This is a transcript. For the video, see Angie Byron Talks History and the Drupal Community.
20 Years with Angie Byron
[00:00:00] Michael Meyers: Hello, and welcome to Tag1 Team Talks, the blog and podcast of Tag1 Consulting. We're commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Drupal with an interview series, featuring community leaders talking about their Drupal Experiences. And I'm really excited to have Angie Byron AKA WebChick on the show today.
If you don't know Angie, you don't know Drupal.
I'm Michael Meyers, the managing director of Tag1. We're the number two all time contributor to Drupal. We build large-scale applications for organizations in every sector with Drupal as well as many other technologies. We're also one of the few Drupal 7 Extended Support providers. So if you need help with your Drupal 7 sites after end-of-life next year, please reach out to us.
So after Dries, the founder of Drupal, Angie is probably the most well-known name in the community. She got started with Drupal over 16 years ago and has been instrumental in Drupal's growth and success. [00:01:00] Angie's made many, many, many contributions. I'm going to try and summarize a few of them here.
Uh you know, contributed a lot of code to Drupal Core, served as a co-core committer for Drupal 7. Say that three times fast. Was the Drupal product manager for Drupal 8 and beyond and served the Drupal Security Team. She's also made many contributions outside of code. Uh, thousands of documentation edits, a role model right there alone.
Um, she's been a board member of the Drupal Association, has spoken at numerous DrupalCons and other events, and acted as the official Community Cat Herder for over a decade. Angie. Uh, welcome. Thank you so much for joining me today. Really appreciate.
[00:01:53] Angie Byron: Thank you for that glowing intro. My goodness. Thank you so much, but yeah, it's awesome to talk to you.
[00:01:58] Michael Meyers: It's great to see you. [00:02:00] So to set the stage, you know, I want to talk a little bit about your Drupal career and then we'll dive more into you know, experiences with Drupal, the platform and the community itself. Uh, but first tell me about the Google Summer of Code. I think this is back in around 2005 and how you first discovered Drupal.
[00:02:21] Angie Byron: Yeah. Um, so I'd actually first discovered Drupal a couple of years prior to that, because I'm one of those naturally curious people who just goes around the internet. Whenever I see kind of a cool site, I like, view source to find out what's happening underneath there. And so way back in the day, there was this website called spreadfirefox.com.
And the whole idea of that site was you had like you know, people could upload like campus events, they were doing InstallFest, or they could upload a poster that they made promoting Firefox. That kind of thing is kind of this grassroots marketing site. And I thought, well, this is a cool concept and it's supporting open source and stuff.
What's under the hood there? Oh, it's Drupal. I never heard of that, but it just kind of stuck [00:03:00] in my mind. Then I saw you laughing there. Do you have your own Spread Firefox story or
[00:03:04] Michael Meyers: No, I just, I, I just, I re you know, was like, what I love about these conversations is these memories that I forgot about that pop back up, and I had completely forgotten.
It just came flooding back that whole, you know, era.
[00:03:16] Angie Byron: Yeah. That whole era, yeah. Drupal was, was I wouldn't say Drupal had taken off back then, but it was certainly being used by a lot of really high profile technology companies. So Mozilla in the case of Firefox. Linux was using it for, you know, several things.
Like a lot of the early adopting kind of folks were, were fans of these big technologies and they would use it to help promote them. So that was really cool. Um, so anyway, so that kind of stuck out in my mind. And then later when I was finishing up school, my instructor told me about this Google Summer of Code program.
Cause I was like that really loud mouth punk in, you know, class who would be. Hey, if you're going to teach us about Oracle, you need to teach us about mySQL too, you know, even though that back then they weren't the same thing. Okay. But back then they were totally. [00:04:00] And so he kinda like, he entertained me, like he let me like, you know, go off and explore these different interests I had.
But when this thing came up, he was like here, loud mouth. You should go apply for that. I was like, oh, huh, oh no I'm scared, you know, because they had all this imposter syndrome because, you know, I read about open source. I loved the idea of open source, the ethos around open source, all of that. It's called Free Software back then.
Um, But I was super intimidated to like, actually get started. Cause I thought you had to be like, at genius level up here, you know, I was but a mere student, you know, in community college and I didn't know how to bridge that gap. So the Google Summer of Code, which is, was interesting because, you know, obviously they knew we were students, right.
That was the whole idea of the program is you would apply and they would pay you over the summer to work on an open-source project. So I said, okay, I'll try this. You know, and I saw Drupal in the list of projects. Yeah. And I remembered it from the Spread Firefox days. And then one of the projects they had proposed was a quiz module, which was also interesting to me because I was both a student at the time, but I was also teaching A+ [00:05:00] certifications in the evenings to try to make some money.
Because it's a whole long story, but when you immigrate to a new country, you can't work there unless it's somehow related to your schooling, blah, blah, blah. But anyway, so I was teaching and a student at the time, so I was like, quiz module. That's awesome. Because I know both sides of that. And I could probably do a good job with that.
So I applied and Robert Douglas was the, the kind of organization admin at the time. And I guess at like the 11th hour, like right before the deadline, he swapped my name with another person's name and put two of us on, on the quiz module. And so I just barely made the cut, but I had made it. And then I got started in Drupal.
And so what was funny is I had never installed Drupal and I never used Drupal. Like I had only seen it in view source one time and kind of had a vague idea of what it could do. And so I'm like thrown into this and it's like “Hi, person who's never used Drupal. Write a module that does stuff.” So I'm like, all right, well, I'm a programmer, so surely I can figure this out.
But there were like these things called hooks and I had no idea what [00:06:00] that was. And, you know, I started, like trying to read the documentation, but all the documentation is written for people who already knew how things worked. And so I was struggling a lot. Um, and the thing that saved my bacon was to get on IRC and just start talking to people, you know what I mean?
And I was like, you know, trying to ask smart questions, trying to do research first. I was also trying to help other people with their support questions because it was exposing me to random parts of the interface. And I remember when I answered my very first support question, I was like, yes, you know, kind of thing.
And then I had this habit of documenting as I go because I have a terrible memory. And so like, I would, you know, I would figure something out and right away, put it in the handbook. Um, and people started taking notice of this and it was like, holy crap. And then everybody was helping me. Cause they could tell that I was like one of those people that was going to give back.
And it wasn't there just to siphon knowledge away from the community to solve my own problems and be done. So, and it was a really interesting project because we had to work against head at the time, which was 4.7. And anybody who was around in the community back then knows that in Drupal [00:07:00] 4.7, we wrote, rewrote the entire form system.
And so there was a point in my project where everything worked fine. And then the next day nothing worked. I had to rewrite huge swaths of it, you know, to use this new form API. And anyway, so it was, it was an exciting time to be alive, but it was - it was great. Cause I got exposure to all kinds of, you know, Drupal things. I got to work on core development, because head would break sometimes and you know, I'd be able to file an issue about it. And I remember the first time too, that I filed an issue. And so it was like, oh, that's a legitimate problem. And you know what they had done, they had accidentally committed their settings.php file - that used to happen all the time.
Anyway, that was one of those things. Um, yeah. And so I very quickly. Started to realize that, oh my gosh, like on this side of, you must be this smart to contribute while it's like, anybody can do this. Like anybody can jump in and like, you know, just start helping, you know, in various areas where you see a problem, try and fix it, you know, that kind of thing.
And that realization was really powerful. And so I started to not only help out myself in [00:08:00] every area that I can think of, but I also try to kind of clear the pathway so other people could come along beside me and along with me to, to make that journey.
[00:08:09] Michael Meyers: Awesome. Um, we - I interviewed Robert Douglas, a couple of shows back.
Definitely folks should check that out. He, he, he mentioned the, the Summer of Code story and, and talked about it from his perspective. So it was really cool to hear you mention that and, and you know, I, I think, you know, there are so many things that I love about you, Angie, but it's your, you know, the way that you engage people and pull them into the community.
And I think, you know what you mentioned about like, when people saw that you were contributing and they went out of their way to help you. And that is, I think one of the first, like really important lessons that people need to know in open source is, you know, if you just, you know, come to Rob, you know, like, you might get something but if you come to contribute and, and you know, you're going to get so much more. Look, I [00:09:00] can't wait to get back to, to Drupal itself, but I want to spend a few minutes talking about your career in Drupal.
Um, after Google Summer of Code. Did you decide to stick with Drupal? What happened next?
[00:09:14] Angie Byron: Yeah, it was interesting because Google Summer of Code was, was a short term program. It was like three months over the Summer. And then after that I fully expected I'd go get some boring, like .Net accounting, application programming job.
You know, or whatever, like the things they prepare you for in school. Cause at that time they were not preparing you for a career in open source in any way. And I didn't even know that you could make a career in open source. But then Robert Douglas, my mentor in Google, summer of code, you know, he would like throw me a project every now and then like, Could you make this theme for 500 bucks?
[00:09:44] Angie Byron: I'm like, I don't know how to make a theme, but sure. Let me try and figure it out. And like, it's that kind of thing. Or, and then I, you know, some other person will be like, Hey, can you help me build this Flash integration with Drupal over a couple of hundred, you know, a couple of thousand bucks?
Oh my God. You know, it's like, and so before [00:10:00] I knew it, all of a sudden I was accidentally a freelancer, which was not good at all because I'm not good at saying no to things. And I'm really bad at tracking down paperwork. So, it was a bad situation. but it kept my community contributions up because I just, I fell in love with this awesome community and people who - Drupal's got all these really smart people.
A lot of communities have smart people, but they have the category of smart people who are like, oh, you don't know what this thing is. Well, let me tell you about it. Cause it's awesome. You know, like kind of thing rather than, oh, you don't know what that thing is, you know, it's just a totally different vibe.
So I, anyway, I was, I was hooked on that. So I kept doing a bunch of stuff. One of the projects I got hired to do was to write the Form API reference. Is that big honking, horrible table with the cliquey, you know, doop dots CivicSpace sponsored me to write that. Um, and so I wrote that and you know, the people started to take notice.
So CivicSpace was like, well, Hey, can we hire you as a contractor? And I started actually working on like, the CivicSpace distribution [00:11:00] and some of the early features like the graphical installer, because back in those days, you sucked in as raw SQL file. That was how installation went. Um, you know, CivicSpace helped sponsor that stuff.
And then other people start to take notice. So, Lullabot approached me and asked if I'd want to help out with them, because they noticed that I was doing crazy amounts of edits and the documentation. And they were like, you'd probably be good at teaching people Drupal. So why don't we figure that out? You know?
And so yeah, I went and was with Lullabot, for a number of years doing, you know, kind of kicking off the very first commercial training that there was for Drupal back then and doing a bunch of stuff on some, some of the larger Drupal websites at the time. Um, I don't know if I can say specific clients, but really big music companies you know, those kinds of things, very high scale Drupal, especially at that time and trying to solve some of those challenges.
It was really, really exciting. Um, and then. Uh, but at the time I was doing all of this, like my work work stuff and the community work stuff as like two different, [00:12:00] 40 hour a week jobs, one of which I got paid for and one in which I didn't. And that was not very sustainable, as one can imagine. Um, and so I approached Dries at one point and I said, you know, Dries, if you ever have a job, that's just being Web Chick, you know, and doing this community stuff.
I would love to talk to you because right now, like I'm kind of burning my candle at both ends and I'm not sure how long I can keep this up kind of thing. Um, and he was like, oh, okay. That's very interesting. Um, but I don't have anything like that now. And I was like, that's cool. And then like two months later or something, he comes back, he's like, so I have a job.
It's like, okay, awesome. Um, so then I started at Acquia as a jeez, I don't remember what my first title was, but Senior Director of Community something basically, but basically my job at that point became a Dries and I sitting down, once a quarter or so, to look at the whole field of like, what are Drupal's hairiest problems that are preventing it from being awesome.
And you, my job was just to go solve those things. And so that went everywhere over the [00:13:00] 10 years I was there. It was, you know, it was getting the Drupal 7 modules ready. Remember those days, Drupal 7! You know, cause at the time I started that wasn't ready to get it. It was getting a predictable release cycle going around security releases so people didn't have to carry up a pager.
Uh, it was creating core dates to make sure that the stuff that we were putting into Drupal, especially the core stuff was solid and it wasn't regressing performance and it wasn't regressing accessibility. Um, it was working with the Drupal Association to get key features deployed to drupal.org.
It was, you know, fundraising with a bunch of the Drupal businesses that were around to get key initiatives kicked off the ground, a grants program called Drupal 8 Accelerate which allowed us to like pay people for bug bounties and get the critical bugs down so he could release and on and on and on.
So I, you know, leading engineering teams to do like, you know, key features for Drupal, like WYSIWYG in core and mobile and you know, all kinds of stuff. So, yeah, it was a very exciting thing. Um, but I had been in that for about 10 years and [00:14:00] um, every time you hit a nice round number like that with your career, it's kind of one of those times when you kind of, sort of, huh, what's going on out there in the fields, you know, and I kind of started to feel like - not that Drupal ever, wasn't going to be challenging. Because there's always new stuff, you know, that kind of thing. But over the course of my career, you know, I kind of helped Drupal get from like, sort of that like toddler phase, where it's like banging into furniture and like spilling its milk everywhere to like, you know, now Drupal's like, you know, in their twenties they got a nice like apartment downtown.
Like they know how to feed themselves and like that kind of thing. So it sort of felt like a lot of those. You know, growth challenges that we had to solve through that period, like imp you know, improving the governance of the project you know, making sure we had key features so that we could, you know, grow in this certain way.
All of that was kind of like a solved problem. And Drupal was very much in the, okay, this is a rock solid platform. Uh, it's got a really solid maintenance around it. That kind of thing. It's, you know, it's, it's, it's in a good place. So I kind of started to like lightly [00:15:00] entertain other opportunities, where you know, maybe there was an opportunity to kind of that more startup feel where it's like, we're starting from a, kind of a, a smaller community that sort of, you know, scattered around.
Let's try to like form this up and like, make it awesome.
[00:15:12] Angie Byron: Um, and so a friend of mine told me about this opportunity at Mongo DB to be a VP of Dev Relations, which I did not get that job, because I'm not quite at that level, but, but they talked to me and they were like, we really like you and what you are doing with Drupal.
And we would love to see you do that here. So they essentially like crafted a job which was Principal Community Manager and made sure to include in there that I have time to work on Drupal. So it was the best of both worlds because I got to kind of explore this other technology and databases are great because they interface with all kinds of languages and technologies and other things.
So I get to meet a whole bunch of new people, interface with a whole bunch of new communities, learn a bunch of new stuff, but also keep my foot in the Drupal world and make sure I'm able to contribute well there. And so, yeah, so I've been there since August [00:16:00] 2nd. So it's been a couple of, you know, almost three months.
Um, and it's been quite a ride, but yeah, I'm having a lot of fun and learning a lot. And you know, just this week I, you know, reviewed the CKEditor 5 patch, you know, and stuff. So it's, it's, it's kind of awesome because theoretically, anyway, managed to carve out this place where I get to learn a whole bunch of new stuff, but keep my foot in what I know.
And then hopefully trade some lessons back and forth as well. Uh, so that's, that's my goal is to make Drupal more awesome. Make MongoDB awesome. And you know, like a circle of never ending awesomeness. I don't know. I keep repeating myself, but yeah, that's, that's the idea and I'm really excited.
[00:16:37] Michael Meyers: I, I love that analogy. You, you know, you, you, you raised this child and, you know, Drupal graduated college and, and is off and it's living on its own. And, you know, that's a really rewarding and amazing thing to see. And I think it's great for both you and Drupal. You know, Drupal needs to be able to go off and live on its own.
And, you know, you created this amazing [00:17:00] thing for yourself where you get to remain a part of it and continue to grow your career. Uh, I was so happy when I, when I found out about it. Uh, I can't wait to hear how things go. And if Mongo, you know, gets a fraction of the benefit from you that, that Drupal did, you know, there's gonna be world domination.
So. Uh, we'll have to have you back to, to talk about that. But you know, talking about your, your contributions and, and, you know, working on the CK5 patch, and it's exciting to hear that that's going in is a good segue back to, you know, Drupal contributions and your Drupal journey itself. Um, I'm curious, this is a long time ago, and I know you said you, you keep good notes.
Um, do you remember your first contribution to Drupal? What it was. And more importantly, like what the experience was like, how it went.
[00:17:54] Angie Byron: So rather than talk about my first one, cause my first was something boring. It was like a help page or something like that, you [00:18:00] know? Um, I'll talk about two early contributions if that's okay.
So I'm not going to do what you say, going to do what I want.
[00:18:08] Michael Meyers: I expect nothing less.
[00:18:12] Angie Byron: Um, the first, really big contribution I did. Patch size wise and coordination wise was at that time. The help pages were all very different from one another. And so you'd go to one help page for a module and it'd be like, the node module is cool or whatever, it wasn't that bad, but you know what I mean?
It was like that. And you go to another module and it'd be very detailed and there could be links to all kinds of stuff. So I worked with the Documentation team at the time to come up with a I think this is Charlie. Gosh, I don't remember Charlie's name. Oh, I don't remember. But anyway, there was a group of people that passionate about documentation at the time.
And and so we went and you know, kind of developed a template for, you know, like let's do about and then uses. And then I can't remember all this stuff. Um, [00:19:00] and so they came up with this template. My job was to get it rolled into a megapatch. Um, to apply to all of the different modules. And that was a very interesting experience because like Dries was in there and he was like, you know, like, Hey, you know, just wondering if there's an update on this and stuff.
And I'm like, oh, you know, then having to do stuff. So that was really, really fun. Um, and we did eventually get that patch in. It, it took, it took quite a while. Uh, cause as you can imagine, it was like every time something in a module changed anywhere, it kind of broke the patch. And so there was a bunch of automation tooling and stuff like that to get that done. Um, the first in-person contribution, was I attended DrupalCon or it wasn't DrupalCon, but, the old Open Source CMS Summit in Vancouver in 2006. Uh, so that was my first in-person event and I was so scared. Um, so I just wore my Google shirt, kind of sat in the corner of the hotel and hope someone wouldn't notice me, you know, cause I didn't know how to talk to these people and stuff.
Anyway, that did happen. And then it was great. And so, [00:20:00] um, but at that hotel they had rented out like a conference room and you know, I went in there cause a bunch of people were heading that way. And I went in there and Moshe Weitzman was there at a whiteboard with all of the issues that were blocking 4.7 from releasing.
And he was like, you, take this one, you take that. He was just like throwing it out there. And so. I think I didn't have time to think about like, I'm probably not smart enough to be in this room because it was like, well, I'm here. So I might as well try, you know, kind of thing. And it was so fun because everybody was there and we were all like, you know, shooting the crap about what we were working on and we were helping each other.
And that really formulated my idea of what contribution is like, you know, that it's very like. Um, it's very like, everybody's an equal, everybody's showing up, giving whatever they can, you know, like there was there was someone else there who was not coding, but they were doing like the reviews of the patches after they were done.
Like they would test them and make sure that they worked. So it was just, it was so cool to see. People just stepping up, taking ownership of a problem to see people just [00:21:00] contributing in whatever way they could. And I really tried to model that interaction going forward for everyone else that I came in contact with, because I thought it was amazing and really special.
[00:21:10] Michael Meyers: That was a pretty amazing event. If I remember Matt Mullenweg was there. Dries was there. The two of them were like hacking at a table. I mean, that is intimidating . I mean, no joke, intimidating. Um, that's pretty amazing. And You know, Drupal. I'm hopeful that we'll get back to events. I think the next DrupalCon is going to be in person in Portland in April next year.
Um, but you know, it's, it really is an amazing opportunity to get to know people and get involved and people will hold your hand and help you get started, or, you know, drop a bomb in your lap and say, diffuse it.
[00:21:49] Angie Byron: I think those approaches work, but no, Drupal's - Drupal actually developed this really amazing mentorship system where at [00:22:00] in-person events online, it's a little bit harder to replicate, just cause everything is harder to replicate completely online, but in person, you know, there's, there's a group of folks and there's like dozens of these people and they sit there and they look at the issue queue a couple of days before the contribution day. Um, and they'll specifically tag issues as like this would be good for a new contributor to do. Um, and then they all show up on contribution day wearing the same color of t-shirts, you know, so they're easy to spot. And they pair people up to work on these different issues that they kind of prefabricated as being like, oh, this is, this is a good thing for someone to work on.
Um, and so people work together to solve them. Um, they learn all about the contribution stack Git, issue summaries, you know, all that kind of stuff. And then, my favorite part is at the, towards the end of that day we take at least one of those patches, sometimes a couple of them, and we live, commit them in front of the whole audience and where there's like, it's so it's so over the top, it's like drumming on tables and stuff like that.
And it's also always the [00:23:00] twice yearly event where I find out how much, I don't know how to use Git, because man, it is intimidating. It'd be like typing Git commands and people are like Boo!, cause you know, you forgot to type rebase or whatever like that. Anyway. Um, so, but it's a, it's a really good time and it makes people feel good.
And the thing I love about it too, is we get everybody on there. If it was a mentor, the person who uploaded the screenshot, the person who created the issue, whatever we get as many of those folks up there and give them credit as possible. Um, but yeah, it's, it's it's a lot of fun and it's a really sophisticated mentorship program and I think it's something that Drupal should really be proud of.
[00:23:36] Michael Meyers: It's amazing. I think it's something that, that others should replicate. Uh, and I'm sure many have you've given me a nightmare tonight. Angie, I'm going to fall asleep, like thinking I'm going to be on stage, having to use Git, and it's not going to be good. In any, in any way, shape or form.
[00:23:55] Angie Byron: One time. I had to, I had set up a PHP permissions error. And I had chmod 7, 7, [00:24:00] 7, and everyone's like, Boo!
[00:24:05] Michael Meyers: I love that heckling...
[00:24:08] Angie Byron: It's great honestly. Yeah, it's such a good time. And I feel like you know, people leave that event really fired up and charged up to get going. And yeah, I can't wait till we can do in person events again.
[00:24:21] Michael Meyers: Definitely.
What do you think is the best part about being a part of the Drupal community?
[00:24:29] Angie Byron: The people, I mean, that's probably what everybody was saying.
Um, the community, the people behind it, cause, you know, listen, you and I both been around the block quite a bit. Drupal has been rewritten from the ground up 4,500 times. Um, you know, and it still remains a really powerful, flexible piece of software, but it's really about the individual people. And I don't know what it is about Drupal.
I think Drupal just attracts the kind of person who's like. I don't mind tinkering with things a little bit to like, make it work, but it's just like this microcosm of amazing people who [00:25:00] are kind, who are passionate about what they do, who oftentimes have an activist bent. Like they really care about social causes or, you know, things of that nature that they want to lift others up.
Like that's a huge theme. Uh, they want to share knowledge openly. You know, like once in a while someone will drift in who is like trying to keep things under wraps. And it's always like, what are you okay? Like, did someone hurt you? Are you like, you know, because that's just not how we roll. Um, and I don't know, like, like you I'm sure.
I just have, I have these. Like friendships, literal friendships that are real and have lasted decade or more. You know what I mean? I've gone through a couple of really tough times personally. Um, one time was when, like my wife and I split up and it wasn't my idea, blah, blah, blah, that kind of stuff. And like, I remember just being, like taking a tour down the Pacific Northwest coast to all these like Drupal folks.
And they're like, here's some waffles. And like, it was just like, and it's like, wow, these people are just awesome. You know what I [00:26:00] mean? Like that it was just like, Yeah. It's just like these really heartfilled amazing people. And you know, it's like, even if you don't see them all the time, like we haven't been able to see each other.
And I dunno how many years it's just like picking up where you left off. Right. When right off the get-go and it's just, it's, it's so cool to watch how people grow and thrive in their, in their personal lives. And yeah, and I, I just, I know other communities. That also had aspects of them, but I don't know.
There's something special about Drupal that just keeps even the people who try and leave. It's like, I miss it, you know, and they come back in and it's so funny that way, but it's, it's a really special group of people. I don't know how to explain it.
[00:26:37] Michael Meyers: Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree. Um, it's funny when I left Acquia, I didn't think I would continue working in Drupal for similar reasons to what you had mentioned.
I mean, I've been doing it for almost 18 years. Like I wanted to explore other things and I just, you know, I was reaching out to people in the community that I knew [00:27:00] talking about, like, you know, where do I go from here? And I just love it just reminded, you know, I was like, oh my gosh, I love these people.
Like they become friends and, and it was so hard to, I was one of those people who was going to leave and, and then got sucked back in because I just, you know, I was like, you know, I want to go work with people that I like, you know, I don't want to make a move to a company at this stage in my career. Um, where there's an unknown of like, you know, who am I going to work with?
Um, you know, I knew everybody at Tag1, I'd known them for a long time. I'd worked with them, you know, time and time again. And I loved them every time. So I was like, well, I'd be crazy not to do this. You know? Um, and, you know, I'm just pushing us to do more than Drupal. Which is, which is great.
You know, it's, it's a win for everybody, but it, it really You know, there is something undeniably special about Drupal, particularly, you know, you know what you mentioned, the people. Um, so this is going to be hard. Uh, but do you have a, a [00:28:00] favorite Drupal memory or experience? They haven't mentioned yet. Um, that, you know, just really stands out.
I mean, there've been like, it can be crazy. I mean, we've seen people get married at DrupalCon. We've seen like brilliant parties, you know, and Kieran, getting up on the, on the bar and buying the entire conference a round. You know, like you know, what
[00:28:22] Angie Byron: And then like doing like, flaming Tequila shots or something. I don't know what that is, but he had flames coming out of his mouth.
That's what I, oh my God. I'm trying to like. One favorite memory. Okay. This might be an area where you need to pause because I actually really need to think about this for a second. Um, jeez. All right. I think I got one.
So zoom you know, one of my favorite memories, I mean, there's a little bit of sadness to it too, or whatever, but [00:29:00] Uh, you know, there's been several times, I'm going to kind of combine some of these into one memory, but there's been some times when some community members, I remember Morton DK and his daughter who was born prematurely, there was Gabor Hojtsy - his wife was very, very sick and we were really worried about her. And and when people either couldn't come to DrupalCon, or they came to DrupalCon and there was some really bad stuff having their personal life, the community just kind of all came together. Uh, to support those people. So for example, with Morton, his daughter, everybody had like these Freya Rocks t-shirts, you know, and they all wear matching t-shirts and it was just like, you know, to like, you know, say we got you, man.
Like we support you, you know? Um, and similarly with Gabor and his wife, it's like everybody came together and made like this amazing --- everybody signed it and all that. So, you know what I mean? It was just like the community coming together in times of need, I think is probably my, my biggest my biggest memory.
[00:30:00] Wow. It just said my internet connection is unstable. Did you get.
[00:30:03] Michael Meyers: I got that. And it was deep. Like
I remember a lot. I remember people with cardboard, cutouts running around DrupalCon and you know, you get, it comes back to your earlier point. People just there's a true. You know, a sense of, you know, care and, and, you know, people really, you know, making deep friendships and wanting to help each other out.
And the personal connections you make around the world. Um, you know, I've said this before, like it's made me a person of the world. You know, it's given me context to events that, you know, might otherwise have not meant anything to me because I don't know anyone there or anything about it. But now that I know, you know, Catch is, you know, Japan, I'm like, oh my God, as tsunami, you know, is he in his family okay?
And it, you know, it's, it's just, it's, you know, [00:31:00] um, it's connected the world to me. And, you know, not just friendships, but it's, it's made me realize, you know, all of these things. Um, I gotta lighten shit up because that was like, I mean, I'm like, I'm like, Ooh. So I'm going to tell you one of my favorites. Drupal memories.Oh, I was going to say to lighten stuff up a little bit, another one of these community coming together thing was. There was this earthquake, this volcano that went off in Iceland, which you would normally Be like, oh, that's an interesting headline, except that it happened, right when we were all supposed to travel together for DrupalCon.
[00:31:36] Angie Byron: And so what happened is that we, you know, there was a bunch of people who facilitated, like, you know, like cross streaming to make sure like the Europeans could be involved in the event. And they set up like little local events for the Europeans to get together and watch the DrupalCon content that they couldn't fly to.
It was like, you know, it was just like all these amazing examples of people. Like, you know, someone's in trouble, let's help them, you know, kind of thing. And I, I just think it's great, but yeah. What is your favorite [00:32:00] example?
[00:32:00] Michael Meyers: I mean, this is a good one. I was just, I mean, and I love that you shared something deep, that that was, that was awesome.
Um, you mentioned Morton. It made me think of Denmark, Denmark, maybe think of Denmark, DrupalCon. And Rasmus Lerdorf. The, the founder of PHP was one of the keynote speakers and he did a talk and like, he totally phoned it in, like I had seen it. I'd seen him give this talk. Probably at every conference, I'd seen them at over the last like six years.
And I mean, at the end, someone asked him something to the effect of like, where do you see PHP? And you know, however many years. And he's like, Explicative. If I'm still doing this shit in that long, like.. He just like, that was it, that was the end. I was like, wow, Rasmus! PHP!, we're built on this. We're dependent upon it.
[00:32:56] Angie Byron: You know, I admired his, [00:33:00] his honesty though. It's like, you know, when he wants to do what he doesn't want to do. Yeah. Yeah. That's fine.
[00:33:08] Michael Meyers: It goes back to what you said earlier. I think, you know, there's a. Uh, there's your, your career, there's your open source contributions, you know, particularly when you get to a point, like, you know, you , Dries, him, you know, you guys are core to the community. You know, the demands that people place on you, the stress that it puts on your lives, like Drupal is an amazing thing, but I don't really know that many people have sort of the insight and perspective into, you know, what you all go through.
And so, you know, I could definitely see the stress and the pressure and, you know, all of these things and he's struggling in balancing and saying like, you know, I've been doing this for 20 years. God damn it. Like, you know you know, I so I, you know, I think it's a very, it's a very fair comment. It was just, you know, the timing and the context with just like what?[00:34:00]
[00:34:03] Angie Byron: Right. That's awesome.
[00:34:05] Michael Meyers: So, favorite and least favorite aspect of Drupal, the software platform.
[00:34:15] Angie Byron: Um, favorite? I would have to say the accessibility. Um, I know that that gets to be a bit of a thorn in the side of anybody who's trying to get a user interface affecting patch in, but the Drupal Accessibility Team has taken such incredibly great care to make sure that we are making allowances for screen readers for folks with colorblindness, for.
Um, folks with reading disabilities, like you name it. Um, they've really taken to heart accepting of those web application accessibility guidelines and making sure that they're applied to our product and in every aspect of our product. So we don't ship a feature unless we're sure that somebody can use it.
Who, [00:35:00] you know, can't use a mouse and a full, you know, like desktop screen. And what I like about that, it's not just that it's like, it's an impressive technical achievement. Like I remember when Jesse Beach did the toolbar, like the mobile toolbar, that, we have that Everett's, you fell to reviewed it said this should be the reference implementation for how to do this. Like, this is really powerful and this is fantastic. So not only the technical achievements of that, but also how how that embodies Drupal communities you know, aspiration for inclusiveness and, you know, a lot of people talk the talk of saying, Hey, we want a more diverse community, but I feel like.
You know, there's a lot of folks in Drupal actively working on that and real meaningful ways. And so I would say that's probably my favorite feature. Um, even though it does prevent some design and engineering challenges at times. So so that's my favorite, and least favorite.
A lot of my least favorite stuff isn't around anymore because I got rid of it. [00:36:00]
[00:36:02] Michael Meyers: You're saying such a political answer. That's like, how could I have a fair enough
[00:36:08] Angie Byron: Least favorite aspect of the software? So I guess my least favorite aspect of the software. Is that as of today, we haven't yet cracked the code on how to create really dynamic rich interactive user interfaces.
We're still very much living in like the mid two thousands form driven days. Um, and I think that that is too bad because you know, users as a whole have kind of a higher level expectation of what what any web application at this point, and not just the CMS can do. They expect it to be snappy. They expect it to be Wiziwig.
They expect everything to like look right. And I know there are all kinds of really strong technical reasons why we don't want, you know, say a Gutenberg like editor in Drupal. Cause we don't want a big plop of HTML that you can parse up to individual [00:37:00] pieces. But I do feel like our inability to you know, say. This is what we're going to do. We're going to use this web framework and we're going to jump in and we're going to start making these user interface changes. It feels like we've still been a little shy to jump in, because oh well, we don't know if we want to commit to this yet. Or, you know, like, well, I don't know if this is the right interaction and it feels like that spinning in circles on that particular problem is already kind of making Drupal look outdated and clunky. And I worry that people won't select it because of that reason. And then ignore all the other amazing benefits that it has from an architecture perspective and from a flexibility perspective, from an expansion perspective, just because the UI isn't as snappy is what people expect, and that would be really sad.
And I think that's great, especially if that kind of opens the door then to, you know, allow for a lot more of these kinds of user interface changes. So so it's not so much a least favorite feature, but it's, I guess the most wanted feature, I guess, is that ability to crack that, crack that code, you know, a lot of other people have managed to make really responsive, awesome user interfaces that sell the product as well as the backend sells the product.
And I would love to see people instantly be able to understand the power of Drupal without having to go through a whole lot of frustration ahead of time, or just abandon it at 30 seconds in cause it feels like, you know, this is dated. So that makes sense.
[00:38:42] Michael Meyers: Um, going back to what you said about usability, we were working on a project and our client was like okay, you know, turn off your screen and like let's use it. And it was like, epic fail from moment one. I was like, you know, it was so eye opening to get an understanding of [00:39:00] what, you know, people with other perspectives go through. And I, you know, that is one of the, honestly in the last like 10 years, that's like one of the experiences that stands out the most in my mind is like, game-changing in my perspective in building applications, you know, I, I knew that Drupal was strong in accessibility but I had never tried it, you know, from, from that perspective. And it was it was wild. I mean, it really you know, as something that I encourage other people to do and I I'm - I agree wholeheartedly on the on the design and look and feel front and love the idea of biting off manageable pieces is critical to solving problems, to learning new things, to doing anything, you know, baby steps is, is where you need to go. Um, gosh, we we don't have too much time. Um, I'm gonna, I'm gonna one or two more questions. Um, You touched on [00:40:00] this a little bit with, you know, the feature that you want to see.
Um, you know, and, and, and, you know, maybe it goes beyond this, but I'm curious, you know, what do you think the biggest threat to Drupal is right now? Like, is there a Drupal killer out there? Is there something that Drupal isn't doing that might, you know, inhibit its growth and, and, and mean that there's not another 20 years?
[00:40:24] Angie Byron: Um, yeah, that's a really good question..
I have an answer to that, but I don't know if I want to say it. Um, you know, one of the, one of the biggest existential threats to Drupal is honestly that it's, that it's written in PHP and you look at anyone under 40. They're not exactly. they're not learning PHP except under duress at this point. You know what I mean?
Um, That's it's an interesting conundrum because PHP. [00:41:00] Uh, is definitely the language of the web. There's some statistic, like I think it's 87.7% of websites that are out there are PHP powered. Um, and that, so it's undeniable that that was absolutely the right call and the right decision. What I worry about a little bit is the kids today.
But what I am saying is that some of the work the Decoupled Menus initiatives, is, it sounds very like tightly scoped and it sounds like, well, that's a weird thing to make a whole initiative about, like what decoupled menus, what it's a menu it's like home about us, you know, whatever. What's so complicated about that?
That everybody is used to at this point, except for Drupal people, you know? So so I'm heartened by the steps that we're taking in that direction, because. I think you know, it's, it's, there's a bunch of people, mid thirties and up who are still very much all about the PHP and doing awesome things with it.
And it's clearly a language that has industry backing behind it. Like every large website you can think of practically is running PHP. But I do worry about when you talk about the next 20 years, you know, eventually all of us old folks are gonna want to retire. Maybe not be doing websites anymore. So I worry about that next [00:43:00] generation, you know, making sure that there are know hooks, if you'll pardon the pun for them to get into Drupal and understand how powerful it is, and really enjoy thriving in the developer open community, just as we had the chance to. Does that make sense?
[00:43:13] Michael Meyers: That's a, that's a brilliant answer. I think very poignant. Um, that's, that's a really, really interesting point. Um, I I recently learned that there's a Java port of Drupal. Uh, I'm not recommending anybody use it. Uh, we have a client and you know, they're, they're like a Fortune 10 company and they approached us and they were like, oh, you know, look at this enterprise CMS, like wow?
You know, and, and we looked at it, we're like, I swear to God that somewhat like this company took Drupal and ported it to Java. Like their terminology is like, they literally copied everything and just wrote it in Java. I don't know that anybody uses it. Um, but it, it, it's [00:44:00] fascinating. Um, and I'm, and I'm hoping that I know that Jeremy Andrews and Fabian Franz, the, you know, two folks that Tag1, watch all of these interviews. I'm hoping they don't watch this one. Angie, because there's going to be a Rust port of Drupal, like in 2022, if they happen to watch this.
[00:44:20] Angie Byron: It will be called Drrupaul -----
experimentation like that. It's fun. Like, I, I think it's cool, but we, we do, we do have to figure out like how we plan to engage, like the developers that the next 20 years, like my kid is 8. You know what I mean? She's not gonna learn PHP in school. I don't know what she's going to learn. Um, so, you know, we just gotta think forward about that and make sure that we have what we need.
We do not need any more rewrites of core though, keep the upgrade path simple,
[00:44:53] Michael Meyers: but well, but if we, if we poured it to Rust a rewrite is, just part of the process, it's good, you know? [00:45:00] Alrighty. To wrap things up. Um, there's, there's too many people to name I'm sure. But first name that pops into your head who should I interview next and why?
[00:45:11] Angie Byron: Oh I don't know. I've seen want to do this. But Lin Clark is someone who I think would have a lot of interesting things to say about Drupal and also the time that she spent at Mozilla since then. Um, and speaking of Rust, she, you know, has been involved in that community and, and things like that. So that might be really interesting.
I probably have a thousand names I could name, but that's someone I haven't heard from in a while. That'd be really interesting to, to hear from and see what she has to say.
[00:45:43] Michael Meyers: That'd be great. And I love reaching out to people that are, that are involved in so many new things now. Um, I will definitely reach out to Lin. That's a great idea.
Angie. Uh, I know you're crazy busy. Um, I wish you the best of luck at Mongo DB. I I can't wait to [00:46:00] hear how things go. Um, again, yeah. Thank you to our viewers as well. We really appreciate you joining us. Uh, if you like this talk, please remember to subscribe and share it out. You can check out all the interviews in this series at tag1.com/20.
Uh, you can also check out our past Tag1 Team Talks on other technology topics at tag1.com/talks. I would love your feedback, input topics, suggestions who else we should interview even. Uh, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That's tag, the number one.com. Uh, thanks again for tuning in. Take care.