Janez Urevc: If you are not involved in the community, you are leaving the choices about your future in the hands of the others
Monday, December 19, 2016 by Matic
Janez Urevc is a Slovenian mastermind when it comes to Drupal and its connection with media. Online, he is found under the name of ‘slashrsm’ and currently works in MD Systems. Before answering, he takes a deep breath, like he would like to speak without a single pause. But he does it to carefully gather his thoughts, who come out as a clear opinion about a variety of topics. We talked about Drupal events, Drupal community and media management, which is considered as the main weakness in Drupal’s core.
Wonderful. I was already doing some things in Drupal and I did not know anybody from Slovenia, who would also know Drupal. Then I found Iztok on Drupal Community. We met and decided to go on a DrupalCon in Copenhagen. There we met another Slovenian Rok Zlender, who knew about Drupal the most. At the airport on our way home, we sat down and wondered about organizing a first user meetup. We eventually did it and 25 people came to the event. All thought they were the only one's doing things in Drupal in Slovenia.
Besides DrupalCon in Copenhagen, you went to a lot of DrupalCons as a speaker or as a visitor. Is there anything you miss at DrupalCons, knowing that nowadays they offer all sorts of different sessions?
At DrupalCons I miss personal contact. Everything became large and on a professional level, which is not bad, but a personal contact, who I felt on the first DrupalCon a lot more, got lost in this way. I think that a problem cannot be tackled on the place of the event, because such events are getting larger each year. So, minor, local oriented events are gaining on the popularity, because they can create a feeling of community a lot easier.
You are an active member of a Drupal Community. On Drupal IronCamp you recently had a session »Ask not what the community can do for you, ask what you can do for the community«. Do you think that too many members of Drupal Community are too passive and are just waiting for the solutions instead of contributing their knowledge in Drupal?
Yes. Statistics shows us that a lot of people use Drupal and don't return anything in the community. That's understandable in one way. If you are a local small business owner and you make a website just for fun and for a hobby, it's completely understandable that you won't be the most active member of the community. On the other hand, I wish that companies, whose business models are based on Drupal, would be more active in the community. They would benefit from that, because if you are not involved in the discussions, solutions …, which are connected with the community, you are leaving the choices about your future in the hands of others. And that certainly is not the best for your business, because don't forget, your business model depends on the product, which community moderates.
How to solve that, knowing that there are a lot of discussions and not so much action?
Reasons for not being involved as much as possible differ. The fault is not completely on user's side, because we as a community have to do more as well. Particularly in explaining, what users can gain in being more active in the community. The participation should also be seen as easier and more attractive.
You are one of the initiators about Media in Drupal 8 Initiative. It seems that Drupal have many reserves compared to the competition, especially in core, where there is no Media Manager. Do you agree?
I totally agree. That’s one of the biggest weaknesses of Drupal.
How come these issues were not recognized before, let's say before Drupal 8 was released, so that these features would now be also included in the core?
These issues were recognized before, but there was just not enough interest to come up with the proper solutions in that field. One problem is that on the field of Media Management, there is no company, which is exclusively specialized in that area. This company would then run the evolution forward on its own, like Commerce Guys in the field of E-commerce. Instead, we are having a picturesque ecosystem of companies focused on media content, companies focusing on delivering services to the media industry and many others, which are hard to gather and coordinated to work on the same vision. There were some custom solutions in the past, which were not shared with the community or were too specific for a reuse. Therefore, communication and coordination are key in this area.
How the situation about the Initiative does look like at the moment?
I am very optimistic. In contrib environment, meaning Drupal modules that are not part of the Drupal's core, there are a lot of things, discussed in the past, realized. Not all, especially in the documentation area. Currently, we are pondering, which parts to include in the core. It’s impossible to say, when that will happen, because everything is still based on volunteers.
How come you are so strongly connected with media content? Is this somehow connected to the fact that you worked for Delo, one of the biggest newspaper house in Slovenia, in the past?
Yes, it is. My professional Drupal career began at Delo and I, somehow, cannot run away from the media industry. At Delo, we were developing new portals on Drupal 7 and migrating the old ones to that version of Drupal as well. After that, I worked for Examiner.com, which also owned a large media portal, focused on American and Canadian market. I currently work in MD System, which develops distributions for the media companies.
I read one of the posts on the internet that some are still using Drupal 6. You used it as well. Will a migration to the newest version of Drupal ever be a necessity?
For new projects, I don't see any reasons, why anyone should be using anything else as a version 8. On the other hand, some projects that already exist are also on Drupal 5, 6, 7 and even 4. They will probably stay on that versions. I recommend my friends and customers not to update everything to the Drupal 8 just because that's the newest version. They have to acknowledge an advantage, like a design or a functionality, to do so.
You talked about smaller events gaining popularity. You were one of the organizers of Drupal Camp Alpe-Adria in Slovenia back in 2014. Will there ever be another Drupal Camp in Slovenia and why is it not organized anymore?
I hope there will be. We had two awesome Drupal Camps. But then people, who organized it, ran out of energy, priorities changed ... I think that there are too many Drupal events, which are internationally oriented. In Europe, there are at least one or two internationally oriented events per month. That means that it is very hard to provide a large number of visitors. They can't travel to the events every other weekend you know. Moreover, sponsors have limited resources, which therefore mellow. Generally speaking, I think there are too many events, especially international ones.
Lastly, explain us your nickname »slashrsm«.
My nickname comes from my scouting days in middle school. We had scouting names. Mine was Slash, because I was constantly listening to Guns N' Roses and playing guitar. The other part of the nickname, rsm, is an acronym of my local scouting group. And when I first needed to have a nickname on IRC, I was looking for something that will represent who I am, so I combined the two parts and became 'slashrsm'.