“Follow The Drupal Security Standards To Make Your Website Fully Secure,” Advises Gem D. Devanadera

by Salman Mehdi  October 9, 2014

Drupal is one of the most commonly used Content Management Systems that powers 2.1% of all the websites as of today. It offers more than 30,000 contributed modules. With seven version releases, Drupal is among the most choicest CMS for developers. It enjoys the support of more than 1 million community members and developers, who are continuously engaged in making the current Drupal versions—6, 7, or 8—the newest version in the pipeline—a huge success.

Continuing with the series of interviews, we are extremely grateful to Gem D. Devanadera for taking some time out of her busy schedule for this interview.

Gem is a true Drupal enthusiast, who has the real passion to learn and implement new ideas in her projects. In this interview, she has candidly opined about the current development trends within the Drupal industry. She has also shed light on the challenges that Drupal developers are facing nowadays.

On the lighter side, she is a food lover and loves to lead a simple life. She has also shared her simple, yet delicious Milky Cheese Cupcake recipe. Enjoy the read! (The interview has been edited for clarity.)

Gem Devanadera Interview

Cloudways: Being an experienced Drupal developer, tell me what makes it the choicest CMS for you? What’s the story behind your success? How did it all started?

Gem D. Devanadera: To start with, I had no idea about Drupal. I’ve just learned Drupal and WordPress as early as 2011. Of course, Content Management System or framework like Drupal makes it very flexible for me,  especially at a beginner’s level, where I started with site building. My first site building project was basically crafted from Drupal Gardens.

I can only say that I am doing fairly good up to now and will continue learning Drupal. My success philosophy is not about fame or fortune, rather it is about winning over my self-limitation – the one that had hindered me before in exploring things that I am not used to –  that brought changes in my life.

As I have said, I engaged actively in the community in the year 2011 through community events like Drupal Camp Manila and Singapore. That was where I started, until then, I was exploring technology trends in Drupal with the help of some mentors and through self-study.

Cloudways: Drupal uses modules. Which modules do you recommend to get the maximum benefits out of your website? If you are given liberty to change one Drupal theme or module, which one theme or module will you alter?

Gem D. Devanadera: For me, it’s the Views module, as it helps you generate contents that you can display in any format. Also, there is a  ‘Services’ module,  which I highly recommend, because services module can help you build rest service to easily integrate 3rd party applications within Drupal.

If ever I could change a module, I’d like to modify the Panels module for better performance, so that it becomes capable of loading pages at a faster speed.

Cloudways: With DrupalCon—the flagship event—now becoming a norm, how these events have influenced Drupal’s progress? How social media communities on Google+, LinkedIn, etc., have fared in this regard?

Gem D. Devanadera: I attended DrupalCon Sydney last year and it was an awesome event. For me, such events count as a big factor when it comes to  the progress of Drupal Community.

Through such events, developers from different parts of the world get an opportunity to gather around, collaborate, and share their skills and ideas with each other. These events encourage people to contribute more through building networks and friends’ circles inside the community which is important for the culture of  the community.

The developers attend these events in the spirit to make things happen through module contribution.

We are currently living in a very high-tech environment, the so-called “digital world”. As far as the social media is concerned, it is also a big factor that contributes towards the development and progress of Drupal Community. I must say it is all about networking and business relationships

Just like Google+ and LinkedIn, at DrupalCon we are not just building a community of people that contributes and shares the same passion. The event also encourages business entities to become proactive and visible not only on online forums, but also through face-to-face interactions and meetups through on-site events.

Cloudways: You are a working mother with three kids. Both are full time jobs. How do you manage between your professional and personal lives?

Gem D. Devanadera: I always follow the single most important motto in my life, i.e. ‘Time is Gold’. I value my time more than anything else, that is why I try to balance it no matter how difficult my life maybe.

People seem to live in a rush of life, but I do not want that kind of life. I follow a completely different path that has helped me lead a successful and satisfactory life. My day starts with a morning prayer and ends with a prayer at night. Frankly, I am not that too religious but I make sure my relationship with God is always there.

One more thing, if I can do my work today I will do it, I do not want tomorrow to wait for a job to get done. The reason behind my working logic is simple. I want to enjoy tomorrow playing with my kids and make time for my family, setting aside work-related problems, when I am with them.

And I think that ‘Nature’ helps me in taking some time out to breathe some fresh air every time I feel suffocated with work and loads of problems. It is a sign for me to pause for a while and take a deep breath and to make time for myself. I always remind myself success is useless if you can’t enjoy your life, a precious gift of God.

Cloudways: There is a severe competition going on within the CMS industry. What are the potential challenges Drupal developers are facing?

Gem D. Devanadera: Well, I will  just talk specifically about the current scenario of Drupal development in Philippines here. The fact remains that we lack pure professional Drupal talent. There are a lot of reasons behind that but what I believe is, most of the developers tend to use WordPress and Joomla rather than Drupal. That is why most of the companies here prefer to use WP and Joomla CMS for their projects, so they prefer to hire WordPress, Joomla, or.net developers.

Meanwhile, our community of Drupal developers is still new and it is still in progress to convince them to try our CMS. The WordPress and Joomla developers are having a hard time understanding the system within. I believe the culture of Drupal is very different than any other CMS.

In my point of view, it’s not just because you are a hardcore developer that would mean you can easily adopt to the Drupal culture. One needs an in-depth understanding of the whole platform and the culture of the community itself to excel.

Cloudways: Let’s talk about the lighter side of life before we move on tougher questions on Drupal. I noticed on your Twitter profile that you love to eat pizza and cupcakes. Other than these two, which food do like to have in your lunch? Would you like to share your recipe of one of your delicious cupcakes?

Gem D. Devanadera: I love Adobo, one of the best of our Filipino foods. Sure, I would like to share with you just a simple Milky Cheese Cupcake recipe to prepare 3-6 pieces.

  1. Buy ready-made cupcakes.
  2. Take 1 cup of Kraft Cheese Spread.
  3. Mix M&M Milk Chocolates and 1 tsp full marshmallow in the cheese spread mix.
  4. Take 1 piece of cupcake, spread 1 tsp full of Milky Cheese Delight on top of the cupcake and sprinkle some marshmallow and put the last M&M Milk Chocolate on top of the marshmallow. Your delicious cupcake is ready for the bite. Enjoy!

Cloudways: Drupal is slowly progressing towards a new version. How Drupal 8 is different from the previous version Drupal 7? Is Drupal 8 worth trying now or should we wait for something extraordinary in near future?

Gem D. Devanadera: Drupal 8 is in the new league altogether. The core of Drupal 8 is now fully object-oriented while in Drupal 7, the core is still procedural. Plus, Drupal 8 uses Symfony2 framework which is more difficult than Drupal 7. As far as I know, Drupal 8 addresses all  the potential problems encountered in Drupal 7.

Cloudways: Like every other CMS, Drupal is vulnerable to security threats. What are potential security threats for Drupal? Is there any risk averting disaster management plan in place?

Gem D. Devanadera: No one can say that any application is 100% secured. Every day, hackers are getting more intelligent in terms of hacking any application. Currently, most of the security loopholes in Drupal range from form validations, MySQL injections, using older versions of WYSIWYG editors.

These loopholes can be prevented by following the security standards of Drupal. These standards do include a complete disaster management plan, especially if you are running high traffic sites.

Cloudways: What do you think would the future of Drupal 6 and 7 after the launch of Drupal 8?

Gem D. Devanadera: Well, with Drupal 6 I guess, they have already set a non-support deadline, while Drupal 7 will continue to prevail  in the market. It is a fact that Drupal 7 is being used by the large number of community supporters including the Back-Drop Community.

Cloudways: There are a lot of individuals, who want to kickstart their career with Drupal. What’s your advice for newbies?

Gem D. Devanadera: During the Drupal Apprentice Training Program, I always had the opportunity to learn from other apprentices who had a non-technical background, others came from a pure technological environment with experience of website designing and development, and some of them came from clerical job and accountancy. This is the most challenging part of breeding new developers in Drupal, as we are forced to start right from the scratch.

Having said that I always advise these enthusiastic individuals to first know about their passion and goals in life. One must have passion and I believe that if you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion; for your passion will lead you right to your purpose.

For beginners it is important to have passion, a clear goal, and the interest to learn. If someone thinks to make a career in Drupal, it is the same as building with Lego. Every day is a step to learn about and figure out the system. It is not just a one-time learning experience, but rather a continuous process. In order to be able to adopt Drupal in its entirety, one must have the courage to ask questions and seek their answers; to accept that no one is greater than the other; and to keep learning the new trends that govern Drupal today.

You can follow Gem D. Devanadera (@GemDevanadera) on Twitter.


This brings us to the end of this interview. Hope you have enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for more interviews that are in the pipeline. Till then enjoy the fastest Drupal hosting on next-generation Cloudways PaaS.

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About Salman Mehdi

Salman Mehdi worked as Digital Content Producer for Cloudways. In his spare time, he reads books, blog posts, or anything that catches his fancy.

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