Interview with Ruben Teijeiro, Drupal hero at 1xINTERNET and co-founder of Youpal

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Agiledrop is highlighting active Drupal community members through a series of interviews. Now you get a chance to learn more about the people behind Drupal projects.

For our latest Drupal Community interview, we had a really great talk with Ruben Teijeiro of Youpal and 1xINTERNET. Ruben revealed to us the meaning and responsibilities of a Drupal hero, a role which has enabled him to spread Drupal awareness all over the world and meet diverse Drupal communities. Read on to find out more about his journey with Drupal and what he's most excited about going forward.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself. How do you participate in the Drupal community and what do you do professionally?

In the Drupal community I am participating as a speaker, organizing conferences, for example organizing DrupalCamp Spain at the moment, also collaborating with companies and other communities in other countries. The purpose of this is to make the community bigger and try to identify issues within the project itself, not only technically, but also human issues - basically just trying to be, like, not an evangelist, but an advocate of open source and Drupal specifically. 

That is exactly the definition of a Drupal hero: someone that really takes open source seriously and wants to bring Drupal to every corner of the world. It’s this kind of “sharing is caring” mentality; as I started in open source, a lot of people helped me to get started. So, for me, I need to give something back, because I’m here at the moment because a lot of people helped me during my career. So I guess it’s our duty to help other people during the next stage of our careers. 

So, at the moment I’m working as a Drupal hero for 1xINTERNET, which is a Drupal agency in Frankfurt. I’m actually doing everything that’s needed: helping our development team, helping our project managers, doing sales pitches, attending conferences, you know, this kind of thing. Apart from that I also have my own digital agency, Youpal, in Stockholm, Sweden; as a co-founder I’m responsible for let’s say the company management things. 

2. When did you first come across Drupal? What convinced you to stay, the software or the community, and why?

My first installation of Drupal was 4.6, and then actively working since version 5, it was something like 8 to 10 years ago. I can tell you that before Drupal I was testing 10 or 12 different CMSs and different technologies, such as Java, Python and PHP, and I was really upset about all of them. One of the latest that I used was Joomla!, I was actually working at a company for 3 years. For me it was things such as the code quality, community engagement, these kinds of things that I was missing. 

Then I found Drupal and I started to feel that this was my CMS; proper code quality, code reviews, not anyone can contribute any module unless they follow some programming practices, this kind of thing. 

Apart from that, I attended my first community event and that’s when my mind was blown. Because it’s when you meet the community that you realize that this is bigger than you expected.

3. What impact has Drupal made on you? Is there a particular moment you remember?

Actually I have a special moment, which is when Drupal brought me to Sweden. It was during the financial crisis in Spain, there was no good work stability, and then suddenly because I was collaborating in the mobile initiative for Drupal 8, my name came up in Ericsson, in the company, so they needed a front-end developer. I was not a front-end developer actually, I was working in the mobile initiative to strengthen my front-end skills, but then I was assigned to the intranet project in Ericsson, and then I worked there for 3 years. That completely changed my mindset, my career, my life, everything.

The project itself is based in Drupal 7, integrated with several internal services, using REST and SOAP. They have Apache Solr for indexing the content, really strict single sign-on internally with their computers ... More or less that’s all, it’s just an intranet, so it’s regarding the employee information, documentation, processing and this stuff.

4. How do you explain what Drupal is to other, non-Drupal people?

When I try to explain this to my parents, or with let’s say people that are more into politics or government, or not technical people in general, what I try to use is samples that everyone knows, like, for example, “Do you know what is NASA? Do you know what is the European Commission? So, their websites are running on Drupal, that means there’s this secure infrastructure where you can just have your websites.” So, more or less, that's how I pitch Drupal in the beginning.

Then if you want to go to younger people, how do you explain it to them? So, if they want to use Drupal, I just try to tell them: “Oh, you want to have your own website, to sell your own stuff, this kind of thing? Then with Drupal you can just do it yourself, it’s a matter of clicks.” More or less I try to tell people, if you are able to use Facebook, you are able to build your own website with Drupal. 

With the new generations, such as with teenagers that will get started into technologies pretty soon, it’s best to use examples that they know on a daily basis; those are really easy to link to, what is this and what is the solution that you get, the outcome of it, you know. For instance, the main or the major universities worldwide, they use Drupal, so, Oxford, Stanford, those are good examples, not for teenagers, but for people who are going to university.

5. How did you see Drupal evolving over the years? What do you think the future will bring?

At the moment I guess it’s not only Drupal, it’s just PHP, the PHP ecosystem must evolve, like the Java ecosystem. So in this case I guess Drupal will become more decoupled, meaning that internally in their core they’re going to have more loosely coupled components, and in the end Drupal is going to be an API-first CMS or even framework. 

Because I guess that with a lot of good things that we are doing in Drupal, all the PHP projects could benefit from them. Like, I don’t fully understand why we have for example a user login component in Drupal, but then Magento use their own user login component, Symfony and Laravel, they use their own, which makes it really difficult to maintain because of multiple components that are doing exactly the same task. 

So, for me, unifying this component in one single one for all the PHP projects should be beneficial, and I think that it isn’t that difficult to make it so loosely coupled that we can use it even as an API.

6. What are some of the contributions to open source code or to the community that you are most proud of?

My contributions … My case is, I guess one of the biggest ones is the Drupal Heroes stickers, because I guess they are now all around the world; I have seen them in Saudi Arabia, I have seen them in Africa, I have seen them in India, you know, Russia, United States, South America, so they are going everywhere. So that’s one of the things, it’s just let’s say a pet project that I started with a friend who did the design of the stickers and then I just printed and handed over all of them.

It’s easy to identify through these stickers, because people maybe don’t know me by Ruben, but they know “Ah, this is the guy with the superhero stickers!”, you know, that’s all - an easy way to get spotted and to create brand awareness in Drupal.

That’s one thing, and the other is I guess all the traveling I’ve been doing around Europe, speaking about Drupal, meeting all the communities, I guess I’m pretty proud about having met almost 20 to 25 different communities in different countries. 

7. Is there an initiative or a project in Drupal space that you would like to promote or highlight?

At the moment I’m pretty happy about what we are doing with the JavaScript modernization, since everybody says that Drupal sucks because the UX is terrible, and I guess we all agree that the user experience is really bad; the developer experience is getting better and better, but the end user is where we should work the most. 

Apart from that, it’s as usual a lack of new talent, like, in every not only company, but open source project, you really want to attract new talent to your projects, or you do things differently and you also improve it. So for me the Javascript Modernization initiative is a good one because it’s bringing React developers or JavaScript developers into Drupal in a really easy way. So I guess it’s not my contribution, but it’s a contribution or an initiative that I think is super beneficial, not only technically, but from the human perspective.

The most beneficial thing about this is that everything is going to be API-driven, so all the API features are going to be available for every framework. But the thing is, we should work more actively in the content creation, because at the moment it’s not only the interface that’s important, but actually the content creation process that’s the most important - the editorial experience. That’s the session I’ve been giving at Drupal conferences for the past couple of years. 

So, it’s about the editorial experience, when you create content, why people really hate Drupal, like editors when they create content. Because then in the admin interface you go to the user and permissions page and, probably, you do it twice during the development of the project and then you don’t do it again. So we don’t really need to invest a lot of time improving the user experience of that page. So that’s my thing - we should focus our energy and time into the editorial experience, more than into the admin interface.

8. Is there anything else that excites you beyond Drupal? Either a new technology or a personal endeavorment. 

As I said, I’m really happy to have the React community come into Drupal, at least we are attracting part of it. I guess JavaScript modernization will improve a lot, because in the last JavaScript framework that we included in Drupal, it was Backbone and Underscore during the development of Drupal 8; Ember was considered as well, but there’s a long journey to go to have a proper JavaScript framework in Drupal core. 
 

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