DrupalCon 2010 : Day Two

Google Doc with notes public here: http://bit.ly/cXV5L3

Session 1: Enterprise Architecture for Drupal

Presenter: Scott Matoon (Oracle) @smattoon / http://blogs.downstream.org

The pointlessness of this session is difficult to explain. Here’s my notes to give you an idea.

  • arghh…i can look up the description of architecture in the dictionary…i don’t need you to dedicate 3 minutes to explaining it for me.
  • 11 minutes in, still no mention of Drupal…Why are we talking about Bad/Failed Enterprise Architecture projects in IT?
  • If i was able to get into another session, I would go…right now.
  • 13 minutes in…first mention of Drupal
  • This quite possibly has ALL the tenets of a bad presentation (reading every word on the slide, massive amounts of small text, i think i saw Comic Sans)
  • This is similar to the accessibility session yesterday. Not much to do with Drupal…just a conceptual talk that could be applied to any IT project…which begs the question…why is it being given at DrupalCon…my guess is we all misunderstood the session description and voted for it.
  • ok…that’s enough. I’m going to bust in on another session.

Usefulness: 0/10
(I checked in with someone who stayed for the whole session, and they said it never got any better…it never really had anything to do with Drupal)

Went to the JQuery for designers & themers — pretty basic jQuery stuff, but good to see that we (OIT) are streaks ahead of some of the other places. For example, some people were absolutely shocked that you could “drag” or “sort” blocks using jQuery, or you could pop up an alert when someone entered their name that said “Is Blah your real name?.”

Session 2: Case Studies in Academia: Drupal at ASU & Johns Hopkins Knowledge for Health

Easily by far the best session when considering the session title compared to the session content. I only wish the ASU portion had lasted longer.

ASU was in the same positionin 2006, that NC State is in now. Actually…NC State might be a better position, because we have some kind of consistent brand, even if it’s not used across campus. We have the brand bar at least, and that’s a start. ASU moved to a web hosting model, and it has been a rousing success for them. It’s basically doing the things that our own Web Hosting Pilot project is investigating. It would definitely be worth someone from our group getting in touch with the ASU folks (a team of only 5) to chat about how they are managing this service.

I have way too many notes to condense here, so i’ve attached my notes as a PDF to this post.

Session 3: Elevating 960gs in Drupal with the Omega theme

Really good topic, but a little too difficult to follow all the steps. I am left knowing how to implement and then test to see if this works for me, but as far as the actual flow of the presentation, it was a little difficult to follow. But…i did get what i needed out of this presentation….which was to see a new module/theme/method in action and see what it could do.

This one probably has the best chance of me leaving and installing the modules/themes and messing around with them. It definitely has potential for our themes/template projects for clients at NCSU.

Usefulness: 7/10 (but potential to move to 10/10)

Keynote: Open Source in the Cloud Era

This was a fairly good keynote, with more “inspirational” or “go out and do this” themes to it. Tim O’Reilly took a lot of time to point out the fact that cloud computing doesn’t always refer to the same thing, depending on who’s saying it. He made several points to ram home the concept of open data, as well as open architecture being necessary to retain the openness of the internet itself. All these cool new devices are not worth a penny unless they tap into the vast open cooperative data stores that exist for them to work with.

It was interesting, an obviously correct when he relayed the quote “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” That couldn’t be more true as far as I’m concerned, because all these cool new inventions did not just appear on the day of their public release. They existed in test environments, or labs or in other countries before they became a wide-spread staple of our lives. Multi-touch surfaces started out as a renegade youtube video of a guy demonstrating the concept from his lab, and a few years later, we all have multi-touch surfaces on our iPods, iPhones, iPads (but not BlackBerry).

I’m left inspired and hopeful for things to come, but also I have a sense of the harsh reality that things aren’t always going to be open, unless we make sure of it.

Usefulness: 8/10

Session 4: Design and Theming: What’s new in Drupal 7?

I would have skipped this session, except that none of the others really jumped out at me for this time slot. Turns out though, that this was pretty interesting. He got super-deep with the code and showed some of the differences, and even a couple of examples of how you can use the new hook_alter system to change the way things render in Drupal. For example, you could use hook_page_alter() to change the way all pages render in Drupal, and the best part is that you can put these hooks in your theme. That means more portability and less hackage by site administrators when you want to do more advanced things with themes. Just drop in something that uses these hooks, and that’s it. No code to edit at all.

The presenter was one of the top 20 people who contributed to Drupal 7, and these 20 people were responsible for writing over 50% of the Drupal 7 core. Pretty cool stuff. And he seemed very approachable too…he made a point of saying “please…come up to me and talk about whatever you want to talk about….we love this stuff.”

Usefulness: 7/10

Session 5: An enterprise approach to securing your Drupal sites

This unfortunately started out with a little too much of the generalized talking about security, and not really anything to do with Drupal. There really wasn’t another session going on at the same time, so i stuck through it. They seemed to really know what they were talking about, and included a story of how they go to their clients dressed as phone repair men, get taken back to the phone switch/network closet (first they find out who the client uses for phone service to make it more realistic).

Overall, a decent talk, but still too much stuff that had nothing specifically to do with Drupal, but only to do with securing Web Applications in general. Maybe i need to find the presenters before sessions, and ask them what it’s going to be about…so i can avoid some of these time-suckers.

Usefulness: 5/10

Session 6: Managing and deploying configuration with exportables and the Features module

This is one of the sessions that I know deep down that we should be using, but I’m not sure how to get there. The premise is to separate the configuration of a site from the content of a site. Sounds pretty normal right? Wrong. Drupal by default, does NOT do a good job of separating content from configuration.

The presenter was one of the two main authors of the module, and he was really good at explaining why you should use this, and also the small details of how it can help your site development work flow.

This is another session that i feel like i would have stayed in for 2 hours, or would have liked a more hands-on demonstration (he did get the demo in, but i was left wanting more…just because it was the first time i’d seen it).

Usefulness: 7/10 (with potential to be 10/10)

1 Comment

    We apparently have no overlap in the sessions we attended. Good to meet you on here, and thanks for the great notes on the sessions I missed.

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