Meeting the Makers: A Veteran Drupaler’s Path to First In-Person DrupalCon Portland 2024

  • Profile picture for user Salman Haider
Meeting the makers: A veteran Drupaler's path to first in-person DrupalCon Portland 2024

Attending their first-ever DrupalCon might be a dream come true for Drupal developers working in some obscure corner of the world. Unless you are from a happening city/nation, the chances are rare and much cherished. Here, we are presenting a personal take on how a lone developer honed his skills and made it to his first DrupalCon in Portland this year. It contains his professional journey and how DrupalCamps conducted in his home country helped nurture him to be at the level he is now. 

Explore the captivating personal and professional odyssey of Salman Haider, a dedicated developer hailing from Pakistan. From his humble beginnings with Drupal to becoming a certified expert, Salman's journey is a testament to resilience, community engagement, and the pursuit of technological excellence. Join Salman as he shares his triumphs, challenges, and the anticipation of finally attending his first in-person DrupalCon in Portland 2024. Get ready to embark on a journey that transcends borders, celebrates community, and embodies the spirit of innovation. 


Salman's Professional Background

Salman, currently a GitHub and Acquia Certified Drupal Expert from Pakistan, completed his college degree in Computer Science at the prestigious Islamia College Peshawar. He now resides in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he works as a Web Developer at the American University of Sharjah. 

Salman in UAE. In the back ground, you couls see the iconic Burj Khalifa.
Salman Haider in UAE. The iconic Burj Khalifa is visible in the background of the first image (left). 

Early Beginnings with Drupal

Discovering Drupal

Salman began his Drupal journey in 2011, starting with Drupal 6, courtesy Azmat Shah, the CEO of Drupak who pioneered Drupal's introduction in Pakistan. Despite the buzz around other CMS platforms like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal's robust content modeling, backend architecture, scalability, and adaptability captured his interest.

Professional Milestones

Expanding Global Impact

Since diving into the world of Drupal, Salman has developed over 200 websites for clients globally, including notable Fortune 500 companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. His work spans various sectors such as healthcare, education, oil and gas, social networking, learning management systems, and government portals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he extensively utilized Drupal to quickly launch portals, websites, and applications, making significant use of features like Drupal's webform and views.

Community Engagement

Contributions to DrupalCamps

Thanks to DrupalCamps organized by Drupak across Pakistan, Salman became a regular speaker, sharing insights on topics like custom module development, theme development, performance optimization, SEO, API integrations and more.

Salman talking at DrupalCamp Peshawar 2015
Salman Haider at a training session in DrupalCamp Peshawar 2015
Group photo from DrupalCamp Karachi
Group Photos from DrupalCamp Karachi and DrupalCamp Islamabad
Group Photo from a Drupal Event in Pakistan
Group photos from DrupalCamp Lahor and DrupalCamp Islamabad

Networking with Peers

During these camps, Salman met other Drupal stalwarts like Jibran Ijaz, one of the top Drupal contributors for versions 8 and 9, who later moved to Australia while working for PreviousNext. He also connected with Qandeel Aslam, a Senior Drupal Developer/Consultant at Toptal; Shoaib Rehman Mirza; Muhammad Iqbal from Figover; Muhammad Tanweer from AppDesk, Usman, and many other dedicated Drupal enthusiasts. These interactions and collaborations helped foster the Drupal community in Pakistan, all made possible by the nationwide DrupalCamps organized by Drupak.

Salman Haider at a Drupal Event in Pakistan
Salman Haider at a DrupalCamp organized by Drupak in Pakistan

Training and Mentoring

Empowering Future Developers

Salman has trained over 500 individuals in Drupal and web development, guiding them towards successful freelancing careers on platforms like Fiverr, UpWork, and PeoplePerHour.

Overcoming Challenges

Facing Setbacks

Despite his desire to engage more deeply with the global community, Salman faced challenges like work commitments and visa refusals that prevented him from attending various DrupalCons.

Virtual Engagements

Adapting to New Normals

Salman was awarded a scholarship for DrupalCon Minneapolis in 2020, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, he participated virtually in DrupalCon Global and DrupalCon Europe, where he even took an online selfie with Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, who personally tweeted the moment:

Anticipation for DrupalCon Portland 2024

A Dream Come True

After 13 years of working with Drupal, Salman's long-standing desire to attend an in-person DrupalCon will finally be fulfilled at DrupalCon Portland 2024. His excitement is soaring as he looks forward to meeting and greeting fellow Drupal enthusiasts, Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, and other key contributors. For Salman, this event represents a significant opportunity to connect with the minds behind a tool that has been nothing short of miraculous for web developers. This gathering is not just a conference for him but a celebration of Drupal's incredible impact on his professional life.

Extending the Experience

Exploring Silicon Valley

Post DrupalCon, Salman will extend his trip to Silicon Valley from May 9th to 14th, driven by his lifelong passion for technology. Although just an hour and a half flight away, he will miss the WebCamp at Stanford University from May 1st to 3rd—interestingly, their websites are also built on Drupal. His tour will include visits to major tech campuses and companies like Stanford University, Google, Apple, Meta, GitHub, and Hacker Dojo. Additionally, he has booked a test drive at Tesla's headquarters in Palo Alto. I aim to attend Google I/O as well, which is happening on the 14th of May, 2024. This will surely add another enriching experience to his journey. 

Salman's biggest inspiration has been Steve Jobs. Reflecting on his early college days around 2012-2013, he often wore Steve Jobs printed T-shirts and decorated his bedroom with Jobs' memorabilia. During his visit, he plans to pay tribute at Steve Jobs' memorial park, leave a note in the guest diary at the intentionally unmarked grave, and visit Jobs' Palo Alto home and the iconic garage where Apple was founded with Steve Wozniak.

Drupal 10 lunch party
Setting up Drupal 10 Launch Party at the American University of Sharjah. 

Final Thoughts and Contact Information

Connect with Salman

Salman invites anyone interested in technology and Drupal to connect with him through his social media or email.

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