Geek Speak: Angie Byron, core co-maintainer for Drupal 7

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      Angie Byron got into Drupal in 2005 when she took part in the Google Summer of Code program. Now, she’s better known as “webchick” in the Drupal community and is the core co-maintainer for Drupal 7, which was released in January 2011.

      Drupal is an open-source content-management framework that powers the websites of many companies, organizations, and governments around the world. On June 1, the Vancouver Drupal Business Summit at UBC Robson Square will give business managers an opportunity to learn about the platform’s capabilities. The following day, Drupal Camp Vancouver will take place at the UBC Forest Sciences Centre. The camp will see members of the Drupal community gather to share their knowledge.

      Byron, who plans to speak at both events, is the coauthor of Using Drupal. O’Reilly Media published the second edition of the book in April. She’s also the secretary for the Drupal Association’s board of directors and the director of community development at the software company Acquia.

      The Georgia Straight reached Byron by phone at her home in Port Moody.

      Why is the Vancouver Drupal Business Summit being held?

      There are a bunch of local companies here in Vancouver and also Canada-wide who are using Drupal. Drupal actually has a really strong footing here. The very first DrupalCon that we held was co-located with a conference called Open Source CMS. But our first DrupalCon was held in 2006 here in Vancouver down at Robson Square, and that really helped put Drupal on the map in a lot of ways. So, there are a bunch of local companies that do Drupal. There are bunch of key contributors to the project who live here, and all kinds of other stuff.

      What will happen at Drupal Camp Vancouver?

      Typically, camps are more community-run events, so it will be people speaking about cool modules that they’ve built or nice sites that they’ve built with Drupal. They’ll talk about case studies and how they were done. There’s often sprints that happen there, so people pulling out laptops and hacking away on things together.

      There’s basically something for everybody. There’s typically tracks for new people as well as experienced developers who are already familiar with Drupal. It’s one of those events that everyone can come to.

      How important is Vancouver in the Drupal community?

      Drupal is a very global project, so there are over 800,000 users from all over the world. But Vancouver is one of the hotspots where a lot of the genesis of Drupal evolved. Drupal was invented back in 2001, but 2006 was really where the community started to pick up a lot of steam around the Drupal 5 and 4.7 releases and stuff like that.

      So, things that Vancouver has brought to Drupal is a number of code sprints have been held here. We’ve held summits here in the past that have drawn over 400 people from the region. DrupalCon itself at the time only pulled in, say, 150 people, but it was a pretty small community back then. There’s a key core contributor who lives here named Károly Négyesi. The former documentation team lead lives here. There’s a number of key Drupal contributors like Steven Wittens, who’s a former core committer, who live here. Just a lot of Drupal energy is here in Vancouver, and people are really excited about it.

      What do you do as the core co-maintainer for Drupal 7?

      During the development of the software, I interact with about a thousand developers every day who basically are uploading changes to the issue queue to be reviewed. So, what I’ll do is I’ll do final technical review on any changes that are made to the Drupal code base. I also roll releases of the software and do maintenance of the software package, helping to drive Drupal adoption, and so forth.

      Drupal 7 came out in January of last year. As of February of this year, the number of Drupal 7 sites has actually eclipsed the number of all other Drupal sites. So, it’s been a really successful release.

      Why do you love Drupal?

      I love Drupal because, as a developer, I can bend it to do anything that I want, and, as a human, I love the community and just the nurturing, intelligent, and funny nice people that are all over the place. Events like this are where you can come and meet the people behind the project, and they’re really excellent.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.