Meet Michael Hofmockel: Getting up to speed with Drupal
by Jeffrey A. McGuire
Michael Hofmockel is a technical consultant at Acquia, based in Ames Iowa. Like many Drupalists, Michael's background wasn't in computer science, but led him to Drupal nonetheless. As he puts it, "Drupal's great because you can come at it from almost any angle ... and we do!" Michael was building databases as a soil chemist at Duke University. When he needed a web interface for a database, "I decided not to build it for myself, tried Drupal and I never needed anything else again!"
Note: This podcast was recorded using Skype and the sound quality varies in places.
The first Drupal Camp wedding?
Michael helps run the Iowa Drupal user group, which recently wrapped up their 2nd successful "Drupal Corn" camp. Friends of mine got engaged during a DrupalCon London presentation, but as far as I know the Drupal Corn wedding was a first in the Drupal community.
Drupal then and now
The first Drupal version Michael used was 4.5 more than seven years ago – very old school! For those of you who might not remember, there was not only no CCK, there were no content types, not even flexi-node (bonus points if you still remember that!) ... "So if you needed a node type, you wrote it. There was good bit of user interface, but as far as customisation and new features went, you were writing everything yourself. Drupal 7 is a lot more stacking of modules and configuration and a lot less code" compared to older versions. "That's not to say you don't ever write code in Drupal 7, but you're a lot more surgical with your code."
Getting up to speed with Drupal
Drupal core can only do so much, as Michael points out. To make it really sing, you need to start adding contributed modules. Getting to know which of the thousands of them do what you need and how best to configure them is important. If you're new to Drupal, Michael's reviews of the "Using Drupal" books are a great place to start (as are the books themselves: they contain "recipes" to build common site types and functionalities):
- Using Drupal (Drupal 6) module tour: http://groups.drupal.org/node/18669
- Using Drupal (Drupal 7) module tour: http://groups.drupal.org/node/224559
The reviews give you two nice, vetted lists of modules. Michael recently presented a session at Drupal Camp Chicago entitled "45 modules in 45 minutes." Grab the slides here, it's a strong list of what to go investigate, too. We'll be exploring those 45 modules and more in upcoming Acquia "Module Minute" podcasts, too!
On working at Acquia
"I have teammates who are really awesome and look out for me, and help me when I need help. I really enjoy being part of a team. I find the work really challenging and that's a great thing. Working at Acquia, I get to focus on the part of this work that I love and I can keep on learning more. Acquia has introduced me to a level of work that I never would have gotten to experience otherwise."