Tom Wießeckel talks to the Drupal guru

The Interview: Robert Douglass

Robert Douglass is currently Senior Drupal Advisor at Acquia. He quite literally (co-)wrote the book on Drupal and has been involved in the CMS’s worldwide development and deployment community for almost a decade.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you became involved in the world of open source Content Management Systems?

Open source won my heart and soul right from the beginning. It was 2002 when I first discovered and learned that finding the right library or project could help me do my job as a Java programmer. I found Drupal in 2003 after getting fed up with doing JSP-based web development, and I’ve never looked back. The two things that attracted me to Drupal initially were the flexible taxonomy system and the ease of influencing the core system using hooks and callbacks.

Q. What do you feel are the core strengths of Drupal, and why?

It sounds like a cliché, but it’s the modularity that is the key strength. The Drupal core download is a minimally-functional CMS. Almost nobody builds a site or application without enhancing the core with modules. Modules add functionality and make the system complete. It’s also very easy to get started writing Drupal modules, so we are able to attract new developers and bring them up to speed very quickly. We have a motto, “Don’t hack core”, and the modules let you live by that motto. The inner workings of Drupal are so accessible to the modules that if you don’t like the way something works, you can write a module to change it, without hacking core.

Drupal also supports the concept of distributions. These are more specialized applications that do something specific and do it well. There are distributions for social business applications, event organizing, e-commerce, publishing, government, digital asset management and many more.


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