56: Meet Peter Wolanin: We are changing the world.

In 2004, Peter Wolanin, then a full-time scientist, discovered Drupal while volunteering on a political campaign and building its website. As he puts it, the road to becoming a full-time software engineer at Acquia started when he discovered that "pretty soon, I got more interested in fixing the bugs than building the site ... "The satisfaction of fixing things sort of drew me in."

Comparing Drupal now to Drupal 4.6

"To do anything different in Drupal 4.6, you had to know the recipe. At that point, there were a lot of PHP snippets ... 'paste this into your node body' ... Now we've moved very far away from that. It should be possible to do most of what you want to configure in the UI ... We strongly discourage people from using PHP snippets now. I also got used to Drupal when there was no admin theme, no pretense of a separation between the front end and the back end."

Joining Acquia

Peter made a radical career change – from biophysicist to full-time software engineer – thanks to his significant, spare-time contributions to Drupal 6. He got a phone call from Dries and ended up one of Acquia's earliest hires. Peter has been involved in the development of many of its products, including the Acquia Network and its very first service: Acquia Search. He built the initial release with Jacob Singh over the course of six "intense" months.

Developing Acquia Search

That development process took place in a very unusual way, from the perspective of a "traditional" (non-open-source) software company: building a for-pay service for an open source project (Drupal) on top of another open source project (Apache Solr, the search indexing technology), while building the integration modules to make it all work "in public", in the issue queues on Drupal.org. Acquia Search is a turnkey solution, but the Drupal modules can be used by anyone who can set up their own Apache Solr servers to seamlessly integrate them with their Drupal sites, too.

"We know all the contributions we make make Drupal more attractive to enterprises or anyone who wants to make search a part of their site." no matter how people are taking advantage of Apache Solr, through Acquia or elsewhere.

The best part of working for Acquia

"We are changing the world through promoting open source and getting people to use it."

On working remotely

"It mostly looks like I'm sitting around the house" :-)