If you've ever watched a Drupal Camp video to learn a new Drupal skill, technique or hack, you most likely have Kevin Thull to thank. To date, Kevin has traveled to more than 30 Drupal Camps, recorded more than 1,000 presentations, and has shared them all on YouTube for thousands of people to watch. By recording and posting hundreds of Drupal Camp presentations online, Kevin has has spread knowledge, awareness and a broader understanding of the Drupal project.

I recently attended a conference in Chicago, Kevin's hometown. I had the chance to meet with him, and to learn more about the evolution of his Drupal contributions. I was struck by his story, and decided to write it up on my blog, as I believe it could inspire others around the world.

Kevin began recording sessions during the first community events he helped organize: DrupalCamp Fox Valley in 2013 and MidCamp in 2014. At first, recording and publishing Drupal Camp sessions was an arduous process; Kevin had to oversee dozens of laptops, converters, splitters, camcorders, and trips to Fedex.

After these initial attempts, Kevin sought a different approach for recording sessions. He ended up developing a recording kit, which is a bundle of the equipment and technology needed to record a presentation. After researching various options, he discovered a lightweight, low cost and foolproof solution. Kevin continued to improve this process after he tweeted that if you sponsored his travel, he would record Drupal Camp sessions. It's no surprise that numerous camps took Kevin up on his offer. With more road experience, Kevin has consolidated the recording kits to include just a screen recorder, audio recorder and corresponding cables. With this approach, the kit records a compressed mp4 file that can be uploaded directly to YouTube. In fact, Kevin often finishes uploading all presentation videos to YouTube before the camp is over!

Kevin Thull recording kit
This is one of Kevin Thull's recording kits used to record hundreds of Drupal presentations around the world. Each kit runs at about $450 on Amazon.

Most recently, Kevin has been buying and building more recording kits thanks to financial contributions from various Drupal Camps. He has started to send recording kits and documentation around the world for local camp organizers to use. Not only has Kevin recorded hundreds of sessions himself, he is now sharing his expertise and teaching others how to record and share sessions.

What is exciting about Kevin's contribution is that it reinforces what originally attracted him to Drupal. Kevin ultimately chose to work with Drupal after watching online video tutorials and listening to podcasts created by the community. Today, a majority of people prefer to learn development through video tutorials. I can only imagine how many people have joined and started to contribute to Drupal after they have watched one of the many videos that Kevin has helped to publish.

Kevin's story is a great example of how everyone in the Drupal community has something to contribute, and how contributing back to the Drupal project is not exclusive to code.

This year, the Drupal community celebrated Kevin by honoring him with the 2018 Aaron Winborn Award. The Aaron Winborn award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates personal integrity, kindness, and above-and-beyond commitment to the Drupal community. It's named after a long-time Drupal contributor Aaron Winborn, who lost his battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in early 2015. Congratulations Kevin, and thank you for your incredible contribution to the Drupal community!

During my DrupalCon Nashville keynote, I shared a brief video of Mike Lamb, the Senior Director of Architecture, Engineering & Development at Pfizer. Today, I wanted to share an extended version of my interview with Mike, where he explains why the development team at Pfizer has ingrained Open Source contribution into the way they work.


Mike had some really interesting and important things to share, including:

  1. Why Pfizer has chosen to standardize all of its sites on Drupal (from 0:00 to 03:19). Proprietary software isn't a match.
  2. Why Pfizer only works with agencies and vendors that contribute back to Drupal (from 03:19 to 06:25). Yes, you read that correctly; Pfizer requires that its agency partners contribute to Open Source!
  3. Why Pfizer doesn't fork Drupal modules (from 06:25 to 07:27). It's all about security.
  4. Why Pfizer decided to contribute to the Drupal 8's Workflow Initiative, and what they have learned from working with the Drupal community (from 07:27 to 10:06).
  5. How to convince a large organization (like Pfizer) to contribute back to Drupal (from 10:06 to 12:07).

Between Pfizer's direct contributions to Drupal (e.g. the Drupal 8 Workflow Initiative) and the mandate for its agency partners to contribute code back to Drupal, Pfizer's impact on the Drupal community is invaluable. It's measured in the millions of dollars per year. Just imagine what would happen to Drupal if ten other large organizations adopted Pfizer's contribution models?

Most organizations use Open Source, and don't think twice about it. However, we're starting to see more and more organizations not just use Open Source, but actively contribute to it. Open source offers organizations a completely different way of working, and fosters an innovation model that is not possible with proprietary solutions. Pfizer is a leading example of how organizations are starting to challenge the prevailing model and benefit from contributing to Open Source. Thanks for changing the status quo, Mike!

We're going on a two-week vacation in August! Believe it or not, but I haven't taken a two week vacation in 11 years. I'm super excited.

Now our vacation is booked, I'm starting to make plans for how to spend our time. Other than spending time with family, going on hikes, and reading a book or two, I'd love to take some steps towards food photography. Why food photography?

The past couple of years, Vanessa and I have talked about making a cookbook. In our many travels around the world, we've eaten a lot of great food, and Vanessa has managed to replicate and perfect a few of these recipes: the salmon soup we ate in Finland when we went dog sledding, the hummus with charred cauliflower we had at DrupalCon New Orleans, or the tordelli lucchesi we ate on vacation in Tuscany.

Other than being her sous-chef (dishwasher, really), my job would be to capture the recipes with photos, figure out a way to publish them online (I know just the way), and eventually print the recipes in a physical book. Making a cookbook is a fun way to align our different hobbies; travel for both of us, cooking for her, photography for me, and of course enjoying the great food.

Based on the limited research I've done, food photography is all about lighting. I've been passionate about photography for a long time, but I haven't really dug into the use of light yet.

Our upcoming vacation seems like the perfect time to learn about lighting; read a book about it, and try different lighting techniques (front lighting, side lighting, back lighting but also hard, soft and diffused light).

The next few weeks, I plan to pick up some new gear like a light diffuser, light modifiers, and maybe even a LED light. If you're into food photography, or into lighting more generally, don't hesitate to leave some tips and tricks in the comments.

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Drupal is no longer the Drupal you used to know

Today, I gave a keynote presentation at the 10th annual Design 4 Drupal conference at MIT. I talked about the past, present and future of JavaScript, and how this evolution reinforces Drupal's commitment to be API-first, not API-only. I also included behind-the-scene insights into the Drupal community's administration UI and JavaScript modernization initiative, and why this approach presents an exciting future for JavaScript in Drupal.

If you are interested in viewing my keynote, you can download a copy of my slides (256 MB).

Thank you to Design 4 Drupal for having me and happy 10th anniversary!

The Drupal community has done an amazing job organizing thousands of developers around the world. We've built collaboration tools and engineering processes to streamline how our community of developers work together to collectively build Drupal. This collaboration has led to amazing results. Today, more than 1 in 40 of the top one million websites use Drupal. It's inspiring to see how many organizations depend on Drupal to deliver their missions.

What is equally incredible is that historically, we haven't collaborated around the marketing of Drupal. Different organizations have marketed Drupal in their own way without central coordination or collaboration.

In my DrupalCon Nashville keynote, I shared that it's time to make a serious and focused effort to amplify Drupal success stories in the marketplace. Imagine what could happen if we enabled hundreds of marketers to collaborate on the promotion of Drupal, much like we have enabled thousands of developers to collaborate on the development of Drupal.

Accelerating Drupal adoption with business decision makers

To focus Drupal's marketing efforts, we launched the Promote Drupal Initiative. The goal of the Promote Drupal Initiative is to do what we do best: to work together to collectively grow Drupal. In this case, we want to collaborate to raise awareness with business and non-technical decision makers. We need to hone Drupal's strategic messaging, amplify success stories and public relation resources in the marketplace, provide agencies and community groups with sales and marketing tools, and improve the Drupal.org evaluator experience.

To make Promote Drupal sustainable, Rebecca Pilcher, Director of MarComm at the Drupal Association, will be leading the initiative. Rebecca will oversee volunteers with marketing and business skills that can help move these efforts forward.

Promote Drupal Fund: 75% to goal

At DrupalCon Nashville, we set a goal of fundraising $100,000 to support the Promote Drupal Initiative. These funds will help to secure staffing to backfill Rebecca's previous work (someone has to market DrupalCon!), produce critical marketing resources, and sponsor marketing sprints. The faster we reach this goal, the faster we can get to work.

I'm excited to announce that we have already reached 75% of our goal, thanks to many generous organizations and individuals around the world. I wanted to extend a big thank you to the following companies for contributing $1,000 or more to the Promote Drupal Initiative:

Thanks to many financial contributions, the Promote Drupal Initiative hit its $75k milestone!

If you can, please help us reach our total goal of $100,000! By raising a final $25,000, we can build a program that will introduce Drupal to an emerging audience of business decision makers. Together, we can make a big impact on Drupal.