Painting the Bikeshed: Lessons from A Drupal 8 Initiative Lead

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 from 3:45 – 4:30pm in B301


In March of 2011 I was named by Drupal project lead Dries Buytaert as lead of an initiative to improve configuration management for the next release. This talk will discuss how I went from lone coder to community leader and some of the lessons I learned along the way.


For seven major releases, Drupal was built on the principle of ‘scratch your own itch’ – if the community wanted it, they would build it, but no formal guidance or roadmap was given. For the Drupal 8 release cycle, founder Dries Buytaert decided to put some structure in place and formalize several initiatives that he felt were strategic and vital to Drupal’s future. In March of 2011 I was named as the first initiative lead for Drupal 8, tasked with the job of fixing Drupal’s problems around configuration management.

I was excited and proud and itching to get going, but I felt one emotion more than any other – paralyzing fear. The Drupal community is filled with talented engineers, but moving from coder to project manager and community leader can be incredibly difficult. This session will outline some of the lessons I’ve learned about our community and the ways to (or more often not to) get it moving towards a goal.

Speaking experience

I have been speaking primarily at Drupal events for the past five years, including at five DrupalCons. In the past two years or so I have been focusing these talks more and more on community issues as opposed to technical ones.

Come Together (keynote at DrupalCamp Stockholm):
Scaling the Drupal Community (with Angela Byron at DrupalCon London):
A Shot In The Arm (Ignite talk at DrupalCon Chicago):

I gave 'Painting the Bikeshed' at DrupalCon Denver in March (video: ) however if chosen for Open Source Bridge I would rework it somewhat for a more generalized and less Drupal-specific audience.


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    Greg Dunlap



    Despite being saddled with a degree in photography, Greg has been working as a professional software engineer for over twenty years. His experience has included desktop database applications, retail kiosks, embedded software for gambling devices and pinball machines, and websites in over half a dozen languages. For the last five years, Greg has been actively involved in the Drupal community, co-authoring Drupal 8 Module Development and, in March of 2011, being named as lead of an initiative to improve configuration management in Drupal 8.

    Greg lives in Portland, OR with his cat Ozu. In his spare time he plays pinball and listens to music that is loud.