Assess Current Needs and Take Websites to the Next Level: Interview with Kalaiselvan Swamy | MidCamp 23

Kalaiselvan Swamy

Kalaiselvan Swamy mooted his career as a core PHP developer. It was in 2014 that he started focusing on Drupal, beginning with Drupal 7. At Midcamp 2023, he was a speaker. He leads the discussion on the topic, ‘The Big Leap - Picking The Right Drupal Journey towards Drupal 10.’

Thomas Alias K, sub-editor at TheDropTimes (TDT), discusses Kalaiselvan’s work and his session at MidCamp 2023.

Read TDT’s complete interview with Kalaiselvan Swamy below.

TDT [1]: How did you start your journey with Drupal? What is Drupal to you?

Kalaiselvan: Interestingly, I started my journey in development not as a Drupal developer but as a core PHP developer. My first framework was Zend. Then I worked on core PHP with MYSQL.

It was in 2014 when everyone was talking about Drupal and how CMSs are much more advanced and are doing things that will take days in core PHP. I started with Drupal 7 during that time and worked on one Drupal 6 project. Then, I progressed to Drupal 8 in 2018. There has been no looking back since.

TDT [2]: How does it feel to be part of Axelerant? What are the areas of your work there?

Kalaiselvan: I feel that Drupal being my specialization, Axelerant is the right place for me as they are one of the leaders in the Drupal space in India. It has been an honor to be part of a culture that embraces and exemplifies its values more than anything else. It allows me to explore my potential to the fullest. I do not have to limit myself.

Though I started as a Technical Architect, who only handled technical aspects of Drupal projects, Axelerant helped me discover that I am much more than that. I play the Technical Leadership role of Staff Engineer, guiding and mentoring my peers in their career journey, and I also lead the Support program at Axelerant.

TDT [3]: Your LinkedIn profile says Machine Learning is one of your interests. How is Machine Learning going to disrupt Drupal?

Kalaiselvan: Yes. I did a certification in Machine Learning as I was curious about what it does and its various applications. I figure it also has many applications in Drupal, particularly for editors. We see many modules already being done by the community, the latest being the integration of ChatGPT.

There are many other use cases, such as creating content, reviewing and refining content, and providing more personalized content based on content browser history on the site and relevancy. These use cases can be improved further with Machine Learning. The opportunities are endless.

TDT [4]: What are the major progressive results you wish to see from applying Machine Learning to Drupal?

Kalaiselvan: I believe many avenues are already available for Machine Learning in Drupal, but there is not much awareness of the same. It would be helpful to create more awareness about the existing options for using Machine Learning in Drupal and taking it forward to end clients. It can spur more contributions to the niche area.

TDT [5]: How do you look forward to this edition of the MidCamp? What will be the major takeaways from your session?

Kalaiselvan: After the pandemic, it has become a luxury to participate in DrupalCamps. Although I cannot travel, I can present remotely. Thanks for that.

The attendees will get an idea of what the drill would be like when doing a migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. It would be a test run to get a feel of what it entails. Those attending can learn how to make it a win-win for all stakeholders, not just a migration.

TDT [6]: ‘The Big Leap - Picking The Right Drupal Journey towards Drupal 10’ is your session at MidCamp; according to reports, many websites are still running on Drupal 7. According to you, why are people reluctant to upgrade from the version, despite approaching the End of Life?

Kalaiselvan: I’ve witnessed that the idea of moving between two Drupal versions is scary, even though the community provides many migration solutions. It is mainly because of the following reasons.

There would be some difficult decisions to make along the way, and many discussions are needed with multiple stakeholders.

Most of the content with Drupal 7 sites is very old. Hence, making these critical decisions regarding content retention policy, content field optimization, and any change to content types is daunting. More often than not, the current stakeholders would not have any idea why the Information Architecture was designed in the way it was.

Once you realize it is more important to assess the current needs rather than worrying about the past needs, it will allow you to make remarkable improvements and take your site to the next level. We can make the leap after careful preparation, so it does not have to be a leap of faith but a well-thought-out transformation.

TDT [7]: What is your advice to make the migration process easier and affordable?

Kalaiselvan: I think it is more important to understand what we have before we know what we will achieve. We need to assess where we are with the site, the most significant aspects of the site, or the one thing the site needs to do well. Once this understanding is there, it helps us to decide which parts of the site will not serve us anymore. Doing this in parallel with the current Drupal 7 site is always challenging. Therefore, deciding on the content creation strategy is important before the migration is done.

Disclaimer: The information provided about the interviewee has been gathered from publicly available resources. The responsibility for the responses shared in the interview solely rests with the featured individual.

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