DrupalCon 2011: Chicago: Day 1

Today was the first day of sessions at DrupalCon, as well as the keynote speech by the founder of Drupal. I was looking forward to this conference, especially after going to DrupalCon 2010 which was in San Francisco. I feel like I know 1000% more about Drupal than I did last year, and now have enough of an understanding to get more out of the more advanced topics here.


The Keynote: Dries Buytaert (http://chicago2011.drupal.org/keynote-dries-buytaert)

I didn’t really expect much out of this, other than some insight into the mind of the main guy behind the Drupal project. Considering that I’m not really on the cutting edge of using Drupal, I am more concerned with the modules that the community builds on top of the core system…of course I want that core system to be awesome too.

Dries talked about the history of Drupal (it’s 10 years old now), and the future. I am impressed that they are changing their model of running the project — by that I mean they are changing the method and ownership of which updates are made to the core. Whereas before it was the job of just a couple of people to run the entire thing, they are now splitting the project into different initiatives which will feed together into the main code base. I think this is a good move, as it will speed up development (let different people manage different branches), and it will let experts in those areas use their knowledge to help Drupal move forward (as opposed to having less-knowledgeable people manage those concepts).

Dries also talked about how Drupal has traditionally been focused on exporting HTML, but that needs to change. He said that Drupal needs to be able to act as a source/destination for all types of content for all types of devices. In the past, when Drupal was conceived, it was developed for static devices (desktop computers with large screens). Now, he says that if he could do it again, he would design Drupal for Mobile devices first, and desktops second. Drupal 8 should be able to serve content to all types of devices like TVs, internet appliances, web services, mobile phones, desktop computers, tablets…everything.


Session 1: Introduction to Module Development

Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/introduction-module-development
Presenter: Ezra Barnett Gildesgame — http://twitter.com/ezrabg

I enjoyed this session, mainly because I only recently (last week) finished my first Drupal module. I found that I’m not really doing anything wrong, which is always nice. It was a good presentation, good mix of detail/code, while keeping it applicable to the diverse audience.

It was helpful to know that the methods he employed are consistent with the way i’ve read on the docs/tutorial sites. I also learned a couple of new things that I can use to help troubleshoot during the development process (ie: dpm() )


Session 2: Rockin’ HTML5 with Drupal
Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/rockin-html5-drupal
Presenter: Jen Simmons — http://twitter.com/jensimmons

The presenter created Bartik (the new default theme for Drupal 7) and her website is http://jensimmons.com. The slides for the presentation are at http://jen.cm/h5. Although she didn’t really go into a lot of specific detail about adding HTML5 code to Drupal, all her concepts were correct (as far as I know), and I understood what she was saying. I am excited about the possibility of HTML5 being put into the core of Drupal 7 via new updates, but mostly Drupal 8 should be a really good leap forward for that. There are a couple of things that can be used now:

Until I have a project that needs HTML5 features though, I don’t think I’ll be doing anything specific with it. Considering that the HTML5 standard is still a work in progress, I don’t think it’s something I can implement into my existing projects as a strategic thing. I can implement individual features that HTML5 allows for, but it’s not something I’ll be spending a lot of time on…yet.


Session 3: Webform 3, the survey tool for Drupal

Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/webform-3-survey-tool-drupal
Presenter: Nathan Haug — http://twitter.com/quicksketch

Best presentation so far. Good detail. Great demonstrations. Good take-aways. Definitely got me thinking.

Those are all the things I want from a DrupalCon session. I want to be sitting in the audience thinking “oh i can use that in this project.” This was definitely the right session for me to be in, as I know exactly where I can use WebForm to enhance a project now, as well as where I can investigate whether or not WebForm can take the place of existing survey tools we’re using now (Limesurvey).

I am also looking at it as a possible piece of the “accept credit cards online” problem that we have at NC State, as it integrates with other modules (listed in my Google Doc’d notes).


Session 4: Advanced Accessibility in Drupal

Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/advanced-accessibility-drupal
Presenter: Katherine Lynch

I got duped. This was the same session, and the same presenter as last year:

Once again, this was a great accessibility session, but it was definitely not a Drupal session. I think this is an important session to have at the conference, but it needs to be retitled (exactly as I said last year).


Overall…today was a good first day. Not excellent. Not bad. Just okay. I am looking forward to a lot more of the sessions tomorrow.

The main benefit i’ve had at the conference so far is hanging out and picking the brains of my North Carolina colleagues from Appalachian State and UNC-Charlotte. They’ve been doing Drupal a lot longer than I have, and so it’s very helpful to get their perspective on a lot of the problems that we have, and how they already solved it in their environments.


My raw notes:

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