161: Meet Cal Evans - 1/2 - Meet Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire

Voices of the ElePHPant / Acquia Podcast Ultimate Showdown Part 1 - Cal Evans and I got the chance to sit down and talk (a lot!) at DrupalCon Amsterdam and talk about a range of topics we have in common. In this first part of a 2-part series, we talk Drupal, PHP convergence and the "PHP Renaissance", open source communities, proprietary v open source business and the ethics of helping, and more.

Why PHP?

According to Cal, PHP has three things going for it:

  1. "It is a great language; the only language designed for the Web."
  2. "It has an awesome set of documentation, maintained by some great people."
  3. "It has one of the most vibrant and exciting communities out there. And that is what I think makes the difference and has kicked it up to running 80% of the servers on the Web," he goes on, "which means that Drupal is immediately available to 80% of the servers on the Web."

Disco Cal and his "Side Hustle"

"I have one major passion in my life and that is to help developers. The last ten years of my career in one way or another, it's been my privilege to be paid to go out and find ways to help developers. Nomad PHP is a user group for those that don't have a user group. A lot of people can't get to conferences or just don't have a local user group and that's what Nomad is for."

"Nomad PHP is a user group. You pay to attend; we have subscribers and we pay our speakers. These are the same people you see speaking at PHP conferences, I can't pay their travel, so I pay them. We sell a live ticket and a video-only ticket, but we encourage people to attend live because you get more out of it. You have what's going on on the screen, you can ask questions, we have an IRC channel with all the guys and girls kibitzing, making bad jokes ... it's like being at a real conference. We have that hallway track and that is where really interesting conversations take place. But once the talk gets going, you get good questions, you get people that are supporting each other and I can always tell when we've got a really good speaker: the IRC channel will go dead until they finish and then all of a sudden explodes with questions."

Cal runs Nomad PHP, Nomad Javascript, and Day Camp 4 Developers. "Those are all designed to help developers. Yes you pay money to attend all those, but I give away an inordinate amount of ticket. My passion is not making money; my passion is helping developers. So I am glad that Nomad has caught on and that"

Guest Dossier

  • Name: Cal Evans
  • Twitter: @calevans
  • Website: http://blog.calevans.com/, Postcards From My Life
  • Github: https://github.com/calevans
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/calevans
  • Work affiliation: Developer Advocate, Pantheon. Read this great post about Cal and how he got to Pantheon.
  • FLOSS role: Nomad PHP virtual PHP user group (aka "The World Wide Herd") helping developers wherever they live, Voices of the ElePHPant podcast, "Interviews with the people that are making the PHP community special"
  • Current projects: Nomad PHP (@nomadphp), "A developer who doesn’t learn at least one new thing every 3 months is a paperweight."
  • 1st open source memory: Microsoft told Cal's parents they'd have to pay $15,000 in licensing fees to update and continue using the software (Windows and SQL Server) they'd built their family business on. That is a lot of money, especially for a small business, and Cal took matters into his own hands: for $4500 he bought a new server, installed Linux and "this new language called PHP" and rewrote the business applications using open source software. "Six months later, we had totally ditched the Microsoft servers. I had the entire site back up and running on PHP and honestly, I've never looked back."
  • Open source as marital strain: Cal is a Wordpress guy in his heart, but "My wife, the lovely and talented Cathy, when given the choice, she deploys Drupal. It's always a constant battle with us. When we're getting ready to deploy something, if she's doing the work, it's Drupal."
  • When/which PHP you started with: 1999 PHP 3.0.5 beta (he it slightly wrong during our conversation), "I was bleeding edge, but I was young enough so that I was stupid enough to do stuff like that."
  • Why do you stick with PHP? "I want to learn Ruby and I want to learn Node and Python because I have great respect for these languages and these tools. I keep telling people as soon as I come across a problem I can't solve in PHP, I'm gonna learn one of those. I'm lucky that the problems I come across, I can solve very easily in PHP. Right now, PHP just does everything that I need it to do."

Interview video

Also in the Future of PHP series

  1. Future of PHP series landing page
  2. Perspectives on the future of PHP – "The Future of PHP" series intro, Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire
  3. The future of PHP ... at a distance – Lukas Kahwe Smith
  4. Composer – Dependency Management in PHP – Lorna Mitchell
  5. The Future of PHP is Shared Power Tools – Ryan Weaver
  6. PHP is getting Faster – Richard Miller
  7. PSR-What? Shared Standards for a Bright Future – Lorna Mitchell
  8. Voices of the ElePHPant / Acquia Podcast Ultimate Showdown Part 1 & Part 2 - Acquia Podcast audio/video with Cal Evans and Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire
  9. PHP: Under the Hood, Running the Web - Michelangelo van Dam
  10. A Symfony Shop Embraces Drupal 8 & Gets Down to Business - Acquia Podcast audio/video interview with Chris Jolly
  11. Building Bridges, Linking Islands - Larry Garfield
  12. Drupal & PHP: Linking Islands, the podcast – Part 1 & Part 2 - Acquia Podcast audio/video interview with Larry Garfield
  13. PHP: Getting the job done, really easily – Acquia Podcast audio/video interview with Stephan Hochdörfer
  14. Get more done, better & faster – together. – Acquia Podcast audio/video interview with Dustin Whittle
  15. New Wave PHP – Audio/video interview and conference session presentation with Lorna Jane Mitchell
  16. Writing secure PHP: "F.I.E.O." and more – Acquia Podcast audio/video interview with Chris Cornutt
  17. PHP: The entire world is your development team – Beth Tucker Long – Acquia Podcast audio/video interview