Phew. While the Drupal 6 feature freeze craze was getting closer and closer, in the meantime, I needed to take a few final exams and defend my thesis at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (the fantastic photo of the informatics building courtesy of fotav.hu). Finally I graduated after eight years at the university, especially to the relief of my parents, who at times thought that I would never make it. This means that as of 22th of June, 2007, I have an MsC in Technical Informatics (this is the official name, although I'd rather call it an Informatics Engineer).
To be honest, it was not an easy ride. I started university while already being neck-deep in the PHP community. Have been lead of the PHP.net website team and most notably the documentation team for years throughout being at the university. Contributing to the PHP community was both a delighting experience and a great opportunity to learn. I held session at several international PHP conferences, co-organized several big (2-300 attendees) PHP conferences in Hungary, technical-edited the first Hungarian PHP book (which is a funny read looking back), translated a big chunk of the PHP documentation to Hungarian and tought HTML/PHP/XML, web security, even web services courses in a private school. It was crazy to start to teach web technologies with a company that just started to experiment with the topic myself being their sole teacher in the field in 1999.
No wonder that at times, I felt I am ready for life, and university is only in my way. Thankfully I reconsidered this position, which was greatly supported by my significant other, who came into my life and turned my university completion pace and degrees upside-down, in the most positive direction possible. I owe my parents and my girlfriend a lot for standing by myself in the hard-looking times, and helped me find creative ways to enjoy what the university could offer. I had the pleasure to attend courses in several topics from project management to the semantic web, through speech recognition, the basics of artifical intelligence and the especially lovable social studies of which I never missed a lesson or project to do. Looking back, the university offered and gave me so much, that I can hardly find words to express my appreciation.
Sometime around the fall of 2003, the big webmaster community site I managed (and still drive) needed to migrate from an ugly legacy system to a brand new CMS, so we were looking around for a system. At the time, we choose Drupal (4.4 was the current version :), and I was crazy about how much the system could do. I found that it is a good idea to share my good finding, so once we migrated the site over, I published lengthy articles about the system, regularly posted news about the system to our community site. It shortly became clear that the Drupal "subsite" should be spin off, and Tamás Andrássy was instrumental in igniting this effort. So we started Drupal.hu, which became a clear success through the years. I had sessions on several conferences about Drupal to developers, high school teachers, managers, went to Zürich to present Drupal at the OSCOM conference. I am credited to let chx know about Drupal in the first place (which is a long story in itself :), and of course we found out that a Drupal Conference in Hungary was in order (organized last year with a hundred attendees, Dries presenting at the event). You might now expect that were conferences are involved, courses and books should be on the list ;) Well, I introduced Drupal to the private school, and persuaded the boss to let me teach this CMS instead of the nukes, which were the default choices at that time. Of course I also got involved with the Drupal book, reviewed and made suggestions for the localization chapter. Drupal became a huge success in Hungary, lots of companies and organizations looking for Drupal developers, including some of the local big names.
In the meantime, my focus moved on from PHP specific stuff to more general web development, edited Flash-PHP books and a complete Prototype based AJAX book. We migrated the PHP conference line to the Hungarian Web Conferences, which are now organized with Sun and Microsoft and are open to client side stuff, as well as more recent server side developments, naturally with more attendees then ever.
Even to my own suprise, I found the time to keep participating in amateur acting throughout all the years. Played lead roles in three big musicals (all from among the most popular Hungarian authored musicals of all time), refining both my singing and playing style and knowledge thanks to the professionals working with the team. Although I have been on stage since being ten years old or so, there is still a lot to practice in this field for me.
The final months to the graduation were just wilder then anything else. I managed to connect with Péter Hanák, who became my consultant at the university, to guide me writing my thesis about web application internationalization, specifically with Drupal. I worked a lot of hard hours to perfect solutions for Drupal 6, Jose A Reyero even came to Budapest to discuss things and with people such as Jabuk Suchy and Yves Chedemois, we delivered truly cool solutions (admittedly not the best, but this is how humans work). People at Development Seed were also instrumental in helping me finish my thesis properly. They provided with technical support for the Drupal fork we worked in, and helped me with professionally proofreading my English, which was said to be understandable enough, but obviously not perfect.
Many people requested my thesis, which I put on hold until this very blog post. Here is the full text, attached, as submitted to the university. I debated a lot about choosing a license for the publication, and I ended up simply saying that it is my copyrighted text, so feel free to cite it in the bounds of fair use, but contact me if you would like to do anything else with it.
While we were deep in the internationalization and localization work, Dries Buytaert announced, that I was selected as a Drupal 6 core comitter, which was (and is) a mind-blowing experience. It is both gratifying and poses unexpected challenges every single day. Nothing I have done before could compare to this.
If you read down to this point, you might be a little bit interested in how do I see the (not so distant) future for myself. I am guest-blogging at the Development Seed blog, to distill some of my thesis findings into more to the point, focused posts. Drupal 6 is not close to release yet, so there is a lot of work to do there. I take part in Google Summer of Code for this summer, which helps me postpone finding a day job or company, but I am looking for ways to exercise my areas of expertise while being a good fit for a company. That is: I am out for a great job. As far as conferences go, I plan going to FrOSCon (with a Drupal subconference) this August and Drupalcon
Brussels this September. We also plan organizing the second Hungarian Drupal Conference this October. Books? Well, there are no books on the horizon, luckily. However, organization of my group's next musical performance is already underway, and it seems like we are presenting a musical you might actually know of ;) We plan to present Hair, and I was selected to play Woof, who accidentally sings the title song, so I will be into some serious practicing again.
All-in-all the writing of my high-shool headmaster resonates in my mind when looking back to the past years: love the route your life has taken as you only have one of it, and that made you what you are today.