January 22, 2015
I've been privileged to attend almost every DrupalCon since Barcelona in 2007. I missed Paris in 2009, but I had a good excuse - my wife was due to give birth to our first child around the same time.
The relocation of the Commerce Guys headquarters to Paris has given me plenty of time to catch up on the missed sightseeing, but I still need to figure out how to get to Sydney after missing that one.
Without access to those hundreds of Drupal developers and enthusiasts in 2007, I never would have known anyone was even using Ubercart. I didn't know how to engage other developers remotely (my early forays into IRC were similar to webchick's, I believe), and there wasn't much going on in Louisville, KY where I called home. Meeting others in the Drupal community, learning from my peers, and being mentored directly by many of the same has grown me personally and professionally in ways I never would have expected.
That's why I'm excited about the opportunity to travel to Bogotá, Colombia for the first DrupalCon in Latin America, February 10-12. I can't wait to hear the keynotes from both Dries and Larry, two of my Drupal heroes, and to learn more about the latest developments in Drupal 8 core and contributed modules.
I'll personally be addressing two topics: Drupal Commerce 2.x for Drupal 8 (on behalf of bojanz) and growing a Drupal based product business. I also look forward to the conversations, shared meals, and sprints that make the conference so rewarding.
I strongly encourage you to come if you're in a position to do so!
With the help of Carlos Ospina, I've recorded a personal invitation in Spanish that I trust doesn't have me saying anything embarrassing. I'm sure my Spanish will be better for at least a week after spending time at the conference.
July 28, 2014
It's my final night in Paris and my restlessness is almost overwhelming. I've spied on Van Gogh and Artaud, meditated through an incomprehensible Mass at Notre Dame, and chased Hemingway's ghost from the corner of Harry's New York Bar to the darkened bar of Hotel Costes. If I go to sleep now, I'll get two hours' sleep before it's time to shower and chase a plane.
My restlessness is almost overwhelming, but I'm not without recourse. I slip out of the apartment and strike off in the general direction of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Crowning Montmartre, the church is asleep but still visible even without its bright lights. It's a kilometer away up zig-zagging, winding roads, but soon enough I'm at the base of its hill.
I can't stop myself from jogging up the stairs, taking them two at a time despite the late hour and dim light. It isn't long until I'm at the top, and then I'm still two flights of stairs away. There are revelers in cars playing music loud enough to chase away their own ghosts, a smaller group of friends with bottles of wine and music playing from a boom box, and a couple of guys sitting at the top of the next flight of stairs talking about life, love, and loss.
I make my way up the remaining stairs to the closed gates and stare up at the church to settle my heart after the climb.
I turn around and sit atop the stairs to watch the sleeping city and settle my soul. It's French to my right, English to my left, and a drumming bass from below. The sound of music I understand the easiest. I sit alone until the first light starts to show over the dome of the basilica and join the English conversation for a few minutes before wending my way back to the apartment.
I can take a shower, take a train, and fly two planes back to my home in a half a day - but the half day before ensured I won't make it home in one piece.
Photo credit: David Tavares Sousa
May 26, 2014
I don't like being sandy but I love building sand castles. The potential is high but the stakes are low. You have unlimited raw material to build whatever you can imagine, and if you screw up you can just knock it over (to the delight of your children) and start again.
When your constant is impermanence, you adjust your expectations accordingly. If the sands shift or the tide rises, you shrug it off and start again or go back to bocce. However, if you were somehow bound by the fruit of your labor, you'd think twice about the when, where, and how of your building.
Lyle and I started developing Ubercart when Drupal 5 was still in beta, and we put up with the impermanence because we were just two dudes learning a lot and working from a clean slate.
Moving that forward to Drupal 6 took even longer because our codebase grew unwieldy, so I decided at Commerce Guys to trim the fat and start over. We didn't learn every lesson moving to Drupal 7, though, as it was still unstable when we began developing Drupal Commerce. With an unstable Views module. And an unstable Rules module. And an incomplete Entity API.
I don't think we would've done any differently, as the flip side of the instability is the opportunity to positively impact the development of the projects you depend on. For Drupal 8 we ended up contributing to core in other ways while tackling a full Drupal Commerce rewrite more slowly than we hoped. Even the code that we did develop against Drupal 8 is now outdated, as we had to juggle managing our existing ecosystem, writing new code, and rewriting that code to track changes in Drupal 8 itself.
However, we've recently been given the opportunity to host a variety of developers / documenters in Paris from June 30 - July 4 to re-evaluate our Commerce 2.x roadmap with the direct help and guidance of key members of the Symfony project. Specifically, we'll be looking to both move our code "upstream" from our Drupal modules into generalized libraries and take advantage of existing Symfony projects where possible.
Our target is an even leaner codebase with connections to the broader world of PHP based eCommerce. If you have any insights in this direction, please comment or contact me directly and consider joining us in Paris to learn and contribute.
Photo credit: j.s. clark
May 17, 2014
Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them either. Maybe you could never write them, and that was why you put them off and delayed the starting. Well he would never know, now.
-- Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro
I've been working my way through The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, and this quote nailed me. I have half a dozen unwritten stories and a dozen unwritten blog posts. I delay writing about technical topics until I know more. I defer penning my fictional fancies for fear of screwing up what seems to me to be a decent idea.
I imagine there's a more knowledgeable, more experienced version of me just waiting to take up the topic at some point in the future, but the reality is he only gets that way through the "practice of." In Kilimanjaro, Harry dies never knowing if he was competent to write the things he planned to write or not. Here's hoping I don't do the same.
My current strategy (at least for the blog) is to write less on any given topic but do it more often. Any other ideas?