52: Meet Alex Bronstein: Open source is a mind-shift

Alex Bronstein talks at DrupalCon Denver about how his job in the Acquia OCTO (Office of the CTO) lets him make a difference to the development and ongoing improvement of Drupal 8.

From Kitten Killer to Core Contributor

Alex describes his path from discovering open source to dreaming of contributing to an open source project to realizing that goal 15 years later. When he found Drupal in 2004, he went from hacking it (Drupalists commonly refer to changing core code the wrong way as "killing kittens" – it's a bad practice if you care about the stability and security of your Drupal site), to realizing his dream by contributing his own modules and becoming a core contributor to Drupal 7. Now in the Drupal 8 release cycle, a big part of his job is to "unstick" and facilitate the Drupal 8 development process.

From Gardens to OCTO

Until recently, Alex was part of the engineering team building Drupal Gardens. He's now in the Acquia Office of the CTO, aka "OCTO", which he describes as "helping to scale Dries" by taking care of the Drupal project and community contributions to help Dries Buytaert be more effective as Drupal's Project Lead.

Drupal 4.7 v. Drupal 7 and beyond

"We have building-block modules now that are not just building-block APIs for other programers. They are building-block configuration tools for site builders. People can create amazing websites by combining modules and figuring out clever ways to combine modules to solve their use cases; with Views, and Rules, and Panels ..."

"When I started in Drupal 4.6, though Drupal was a set of cool libraries written by programmers for programmers ... I would still have to do custom work, but there were certain functions I was able to call and not have to reinvent myself, but Drupal today is much more than that. It's a set of building blocks not just for programmers, but for site builders."

On becoming part of an open source community

"It's a real mind-shift. It's a culture of participation. I spent ten years programming for clients, building what they needed. That's what programming meant. I would use software from other projects, but never contribute back to those projects." Getting to know the people involved in Drupal, "Helped convey to me the cultural values of: if you want to see something happen, contribute, make it happen ... there is this culture of 'do-ocracy', and I love it. I think it's an amazing way to experience life. You can join a big project and actually be part of it and make a meaningful difference."