T_CON ot the man to talk about DrupalCons
With an almost ordained username, Tim Constien is the one to talk about DrupalCons, so while he visited Romania, we had a sort of interview with him.
In case you don’t know him, t_con is currently handling the communication and fulfillment for all of the DrupalCon sponsors and businesses that support the Drupal Association. Also, he takes part in the Supporting Partner program, but we’ll let him tell you more.
Softescu: Hello t_con. I’ve been looking at your profile and everywhere, all I could see is DrupalCons. DrupalCons everywhere :)
Tim: From day one the first thing I've started with was DrupalCon...Bogota (Latin America) to be more precise. Since then I’ve been changing titles to be a Partner Relations Coordinator. So basically, I’m handling any sort of fulfillment involving our partners, be that the supporter partners program, sponsoring partners, media partners, social partners, etc.
I work with some of our fellow open-source partners such as Symfony, or PHP, but I still do all my sponsorship duties, so, DrupalCon is sort of my baby.
DrupalCons are fun! That’s how I met Adrian (N.B. director of Softescu), as well as so many other members of the Drupal community. That’s how I got to fell in love with the Drupal Community, so I get great pride in those.
Softescu: Drupal means community, as everybody knows. How about the CMS? How and where you had your first encounter with the actual CMS?
Tim: In school, I’ve studied International Business, with a focus on International Entrepreneurship, so I’ve always been focused on the idea of been innovating, being entrepreneurial, but doing it at the international level.
Even in school, I had a passion for doing something good. My goal was to get in the industry of international relief or development, more on the NGO side of things, but as I went through school, I became more driven to see something succeed and to have a broader reach.
So, when I’ve moved back to Portland, my roommate was a developer. I told him once that I’ve finished my internship, so I was looking for a job as everyone does and then he mentioned Drupal.
“You know, there is this thing called Drupal. It’s pretty awesome. Their non-profit association is based here in Portland. I think you should look into it.”
So I’ve started looking into it.
At that moment, I have been offered another job to be moving to Colorado, working in the snowboarding and skiing industry.
Then I’ve said to myself “I’ve done all the work. I’m going to take a year off just to do this”.
As I went through the interviews and the whole hiring process, I fell more and more in love with the idea of Drupal and open source. Open source it’s what really got me. It took me a while to wrap my head around it, as it is with many people out there. What can Drupal do as a CMS, and even further down the road...what separated it from other CMSes.
But I fell in love with the fact that there is a community behind a software, community in which not only companies can find the success, but even individuals.
The CMS in itself it’s fantastic. It’s really progressing the game as far as the CMSes can go and the topics nowadays make it going beyond being just a platform for building websites. Now, it’s a tool to achieve or to build ambitious digital experiences, as Dries likes to say.
I’m proud and honored to be backed by all that, and indeed what got me was the idea of open source, how far the open source technology can go, and all the industries that seem to be following the same trend. Being part of it is nice.
Softescu: You’re right. It’s impressive, at least in our case, to have the possibility to see how this CMS grew from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. And we have to say that it’s phenomenal, and the overall experience and the feedback it’s just amazing.
Tim: You’re right. It truly is. I’m not a developer by any sense of the word. Now, I’m honestly pretty avid in the industry, or more avid in what they do.
In time, I’ve been able to start building on Drupal and contributing to our websites such as drupal.org.
For me, from a very beginner level, to be able to build a website it’s great. To see some of the most prominent websites out there such as NASDAQ that recently adopted Drupal as their CMS, being built entirely with Drupal…that’s outstanding.
So, the fact that I can work for a tool that in associations such as NASDAQ, trusts, to see the way they are going with it...and then just to see the influential site that can be built with Drupal, it’s just impressive and it’s a reiteration of the fact that Drupal 8 it’s now! It’s now for everyone, and the sky it’s the limit. This is truly a proud moment as Drupal 8 is now for everyone!
Softescu: Your energy is contagious! Getting back on the track of DrupalCons. Softescu took part at quite a few DrupalCons, and we loved them all, from Austin to Dublin. How about you? What was your favorite DrupalCon?
Tim: Tricky question, because they’re all great.
There’s two of them I wasn’t able to attend, even though I was part of the production team...that’s Bogota and Asia.
To start with, DrupalCon Los Angeles was my first one, and I was blown away, and a bit overwhelmed. I enjoy the European conferences. Barcelona and Dublin were great fun just because for me it’s a chance to see the industry and the economic state in different parts of Europe.
The focus is quite different from European conferences and North American ones. So, to see this highly engaged community happening halfway across the globe, how they gather more to celebrate what they’ve done and they just take pride in their work. So I like the feel in DrupalCons Europe, even though all DrupalCons are great.
As I’ve mentioned, as I was going through school, I became more driven to work on the enterprise level, doing good and then the progression to business. To see the amount of reach and impact on the industry that is happening around Drupal that we can see for example at DrupalCon North America, it’s just quite impressive as well.
I’m not going to pick a favorite one. I think it’s amazing how unique every one of them is, not only the content and the programming sessions but the feel of it. I prefer going to the European ones just because they tend to be a bit more different and to meet people I don’t usually interact to on a daily basis.
Softescu: What about DrupalCon Asia? We were not able to attend it, but from what we’ve seen it was impressive so to say
Tim: I do want to mention that unfortunately, I didn’t go to the DrupalCon Asia, but that was probably one of the most exciting moments and experiences I’ve ever had while working to organize it.
Being part of the team producing this and the level of appreciation and satisfaction that the attendees and the companies that responded to the event….just the insane amount of positive feedback we’ve received during and after the event. It was one of the most exhausting with some crazy schedule, but one of the most satisfying.
I was hooked to my twitter feed, and I was going by carelessly, talking with my colleagues, Amanda and Rachel who were there. Getting to your previous question, I could point out...that was my favorite, even though I couldn’t attend.
Softescu: Speaking of DrupalCon Asia, I’ve remembered DC Australia and South Africa...what is the impact on the attendees of these locations outside the already consecrated Europe and North America?
Tim: First of all, usually we have three DrupalCons. That would be one North America, one Europe and one in developing countries. To get this straight, when we say developing countries we call them so in the realm of Drupal...the spread and the community from a particular region that develops around Drupal is the one that determines this aspect. We had one in Sydney Australia (2013), one in Bogota Colombia (2016) and the least but not the last Mumbai in 2016.
It would be nice to go back to these places one day to see the growth and how it all developed, but the world is a great place, so we got to go and explore almost everywhere.
Softescu: How about DC Baltimore. We know the next DrupalCon will be held in Baltimore and then in Vienna? Something to share, some juicy news and insights to be shared on this matter?
Tim: So, DrupalCon Baltimore is the next one, and it will happen in April 2017, then DrupalCon Vienna is the next...I think the thing that it’s going to be prevalent will be the people that will attend them.
Amanda, our program coordinator, she puts in everything that she can into the programming to make sure that everything is not only exciting but also ever-changing, relevant and appealing to a wide audience.
I would say that if you are attending, look at the new bits of programming that will be added. New tracks, new speakers, the diversity of content and the diversity of speakers, as well as, with this original content programming, the new faces that you’ll see there. With Drupal 8 appealing to more people and having more success in different domains of activity and industries, we’re hoping that it will bring in a new set of attendees.
My piece of advice: keep an eye on the programming once that’s launched. It’s going to be so diverse and interesting; you will find something for everyone.
Be ready to see some new faces and some real diversity within attendees and programs.
Now that you’ve mentioned that, I want to be sure that Rachel Friesen and Amanda Gonser get all the credit as they do amazing work. They put their blood, sweat, and tears into it so that everything works, and seriously they do such a good job.
Amanda handles all the program while Rachel handles everything else from the behind the scenes stuff. From everything you see at the DrupalCons, I do the easy part, sort of like a 3rd wheel of the DrupalCon, but they are the ones that should get all the love and the appreciation for their work.
Softescu: We’ve been talking about the European DrupalCon. Would you attend a DC in Romania...would you see a DrupalCon taking place in Romania?
Tim: Of course, I would attend it.
Regarding hosting, there’s a variety of factors that go into a DrupalCon. We are already planning for 2018 and even 2019, so as far the DrupalCon goes that’s up in the air.
I’ve been so impressed with the communities, not only in Romania but also in Bulgaria and Ukraine…Eastern Europe in general. How dedicated and how passionate people are. Drupal it’s a rather viable option for people to take and to be successful, to come with their own successful business, to come out from school and directly get a job at a company like Softescu and that is impressive.
I love the passion behind it; I love finding and talking to people that are wanting to build this community.
It’s one thing to be a business focus, but what stood out to me is the passion for building a community.
That’s why I think that it should be more focus at an international level on what you guys are doing here, and what’s happening in Eastern Europe, in Romania in companies such as Softescu, because you guys are driving the use of Drupal.
It’s similar, and I like to compare it to what happened in India a couple of years ago. People saw in Drupal a great outlet, and we’ve seen some success stories of people starting from nothing and making it happen.
Having industries and companies building some of the biggest websites out there. We’re starting to see that now, and once India reached that level, they’ve started focusing on the community. It was only a matter of time until the actual results were seen.
Now, they are the third highest contributing country in the world, the community is some of the strongest out there, and I see this future for Eastern Europe, once the recognition gets there. Once people see what you guys are doing here, more and more people will say “this is the location, this is where we need to be” and more companies looking to have their website built will start turning to Romania, Bulgaria, and Eastern Europe in general. Not only because it’s another option, but it’s some high-quality work.
Once you get that established, you get the community organized, then, more people will want to do events telling people what is that they do to obtain this level of success and such a strong community.
And once you get the community set, more and more companies and industries will come. So once you have the community built, you get to create this ecosystem. I feel that it’s there and I’m excited to see in the next couple of years what will happen regarding events, get-togethers and more. I do think it’s going to happen.
Community→ Customers → Ecosystem
Softescu: Some opinions on DrupalCamp Transylvania?
For us, DC Transylvania it’s just amazing, and it’s an excellent opportunity to meet some techs and some non-techs that are gathering. At these events, we have the chance to meet both the developers and the end-users, the ones that get to use Drupal and it’s almost like the best of both worlds.
Tim: I’m glad you bring that up, because now Drupal 8 appeals to everyone, be that designers, contents...not necessary developers. The force behind Drupal is that the community is not entirely formed out of developers.
Now everyone can contribute and join our community, one way or another. That’s why our community is so active. It’s passionate, it’s unique, friendly, welcoming to everyone. Don’t feel intimidated if you're not a coder, a developer if you don’t know PHP, or you know little to nothing about Symfony.
If you’re, for example, a content manager, Drupal is great for you, and you can contribute to the documentation. If for example, you like organizing events, you can do it.
It’s glad to see that it’s happening in cons or camps such as DrupalCamp Transylvania. I just love their stickers...I had it on my phone for a very long time.
Now, what I’d love to see is how you can expand on that, how do you grow from this level, how do you increase your community to make it bigger….a more massive event partnered with various countries from Eastern Europe.
I say that because I’ve noticed that there are some strong communities, but they’re sort of isolated not only by geography. So, what I’d love to see is a bit more collaboration and see this on a larger scale. I would encourage everyone to explore this option, exploring not precisely in the sense of finding new smaller communities, but to explore new ways or the ways to start getting the tech community growing in Eastern Europe.
Software and outsourcing it’s one of the biggest growing industries in these countries, so it would be interesting to get a broader community together and start bouncing ideas. As you mentioned earlier, anyone can now contribute to Drupal. So if you start building the community together talking about what Drupal could do, sharing and exchanging ideas, then you could grow the community, make it even stronger and attract more and more industries in it.
Softescu: DrupalCon Eastern Europe...would that be possible and plausible as an idea?
Tim: I think there’s the need...everyone seems to want it here. There's the industry here; people see Eastern Europe as an excellent source to go and to contract, so yeah. You can have so much fun. From the attendee's point of view, we are focusing on the cities... thinking what people could do even after the event.
From my point of view, the city is here; it’s vibrant and full of life...just work on building the community and again, as the last idea, I encourage the Eastern community to start bonding together and building that sort of recognition that you guys deserve. Then, a couple of years down the row, yeah, DrupalCon could be here.
Thanks a lot, t_con for taking your time and having this interview with us and we hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did at Softescu.
Sponsorship Fulfillment Coordinator