Pantheon Community

WebOps Wednesday AMA: Mauricio Dinarte

Hello, my name is Mauricio Dinarte. I collaborate with Agaric.coop as a Drupal developer and trainer. In addition to Drupal, Python, and ReactJS development, we offer training on various topics like Drupal migrations and custom development. I also started UnderstandDrupal.com with my brother Carlos to share our learning with the community in multiple languages and formats. We produce content in English, Spanish, and French in text and video format.

Nicaragua is the tropical paradise I call home. Located in Central America, it sports vivid flora, exuberant fauna, crystal clear beaches, perfect surf waves, colorful mountain ranges, impressive active volcanoes, and calid temperatures rounding 85 degrees all year round. Would you like to pay us a visit? :wink: Meanwhile, have a virtual tour of one of our active volcanoes at https://www.ge.com/digitalvolcano/ When you come around do not miss Ometepe! It is an island formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Cocibolca, a freshwater lake that hosts sharks. Concepcion and Maderas, the two volcanoes, pack stunning waterfalls, soothing thermals, and majestic views.

Recently, I have delved into Drupal migrations. Last year I wrote a series of 31 articles covering many topics of the API. Check it out at https://understanddrupal.com/migrations I have also presented sessions and workshops on migrating from different sources as well as upgrading to Drupal 8 from versions 6 and 7. At the moment, I am working on writing two books and two video courses on these subjects.

Over the years, I have worked on several areas of Drupal including site building, theming, and module development. I have also worked with ReactJS for stand-alone applications and embedded ones inside other CMS.

I enjoy teaching and traveling. So far, I have presented 30+ sessions and workshops at 20+ DrupalCamps and WordCamps across America and Europe. Topics include website creation basics, content migrations, Drupal and WordPress testing with Behat, theming with Twig, ReactJS, and more.

Open source has given me so many opportunities in life. Because of that, I strive to give back in many ways. At home, I serve as the lead organizer of the Drupal community and as volunteer organizing WordCamp Managua. Internationally, I have served as mentor at Drupal events as well as member of the DrupalCon program team and the Drupal Global Training Day initiative.

If you want to know more about Nicaragua, speaking at conferences, traveling, Drupal, WordPress, ReactJS, or Pantheon… Ask me anything! ¡Pregúntame lo que quieras! Demande-moi n’importe quoi!

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This sounds amazing. Sharks and volcanoes and waterfalls?!

Okay, getting back to business: You’ve written so much about migrations. Where do you find that teams struggle the most with a migration?

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Hi Mauricio, your work sounds so fascinating! What do you find to be a main driving factor for why you do what you do, and how do you sustain yourself and keep yourself motivated?

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Hey friend! :wave:

Thanks so much for joining us this week! One thing that stuck out to me was how many active volcanoes :volcano: there are in the world [over 1,500]. Like whoa! And being located in Central America I know you’re probably in the center of it all. Have you ever seen one erupt [from a distance hopefully of course]?

I must say you had me at waterfall! It’s been a while since I have wondered outside of the US but I think it’s about time to make another international trip! Maybe to your stomping grounds–who knows!

Outside of travel, I am intrigued on how you got started in open source. Has it always been a passion? Or did you just kind of stumble into it? I always love hearing people’s stories!

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Hi Mauricio!

I’m curious to hear more about the Drupal Nicaragua community. How big is it? Do y’all keep in touch via meetups, Slack, etc. like communities in the US do? Are there ways those of us Drupalistas elsewhere in the world can connect with you and support one another better?

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Hi @sparklingrobots , thanks for joining the AMA.

Yes, Ometepe Island is truly enchanting as is the rest of Nicaragua. <3


Photo caption: Conception and Maderas volcanoes rising out of Lake Cocibolca forming Ometepe Island.

Some areas in which I have seen teams struggle with migration projects are:

  • Estimating how much time or money would it cost. This article at MTech’s blog gives a great overview on how to do it.

  • Verifying if the migration worked. Whether it is due to large data sets or inconsistencies in the source data, some edge cases might slip through. I wrote an article with tips that might be useful. Particularly, either pre processing the data to make it more consistent or cleaning up edges cases after the migration is complete are good approaches. Our very own @steve.persch presented on techniques to preemptively check if migrations did not break. Check out his session recording from DrupalCon. Also, the Migrate QA module seems pretty promising as well.

  • Importing large data sets. This comes in two flavors: exhausting available system resources (RAM for example) and needing to break up the import process into multiple chunks. Have a look at migration highwater marks for one way of addressing these situations.

  • Upgrading from previous versions. This is taking more importance as Drupal 7 and 8 will reach end-of-life in November of 2021. Challenging scenarios include migrating from multi sites and importing content that is multilingual, revisioned, and/or nested inside other data structures. Upgrading to modules like Layout Builder, Content Moderation, Media, Paragraphs, (Organic) Groups, Metatags, Commerce can be challenging too. At UnderstandDrupal.com we plan to cover some of these topics in the future. In the meantime, have a look at this article for an overview of the upgrade process and feel free to reach out if you have any of these needs.

As for general recommendations, make yourself familiar with the Migrate API and learn to use a debugger for when problems arise.

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Hi @monicadear, thanks for your question!

I am living a dream I would have never imagined. :slightly_smiling_face: Drupal started as a hobby for me. It gave the voice to express myself online when I lacked the technical knowledge. The fact that I am making a living as a Drupal developer is something I did not expect. Drupal and its wonderful community has given so many opportunities that contributing back is inevitable! It is my way to say “thank you”.

While working on Drupal projects and interacting with our community, I have leveled up my technical skills. With greater significance, I have grown as a person. For example, I developed the confidence to speak in public and in other languages. Also, traveling around the globe and meeting people with diverse life experiences have enriched my own.

To keep myself motivated I am constantly learning something new. From time to time, I dive deep into a topic and distill it for others to learn it faster. Knowing that I have saved someone time fixing an issue or impacted their professional career in any way is always fulfilling.

Last year I started to take French classes. One of my primary motivations was to be able to teach Drupal in a third language. As a non-native English speaker myself, I have first-hand experience with language barriers. Thus, my brother Carlos and me started UnderstandDrupal.com to help others learn about Drupal and related technologies in their own language. For now, we produce content in English, Spanish, and French. We are striving to add more languages in the future. :wink:

With all the excitement that comes with contributing back to Drupal and open source in general, it is important to know your limits in order to prevent burn out. Recently, I have reduced some of my volunteering efforts to give me some breathing room. The fact that Agaric.coop, the organization I collaborate with, is deeply committed to open source helps a lot as well. They have supported me in more ways that I can count. Thanks!

These are some good memories I have collected over time:


Photo caption: Name badges of conference attended by Mauricio Dinarte

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Hi @dinarcon! Like you, I frequently hop between the Drupal and WordPress communities. What are some similarities that you’ve observed about the communities at large, but also the software itself?

After our Getting Started with Drupal 8 course we share resources for places to kee learning about Drupal and progressing to the next level. What are your favorite learning resources to share with beginners?

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Hey @McKennaR , we got to share travel tips!

Oh, there are so many active volcanoes in the world. Nicaragua does it job in keeping that number high. Some years back, we had 5 volcanoes either erupting or presenting seismic activity at the same time! :volcano: And yes, I have seem some mild eruptions from a safe distance. In 2015, Momotombo erupted after a century of being dormant. The lava flowing down its slope painted the sky crimson red at night. Another volcano that is currently active is Masaya. You can walk up to the crater and look down to see a river of bright, scarlet lava.


Photo caption: Lava and gas inside the crater of Masaya volcano in Nicaragua.

As for how I got started with open source, it goes back to my college years. I was exposed to many open source projects and started using some of them. A good friend of mine named Jorge introduced me to Drupal. I had read a book on HTML and CSS which got me interested in building websites. He told me about some open source content management systems and it was Drupal that one that attracted me the most. I was able to build complex sites without having to know all the technical background. This made me feel empowered and kept me wanting to learn more and more. After some months trying Drupal on my own, I attended a local meetup. Everything changed. The community was so helpful and supportive. I remember Felix Delattre (@xamanu) explaining in 5 minutes how to solve a problem I had been experiencing for days. It was then that I understood the value of the community and started to get involved.

As for other passions, teaching has always been one. Traveling is something that Drupal and WordPress enabled me to do. While combining the two for some years, I have been able to share with the communities in several DrupalCamps and WordCamps around the globe. What I enjoy the most about teaching is that I learn so much in the process. In order to explain something, you need to have a good level of understanding so I research a lot in advance. With UnderstandDrupal.com I got into writing. In the the near future we will also release video courses for those who prefer that format. It has been a rewarding experience.

By the way, the nicaraguan community is planning to organize a DrupalCamp later this year. If you can make it, you will have a lot of fun in the land of lakes and volcanoes. :droplet: :volcano: :wink:

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Hi @cedewey , thanks for inquiring about the local community!

The Nicaraguan Drupal community was started more than a decade ago by Felix Delattre. It has grown and shrunk over the years. Recently, the interest in Drupal has increased again. I would say there are about 10 volunteers, 25 regular meetup attendees, and hundreds of people who have participated in meetups or public workshops.

As for communication, we have an open group in Telegram where people can ask support questions. Facebook is one of the most effective ways for new people to learn about the community. Mailchimp is used to send announcements. There are Twitter and Instagram profiles as well as a Slack workspace, but they are not very active. A YouTube channel serves as the video archive for sessions and workshops presented over the years. And www.drupalnicaragua.org is a Drupal site that needs a lot of love. :sweat_smile: Thanks Pantheon for providing free hosting!

If you are abroad, there are many ways to support the local community. One would be producing tutorials in Spanish for those who want to learn about Drupal. For more direct support, sponsoring the community activities would be greatly appreciated. $25 USD a month is enough to cover the cost of food and drinks at the monthly meetups. Last year Lullabot send us money to support several community initiatives. For example, we were able to travel to another city and facilitate a workshop to young women in rural, vulnerable communities. They are part of an program that teaches them how to leverage technology to produce a positive change in their neighborhoods. It was gratifying to see their excitement when they realized how easy building a website with Drupal can be.


Photo caption: Members of the Drupal community and girls participating in the UpNicaragua program after a Drupal workshop.

A third way to support us is by considering Nicaragua the next time you have development needs. There is a lot of talent in country and the community is ready to take new projects. An increase in the demand of Drupal would definitely boost the interest of project in the country. You can send an email to contacto @ drupalnicaragua . org to get in touch with us.

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Hi @david.needham, it is always great to cross paths with you at various events!

The Drupal and WordPress communities have so many things in common. For one, both are passionate about mentoring people on ways to contribute to the project. Be it code, documentation, translation, accessibility, or other areas, there are always volunteers willing to teach you how to get involved.

drupal_contributors
Photo caption: World map with markers showing pictures of members of the Drupal community who contribute to the project. There are over 10,000 individuals contributors.

DrupalCamps and WordCamps are free or low cost which makes them accessible to a broader audience. Both communities strive to record talks given at these events and make the videos available for free. drupal.tv and wordpress.tv contain thousands of hours of high quality learning material. Additionally, there are regular meetups all over the world where you can interact with your local community. This is in my opinion one of the best ways to get started with any of the projects.

Both communities have abundant resources for people who want use the content management systems. In terms of the software, both Drupal and WordPress are super flexible. You can extend them beyond their original purpose to fit your specific needs. At WordCamp Miami 2018, I presented a talk about my experience participating in both communities.

Recently, I had the opportunity to help in one of the free Drupal workshops offer by Pantheon. After teaching the subject myself, I can tell the content that you provide is really good. I would recommend anyone to enroll in one of those workshops. Other great resources if you are starting with Drupal are:

For those who want to learn WordPress, I would recommend:

Para los que hablan español y quieren aprender Drupal les comparto:

Pour ceux qui veulent apprendre Drupal en français je recommande:

There are so many resources to learn Drupal and WordPress in these and other languages. Feel free to share your favorite!

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Hello Mauricio! Thank you for telling your story and for telling us about understanddrupal.com! Content translation & localization is such an important, and often challenging, set of tasks. What have you found to be some things that have helped you do that?

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Hi @carolyn, thanks for joining the AMA!

Yes, translation and localization can increase the impact of a project in profound ways. Greater adoption, new markets, and more contributions are some examples. At UnderstandDrupal.com it is two of us at the moment and our workflow is relatively simple:

  • Use Drupal core translation features. With a powerful set of tools available out of the box, we have not had the need to install other modules or integrate with external services.

  • Check for official guidelines if available. When translating and localizing content, it is often the case that a literal interpretation is not used. Therefore, we use the Spanish and French glossaries in order to make our translations feel more familiar to the reader.

  • Have multiple installations in different languages. Similarly, user interface text is not always translated literally. Having Drupal sites in Spanish and French let us provide more accurate step-by-step instructions. Also, we can take screenshots showing the interface in its own language.

We acknowledge more complicated workflows exist. For example, when the source content is changed, the translations need to be flagged as requiring an update. Or, if multiple people participate in the translation and localization processes, an editorial workflow has to be established. Whichever your use case might be, Drupal and WordPress are easily extensible to fit specific requirements.

Thanks everyone for participating in the AMA! It was lots of fun. :slightly_smiling_face: Feel free to follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Drupal.org if you want to stay in touch. You can find me as dinarcon in all those platforms. Also, keep an eye on UnderstandDrupal.com for more Drupal content is English, Spanish, and French. Thanks Pantheon for having me.

¡Muchas gracias! Merci beaucoup!