Why spend time on Drupal's UI? New Lullabot, Cristina Chumillas, tells us about the UI initiative and why it's important, explains the new Claro theme, and describes the strangest thing she's ever eaten.

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We're not just making things nicer, it's more like thinking how it should actually be done.

This Episode's Guest

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Transcript

Chris:
We're here at DrupalCon Seattle and today I'm going behind the screens, with Cristina Chumillas. Cristina you've been doing some work lately on the admin UI initiative, something that Dries actually mentioned in his Driesnote yesterday. So tell me a little bit about the work you've been doing there.
Cristina:
We started a few months, well actually a few years ago. We started, like, two separate initiatives. First it was like, modernizing the JavaScript, now staffing DrupalCon and all the related things around that. And on the other side, we started the redesign of the admin interface itself. So at the end we came up to the conclusion that we actually were going to do almost the same. So we came together and created this new initiative. I think it goes ... So it, we were kind of working together before Frontend United last year, but actually Frontend United is where we actually made it official. So from there we've been working together with Matt, Sally, Lauriii, and a lot of other people, both on the JavaScript side, and also on the design side, or the UI side. Which actually has a lot of things to do with the UX side also, because we are not just making things nicer. It's more like thinking how it should actually be, the new interface.
Chris:
Why is it important to take on this initiative? What does Drupal gain from having people go through this level of work make these improvements?
Cristina:
Well, I think, there could be a lot of points of view that you could actually think it took on. One of them would be to have a nicer interface and more usable interface for the side ... the content authors actually are, or any user is going to use that for a lot of time during their day-to-day work, because we actually create the Drupal websites. We create the projects, and when we've done, we've done and we never go back there anymore, and we start with a new one. But there's going to be actually someone that is going to be, through all that, every day, eight hours per day, five days per week, so it's a lot of time. So, on one side, making these people's lives easier, it's a huge point. And actually it's a huge, it's an important point to sell Drupal. And actually having an interface or a design that it's was actually thought or prepared a lot of years ago, which was a great improvement at that time, but it's been a lot of years since then.
Cristina:
So, I think that's important for both sides, both for selling Drupal, and making it important. Keeping it in a good position for the next years, and also improving people's lives somehow.
Chris:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Everyone's used the interface to create a node. And I think as a developer, it's like you said, we create it, we build the site, we get the structure up, and often then hand it off to the client or somebody else whose job then it is to manage that content, not thinking like, that part of that tool is what they're going to be using every day. Where we just see it, set it up, and walk away. So yeah, that is, it's a very important initiative. And you said you've been working on it for a long time now. Has this been all volunteer time, or do you get reimbursed for any of this?
Cristina:
So it was initially volunteer time, mainly because I've been on the community for a while and I have always kind of had an interest on this part because there are not so many designers or UX practitioners on the community. So, it's been super easy to work on that because every time that you say something, people listen to you because there are not that many people. So, it's been kind of easy in that side. But after a while, the company that I worked, and now at Ymbra, it kind of saw the importance of the work that I was doing and, instead of paying for some travels and some ... They actually decided that they, we want to actually give something back to the community, and my time as being a sponsor, I have time to work on the new UI actually. Which is great, because actually running an initiative actually takes a lot of time about preparing, getting people, welcoming people into the initiative, explaining what's going on, explaining what we are going to do, explaining what's being done. So it takes a lot of time. And if you really don't have time, it's really difficult to do that otherwise.
Chris:
So, are you accepting help from people who want to contribute to the project, and if so what's the way that people can reach out if they have something they feel like they can offer?
Cristina:
So, on the JavaScript side, you can actually get involved on creating all the library components and some other things. You can go to the Slack channel JavaScript and just say hi there and they're going to help you. On the other side, there's the Admin UI channel on Slack also, where we are kind of working on the new theme that is going to replace 7, which is called 'Claro.' We are working on UX improvements and we are also working on this design system that is going to be used both for Claro and eventually for the new admin interface, made with React.
Cristina:
So all the JavaScript stuff is happening on the JavaScript channel, and all the other things related to the initiative, on the Admin UI channel. So, just go in there and say, “Hi, I want to help,” and we'll try to guide people to whatever they want to help with.
Chris:
Wonderful! Now if you had, let's say, a month where you were told, you're going to get fully paid but we don't want you to work on the Admin UI Initiative, and you don't need to come to work; just a month of time off to work on whatever you want to work on, is there a project that you would have, that you would jump into, or what would you do with a month's worth of time fully paid?
Cristina:
That's a good question that, what I would like to do with my knowledge, both on the front end and design, and kind of interest on UX and all these things, would like to build or create something that actually could help citizens in their life to life, working towards the administration. So, there are a lot of things that actually people can't do with administration, because they are not ... they don't know how computers work, they don't know how to use an interface and actually having an interface to let people interact between- so that the government, between the citizens and getting like, something super easy to use for old people, or for people with accessibility problems or something like that. But probably one month wouldn't be enough, so yeah ... Something like that.
Chris:
It'd be enough to get another initiative started and then you'd have to go back to work again.
Cristina:
Yeah, probably yeah. Something like that.
Chris:
Well, I know you've got a session that you need to run to, so let's do a couple quick questions to wrap up here. If you could have an endless supply of any food in the world, what food would you pick?
Cristina:
Oh, clearly cheese. Cheese. I will go mad with cheese. Yeah.
Chris:
Any particular type of cheese you like over another?
Cristina:
Almost everything. Almost everything except probably mozzarella and this kind of soft cheese. Almost everything. So yeah, not a problem there.
Chris:
All right. What is the strangest thing that you've ever eaten?
Cristina:
That's ... good thing ... I have no idea, it was green. So I have no idea, it was a Japanese restaurant and I have no idea what was that, but it was green and it was spicy, so ... I have no idea what was that. So yeah. Something in a Japanese restaurant.
Chris:
And, so, if I were to guess from your accent, you're not from Japan, but you're also not from North America. Tell me just a little bit about your background and what brings you all the way out to Seattle. That sounds like it could have potentially been a long trip for you.
Cristina:
Yeah, it was actually. It was like, fifteen hours straight back and the jet lag is kind, of yeah, something right now. But I'm from Barcelona. I've been involved in the community for a long time, I guess, helping on the Barcelona's meet ups also, so I'm from the Catalán community actually. So yeah.
Chris:
Wonderful! And so, finally, I think we've all had a little bit of help every once in a while along our journey in our careers, is there anybody that comes to mind that you would like to say thank you to, or share some gratitude with, who gave you a hand along the way?
Cristina:
Yes. I guess there's a lot of people. I couldn't ... It could be a long ... If I had to pick one or two people, I guess the first one would be Pedro Cambra, he's one of the first person that I've met in the community and he's been there since, he's been ... We actually are really good friends since then. He's been helping me with a lot of things. He always have had an advice when I needed it. So he's one of the most important people on the Drupal community for me. And also, Webchick and Lauriii has also helped both me, on the international way of, and the ways Drupal works, the community works, and explaining me everything. So, that's both.
Chris:
All right, well thank you so much for taking a few minutes to talk. I really appreciate it. I'll let you get to your session. I know you've got just a few minutes to get there, so, thanks Cristina.
Cristina:
Thank you!

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About host Chris Albrecht

Chris Albrecht
His backend brings all the nerds to the code. Skilled in Drupal development and architecture, you can often find him running through the Colorado wilderness and hosting the Behind the Screens podcast.