DrupalCon 2011: Chicago: Day 2

Today saw the best set of sessions yet (it’s only day 2), and I was definitely left more satisfied than after day 1. The most entertaining by far was the session that include nerf guns…how can that be beat…really.

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Session 1:  Teaching Drupal: Creating Effective Drupal Training Materials
for Clients, Employees, and the Public
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Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/teaching-drupal-creating-effective-drupal-training-materials-clients-employees-and-public

Not too many surprises here, but at the same time, this session was extremely helpful to learn about best practices and specific tools to use. The few take aways were pretty easy to remember:

  • be a servant with authority
  • keep material concise, reusable
  • it’s better to have someone either love or hate your training material, than to be left indifferent (you want them to give you feedback if they hated it, so next time you can make it better)
  • get feedback from users

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Session 2:  Building Conference & Event Websites in Drupal with COD
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Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/building-conference-event-websites-drupal-cod

Never knew this distribution existed, but i’ll definitely be looking at it more closely in the near future. The benefit of an almost out of the box conference management website with all the features you need….is pretty convincing.

Existing features were nice —- checkout registration workflow, uc signup module, Session moderation, Sponsor moderation, Themeable schedule grid…but the coming soon features are just as promising:

  • Future of COD
    • automated sponsor sales
    • badge printing
    • admin dashboard
    • dashboard for other user roles
      • session organizers
      • sponsors / sponsor organizer
      • attendees etc
    • unique base theme
    • progress meters for different pieces
      • ie: you’ve completed 25% of XYZ process etc
      • figure out the order in which you want people to go through different parts of the workflow
        • register first, then pay, then propose a session, then sign up for a session etc
    • Self-scheduling
      • BOF workflow
    • attendee networking
    • mobile adaption
      • ie: mobile optimized theme
    • improved accessibility
    • post session surveys

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Session 3: Failure to launch: Drupal performance tuning
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Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/failure-launch-drupal-performance-tuning

AKA: The Nerf Gun Session.

The main thing to remember about this topic, is to plan for scale from the start. Plan for massive traffic/processing instead of assuming that only the small original intended audience is always going to be the same.

The nerf gun demonstration was intended to show how requests to the web server are managed when caching/reverse proxy configurations are set up (and when they aren’t). Definitely nerdy, but definitely entertaining. He even let the volunteers from the crowd take the nerf guns home….relating that it would be the strangest expense report ever….$120 for nerf equipment 🙂

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Session 4: From Zero to Distribution using Features, Profiler and Drush Make
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Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/zero-distribution-using-features-profiler-and-drush-make

This had the potential to be the most applicable session to my current projects at NC State, and it didn’t disappoint. The concept of packing up features and being able to roll a Drupal instance extremely quickly (multiple times) is a game-changer for us. I haven’t decided how to integrate it into the project we’re working on now, but it will definitely play a big part.

This was one of those sessions where every few minutes I sat back, said “holy crap that’s awesome,” then had to force myself to concentrate on the session instead of thinking about all the different ways i could use this new information.

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Session 5: Advanced Drush
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Session URL: http://chicago2011.drupal.org/sessions/advanced-drush

All demonstration…no real notes….pretty hawt stuff though. It really hammered home the necessity for me to learn Drush more, and to integrate it into my workflow, not just for new sites, but for existing ones too.

The coolest pieces from this session though, was the new ability to add/edit/delete/duplicate a node from the command line….which can be done inside a single site, or between multiple sites. Programmatic methods of being able to copy a node or some piece of a node from one site to another is a really powerful ability to have.

My raw notes: