Ryan Szrama, From The Commerce Guys, On Drupal-Based E-Commerce

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 19, 2010

The annual DrupalCon conference is coming up, April 19th to 21st at San Francisco's Moscone Center.  Drupal, of course, is the increasingly popular open source content management system founded by Dries Buytaert, and OStatic itself runs on the platform. There will be many movers and shakers from the Drupal world at the conference, including representatives from The Commerce Guys, which helps companies and organizations deliver useful Drupal-based e-commerce sites and solutions.

In advance of the conference, we caught up with Ryan Szrama, a developer with The Commerce Guys, and the original developer of Ubercart,  an open source e-commerce package. Here are some of his thoughts on where Drupal-based commerce is headed.

OStatic: Why do you focus on the Drupal platform at The Commerce Guys?

We build all of our clients' sites on Drupal because of its power, its flexibility, and the community that supports it.  Drupal's core offers quite a lot of functionality, and its modular structure allows us to add or modify literally anything to the site.  You also simply can't replace the community driving the project, testing and reviewing the code, and contributing modules for every feature under the sun.

OStatic: How will the move to Drupal 7 impact your business?

The move will be great for us, because it will mean we can start building sites that take advantage of Drupal 7's huge user experience improvements and the new Drupal Commerce modules.  Our clients' business needs have matured to the point that we have to regularly work around the limitations of Ubercart on Drupal 6.  Getting a fresh set of tools to work with will make us more efficient, providing our clients with much greater returns on their investments.

OStatic: Are there any other enterprise e-commerce solutions out there focused on open source? If so, what differentiates Commerce Guys?

There are certainly other solutions available, but to our knowledge there aren't any solutions that are free, open source, and community developed with the enterprise market in mind from the start.  Commerce Guys aims to be a leader in the development of Drupal Commerce, not the sole developer, and we're already excited by the talent we've been able to bring together to collaborate on the project's planning and development.

OStatic: Is anyone else working on e-commerce for Drupal?

Yes, Commerce Guys has worked with a variety of companies that are building e-commerce sites or contributing modules back to the community.  We're long-time users and contributors to the Ubercart project.  Our current involvement with Drupal Commerce was born out of a community effort to rethink e-commerce on Drupal 7 based on our shared experience with Ubercart.

OStatic: Why would a customer come to Commerce Guys? What does your typical customer look like?

Our clients come to us because we're the recognized leaders in e-commerce on Drupal.  Our typical customers are medium to large companies that need us to develop their next generation e-commerce site or provide expert assistance to their own development team.  We also help businesses integrate their Drupal sites with third party web services for tasks like payment and fulfillment.

OStatic: What are you doing at DrupalCon?

Commerce Guys is a platinum sponsor of DrupalCon San Francisco and will be presenting various sessions pertaining to running e-commerce web sites on Drupal and taking advantage of the latest features in Drupal 7.  We'll also be providing a day-long training session the day before the conference on building an e-commerce website using Drupal 6 and Ubercart.

OStatic: Why are you participating at DrupalCon?

Our developers have participated at every DrupalCon since Barcelona in 2007 and have always had an awesome time.  The community really makes the event, and we love to partcipate to both "give back" through official sessions and collaborate with other developers in the impromptu sessions and code sprints.

OStatic: What are you most looking forward to this year?

I'm personally looking forward to reconnecting with the San Francisco crowd and enjoying Drupal at the Moscone Center and around town.  I had a great time in SF at BADCamp last year and am eager to come back.  I'm based in Louisville, KY with hardly any other Drupallers, so coming to an event with hundreds of like-minded developers and soaking up the knowledge is always a treat.


Ryan Szrama is a Drupal e-commerce developer for Commerce Guys. He got into Drupal development around the time of Drupal 4.6, and has been married and fathered a daughter since that time. Off the clock, he focuses his efforts on church and community ministry and slowly chips away at a Masters of Divinity degree.

Affectionately known as "Mr. Ubercart" in the Drupal world, Ryan got his start in web development through an online sales company based in Louisville, KY, his home of over 10 years. It was there that he nursed Ubercart through its infancy as the Project Lead and community face of the project. Ryan later joined Commerce Guys where he continued to lead Ubercart until branching out into Drupal Commerce, a new initiative focusing on empowering users to build e-commerce sites with Drupal 7.