Drupal Camp Atlanta 2012 Wrap-Up Part 2: Chat With Annika Garbers


Yesterday, we discussed my trip to Drupal Camp Atlanta, and the interesting sessions I witnessed during the event.  One of those session leaders was Annika Garbers, a Drupal enthusiast and co-founder and editor for heyhomeschoolers.com. She delivered a great presentation on the basic concepts of Drupal that immediately made me feel less worried about being a Drupal noob in a sea of seasoned pros. Since I felt thankful for having someone alleviate my anxiety, I reached out to Annika to ask her a few questions about how she got involved in the Drupal community and her plans for the future.

Where did you develop your interest in Drupal?

When my friends and I started my homeschool magazine, Hey Homeschoolers, in 2008, we set up a site to post our content on through webs.com. We realized quickly that Webs didn’t give us nearly as much functionality and flexibility as we needed, so I attended Drupalcamp Atlanta 2009 to learn about alternative content management systems. I fell in love with Drupal and started using it to build the new Hey Homeschoolers website as soon as I got the chance. 

What are a few advantages of Drupal for someone who is shopping around for a CMS?

Drupal’s motto is, “Come for the software, stay for the community”. There are so many great people who are passionate and dedicated to making Drupal better and helping newbies get started. The support from local meetups, Drupalcamps, and groups.drupal.org is extremely valuable for anyone starting a Drupal site, and can make the learning process much faster and less frustrating than it might be for other CMS’s.

Have you worked with other content management systems? If so, do you find there certain areas where Drupal excels? SEO? E-commerce?

I have a personal blog run on WordPress, and I’ve looked at Joomla and a few others. One of the things that makes Drupal unique is its minimal core. Out of the box, you can’t do a lot with Drupal, but you can quickly set it up to do exactly what you want without having to plod through unnecessary options. As far as SEO goes, Drupal has some simple, powerful, and well-supported modules such as SEO ToolsSEO Essentials, and SEO Checklist that I find very helpful and less complicated than options other CMS’s provide.

What are a few resources that those curious about Drupal can explore to see if it’s right for them/to get their feet wet? Blogs? Tutorial sites?

I suggest checking out Drupalcamps and Drupal meetups in your area, groups.drupal.org, and tutorial sites like lullabot.com, gotdrupal.com, and lynda.com.

Are there any particular people in the Drupal community that you look to for inspiration/ideas?

Doug Vann
 was the first person who introduced me to how cool Drupal was at Drupalcamp 2009. I’m also really inspired by Addison Berry and Adelle Frank, who are both awesome women who have dedicated huge parts of their lives to Drupal evangelizing.

What do you think the future holds for Drupal and the Drupal Community?

I think the future of Drupal depends on the future of Drupal Branding and Marketing – which direction the community chooses to take Drupal, whether towards more enterprise use or for bloggers and nonprofits, will decide the growth and development of the Drupal community. The stage Drupal is at now, with Drupal 8 set to release in August 2013, is very exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens in the future.

Any blogs or sites you’re involved in that you’d like to mention?

For any kids or teens that would like to learn more about Drupal, I’m starting to work with a small group of people on a project called Drupalkids that we hope to eventually expand to offer tutorials, resources, and support especially for young people involved in Drupal. We would love help with this project, if you’re interested please contact me at annika@drupalkids.org.

It’s great to see someone your in your age range so active in the tech community as well as publishing. What’s in the cards in terms of future plans?

I still have three years of high school to finish, so I’m not totally sure what I want to do yet, but definitely something involving technology! I plan to continue working through highschool and college on getting youth more involved in open source projects and communities, especially Drupal.

Thanks for your time, Annika! Best of luck in all your endeavors.

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