by Kris Vanderwater
I’ve been working at Acquia for a little over two weeks now. The experience has been one I would characterize as “whirlwind” in nature. If you ask new Acquians about their on-boarding experience, the most common comparison is the age old “Drinking from a firehose” analogy. I honestly expected, as someone who already knew Drupal, that this might in some way lessen the stream of information to manageable levels. I was wrong. If anything the fire hose is a bit like sticking your toes into the shallow end of the pool, and knowing Drupal already was like “Oh you know how to swim? Here’s the ocean.” I’ve decided this is a good thing, both for Acquia and individuals who join us. There’s a lot of room to perform your basic job functions but still carve out a niche all your own.
As a remote, I’ve had the freedom to really explore various aspects of Acquia and understand them more fully. Demos of our products old and new, access to data and metrics and a general willingness by my co-workers to be amazingly helpful has set a standard to which I will aspire. The marketing department here at Acquia is full of amazing people with a ton of knowledge and experience, and I don’t have to discuss the technical and engineering people here because their work speaks for itself, beyond the fact that so many of us in the Drupal community already know them so well individually. In short, they’re world class, and I’m frankly a little surprised still that I am now counted amongst their number.
I mentioned there was a lot to learn. In the past two weeks, I’ve just touched the surface of Site Factory, Demo Framework and Acquia Lift. All of these tools and products are great and have amazing potential for both Acquia and the Drupal community at large, but the real surprise for me was Acquia Lift. I was lucky that NYC Camp happened to coincide with my on-boarding in the Burlington office, so a quick trip to NYC was an easy detour on my way home. While there, I got to see Kat Bailey and Dave Ingram speak about Acquia Lift and how much could be done with it without ever signing up for the Acquia portion of the service.
This approach to building tools really excites me because I am, at heart, a Drupal community member, and seeing the level of effort that went into making the module able to stand separate from our product offering is really inspiring. Integrating other APIs for experience targeting is a complete possibility, so tools like Google Analytics Experiments or Facebook’s Planout Library could absolutely be leveraged to perform similar tasks. Obviously Acquia has an offering we’d love for you to try as well, which includes a really powerful adaptive learning algorithm, but the bigger point is that this was written with the community’s interest placed as a very high priority and the end result is a solution that can serve everyone’s interests. If you’re interested in our contributions to the community around this topic, I would suggest looking at the project pages for the three modules that make up the Lift experience: Acquia Lift, Visitor Actions and Personalize. They’re really powerful tools that can change how your visitors engage with your site.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Drupal multisite so Site Factory’s existence as a product makes me really happy. I’m sure I’ll be talking about it a lot in the future. On the community side, Demo Framework is something that’s been asked for SO SO many times. Seeing how quickly an existing site could be retooled from one demo to the next made me wonder how long it will be before this is the de facto demoing tool for Drupal shops the world over. If you’ve not played with it yet, I’d encourage you to give it a try, I certainly intend to.
In short, my first few weeks have been eventful and informative. I have a ton to learn, but I also am surrounded by amazing people who are truly world class at what they do.
I’m Kris Vanderwater, Drupal developer and Acquia's Developer Evangelist. My job is to help you – the developer – get the most out of Drupal and Acquia’s products and services. If you ever have questions, comments, or concerns, reach out to me any time. I've included some ways to contact me below.