that are rarely if ever seen on websites of the scope we create.
In summary, Agentic seeks innovative solutions to the never mundane work of creating feature-rich web applications within the Drupal system.