Blob of contradictions

5 years of Drupal


Disclaimer: This is a long-ish ramble with poor usage of the English language.

5 years ago today, I started my first job out of university as a systems programmer / web developer at zinc Roe Design. I was brought on to help launch the 2nd iteration of the Zimmer Twins which used (and introduced me to) Drupal 4.6 at the time. I had also 'just missed' the DrupalCamp that James organized in Toronto. I had 2 tasks: map the old xml schema of the user generated movies to the new schema, and create a feature that would associate a flv file with a given user-generated movie (for movies that were given a full production with voice overs, sound effects, etc). The former was not done in any sort of 'drupal' way (it was a php script which started out looking like index.php with the rest of my mapping info in there somewhere) and James must have cringed when he looked at the code (I should also mention that it would not run on the server, since I was using PHP5 (simplexml) and the server did not support it (so we had to pull down db prior to the migration, run my script, and upload the db dump back up). The latter was an attempt to do things 'the Drupal way' with my very first module though I recall messing that up even more (it worked but again...used things like $_POST, I had little to no understanding of arguments in page callbacks.). The whole summer was a surreal experience as I had never worked on such a large project and had to dive and take a look at so many different things (drupal, performance tuning both in the php that I wrote and in mysql, working with backups). For some reason, Jason (my boss) liked the work that I did and kept me on after the launch. I started looking at Drupal a little more deeply and my first thoughts were 'Drupal is cool and all but how the hell am I ever going to understand how this works?!?'. My next thoughts were (and this was the same as when I got the job): 'where am I going with all this?'. I looked at the code by James (I should note that there were maybe...12 contrib modules used on the site? everything else was custom work) and thought (well...I still do think) this is really cool and a good base to start other code from.

As I kept working on the Zimmer Twins, Drupal 4.7 came and went (I never got a chance to touch it), I went to a couple of the Drupal meetups in Toronto though they felt a little daunting. I then got a chance to dive deeper into Drupal after 5.0 was released (which, coming from 4.6, was again COMPLETELY different) with another project. Using the 5.x branch as it just came out meant we would need to write custom code and use custom modules. Most of the contrib modules that we wanted to use were for Drupal 4.6/4.7 and this meant upgrading modules to Drupal 5 or even more custom modules. Even though I had an account on for nearly 5 months at this point, this was my first real interaction with the community (writing out port patches, getting to see improvements, and seeing them get committed as drupal 5 releases) and it was (is) amazing. I had never experienced something like this and seeing that I had helped on something that would be used by people outside of things I directly worked on felt good. This would be where I truly found open source and loved what I saw. From here, I released my first contrib module (abuse; 4.6 was done by James and I ported it to 5.x), helped organize and attend (and presented what is possibly my most nerve-wrecking presentation ever: integrating a module with views) my first Drupal Camp in Toronto. I got even more involved with Drupal 6, attended DrupalCon in Boston, and so on. I then made the hard decision of moving away from videogame programming to Drupal on a full-time basis which inolved changing jobs, packing bags, and ending up in LA. I got a warm welcome from the Drupal crowd here and 2 years later, consider it my home thanks to it.

5 years ago, I never expected to be contributing code outside my work. I also never expected to go to events such as code meetups, camps, conferences. Or even end up on the other side of the continent.

Much like 5 years ago, I don't know I will be 5 years from now (will I still be working with Drupal? Will I move into some other field?). But right now, I am happy working with Drupal and even moreso working with the people that are a part of it. So to the Drupal community at large (and to the communities in Toronto and LA) and to those I have worked with, encouraged me to push with what I enjoy and learned a whole lot from regarding what I do today: thank you :)