A Drupal Developer with a Goal to Develop Young Developers | Interview with Sibu Stephen

Sibu Stephen

Sibu Stephen works as a User Interface Consultant at Digital Polygon. In this interview with TheDropTimes (TDT), he delves into his connection with Drupal, his career, and various other aspects. Sibu is often listed as a speaker at Drupal events. To our question about his interest in speaking at the events, he says,

“My goal is to empower young enthusiasts and encourage them in all ways possible.”

In Sibu, we see a developer who embodies the community spirit of Drupal. Read Sibu Stephen’s complete conversation with Thomas Alias K, sub-editor of TDT, below. 

TDT [1]: According to your LinkedIn profile, your career as a developer began in 2014. At what point were you introduced to Drupal? Was it during your student days or later in your career?

Sibu Stephen: I started my Drupal career right from my college days; in 2014, when I was in college, there was a Drupal Camp at Pune conducted in Khadki Symbiosis Branch. After the event, we saw a banner saying Srijan is Hiring Drupal enthusiasts. I was fortunate to be interviewed by Rahul Dewan, and we (around 6-7 of us) got an offer to work as interns. Well, at that point, my mindset went toward having an internship in hand because we had a semester dedicated to hands-on experience in live projects. I took that opportunity simultaneously to be grateful to Srijan for having me as a source of their contribution. As time passed, I realised how strong the community is and how supportive the core members are in Drupal, and thus my journey toward Drupal Arena. Though I was fortunate enough to work on some other technologies like ROR, Angular, and other Javascript frameworks, I stuck to Drupal, which is the core of my mastery.

TDT [2]: What were your initial impressions about Drupal? 

Sibu: During 2013-2015, while pursuing my master’s, Drupal was something new. Firms were working in Drupal, but on a broader scale, it wasn’t known much about. I was fortunate to have my Master of Science from SICSR, one of the prestigious colleges in Pune, Maharashtra, India. The course curriculum itself had a subject on Drupal (Drupal 7), which included site builder, custom theming, custom creation of paragraphs, etc. During those days, we used to have a common subject taught among many colleges (even now), such as VB.net, and Visual Studio 2008, which was basically dragging and dropping your UI elements and mapping those fields in the DB. When I was introduced to Drupal, I was under the assumption that it was something similar where we could Drag and drop elements (Blocks) in various regions. I neglected it initially and didn’t find it interesting at that time. But later, I found out Drupal was a very powerful Open source community-driven project that is ever-expanding and evergreen; thus, it became a part of my life. I’m happy I stayed with Drupal.

TDT [3]: Drupal evolved through these years. How do you assess its journey until the release of Drupal 10? What, according to you, are the new impacts brought in by Drupal 10?

Sibu: Initially, I had started with Drupal 7, which was pretty much new for me. For example, we used to have a tpl.php file that we used to manipulate our HTML components on the webpage. Later in 2015, it had some incredible changes, like the power of Symfony twig in our hands with more flexibility in rendering data that needed to be displayed. During those days, Decoupled was trending (even now, it’s a trend) and thus started the integrations with various Frameworks and libraries like Angular Js and React. All the agencies around took this as an opportunity to showcase Drupal’s power as a service provided as a competitor with various other technologies. And as we progressed with Drupal 9, things changed as the market got to realise that Drupal is a thing, and multiple vendors started to have Drupal developers hired. With Drupal 10, we can see various integrations like ChatGPT Web3, etc. Thus I can say Drupal has been and will be tapping to collaborate with the many other untapped areas, which might be impossible for now but can be a thing. However, the future is uncertain, but in all that uncertainty, Drupal will prevail; that’s my firm belief.

Sibu Stephen interacting with students in a classroom.
Sibu Stephen interacting with students in a college to spread awareness about Drupal. (Photo by special arrangement)

TDT [4]: You are frequently listed as a speaker in Drupal community events. What makes you think it is vital to contribute to the community regularly? 

Sibu: To be frank, I’m an introvert. Still, I am. My interest in talks comes from my very first presentation in college about the operating system. How I presented that talk, and explained various aspects and examples, made me feel, I can explain things—though it won’t be a thing if I go for a date (haha).

But then, in the year 2019, I saw a post saying, “Open to speakers, and it doesn’t matter if new speaker,” and well, I thought, let’s give it a try, and then I went ahead and submitted my session. It got approved, and then it was a hustle of preparing slides, gathering learnings and examples, putting them into the slides, and presenting them. I did cherish it while I shared my knowledge and thought if at least I could enlighten one person with my talk, it would be a win.

And thus, I began to apply to more and more conferences. Day by day, I got confident; I thought by sharing my knowledge, I could share my learning and teachings with fellow developers and, in some way, I think it creates a ripple effect—In the sense, if someone attends my talk, they go ahead and implement it and think of developing something else from the original idea. My goal is to empower young enthusiasts and encourage them in all ways possible.

TDT [5]: As a working professional, how do you make time to attend events and conduct sessions regularly?

Sibu: The sessions (especially Drupal sessions) are conducted late in the night (If compared with EST to IST, which has almost 12 hours difference), so usually what I do is I start preparing my schedule a month before my session and gather my information in a Google sheet or notepad. Then as the day goes by, I jot down my innovative ways of scheduling sessions, and I think from the perspective of my target audience. I do this after my regular working hours (usually between 9 to 10 at night) and then after a month of effort and spending some time at night. I’m able to manage both the session agenda and my working schedule.

TDT [6]: What does it mean to be part of Acquia? Could you elaborate on your work as a Front End Engineer there?

Sibu: When I joined Acquia in 2018, it became a reality because Acquia has the founder, Dries, and I was honoured to contribute to Acquia Products and Services. As I worked at Acquia, I learned about various horizons to grow. I also became interested and curious about how products work and how the product cycle gets executed. As a front-end developer, I was passionate about decoupled projects. I did get to be a part of one of the tech giant projects. I learned many things down my path, and in 3 years of my experience, I would say I have and will have something new to learn within the Acquia ecosystem, and I’m still proud to be an active user of Acquia products.

TDT [7]: Please share your work at Digital Polygon. What does it mean to be a part of the company? As a User Interface Consultant, what major works come across your desk?

Sibu: I joined Digital Polygon in 2021, and in the initial stage, I was involved with Drupal 9 projects with some challenging work and new things to work on. I also encountered situations where I had to work on some backend-related stuff I hadn’t worked on before. Though it was challenging, I was able to achieve those aspects. At the same time, I got exposure to learning many other technologies, including WordPress and Next.JS framework. I was also fortunate to contribute to many things involved in different domains, including the marketing team and content team, in all I would say I’m working in a “T” role meaning mastery in one thing, which is Drupal front end and the same time side by side exploring and tapping into other domains simultaneously. :)

TDT [8]: As a Drupal developer from India, how do you assess the Drupal Community activities within the country?

Sibu: The Drupal Tech community in India and where I live is continuously growing. It will expand with more and more people getting aware of the power that Drupal brings in its package, which is also one of the reasons I like to give talks and sessions at college and organise people to spread awareness among fellow Drupalers/students thereby indirectly contributing towards the growth of the Indian Drupal community as a whole. I recently attended a college function to spread the word on Drupal. Likewise actively participated in the recent Drupal meetup, which happened in Pune 2023, which was also DrupalCamp Pune organising meetup and contributed towards various activities, thus expanding the horizon of Drupal in India simultaneously.

TDT [9]: You are enlisted as a backup speaker for DrupalCamp Asheville and DrupalCon Lille. How do you look forward to these events?

Sibu: Yes, I was invited to two international events first being Drupal Camp Asheville and the second DrupalCon Lille; they found both sessions to be promising and good, but unfortunately, due to location issues, they couldn’t accept me as a speaker this time but offered me to be a backup speaker for them for which I am very much privileged, and I have already submitted my session slides to the team, and if in case they find a replacement I will be chipping in, looking forward to that. :) Meanwhile, I had a chance to submit my blog post, which got selected at DrupalCamp Asheville, and it’s live on the DrupalCamp Asheville website, do take a look. :)

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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