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Community Spotlight: Jibran Ijaz (Jibran)

August 5th, 2015

Jibran Ijaz (jibran) is a Drupal developer, and is the only Drupal Core contributor in Pakistan. A member of Drupal.org since he began building websites in 2010, Jibran has become an important member of both his local community and the greater global Drupal community. The Drupal Association spoke with Jibran over email and asked him a few questions. We’re excited to share the conversation with you.

How did you get involved with Drupal and core contribution?

Back in December 2010, I started working as a freelancer on a Drupal 6 site with a friend. It took me a while to understand all the systems like nodes, cck, views, and themes, but I was finally able to find my way. At the time, Drupal 7 RC versions had only just begun being released, so when Drupal 7.0 came out I had to learn a lot of things all over again. For me, the new built-in Entity API and Field API were difficult concepts to understand. It took me a while to understand the changes in theme layer, learn about html.tpl.php, and understand the Render API. These things were so confusing to me that I wound up submitting my first core issue related to documentation.

After going through this learning curve twice, I thought I might as well start learning Drupal 8 now. So I started hanging out in the core issue queue, and began reading a lot of Drupal 8 blog posts on Drupal planet. One day, I read that they were moving all the Drupal Core files to the Core directory and they needed help in re-rolling a lot of trivial patches. I went and found a documentation novice issue in Drupal 8 and helped fix it both for Drupal 8 and for Drupal 7. After that, I was hooked.

What do you do with Drupal these days?

I'm a senior Drupal developer for PreviousNext, where I work remotely from Lahore, Pakistan. I mostly work on large Drupal 7 sites, but lately I have started working on a Drupal 8 site as well. It's fun to work with such a great team of front-end developers, back-end developers, and project managers at PreviousNext.

In my free time, I contribute to Drupal. I do a lot of code reviews. Specifically, I love working on Views issues in Drupal 8. I have also been actively involved in a lot of contrib projects and have been helping with porting them to Drupal 8. During the weekends, I enjoy working on dynamic_entity_reference.

You’re involved with quite a variety of projects in the Drupal community and in your national Drupal community as well. Can you describe some of the things you do and why you like them?

Ever since my childhood, computers have fascinated me. Even though my bachelor's degree is in Telecommunication Engineering, I always loved coding. This means my involvement with Drupal is almost always related to coding. I enjoy solving bugs, writing patches, and performing code reviews. I also like to get involved in technical discussions related to Drupal, and really enjoy helping others understand difficult Drupal concepts, so I mentor people as well.

In Pakistan, we have a very enthusiastic Drupal community. The Drupal Association has helped us with organizing numerous camps, workshops and training opportunities in different cities all over the country. I wasn’t actively involved with local community until about a year ago when I talked to Donna Benjamin (kattekrab), who was the director of community engagement at PreviousNext at the time. Donna encouraged me to participate a lot more in my local Drupal community, so I took part in my first Drupal Camp at Lahore on 3 May 2014. I was the only core developer there, and my fellow attendees were very appreciative and welcoming. At the camp, I talked about Drupal 8, and everybody loved it. So I’ve been attending ever the Drupal Camp I can get to ever since. I was even a keynote speaker at Drupal camp Islamabad back in April.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on?

I have worked on a lot of Drupal projects with very complex architecture. It's always fun whenever I get to use a big module like Domain Access, Services, Commerce, Ubercart, Google Maps, or Organic Groups to build features for our clients. It's also fun when I get to build a complex architecture using Drupal API. I'd prefer not to name a specific project, though. It would feel like I'm pointing at my favorite kid.

What changes are you most looking forward to in Drupal 8?

Oh! The simple answer is everything. The change form Functional Programming to Object Oriented Programming is the most important thing for me. Personally, I also like the built-in plugins system of Drupal 8 because if you’re familiar with the plugin API, you can easily use it in Blocks, Entities, Fields, Menus, and Views. Even Drupal 8 contrib modules like Rules and Page Manager are doing a lot of amazing things with plugins.

What is your favorite thing about the Drupal community?

I love the Drupal community as whole, and am inspired by the fact that we all share the same enthusiasm towards Drupal. It doesn't matter who you are or what the scope of your technical knowledge is — anyone and everyone can make a difference in the community. I spend a lot of time with Drupal developers on IRC, at local and international Drupal events, and I haven't found a single person who isn’t kind and helpful. No matter how many times you ask the same question or a stupid question, everyone always responds very kindly. No one has ever treated me differently because of my religion or region. Every person I have met in the Drupal community has inspired me on some level, irrespective of their contribution in Drupal. That is my favorite thing about the Drupal community.

What is your most meaningful Drupal moment?

Drupal has given me a lot of beautiful moments. It's very hard to pick one, so I’ve listed several below.

1. First time I attended DrupalCon. Picture by @lsheydrupal

2. First time I met with webchick

3. First time I got a shout-out from webchick on my Drupal contributions at DrupalSouth

And there are countless other moments, like my keynote at Drupal Camp Islamabad, hanging out with VDC team at DrupalCon code sprint, meeting with the whole PreviousNext team for the first time, and dynamic_entity_reference hacking with Lee Rowlands after the DrupalSouth code sprint.

Tell us a little about your background or things that interest you outside Drupal.

Before computers, my first love was math. I like to read, but lately I haven't been able to read many books. I can speak and understand a bit of Arabic, French, and German. I love to learn new stuff and experiences new things in life. I like watching football and Formula1, and I also watch a lot of English TV series and movies. Now I know why I don't have time to read anymore. :D