Drupal, the fastest way from idea to MVP - meet Keith Donaldson

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Oysters in oyster farmer's hands

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Keith Donaldson and I spoke in Keith's 9th week as a Drupalist--he's done Django and run several startups in the past--and he'd already been using Drupal "in the wild" to win a hackathon and more. I was impressed! In this podcast, we talk about Keith's background, impressions of Drupal, how the Acquia U training program supports and creates new Drupal talent, our mutual conviction that it is one of the best tools to get a minimum viable product up and running for someone with a startup idea, and more!

The ability to go from idea to MVP so quickly is awesome and powerful.

One week of Drupal? Sure, let's do a hackathon!

Keith's stand-out 1st Drupal memory - It's not often that the answer to my question about someone's first Drupal memory starts with, "After my first week at Acquia ..." but Keith's did! "After my first week at Acquia, I really wanted to test this out. for me, diving into the deep end, trial by fire, is the best way to get a new technology or any kind of learning under my belt ... So I participated in a hackathon called the Fish Hackathon, sponsored by the State Department and the New England Aquarium here in Boston. For that hackathon, there was an opportunity to create a content-driven site. They were looking for a solution that would allow them to connect with folks interested in eating oysters and looking for more information about eating oysters," Keith builtthe Oy-App. " I quickly hacked together something using Drupal 7 and PhoneGap and an available library to connect the two and create a mobile app that allows you to find oyster bars within a 4-mile radius. It looked very impressive. I didn't do a whole lot. One of the beauties of Drupal is that it gets you 90% of the way to a complete solution. As far as hackathons go, it was a great way to impress non-technical judges and get a win! That project is still going on. We're looking at figuring out what are the real needs of the oyster farmer and how to help them to a better job of communicating what products they offer. Hopefully, that'll be a Drupal 8 solution."

Drupal First: Drupal and startups

"From what I've seen of the market, there are a lot of people out there with great ideas and they don't have the technical experience. One idea that I wanted to push is to get people thinking about Drupal first. As a non-technical founder, Drupal is a great way to crystalize your ideas, get them in front of people and have it do something that can be tested. How much functionality the application actually has is probably up to you and the amount of time you have. But as a non-technical founder, someone with an idea, I think you can get a lot going ... enough to bring somebody on who can take it the rest of the way ... Get a better sense of the direction you're trying to go in, put it in front of people to test it, get their feedback. That's something I'd like to push heavily as I get deeper into my own Drupal experience and develop my skills."

Drupal 8 and web-service-based businesses

"One of the things I looked at early on," when Keith started to get to know Drupal 8, "was what's going on in web services. Some of the project that I had been developing worked a lot with APIs from other SaaS applications. It was a common thing that was appearing again and again: how you take advantage of some other resource, some other application and bring it into your own. Any framework that can help me do that faster and more securely is something I'd be interested in."

"Also thinking of my own application API-first. That's the way you should be doing development these days and it looked like Drupal was preparing to go in that direction ... ready to offer that." And indeed it has! Drupal 8's RESTful-first architecture does just what Keith is talking about, consuming or delivering web services.

Guest dossier

Interview video - 26 min.

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