102: Drupal 8 won't kill your kittens - 1/4

Kitten running scared

Perspectives on the D8 developer experience as it develops and improves - On October 4/5, 2013 (depending on your time zone), I hosted a live Hangout on Air with three major Drupal core contributors: Lee Rowlands (larowlan), Tim Plunket (tim.plunkett / @timplunkett), and Daniel Wehner (dawehner / @da_wehner). We talked about what's going on in Drupal 8 and how you will benefit from all the new stuff. This post is the first of four that cover the details of that conversation.

Lee Rowlands felt that some of the noise going on around the Drupal 8 developer experience didn't touch on all the wins that we're getting from the changes in Drupal 8. He wrote a blog post and gave a presentation at the Melbourne users group outlining some of the many ways Drupal 8 will be a great experience for developers.

"I work all day on Drupal 7 sites. Drupal 8 is where I get to do the fun stuff. There are a lot of things in Drupal 8 that I couldn't wait for, dealing with shortcomings in Drupal 7 on a daily basis. 'I want it now' kind of stuff (I picture Lee having a tantrum at this point), in particular the plugin stuff, and the entity filed API changes. That was my motivation for that talk.

"We do a lot of introspection and critical analysis in open source and Drupal, that's what makes it great. But sometimes I think we don't stop and celebrate the wins."

The conversation video

Meet Lee Rowlands

Drupal start date: 2007

First Drupal memory: The first time he looked at Drupal, "I saw '/node/1' and I went to the file system to look for a file called 'node' and I couldn't see it and I didn't get it. I was a static HTML, PHP script person back then. That was Drupal 4.7. I put it to one side." When Lee later needed an open source eCommerce system, Ubercart brought him right back to Drupal 5 and here he's been ever since!

How did you get into contributing and how do you contribute now?: "I used to be a contrib. developer. I think I had 30+ modules in Drupal 6 and 7," I have no idea how he had anything resembling a life at the same time ... "I did a lot with Ubercart, commerce, and media things."

"I sat there in Drupal 6 land and didn't pay attention to what was happening in core and then Drupal 7 came out." The first time he needed to build a Drupal 7 site for a client, "I had to go on a long car ride and I saved the massive change notice page, the handbook page on Drupal.org on upgrading Drupal 6.x to Drupal 7.x modules. It was a three hour car trip and I think it took 3 hours to read. That was the day I subscribed to the RSS feed for core."

"I said, 'never again am I getting that far behind,' so that was my motivation to get involved." His first Drual 7 patch got rejected because it needed tests, so he learned about testing. He was a bit of a lurker in and around core for a while until one fateful day when he volunteered to help out in core and was promptly handed the maintainership of Forum Module. "I took it on and keeping Forum up to date with all the changes gave me a great grounding in what was happening in Drupal 8." Along the way to Drupal 8, Lee migrated Forum and Comment to CMI (which took 1000 posts of discussion and a year of work). That all gave me the confidence to look at other stuff."

Meet Daniel Wehner

Drupal start date: 2006

Drupal origin story: "My first moment was Dimitri [Gaskin: dimitrig01], he was 12 at the time and he helped me when I was maybe 16 and I was a student. There was a program where people mentored other students to get them involved in Drupal. I did one or two projects and since then ... I'm kind of addicted."

How did you get into contributing and how do you contribute now?: As Daniel told me, he got into contributing because, "One day I realized that Earl Miles suffers in productivity as he had to answer so many support questions, so I jumped in and got involved in Views."

"These days, I am excited about the WSCCI initiative and the menu system. I do Drupal because it is interesting for me; that's basically my motivation for doing Drupal." Daniel also likes the intellectual challenges around the coding and loves being part of a "worldwide team."

Meet Tim Plunkett

Drupal start date: I forgot to ask ... darn!

First encounter with Drupal: "I was hired as a temp worker at my university to work on their website, which was a Mambo site and they wanted to port it to Drupal. It was the day after drupal 6 came out. My first job was to decide whether Drupal 6 was ready ... I had no idea what Drupal was ... I was reading a bunch of stuff," Tim reported back to his boss, "Everyone's complaining that there is no 'Views Module' yet, so we should probably wait and just use Drupal 5. So that was my first site."

How did you get into contributing and how do you contribute now?: "In the fall of 2010, I was helping out with the end of Bartik [the core theme]. I helped fix a couple of bugs at the end of Drupal 7. That was my intro to core development." Tim got hooked on contributing and is now neck-and-neck with Daniel as the biggest contributor to Drupal 8: they have each submitted roughly 5% of all D8 commits. He's worked on View for Drupal core (VDC), which let him learn most of the core sub-systems along the way; CMI; WSCCI; and more.

The topics we covered

The comprehensive list of topics we went over in the conversation was interesting. Check out part 2, part 3, and part 4 to get the whole story!

  • Meet Lee, Tim, and Daniel, and how the conversation came about (part 1)
  • The Drupal 8 entity system (part 2)
  • The Drupal 8 plugin system (part 2)
  • Why some people are worried about Drupal 8 and how we see things. (part 3)
  • How Drupal core developers coordinate and cooperate. (part 3)
  • Will Drupal 8 be more code-heavy? (part 3)
  • Theming in Drupal 8 (part 3)
  • Where's the Drupal 8 module upgrade info? (part 4 - Answer: it's a little early as of October 2013)
  • What's the most compelling feature in Drupal 8? (part 4)

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