fromSeptember 2014
Column:

Drupal People

Getting In
1

Hacking quietly

Drupal people are good people. They are the recipe’s secret ingredient, and conferences are the oven. Mix and bake.

March 2007, Sunnyvale, California, the Yahoo campus and a Sheraton.

OSCMS, my second Drupal event and my first conference.

Dries gave the State of Drupal keynote, with a survey of developers and a vision for future work. His hair was still a bit punk and he was a bit younger. Dries has the best slides. Where does he find those amazing slides?

I like Dries a lot.

I wish I had created Drupal.

In 1999, I created my own CMS named Frameworks. I remember showing my friend Norm an "edit" link for changing text and how cool that was. Back then, I didn't even know about Open Source – despite being a fanboy of Richard Stallman and the FSF – and I was still using a mix of C/C++, Perl, and IIS. (If you wanted to eat in the 1990's, Windows was an occupational hazard.)

But I didn't create Drupal. I didn't have the hair, I've never had those amazing slides, and I will never be able to present that well.

But mainly, I didn't have the vision.

Rasmus Lerdorf gave a talk on the history of PHP. I was good with computer languages. I had written a compiler in college, developed my first interpretive language in the late 1980's and another one in the early 1990's. I wondered why I hadn't created PHP. At the time, most web apps were written in Perl. I loved Perl. It was so concise. It was much better than AWK, which in itself was also pretty awesome.

(Note: AWK does not stand for awkward. It’s named after Aho, Weinberger, and Kernighan – of K&R fame).

So I didn't see the need for PHP, we had Perl!

Again, no vision.

Meanwhile: 2007, Sunnyvale, California, OSCMS.

That week, I co-presented my early work on search. The presentation was not ground-breaking; something or other about how I was using views and exposed filters with search. I was nervous presenting for the first time. I wanted to belong and I wanted validation that what I was doing was good. But I was also nervous because I had never met my co-presenter, Robert Douglass, I didn't know what he was presenting, and I didn't know how our talks were going to merge.

The presentation went fine, probably better than fine. Robert was very kind and very gracious. My fragile Drupal ego got a small boost that day.

Also, I first met Charlie (“ChX”) at a talk he gave on the menu router optimizations. I already knew him by reputation from the Drupal developer mailing list and the issue queues. I liked ChX. He impressed me. Here was a nice, smart guy. I didn't know how smart until that week; I didn't know how nice until later.

I gave a lightning talk on the coder module. I was excited about coder. Maybe I finally had a vision.

I attended the one-day performance workshop after OSCMS, where Robert talked about Memcache, and Jeremy Andrews (Drupal Watchdog editor-in-chief, and my boss) talked about SQL. I think the Lullabots and Angie presented, and there was one additional talk. Before Twitter, and before live blogging, I live-posted all day (type-type-type, save... type-type-type, save...) to the CivicActions wiki.

I attended the hackathon in the Sheraton ballroom. I was a week behind on client work and wasn't getting paid while at the conference, so I started the day with my day job.

ChX announced, in his Hungarian-accented English, “If you want to work on core, see me, I give you work.” Five minutes passed and I came to my senses. I walked up to ChX and said, “I can help, what can I do?” He responded, “What can you do?”

I gave him a short bio. And he said “Oh, you're douggreen, you wrote coder, frickin good idea! I give you something hard.”

(Note: ChX did not say “frickin.”)

And that was it!

I was in!

Welcome to Drupal!

Image: "Hacking Quietly" by scattered sunshine is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Comments

Interesting post...It's really interesting to be a Drupal person.

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