Ryan Weaver is a Teacher, trainer, speaker of PHP and Drupal, and a Symfony advocate. He is the documentation lead for the Symfony Framework, writer for SymfonyCasts, and an avid supporter of open source as the best tool to solve grave business problems.
He likes to present topics in a narrative way, building real applications and fabricating stories as you learn and develop. He is a published author and a speaker who knows his way around PHP and Drupal.
Since we have been covering WordPress and SEO a lot lately, we thought it would be a nice change to jump to Drupal. Fortunately, Ryan is here with us today to share his two cents!
Hostnoc: Hi Ryan! It’s great to have you here. Let’s start with your experience at SymfonyCasts and how long you have been affiliated with Drupal.
Ryan: Ha! At this point, a long time – about 7 years. I have a funny history with Drupal – I’ve never built a site in it! But Drupal 8 modernized a lot of things internally, including bringing in object-oriented code and parts of Symfony. As soon as they did that… Drupal made sense to me! Drupal developers can now understand non-Drupal code much easier and non-Drupal developers can understand Drupal. That’s a very cool thing!
Hostnoc: WordPress is being adopted at a rapid pace, what do you think about Drupal’s future? And as a developer, which one would you bet your life on?
Ryan: It’s one of those “choose the best tool for the job” type of thing. There are a lot of sites that WordPress is perfect for. You get a *lot* of out-of-the-box features and can do a ton if you aren’t a coder and don’t have a coder. But, there’s also the point of “how complex your app is” where Drupal makes more sense. As a developer, it’s no comparison – Drupal is way more fun to use.
Hostnoc: What are your reviews about Drupal’s latest version: Drupal 8.7.0? What are the best and the worst points you found in the latest release?
Ryan: Other than a few highlights (JSON: API module in the core!), I don’t know much about it… and that’s great! Drupal releases are no longer this “huge” thing where you need to wait for years and maybe it will break your app. New minor versions are available every 6 months and you can upgrade safely. Even when Drupal 9 comes out, you’ll be able to upgrade. This means you’re getting new features every 6 months without an upgrade headache. That’s the *truly* amazing thing about Drupal 8.7… or 8.8… or 8.9… etc.
Hostnoc: Having around 7 years of experience in Drupal, who motivated you to be something in Drupal? And who are the famous Drupal trainers you adore following?
Ryan: Drupal motivated *me*. I’m a Symfony developer. Suddenly Drupal was modern and built on Symfony and I could understand it. As a developer, working on Drupal 8 is an absolute pleasure versus Drupal 8.7 or most other CMS’s. And who do I follow? Well, our friends over at Drupalize.me, of course!
Hostnoc: Many people trust WordPress because they claim it is more SEO-friendly, but how do you think a website with Drupal and PHP 7.3 can really be helpful for a business website or a personal blog?
Ryan: First, I think both are great tools. But if your site will have some complexity where you’ll need to build some custom code, as a developer, I’d certainly prefer to do that work on Drupal. I can also know confidently that I’m using the latest PHP features, coding best practices *and* (due to the new way Drupal does releases) my site can live for many *years* and be upgraded to the latest versions of Drupal (and PHP) without breaking anything. Drupal is that solid foundation. And if you want to have a rich CMS backend with, for example, a single-page-app frontend in React or Vue, Drupal has a lot of tools to make that possible.
Hostnoc: PHP 7.3 is making waves, most hosts are adopting it, but what are the security benefits afforded to blogs by the latest version of PHP?
Ryan: Excellent question. To start off, newer versions of PHP are faster than old ones. So if you can’t get motivated by the security implications, maybe the speed can help! The simple truth is this: all software has security vulnerabilities that will eventually be discovered. If you never upgrade your PHP version (or your WordPress/Drupal version), your blog *will* eventually get hacked, I guarantee it. Upgrading is a *must*. If you’re still using PHP 5 or even PHP 7.0, guess what? If a security vulnerability is found in PHP today, your version of PHP will not be fixed. Upgrade to 7.3, buy yourself a few years of security release support, and enjoy the extra performance.
Hostnoc: As you are a speaker and teacher, What was the first event that you spoke at? How was the experience?
Ryan: Ha! I don’t even remember it anymore. But, I do remember what a famous speaker told me before I ever gave my first talk: start at your local level (local user group) and use it to practice. If you’re feeling nervous, let me give you 2 other pieces of advice. First, everyone in the audience wants you to succeed. There’s a common misconception that someone wants to find something wrong you said and call you out. That has literally *never* happened to me. Maybe a few times someone has politely come up afterward to make sure I was aware of some cool, new thing – but that was it. Second, not *all* speakers have a lot of energy. Get on stage, have some energy, and people will love you just for making it interesting.
Hostnoc: Web hosting plays a huge role when it comes to developing a website, HostNOC is also a web-hosting service, so please shed some pearls of wisdom to help us make HostNOC better.
Ryan: I’m a developer. So pretty much anytime a host can make my life easier, I like them! There is so much to keep track of, including making sure that when a PHP security release happens, my host applies it without me thinking. A host that “has my back” is the best.