Meet Drupal Developers from Four Kitchens

Meet Drupal Developers from Four Kitchens

This interview is part of an ongoing series where we talk with a variety of people in the Drupal community about the work they do. Each interview focuses on a particular Drupal role, and asks the individuals about their work, tools they use, and advice for others starting in that role. You can read all of these interviews under this list of Drupal roles posts.

Interested in learning how to become a Drupal developer, too? Check out our role-based learning pathway: Become a Drupal Developer.

Jon Peck

Jon Peck is the Senior Engineer at Four Kitchens. He's also a systems administrator and educator. He loves working on the backend of big enterprise sites with a focus on architecture and optimization, as well as playing keyboard in a progressive rock band.

Where to find Jon

David Diers

David Diers is an Engineer at Four Kitchens. Prior to his current position, he worked for many years in academic and administrative IT at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a master’s degree in music composition.

Where to find David

How do you define the Drupal developer role?

  • JP - Someone who analyzes and interprets needs, determines the best solution, implements, and then reviews results. Within Drupal specifically, they have a broad understanding of how Drupal interacts with itself (request handling, hooks, theming, and so forth) and they know how to seek out deeper knowledge.

  • DD - Someone who is a Drupal developer is well versed in site building, and custom code, and knows when it's best to build or configure. They have an understanding of how Drupal works and approach problem solving in native Drupal fashion — all the while ensuring an extensible and flexible approach.

What do you currently do for work? What does your daily routine and work process look like? What kind of tasks do you do on a daily basis?

  • JP - Right now, I'm the architect of two publications that will be implemented in Drupal, including the migration from multiple legacy systems. I'm also consulting on performance and site auditing. I work from home; my day consists of occasional meetings (mostly via Zoom), development and documentation, and discussions via Slack. Projects are managed using JIRA, and code is in GitHub or Stash (depending on the client).

  • DD - Currently, I am working with a major media company to unify a large number of disparate Drupal sites and find ways of abstracting the approach in Drupal 8 so that truly diverse approaches can be accommodated within a single definitive content model. In recent years I've been doing a lot of strategic work, analysis and architecture, but depending on the project I could be doing a lot of gnarly development, deep in the code — plugins, migrations and database work.

What do others look to you to do on a project?

  • JP - I provide experience and historical perspective, along with recommendations about how to resolve difficult issues and continue to grow. I present myself as a collaborative resource both within the team and to whomever I'm working with. Also, I have the ability to translate non-technical requests into actionable development.

  • DD - I tend to get called in on tough SQL problems, migrations, and custom plug-in work on the technical side. On the more holistic side, I think my teams trust that I am going to bring a balanced viewpoint, and a deep investment and understanding of the business from the client perspective. I tend to fall in love with people and missions instead of the tech and tools and that's a good balance to have on a team of technology forward folks.

What would you say is your strongest skill? How have you honed that skill over the years?

  • JP - I can collaborate across groups in such a way that the conversation is centered around the common goal, not an “us vs. them” conflagration. It's something that I've had to consciously work at; finger pointing is easy, but swallowing pride and saying “we messed up and here's how we're going to fix it” is easier to write than to do :-)

  • DD - I listen well. I used to call it intuition or gut, but over time I realized it wasn't about a feeling with mysterious origins, it was all based on things I heard or didn't, essentially, it was about listening. Listening is about what is said but it is also hearing the silence. A sentence with a lot of gaps has just as much to say as one with a lot of words — you just have to know how to interpret it.

How did you get started on this career path?

  • JP - I'd been a PHP developer for many years, working with several open-source platforms and frameworks before focusing on Drupal. I have found success specializing in specific areas and having a broad knowledge in many others, and the Drupal community drew me in ways that are unique and refreshing.

  • DD - I went to school for music but had developed an interest for technology. It seemed like a good path to support my artistic career. I caught a break with a company in Houston who saw my potential and my willingness to put in a ton of effort to making a good product. Over the years, the one thing I keep coming back to is that this career really provides a lot of opportunities to learn something new almost constantly. For someone who loves learning, it's been a great choice.

What is most challenging about being a Drupal developer?

  • JP - Adapting to the Drupal mindset, some of which (prior to Drupal 8) was entrenched in “it's always been done that way”. Finding consistent quality documentation in edge cases is typically a challenge.

  • DD - The community is really broad and egalitarian. There are a lot of perspectives and approaches which tend to get pretty equal treatment and time in the sun. That is cool. However, solutions aren't truly equal in most cases, and as a beginning developer and even a senior one — drawbacks aren't always brought to the surface — so it really takes some efforts to identify the merits of a particular approach over another and to discuss that, outside of how these solutions have been facilitated in code or community.

What are your favorite tools and resources to help you do your work?

  • JP - The people I work with, both within 4K and across the open-source community. On my workstation itself, PhpStorm, Drush, Drupal Console, gulp, and site_audit.

  • DD - My team members are my biggest resource. I've learned a lot and hopefully helped a lot — both are valuable to your growth as a developer. For tools, I probably couldn't do what I do without a debugger and access to Drupal docs.

If you were starting out as a Drupal developer all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

  • JP - [I would have] registered on Drupal.org when I first started using Drupal and contributed more back to the community. Playing catch-up now!

  • DD - Start writing earlier and more consistently. It's a wonderful way to take that dynamic of teaching and learning out into the world. People are pretty free with their opinions on the internet — it can be nice or not, but you will always learn something.

What advice do you have for someone just starting out as a Drupal developer?

  • JP - Present at Drupal User Groups, Camps, and Cons! My personal Drupal "break-out" moment was a direct result of presenting at DrupalCamp Western NY 2011; it made many introductions and opened many doors.

  • DD - Try not to make your first Drupal project the big one. Find something small, with very modest needs and do that first; it will pay off when you finally do get to the big one. Go to events, camps, and DrupalCon. Take some training and talk with folks. Most importantly, dig into core and the main modules source code — it's really all happening there. The sooner you understand what's going on, the better.

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Comments

Very informative. I like this article.

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