How Indigo Herbs runs (almost) everything on Drupal!

Indigo Herbs Drupal website

Listen to the podcast:

Download podcast (47.98 MB)

In December 2015, I sat down with Michael Hanby-Director-and Tawny Bartlett-Website Coordinator-from Indigo Herbs in Glastonbury, England and dug into their history with Drupal and just how much of their business they run with it. Tawny is really inspiring: she learned Drupal and its component and supporting technologies--Git, Javascript, PHP, and much more--on the job at Indigo. She says she's fallen in love with Drupal. I say she's become a Drupalist to reckon with and should be a role model for others. Open source, #ftw!

This interview, particularly the last third, is full of some great "Why Drupal?" soundbites from a sensible business perspective. Well worth listening to! A full transcript follows below as well.

"If you are a small business and you want to develop a tech competency, I don’t know why you’ll do anything but Drupal because apart from the fact that it’s free, you’ve got this huge community that’s not just willing to give you the answers but wants to help you. What I think is one of the most awesome things about open source is that by asking a question, you are contributing to the project. It’s so cool. Just by asking the question that no one’s asked, you are contributing to the documentation that’s going to help someone else, it’s such a virtuous cycle." - Michael Hanby, Indigo Herbs

In Drupal "everyone is so accepting and everyone’s so willing to teach people and help people grow within the community. It stands out from the crowd, it’s just a fascinating thing that everyone loves technology and everyone does it because they want to make this amazing thing and if something goes wrong, no one judges them for it. Everyone tries to help to get it working and to me that just sounds absolutely amazing, it’s missing from the world I think. The community of Drupal, if that was applied to everything, then it would be such a better place." - Tawny Bartlett, Indigo Herbs

Mentioned during the conversation

  • Indigo Herbs, according to Michael "Indigo Herbs is a manufacturer of natural health products. We make beautiful things that will make your life better. Come and check out and discover the natural lifestyle that we offer."
  • Drupal Somerset
  • Paragraphs module
  • Heath Robinson, according to Wikipedia, "William Heath Robinson (31 May 1872 – 13 September 1944) was an English cartoonist and illustrator best known for drawings of ridiculously complicated machines for achieving simple objectives."

Conversation video

In the Indigo Herbs Common Room ... full transcription starts here.

jam: We established that everybody – that the whole couch is fair game, right?

Tawny Bartlett: Yes.

Michael Hanby: Yes, it does seem to be.

jam: It feels like a lovely Saturday morning and this place really, really feels like a university common room to me. It really – nice cinder block walls, a comfy couch and a warm cup of the brown stuff. It is really, really comfortable. So, please introduce yourself.

Tawny Bartlett: To the camera?

jam: Hello, camera.

Tawny Bartlett: Hello, camera. My name is Tawny Bartlett. I am the Website Coordinator at Indigo Herbs. I do a lot of coding. I do HTML, CSS, PHP, Git, LESS and various other things. I have a growing love of technology and in all honesty I want to be a super hero in technology one day, that is my goal. I want to be an amazing Drupal developer, that is why I’ve made the decision for my life is that I want to be an amazing Drupal developer and I want to – I just want to be an expert and I want to help everyone else. I want to help people that used to be me three years ago to the Drupal.

jam: My impression, having met you before, is that you’re already well down the road to being a Drupal super hero, so thank you.

Tawny Bartlett: Got to be better.

Michael Hanby: I am Michael Hanby and I’m a director at Indigo Herbs, and tech is one of responsibilities. I’ve loved Drupal work long before Indigo Herbs and I’m very lucky because Tawny is on my team.

jam: So I am in Somerset in the southwest of the U.K. and had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with a bunch of Drupal friends this week for the Drupal Somerset Christmas Meet-Up. I think we ...

Michael Hanby: It was our Christmas do, really.

jam: Right. We had a lovely pub meal and everything and I got to talking with Michael and Tawny about what they do. We met for the first time I guess at Drupal Camp Bristol 2015.

Michael Hanby: That’s right.

How Michael got his start with Drupal

jam: You caught my attention because how you run your business and how your business came about really fascinated me, and there’s this – in your case especially, there’s this chicken-and-egg situation about Drupal and business, right? You were already interested in Drupal before this business came around.

Michael Hanby: Before this business, yes.

jam: So how did you discover Drupal?

Michael Hanby: I discovered Drupal after I’ve been away travelling. I did the corporate thing for a bit, I went away travelling. When I came back we wanted to do – a friend and I wanted to do a website for an idea that we’ve been playing with whilst we were travelling. We have this thing Antiquarian Society, we’ve been looking – we’re into archeo-astronomy, looking for ancient alignments and watching the sun come up and set and all that sort of stuff.

jam: Can I just point out here that you’re from Glastonbury?

Michael Hanby: Well, I wasn’t born in Glastonbury but I do now live in Glastonbury and that’s alright.

jam: This is a very Glastonbury conversation we’re having.

Michael Hanby: This is normal in Glastonbury. It’s probably a bit strange in other parts of the Internet but...

jam: I had to say it ...

Michael Hanby: It’s a slightly niche subject which the Internet’s brilliant for of course, and we wanted a website anyway. I’d done a bit of HTML and I’d got into graphic design, and the guy that I was mucking about with this idea with was like, “Oh, what about Drupal? I’ve heard that Drupal’s quite cool.” This is back in the days of Drupal 5, so we have some web hosting and we have one of those one-click installs for various different packages, and I one-clicked Drupal and started playing with it. That was Drupal 5 and it was quite cool, it was relatively intuitive. I could change the way it looked by playing with the CSS and I could build what I wanted to build with it, and it was great.

jam: I hear that from very few people that, “Oh! Open up Drupal, it’s totally intuitive and I just got straight to work.” What was your background?

Michael Hanby: Well, I had come from a pretty tech background. I was never a developer but I’d been a business analyst and I’d managed tech teams. I was familiar with tech and tech processes, how data works and stuff like that so I guess it was easier – I think if you were a complete newbie, that would be the case more so then than now but back then it was really like, “Oh, there’s a really steep learning curve with Drupal.” I don’t know, I hacked it I guess. It was fine. Also, the other thing that was really cool about it was that it’s really easy to find out. If you don’t know the answer, it’s really easy to find out the answer. Someone’s probably asked the question somewhere and that was the case back in the days of Drupal 5 and now, it’s still the case but it’s way, way more advanced.

jam: Right. So community documentation is pretty good simply because there’s a very large mass of us doing this. Back in Drupal 5 days, there were thousands of our friends that you could ask easily for the answer and now, frankly, there are tens of thousands of people.

Michael Hanby: Exactly.

jam: So why did you stick with Drupal? You must be using for eight, nine years at this point.

Michael Hanby: Well, at some point after that I started working with Indigo Herbs and it was just Steve in his shed in the garden, and it was that kind of business at the time. Almost straight away - because I'd built a community type thing already on Drupal - almost straight away I was thinking I could see how this business could use that community-type platform to create a community, to generate brand awareness and all sorts of different things, and provide a useful function to be totally honest with you. I could see potential applications and we weren't on Drupal and I was itching to move something on to Drupal and start to use Drupal to do some of that stuff, and that’s what happened eventually.

jam: So you were just hooked. There was no question that there was going to be anything else?

Michael Hanby: I did play with WordPress for a bit and our first blog was actually a WordPress, and that was cool because I actually learned – some of my first bits of PHP actually are on WordPress and that gave me enough to get going on some Drupal.

jam: So in a bit, I want to get back to this business and the tie-in between doing good, ethics, community and all of these things that I think are a really good fit between Drupal and what you do. How did you find out about Drupal?

Tawny met Drupal on the job

Tawny Bartlett: Well, I found out Drupal through Indigo Herbs and the weird thing about me working in Indigo Herbs is I actually applied for a dispatch position.

jam: Which would be?

Tawny Bartlett: Just sending orders out.

jam: Taping up boxes?

Tawny Bartlett: Taping up packages and sending them out to customers and I actually said in my interview, “Oh, well if you ever want help for your website, I’d be interested in learning.”

jam: You knew some ... ?

Tawny Bartlett: HTML.

jam: Already.

Tawny Bartlett: So when I was little, I used to make little HTML websites and stuff just for some fun. Back when you had font tags. So that was quite fun. So then yes, I basically said that I could help with the website so when I first started we had a wholesale website on Drupal, so that’s our main distributing to shops and stuff, that’s our wholesale site. My first job was just basically data entry. And basically as it grew, I used to ... We use Git to version control Drupal and I used to have to ask Michael to put modules on Drupal for me because I didn’t know Git. So basically, over time I had to learn more and more because Michael wouldn’t be in some days. I’d be putting a module on Drupal so I just learned Git. I learned Drupal, I learned modules. And like Michael said, the community is just amazing. If you get stuck, there's pretty much an answer for it already and if there isn’t an answer for it, you can just ask a question and someone will answer already. So yes, I just fell in love with Drupal, it’s the best CMS in my opinion. It’s so flexible.

jam: Your leaning strategy was completely pragmatic, whatever you need to do to get your job done as soon as you hit a block then you learn a new thing and you learn new thing.

Tawny Bartlett: Yes, that’s basically what happened. Basically, that’s happened really extremely in Indigo. Firstly it’s Drupal front end stuff, moving blocks around the themes and stuff, then obviously I went to Git – I had to learn Git because we did version control, so I have to do that without Michael. Then CSS, I learned CSS.

jam: Right, and all the site builder stuff.

Tawny Bartlett: All the site – yes, all the site builder stuff but I find it quite easy ...

jam: Well, we’ve put years of effort into trying to make the user interface useful so ...

Tawny Bartlett: Yes, exactly. Views and stuff are just phenomenal, in comparison to any other CMS it’s just so easy to use and literally you can do anything on the front end but as our needs kept getting bigger and bigger, I learned View templates, I learned node templates, I learned – I had to learn PHP to start doing templates. So yes, it’s CSS, PHP then we went and did a custom framework so I learned LESS. So basically over the three years I’ve worked at Indigo, I’ve just learned so many different languages, obviously started to learn Javascript and stuff ... But yes, that is the case, we hit a wall and then we got over it. I’ve actually written a few modules in Drupal as well for Indigo.

jam: Right. When we first met, my strong impression of you was that you’re pretty hardcore tech now.

Tawny Bartlett: Yes, well, I’d like to think so anyway.

jam: What’s your job title, if that matters?

Tawny Bartlett: I’m actually Website Coordinator.

jam: Website Coordinator, which could be almost anything but that’s ...

Michael Hanby: It could be almost anything.

jam: Right. Fantastic. What’s your favorite thing about Drupal?

Tawny Bartlett: I think it’s the fact that literally you can say, “Can I do this to Drupal?” and the answer is pretty much always going to be yes. You can do anything in Drupal, there are no walls, you can just do anything you want and the fact that it’s just so flexible and - to me it’s just so easy, there’s no restrictions. You can just do whatever you want and if I can say two things, the community is amazing.

What how is Drupal community for newbies?

jam: So talk about showing up with relatively little experience and having a lot of questions. How was that experience, going out to events and meeting Drupal people?

Tawny Bartlett: It’s been fantastic, just in terms of the forums and stuff. Obviously, if a module is not working the way want it to be, you’ll find someone’s patched it already and they’re not going to commit it to the newest version but you can just patch it. Then, I’ve asked questions and people have provided patches to me and stuff, so people have been super helpful and they fixed things where I’ve been pulling my hair out and people just fixed it. Just out of the goodness of their hearts, and everyone’s just doing it for the passion of Drupal. Then, when I went to Drupal events, my first time at Drupal Somerset, Stefan helped us with the – we couldn’t get maps we’re working on Drupal, we just couldn’t figure out how to do it and he just instantly showed us how to do it and ever since then we’ve been using maps. The last Drupal Somerset that we had, Chris showed us how to use Paragraphs ...

jam: Which is amazing.

Tawny Bartlett: ...which is absolutely fantastic.

Michael Hanby: We’ve implemented that almost straight away. Partly by luck, we happened to have something on that just fitted perfectly.

jam: You had a use case ready for that.

Michael Hanby: Yes. The case is ready, she just took it away from the little meet-up and...

jam: The day after the meet-up.

Tawny Bartlett: Right.

Michael Hanby: Exactly that.

jam: I love that Drupal community’s completely opene arms approach to new people and to anyone who’s willing to ask respectfully and listen - mentoring, teaching, endless hours of volunteering. There’s a lot of enlightened self-interest in it in that, “Well, hey if I patch something that’s broken for you well then it’s not broken for me either anymore.” But somehow, there’s an incredibly positive energy around this that I find to some degree in the broader PHP communities, but not to the extent somehow. It’s a very happy place.

About Indigo Herbs

jam: We’re at Indigo Herbs in Glastonbury, just so that people not from around here know, pretty much the center of all “hippiedom” in Europe, frankly ...

Michael Hanby: Well, Glastonbury has been a center of pilgrimage probably before history. There’s an abbey here, the monks were really big here. They’ve got that ecclesiastic in the sort of ...

jam: It’s in the part of the country where there’s Stonehenge and there’s the lay lines, and there’s this special hill with the magic path to walk around in Salisbury. It’s not too far away so ...

Michael Hanby: It’s not so far away, no.

jam: Anyway, so it’s a really appropriate place to have herbs, natural remedies nutrition kind of a business.

Michael Hanby: It is. I like to think that the monks were doing it hundreds and hundreds of years ago, exactly the same thing. We’re a bit like that.

jam: I like to think that all the beers that they brewed was also medicinal.

Michael Hanby: Of course.

jam: So I’m holding this package of Ashwagandha powder and I happen to know that – not this very package, but this hundred grams of this stuff is pretty much why we’re sitting here today. How did Indigo Herbs get started?

Michael Hanby: Well, this is an interesting part of – this is I suppose to seed of Indigo herb. So the story is that many years ago, Steve wanted some Ashwagandha powder and he went to find some on the Internet and he couldn’t buy a hundred grams, he could only buy five kilos.

jam: So Steve just wanted a little bit.

Michael Hanby: He wants a bit for himself and he could only buy a lot more than that, so he bought a lot more than that, took what he wanted, and put the rest on eBay.

jam: He packed that up in small packages?

Michael Hanby: I guess, yes. I think that was his lightbulb moment of, "Ooh! Hold on, this is a big one."

jam: There’s a value-add here in delivering manageable quantities. When was that and when did you become part of this?

Michael Hanby: That was about 12 years ago. Nobody did anything like this on the Internet really back then, and then I became part of it probably about two or three years in – Steve needed some graphic design work done and I got involved doing the graphic design work and did a bit more, did a lot of web work, we had to move a lot of stuff around on the website and I thought, “This looks like quite an interesting business.” I’ve got a background – before I left and went travelling, I did an MBA and I’ve got a background in business so I was like, “This is interesting, there’s a nice business idea here and I could see how we could develop this.” It grew from that.

jam: You don’t have a storefront. Has it always been an online business?

Michael Hanby: It’s always been an online business.

jam: What sort of technologies were you using to – I guess you do B2B and B2C ...

Michael Hanby: Well, it’s mainly B2C.

jam: What sort of – how are you online?

Michael Hanby: Back in those days, we used a piece of software called Actinic which is basically a Microsoft Access database with a Windows front end you create your pages and what have you, and then you press a button and it FTP’s it all up server as static HTML with a bit of Perl to do the shopping cart, basically.

jam: Which frankly, in 2015, you’re coming full circle and that doesn’t sound super different to Sculpin or Jekyl, right?

Michael Hanby: Right.

jam: Which are the hip, cool static site generators are great now. So static site generators - totally cool, except that you cannot ...

Michael Hanby: Well, that you can’t really have a lot of rich functionality. Forget user-generated content.

jam: So was that like, “Oh, I want this stuff. Here’s the place where you have to fax your order,” sort of ... ?

Michael Hanby: Well now, it did have a Perl ... It wasn’t quite as bad as that. There was a shopping cart function which was written in Perl and you could download the orders every day, so there was a bit of functionality but it wasn’t very dynamic, it wasn’t very rich.

Tawny Bartlett: Main downfall was that we had to use it for one computer.

Michael Hanby: That’s right. It sat on one computer.

jam: Oh, because that was where the database was.

Michael Hanby: So you couldn’t have somebody over there processing the orders and somebody else over here writing content. This was impossible.

jam: Wow. Okay. So content 10 to 12, orders 12 to 2 ...

Indigo goes Drupal

Michael Hanby: Something like that, yes. It was obviously not going to happen. And I'd used Drupal for really interesting community-base things, and a lot of people that are into Indigo Herbs are practitioners of some sort of natural healing profession and I could see the potential for a community.

jam: Community-minded people anyway, people interested in making a difference, making the world a better place, spreading the message about whatever they do, right?

Michael Hanby: Yes. Actually, it’s a bit more prosaic in that in the final analysis with Indigo because we provide lots of fantastic natural health products. What we don’t provide is advice or medical diagnosis or anything like that. We sell herbs, super foods and great products but we’re not health carers and a lot of customers would come to us saying, “Look, I’ve got this problem. Can you help what shall I do?” We just can’t help.

jam: You probably also don’t want that liability.

Michael Hanby: Well, exactly. We’re not qualified to do it quite frankly, but plenty of people are so that was the idea behind our practitioners’ directory. We’ve got and Internet presence. Lots of people come to it looking for help that we can’t give but there are a load of people who can give it so it seems obvious to create a place where they can create a profile, put themselves on our website and then they can then provide a service that our customers might come to us to look for but which we can’t provide.

jam: So was that the seed of the community site idea and that was the gateway drug to Drupal?

Michael Hanby: It wasn’t actually, no, because prior to that we knew that we wanted to move it a bit more into wholesale and not just do B2C. So we built a Drupal eCommerce site, that was the first bit of Drupal really. We built a Drupal eCommerce site and migrated our blog from WordPress onto Drupal, it seemed obvious not to have too many platforms running at the same time.

jam: You’d think it’s obvious, right? We run into so many--we being all of us who with any clients of any size--run into shops that use five or 20 or 30 different technologies.

Michael Hanby: Well, from the business perspective, the driver for doing is that often the quickest way to get what you want in the moment is just to stick the other bit on, but the danger is you end up with this Heath Robinson of a system and it doesn’t always hold together. There are other benefits of having everything on one platform because you will think--this is my experience--you will think of ideas for doing things that you won’t think of now but you’ll think of them down the road. It’s easier to implement if everything’s all in one place and that’s one of the other great things about Drupal because you can do so much with it, you can make everything in one place and there’s so much benefit to that.

jam: I was telling you the other night that he speaks in perfect sound bites. You’ve just proven me right again. Thank you, thank you. I just have to wind him up and let him go.

Michael Hanby: You do!

jam: So how long have you been with Indigo now?

Tawny Bartlett: Three years in March.

jam: Was the company already on Drupal 7 at that point?

Tawny Bartlett: Yes.

Michael Hanby: Yes, it probably was.

Tawny Bartlett: Our original wholesale site was on Drupal 7. So we have the wholesale site and then we created the practitioners’ directory, which was the map thing. We’ve created maps so they can put their practitioner locations on the map. Then brought the blog over from WordPress, basically we’ve got massive natural health guides being on our Drupal site – Drupal is the content side of our site. We do actually have a multiplatform site. As I mentioned before we got a Magento-Drupal website and so we got two platforms and they ...

jam: That’s a common integration though. Magento does a lot of eCommerce stuff really, really well clearly and it’s PHP ...

Using Drupal for everything

Tawny Bartlett: Basically, over time we just literally started using Drupal for everything, anything you think of a business that we can use Drupal for, we’ll use it. Drupal is actually producing the packaging but not all of it, that’s a lot but basically Drupal produces the content so all of that content on that label is out of Drupal.

jam: So is it a web-to-print setup or is this a content type?

Michael Hanby: Well, we print the labels so that bags are pre-printed. We print the labels.

jam: Oh, I see. Okay. Right.

Tawny Bartlett: Basically, our stock system, our production staff produce jobs to print out labels of products and produce products, and it speaks to Drupal and these are content types which have fields for the title, the Latin name, the bullet points, the organic, the class...

jam: Oh, fantastic. So you really have the platonic ideal of a canonical central content repository for all of your content and anything that changes in one place, it will – if there’s a different regulatory need here, if there’s a whatever, you change it one place and it’s got on your labels, it’s on your site, it’s on your - everywhere in the same thing.

Michael Hanby: Yes, it’s all in Drupal.

Tawny Bartlett: The most exciting thing is – the part of thing I’m most proud of really is that nutritional data tables that should come out of Drupal as well and so with the label data as well, basically at the moment we got nutritional tables on our website. That comes out of Drupal that goes put into Magento, so we then decided to manipulate those tables to work on our labels. So those tables are manipulated from Drupal to working on labels so that people can exclude certain rows from these so that will fit, so the highs and lows you put them in the right place. So basically, that’s one center for all of our nutritional data and it gets put everywhere.

jam: This list is actually a View ... sorted?

Tawny Bartlett: It’s actually the - I think it’s a Table Field module but there’s extra columns to help sort out which bits are bold, help sort out – you’ve got schema on the website as well.

jam: Fantastic. RDFa,

Tawny Bartlett:, yes. So we’ve got a really good nutritional data schema coming out of our website as well.

jam: Fantastic. You get all of this power to be just as searchable, findable, useable as anyone in the world and you can download it for free.

Michael Hanby: That’s right.

Tawny Bartlett: Yes. It’s just that, “What?!”

jam: The empowerment story of what we do is so incredible today.

Michael Hanby: It really is. In fact, here’s another sound bite for you. If you are a small business and you want to develop a tech competency, I don’t know why you’ll do anything but Drupal because apart from the fact that it’s free, you’ve got this huge community that’s not just willing to give you the answers but wants to help you. What I think is one of the most awesome things about open source is that by asking a question, you are contributing to the project. It’s so cool. Just by asking the question that no one’s asked, you are contributing to the documentation that’s going to help someone else, it’s such a virtuous cycle.

jam: Yes. I haven’t done it in a little while but one of the ways that I like to start the keynote presentations that I do sometimes, especially if they’re open source side of things: "Who’s contributed to open source?" and you get in any given conference room, you get 20-50% of hands go [up]. No! "How many of you have contributed patches or pull request to your open source project?" Those hands stay up and I say, “Okay. How many of you have filed a bug report? How many of you have answered a forum question or been on IRC to help someone?” More and more hands go up and it’s like, “Okay. How many of you have been to an open source event? You’re all in this room, put your hands up. Thank you for contributing.” Every time we exchange information, every time we do anything like this it’s become much, much more than just developers trading code snippets and I really, really like that.

Michael Hanby: That’s right. Even if you’re just contributing use cases, that’s actually valuable.

Doing well and doing good - the idealism connection

jam: So you as a business are concerned with ethics in general. I know that you’re a living wage employer obviously involved in various nutritional, organic, doing things the right way ...

Michael Hanby: Yes. A lot of our products are organic. They’re not all organic, that’s not possible in some products.

jam: I know that you’re looking into Fair Trade certification.

Michael Hanby: We’re looking into Fair Trade certification. We are sponsors of the Veganuary which is a social movement to go vegan in January which Tawny has now pledged to do.

jam: It’s so great you volunteered for that. Big step, big step.

Michael Hanby: We’re about lifestyle and thing with health and nutrition is it’s not like you take a pill now and you sorted for life. It’s about lifestyle, it’s about how you live your life, it’s a long-term something.

jam: There’s this cartoonist called Scott Adams, he does the Dilbert cartoons. I’m reading one of his books right now and he talks about the importance of thinking in systems rather than in goals. If you do as systematic approach to something, even if you’re failing along the way it’s going to get you to where you need to go. So it’s not "I need to lose five pounds," it’s "I need to eat better everyday," kind of thing.

Michael Hanby: Exactly that. Exactly. By getting into some of our products, by getting into it, it starts to shift your thinking about how you’re eating. It makes you take responsibility for what you’re doing and that’s the key because that will have a long-term effect.

jam: So you have this business that is really involved in a lot of ethical activities and a lot of idealism. How do you see the connection between Drupal and open source technologies which are also very idealistic and your day job?

Tawny Bartlett: In terms of ethical ... ?

jam: In terms of the community, in terms of helping people, in terms of making a difference.

Tawny Bartlett: I’ve spent years juggling what I’ve wanted to do. I spent years being confused about what I wanted to do, literally just so confused going back and forth. I want to do this degree, not doing this degree, but Drupal has really taken my heart. It’s slightly corny but it’s just I’ve literally settled. I’ve just love Drupal. It’s amazing how people give and take for free, it’s amazing that when I first started posting on forums I used to say, “I’m really sorry if I sound like a n00b here.” I just always apologize because I was such a newbie to Drupal and I always thought people would be like, “That’s very silly of you. You’re so new, why are you posting on here?” But everyone is so accepting and everyone’s so willing to teach people and help people grow within the community. I’m just learning more and more about how many people contribute to Drupal 8 and I remember watching a video about all the comments and stuff about how – it was just absolutely amazing that everyone does this and most people do it for the passion, for the passion in Drupal. It stands out from the crowd, it’s just a fascinating thing that everyone loves technology and everyone does it because they want to make this amazing thing and if something goes wrong, no one judges them for it. Everyone tries to help to get it working and to me that just sounds absolutely amazing, it’s missing from the world I think. The community of Drupal, if that was applied to everything, then it would be such a better place.

jam: It makes for a nice place to work I think.

Tawny Bartlett: Yes, it’s fantastic. If I get stuck, I know there’s a community out there and I have Drupal developers that are my friends and stuff, I know that they will generally help because they’re passionate and they want to help. Everyone sees the challenge in Drupal and everyone wants to fix it, no one is greedy and no one keeps the code to themselves which is really strange. In terms of other CMSs, they charge for extensions--everyone wants to give and it’s just--to me, I find it really hard to get that in my head that people will just give these great ideas for free.

jam: In that instance, we’re lucky that Drupal is licensed under the GPL because it makes a lot of classic business models really, really hard to do but it makes it really easy to share so we found other ways to use it.

And it makes business sense

jam: Listen, I want to ask you two things to wrap up. As someone concerned about ethical activity and idealism, how do you see Drupal and open source - let me ask that in a better way. How do you see Drupal and open source in terms of the ethics and ideals that you bring to your business?

Michael Hanby: Well, the thing with Drupal and open source is we get more out of our combined efforts if we share, it’s as simple as that. Things are better if we share because then we’re all contributing and we all benefit from it, and that’s really clear in Drupal. If you compare it to other platforms that don’t have such an open sharing community, there are less solutions. Things don’t work as well, there’s less documentation, it’s more difficult to get help and that’s just really. Having worked now with a couple of different platforms, that’s really clear. Like I said before, if you want to build tech competency and you’re a small business, we’ve gone from not knowing a lot to knowing quite a bit, having a quite clever, complex and effective infrastructure and having a really content rich website with all different types of content that interact with each other that we built specifically for ourselves. We could never have achieved any of that without Drupal community, we couldn’t have done it. We could have achieved some of that, we couldn’t have achieved all of it, not on our budget. We’re a small company, we’ve grown it ourselves and Drupal’s made that possible.

jam: So as a hard-nosed MBA businessperson, paying the rent for you and your employees, talk about Drupal.

Michael Hanby: I just think that none of our USP comes from the way that the PHP is written, we’re not going to sell more stuff because logging in to our back end is different to the way everyone else logs in, there’s just no point in reinventing all of that sort of stuff. We can focus on the little bits that really make the difference and everything else there is not so – it’s still really important but it’s like a hygiene factor. That’s cool, that’s already there, why reinvent it? There’s no point and that’s what Drupal offers.

jam: So terrific commodity functionality, flexibility. I think from a business perspective as well, risk mitigation.

Michael Hanby: Totally. We do have applications for other use cases that we’ve not written on Drupal and you can only get onto them if you’re on the IP whitelist because we can’t write the sort of security that you just get out the box with Drupal. It’s things like that, it’s having that framework there which means that you can just focus on the bit that’s important to you. That’s the thing, you don’t have to do all the other stuff because it’s already done.

jam: Fantastic. Last question for the day, Michael. Give us a shameless plug for Indigo Herbs.

Michael Hanby: Indigo Herbs is a manufacturer of natural health products. We make beautiful things that will make your life better. Come and check out and discover the natural lifestyle that we offer.

jam: For those of us who speak – I’m not even sure why but I would have said "www.indigo minus" but I’m not sure why that is.

Michael Hanby: Well, there is the hyphen/underscore ambiguity.

jam: Right. Okay. Anyway, great people making...

Michael Hanby: Maybe it’s a European thing.

jam: It could be. Great people making great products and also doing really, really interesting things with Drupal. If you have any questions about all the cool Drupal stuff that we’ve touched on in this podcast, I’m absolutely certain that they will be very happy to talk with you. If you want to meet a cool user group, come down the Somerset in the U.K. as well. It’s a good, good bunch of people.

Michael Hanby: Drupal Somerset. Third Thursday of the month in here, in this very room.

jam: Oh, now I know where to come, actually.

Michael Hanby: You know where to come.

jam: The last meet-up I went to was in a pub. Hey, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Alright.

Michael Hanby: You’re welcome. Thanks for having us. Thank you very much. It’s great. It’s really exciting and it’s a pleasure, an absolute pleasure.

Add comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.