About Me: 

I'm a product of and believer in the Drupal community.

I started using Drupal casually in 2005 before diving in headfirst to develop Ubercart on Drupal 5. I was fairly isolated until I experienced DrupalCon Barcelona in 2007 where I met wonderful people from around the world who were using my code in ways I never imagined and motivated me to do so much more. From that point on I was hooked and have spent the last 10 years contributing code, documentation, support, and money to help others enjoy the same opportunities I did.

I co-founded Commerce Guys in 2009, and in 2010 we became one of the rare Drupal companies to secure venture funding with a mission to advance eCommerce on Drupal. I led our development and collaboration initiatives within the Drupal community, including the Drupal Commerce project and our participation in dozens of DrupalCons / Camps, and I ultimately championed the separation of Commerce Guys from Platform.sh to refocus my core team once again on advancing eCommerce on Drupal.

I acquired Commerce Guys alongside my two co-maintainers in February 2016 and have focused on growing and empowering our team to make Drupal Commerce on Drupal 8 fantastic. Taking on the executive role means less time for direct contribution, but I've been thrilled to watch the team exceed even our own expectations while I apply myself to team leadership, sales, and business management. I look forward to using my experience as a long time Drupal developer turned business owner to work for the good of the Drupal community through participation on the D.A. board.

Board meeting attendence: 
none
Have you served on a board or committee?: 
No
If so, tell us about it.: 
Even though I didn't formally hold a board seat, as a co-founder of Commerce Guys I prepared reports for the board and was party to all of its affairs, including financial and strategic matters. Since splitting Commerce Guys out, I am President and CEO of the company but only have an advisory board. Still, I direct the business and exercise the same skills required of Drupal Association board members.
What perspective will you bring to the board when discussing strategic topics?: 
My perspective is that of a long time Drupal contributor (primarily through module development) turned business owner. As such I understand both the impact that our project infrastructure and events can have on the success of our software and the financial impact our choices have on businesses and individual contributors.
What existing board topics are you most passionate about? and why?: 
First, I am most passionate about our utilization of drupal.org and DrupalCon to facilitate project development and community growth. I forged my career in the Drupal issue queues and the halls of DrupalCon, and I place immense value on the work the D.A. does to maintain these venues for us. I want to see them continue to adapt to address changes in the Drupal community and new technologies in the PHP world at large to secure a future of contributing for folks who haven't even heard of Drupal yet. Second, I am passionate about the long-term sustainability and overall financial performance of the Drupal Association. I believe it plays a key role in fostering the growth of the Drupal project and want to see it continue to do so for a long time. I am a conservative financial planner not because I am frugal but because I enjoy the freedom that not having to worry about expenses affords you. It's simply much harder to take calculated risks or ambitious long term plans from a position of financial instability.
What additional strategic topics would you like to introduce?: 
I understand my own limits; I'm sure I'd be plenty busy just participating in the topics I identified above.
What unique skills would you bring to the board?: 
As a contributed module developer, I have built some of the largest contributed module ecosystems that transcended the modules themselves to include networks of freelancers, third party service providers, theme designers, and more. This required a combination of module development, community leadership, and consensus building skills that should give me a unique ability to contribute to board initiatives.
How have your past contributions to Drupal prepared you for board candidacy?: 
I've seen first hand through my eCommerce projects the impact that individual contributors and projects can have on the Drupal community at large. In the case of Ubercart, we brought just as many people into the Drupal community as we served from within it, while in the case of Drupal Commerce we pioneered not just the complete utilization of the Entity API on Drupal 7 but also the full utilization of Composer for contributed modules and the pattern of "exporting" code off the Drupal island in Drupal 8. The end result of this technological leadership was the elevation of Drupal as a viable eCommerce platform alongside traditional eCommerce applications like Magento, Prestashop, etc. Gaining this market position allowed us to play a key role in bringing many third party service providers to the table who now invest in Drupal precisely because it powers tens of thousands of eCommerce websites. In other words, our contributions have had an outsized impact in the eCommerce industry that has drawn self-sustaining investment in the continued growth of the platform. Managing these projects alongside the multiple incarnations of Commerce Guys has prepared me to understand the complex technical, social, and financial variables that can be adjusted to improve our project and spur the community's future growth.
Why should we vote for you?: 
I have a long track record of participating in the Drupal community and pushing to make Drupal better. My changing professional focus and experience now allow me to contribute through the Drupal Association itself to conversations and initiatives that help ensure its long term financial viability and continued growth.

Questions for the Candidate

sumanthkumarc’s picture
Comment: 

We all know that india is one of the greatest sources of traffic to Drupal.org. What are your ideas for helping out the Drupal Community in India??

rszrama’s picture
Comment: 

The mission of the board isn't to help out the Drupal community in any particular country. However, continuing to make drupal.org and DrupalCons usable and accessible to folks from all over the world are in line with its mission to support the project. By accelling at these tasks, the Association provides the infrastructure and environment for individual and corporate leaders in your country to help your community more directly and effectively.

rszrama’s picture
Comment: 

Agreed.

Maxime Topolov’s picture
Comment: 

How could we do more to help large organisations adopt Drupal vs Adobe, Sitecore, J2EE or .NET ?

rszrama’s picture
Comment: 

While I could brainstorm ideas, it isn't a question I'm best suited to answer given I don't regularly pitch against those technologies. If there were a clear communication need that experienced community members wanted contribute to - e.g. documentation on drupal.org or programming at DrupalCon - then it would definitely make sense for the Association to support that initiative. (For example, something like https://www.drupal.org/8 particularly targeting enterprise user concerns ... stability, roadmap, vendors for 24x7 support, etc.)

Growth in the enterprise is very helpful to the Drupal project, especially when paired with a culture of contribution. At Commerce Guys our largest users are often the most significant investors in the deevlopment of the core / contributed modules that make up Drupal Commerce as well.

develCuy’s picture
Comment: 

Congrats for your candidacy Ryan!

Before I vote, would you answer a question:

How is your particular vision aligned to the upcoming DA board priorities?

Thanks in advance for your answer!

develCuy’s picture
Comment: 

Thanks for your answers @rszrama, best wishes for this election!

rszrama’s picture
Comment: 

Thanks for asking, Fernando. Good to hear from you!

As I understand them, the priorities of the D.A. board include fostering the growth of the Drupal project through continuous improvements to drupal.org and DrupalCon and increasing the financial sustainability of the association itself. In many ways, I see what we've done within the realm of the Drupal Commerce as a smaller scale expression of what might be accomplished at the Association level. Allow me to explain...

First, from my earliest days of developing Ubercart until now, we've bumped against the limits of what project maintainers could do on drupal.org. The single biggest leap drupal.org took into "the future" was The Great Git Migration, which made my job as a maintainer much easier and drew in many new contributors. (Even I was forgetting how to use CVS by the time that happened. ; )

Drupal Commerce 2.x for Drupal 8 is pushing the limits once again as we fully adopted a strategy of developing standalone libraries that make our modules depend on Composer. My vision was to take an "outside first" strategy to export our knowledge / experience off the "Drupal island" in the form of PHP libraries to draw outside contributors in, which has worked out great for our internationalization, taxing, and addressing libraries. To help push this vision forward, we contributed heavily to Composer support for contributed modules on Drupal 8, and we were thrilled when the official drupal.org Composer Repository came online.

I'd hope to see drupal.org continue evolve to support developers / more general PHP development practices to grow our contributor base and make project maintenance easier. Similarly, I want to see it continue to improve at marketing the Drupal project and community, rewarding / incentivizing contributors and maintainers, and simplifying project management / support tasks. All of these things should help us grow the pool of contributors and increase the efficiency of the ones we already have.

Additionally, Commerce Guys often tried to do new things at DrupalCon to engage attendees around eCommerce. This has involved bringing co-sponsors to the event who want to introduce their products and services to the Drupal community, which brings additional outside investment into supporting the event and more generally the community. My vision for DrupalCons and our involvement has shifted over time, but even now for Baltimore I've reached out to multiple companies to secure their sponsorship and find ways to collaborate on the exhibit floor.

Given my personal experience (and the experiences of my fellow team members), I'm a huge believer in the power of events like DrupalCon to engage new contributors and foster the development of new initiatives. DrupalCon Barcelona 2007 was my "Drupal tipping point", and even today my kids love Nancy's Drupal crafts and the numerous other trinkets / memories we've collected at DrupalCons / Camps over the years. I'd hope to see these events continue to bring people together and draw new contributors in for years to come, and finding new ways to engage sponsors and help them find an ROI like we have will contribute to this.

Finally, when we developed Commerce Kickstart 2.x, we made it the first self-sufficient Drupal distribution out there by finding new funding strategies. Our payment gateway and technology partners help made that happen when we demonstrated to them the economic value of investing in Drupal in general. I continue to share this vision with new vendors in the eCommerce space, providing a sustainable funding model for Commerce Guys's continued investment in Drupal Commerce... and it works! Even as a small team, we have one full-time contributor on staff and a day / week dedicated to contribution for all of our other developers.

I believe there are other verticals and categories of vendors who could similarly be engaged to invest in Drupal in ways that assist the D.A. at large, and I hope my vision and experience can contribute to this priority more generally in board discussions / initiatives.

develCuy’s picture
Comment: 

Supercool! Can we go for a second round? There you have it...

The DA is working hard for two things:

  1. Match Drupal (software) project needs with Drupal community demands (call it "benign populism" LoL)
  2. Replace Drupalcon with other more reliable and scalable income sources

Without #1 well balanced, you get a happy software project DA remains as the less popular guy in the community, so guess who will support the DA.... Or instead you are pretty popular but Dries can get a reliable git server and forget about the issue queues, people will hate you anyways...

Without #2, forget about drupal.org at all, it has a pretty "expensive" operation so we can't afford Drupalcons to fail in the short-middle term.

Imagine I'm 100% right. Do you think you can help make #1 and #2 to happen soon (within your period). How?

rszrama’s picture
Comment: 

Honestly, it's a bit of a wait and see re: just how much impact I can have in a two year term. For all I know, the agenda has been set for this year and I wouldn't reasonably be able to influence the roadmap for either initiative until at least the next year. ^_^

That said, as soon as I understand where the conversations are re: both drupal.org and DrupalCon and what options are being evaluated, I'd be sure to speak up. I think most long-time contributors are used to the balancing act (namely what makes sense for a project and its resources vs. what's being asked for from users), and I don't consider myself any exception.

From my perspective the D.A. is really hitting their stride with respect to improving drupal.org. and the new sponsorship opportunities (e.g. the industry pages that have just launched) should hopefully begin to impact #2. I'll certainly share my perspective from day one re: what will help sponsors see an ROI and renew year over year.

rszrama’s picture
Comment: 

I actually think I like the movie better than the book.

dineshw’s picture
Comment: 

For the work done to root Drupal for commerce I love it!

I'm looking answer from you on

  • how the association can help to promote more affordable commerce platform (with needs of various eCommerce complainant etc) for growing community and market though we have dedicated Drupal cloud services.
  • how we can encourage community for contributing more such solutions like Drupal commerce or Drupal for Gov
rszrama’s picture
Comment: 

Thanks for the kind words, Dinesh! Regarding your two points, at a high level, I'd say the Association itself should really continue doing what it is doing. Providing stable infrastructure and semi-annual events where developers can collaborate is the best thing it can do to drive innovation and maturity for sub-ecosystems like Commerce. I foresee future use for new sections of drupal.org like the industry pages that will also help raise awareness about solutions and service providers in the Commerce, Government, and other verticals.

In terms of affordability, open source has always amazed me because it gave me a vehicle to contribute code that could be used for free by people all around the world to build their businesses / provide for their families. I love that! I think it's possible that the software we have can be used to create affordable, hosted eCommerce platforms, but ideally the core of Drupal Commerce itself will continue to become so easy that all folks will need is a host. (Otherwise, you might be better off with Shopify or something similar.)

The only thing the Commerce ecosystem needs to thrive is continued improvements to d.o with respect to Composer, and I'm happy to point out that that's already heading in a great direction. I'd just simply cheer on the teams responsible and continue to dedicate our team's time to helping make it happen. : )