The story behind the “Drupal Essential Training” video series

With the release of the series, some of you in the Drupal community might (rightly) wonder about my relationship to the subject. I’m a relative newbie — this Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of my account — and haven’t worked full-time in technology for years.

So I neurotically imagine crowds of honest, talented, long-time CMS engineers sneering: Where do you get off pretending to be an expert?

Well, I don’t think I’m an expert — not about Drupal, anyway. What I *am* good at is translating between developers and users, decision makers, and the market. I’ve worked in communications for about 15 years (depending on how you count it), freelancing as a writer for the past two. Doing the Drupal series for was where several paths of experience crossed for me: training, writing, performing, and technology. (Here’s my resume, if you’re curious.)

As for Drupal: I first started playing with it around August 2007, but got distracted by a commission to write a real-estate book, “Save My Home: 10 Steps to Avoiding Foreclosure”. While waiting for it to be published, I decided to use its release as a way to hone my Drupal skills on its promo site: was the result.

Meanwhile, I attended Macworld Expo in January 2008. I love Macworld: While I’m not as involved in the community as I was in the ’90s (when I wrote and edited for MacWEEK et al.), I always see old friends at the show. I ran into Tom Negrino and Dori Smith, who’ve written a few dozen books between them, and had each created courses for (which had a large booth at the show).

“How are they to work for?”, I asked. Dori and Tom just couldn’t say enough nice things about them, encouraged me to make a pitch, and invited me to the company’s party that evening. There I met Acquisitions Editor Jeff Foster, who pointed me to their “Call for Trainers” page. That turned into a request for a longer proposal, which led to a contract, which led to about 150 pages of speaker’s notes, which led to a week at their studios in Ventura, California to make the videos. And here we are!

The experience has been wonderful, especially because of the positive response I’ve gotten from the Drupal community. I’m spending most of my days now interacting with Drupalistas, improving my PHP/MySQL skills, figuring out where I fit in, and learning all I can about How Things Are Done — both technically and socially. I’m also striving to stay in touch with the perspective of those who don’t use (or even know about) Drupal. That’s a vast frontier, and one I’m eager to explore.