My first DrupalCon

2016 was the year for my first DrupalCon. I am now back fresh from Dublin and feel positively enthused about the direction Drupal is heading in and the progress being made with Drupal 8 (D8).

DrupalCon Dublin group photo
Can you find me?

The best bits

What impressed me about DrupalCon is the variety of streams I could get involved in: business, performance, project management, coding, being human, all catering to every possible attendee.

My favourite talk by far was 21 things I learned with Twig & Drupal for Morten Birch’s excellent presentation style. I also felt both Configuration Management: theory and practice and Improving Code Quality with Static Analysis were great examples of how best practice in website management and code quality can be achieved.

Some stand out features that I think D8 brings to the table are the modules BigPipe and Settings Tray. Both are in the core experimental section meaning use at your own risk, but I would expect them to become stable in the near future. BigPipe is a technique invented by Facebook that focuses on speed and makes sites interact faster with users and essentially gives users the appearance of a more responsive site. An overview of Settings Tray is available on the Drupal blogs page but it essentially allows you to edit the page you are on while on the page, which is something that our clients have asked for many times.

Takeaways

Going to DrupalCon I had one clear objective; figure out the state of D8 and see if it is ready for a complex site. My week at DrupalCon has given me the opinion that D8 is ready for widespread adoption. It is certainly capable of handling small scale sites, but for larger sites I offer some caution. Some of the functionality has yet to be developed to the level one might expect but personally I think these niggles are minor compared to the benefits.

I was also interested to learn more about the community and was surprised to see such a positive group of people working to develop the platform. Before attending DrupalCon I was aware that developers can contribute to the development of Drupal core and contrib modules. My previous experience of the issue queue left me quite daunted to do this, but meeting the Drupal community has encouraged me to get more involved and I would encourage all developers to have a go especially considering the volume of people contributing to Drupal is not that high.

Come for the code, stay for the community.

I read this statement and, like a lot of people, squirmed just a little bit. It’s all a bit warm and fuzzy for me as an analytical, numbers driven person. But, if I sit now for a moment and think about it, I can empathise with this on many levels. For me Drupal and more generally Open Source is about sharing, socialism and community. Knowing that as a group we can make something much better than one developer working alone is key. This struck a chord with me during this year’s Driesnote (aka Keynote) which covered the positive impact Drupal is having and how it is helping to connect people in isolated places.

Do more

I remember discussing the value of conferences with Marcus: surely with the time and cost it takes to attend it must be better to just use online training sites? He replied “it’s all about motivation and inspiration”. Well, for once, he was right 🙂

Headscape