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The end of an era

Today is the end of an era. After just over ten and a half years, this is my last day with Palantir.net.

The past decade has seen Palantir grow from a company of 5 to a company of over 30. From a company that wouldn't touch the GPL with a ten foot pole to a strong advocate for Open Source, Free Software, and Drupal in particular. From a company that did mostly subcontracting work for design firms to an end-to-end soup-to-nuts agency. From having two desktop screen sizes anyone cared about to an infinite scale of screens from 3"-30". From a world where IE 5 for Mac was considered a good browser to one where once again, the latest Microsoft browser is actually good. (Everything old is new again, I suppose.)

After ten years with the same company (which in Internet years is about a millennium) I certainly have stories. There's plenty I could say about Palantir, most of it good. :-) In the end, though, there's one thing in particular that has kept me here for so long.

Palantir.net is the kind of place that has your back.

On contempt

A few weeks ago, I went on an uncharacteristic Twitter rant. At the suggestion of a follower or two I've turned it into a blog post for posterity. The following is a direct repeat of that Twitter stream, very lightly edited and paragraphed.

Giving Back in 2016

Three years ago, I ended 2012 with a call to the Drupal community to Get Off the Island. Mainly I wanted to encourage Drupal developers to prepare themselves for the major changes coming in Drupal 8 by connecting with other PHP projects and with the broader community, and called on people to attend non-Drupal conferences in order to visit and learn from other communities.

Drupal 8: Happy, but not satisfied

Two weeks ago (hey, I've been busy and trying to sleep for once), after 1716 days of work by more than 3312 people the Drupal community finally released Drupal 8, the latest release of the best community-driven web software in the world. The blogosphere is already filled with congratulatory blog posts celebrating the immense accomplishment, and deservedly so.

A number of people recently have asked me how I feel about Drupal 8's release, especially around the PHP community. Overall, my answer has to be that I'm happy, but not satisfied.

Why I speak

A few weeks ago I gave a keynote presentation at PNW PHP in Seattle. It was the second time I'd given that particular talk, Eating ElePHPants, a quasi-history and lessons-learned of the process of rebuilding Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.

Overall reception was good, and afterward I was appraoched by a woman who was trying to push for better development practices and refactoring a legacy code base at her company. We've exchanged a few emails since, as she goes about trying to subvert her company's development process for its own good to introduce testing, refactoring legacy code, decoupling, and other concepts that many of us on the conference circuit take for granted.

In the course of that email conversation, she had this to say:

When I first started with this entire effort about 2 months ago, I thought I will never succeed, and I thought I had set myself up to failure - until I heard you speak about your experience. Your talk was highly inspiring and got me excited to invest more time into what I was doing and I believed in myself for the reasons I chose this effort.

And later...

All the tech talks helped me realize that I can get somewhere, made it seem within reach, but you and Adam Culp [who also gave a session on refactoring] left me inspired.

Visiting other islands this fall

In case you hadn't heard yet, Drupal 8 RC 1 is out. And there has been much rejoicing! I'm going to save my own lengthy celebration-and-thank-you post for the 8.0.0 release, so for now I will just point everyone at Campbell Vertesi's post and say "what he said!".

But it's also a good time to consider the impact that Drupal 8 has had on the PHP community. The "off the island" movement has grown large, and people outside of Drupal are echoing the same message. In fact, not one but two conferences this fall are actively trying to build bridges between PHP sub-communities: ZendCon and php[world].

Just how insular is the PHP community?

Periodically, there is a complaint that PHP conferences are just "the same old faces". That the PHP community is insular and is just a good ol' boys club, elitist, and so forth.

It's not the first community I've been part of that has had such accusations made against it, so rather than engage in such debates I figured, let's do what any good scientist would do: Look at the data!

Update 2015-08-25: The Joind.in folks have given me permission to release the source code. See link inline. I also updated the report to include a break down by continent.

Building Bridges: 2015 Edition

As most who have met me know, building collaborative communities is a minor passion of mine. 2 years ago, I called on the Drupal community to Get off the Island and connect with other communities.

That call was part of a larger movement within the PHP community to interact more, connect more, and collaborate more than ever before. The PHP Renaissance has been driven in no small part by that greater collaboration between many different PHP communities.

To close out 2014, I spoke with Jeff "JAM" McGuire of Acquia Podcast fame about Drupal and community building, and what it means to be the "Drupal Community" when so much of Drupal isn't Drupal.

And as a final capstone, I made a challenge to the entire PHP community: Don't just talk to each other, build with each other. Get out of your comfort zone and learn something new, from someone else.

Happy New Year, PHP. Let's Build Something Good together.

An open letter to conference organizers

Let's be honest, I spend a lot of time at conferences. Over the past 2 years or so I've averaged more than one speaking engagement at a conference per month, including a half-dozen keynotes. I've also helped organize several conferences, mostly DrupalCamps and DrupalCons. I'd estimate conferences make up more than a third of my professional activity. (Incidentally, if someone can tell me how the hell that happened I'd love to hear it; I'm still confused by it.)

As a result I've gotten to see a wide variety of conference setups, plans, crazy ideas, and crazy wonderful ideas. There are many wonderful things that conference organizers do, or do differently, and of course plenty of things that they screw up.

I want to take this opportunity to share some of that experience with the organizers of various conferences together, rather than in one-off feedback forms that only one conference will see. To be clear, while I definitely think there are areas that many conferences could improve I don't want anyone to take this letter as a slam on conference organizers. These are people who put in way more time than you think, often without being paid to do so, out of a love for the community, for learning and sharing, and for you. Whatever else you may think about a conference or this list, the next time you're at a conference take a moment to find one of the organizers and give them a huge hug and/or firm handshake (as is their preference) and say thank you for all the work that they do.

The Crafting Code Tour

Over the last few years, one of my foci has been bringing together the PHP community and taking the time to celebrate the PHP Renaissance. That effort has taken me all around the world, from Paris to Toronto to New York to Costa Rica to New Zealand. And this summer it's taking me to the Midwestern US as part of the Crafting Code Tour.

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