Episode 268  on June 25, 2018Behind the Screens

Behind the Screens with Agustin Casiva and Marcos Ibañez

Marcos and Agustin from 42Mate discuss how a small Argentinian company got a booth at DrupalCon, what Drupal can learn from other tech communities and vice versa, plus motorcycles and fish.

Transcript

Chris:
On this episode, we're talking with Agustin and Marcos from 42mate. Hello, gentlemen, please introduce yourselves and tell me a little bit about what you guys do.
Marcos:
Okay, so my name is Marcos Ibañez, I am a managing partner of 42mate. We're a small web agency based out of Los Angeles and Argentina, and we do mostly PHP and NodeJS development. Drupal is our first love, but really we work with WordPress or any other platform that our clients ask us to work with. We've been doing this for at least 15 years, so you pick up a lot of things along the way.
Agustin:
I'm Agustin, very excited to be interviewed right now.
Chris:
Yes. This is fun for me. I love interviewing people I've never met before, especially companies that are branching out of just Drupal and doing a little bit of everything, so if you were to take any of the technologies that you work with, maybe the bigger ones, which one is the most ... that you get the most work from. Is it Drupal?
Agustin:
In this moment, it's Drupal, yes. We have bunches of sites working Drupal, because we are trying to push Drupal to our customer, but since there are customer that already have something else, they want to continue working with Symfony or Laravel or custom PHP code, we take it anyway, but we try to push Drupal in those scenarios where there is, for example, a newspaper, digital magazine, or some heavy content-driven applications, we try to use Drupal. Yes.
Chris:
Which would you prefer if you had to just pick one of those technologies? Which one would you settle on? And let's just take Drupal off the table which of the other ones would be the one you would really want to spend your time digging into?
Marcos:
Well, I myself have been working with React a lot lately, because the client I'm assigned to really is migrating a lot of things to React. I'm getting acquainted to this new JavaScript, Node, Babel, whatever ecosystem. I was a little reluctant in the beginning, but I'm starting to kindle to it, and I like it. And I'm kind of feeling like I felt with Drupal 7 like a few years ago. So I think that that'll be my answer, probably NodeJS.
Chris:
Yeah?
Marcos:
Yeah.
Chris:
Agustin?
Agustin:
For my case in these days I'm loving too much Laravel, it's a nice framework, it's a clean framework. Works well. Easy to learn. With the confidence that Laravel have in Symfony, for example, we have a bad experience a few years ago, when they changed the symfony 1 to symfony 2. It was a total different product, they forgot about the community, their needs. And we hated that. And with Laravel, would we take the work in MVC frameworks, and it's nice, too, like community's cool. So, I think I will work with Laravel.
Chris:
Interesting.
Marcos:
It feels like the symphony 1 of the day.
Agustin:
Yes.
Chris:
So, out of the work that you guys do, do you have clients localized in ... So I'm-
Marcos:
We have some a few legacy clients in Argentina, for them we do like new sites, basically, but most of our clients are US based, we have some clients in Europe, too, but US is our main market.
Chris:
Are you looking to branch out from that at all? Or what's coming down the line for 42mate?
Marcos:
I think that, as always, we're trying to grow our US market but we're starting to look into Europe, too. We have good experience working with, I think it was a Dutch company. And they use Drupal a lot in Europe. It's way easier to sell over there because they already know about it. You don't need to sell anything. They know what Drupal is, when we offer our expertise and our rates they really like it.
Agustin:
For the business perspective, we are trying to grow the company, but not too much. We don't want to have a huge company. Right now at this moment we are 10 people, we are trying to make good growth. That is why we are here in DrupalCon, trying to get more relationships to see if we can work with somebody else, make our customer base, make it bigger. That is one of the challenges that we have right now. The other challenge is to get people, because you have to work with Drupal, and nobody ... It's not like you go to a university and, Oh, I, will hire you because you already know Drupal.
Agustin:
You have to teach them and the learning curve is heavy. So those are our challenges, how we get this guy that knows something of BHP, get him productive in Drupal very fast, and put him in work in [crosstalk 00:04:39] Those are the challenges that we have currently, right now.
Chris:
So here at DrupalCon, how many DrupalCons have you guys had a booth at?
Agustin:
This is our first.
Chris:
This is your first one?
Marcos:
Yeah.
Agustin:
Yeah.
Chris:
How's that experience been for you?
Agustin:
Very, very good. We been in TechCrunch a few months ago, the last month.
Marcos:
Then we went to the South by Southwest, like three weeks ago, and the objective was the same, to try to get more clients and pitch to people, and DrupalCon is completely different. Here you just have a conversation with everybody that comes by the booth, and the people here are looking for Drupal devs, they know exactly what they want. It's a perfect fit. I think we'll be coming back.
Agustin:
Very excited. We are very, very, very ... With the Drupal association, they help us a lot to be able get this booth, so we are very-
Marcos:
Yeah, again, we want to thank them because we're a very small company, so it was a lot of effort money-wise to get here. They were able to provide us a third ticket for one of our members for free in the same sponsorship level, that really help us get here.
Chris:
That's wonderful to hear.
Marcos:
Big shout out to the Drupal association.
Agustin:
We were like, "Let's try if we can get a booth. Let's see what they say." And the first one they was, "Yes, guys. We will make it work. No problem. Let's see what you have." And that was super cool.
Marcos:
Yeah. I have to say, that was very [inaudible 00:06:06]
Marcos:
And one of the things with trade shows, I don't know if you know, you need to put together the booth, and then you have to hire one company for electricity, one company for the carpet or whatnot. When they put together this event kit, and it was perfect. They explain exactly everything you need to do, who you need to talk. Everything worked exactly as the document described. I really like that. [crosstalk 00:06:33]
Chris:
Great. That's a very cool story. That's amazing that they were able to help you guys out and do that. It shows the importance of having so many ... The community is not just the names that people know, the big names, there are so many other smaller companies or individuals that make up the community that, that's what makes everything, just so rich, I think.
Chris:
So is there anything in particular in DrupalCon that you're hoping to take away from, personally? Like sessions you might want to see, or keynotes that you thought were really good.
Marcos:
Well we spend most of our time manning the booth so I didn't really go to a lot of sessions, myself, but it was very cool that we got to meet a lot of our heroes, really. Like core contributors that stopped by and have a chat with us. I really like that sense of community.
Marcos:
Other communities are not like that at all. You can't even approach the guy to talk to him because he's some celebrity. Here is completely weird. Webchick stopped by our booth and she was really cool about everything, we had a nice conversation. I like the sense of community in DrupalCon.
Agustin:
Yes, the same feeling. I think we already have it. We built some relationships, so that is most important for us.
Chris:
Yes. I absolutely agree. I love doing this podcast to find out about those sorts of things. There are people here from WordPress from Joomla, and you can ... Yeah. Angie is always very welcoming and open when you come up to her. That's wonderful.
Chris:
Do you think, is there something that the Drupal community could take away from any of the other communities that you work with? The other services and languages that you work with. Something that we could take away from them or vice versa? Something you would share between them.
Marcos:
I think it's already started, the community already started doing it, and it's all these initiatives that Dries talked about, with the demo initiative about having a better out of the box experience, that's crucial for us to be able to bring new people into Drupal, because one of the main pain points when you're just trying to sell this to someone is the default installation looks like shit. Compared to WordPress, where everything clicks and they have a new theme. And steps are being taken to solve that problem. I think that's very important for the main problem itself.
Marcos:
Community-wise, I don't know. I think it's the other way around. Other communities can learn a lot from Drupal community.
Agustin:
I think what Dries said in the yesterday conference, about to make Drupal know about those peoples that are not in technology but take that decision, it's very important. Because usually when we try to push Drupal to our customers, there is this guy that doesn't know anything about technology, but he knows some things. And he knows that the [inaudible 00:09:21] is using Adobe for CMS, so they want to use Adobe. We are saying, "No, Drupal is better." "Ah, but that is just open source." And that sucks.
Agustin:
So, the efforts that the Drupal association and Acquia, all the big companies, are doing to put Drupal in the map as a good and solid option, is amazing here. That was great for me, because is going to help us a lot, a lot. And that is great.
Agustin:
I think what we need to improve in our community, and everybody's aware of this, is the documentation. It's hard to give the fewest steps how to start to do things in Drupal, the guys that starts working with Drupal, they get mad. What, why do I have to do use what [inaudible 00:10:08] blocks context, panels, how this work together? And there is no clear specification how this work, how to do this, how to do that. So you discover in the middle, maybe you have good luck and you have a mentor that explain you everything. But sometimes you don't.
Marcos:
Especially the lone developer, that's at home trying to read the docs. Drupal, all the recommendation is very thorough, very complete. And like anything that is very complete and thorough, it's very being hard to surmount. You're going to the first page, you have like five pages long with a bunch of links, like what am I doing here? Where do I start?
Agustin:
In our company, we used to have a broad development with Drupal 7 as the main reference about what to do, how to start. There is a new version for Drupal 8, but it's not so good as the Drupal 7.
Marcos:
Yeah. Yeah because of the timeline that Drupal 8 is moving on, that I think the Drupal 8 version is like mostly based on 8.0 and 8.1, and now we're in 8.5. So many things have changed, there's no way to keep it updated that easily.
Agustin:
And the order thing that we used to have a lot and I am feeling that we are losing that, is that in Drupal 7 we have this stability, where nothing changes so fast. You were able to upgrade the version with so many impact, and now with Drupal 8, 8.1, 8.3, 8.5, things are changing really, really fast and it's hard for a small agency to support our customer on those decision changes, because the customer don't have enough money to update, to make these changes. And I don't want to lose them.
Agustin:
Dubai was one of my first. One of the reasons that they choose Drupal in the moment was that with Drupal 7, a lot of years of support. You can keep it in Drupal 7, and it's going to change to 8, but you will have support. It's going to continue working. So if we lose that, it's going to be saddening. Backward compatibility is very, very important.
Agustin:
It's cool to be in the latest technology, the least is methodologies. The latest things that in the Internet, but backward compatibility is important, too. We don't have to lose that.
Chris:
Yeah. Well, let's take this and flip it on its head a bit. So if you were to wake up tomorrow and the Internet was gone, what would you do?
Marcos:
I'd probably ride my motorcycle all day. Yeah, that's probably it.
Chris:
What type of motorcycle?
Marcos:
Oh, I have a T100, a Triumph, that I got a couple years back, and I really enjoy driving the bike around. Don't get to go out that much, so yeah, probably do that.
Chris:
Excellent.
Agustin:
In my free time, I am a fisherman, so probably I will go live to the river and, fuck everybody.
Chris:
It's fun to spend your days tossing the line out-
Agustin:
Yeah. Living with the fishes.
Marcos:
That's not a bad answer, though.
Chris:
That's nice. It sounds very relaxing. And finally guys, if you could share some gratitude or some thanks with somebody who is an inspiration, gave you a little push along the way. Is there anyone you'd like say thank you to?
Agustin:
There's a lot of people that help us. Of course, we have the big contributors that everybody knows, Dries, Fabien Potencier, Larry Garfield, WebChick. There is a lot of people that every time is helping everybody, and that is great. If you had to sell me one person only? It's impossible, it's impossible, but-
Marcos:
I think that's what's great about this. You can't say, "Oh, this guy," because there's no this guy, it's a group effort. It's a bunch of people. And even before the Drupal community, like open source in general, Linux, Stallman, all those people. I think that is great that you can not say this guy, it's all of these people.
Chris:
Yeah, everybody is so open and welcoming and wanting to help and contribute, so I think that's a great answer.
Agustin:
For us it's very important because we live in Argentina, we don't live in Buenos Aires. We live in a small town in the north, and a long time ago we decide to go with the open source, and the open source give us a lot of opportunities, because for us it's not easy to get licenses, the customer don't have a lot of money to spend in machine, on licenses and software. So the open source gives us a lot of opportunities, and it make it possible to have agency today. And for us, it is very, very important.
Marcos:
We wouldn't be here without open source, for sure.
Chris:
Excellent. Great, well, guys. Thank you very much for taking some time to talk, this was wonderful. I really enjoyed it.
Marcos:
Thank you so much.
Agustin:
Thank you.
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