A Tech Veteran's Take on Drupal and Building PHP Teams: A Chat with Grzegorz Pietrzak Part 1

"I liked Drupal so much that I decided to associate my professional future with it."
Grzegorz Pietrzak

The DropTimes (TDT) had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Grzegorz Pietrzak, a seasoned PHP/Drupal/Symfony Tech Lead at Droptica who specializes in developing corporate websites, e-commerce platforms, and Symfony applications, including Mautic integrations and extensions. As a tech veteran, Grzegorz Pietrzak leverages his 15+ years of experience to deliver high-quality web solutions for clients across various industries.

In an email correspondence with Thomas Alias K, former sub-editor at TheDropTimes (TDT), Pietrzak shared distinguished perspectives on various aspects of Drupal, the evolving role of Droopler in corporate website development, and his insights into building effective PHP teams. Read on to gain deeper insights into the world of Drupal through the lens of an experienced tech lead.

"As a tech lead, I wish leaders would take better care of their teams. That they would ensure their development and avoid professional burnout. That's why I talk about the pursuit of the ideal PHP team," says Pietrzak.

Grzegorz Pietrzak's interview unfolds in two parts, each providing unique insights into the dynamic world of Drupal and the innovative contributions of Droopler. In the initial segment, Pietrzak reflects on his Drupal journey since 2008, commending the platform's commitment to open-source values and spotlighting the vibrancy of the Drupal community in Poland. Transitioning seamlessly, the second part delves into Droopler, accentuating its pivotal role in streamlining the development of corporate websites with speed and cost-effectiveness.

Within this context, Pietrzak elucidates Droopler's adherence to Drupal standards and its continuous evolution, marked by ongoing updates and enhancements. As a dedicated tech lead, he shares perspectives on his responsibilities, ensuring Droopler remains not only adaptable but also enriched with features that resonate with developers. This holistic conversation with Grzegorz Pietrzak offers a comprehensive understanding of Drupal's historical significance and the transformative capabilities of Droopler in the realm of corporate website development. 

Let's dive into the interview.

TDT [1]: How did you start your connection with Drupal? Were you able to understand the relevance and scope of Drupal before it was very widely accepted?

Grzegorz Pietrzak: I started my adventure with Drupal in 2008, at the time I was looking for an alternative to WordPress and Joomla. I liked Drupal so much that I decided to associate my professional future with it. I was particularly captivated by its orientation towards open source. It's a feature I noticed very quickly, without yet fully understanding Drupal itself.

Grzegorz Pietrzak  speaking at DrupalCamp Wrocław 2023

TDT[2]: How do you assess the Drupal community activities happening in Poland? Are they up to the mark or is there enough potential left to be tapped for the benefit of Drupal?

Grzegorz Pietrzak: The Drupal community in Poland is very vibrant, moreover, many companies are willing to use it. There is certainly a lot of work to be done in the area of public administration, as authorities do not fully understand the essence of open source and the benefits of using open solutions. The presence of proprietary applications strongly affects the quality of communication with state institutions.

TDT [3]: How would you describe this edition of DrupalCamp Poland? How do you think it rejuvenates the Drupal Community?

Grzegorz Pietrzak: This year's edition has come to an end. I have been a guest there for seven years now, and every time I see people who are happy to contribute to the whole community. Both agencies and their customers meet here. So there is an opportunity to talk about the challenges of Drupal, and its business potential. There are many similar events around Poland, but it's good to have one that is dedicated to our market.

TDT[4]: Your session at the camp was titled ‘How to create a dream team for a PHP project’. According to you, what were the major takeaways from the session? 

Grzegorz Pietrzak: As a tech lead, I wish leaders would take better care of their teams. That they would ensure their development and avoid professional burnout. That's why I talk about the pursuit of the ideal PHP team. I'm convinced that even in a not-so-interesting project, you can create a good place for others to work.

Grzegorz Pietrzak
Grzegorz Pietrzak presenting in PHPcon poland 2022

TDT[5]: Why do you think some organizations find it hard to build an effective team? Is it because of some flaws in training and capacity building?

Grzegorz Pietrzak: Organizations tend to strongly prioritize individuals in teams. In them, we have an important leader, less important regular developers, and inconspicuous juniors. If we allow this to happen, we will see many negative phenomena. This is why I always push hard for equality between employees, even if I have to convince myself. It seems to me that such a negative hierarchy is sometimes the source of other problems that I describe in my presentations. 

TDT[6]: Many organizations consider outsourcing as a better option than building in-house capabilities. Should organizations proactively consider outsourcing as an option in handling Drupal projects, considering the lesser availability of Drupal developers in the market?

Grzegorz Pietrzak: I have worked both in the outsourcing model and in-house. From an employee's point of view, I have to admit that outsourcing a single person can be uncomfortable because we often don't have the opportunity to become full members of the team. On the other hand, outsourcing the whole team (developers, testers, and project managers) works well and adds value for everyone involved.

TDT[7]: What suggestions do you have to improve Drupal’s appeal and attract new talent into its ecosystem?

Grzegorz Pietrzak: The refreshed Drupal with Claro and Olivero skins already looks extremely inviting. It seems to me that in a project so heavily geared towards open source, getting large organizations to collaborate is key. I'm talking about both government organizations and private companies. This is the only way to show other developers that we are building a stable solution, recognized and supported by the big players.

TDT [8]: DrupalCamp Poland also conducts a city tour of Wrocław as part of the camp. And as a person who knows the city very well, you guide the tour? What do you have to say about it? Does it make the camp more memorable?

Grzegorz Pietrzak: This year's trip was a great success. We saw not only the places known from postcards but also the real pre-war city, rarely visited by tourists. We will certainly continue this tradition in future editions. I strongly encourage organizers of similar conferences to do the same. Your guests will have a bit of a break after the talks, and at the same time get to taste a piece of your world.

Concluding the first part of the interview with Grzegorz Pietrzak has shared an in-depth picture of his Drupal journey as a veteran with more than 15 years of experience and his DrupalCamp Poland explorations. Stay tuned for the second part, to learn more about his role as a tech lead and explore the world of Droopler in corporate website development. 

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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