This is a transcript. For the full video, see 20 years of Drupal - An interview with Doug Green.
Michael Meyers: [00:00:00] Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Tag1 TeamTalks, the vlog and podcast of Tag1 Consulting. I'm Michael Meyers, the managing director, and today we're celebrating and looking back on 20 years of Drupal, we're really proud at Tag1 to have many team members that have been part of Drupal for a really long time, including several that have been there since the very beginning. I'm joined today by Doug Green, one of our senior most team members.
I've known Doug for gosh, over a decade, and we've had the opportunity to work together at different organizations. Doug, why don't you give people just a quick background? You know, some of the things you've done in the Drupal community.
[00:00:44] **Doug Green:**Sure. I've been in Drupal. I'd have to look at my profile 2006 ish timeframe.
My biggest contribution that most people know about is the Coder module, the code review module. After I did that you know, I was working with views and search type of things around that same timeframe. I made some major improvements to the Drupal 6. Was it Drupal 6? You had Drupal 6 search engine optimizing the queries because of that work I ended up becoming a maintainer slash co maintainer of the search core module, which.
Was more an honorarium than an actual job I did because I didn't do a very good job of maintaining, but I was involved with some major improvements to the major and minor improvements to the search core module at that time. I've been a professional or a paid consultant, developer in Drupal since that timeframe.
And you know, every organization I've been with our philosophy has always been to contribute back to Drupal. So I have tons of commits to lots of different modules just through patches and, and my, my day job.
[00:02:14] Michael Meyers: Do you remember how you first came across and discovered Drupal and why you chose to use it?
[00:02:20] Doug Green: Yes, I do. And hopefully Leo back there is not too distracting.
[00:02:26] Michael Meyers: Leo, does Leo have any commits?
[00:02:31] Doug Green: [00:02:31] Yeah. Has he pushed, I've seen Angie comment, about her cat typing, pushing. No. Yeah, I do know how I first got involved in Drupal and I first got involved in Drupal. In 2004, I was politically involved with the candidate that did not win the presidency.
And I was in Dallas, Texas at the time and helped form an organization. For that candidate now, he wasn't the candidate that was using Drupal. Well you know Howard Dean was using Drupal and you know, I was supporting John Kerry at the time and I helped build an organization of, gosh, I don't forget how many people, but it was a pretty big organization in Dallas, Texas.
But I did it all by hand. I was writing an HTM, you know, I built a website in HTML. We had a newsfeed and the newsfeed was every night I went in and, and I edited the HTML and pulled the news from somewhere else and plugged it in. And after that, I thought there's gotta be a better way to do this, you know, to manually editing the website.
And I did some research and I came upon Drupal. And I looked at, you know, I don't remember which ones were at the time, but you know, the popular CMSs at the time. And I looked at Drupal and I thought. This was a good, good platform. And then out of that experience, I tried to start a company that was building political websites. And I picked Drupal as my platform and the company was a miserable failure, had no business, nobody wanted to pay for political websites. And they certainly didn't want them to pay what it costs, but that got me into Drupal.
[00:04:26] Michael Meyers: Wow. That you reminded me Deanspace was sort of a huge catalyst for Drupal.
Really the first major, you know website to, to run Drupal and it revolutionized American politics online and really jump-started Drupal's success. I didn't know that. I didn't know about the whole John Kerry story that's yeah. Yeah.
[00:04:50] Doug Green: So I didn't do Deanspace. I wasn't involved with Deanspace. I wish I kind of had been, it would have been a lot easier, but that was my introduction.
[00:04:59] Michael Meyers: And do you remember what your first commit or one of your first commits was?
[00:05:07]Doug Green: I had started making a ton of Drupal. Gosh, what are we in now? So I first got involved in Drupal. I remember some of my first early modules. And I remember my first Drupal core commits. My first early contrib modules obviously were before the Drupal core commits. My first Drupal core work was at OSMS in 2007.
I think it was when OSCMS was. DrupalCon before DrupalCon
[00:05:45] Michael Meyers: Yeah, open source content management system. And it was
[00:05:51]Doug Green: Yeah. In California at the Yahoo campus, there were 300 of us. I think 200 of us were Drupalers and a hundred were [00:06:00] other CMSs. I attended that. There was a - this is where I met Jeremy the first time.
And I met Chx- Charlie, for the first time I attended that - there was a one day and I met Narayan there too. There was a one day paid workshop on performance. And then we had a code sprint and I was at the code sprint. And, you know, like I said, a lot of my work has been, you know, paid.
Yeah, consulting work. So I was at the code sprint and I had a lot of paid consulting work to do. So I sat down at a table and started to do my own work. And I thought, this is crazy. I'm at, you know I'm at this conference. I should probably do some, you know, Drupal work. So I went up to Charlie and I said, what can I do?
And I think I told this story at on the last podcast. I won't say it now, but I went up to Charlie. And I asked him, you know, for some work and I did some, it was a, a big patch that Gabor had made for language. And I started reviewing that and contributing there.
[00:07:14] Michael Meyers: Cool, I think one of my favorite things about the early days of Drupal is that conferences like that, we were able to get together and make big decisions about Drupal and, and, and big changes. Maybe, what core days are now? You know, now we have 3000 people instead of 300 people. Fun fact about the OSCMS. That's where Jay Batson met Dries I believe, that's where I first met Jay Batson. And I remember him pulling me aside and saying, I want to start a company around Drupal.
And I said, well, you can't do that without Dries. And, uh,. I didn't think there was a chance in how that would happen and I'm really glad that it did. It's pretty amazing. All I remember about OSCMS beyond that is that Google brought us a trunk full of liquor because they were trying to like one up Yahoo for giving us the space.
And we had one hell of a party.
[00:08:10] Doug Green: I don't remember that, but not because I was drinking, but because I wasn't part of it.
[00:08:19] Michael Meyers: It was definitely a lot of fun. Wow. It's it's pretty amazing. So, Looking back. What is there like a favorite thing you worked on or, you know and a least favorite thing you've worked on.
[00:08:34]Doug Green: And Michael gave me the questions here to prepare my favorite thing to work on.
It was like the most out of, or, well, it was fun writing Coder at the beginning of all this stuff, the. I mean, I enjoy writing code. So solving problems, finding things out while it's frustrating and banging your head against the wall, it's also kind of fun, you know, to solve things. But a lot of this stuff in the earlier days of Drupal was kind of fun because it was fast moving and you knew you were making an impact.
You know Since this is the second one of these I've done in the last three months. I'm not sure if I said this on the last one, but we used to have a developer email list and, you know, there always been the issue queue, but there was the developer email list. And I don't know how many people were on the email list, but it was kind of a thing that I would read.
As it came in all the time and somebody would say, I've got this problem and then somebody would fix it, you know? And it seemed I'm an early bird and I'm on the East Coast, in the United States. So I kind of felt like I had the first option to fix some things. You know, somebody in Europe would find a problem, you know, they wouldn't get it fixed and I'd wake up at five o'clock in the morning, East Coast time, and I'd try to get it fixed before anyone else in the United States got it fixed.
So I could be the one that did it. And it was kind of fun being in that environment where you really felt connected to everything that was going on in Drupal. It kind of reminds me of computer science. There was a, there was a time where I thought I could know everything about everything, you know, and, you know my college degrees, 1986, certainly you know, Programming had evolved.
And there was a lot to know then, but there was a lot less to know than there is now. Now I've realized you've got to kind of specialize in things, you know, you're not going to know everything about everything, but you know, back then . I remember one particular example where, you know someone gave the our Octo math was wrong on file permissions.
And I tried to fix that very quickly. And again, I think I told this story last time.
[00:11:08] Michael Meyers: I completely forgot about the the mailing list. That's, that's crazy. I think like the, the, the global nature and like the timing I just spoke to Catch earlier this morning I think, you know, we all worked together at examiner.com.
I think that that was one of the things that really made Drupal 7 happen. You know, we would work, you know, during the day, our time he would get up in the morning, his time in Japan at the time and do tons of commits into Drupal 7. And I think that's what led to him becoming, you know, the, the core committer and framework manager for 8 is that he played such an instrumental role in that.
Pretty interesting. How like where you fall in and the development cycle could be like a secret for people in the future, you know, get up early, you know, and and make your contribution. So do you have a favorite and a least favorite feature?
[00:12:11]Doug Green: No, not really.
I'll I'll, I'll get on the soap box for 30 seconds and that's a, I took a long time to come on board to a Drupal 8. I remember telling Dries at one point that I thought we were done with Drupal 7 and it was perfect. We didn't need to do anything more. And the Drupal 8 development cycle was like five years.
It was a long time. So from like 2010 to 2015 or 20. 12 to 2016. I wasn't that involved in the core development. I was still working on Drupal 7. And while Drupal 8 I've been doing Drupal 8 [00:13:00] work for four or five years now. I wouldn't go back to seven. I like it. The least favorite feature is that we lost a lot of the community.
And when we went from 7 to 8, we gained some of the community Drupal 8 is, was designed intentionally to try to attract the professional computer scientists, software developers, it's object oriented. It is in many ways more pleasant to work in, but we lost a lot of the hobbyists because it's harder to work in.
Yeah. And we also we lost a lot of the, you know I mean, I understand the technical decisions PHP is an interpretive language. There is technical debt to carry when you have wrapper functions that, you know, make things easier. But I'm working with two teams right now, one of them is Tag1 and, and this and another team on the other team they don't know Drupal 8 and things are a lot harder for them in Drupal 7. And I had someone telling me just as. Last week. And I tried to get the details if there were any metrics behind it, but what she was saying is she had an actual factor of how much longer it took them to do a Drupal 8 project than a Drupal 7 project. And, you know, it was a factor of two or something, you know?
It costs a lot more.
[00:14:42] **Michael Meyers:**Yeah. We actually - one of our upcoming Team Talks, we're doing a brand new Drupal 7 site now where it's about to start for a major fortune 500. And there was a lot of debate about it, but they have such a huge investment in the platform, you know, the, the speed and cost at which they could, you know, churn out complex 7 sites
You know, just outweighed everything. You know, they have Drupal 8 sites. It's not that they can't do 8 and 9. It's just that, you know, it was you know, we think that, you know, the best and smartest decision, because like you said, 7 is an amazing platform. And with extended support, it's going to be, you know, around for another five to seven years.
I think 7 and 8 it's one of the most contentious things that has happened in the community. And I think you're right. We, you know, we, we Backdrop kicked up, you know, the first time there was a fork of Drupal and hopefully the last and you know, a lot of turmoil around it and there are many advantages and disadvantages to it.
And time will tell, you know so what do you think. The missing feature is, or, you know, is there something that you wish Drupal did right now that it doesn't or a feature you've always wanted to have that just hasn't got in there,
[00:16:08] Doug Green: Then I'm going to have to say no, I don't know. You know, I love listening to Dries' I'm not the visionary for a lot of these things.
[00:16:17]Michael Meyers: What about on like the projects you're working on? Is there something that like is particularly a pain in the ass or.
[00:16:24]Doug Green: Everything is a pain in the ass, because that's what they pay me to do to fix these things, to figure those things out. The the thing I've been working on most recently, that's my most recent pain in the ass is -it all comes down to going back to the Drupal 7, 8 thing and It comes down to what you know, and what you know, how to do and what you got to figure out how to do. And you know, I think on, you know, the Drupal 7, 8 thing that I think you can do a project just as fast in Drupal 8, if your team is built around to Drupal 8 and you had the Drupal 8 tools.
So I was brought onto this other project to help with migration , they had four Drupal 8 sites already that need to go to nine. That was simple, but in another six sites or so that had to go from triple seven to triple nine. And they had no Drupal 8 experience on the team. So I had to write a lot of my, you know, I had to figure out the migration system and I know that if, you know Mike Ryan or Moshe had been on our team.
They would have been, you know, done it differently and quicker, but I don't didn't know the migration system, I know Drupal 8, Drupal 9 so the pain in the ass was figuring out how to do these migrations and every single time you know, we have to learn, we did one, we migrated one site and then oh shoot.
We, you know, just. Yesterday, you know. After doing this big migration site, that's taken us three months and we're going to launch next week. Learned that I should have done something different at the beginning that now affects the next migration site. There's just a - Drupal's complex now. It's big. There's a lot of parts. A lot of the things to know, and, and I don't know at all, I have to figure everything out, which is, I mean, you know, I'm good at figuring things out, but I don't know things off the top of my head,
[00:18:30] Michael Meyers: [ Looking back on 16 years, Doug, what do you think has been the best part of, you know, being part of Drupal in the Drupal community?
[00:18:41] Doug Green: Yep. I, I'm glad you asked that I wanted to work this in the best part of being part of the Drupal Community is being part of the Drupal Community and knowing people like you and being connected to this worldwide developer community, going to conferences and [00:19:00] having friends all over the world. You know.
[00:19:06] Michael Meyers: I'm getting all emo.
[00:19:08] I hear you like it, you know? Talking to everybody on the team about, you know, their experience and thinking about the fact that we've known each other for so long and, and, and, you know it's, it's mind blowing. So just to, to wrap up you know, is there anyone that you want to Thank, you know, that, that really got you started?
[00:19:29] I know there, there are too many people to thank today, but, but looking back to the earliest days you know, anyone or, you know, people that stand out.
[00:19:40] Doug Green: I don't know if you remember this out DrupalCon there was a DrupalCon where Dries said if your life has been changed by Drupal, would you please stand up?
And I stood up and I think half the room or more of the room stood up you know, so first, you know, it's gotta be Dries for starting this thing and, you know, He didn't know what he was, you know, starting, but he's been I believe a good steward of, of Drupal for us. I gotta Thank Jeremy, cause you know, I've worked for Jeremy for a lot of years and Jeremy is a good friend.
He was an early mentor and, and you know, the technical side, but on the business side yeah. No, I can't. And I'm looking forward to, at post pandemic, being able to go to Italy again and spend some time there. Wow.
[00:20:39] Michael Meyers: Yeah. For everyone listening, Jeremy is the founder of Tag1 and I agree. I'd love to go visit him.
I've heard his place in Italy is gorgeous. And I agree with Doug. I don't think that Drupal could be, or would be what it is without Dries. I think that is. You know, nature, it really was a big part of shaping the community and making it what it is and think had anybody else started Drupal. I, I, you know, I, you know, I wonder, you know, I, I don't think it would be what it is today because the Community, you know, and, and you know, how the Community interacts with each other and support each other is really what you know, made Drupal what it is today. so.
[00:21:26]Doug Green: Yeah. I want to take one more person, which was Chx -Charlie. And I'm sad that Charlie's not as involved with the community today as he was early on and the personal things that happened that led to that. He's a good friend, a sweet guy. You know, some people have seen the other side of that, but you know, his technical contributions.
you know, I remember being at OSCMS and my first, you know, and in some things there, he was giving a talk on the menu system and you know, how this was better and, you know and his, his technical brilliance. And I've worked with him on a couple of teams, you know, he's, he's got a role to play. You know, if you can, you know, turn over a hard problem to him and let him solve it, he'll come up with miraculous solutions.
And I always admired how he could solve something and, you know, 20 lines of code as opposed to 500.
[00:22:32] Michael Meyers: Chx is his genius. He was my first hire 16 years ago and will forever hold a special place in my heart. The guy is just insanely amazing. And dedicated, you know, held very loyal and, and great friend.
I hear ya. Doug, thank you so much. This is a lot of fun to look back down memory lane and so many things that I forgot about and appreciate. So thanks for joining us and look forward to chatting with you again soon.
[00:23:07] Doug Green: Will do. Thanks.