My new job in OCTO!

Submitted by xjm on Tue, 02/05/2013 - 23:49

Come for the code, stay for the community

Two years ago, I hesitated at the door of a meeting room at DrupalCon Chicago: Drupal 7 Module Upgrade Sprint. I had a module that needed upgrading, but only a vague idea what a sprint even was.

I sat down near two people who introduced themselves as Peter and David. They asked me what I was working on and helped me feel less out of place. We talked about Drupal 7 and their jobs at Acquia, and through their acquaintance I got to have lunch with Drupal 6 maintainer Gábor Hojtsy as well.

The encouragement I received at that sprint changed my life. Before meeting Peter and David and Gábor, I'd held the misconception that core development was unapproachable. I learned instead that prominent contributors are simply passionate about Drupal, and if you love Drupal too, you are already in the club. Then, with help from others like catchsun, and chx, I discovered that I didn't have to be a brilliant programmer to contribute to the project. There were smart, supportive people who would help me through it. Just like the motto says: I came for the code and stayed for the community.

My new job in OCTO: Code and Community Strategist

This March, I'm starting a new job in the Office of the CTO (OCTO) at Acquia, where I'll report to Dries directly. In a nutshell, my primary role will be to work in both the codebase and the community to nurture Drupal, alongside Angie Byron and Alex Bronstein. Details TBD!

What about Drupal 8?

I can guarantee I will still be up to my ears in D8. In fact, a lot of my current free-time contributions to core (patch reviews, issue queue wrangling, etc.) will feed right into my new role in OCTO. Some of my focus might shift, but my involvement is definitely not going to decline.

What about VDC?

Since June, 15-20 hours per week of my time per week has been funded by multiple sponsors for the Views in Drupal Core initiative (VDC). My new position in OCTO will be a full time job (and then some), so I will be spending less time on Views. However, my role in VDC has always been less about writing code (as my teammates DanielDamian, and Tim already do enough of that for any six developers), and more about strategy, communication, integrating Views with the rest of core, and so on. Again, this role will work well with my new position in OCTO, even if I have less time to commit to Views specifically.

What about core mentoring?

The core contribution mentoring initiative has come a long way since my hyper, nerve-wracked podcast a year ago. :) We now have eight regular weekly mentors, plus more than a dozen others who have helped periodically in IRC and at sprints. Several awesome people (like ZenDoodlesYesCT, and Cottser) now help me facilitate mentoring. Finally, I'm also working with a couple folks at the Drupal Association to make sure that core mentoring sprints become a regular part of DrupalCons.

I'll probably continue to be involved at the same level I have been for the past six months or so (less perhaps than during that first crazy year). I'm also hopeful that my position in OCTO will help me foster contribution mentoring, because I believe making core contribution approachable is essential to Drupal's long-term health and growth.

Does this mean you work for The Man now?

If you mean that Dries is the man! in the sense of awesome, then yes! I'm the same open-source hippie I've always been (free as in speech, beer, love, etc.), and I believe that open source contribution is an area where social responsibility and good business sense align. For example, many individuals and companies have chipped in for VDC, to the benefit of everyone who will use Drupal 8. Acquia in particular has been amazing at providing targeted sponsorships when VDC really needed them, and there were several opportunities we might have missed without Acquia's help. That sort of strategic collaboration is part of why I'm thrilled to become a member of the team.

Looking forward

Awhile back, someone asked me what my ideal job would be. I thought for about two seconds and said, "Get paid to work on core." I thought about it more and added, "But not by myself." So, this job is pretty much an ideal next step in my career. It gives me a very rare opportunity to do what I love, professionally: all Drupal, all the time. I'm looking forward to both growing my current involvement in the Drupal community, and to meeting new challenges as I work with some of the most talented Drupalists around.

Wish me luck, and I'll see you in the queues!

P.S. to Mark Sonnabaum

Sir, you owe me a shark!