Vijay has been working with Drupal core since version 4. Read about his experience in our interview.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became involved in the world of Drupal?
Hi! My name is Vijay. In 2006, I graduated as a Computer Science Engineer and got a job offer as a web developer.
One of our clients asked us to redesign their old portal using Drupal (v4.5). By then I’d worked on various small projects using other frameworks like WordPress, Joomla, Moodle and non-framework projects. So I had a bit of experience to recognise the elegant design of Drupal (especially Hook system) and managed to stay with it up to now!
Until 2010, I was a 100% Drupal user. I never had any contribution to drupal.org or asked any questions in drupal.org forum (StackOverflow of Drupal by then).
In 2010, I got an opportunity to attend a Drupal Camp in Mumbai where Dries did a keynote and learned about the community and how open and collective effort Drupal is. Around the same time, I started to contribute to Drupal.
You’ve achieved an incredible 14 years with Drupal. Your credits list is impressive. You’ve worked on a lot of Drupal core to Webform Capture and even Apple News recently. What are some notable achievements and why?
My biggest achievement would be the Configuration Translation module (one of the co-maintainer) in Drupal 8 core.
In one of the D8MI meetings, Gabor brought the idea of using config schema/typed data system for translating config. We started the module as a contrib and over the period it became part of core.
From this module’s journey, I learned so much about Drupal core workflow and quality gates and how much effort goes in from various aspects (performance, security, accessibility etc) to get a piece of code into core. It also helped me to meet and work with great people in the community.
What does working with the Drupal mean to you?
Drupal has been the major framework in my 15-year professional life. Though I have worked on other technology, there is always a Drupal project. It teaches a lot of other languages/standards like JS, CSS and with Drupal 8 Symfony and REST API, JSON: API etc. In a way, staying with Drupal also keeps me up to date with the technology around it.
“I am really thankful for the code, community and the companies to keep Drupal grow and stay current.”
You’ve worked for some big-names. What do you like about working with these large organisations?
I always felt projects like big-name companies are once in a lifetime type opportunities and I was quite lucky to be part of them. Projects of this scale have a different benchmark/metrics compared to small/medium size projects.
From architecture to development to delivery, so much importance is given to every single element. They also come with immense pressure deadlines, complex team structure, complex use cases (esp. Requirements to work with systems invented 30 years ago) and strict non-functional requirements (performance, security, etc.)
Overall, these projects provide turbo-boost to gain experience in a short span of time on both technical and non-technical sides.
What do you think is the biggest fear companies have about adopting an open-source platform?
I think the main fear is accountability. When a company buys a product or service from a proprietary software firm, they get some kind of assurance that if anything goes wrong, they would be able to fix and provide long term upgrade, support etc.
For big companies, it is a safe place to be. Though they may never use the legal route if something does go wrong, it is a safe net. But open-source doesn’t provide that kind of assurance.
What advice would you give to ease these fears?
Though there are legacy issues both with technology and people in big companies, moving forward and keeping up with the latest technologies is the only way to keep the organisation and product relevant to the market.
It is not going to happen by sticking to a single or group of proprietary software. The present and future are open-source. So using and supporting to grow is the smart choice.
If you could pick one thing, what’s the main change you’d like to see in Drupal over the next few versions?
Redefine what Drupal is.
With the changes that came with Drupal 8, the course or the audience of Drupal changed a lot. Also, the whole landscape of the internet presence for a person, company or major corporation has significantly changed. For example, it’s not common in 2020 for an individual to create and host their own website to write blog posts.
Drupal somehow needs to define at least a range of audiences it is targeted at and try to focus and improve the framework for those audiences.
You’ve been to a few Drupal events to date, what are your highlights?
I love Drupal events!
In 2013 I attended my first DrupalCon. I usually feel the events would be like going to Hogwarts from Harry Potter. You get to meet people who care about the things you care about. They’ve also had a rough day/night/week with a issue/bug you’ve been working on.
People deeply discuss things that people outside Drupal (muggles) don’t care about or aren’t aware they are using every single day :D
What do you like most about the Drupal community?
“I love the Drupal community. It is an awesome group of people spending their time and effort to build something free for the better world.”
The Drupal Association provides a platform (from d.o improvements to Slack to Drupal events) for everyone to come together and do what we love.
You’ve been recognised for developing innovative solutions. Which one springs to mind when I say that and why?
I think it’d be a different answer depending on when you ask me :)
My initial years I felt implementing something really complex would be an innovative solution. However, in recent years I felt making something simple but archives all business needs would be the answer.
Recently, I was part of the team that managed to implement a Drupal 8 site with CI/CD pipeline which allows deploying of the site every hour (if necessary) in a day without bringing the site down.
In my opinion, this is an innovative solution compared to the same site that had a once every month deployment with the team staying up till 2 am with fingers crossed!
How do you remain innovative in your role?
I think mostly it is down to knowing what’s happening in the latest technology and trying to bring that into your to day-to-day work. I try to keep up with the latest updates and case studies from other organizations, Drupal podcasts, etc.
Finally, are there any stories or anecdotes you like to tell when talking about your job or experience?
No. Thanks for these questions. They definitely brought lots of old memories :)
Thank you for your time, Vjay!