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[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.

I'm really excited to have Jody Hamilton on the show today. Prior to joining Renesas Electronics, a large semiconductor manufacturer, as their Senior Digital Business Analyst, Jody was the CTO and co-owner of Zivtech, a really well known Drupal agency that she ran for around 13 years. I'm Michael Meyers, the managing director at Tag1. Tag1 is the number two all time contributor to Drupal.

We build large-scale applications for Fortune 500s and large organizations, and pretty much every industry and sector using Drupal, as well as many other technologies. We're also one of the few official providers of Drupal 7 Extended Support. So if you'd like to continue running Drupal 7 after end-of-life, please contact us.

We're happy to help you make that happen. Please join me in welcoming Jodi. Jodi. [00:01:00] Thank you so much for joining me here today.

[00:01:02] Jody Hamilton: Thanks.

[00:01:04] Michael Meyers: Awesome. I mean, there's - Jodi, there's so much to talk about, but I thought we would talk a little bit about your, your background and your work in the Drupal community, and then shift gears a little bit and talk a little bit more about Drupal as a product and where, you know, you see Drupal going in the future. Awesome. This is, it was really fascinating to me. You know, you, you started as a chemist. Which, and then you, moved into web development.You, you started Zivtech around 2008, I believe, with Alex UA, who is one of the more outspoken members of the community, and Zivtech became a really well-known agency that was very active in the community.

So I'm, I'm curious, you know, how did you go from, you know, chemistry and, and being a chemist to getting into web development, to starting your own agency?

[00:01:53] Jody Hamilton: So I was a terrible chemist. I kind of, I got into chemistry is just like the path of least resistance. [00:02:00] I went to Harvey Mudd College and you had to, you could only have, you know, a science or engineering major and chemistry seemed to be the easiest because they closed the lab at five.

And then that was the end of your day, you know, whereas computer science, you know, people are staying up all night drinking Mountain Dew. So I thought chemistry seemed like, you know, easy. And I was from, from Philadelphia, which is a big pharmaceutical hub, especially in New Jersey. So I knew that there'd be work.

Whereas if I did like a physics major or something, I didn't know if I would have a job. So I kind of just ended up in chemistry, hated it. I was a math teacher for a year and ended up back in chemistry. And then I, I, I was also a musician, I had a band. And I, I hated being a chemist. I just dreamed of like a way out of this career.

Our company actually closed down and we all got [00:03:00] severance and unemployment, which was my, my - I knew that was my chance. So I considered two options. I thought maybe I could become like, an ecstasy producer, because you know, my chemistry background, but that'd be like a good way to make money.

I wouldn't have to go back to school, you know, or maybe I could get into like, websites and I'd like, made websites for my band and for myself and I was pretty good at it. It seemed like a good combination of like, creative and technical for me. And, so I was talking to people in the music scene about this, these ideas, and they were like, Jodie, like you're a terrible criminal.

You're already telling everyone about this idea. Like you have a huge mouth you know, your terrible idea, like do the website thing. And they told me that this guy that was recording an album for me, he told me he worked with this other musician who had his own web [00:04:00] agency. And maybe he would be looking for like, an intern.

So I emailed this guy out of the blue and said, you know, I think I would be a great intern to like, learn how to become a web developer as just an unpaid intern. I wondered if you were looking for an intern. And he said, because I was able to be an intern, I got unemployment and everything. And he said, oh, I just got this big job doing a site for this guy, Stephen Colbert who just got his show.

Who just got a show on Comedy Central. And I was actually just going to look for an intern. So this is like amazing timing, you know, come on down. And I'm like, okay. Then after that phone call, I look up and I, and in my desk where I'm sitting as a chemist in the left, it had like a newspaper cutout. our band had been like in the Philadelphia Inquirer for being part of this compilation album.

And there's a picture of my band. And there was another [00:05:00] band that was also in the album. That was also a pad, a picture that had, had taped up at my desk for like, over a year. And I realized it was him. It was my new boss who I had just reached out to. It was his picture. It was like looking at me at my desk this whole time.

And his name was Mason Wendell. And, he took me as an intern, taught me, you know, pointed me in the right direction, taught me PHP, CSS, mySQL, you know, everything I needed to know. And then he told me he had like, his own CMS and I was like doing the backend of that for him. And he told me he, he got a job, where we needed like, more user roles.

It was getting too complicated for our CMS. And he'd heard about this Drupal system and could I check it out for this project? So I checked it out for him and that was it. I just like, oh, he also told me I should listen to these Lullabot podcasts. I listened [00:06:00] to this Lullabot podcast. I heard Angie on there.

She said, she said her advice was to learn Drupal and open a bank account. And I was like, sounds good, Angie, that's, that's what I'm going to do. So, that's what I did. And I just like, obsessively learned everything I could about Drupal. And PHP and CSS and mySQL, all that, you know, until my unemployment and everything ran out.

And then by that time I kind of looked up and I was like, whoa, I'm actually pretty good at this.

[00:06:37] Michael Meyers: That's pretty amazing. Angie always gives good advice. And so how did you go for, you know, you were working for Mason as an intern, unemployment runs out. How do you get from there to Zivtech?

[00:06:47] Jody Hamilton: So yeah, so Mason, over time you start paying me a bit, and then I also started doing freelance work. Drupal was so in demand then that was like [00:07:00] 2006 or so it was so in demand, like you could just find jobs on Craigslist or even on like had like paid gigs or people would post like some bug that they had, like a bug bounty and they'd be like, oh, I'll pay you $500 if you can fix this bug and be like, okay, done.

Like, it was easy. It was, it was so much demand back then. So yeah, so I started making money, doing my own projects. I worked for another agency, like, as a contractor as well. And then I started thinking and I was, I was starting to do like, core contribution. And I'm writing blog posts about Drupal, and I'm thinking like, I'm great at Drupal.

Like I'm like, you know, some great Drupal talent, you know, people, I should go work for one of these like top Drupal shops. It's going to some of the top shops back then, were like Rain City. Didn't last [00:08:00] that much longer after that. But, I thought, you know, I don't know. I moved to Vancouver and worked for RainCity, you know, still be great.

But then I kind of realized like nobody knew who I was. I was just like this girl with like no experience, no CS degree. Didn't even look like a developer. And, yeah, I, so I felt like, what are they going to give me? Like some entry-level job? Like I, you know, I think I'm great. They don't think I'm, they don't know who I am.

So, I thought, you know, the market kind of undervalued me. So, yeah, I met this guy, AlexUA in Philly and he sort of had like the opposite problem of as me. Like, we were both working as freelancers. He had way too much work and had no idea how to do it. I hated doing sales and was great at doing the work.

So, so we just met kind of at the, at the [00:09:00] Drupal meetup. So we thought, you know, let's just make a company and it'll be easy for us to become like the dominant company in Philadelphia, since there is no one else really vying for that yet if we come in now and try to do it now, and then we'll be able to try to like, you know, attract the best talent in the area.

And we ended up a couple of years later. My buddy, Mason, who had, who had taught me, he ended up coming in on as our creative director for a few years as well. So he got back in the, in the mix too.

[00:09:36] Michael Meyers: It's pretty amazing small world. I, I think that's really great advice. I think the market undervalued me. So I went out and I started a company and it really served you well, you know, running a, an agency or any business is, can be really challenging.

You know, and there's a lot of coopertition in the Drupal community and there's a lot of really great, you know, organizations. You mentioned Lullabot, you know, were there [00:10:00] shops that inspired you when, when forming Zivtech that you know, that running Zivtech?

[00:10:07] Jody Hamilton: Yeah, so, I mean, so we were always, Alex and I were always good friends with Chapter Three, and who are the owners now running Pantheon.

So we're really close with them. So we knew a lot about kind of how they ran Chapter Three. so that was like one company that we followed. And then at that time, in like 2008, 2009, the biggest like, kind of hottest, like Drupal shop was Development Seed. And so, and they were based in DC.

And so they're kind of like biggest moment. I felt it was like the DrupalCon of DC in 2009. And they were really inspiring for us. That was kind of like our first coming out as Zivtech brought, we brought our whole team down to, [00:11:00] DC and went to all the talks by Development Seed and followed like, what they were up to.

And, you know, one of the things with them was, you know, they were always trying to kind of get out of client work. I felt like, you know, they're always trying to like, build products which this they ended up leaving the Drupal community and becoming the map, what's it called? Sorry, Mapbox.

And, although Development Seed actually does still exist. Yeah, no, they still exist. They don't do Drupal. but they still exist and all their blog posts are still online. All the, you can still read all of their Drupal blog posts from 2008, 2009. They really inspired us in terms of like all the different tools that they were trying to make.

Although, some of the tools that they made back then, like, ended up [00:12:00] kind of becoming semi-abandoned when they left the community. So like some of the things that they really worked on a lot were like, you know, features and strong arm and context. So many, so many different tools and those tools just kind of like stagnated a little bit after they left, but they were also the only tools they were, this, that team was just so ahead of everyone else.

And so ahead of their time. So it's just kind of funny how, you know, for like the next, like almost 10 years, everyone in Drupal, like use Strong Arm version 2. That was just this like kind of half baked idea. And they weren't even trying to like really do configuration management the way everyone else does.

They were trying to build distributions. That's why they were building those tools. and then all of a sudden we have, we got into this horrible place, like 10 years in Drupal where we had like Features and Strong Arm and [00:13:00] your, your clients would say to you, so how do you, export the configuration and you would say.

Well, you have to understand some types of some types of configuration or C tools exportable, and some are not. So first you have to know which ones are, which ones aren't, because they will behave differently. And, you know, it's a, it was a tough period of time.

[00:13:22] Michael Meyers: Yeah, Drupal, you know, certainly had its rough spots, you know, early in the early days, Dev Seed was punching way above their weight.

And like you said, you know, way, way ahead of their time, they did Open Atrium. Right? Is that them too?

[00:13:37] Jody Hamilton: Yeah, that was like Open Atrium and another distribution. Those were like some of the distributions that they were working on. they kind of to like, had, they had this idea that they would make these distributions and then they wouldn't have to like, do all of these one-off client projects and they would have this steady income, which was always kind of like a nice, nice dream.[00:14:00]

I'm not sure if that ever worked out for anyone, but

[00:14:04] Michael Meyers: Yeah, I think the community as a whole has really struggled to productize distributions. I think that that doesn't mean that they aren't valuable, you know, Acquia's Lightning, you know, as a jumpstart framework and, you know, not reinventing the wheel.

I mean, I think they were definitely on to something, you know, it's certainly streamlined their business, you know, it made, you know, it made them more profitable perhaps, but it was really challenging to productize and, yeah, it is really interesting. They had a lot of ideas. They move fast, they put a lot out there and then they exited stage left and everybody was just like, what just happened?

[00:14:41] Jody Hamilton: You know, it took us a long time to like process everything they had just done.

Yeah. Yeah, the team I'm working with now still uses Context. Wow. And I just remember in like, at DrupalCon DC, how they introduced Context and they said, it's an [00:15:00] abstract system where you can, depending on the context, you can have, a condition and then a reaction there's all types of conditions.

And the reaction could be anything, any type of reaction in the world. But of course, it's just a system that people use to place blocks onto different regions of the page, but that's not how they had envisioned it, you know?

[00:15:20] Michael Meyers: Yeah. And then, yeah, Mapbox, went on to be, it's a billion dollar company now, which is crazy.

So they've done really well for themselves. And they finally found that productization fit.

[00:15:30] Jody Hamilton: I think the backstory of that team was like, said, supposedly they didn't even have like, a technical background. They were a bunch of people that were friends hanging out at a local bar, and then they magically morphed into this like, amazing team.

It was really interesting.

[00:15:46] Michael Meyers: A lot of really smart people.

[00:15:48] Jody Hamilton: Yeah. And it's really, it really inspired me because it's kind of like, to me, everything's really about the talent of the individual people and how well they work together. [00:16:00] Whereas sometimes in tech people forget that, or don't realize that it's a talent based industry.

Which I think is way off.

[00:16:08] Michael Meyers: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. So it's crazy. You went from, you went from chemistry to code, you ran Zivtech for 13 plus years and you recently made another set of really big changes. So you are not risk averse and that's exciting. So you went from, you know, being the CTO at a digital agency. Now you're working at Renesas, which is a very large semiconductor manufacturer. What precipitated wanting to move from the technical side to, you know, and an agency where you have clients to be a client and then working on the business side? I mean, that's, that's, you know, a lot of shift.

[00:16:51] Jody Hamilton: Yeah.

Well, I think, you know, for one thing, you know, the whole time that I was working as a vendor, I'm observing my clients [00:17:00] and I'm thinking to myself, they seem to have a pretty good job. I mean, I mean, I'm sitting here, I'm sitting here killing myself. I work on a timer, you know, I'm living on a timer for over 10 years.

I'm pressing a timer for every task that I'm doing. I'm jumping from project to project. If they don't like what I've accomplished, they just maybe won't pay me at all. And I just will have no income whatsoever. If the PR no matter what happens in the project, they're just getting a paycheck this whole entire time.

Right. It's not really a skin off of their back personally. Right. Meanwhile, they're treated like royalty, you know, we're, we're rolling the red carpet out for them. We're saying, you know, any, anything that comes out of their mouth. Great idea. Fred love that idea, you know, and I was realizing, you know, we don't really get a lot of, some clients were great, but a lot of them, you know, they don't give you a lot of thanks.

They think that paying you is the thanks [00:18:00] that you get. And I know as the owner I'm the last to get paid. So it really wasn't much. Thanks. Sometimes there were years where I didn't get paid at all, running a business. so when they didn't, you know, thank me either. It wasn't, it wasn't great. I'm a sensitive person.

So now that, so I, but I thought to myself, it can't be that, you know, being a client is that much better, you know, it's probably just grass is greener on the other side. no, I think it is, it really is. I would try it now that I'm like working in-house when I go to a meeting and I say something, people go, that's a great idea, Jody.

I'm like, thank you. This is a good idea because I've been saying great ideas this whole time. No one ever said that before, you know, and they say, oh, how's it, how's it going? You know, do you want to be on my podcast? It's just, people treat you a lot better. when you're a vendor, you know, it's like, [00:19:00] which is better being a diner or being a waitress.

I mean, probably being a diner. So, so I thought, you know, this could be me. Like the other, the other frustration that I had was, you know, the clients come and they already come to you with an idea of what they want to do. And sometimes they just kind of treat you like, you're just a set of hands. And as like, a technical person, some people think of you as a resource and it can be hard to, you know, as I, you know, as I got better and better at what I did, you know, it was really an expert in.

And, you know, strategy and, and web applications in general, not just how to implement them, but you know, what your strategy should be in the first place. And so when people would come and say, this is what we want you to do, and they didn't really care if I didn't think it was a good idea or not, I didn't really like doing work [00:20:00] that I didn't think had a lot of value, whether they were going to pay me for it or not.

And I didn't like that. Sometimes it felt like I didn't really have a seat at that table. So, so I found that. So I started to realize that, although I felt that writing code made me really strong as a strategist and more of like a product owner that a lot of people saw it more as if you write code.

You're like a resource, you're just a coder or you're just a technical person. I don't know why they, they look at it that way, but a lot of people do. And, as long as I kept on wearing that coat or hat, I, it was gonna keep me from, from the seat at the table that I wanted to have. so I felt like I kind of had to let go of that.

I'm still like read code all day, [00:21:00] but I don't write it. But yeah.

[00:21:05] Michael Meyers: So now you're the client, that reads the code and gives everybody shit.

[00:21:10] Jody Hamilton: No. I'll give you shit if its bad, but if its good . I will be the client that really appreciates you, you know? Yeah, you can't, you won't be able to hide from me if it's bad, I'll be your worst nightmare. But if it's good, you know, I'd be the client that actually sees you and gets you, and does, thank you.

[00:21:32] Michael Meyers: I don't understand why people don't treat developers like gold, you know, it's, it blows my mind. They're amazing. You know, and they're so hard to come across.

[00:21:46] Jody Hamilton: I think I, my theory is that people who, who, who don't understand code are threatened by it to some extent and they would, and so they have to come up with some way to like [00:22:00] minimize the other people by kind of calling them a technical resource and trying to make them less important in some way.

I don't know. That's just my theory. So I'm also, I'm in an MBA program now, which is just, mainly just to get that credential to help me to, you know, have a seat at the right table. And, yeah, it's, it's the same type of thing, like in the MBA program, there's there's no, there's no acknowledgement of the existence of talent.

Which I, to me, I think is what everything has always been about. It's always been about finding talent, working with talent, growing talent, the talent of individual people. And that's the business, that's the value, but that's not, what they are interested in and their little worldview that they, [00:23:00] that they're in.

[00:23:03] Michael Meyers: The company is nothing without its people. I think you're in an amazing, well, position, you have this, you know, this deep background as a CTO and running an agency and dealing with, you know, all sorts of different organizations, you pair that with an MBA. You know, I think you're going to get whatever seat you want at the table.

[00:23:21] Jody Hamilton: And also, you know, and also I've aged into it. I think it's hard. It was hard for me, like as a, a woman in my twenties to be taken seriously and have a seat at the table. Now that I'm in my forties, I feel like I'm a little bit. It's easier. It's harder being a woman. It's harder being young and it just gets easier, I guess, over time.

[00:23:45] Michael Meyers: It's pretty amazing. I, I, I want to shift gears a little bit and talk a little bit about the community that you just made me think. Like when, when we started in the community, we were in our twenties, you know, we were these kids running around with these great ideas and, you know, 20 years later, [00:24:00] Drupal's this thing that powers, you know, 3% of the internet and, you know, provides, you know, jobs for, for lots of people.

You know, for you, you know, what has been the best part of, you know, being part of the Drupal community for you?

[00:24:17] Jody Hamilton: Yeah, I think, you know, it's a professional community, but it's such a special one, you know, it's hard, as an adult to make new friends, but it's easy in the Drupal community. so I've definitely made lots of friends and, you know, it's, it's also hard to meet smart, interesting people in this world. And, you go to a Drupal community event and that's, you know, how everyone is. So yeah, definitely like, the friendships. One of my closest friends is, is Matt Cheney of Pantheon. And I met him at my first European DrupalCon, DrupalCon Szeged, in [00:25:00] Hungary. And we've had a great time every Drupal event since, I guess for me being so busy running the business, it, and I'm sure for a lot of people, it kind of became like going to Drupal events was like my only vacation, even though you're like working the whole time, it was like that's vacation. Because if you had another vacation, it's probably just like with your family.

And it's just kind of like a chore in some other way. So yeah, it just kind of became that, that was like our chance to like see our friends and go to all different places all around the world and go out to different bars and just, talk to really interesting people. So, and now, and even now, like, you know, get to kind of still be in the Drupal community, still get to see people, even though, you know, it's pandemic, haven't really been to an event in a while.

But you know, [00:26:00] and also, you know, the people that were our employees, I mean had many employees over the years and the fact that like, there is this sense of community of just like, you can, you can quit Zivtech and you know, we're still friends and we can still see each other, at events and, and still be part of this community together.

So it was really nice that the community in the friendships come first and over the business relationship.

[00:26:29] Michael Meyers: I love the early DrupalCons. They were a lot of fun. You know, the fact that they're now in more fixed locations, they're a bit more business events. They don't, to me, you know, they're, they're, they're good for business, but they're not, they don't have the same, you know, I remember, you know, we Szeged, you know, we drank every bar in the town, dry.

Literally we took over the town, you know, we had an amazing time. It was so much fun and, you know, You would talk about Drupal and you, and you would make changes to the [00:27:00] platform in these, you know, now those are like co you know, maybe I haven't been to a dev days in a long time, but you know, maybe it's shifted, but you know, like us, the community kind of grew up and, you know, things changed a lot.

But yeah, I mean, I, I agree. I mean, for me, you know, going to these events, I got to see the world. To go to so many countries, meet so many people, see countries through the eyes of people who live there, which was even better than just going, you know?

[00:27:28] Jody Hamilton: And that, yeah, as sort of the lifecycle of the Drupal software has matured, like, so have we.

And like, we're not really we're, our lifecycle is kind of going along like with the Drupal lifecycle because Drupal, honestly, doesn't really attract that many younger people anymore. It's, it's, it's the people that are in it, or a lot of them have been in it for a long time and the growth is not there anymore.

It's not like the cool thing that people in their twenties are going to be like, yeah, let me learn this, [00:28:00] you know, behemoth of a system. So yeah, I mean the kind of group has kind of aged together, I think.

[00:28:08] Michael Meyers: Yeah. I like to think like fine wine, Jody. We've only gotten better. I'm ready for a glass of wine.

Do you remember your first contribution to the community? You know, at Zivtech, you know, you guys were really engaged in the community. That was really wonderful to see. I mean, it doesn't have to be your first. I don't, I don't know if you remember your first, but one of your earlier contributions.

[00:28:35] Jody Hamilton: No, I don't, I don't really remember my first, it was just like little patches and things, but some of like, in the earlier days, some of the things that like, I really enjoyed was times when I got to be invited to, help define like a new initiative. Because I think that's a really good, a good role for me, but not necessarily one that's that easy to get into.

[00:29:00] I tend to find like, the kind of tedium of like pushing a patch through, into finally getting committed, like way too slow and painstaking of a process. But, getting to kind of like come in with more of an opinion of like how things should work from the beginning. I enjoy that a lot more.

So, it's a couple of the things I got to work on in that aspect was Media module, which we originally made for Drupal 6 with Aaron Winborn, who was a good friend of Alex and mine. And, I really enjoyed that one and also Drupal Commerce, with Ryan Szrama they invited me to kind of like a few days, like retreat, where we like architected Drupal [00:30:00] Commerce from Ubercart.

And I really enjoyed, getting to do that a lot.

[00:30:06] Michael Meyers: I love Ryan and, and, and Drupal Commerce went on to have a huge future. I didn't realize that you had been a part of that. That's one of the things I love about talking to people about their contributions. You know, I, I learned so many things as to like who was involved in what and how things became, what they were.

You know, you mentioned that Drupal is this behemoth, then, you know, people, you know, give Drupal a hard time for its learning curve. I wonder if there's, you know, one thing that you learned the hard way about Drupal and it is, you know, not necessarily code, but, you know, you know, looking back you're like, man, I really wish someone had told me, you know, before I had to go through this, this process to learn this lesson.

[00:30:48] Jody Hamilton: Yeah. Well, I guess it's more about, not so much about Drupal, but about like developers and like who I am, how different people think. I've [00:31:00] gradually learned over the years that most developers enjoy complexity. Like, they just like it. They just like when things are super crazy and, and, not all of them and all everyone's different, but a lot of them kind of fit this sort of similar profile that I never fit.

And that was like, you know, always kind of a source of confusion for me. But over the years, I've understood more who I am and, and, and you know, what the strengths of it are. I hate complexity. So when people start talking about all this technical stuff and they want to go on and on and on and on about it, I'm just like, you're killing me.

You're overwhelming me. I don't like any of this. And I realized over the years that not liking complexity is actually a superpower because when you want things to be simple. [00:32:00] That's how you make things that are actually good., and, and so early on, I would kind of doubt myself when people would have these like really technical, overwhelming conversations where they're going back and forth, super fast, all this, all this stuff I would think to myself, I'm confused.

I don't know what they're talking about. I'm totally overwhelmed. Doesn't seem right to me. I guess I'm just maybe not smart enough like them, so I'll just keep it to myself. I learned. That's a big mistake, right? If I'm confused, everyone's going to be confused. Forever. Right? So, for example, when we came up with the media module architecture, there were all these conversations about how we're going to have a file entity and also a media entity or something.

And there was some kind of logic about why we needed two new entities instead of one. And it confused the hell out of me. And, I think it was a terrible decision to have [00:33:00] both of those ended up confusing everyone and making everyone do tons of extra work. Forever. so whatever advantage it gave was certainly not worth, you know, what it cost everyone with that extra complexity.

And if I had, you know, raised my hand and been like, no, like this is hurting my head and it's going to hurt everyone's head that ever has to use this system. We could've had a better system. because actually it's a good thing to, to be confused. It's, you know, it's a valuable thing to be confused because it's, if you can say that you're confused, you can you know, you can save thousands of other people from being confused by stopping it right then.

[00:33:44] Michael Meyers: Yeah. No,

I, I, you gotta, you gotta speak up and share your confusion, for, you know, for me, sometimes it helps to better understand it. Well, why the hell do they want that? You know, like maybe I will. And, and half the time I'm like, no, that that really is not a good idea. It doesn't make any sense and I'm [00:34:00] not crazy, right?

I'm not, you know, not getting it, like, you know, I just, this isn't how I would recommend you do it. and I think that, you know, you know, to some degree, you know, more people need to speak up, but I also think that's one of the challenges with Drupal is that, you know, there are a lot of voices. And, you know, they're not, in my opinion, they shouldn't necessarily be, you know, carrying equal weight.

And you know, it makes getting things done. I love the spirit of it, but it, it makes getting a lot of things done. You mentioned, you know, this, this complexity, the file issue, do you have a least favorite or favorite aspect or feature of Drupal or, or the Drupal community?

[00:34:50] Jody Hamilton: Yeah, I mean, I definitely had had trouble in the open source community, you know, really [00:35:00] finding my place in it. especially, and especially because of, you know, running a business and, and my whole mindset has always been about just personal and financial survival. So I've never really felt like I have like a lot of time to, to make open source contributions that aren't paid for.

Although, you know, I enjoy it to some extent, but I also have made, but my main challenge, I feel like with the Drupal community was that, you know, it's, the beauty of it is it's a democracy and it's a chaos and, you know, anyone can do anything and that's great. But the other side of it is there's no, in a lot of places and this has gotten better over years in some ways, but in general, there's no real leadership.

And so, yeah, anyone can just come in and say anything and derail the conversation. And, you know, there's just a lot, you can say, you can say, oh, let's just do this [00:36:00] trivial fix and get this done. And then someone will say, oh no, we can't do that because we have to do this thing and refactor this in the whole entire thing and then make a whole new version and then do that.

And then we could do this fix. Umm, I don't have time for this, you know? So, so I just kind of became someone who just had like a huge wallet of a hundred patches and half of them, I had written myself and I wasn't gonna sit there and argue with people about whether or not they were going to get committed. I just put them, I just took them with me from one project to another and had the platform the way I wanted it to be.

But yeah, I think I wish that I had had somehow more of like, a leadership position somehow. but it wasn't that something that you could just sign up for without putting in a thousand hours of work, to try to get there.

[00:36:53] Michael Meyers: Sort of the, the inequity of open source and, you know, really ties to that.

I, I admire [00:37:00] these, you know, the core developers that have the fortitude to shepherd things through that, you know, patch based contribution process. It's really a labor of love. It's pretty amazing what they're, what they're doing. And I I'm with you. I, I, I, I don't think I could survive going through that process.

[00:37:26] Jody Hamilton: I think we've all had, you know, core patches that we tried to push forward for it, you know, five or 10 years for some trivial fix that, you know, just could never, never get done, you know, and it's just, you know, it pushes people away they can't take it.

[00:37:44] Michael Meyers: So more than anything, what do you think Drupal needs now?

[00:37:51] Jody Hamilton: I think at this point, I think, you know, we need to be realistic that, you know, we're, we're far in our life cycle, there's, [00:38:00] there's a lot of big organizations with big sites running Drupal, and they're going to continue to, unless we make it really difficult for them to continue that. This idea that we're going to like, continue to attract hobbyists who are just looking for a platform to make their website like Drupal did in 2006.

I think that, you know, that that's passed. I don't think any, why would anyone use Drupal instead of Squarespace or something to like get started making some small website? and yeah, I think we need to just be, you know, and I think we are, you know, especially with the Drupal 9 being such a better, you know, path forward with such an easy upgrade, you know, I think we're definitely going in that direction, but, yeah, I think we, we need to be real, like we're, a mature product [00:39:00] used by large teams. and that's, you know, what we're going to be. We're not going to refactor the whole entire thing to be all completely in JavaScript. Like, let's let's get serious.

[00:39:15] Michael Meyers: No, I did. I got to dig up the link. Someone sent me a Java clone of Drupal, where they rewrote Drupal in Java for like to create an enterprise CMS. So I think I would agree with you. Drupal is very much a mature enterprise CMS and, you know, and I love it on a lot of levels. And, you know, I think back to the community that, you know, we quote unquote grew up in and the things that we loved about it, you know, I think in part that was because there were people from many different walks of life.

And now that Drupal is this like really stable, large enterprise product used by really large teams. You know, those non-for-profits those, you know, [00:40:00] you know, some educational institutions. I, it it's, it's changing the dynamic and the makeup of the community a little bit.

[00:40:06] Jody Hamilton: Yeah. And that's been happening, you know, the entire time that I've really been involved because now my first big DrupalCon, you know, DrupalCon Boston, and that's the DrupalCon where, I talked to Alex and we decided to start Zivtech and that was also like Acquia's big coming out. That's why it was in Boston. So like Acquia was coming out and, and this whole idea of Drupal becoming more of an enterprise thing and less about less this tool of anarchists and non-profits that was, you know, has been happening.

[00:40:40] Michael Meyers: It's the drug dealers.

[00:40:44] Jody Hamilton: You know, that's been happening, you know, the entire time. but, and it is sad to think like. Are we just going to become like an enterprise practice? Are we closing the door behind us? That's the door that we went in, but you know, [00:41:00] times have changed that door. I mean, no, one's gonna, no, one's looking for starting some small project on Drupal anymore.

And I think, and I think, I wish that Drupal would really reckon with that. It's been this constant, this constant friction point of like, are we a tool that's for people who can't code, who can just configure everything on their website by clicking around these complicated interfaces? Or are we a tool for professional teams?

Like the one I'm working with that has, you know, maybe 15 full-time developers working on this platform, like, which are we? Because it's so confusing to be both. And these professional teams, they spend their time. And I did for many years, you spent your time. Clicking through these interfaces that are UI, that you don't need because you're a developer and then you have to export, then that goes in the database, but you don't want it in a database because you have a whole workflow of deploying your changes that you need to have [00:42:00] for quality.

And then you have to export all of this into code, which is really where it should have been in the first place. And then you have to go through this whole process of like, sending it through these environments and testing the deployment and hoping that nobody like, changes the configuration on the live site, that you didn't really want them to be able to change in the first place. It's, it's silly. It's really silly because it's really silly that we have to have a user interface for everything, for a tool that's used by developers. So it's, it's just, it needs to, the choice needs to be made and needed to be made a long time ago. But

[00:42:35] Michael Meyers: I'd love to talk to you more about that.

I have somewhat strong opinions on the topic, but, we are, we're running short on time. So I want to shift into our lightning round, real quick, whatever comes to mind first. I've got four questions I want to get through in four minutes. Who are your Drupal mentors?

[00:42:57] Jody Hamilton: I never really had a mentor, but one person I've always [00:43:00] admired is Jeff Eaton.

I really liked the way he like, started out as like, a developer. Because we're a CMS. He found that, you know, the real challenges were in the content strategy and he moved in that direction. I love that he followed the complexity and the real challenges instead of sticking with some technical parts.

[00:43:20] Michael Meyers: I'm a big Eaton fan boy, for sure. All right. Favorite or least favorite Drupal module?

[00:43:27] Jody Hamilton: I would say Views, for both. I mean, Obviously a great module and Drupal would probably not be, you know, what it is without it, but I think it's just crazy how so many teams use it. Like it's like they don't even, they can't even write a query without it, like if they want to display, like one thing, they make a view and it's, it's, you know, you can just write a query.

It ends up with, they have. Five different hooks and five different templates trying to override what's coming out of Views module, and then they have this [00:44:00] completely like, unmaintainable mess of code. It's like, you can actually write a custom query and, you know, make a table yourself. It's fine to do that.

That's okay.

[00:44:10] Michael Meyers: I, I Drupal wouldn't be what it is today without Views. I'm sure. but you were talking about UIs for everything. The first UI for Views was an atrocity.

It's amazing. And that says a lot for how powerful it was, is a tool that people were able to say, you know, to make that work, best or favorite, Drupal Conference or Drupal Camp that you've been to. And why?

Yeah, definitely Bad Camp. You know, it's free. It's, it's been, you know, until the past couple of years it's been in Berkeley in October. It's a beautiful time of year.

It's my friend Matt Cheney organizes [00:45:00] it with lots of other great people. it's just always like just a good vibe and it's not, you know, that businessy, but it's also like a big event. just always a, a great time,

Hands down. My favorite Drupal camp, couldn't agree more with everything that you said.

Where do you go to learn more about Drupal?

[00:45:22] Jody Hamilton: I would, my recommendation is Read The Code, and I still I'm sure my boss wishes. I wouldn't. I still read code. All the time, because I think the only answer to things is to, you know, understand them completely. You get, got to get to the bottom of things.

That's how you become a good engineer. There's no like, secret to it. It's just digging in and digging in, digging in, reading everything, understanding everything. Once you understand it all, then, you know., and even it'd be a lot of code, but it is like finite. And I think, you know, that's really how I became such a good Drupal developer was, you know, early on.

I was like, I think I will just [00:46:00] sit here and read this module. And now I'm going to, you know, read this one and you know, now I'm an expert on it and it doesn't necessarily take that long, but, Yeah, just get in there and read.

[00:46:13] Michael Meyers: Read the code. R T F C. Alrighty. So to wrap things up, I want you to pass the torch, who should I interview next?

Is there, you know, someone that's had a lot of influence over the success of Drupal, you know, for you, who you recommend that I reach out to?

[00:46:37] Jody Hamilton: But go with my friends, Matt Chaney. Also Mike Pirog, another friend of mine. He, he develops Lando and does lots of other interesting things. Jeff Eaton, definitely Ryan Szrama.

I also really like Todd (Nienkerk) from Four Kitchens. He's a good one to [00:47:00] talk to.

[00:47:00] Michael Meyers: Yeah, that's, that's a really great list and I, I can't believe I haven't interviewed those folks yet, so I will definitely, get them on the list and follow up. All amazing people that I'd love to talk to. Jody. My face hurts from smiling so much from laughing.

I really appreciate you joining us today. This is, this is a lot of fun. I hope that, our listeners enjoyed it, you know, anywhere near as much as I did. I really appreciate your time, really generous with it today. so thank you.

[00:47:31] Jody Hamilton: Thanks so much.

[00:47:33] Michael Meyers: Yeah. Alrighty for our listeners. If you like this talk, please remember to up vote, subscribe, and share it out.

You can check out all of our interviews in this series at That's two zero. We actually also set up the, the 20, because I'm sure people are going to type it in. You can check out our past Tag1 Team Talks, on the latest technology topics at as always. We'd love your feedback.

it is so [00:48:00] gratifying to hear from you. You know, topic suggestions. Tell us what you think you can write to us at That's tag, the number Thanks again for tuning in, take care.