Aug 31 2018
Aug 31

Agile Lean Europe is an unconference event that visits a different country each year and brings together people from across the continent. Agile practitioners and thought leaders come together for a 3-day event to share ideas around the topic of power transformation.

Being a regular DrupalCamp attendee, I was excited to visit a more Agile-focused conference. Agile Lean Europe uses Open Space Technology to facilitate an environment where ideas are created and shared in real-time and that allows everyone to contribute to the program. Steve Holyer, who is a familiar face at Amazee facilitated or “held” the open space.

The Kraftwerk Innovation Space that hosted the event served as an excellent environment for up to a dozen parallel sessions. In contrast to my usual conference experience, the unconference format was much more interactive in the way the sessions were presented. Let me walk you through a few of my highlights.

Agile Lean Europe Crowd

Manuel Küblböck from Gini did a session about “Decision-making when there are no bosses”. His view is that efficiency can be gained by focusing on consent over consensus. Rather than trying to have all parties agree on a proposed change, you emphasise working out strong objections and then test the idea. Decisions are always made by those who carry them out and people who are impacted can give input. Check Manuel’s tweet for further information.

Momchil Brashnayanov from FFV presented a session on agile for service agencies, which was a great opportunity to discuss common challenges such as, how best to integrate customers into our workflows, how to focus on value instead of features and what contract frameworks best support agile collaboration. Like a couple of other sessions, Momchil applied the lean coffee format where we all gathered topics, clustered them and then iteratively discussed them and decided when to move onto the next topic.

Agile Lean Europe 2018

Peter Stevens shared his insights and tools around personal agility. It was refreshing to see agile principles being applied to one’s personal life. Similar as in a project, life goals would get mapped to tasks, prioritized and moved along a kanban board. More information can be found on the related website.

Nicola-Marie O’Donovan discussed her experience working in a scaled agile environment and enabling teams to do a social plan roadmap together. Each team defines their vision and team projects upfront and then all gather to discuss the dependencies they have across teams. The teams then use the space to resolve all dependencies and get ready for implementation. She also has a medium article regarding that.

Agile Lean Europe 2018

I particularly enjoyed the Clean Language session by Olaf Lewitz. In a very interactive way, we experienced how different and difficult it can be to apply such a tool. Clean Language enables you to have a conversation while trying to inject as little of your own views into the question and focus fully on your conversation partner. In other words, instead of reflecting things, the focus is on getting a better understanding of the topic from the perspective of your interview partner. More information available.

In addition to the talks mentioned above, ALE18 had a lot more to offer. The keynote “Going where no one has gone before” on Yle’s agile transition by Mirette Kangas and Antti Kirjavainen from Finland, was full of inspiration and good advice, and so too was the [email protected] session by Paolo Sammicheli.

Agile Lean Europe Participant

I particularly appreciated the side program that was put together. Conference attendees partners and kids would organize a city program. Random attendees were able to connect in the evenings by signing up for “Dinner with a Stranger”.

The 3-day conference left me with tons of insights to the process. A few notables being tools like Powerful questions, or Minimum Viable Bureaucracy, models such as the Satir Change Curve or books such as The Preservation of the Agile Heart.

Agile Lean Europe 2018

Interested in more visuals from the conference? The ALE18 Official Album contains a good number of impressions. Also, check out the #agilekaleidoscope by Gaël Mareau and my album on Flickr.

Agile Lean Europe 2018 was all about power transformation. One key insight for me was that Agile is less about following a strict process, and more about you being able to adapt a variety of tools to your current challenges and requirements.

Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed and for making me feel transformed. Special thanks to the organizing team and sponsors who supported the event!

Curious about the next one? Follow Agile Lean Europe on Twitter.

Aug 30 2018
Aug 30

Drupal Europe is coming up in Darmstadt September 10-14. Let me walk you through my favorite aspects of the conference.

This large-scale conference is entirely community-organized by a very dedicated team of volunteers. Drupal Europe will feature 187 sessions within a wide variety of topics. Diversity was also a goal that the program team worked for and 30% of the sessions have a speaker that identifies being part of an underrepresented group.

The organizers decided to give an interesting twist to the program. In contrast to traditional categories like “Development”, “Design” or “Project Management”, industry tracks are in focus. Drupal Europe, therefore, should be much more appealing to the decision makers who want to evaluate or share their experience using Drupal.

Publishing + Media focuses all on the media industry and what Drupal can bring to the table there. Expect case studies around Burda’s Thunder distribution or Content editing related sessions. I’m looking forward to seeing Building high-performance Thunder sites by former colleague Wolfgang Ziegler.

From Amazee our colleagues Stew West and Fran Garcia will talk about Handy modules when building and maintaining your site as well as Improving the Editor Experience: Paragraphs FTW.

Drupal Europe 2018

Digital Transformation + Enterprise is all about large-scale clients & projects leveraging Drupal. Thursday’s keynote brings together Dries Buytaert, the original creator and project lead for Drupal, together with Barb Palers, Global Product Partnerships at Google and Leslie Hawthorn, Developer strategy at Red Hat talk about the Future of the open web and open source. Along with many other sessions in this track, I will share my approach on Upgrading vs. Upcycling - How Existing Web Sites Stay Ahead the Curve for those interested in Agile, Architecture and Web strategy.

Drupal + Technology is kind of the classic DrupalCon track focusing all on Drupal-technology related topics that don’t fit into one of the industry tracks. Amongst many others, I’m am looking forward to see Out of the Box is Out of the Box! to get an initiative update from Marc Conroy, Keith Jay and Elliot Ward. Join Amazee’s Philipp Melab for his session on Decoupling Drupal with GraphQL & Twig where he will dive into APIs, GraphQL, Theming and Atomic design.

Drupal Community discussed everything that keep our ecosystem running. I am particularly excited to join the 2 hours workshop by Shyamala Rajaram, Parth Gohil and Donna Benjamin on Building Local Communities - foster Drupal adoption. From Amazee make sure to see Ingrid Talbot in Learning to lead, after a life of going solo for some inspiring learnings on here transition in Being human & Leadership. As well as Bastian Widmer who will explain how to Opensource your daily work Docker Drupal Open Source.

Agency + Business touches on all the advice we need and want to share related to running a Drupal business. How to boost your team members performance by Marina Paych sounds like a very promising session exploring talent development and team culture. I’m humbled to host a panel discussion with Nick Veenhof, Ela Meier, Suzanne Dergacheva, Andre Baumeier, Steve Parks, Ashraf Abed. Together we’ll discuss Hiring Drupal Talent - A Recruiter's Dilemma Panel.

Drupal Europe 2018

Make sure to check out all the other industry tracks on the program page. The Open Web Lounge also serves as a great opportunity to connect with like-minded open source communities thanks to partners such as CMS Garden, Open Source Initiative, Wordpress, Joomla, Contenido, and Typo3. Got something to share?

Remember to schedule an Informal gathering (BoF) or sign up for Contribution, mostly focused on Monday and Friday where you can experience the real power of open source - being part of it.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Darmstadt. Enjoy the conference!

May 29 2018
May 29

Retrospectives are an essential part of our team’s workflow. After each iteration, we get together to collect insights and feedback. By doing so, our teams ensure they have time to celebrate achievements, learn from mistakes and steer their efforts along a process of continuous improvement.

What are the steps of a retrospective?

Retrospectives will often be made up of 3 simple steps: a) What went well? b) What could we have done better? c) Action items for further improvements. More in-depth retrospectives can use the following model for deeper analysis:

1) Set the stage

A brief check-in allows everyone to get ready for the retrospective, i.e. we gauge how everybody is feeling about the past iteration.

2) Gather data - What?

The data gathering stage is all about collecting different viewpoints based on the metrics of how the sprint went, external feedback the team has received or things they have observed during the iteration. For retrospectives of longer time periods, we use a timeline to collect major milestones from participants and discuss them in a group.

3) Generate insights - So What?

Here we go into problem solving mode. Using brainstorming activities we are able to determine the reasons why things went well or not. For example, the 5 Whys can be used to identify root causes or by imagining The Worst We Could Do, our teams find out what they need to improve on.

4) Decide what to do - Now What?

Now it’s time for the team to create actions that will help them to become even better in the next iteration. Practices like Circle of Influence helps to focus them on what they can accomplish as a team. We find Divide the Dollar to be useful as well as other dot-voting activities when determining what we want to focus on.

5) The closing perspective

Finally, in the closing, we want to make sure that everyone gives their final input on how the retrospective went.

Things to keep in mind when running retrospectives

Retrospectives done right are a powerful tool to help your team open up and have meaningful conversations. As with any meeting, it’s important to ensure everybody is on board with the working arrangements, such as being on time and a willingness to contribute. As the facilitator of the meeting, you can do a great job at providing a space where participants feel encouraged to share what’s really on their mind.

Looking for ways to make your retrospectives more engaging? Retromat is a tool that helps you think of different ways to facilitate a retrospective. In terms of online collaboration, we found meeting on zoom.us with Realtime Board and collaborating on our retrospective notes in a shared Google Slides presentation to be most effective.

Thanks for reading our take on retrospectives. If you'd like to learn more about running retrospectives effectively, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section or get in touch using our contact form.

Apr 13 2018
Apr 13

Taking on a leadership position can be a very rewarding but also draining experience. I’d like to share some of the exciting things that stood out to me at DrupalCon in terms of leadership. In the last few years, I was able to take on a number of different leadership positions such as CTO at Amazee Labs, running the #d8rules initiative or co-organizing camps in Austria and Switzerland. To me, it’s a deeply satisfying experience to be part of a team that works towards a common goal and see myself being able to help drive us to be successful. At the same time, leadership always felt very difficult to me. Why wasn’t I able to take decisions effectively? Why wouldn’t others follow my advice as I wanted them to?

Looking up to other leaders at work and in our community is really valuable to me. It allows me to feel inspired, keep improving, and relate my own struggle to the struggles of others. I’d like to share an overview of the things that inspired me during this DrupalCon Nashville.

Leadership lessons at DrupalCon Nashville

The Diversity & Inclusion team ensured me that fighting for a common cause with a well structured approach can lead to great results. This DrupalCon featured 40% speakers who identified as part of an underrepresented group. This is an awesome achievement and I appreciate the group and the DrupalCon program team who made this possible. I also really like how D&I tries to lead by example as they extend their attribution system to credit for non-code contributions such as attending an initial meeting. Finally, Nikki Steven handed over initiative leadership to Fatima and they mentioned how helpful it can be to distribute ownership of an initiative to make sure the cause is more important than the actual person leading it.

Diversity in Drupal

The Community Working Group (CWG), together with Jordana & George, explained their approach to ensuring safety within the Drupal Community. I appreciate the hard work they put into such a thoughtful process that helps us deal with difficult situations. An important aspect of the communication is to always try to separate internet and impact. A person might have the best intentions when they do something, but it is also really important that they understand the impact their actions have on others. A lot of the work that the CWG does goes into the mediation process. This brings disagreeing parties together to reach an understanding their own actions and how others feel about it. Not every difficult situation can be solved in a mediation process so it was great to learn that the CWG also relies on a careful process that leads to taking action if needed.

Community Working Group

On Tuesday I was able to attend a Leadership workshop that was organized by the CWG and facilitated by Adam Goodman, Chairman of the Drupal Association. Adam is Director for the Center of Leadership at Northwestern University and I really appreciated his thoughtful approach to this workshop. Together as a group of roughly 50 attendees, we used individual and group exercises to discuss our different perspectives on leadership. Adam was able to make sure that there was a balanced discussion, added plenty of valuable insights, and reassured us that leadership is not always an easy topic. There was also a controversial discussion about the boundaries of leadership and I would like to thank Donna Benjamin for writing her thoughts on it.

Leadership workshop

In his keynote, Dries took a good amount of time to reflect on the leadership of Drupal. In his section on fostering the community, Dries presented his version of Drupal’s values and principles. I think this is an exciting move forward for us as a community to being able to define and iterate on our values and principles definition. I like how Dries stressed that he put a lot of effort into working on those but at the same time, that he also recognizes that they by no means will be perfect from the beginning. We’ll need a good amount of feedback & collaboration to help make sure that the values & principles definition of the Drupal community, as diverse as it is, serves the purpose and needs of our extensive community.

Dries keynote

Rachel Lawson, Community Liaison at the Drupal Association, shared her story at the beginning of Wednesday’s keynote. I appreciated finding out how her feeling welcomed enabled her to become a key contributor and leader within our community. Rachel’s open and candid approach has always been a refreshing experience for me. Over the years, Rachel has always provided an open ear for me to discuss leadership challenges. It’s great to know there are people available that will listen to you and that want to help you to become better at what you do.

Wednesday's Keynote

Finally, in the keynote itself, Steve Francia shared his very inspiring journey leading various open source community projects. There were tears in my eyes when I found out that Steve had been struggling with the responsibility of being the lead of these big, successful projects, especially when he wasn’t aligned with the project's goals anymore. Steve realised he needed to step down in order to focus on what he wants to work on. I especially appreciated Steve’s honest approach to giving genuine feedback to himself and us as a Drupal community. Steve’s presentation was full of great feedback for us a Drupal community and how we have inspired him to develop the communities he is working with.

Steve Francia

Final thoughts

It’s awesome to look at what others do when it comes to leadership and get inspired by them. But without introspection, true leadership cannot really emerge. I’d like to conclude with my own notes from the leadership workshop:

What is teamwork?

The work performed together as a group of individuals towards shared goals.

What is leadership?

Everything that helps the teamwork such as leading by example, principles, coaching or being a servant leader.

How do people learn to become more effective team members, followers, and leaders?

When we learn to express our needs, feelings, and provide feedback. When we understand what our peers need and learn how to create safe spaces for interaction and collaboration. When we listen actively, take responsibility and are open to learning something new every day.

What’s next?

Today is the most collaborative day for DrupalCon. At the sprints we all come together to work on Drupal initiatives. On my side, I’m looking forward to meeting the DrupalCon Europe team to discuss the program. If you are interested, check out the website to get your ticket or sign up as a volunteer.

I want to get better at enabling others. In that spirit, I am looking for a new #d8rules initiative coordinator. If you are interested in helping the Rules module to Drupal 8, this might be a great opportunity for me to learn how to coach you. Feel free to reach out to me.

Apr 06 2018
Apr 06

We recently relaunched the updated front-end for Zürich Tourismus. In this blog post, I want to highlight some user experience improvements that we added to the existing Drupal 7 website using React. Enter the Zuerich.com filter pages.

The Zuerich.com filter pages are highly interactive and allow the site visitor to explore data in a synchronized list & map view. We also applied the same concept to the different filter pages for Accommodation, Events and Restaurants.

Instant, Client-Side filtering

A key improvement to the filter pages is that they allow users to quickly explore and filter the data. The filter section immediately updates the corresponding results list according to the selected criteria. This works well for datasets below 1000 items, which are all accessed together and filtered using React on the client-side.

In traditional Drupal implementations, we would have the entire page reload for every filter click event, or, if we were to use AJAX, the entire results section would reload and require a round-trip to the server which slows down the user experience. With the new React-based approach, we were able to greatly improve the interaction speed. The search box also instantly filters the items for every character that the user enters.

Zuerich.com Filter Pages based on React and Drupal 7

Proximity Filtering

A really cool feature on top of the instant client-side filtering is the “Nearby me” search. It allows the user to either select their own geolocation or select from some popular points of interest. For tourists that aren’t yet familiar with the city, being able to choose between various important locations, such as the Zurich airport or main station, helps in their orientation.

When a point of interest has been selected, the map instantly switches to “Filter list by map” mode which only displays the results that correspond to the current map window. As the user zooms in or out, the map automatically updates the results list.

Zuerich.com Proximity Search

Keeping Multiple Viewports in Sync

Keeping multiple viewports easily in sync is one of the main advantages of using React to implement the filter pages. The state of the dataset and filters can be managed centrally and will automatically update the different views, such as the filters themselves, the results list as well as the markers on the map. By moving around the map, the user is also able to filter the list results to show only what is available in the current viewport which helps narrow down their search geographically.

Zuerich.com Keep in Sync

Unlimited, Interactive, React-based Filter Pages

The Zuerich.com filter pages are built using React components within the existing Drupal 7 infrastructure that drives the main website. We fetch the data from the backend using custom JSON feeds and render the filters, the results lists and map views using React. By doing so, we significantly improved the actual and perceived performance of the user interactions with the filters and map view. The same concept has been applied to different parts of the website. There are many more of these filters pages in addition to the ones used for Accommodation, Events and Restaurants.

In the back-end, the content editors are able to create custom filter pages using a special Content Type form. Filter settings and sort or proximity search options are able to be configured accordingly. In the React-based front-end, we then show the adjusted set of filter options and adjust the list views slightly i.e. to show star ratings for hotels.

Mar 27 2018
Mar 27

Two hundred and fifty people from across Germany and its neighbouring countries gathered in Essen on 17 and 18 March for DrupalCamp Ruhr, an event full of fresh discussions, workshops and presentations.

The organizers decided to use the Open Space / Barcamp format that provided attendees with the option to pre-select certain sessions, but which could also be combined spontaneously with ad-hoc sessions that the participants had presented in the kick-off session. This meant that, in contrast to our regular conference experience, each of us got to quickly present our idea and were also able to adapt the camp’s schedule collaboratively before we started.

DrupalCamp Ruhr Open Space

On each day, we would then agree upon the session plan. I ended up doing a planned session and two spontaneous ones. Before I start to explain what I talked about, I would like to highlight what stood out for me, in terms of discussions and themes at the conference:

Drupal 8 Distributions are ready

The initial panel discussion on distributions was a great moment to hear Distribution Maintainers and Leads talk about NP8, deGov, Thunder, Varbase, Commerce, OpenSocial and the Out of the Box initiative. It was great to see how much progress the distribution space has already made in Drupal 8. Distributions are an excellent way to highlight what Drupal can do and push for reusable, generic solutions. As I had worked 4 years with the epiqo team on Recruiter, one of the first Drupal 7 distributions, this was also a good reminder of the interesting challenges we face when creating products based on Drupal. In addition, the panelists also discussed how to best manage configurations using approaches like Features and Config Split.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/amazeelabs/39054618040/in/album-72157666801398208/ ​

Local Communities starting to collaborate

Another highlight was the discussions around aligning Drupal community efforts. The project, Local Community Distribution, was created to combine efforts in order to build and maintain local community websites. Representatives from various country initiatives were brought together, along with neighbouring countries such as France and the Netherlands, to share their codebases in the interim, which can be used as a solid foundation to get these projects off the ground. Details of the discussion can be found in this ticket.

 

DrupalCamp Ruhr Community Discussions

Coincidentally, we recently started an initiative to create a new Drupal Switzerland website, so keep an eye on our group’s page or join one of the Zurich Meetups to follow the progress and join the discussion.

Communication moving from Slack to DrupalChat

Over the last few years, a large percentage of instant communication has moved from IRC to Slack because of superior usability. Unfortunately, Slack’s commercial focus limits the community using it - currently most of our channels appear empty due to the fact that Drupal Slack hides old messages. The local communities, therefore, decided to go for DrupalChat.eu as an alternative. If you are interested, follow this issue or join the BOF at DrupalCon NA.

Drupal Slack Empty

Drupal 8 Initiatives are making progress

In my talk - Drupal 8 Initiatives, I tried to give an overview of the status, history and achievements of the initiatives that are contributing to the Drupal 8 project. It was a great opportunity to highlight how much Drupal 8 has already been evolving over the years as well as to show how any future contributions can be done collaboratively.

In the spontaneous session, we spoke about Agile and Project Management practices as well as the #d8rules initiative.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/amazeelabs/27014677928/in/album-72157666801398208/ ​

Keeping an eye on upcoming Drupal events in Europe

Thanks to the DrupalCamp Ruhr team for putting together such a dynamic event!

We are really looking forward to more collaboration and exchanges within the Drupal community during 2018. For those who can’t make it to DrupalCon Nashville, 9-13 April, Europe has you covered. Keep an eye on these events:

As usual, you can also find many more regional events on Drupical and finally, if you are interested in an unconference using the Open Space format, make sure to join us for Agile Lean Europe Zürich 2018, August 22-24.

For more information on DrupalCamp Ruhr, check out the event website, the #dcruhr18 twitter hashtag or find more pictures on our flickr page.

Feb 15 2018
Feb 15

Thanks again to everyone who has participated in my survey about agile practices in our industry. In this final piece, I would like to share some of my key observations and provide an overview of what has been covered in the previous nine blog posts.

The 30 survey participants provided in-depth answers in 10 different sections with a set of multiple-choice questions and freeform answers. The survey aimed to get a better understanding of how agile practices are established and live in agencies related to the Drupal community.

Survey results overview

  • Part 1 - Initial Observations provides an overview of popular methodologies, project team sizes, iteration length, team integration, how teams stay connected, splitting up the work, client communication and delivery practices.

  • Part 2 - Process Insights gives a deeper understanding of how strictly teams follow the process and which adaptations they have applied.

  • Part 3 - Teams analyses the average team size, where teams work and how teams and projects are paired.

  • Part 4 - Discovery & Planning examines the balancing features and functionality against providing value when talking about work increments and when teams make the discovery.

  • Part 5 - Team Communication & Process is about how teams communicate, how much time they spend in meetings and how client work is balanced against internal or non-billable work.

  • Part 6 - Defining Work analyses the different phases in the ticket process and who is involved in defining work, as well as which tools are essential for organising the work.

  • Part 7 - Estimations provides insights into how teams estimate and by whom estimations are executed.

  • Part 8 - Client Interactions highlights how regularly teams meet with the client and how communication between the team and the client is handled.

  • Part 9 - Practices gives a rundown of how often teams deploy code and compares usage of the various agile practices teams apply to their work.

Key survey takeaways

Having spent some time looking at the data, and processing chunks of the results into the individual blog posts I have mentioned before, was a rewarding task. Even though the number of survey participants was not very high, I believe that the results are appropriate and representable. Apart from the quantitative analysis, I was happy to have asked for freeform answers which provided me with the diversity to allow the survey to be representative.

There is not a single truth to how agile works. In some cases, you'll be able to collaborate closely with the client on a daily basis, in other cases, you will be lucky if you can meet the client every second week. While some agencies have fewer long-term projects, the majority have a mix of smaller and bigger projects regarding size and duration.

Some teams prefer to work integrated across disciplines. Others prefer to have separate teams based on their expertise. From my point of view, active collaboration and communication between teams and clients are essential to create a better product. The way in which this is organised always depends on what works best for the participating individuals and organisations.

An example, where implementing a rigid process can make sense, would be, that we can help the team not to take on too much work. On the other hand, if the process starts getting in the way of everything, we need to remind ourselves of the principle «Individuals and interactions over processes and tools» of the agile manifesto. The process is there to help the team collaborate with the client to produce working software and responding to change as we move forward in the project. The process must be well understood by all role players so that it helps instead of limit our work.

Feel free to dig into the results raw data and please make sure to look at the freeform answers. I tried to summarise some highlights as parts of the series, but there is a lot more to be found from reading them yourself.

That’s it for the agile agency survey results. Thanks again to all the participants and let us know if you have any thoughts on the survey about agile practices.

Jan 23 2018
Jan 23

This is part 9 of our series processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. Previously I wrote about client interactions; this time let’s focus on practices. How often do teams deploy code? Are they practising peer reviews, automated testing, pair programming or story mapping?

When asked about “How often does your team deploy code?”, 53% of the teams answered they would do deployments “Rolling / Whenever necessary”. 13.3% deploy “About once a week”, another 13.3% “About every two weeks” and 6.7% answered they would deploy “Daily”. The remaining chose to go with freeform answers such as different frequencies based on the dev/stage/live environments or that it would depend on the client.

How often does your team deploy code?

For us at Amazee, the deployment schedule depends on the needs of the clients. Thanks to the automatization that our Amazee.io hosting environment provides, any team member can execute a deployment on their own if it makes sense. Some High-availability clients require a fixed deployment schedule that our team has programmed to happen every week, besides that only critical hotfixes would be deployed instantly out of the schedule. Most of our clients allow us to deploy whenever, yet if a downtime for more complex deployments is needed we usually try to schedule them outside of business hours. For global customers that run their website across the globe, we try to find the deployment slot that fits best and rely on a proxy server like Varnish that keeps serving anonymous users during a deployment downtime.


Our second question was geared towards finding out which agile practices would be used by teams and how important they are considered. Contestants were able to rate from “Unknown”, “Not needed”, “Tried but failed” to “Somewhat in use”, “Actively in use” up to “Very important”. The practice that was mostly unknown is Mob programming.  Story mapping is also widely unknown but also has a good number of constants rating it with “Somewhat in use”. Pair programming is somewhat in use for many but also has a good number of contestants who responded “Unknown” or “Not needed”. The practices mostly rated as “Very important” where Peer reviews/code reviews as well as User testing. Automated testing got a lot of votes for “Somewhat in use”, and a few ones rated it as “Very important”. Per-ticket branch test environments have been rated as “Somewhat in use” by many as well.

Which of these practises does your team use?

Which of these practises does your team use?

For us at Amazee, we do Peer & code reviews for every work increment within our Scrum teams. This ensures code quality, knowledge transfer and feedback between team members. Automated testing happens for mission-critical features. Vasi has an article with good arguments why you should invest in it. User testing is performed on about a third of our projects. Automated deployments, continuous integration and per-ticket branch test environment are extensively used thanks again to the Amazee.io hosting environment goodies. Pair programming is quite common for our teams. While we have experimented with mob programming for teaching purposes, our team didn’t entirely pick it up. Finally, story mapping is something that we started using recently with good results, but we don’t have too much experience with it, yet.

Which practices do you use and how often do you do deployments? Please leave us a comment below. If you are interested in Agile Scrum training, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for the last post where we’ll do a round up of the Agile Agency Survey.

Dec 19 2017
Dec 19

This is part eight of our series processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. Previously I wrote about estimations, this time let’s focus on client interactions. How regularly does the team meet the client and how is communication between the team and the client handled?

Client Meetings

When asked about “how regularly does the team meet the client”, 33% mentioned “more or once per week”, 30% selected they would meet “less frequently” compared to the 16.7% which chose “every two weeks”. This is followed by 6.7% that chose to meet clients “each day for the daily standup”, and the same amount chose to meet clients “never”. It looks like there is no apparent tendency but half of the teams choose to work together with clients more regularly, and another half of the team doesn’t have much client interactions.

Agile How regularly does the team meet the client

For us, at Amazee this depends heavily on the project and the teams. In some cases we form teams together with clients where all developers will be assigned to the project full time in that consequence have regular client interactions. For the stable Scrum teams in Zurich that I work most with, we run multiple projects at the same time and therefore didn’t consider inviting clients to our daily meetings as we discuss several projects at the same time. As we have been successfully moving towards having fewer projects per team and a global maintenance team, we are considering this option though as to have closer client interactions between the team members. On top of that, we have found regular demos for clients and grooming meetings between the teams and clients beneficial. We balance the decision to do them based on how much money the client is willing to spend on having multiple people at a meeting.

Client Communication

In a second question, we asked “How is communication between the team and the client handled” and contestants could choose from a scale of 1-5. The lowest indicates communication is handled “exclusively by a person dedicated to talking to the client (PM, PO proxy, ...)”, and the highest, indicates that communication is handled “Always together with the entire team”. An equal share of 33% turned out to be with a 2 or a 3, 13.3% with a 1 or a 4 and 6.7% with a 5. We can see that there is a tendency to channel communication between clients and the team through a person within the company (PM, PO proxy).

Agile how is communication between the team and the client handled

For us at Amazee its a 2. Every project has a PO from our side assigned that will represent the client to the team if the client is not available and will represent the team to the client to have a single point of contact. Still, we encourage clients to meet the team regularly for a better understanding on both sides of the project and collaboration. The higher the ratio is that a team can dedicate their time to one project & customer, the easier it is to justify that the entire team will collaborate with the client. Being in an agency environment with multiple projects at the same time, those customers are not often to be encountered though. This is why we try to find a good compromise between customer collaboration with the team and efficiency gains of channelled communication.

How do you and your team interact with your clients? Please leave us a comment below. If you are interested in Agile Scrum training, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll look at agile practices.

Dec 15 2017
Dec 15

This is part 7 of our series processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. Previously I wrote about defining work, this time let’s focus on estimations. How do you estimate and who does estimations in your teams?

First, we asked about how teams estimate. 43.3% of the contestants answered “Estimation is done in days/hours”, 20% say “Estimation is done in story points based on complexity” and 16.7% mentioned, “Estimations in done in story points based on effort”. The remaining answers of 3% each varied in different degrees of combined estimations, i.e. teams would estimate on a higher level using story points and compare then against hour based task estimations. Also one of the 30 contestants answered that they don’t do estimates at all. For some background information, you can refer to this article on story points.

Agile How do you estimate

At Amazee we do two different kinds of estimations. We estimate in days for the offers that we create and put a general price tag below the contract. This is intended to fix a budget but not to guarantee an exact feature set to be delivered. When we go to the implementation phase, teams estimate Jira tickets using story points. The story points are based both on complexity and effort, based on our velocity we can related story points to a price tag and compare against the initial offer and how much budget is left.

Agile Who does the Estimations

We also asked about who is involved in estimation. 50% say that “the entire team does all estimations”, 36.7% mentioned that “a tech lead does high-level estimates, the team estimates on a lower level”. 6.7% say that “a tech lead does all estimates”.

For us, at Amazee we tend towards having a tech lead doing high-level estimates and having the team estimate on individual stories and tasks which get prepared for a sprint to work. The tech lead role can be fulfilled by any developer of a Scrum team and may change however the team and the team lead decide it would work best. More complex offers get challenged by multiple developers, more straightforward suggestions will be estimated by only one developer together with the PO. All proposals get reviewed by management. When the team does estimations, we do them along with the entire Scrum team. In some instances, we will limit the number of people in estimation meetings to find a balance between shared knowledge and how much time can be spent discussing as a group of people.

How do you estimate? Please leave us a comment below. If you are interested in Agile Scrum training, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll look at client interactions.

Dec 12 2017
Dec 12

This is part 6 of our series processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. Previously I wrote about team communication & process. This time let’s focus on defining work. Who is involved in defining work and which tools are essential for organising your work?

Defining work

When asked about who is involved in defining work, we asked about which roles would be included in different phases of the ticket process.

  • “Creating tickets” is performed by these roles ordered by a number of selections: “PM / PO Proxy”, “Any Developer”, “Lead Developer”, “Client / Product Owner”, “UX/Design” and finally “The entire team together”.

  • “Refining/grooming/specifying tickets” is performed mostly by “Lead Developer”, “Any Developer” and “PM / PO Proxy” rated equally high, then “Client / Product Owner” and “The entire team together” rated equally high and finally “UX/Design”.

  • “Estimating tickets” is done by “The entire team together” followed by “Lead Developer” or “Any Developer” rated equally often, then “UX/Design”, “Client / Product Owner” and finally “PM / PO Proxy.”

Agile - Who is involved in defining work

It looks like there is an apparent tendency for Developers or Lead Developers to be involved in all parts of defining the work. It also makes sense that Clients / Product Owners or the internal counterparts in the agency PM / PO Proxies do participate in defining the work but don’t participate in estimating.

For us at Amazee, having the entire team estimate is essential to make sure there is common knowledge about the problem space and that we can get multiple views to validate our understanding of the client’s requirements. Any of our developers can take a leadership position in a particular project, that person would then be tasked to specify tickets together with the Project Owner (PO) or the client directly, and get estimated by the team later on.

Survey contestants also shared some additional insights about defining work/tickets. I’d like to quote a few of them.

"We have in each team an estimation engineer, scrum master and an architect. Everyone is responsible for doing architectures and estimations, bit the QA goes through these roles. The scrum master is responsible for the 2 weekly process while also being part of the development team."

"Involvement across ticket lifespan evolves as project matures."

"Being the most verbose possible."

"You have not mentioned Acceptance Criteria. This is written in collaboration between our QA and Stakeholders client side, ideally the product owner."

"Again - depending on the project/the client and the PM. We had clients that created and defined tickets together with the PO at our side, so that they could be specified during planning and then estimated by the devs. Sometimes PM is doing it, and sometimes this is done by the lead dev (if PM/PO isn't able to do it). Estimation depends a bit on the time pressure and the team size. If possible we estimate with the whole team. But sometimes we only have the lead dev and the dev who is going to implement the feature estimate."

Organizing work 

How important are these tools for organizing your work? Part 1

How important are these tools for organizing your work? Part 2

We also asked which tools were how important when it comes to organizing work. As shown in the illustration above, the ones that had the most apparent tendency towards their importance were “Sprints”, “User stories”, “Acceptance criteria” and “Tasks”, whereas the graph looks more indifferent when it comes to “Epics”, “Definition of Done”, “Definition of Ready” and “Releases/Versions”.

For us at Amazee, two-week sprints are a crucial instrument for planning and deciding about the priorities of our work. We don’t use User Stories all the time but feel like they are a good way of allowing clients to explain their requirements to the team effectively. Acceptance criteria (AC) are a must for anything that the team will implement - this can be on the user story level or the task level. Our teams also follow a definition of done to make sure that everything is in the right place when it comes to browser testing or on which environment results should be available. Recently, we started using Epics to group requirements that we had earlier on put into components in Jira. This allows to easily track the progress per Epic which is a neat feature in Jira. Releases/Versions aren’t used too much in the teams I work with.

How do you define your work? Please leave us a comment below. If you are interested in Agile Scrum training, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll look at estimations.

Dec 08 2017
Dec 08

Welcome to part five of our series, processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. Previously I wrote about forming discovery and planning. This time let’s focus on team communication and process.

Team Communication

When it comes to ways how to communicate, the ones that got selected with the highest rating of “mostly practised” where “Written communication in tickets”, “Written communication via (i.e. Slack)” as well as “Group meetings for the entire team”. The options that most often got selected as “Not practised” where “Written communication in blog or wiki” and “Written communication in pull requests”.

How does your team communicateHow does your team communicate

For us at Amazee Labs Zurich, a variety of communication channels is essential. Regular 1-on-1 meetings between managers and their employees allow us to continuously talk about what’s important to either side and work on improvements. We communicate a lot via Slack where we have various team channels, channels together with clients related to projects, channels for work-related topics or just channels to talk about fun stuff. Each morning, we start with a short team stand-up for the entire company where we check in with each other, and that’s followed by a more in-depth standup for the Scrum teams where we talk about “What has been done, What will be done and What’s blocking us”. Written communication happens between the team and customers in Jira tickets. As part of our 4-eyes-principle peer review process, we also give feedback on code within pull requests that are used to ensure the quality of the code and train each other.

Process

We talked about iteration length in part 1 of this series. Now let’s look into how much time we spend on which things.

How much time does each team member spend every day?

According to the survey, the majority of standups take 15 minutes, followed by 5 minutes and 10 minutes with a few ones taking up to 30 minutes.

This also reflects ours: we take 10 minutes for the company-wide stand up amongst 24 team members and another 15 minutes for the Scrum Team specific stand-ups.

How much time does he spend each week on the following?

For the review-phase, teams equally often selected 2 hours and 1 hour as the top-rated option followed closely by 30 minutes. 4 hours has been chosen by a few other teams, and the last one would be one day. For the retrospectives, the top-rated option was 30 minutes, followed by 1 hour. Much fewer teams take 2 hours or even up to 4 hours for the retrospective. For planning, we saw the most significant gap regarding top rated options: 30 minutes is followed by 4 hours and then 2 hours and 1 hours were selected.

In the teams I work with, we usually spend half a day doing sprint review, retrospective and planning altogether. Our reviews typically take 45 minutes, the retrospective about 1.5 hours and the planning another 30 minutes. We currently don’t do these meetings together with customers because the Scrum teams are stable teams that usually work for multiple customers. Instead, we do demos along with the clients individually outside of these meetings. Also, our plannings are quite fast because the team split up stories already in part of grooming sessions beforehand and we only estimate smaller tasks that don’t get split up later on as usually done in sprint planning 2.

Overall how much time do you spend?

When looking at how much time is being spent on Client work (billable, unbillable) and Internal work we got a good variety of results. The top-rated option for “Client work (billable)” was 50-75%, “Client work (unbillable)” was usually rated below 10% and “Internal work” defaulted to 10-25%. Our internal statistics match these options that have been voted by the industry most often.

I also asked about what is most important to you and your team when it comes to scheduling time? Providing value while keeping our tech debt in a reasonable place has been mentioned which is also true for us. Over the last year, we started introducing our global maintenance team which puts a dedicated focus on maintaining existing sites and keeping customer satisfaction high. By using a Kanban-approach there, we can prioritise timely critical bugs fixes when they are needed and work on maintenance-related tasks such as module updates in a coordinated way. We found it particularly helpful that the Scrum-teams are well connected with the maintenance-team to provide know-how transfer and domain-knowledge where needed.

Another one mentioned, “We still need a good time tracker.” At Amazee we bill by the hour that we work so accurate time tracking is a must. We do so by using Tempo Timesheets for Jira combined with the Toggl app.

How do you communicate and what processes do you follow? Please leave us a comment below. If you are interested in Agile Scrum training, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll look at defining work.

Dec 08 2017
Dec 08

Welcome to part five of our series, processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. Previously I wrote about forming discovery and planning. This time let’s focus on team communication and process.

Team Communication

When it comes to ways how to communicate, the ones that got selected with the highest rating of “mostly practised” where “Written communication in tickets”, “Written communication via Chat (i.e. Slack)” as well as “Group meetings for the entire team”. The options that most often got selected as “Not practised” where “Written communication in blog or wiki” and “Written communication in pull requests”.

How does your team communicateHow does your team communicate

For us at Amazee Labs Zurich, a variety of communication channels is essential. Regular 1-on-1 meetings between managers and their employees allow us to continuously talk about what’s important to either side and work on improvements. We communicate a lot via Slack where we have various team channels, channels together with clients related to projects, channels for work-related topics or just channels to talk about fun stuff. Each morning, we start with a short team stand-up for the entire company where we check in with each other, and that’s followed by a more in-depth standup for the Scrum teams where we talk about “What has been done, What will be done and What’s blocking us”. Written communication happens between the team and customers in Jira tickets. As part of our 4-eyes-principle peer review process, we also give feedback on code within pull requests that are used to ensure the quality of the code and train each other.

Process

We talked about iteration length in part 1 of this series. Now let’s look into how much time we spend on which things.

How much time does each team member spend every day?

According to the survey, the majority of standups take 15 minutes, followed by 5 minutes and 10 minutes with a few ones taking up to 30 minutes.

This also reflects ours: we take 10 minutes for the company-wide stand up amongst 24 team members and another 15 minutes for the Scrum Team specific stand-ups.

How much time does he spend each week on the following?

For the review-phase, teams equally often selected 2 hours and 1 hour as the top-rated option followed closely by 30 minutes. 4 hours has been chosen by a few other teams, and the last one would be one day. For the retrospectives, the top-rated option was 30 minutes, followed by 1 hour. Much fewer teams take 2 hours or even up to 4 hours for the retrospective. For planning, we saw the most significant gap regarding top rated options: 30 minutes is followed by 4 hours and then 2 hours and 1 hours were selected.

In the teams I work with, we usually spend half a day doing sprint review, retrospective and planning altogether. Our reviews typically take 45 minutes, the retrospective about 1.5 hours and the planning another 30 minutes. We currently don’t do these meetings together with customers because the Scrum teams are stable teams that usually work for multiple customers. Instead, we do demos along with the clients individually outside of these meetings. Also, our plannings are quite fast because the team split up stories already in part of grooming sessions beforehand and we only estimate smaller tasks that don’t get split up later on as usually done in sprint planning 2.

Overall how much time do you spend?

When looking at how much time is being spent on Client work (billable, unbillable) and Internal work we got a good variety of results. The top-rated option for “Client work (billable)” was 50-75%, “Client work (unbillable)” was usually rated below 10% and “Internal work” defaulted to 10-25%. Our internal statistics match these options that have been voted by the industry most often.

I also asked about what is most important to you and your team when it comes to scheduling time? Providing value while keeping our tech debt in a reasonable place has been mentioned which is also true for us. Over the last year, we started introducing our global maintenance team which puts a dedicated focus on maintaining existing sites and keeping customer satisfaction high. By using a Kanban-approach there, we can prioritise timely critical bugs fixes when they are needed and work on maintenance-related tasks such as module updates in a coordinated way. We found it particularly helpful that the Scrum-teams are well connected with the maintenance-team to provide know-how transfer and domain-knowledge where needed.

Another one mentioned, “We still need a good time tracker.” At Amazee we bill by the hour that we work so accurate time tracking is a must. We do so by using Tempo Timesheets for Jira combined with the Toggl app.

How do you communicate and what processes do you follow? Please leave us a comment below. If you are interested in Agile Scrum training, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll look at defining work.

Dec 01 2017
Dec 01

Let’s focus on teams for part 3 of our series, processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. What’s the size of your delivery team? Where does your team work? And how do you match projects and teams in a continuously evolving agency environment?

In Part 1 we already looked at different sizes of project teams. The average team sizes were the following: 30% have teams of “3 or less”, 26.7% of the teams have “5” members, 13.3% have “4” members, another 13.3% have “6” members and 10% stated “8 or more”.

We didn’t ask for this, but I think team size heavily depends on factors like project size and duration. At Amazee our teams are usually made up of five people. Compared to smaller teams we can benefit from a lot of knowledge transfer and collaboration within the team. Also, we are less affected by off time from individual team members, and most of the T-shaped skill sets are represented at least twice within a team.

Where does your team work?

The highest rated option for where teams work was 33.3% “mostly co-located with some degree of remote”. This setup is followed by 23.3% “all co-located in an office” as well as 23.3% “mostly remote”.

At Amazee we always had some degree of remotes, but over the last years we transitioned more and more into “50% co-located and remote”. Having the option to work remotely provides a flexibility we don’t want to miss. I.e. it allows those team members who work from an office to visit friends and family abroad easily. Also, if you are on the way to a client meeting, you would still be able to join team meetings such as standups remotely via our preferred video conferencing tool zoom. More thoughts on working remotely versus locally can be found in Vasi’s recent blog post.

How do you match teams and projects?

Regarding matching teams and projects, 50% choose to “form a team when a new project starts” whereas 30% have “stable teams with multiple projects at the same time”. 10% have the luxury of “stable teams with one project at a time”. I called it a luxury because this is what Scrum is designed for, but in an agency environment, it is often hard or impossible to achieve this setup.

From the free-form survey replies, it appears that “forming teams when a new project starts” is preferred to achieve the best pairing of available resources. Also mixing people/teams allows for knowledge transfer and refresh team members minds from time to time. However, a reason why solid teams are preferable is that they can improve themselves over extended periods of time.

When I joined Amazee, we used to have one big team of 10 developers handling multiple projects at the same time. Every week, between the tech leads and project managers we would assign the different developers to a project and decide how much they would work on that project, which was great because we could always appoint the best person to a job. But, this also proved to have some drawbacks, as there was limited ownership of developers and projects. Since we introduced Scrum, we have “stable teams working on multiple projects at the same time”. This setup allows our teams to continuously improve their processes and take full ownership of the projects assigned to them.

We also formed a separate support team that focuses on reacting quickly. We also noticed that having maintenance projects assigned to the teams, that run off a Scrum-based workflow for new delivery projects comes with a challenge, which is why we created a dedicated global maintenance team. You can find out more about that here: recent talk “Maintenance and Longevity - Keeping customers and developers happy”

On average how often do you change the assignment of teams or projects?

70% of the teams change “once a quarter” or less often which indicates that stability is an essential factor teams take into account when it comes to changing their assignments.

Initially, when we evaluated Scrum, we were thinking about forming teams for every project. As we would have a new project kick-off every couple of months, we were concerned about team stability and had to find another solution. By building stable teams, we can continuously invest in team dynamics and have them fully self-organised. The downside of this is that the team will work on multiple projects at the same time but so far we are happy with balancing that, and it is also refreshing for the team to not work only on one project for a year.

As a conclusion of part 3 of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey Results, I would like to pose a couple of questions. How do you form contracts? What works and what does not? Leave us a comment below. If you are interested in an Agile Scrum training, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stay tuned for the next post where we’ll look at discovery and planning.

Nov 27 2017
Nov 27

This is part two of our series processing the results of the Amazee Agile Agency Survey. In Part 1, I provided an overview of initial observations from survey results. Here, in Part 2 I would like to focus on process insights.

In Part 1, we identified Scrum as the most important process for Drupal agencies. Kanban was stated as “somewhat in use” for the most part and also had various agencies stating it as “mostly in use”.

We also asked about “Other important processes?”. From the results, respondents mentioned “Critique, automated testing, collaborative sketching”, such as GitLab workflow, DSDM, Holacracy, Extreme Programming (XP), and Agency Agile.

When asked about how strictly the process would be implemented, the top rated option by 36.7% (on a scale from 1-5) was a “4”, which indicates these agency processes are followed rather strictly. Following this is a “3”, which indicates a balance between strict adherence and many adaptations, and a “2”, which refers to rather many adaptations. Fewer agencies still indicated an even split between either very strictly follow processes and implementing many adaptations to processes.  

When asked for which adaptations were applied to their processes, agencies mentioned the following:

  • Custom dashboards
  • Backlog organization of “in scope” versus “out of scope”
  • As scrum is all about inspect and adapt, the result will always look differently
  • Scrum gets adapted to different customer needs or other stakeholders in the company asking for it
  • Often clients expect fixed price offers with a fixed scope and fixed deadline, results is trying to be agile within those borders
  • The best process is invisible and will feel natural once you found the best way, process needs to match individuals needs

From our experience at Amazee, I’d say we tend towards a “4” where we try to follow Scrum strictly but we also don’t want to overdo it. As mentioned in the comments, Scrum is really about the team taking ownership of the process, which requires flexibility. We constantly try to adapt our processes where we feel it helps fulfill our mission to deliver great software to our clients.

How do you structure your processes and what works best for you? Feel free to leave us a comment below. If you are interested in an Agile or Scrum training for yourself or your company, contact us.

Stay tuned for next post where we’ll look at teams: sizes, location, and team assignments.

Oct 31 2017
Oct 31

Initial Observations

Popular Methodologies

Given the initial survey results, Scrum (or a Scrum hybrid or variant) is the most widespread development process used by agencies. Many teams consider it their top priority in order to deliver a successful project. Following Scrum as methods most use by agencies are Kanban or Waterfall.

ScrumBan (a hybrid of Scrum and Kanban) has not been widely adopted.  

In addition to those processes presented, Holocracy, Extreme Programming or DSDM have also been mentioned.

At Amazee, we began using Scrum to deliver projects a little over two years ago and have made great progress on it since then. In the last year, we also started a maintenance team which uses Kanban. Just recently, we began evaluating ScrumBan as a way of integrating our maintenance team with one of our project teams.

Project Teams 

Agencies ranging in sizes from 1-5 people to over 100 people have responded to the survey. Of those surveyed, the most common team size for project work are, in order from most common to least common:

  • three people or fewer
  • five people
  • four people
  • six people  

In terms of co-located or working remotely, team location varied wildly, but skewed towards 'mostly co-located' with some degree of remote. More than 50% of agencies form a new team with the launch of a new project, followed by stable teams which deliver multiple projects at the same time. Following multiple-project delivery are stable teams which deliver one project at a time.

At Amazee, we started out spinning up a new team with each new project, but soon realized that the constant starting and stopping of mid-sized projects was too disruptive. These days, we use stable teams to deliver multiple projects.

Sprints

Iterations

Most teams surveyed deliver in two-week sprints. The remaining 33% of respondants deliver anywhere from single-day sprints to month-long sprints.

Team Integration

Frontend and backend developers are usually specialized but mostly work together on one team.

DevOps, QA/Testing, as well as the Scrum Master role, are shown in all variations of integrated or totally separate teams.

UX & Design are split, with this role either in a separate team (or external resource) or as part of a stable team. 

At Amazee, we try to hire T-shaped experts that can work across most disciplines on a team. For example, a Frontend developer may also have experience with backend tasks, which can help alleviate work silos and ticket bottlenecks. 

Staying Connected

Most agency teams rely on written communication to stay connected. This can take the form of tickets or via a chat tool such as Slack.

The majority of teams hold team meetings and 1-on-1 meetings, while fewer teams communicate mainly via blogs, wikis or even pull requests.

The majority of standups last fifteen minutes while some are only 5-10 minutes.

At Amazee, our hubs differ. Our Zurich office holds a company-wide standup that takes about ten minutes, followed by a team-specific standup that takes another ten minutes. Our Austin office holds a company-wide standup, which includes a client, which lasts about fifteen minutes. 

Splitting up the Work 

Agile Results Estimations

Many agencies vary in their approach to defininig, writing, reviewing, and estimating tasks and tickets. For most agencies, the project team is involved in each step of the ticket creation process. In others, creating tickets falls to the client, project manager, or product owner. In most cases, a technical lead is involved in the high-level ticket creation and the team is brought in for estimations. 

The most common approach to estimating ticket is time based (hours, days, weeks) followed by story points (t-shirt sizes, fibonacci sequence) 

Client Communication 

Agile Results Clients

When it comes to meetings between the team and the client, the top mentioned options where 'less frequently' followed by 'more or once per week' and 'every two weeks'.

At Amazee, depending on the project size, our teams meet weekly or bi-weekly with the client. Clients are encouraged to talk directly with the team via Slack. We'd like to offer a daily standup with some clients, but haven't figured out how to do this easily as usually a team works on multiple projects at the same time. 

Agile Results Deployments

Delivery Practices

Most teams surveyed deliver rolling deployments, pushing code whenever necessary.

Peer reviews / code reviews have been named equally “somewhat in use” as well considered “very important”.

While the majority of agencies considers user testing very important, for automated testing the majority still tends only towards “somewhat in use”.

While a number of agencies have pair programming somewhat in use, Mob programming is mostly unknown.

The majority of teams consider automated deployments / continuous integration very important.

When it comes to story mapping, most agencies are unfamiliar. Those which do implement this tool, however, consider it very important.

At Amazee, peer review for every ticket is a normal part of our development flow. Our developers implement pair programming whenever necessary. This is an excellent practice for sharing knowledge and increasing the team's technical confidence. We are actively exploring story mapping. 

Take our Survey

This initial post is just a taste of the information I have collected, there is a lot more to be shared. Besides the numerical data, I am especially excited about the free-form responses which give valuable insights into the tangible, real-world decisions that are being taken in agencies to define daily agency life.

Before sharing a deeper analysis and the full, anonymous, survey results, I wanted to share this preliminary data to give an idea of what’s coming in. I hope this information is helpful in determining industry alignment or to find inspiration for what to try next.

Our Agile Agency survey will remain open until Sunday, November 5th at midnight UTC -7. After the survey closes, I will tabulate the results and prepare Part 2 of this series where I look forward to sharing my findings.  

Oct 18 2017
Oct 18

As part of my new role as Agile Consultant with Amazee Labs Zurich, I'm running a global survey to assess agile practices in our industry. Anyone working in an agency environment is welcome to fill out the survey!

Do you / does your agency work using defined agile methodologies such as Scrum and or Kanban? How do you fit theory into practice when it comes to working for different clients with different levels of understanding with regards to Agile practices at the same time?

Thank you for taking the survey before October 31 - I’m looking forward to report the findings in an upcoming blog post.

Oct 09 2017
Oct 09

#DrupAlps Tour Summary:

DrupAlps - at Passo Giau, Dolomites

Planning & preparations

Late 2016 I started brainstorming ideas for my extreme challenge. Initially, my plan was to hike the alps from mountain hut to mountain hut. After considering the security risk: being hiking alone in the mountains for a month, I decided to go via bicycle where at least I would be able to get help via paved roads if needed. Being a passionate cyclist, climbing the Alps was a dream for a long time already.

How did I plan out the route? Initially it was really hard to tell how much I would be able to cycle. I guessed an average of 80 kilometers per day and around 1500 meters of elevation gain should be fine. Planning out the tour was really fun - basically, I would try research the most beautiful and challenging mountain passes that you can cycle with a road bike. The quäldich site was a great resource to research challenging mountain passes and I used Strava to put together the route. Over the months of planning and during riding, the tour planning adapted flexibly. A map that compares initial versus ridden planning can be found here.

Apart from knowing where to go, I also needed to get in shape and equipped for the ride. Early 2017 I started cycling the Swiss mountain passes as soon as they opened and was getting more and more experience about which equipment and food I would need during the days.

In terms of equipment, I decided to get a race bike (Rose XEON RS-4400) which is really lightweight but still made of aluminium which I thought would be a more reliable material compared to today’s popular carbon frames. As I planned to take all my luggage with me for an entire month and in order to be able to cycle high-alpine mountain passes, I decided to get two compact bags. The Ortlieb Seat-Pack takes up to 16.5 liters and fixates behind the seat post. In addition to that, after quite some research I decided to the custom, tailor-fitted G219 Blade Frame Bag from Wanderlust Equipment. It took me a while to figure out the minimal set of cloths required to keep me dry, warm and adaptable. Weather conditions ranged from between 35 and -5 degrees, sometimes it was sunny, cloudy, windy or just rainy - but in the end, the combination of bags turned out to work out really nicely.

Drupalps - My bicycle

As I started to work 80% at the beginning of May, I was able to do weekend rides from Friday to Sunday to get used to the saddle. All the preparations were really helpful but still, there was a great deal of uncertainty as I never had ridden more than 3 days in a row and would be going to ride for an entire month.

The first week - Zürich to Italy and back to Switzerland

DrupAlps - Goodbye at the Amazee office

August 25, my bike was finally packed and I was ready to get going. After a lovely breakfast with the Amazee team in the office and with some joining remotely via Zoom, it was time to say goodbye for a month and start the journey.

Well equipped with two Rapha shirts - one from Urs for the colder days and one from my girlfriend for the hot days - I was happy to start cycling. I was slowly getting into a daily routine of taking Instagram photos, navigating using Locus map and sharing the rides on my Strava profile.

DrupAlps - Alpenbrevet

The first weekend was already packed with highlights. I joined 2000+ cyclists for the minimal version of the Alpenbrevet. I did the bronze tour which covered two passes, while some of the most eager cyclists did 5 passes with a total elevation gain of 7000 meters!

DrupAlps - Sunset at Lago di Como

After Grimsel, Furka and Gotthardpass I had passed the alps for the first time. The upcoming days I cycled along the beautiful lakes Lago Maggiore, Lago Lugano and Lago di Como crossing the Swiss/Italian border surprisingly often. Weather conditions were perfect and it was fun to start adapting the route a bit when I had enough buffer time.

Second week - Berninapass, Stelvio, Timmelsjoch and up to Germany

DrupAlps - Snow at Berninapass with Bessone

After a week, the first rain was hitting just in time for a day break near St. Moritz in Engadin to relax and wait for my friend Riccardo Bessone. Riccardo was traveling day and night with busses and trains to get to this place. After a relaxed breakfast and during heavy rains outside it was time for us to take the challenge and go cycling. This quite epic ride took us from heavy rains to heavy snow falls up to Berninapass and we were happy to find shelter on our way down where we could warm up the frozen fingers at a fire place and rest a bit before we headed further via Tirano up again to Bormio.

DrupAlps - Gaviapass with Bessone

The second day of our shared weekend we cycled the Gavia Pass. Luckily the weather was sunny again, so we could enjoy a scenery full of snow-covered mountains at an elevation of above 2600 meters.

DrupAlps - Gaviapass

Leaving that beautiful scenery behind us, we rode some kilometers further over Passo Tonale into the Trentino valley where I would continue my journey alone and say hi to lots of fresh apples that helped my daily need for calories.

DrupAlps - Passo Stelvio

Another highlight for sure was climbing Passo Stelvio - with 2757 meters the 2nd highest paved mountain pass of Alps. After a long day of easy riding, I decided to take the climb still around 4 pm in the afternoon and was really happy to have almost no traffic on the streets. Together with some cyclists from the UK, we arrived at the top before sunset and a bit of snow fall started, just in time to find shelter at one of the pretty much empty hotels.  

DrupAlps - Guy from Thailand

While riding I usually was pretty much alone on the roads. There was plenty of time to reflect, do some thinking but I also listened to a lot of Podcasts to feed my brain. From time to time I would meet inspiring people which did similar long-distance rides, such as this guy from Thailand that tested his bicycle after attending the Eurobike show.

DrupAlps - Himmelsloch am Timmelsjoch

Another magical moment was cycling over the Timmelsjoch from Südtirol to Austria. I was able to change my route so that I would cycle the pass already a week earlier from south up north instead of going down via the pass a week later on. On the top of the mountain, the weather changed from being sunny the whole day long into the mountain being covered by a cloud and quite some rainfalls. But it wasn’t too bad, so I kept going slowly and soon could enjoy some spectacular scenery. See the “Himmelsloch am Timmelsloch” as identified by Greg and depicted above.

DrupAlps - Schrofenpass

Approaching the end of week 2, my road bike joined me for some off-road action. The Schrofen Pass is popular amongst mountain bikers that carry their bike over the hiking trail. Trying to avoid busy roads in that area and equipped with a much lighter bike I enjoyed carrying my road bike over the pass.

Third week - Dolomites and up to Austria

DrupAlps - Clouds and Mountains in the Dolomites

After another break at a friends wedding in Germany, it was time to cycle down to Italy again where I enjoyed some of the most beautiful scenery of the tour. Especially when the clouds disappeared and the unique peaks of the Dolomites started shining through, I know that each single investment into this entire tour was worth the effort.

DrupAlps - With Kurti and Radlwolf

After spending some days in the dolomites, I approached the last week of my tour. My uncle Wolfgang “Radlwolf” Dabernig, together with his friend Kurti would meet me in Italy from where we cycled the Plöckenpass together. While I enjoyed cycling on my own, trips together like this one with friends and family as part of my tour really where great intermediate steps of my tour as we could share the excitement about the tour and spend valuable time together.

DrupAlps - Rain at the Border to Austria, Plöckenpass

Fourth week - Rains, Kärnten, Slovenia up to Linz / Danube

Entering Kärnten also meant the beginning of an entire week of rain. Cycling in the rain was tough but I was lucky to have all the equipment and mental health needed to survive even the hard days. As long as you keep moving you usually don’t get cold. Rain jacket, rain trousers, and overshoes plus a warm soup would save my days.

DrupAlps - Hidden Border between Slovenia and Austria

Cycling through the Alps also meant visiting different regions, different countries and getting in touch with many different cultures. I crossed borders 17 times and was happy we don’t have border controls anymore thanks to being part of Schengen Area.

DrupAlps - Sunset in Steiermark

It’s hard to summarize the diversity of impressions I had during the tour in a single blog post with a few pictures. What I for sure can tell is that late August to late September turned out to be a great season for cycling. While in the beginning it was really hot and I was glad to take a swim in one of the lakes, the later weeks of the tour turned out to be rather chilly. On the flipside, those early Autumn weeks made for some beautiful visual impressions.

Final stretch - Linz to Vienna

DrupAlps - Bags

From Kärnten I would cycle up to Linz, crossing the Alps for the last time. Because of a landslide of the heavy rains, the Sölkpass was closed and I had to take a detour via Radstätter Tauernpass which turned out just fine (and snowcovered) too. As I was getting closer to my final destination, DrupalCon Vienna, I had gotten into a routine of organizing my day pack of clothes into the above-depicted bags.

DrupAlps - Last day at the webshapers office

On the last weekend, Ricardo joined me again to cycle along the danube. After a long day on Saturday from Linz to Krems, the last day of cycling was planned to be a relaxed one. In Tulln, we stopped for lunch at the webshapers office where we met more friends from the Drupal community. Together, we cycled the leg to Vienna and even added in two small extra passes before arriving in Vienna. At the Schweizerhaus, a group of Amazee’s, DrupalCon attendees, friends and family were meeting us and I was happy to finish the DrupAlps tour healthy and without any injuries.

Cycling the Alps for a month was an incredible experience, I can definitely recommend. I think I was happy to not have any major issues along the way and I was also really glad that the adaptive planning of the tour worked out even better than I had hoped for. Thanks so much for everyone who has helped me achieve this goal! Without all the great support that I received, the DrupAlps tour wouldn’t have been the positive experience it has been!

What’s next? I am also happy to be back at the office, starting my new role as Agile Consultant with the Amazee Labs Zürich team. In an upcoming post, I will certainly talk more about what’s going on in this area.

Thanks for reading and following my tour! For now, if you are interested, here are some more resources:

Oct 02 2017
Oct 02

The Messe Wien conference center was split up into 3 areas: the first-time sprinter workshop, mentored core sprints as well as general sprints. Let’s go through them one by one.

1) The first-time sprinter workshop, brings new contributors up to speed with setting up a Drupal 8 environment, understand the contribution process and find their first novice issues to tackle. This process has been tested at various previous DrupalCons and turns out to be highly effective at recruiting and onboarding potential future Drupal contributors.

The group of sprint mentors runs through duties in the morning

The group of sprint mentors runs through duties in the morning. Rachel Lawson (rachel_norfolk) blogged about her experience working together with the highly dedicated team of mentors.

jenlampton and matason during Sprints at DrupalCon Vienna

At the first-time sprinter workshop, besides learning tools, processes and the technology, the main emphasis is on being able to collaborate in-person with other community members such as in this case Jen Lampton (jenlampton) from the US together with Chris Maiden (matason) from the UK.
 

2) The mentored core sprints are designed to take those who have gotten their feet wet in the first-time sprinter workshop or already have prior contribution experience to the next level. The setup of the second room with round tables focused on different topics such as Drupal core subsystems or initiatives allows engaging directly with mentors specialized in those skill areas. New contributors will work side-by-side with experienced core contributors on core tasks.

sugaroverflow at DrupalCon Vienna

Mentors, such as Fatima Sarah Kahlid (sugaroverflow) from Canada, provide individual advice to those sprinting on an issue. The goal is to help a new contributor on their way through the process and learn from each other.

DrupalCon Vienna Sprints michaellehan

The mentors all wore green t-shirts and we used name tags for every attendee to make sure it’s easy to know who can help and lower the bar for memorizing hundreds of names within a few hours. This is Michael Lenahan (michaellenahan) making an announcement to the crowd of sprinters at DrupalCon Vienna.

 

3) The general sprints are where all the other magic happens. You will find other Drupal core initiatives and Drupal module maintainers sprint together on topics they care about being moved forward. It is similar to the mentored core sprints format, as we have tables that focus on certain topics but without the official sprint mentors and rather each initiative self-organized with or without a given structure.

A huge spreadsheet is used every year to pre-organize sprints. Here individuals can sign-up for sprints happening during the week and take part in individual sprint initiatives such as working on “Drupal 8 criticals and majors” or “Migrate” or “Usability / Redesign the Admin UI”.

DrupalCon Vienna Search API Sprints

A busy and growing table was the “Search API Family” where Thomas Seidl (drunken monkey) sprinted together with many other contributors on Search API and related modules such as Facets. Note that the Search API module has also been given the price in the Drupal category or the Open Minds award that we held during the week of DrupalCon on Tuesday. Together with Entity API by Wolfgang Ziegler (fago) and GraphQL by Sebastian Siemssen (fubhy) and Philipp Melab (pmelab) it was awarded as most valuable Drupal contributions from Austria.

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The sprints were concluded with a very special moment, the Drupal Core Live Commit.

DrupalCon Vienna Live Commit with lauriii valthebal wengerk gido

Lauri Eskola (lauriii), provisional core committer performed a live commit on stage. The seemingly trivial issue Add @internal to schemaDefinition() methods was reviewed and showed how the process works. The issue had been worked on by three contributors Valery Lourie (valthebald), Kevin Wenger (wengerk) and Gilles Doge (gido) until it went via the Active and Needs Review to Reviewed & tested by the community. Together with the approval from core committer Angie Byron (webchick), Lauri was able to commit the improvement not only to the latest 8.5.x development branch but also to 8.4.x which currently in release candidate mode.

DrupalCon Vienna Sprints - Drupal Petitions with svettes, schnitzel

Shannon Vettes (svettes) and Michael Schmid (schnitzel) also joined the stage to share what they sprinted on. This time it was about an initiative that isn’t necessarily related to writing code but helping drive change. Drupal-Petitions.org is designed to create a process & tool similarly to https://www.change.org/ or https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/ where the community can prioritize and gather momentum around ideas of improvements.

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Wrapping up

Friday was all about sprints. As explained, I’m excited about the many ways that new and existing contributors had been working together.

DrupalCon Vienna Sprints sponsor Thunder

Special thanks to all sprint mentors, to the great organization by the DrupalCon Events team as well as Thunder as the main sponsor for the Friday sprints.

More photos from Friday and the entire conference can be found in our Flickr collection. Interested in sprinting again? Watch out for Drupal Dev Days in 2018 or other upcoming Drupal events in your area.

Aug 23 2017
Aug 23

As per the extreme version of Tour de Drupal, my plan is to cycle from Switzerland to DrupalCon Vienna by crossing the Alps 6 times. The tour will take me over some of the most challenging Alp passes using my road cycle.

I’ll visit 5 different countries, including: Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Slovenia and Austria. Overcoming the Alps with the bicycle has been one of my long term dreams... Inspired by the sport achievements of my uncle, I am taking this challenge to see if I can make it from Switzerland to DrupalCon Vienna by taking some scenic and challenging detours over the Alps.

The final destination is DrupalCon Vienna which serves as the perfect goal because it’s my favorite conference and my hometown at the same time.

#DrupAlps in numbers

  • Days: 31
  • Distance: 2361 km
  • Total elevation gain: 57864 meters

Route

DrupAlps Map

Here is how I planned out the route so far

Depending on weather and physical conditions, I will adapt the route along the way while riding.

DrupAlps Bike Engadin

Preparations

Over the last months, I have been riding various passes to get ready for the tour. Longer rides included St. Moritz - Splügenpass - Chur, Erstfeld - Oberalppass - Chur, and  Zurich - Vierwaldstättersee - Lucerne. In 2015, we cycled the Pyrenees as part of #TourDeDrupal Barcelona(1, 2, 3), early 2016 we cycled Sierra Nevada(1, 2) and later summer 2016 I cycled the biggest mountain of Austria on the Großglocknerstrasse.

Until now, I have no experience in cycling more than 3 consecutive days,  so I am really looking forward to seeing how it will go while being in the saddle for so many days in a row.

DrupAlps

For DrupalCon Barcelona we cycled along the Pyrenees.

Amazee Extreme Challenge

“After three years of fulltime employment, our employees get one month off to free their mind and do something really extreme.”

I would like to thank Amazee for giving me this unique chance. Find out about what my colleagues are planning or have already accomplished at the Amazee Labs Extreme page.

DrupalCon Vienna

DrupalCon is the biggest Drupal conference, organized by the Drupal Association and will take place in Vienna from 26-29 September this year. I am especially looking forward to this one in my home town!

On Monday, there will be sprints, training sessions & summits organized by Drupal Austria.

Tuesday to Friday is packed with the official conference program and I am particularly excited about the site-building track, which I am a track chairing this year. Check out my blog post about what to expect from this week at DrupalCon.

Join Tour de Drupal

If you’d like to join my for the last few days of cycling, the last days are planned to be flat along the Danube river. For example, we plan to cycle from Linz to Krems on Saturday, 22nd of September. On Sunday, 23rd of September we go from Krems to Tulln where we will have a lunch break at the webshapers office. After that, we’ll cycle towards Vienna to arrive on Sunday afternoon.

Sign-up here and see my blog post for further details.

DrupAlps

Follow me

Along the route, I will post regular updates about the ups and downs of the Tour de DrupAlps. To stay tuned, you can follow me here:

Aug 16 2017
Aug 16

On Sunday, 24 September we plan to start at 8am from Krems and travel to Tulln. At 11am we’ll arrive in Tulln and meet at the Weshapers office for some drinks & BBQ.

In the afternoon at 2pm, we plan to leave Tulln and cycle the remaining 40 km to Vienna to finally arrive in Vienna.

To sum-up, the meeting points are:

Kaiserwiese, Riesenrad, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wien_02_Prater_Kaiserwiese_a.jpgSource

The arrival is planned for Sunday, 24 September at 5pm in front of the big wheel in Vienna at Kaiserwiese.

How to get there?

There are many cycling routes that lead to Vienna. We created a map that currently highlights roads from east and west along the Danube. Also, check out the EuroVelo routes, bessone summarized the interesting ones for Vienna.

If you just wanna join for the last day, it’s a 30-minute train ride from Vienna to Tulln or 1:10 from Vienna to Krems and you can bring your bike on the train. Check ÖBB to book your train ticket.

Convinced? Tell us you are coming!

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Tour de Drupal Amsterdam 2014 from SchnitzelCopter on Vimeo.

Jul 18 2017
Jul 18

For the second time, around 100 people gathered in Heidelberg, Germany, for the 2-day Drupal Business & Community Days Heidelberg 2017 conference. Its unique concept combined two session tracks focusing on community and business topics. 

Apart from sprints and BoFs, the two session tracks allowed attendees to switch between community and business focused sessions. The community track focused on sessions in English for a more international crowd, while the business track sessions were held in German and attracted more attendees from the DACH (Germany Austria Switzerland) region.

Here are some of my highlights from the conference:

Die Firma sind wir! - Dietmar „dietmarg“ Giegler, Luca Curella (Reinblau)

Die Firma sind wir! by Dietmar „dietmarg“ Giegler and Luca Curella was a talk about how Reinblau switched to holocracy. The cooperative of roughly 18 freelancers is using bi-weekly governance meetings moderated by a facilitator to allow for the improvement of the organisational structure by everyone involved.

Dr. Julia Schönborn (karmajob) - "Der ehrbare Kaufmann“ CSR: Verantwortungsvoll handeln und richtig darüber sprechen

Dr. Julia Schönborn (karmajob) in "Der ehrbare Kaufmann“ CSR: Verantwortungsvoll handeln und richtig darüber sprechen shared insights about how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be used as a holistic approach to focus all efforts of a company with regards to social responsibility.

I found it interesting that this approach has been mostly associated with big corporations in the past while smaller Drupal agencies, for example, also see their social responsibility extended to the contribution of open source code and providing a good working environment.

Presentation: Michael

A look into a possible Future for all of us: React, GraphQL and Drupal by Michael "schnitzel" Schmid from Amazee.io shared all the findings we gained from creating multiple decoupled websites based on React, GraphQL and Drupal.

If you are keen to find out more about the topic, the Decoupled Developer Days are taking place in New York August 19-20, 2017.

Die TrauMINTfrau – vom Traum zur Umsetzung - Renate Welkenbach

Die TrauMINTfrau – vom Traum zur Umsetzung by Renate Welkenbach allowed the attendees to collectively work on the challenging task of bringing more diversity into tech. 

Heidelberg Group

Along with these highlights, there were also some other inspiring presentations, and during the 2 days, Drupal Business & Community Days Heidelberg 2017 provided a great way to connect with the German and international Drupal community.

Together with regional experts and enthusiasts for digital and open source we were able to connect and have in-depth collaborations and exchanges in a relaxed environment.

I was also glad to be able to attend the Drupal e.V. meeting where Stefan Auditor (sanduhrs) and Marc Dinse (dernetzjaeger) were elected as new chairman of the German Drupal Association.

More pictures can be found in our Flickr album, and be sure to check out the #DrupalBCDays hashtag for further updates. See you again at DrupalCon Vienna or another regional camp in the near future!

Jul 06 2017
Jul 06

DrupalCon Vienna is approaching quickly and if you haven’t done so far, it’s a good time to book your travels and accommodation. Even for an insider it is hard to keep track of everything that is going on, so in this post I would like to share an overview of what’s planned so far to keep in mind when planning your stay in Vienna.

Until Sunday, 24 September - Cyclists will be gathering again on the way to DrupalCon as part of Tour de Drupa Vienna. The Danube river allows for scenic flat rides from the west (Germany - Linz - Krems - Tulln - Vienna) or east (Budapest - Bratislava - Vienna). On Sunday 11am we will be meeting at the webshapers office in Tulln and in the afternoon cycle the last 40 kilometres together along the Donau to reach the Riesenrad in Vienna at 6pm. Join the conversation on g.d.o to get all the details.

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Tour de Drupal Amsterdam 2014 from SchnitzelCopter on Vimeo.

Monday, 25 September - Drupal Austria together with the global Drupal Community are organizing summits and trainings. Those who have been to the DrupalCamps in 2013 or 2015 will remember FH Technikum Wien being supporter and host of these community organized activities. In terms of summits, we are planning for a great variety: Community Summit, Publishing Summit, Business Summit, Open Social Summit.

On the trainings side we are currently planning for a Docker workshop and a Drupal 8 module development course. Finally, there will be room for sprints thanks to sponsorship from Acquia and a CXO Dinner in the evening. Here’s some more information about the Monday program.

DrupalCon

Tuesday, 26 September - The day kicks off the official DrupalCon program with the keynote by Dries Buytaert, Drupal Project Founder and will start 3 days of sessions, BoFs and social events. In the evening there will be the Open Minds Award (a regional open source award) and a ball celebrating Open Source as the official community party.

DrupalCon Open Minds Awards

Wednesday, 27 September - Together with the keynote, other sessions and BoFs, there will also be the Drupal Association Public Board Meeting as well as the Women in Drupal social event and a CEO Dinner.

Thursday, 28 September - So far confirmed is that there will be Drupal Trivia Night. More details to follow as soon as it’s available.

DrupalCon Trivia Night

Friday, 29 September - This is the last day of the conference and it’s all about Sprints: Join the community to learn how you can contribute to Drupal.

Mentoring

This sums up the main activities planned so far for DrupalCon Vienna. Alongside of the official important dates, hopefully this helps you to plan and organise your visit. Speaking from my own experience, DrupalCon with thousands of community members attending is a very special event: basically a week full of events. The above is only what we are aware of so far, you can be sure that various other individual events will be organized along the way.

Apart from the conference, Vienna has a lot to offer. If your schedule permits, I would definitely recommend adding a few days to explore the city. Some suggestions and ideas can be found on the official DrupalCon Vienna travels page. See you in Vienna.

Jun 22 2017
Jun 22

This is part 2 of my summary from the Lead Developer UK conference. If you want to refresh your memory about what happened on Day 1 you can skip back for part 1, or alternatively continue reading about my highlights from the second day of this outstanding conference.

Kevin GoldsmithFail Fast, Fail Smart, Succeed started day two with the recommendation that we shouldn’t punish failure but we should make sure that we learn from our mistakes. Nothing can be more harmful than a culture that prevents talking about failure. Instead, when we learn to talk about our mistakes, others and ourselves will be able to get better much faster. I liked Kevin’s recommendation about creating a shared repository for the team to collect learnings they have made along the way.

Mathias MeyerBuilding and Scaling a Distributed and Inclusive Team gave some valuable insights into his experience at Travis CI. Having the team distributed across continents creates challenges such as when cultural mentalities differ, i.e. some would expect more direct communication while others are used to talk less directly about issues (remember ask vs. guess cultures from part 1?).

I liked the idea of setting up a lot of decision making processes asynchronously via github pull requests, so that team members can contribute at their individual pace. Also, Travis is using special incident response channels for teams on Slack where they collaborate on important tasks in a timely manner.

Randall KoutnikImplementers, Solvers, and Finders: Rethinking the Developer Career Path encouraged the audience to think beyond the classical categories of Junior, Regular and Senior developers. At a first stage, an implementer would give a solution specification and make it happen.

To level up, developers would become solvers that come up with their own solutions to given problems and in the latest stage, they would find their own problems. Think about providing context like a problem space or a given product and you delegate more responsibility to that person so she will need to find possible problems herself. 

Carly RobinsonMentoring Junior Engineers @ Slack HQ shared her personal career path and how she was mentored as a junior. Small startups often struggle with the task of providing the necessary mentorship for their juniors, so it was great to see such a success story. Carly mentioned that for her mentorship is a relationship and you need to establish a good foundation upfront between the mentor and the mentee. Setting goals, tracking progress and acknowledging success are important tools for successful mentorship.

Similarly, being aware of your own emotions is important when reviewing another person’s work. Your initial reaction might be “This is dumb, I know how to fix this.” Instead, by being able to step back when having that reaction and reframing it into something like “Why did that person do that thing?” may allow you to reflect and discover the underlying issues and help come to a solution more collaboratively. 

Overall, I got back from the Lead Developer conference with a lot of inspiration. It’s great to see that so many successful leaders talk about the same topics and mention that it’s worthwhile focusing on problems I face and try to tackle them everyday. For me, growing leadership skills is a continuous effort that takes a lot of self reflection and discipline. It might be easy to agree that points like “giving positive feedback” is the right thing to do, but implementing it into one self’s daily practice takes effort and practice.

Slides of all talks mentioned above and more can be found on the conference website. I’d like to thank the whole organizing team for setting-up an incredible line-up and making sure the code of conduct doesn’t feel like something added as a afterthought, but ensuring diversity & inclusion was something that was really to the core of the Lead Developer conference. Next year’s events will happen in Austin, New York and London.

Jun 20 2017
Jun 20

DrupalCon Vienna will be taking place end of September this year. The site building track is about letting Drupal do the hard work without needing to write code. By assembling the right modules and configurations we can create rich and complex features, without worrying about reinventing the wheel and write complex logic and code.

Sounds great, right? As excited as I am for helping to put together the program for the site building track, I would like to share a few session ideas, which might be worth submitting. If you have never submitted a session for DrupalCon, this might be a good opportunity to give it a try:  

Showcases will let others learn from how you built your last exciting Drupal 8 project. Talking points can include which approaches you took, lessons you learnt from working on the project, and what fellow site builders should know when tackling similar problems.

Module presentations are a great way to explain and highlight best practice solutions. How do you choose from the various competing site building tools available to address problems like layout management, workflows or content modelling? Are the same solutions from Drupal 7 still valid, or what are the latest experiences you've had whilst building Drupal 8 sites and how could this be further developed and enhanced in the future?

Process descriptions are welcome to help us figure out how site building can best fill the gap between end users, content editors, developers, UX designers and anyone else involved in Drupal web projects. How do you involve your customers and explain site building to them? What does a developer need from a site builder and where do those practices blend? 

Outside perspectives are also welcomed to learn how problems can be solved the site builder’s way in related web technologies.

Together with Hernâni Borges de Freitas and Dustin Boeger, we are looking forward to reviewing your exciting and interesting applications. If you aren’t sure what to present, feel free to get in touch via the contact form on my Drupal.org profile or Twitter.

Thanks for submitting your session by June 28, 23:59 CEST.

Jun 15 2017
Jun 15

On June 8 and 9, I attended the Lead Developer UK conference for the first time. Its unique format allowed us to learn about leading and motivating teams in the tech industry from experts.

The Lead Developer conference was my first non-Drupal conference in quite some time and I’m happy to write that I picked the right one. Not only could I learn and verify a lot of thoughts about leadership but it also gave me a new set of role models to be inspired by.

The outstanding single-track program featured blocks of 3 sessions, most of them around 30 minutes with some shorter ones of around 10 minutes and some longer ones up to 50 minutes. Let me share a few of my personal highlights: 

Patrick Kua – The Constant Life of a Tech Lead kicked off the conference by reminding us about the basics of leadership in tech and that we should focus on values and principles rather than tools or implementation details. People are unique, they differ and we need to find the right approach depending on the situation. It is especially important to help your team as much as possible by providing the necessary context to accomplish their goals, which is often forgotten in my experience.

Katherine Wu – Ask vs. Guess Culture Communication brought back the idea of how differently people “tick”. Are you a more upfront person that prefers a clear communication style with others, or are you more on the side that expects someone to read between the lines and work based on assumptions? I definitely find myself more on the guess culture side and knowing that this is not how everyone works already helps a lot.  

Anjuan Simmons – Leadership Lessons from the Agile Manifesto gave a very personal track record of how he mastered leadership for himself and his teams. Working with a hero analogy, Anjuan mentioned that as tech leads we get called for the adventure, we get mentored with wisdom and are provided gifts to finally approach the boss level and return to improve the ordinary world. A tech lead guides other people on paths they have already taken. How does Anjuan motivate his team? At any cost, he will try to preserve the dignity of each team member and therefore earn their trust to together iterate and improve.

Erika Carlson – Better: Fearless Feedback for Software Teams provided helpful insights for one of the topics I most struggle with: giving good feedback. Aside from the general feedback categories: positive to encourage and constructive to improve, there’s also a category that is often missed not considered. “Passive feedback” means that you don’t give feedback at all and that also mean something to your peers. Giving the right amount of feedback in time is critical to any healthy relationship. I also liked to find out about 360 feedback and the idea of having a dedicated #thanks slack channel to collectively practice appreciation.

Nickolas Means – The Original Skunk Works concluded the first day. It was a detailed look at the history of the aircraft manufacturer that showed what incredible achievements they could make based on Kelly’s 14 Rules. Providing a system to innovate and release quickly (continuous integration & deployments) was critical to the success of this team.

The slides for all of the talks are available and I added the links to them above. On top of the inspiring talks, the conference had some more features I really liked too. Meri Williams was hosting the conference in a well-organized and entertaining way and followed up on a code of conduct issue in a constructive way. The conference also had a live captioning feature of all the talks on a screen, which helped me follow the massive flow of audio information and was even entertaining at times.

At #leaddev conference in London today. All talks are live-captioned by @whitecoatcapxg, which is awesome. pic.twitter.com/KVcDdSsypu

— Mehdi El Gueddari (@MehdiElGueddari) June 8, 2017

Next week, let’s follow up with a summary of day 2 and conclusions for The Lead Developer UK conference.

Feb 22 2017
Feb 22

From 16-19 February, the first Drupal Mountain Camp took place in Davos, Switzerland. A very diverse crowd of 135 attendees from, 17 different countries, came together to share the latest and greatest in Drupal 8 development, as well as case studies from Swiss Drupal vendors.

When we started organizing Drupal Mountain Camp in the summer of 2016, it was hard to predict how much interest it would attract and how many people would join for the camp. By reaching out to the local and international Drupal ecosystem we were excited to get so many people to attend from all around the world including Australia, India, and the US.

Drupal Mountain Camp Team

As a team of a dozen organizers; we split up the tasks, like setting up the venue, registration, social media, room monitoring and much more. It was great seeing that we were able to split the workload across the entire team and keep it well balanced.

Drupal Mountain Camp Workshops

We are very thankful for 30 different speakers who travelled from afar and worked hard to share their expertise with the crowd. As a program organizer I might be biased, but I truly believe that the schedule was packed with great content :)

In addition to the sessions, we also provided free workshop trainings to help spread some more Drupal love.

Drupal Mountain Camp Speaker Dinner

We took all the speakers up to the mountain for Switzerland's most popular dish, cheese fondue, to say thank you for their sessions and inputs.

Drupal Mountain Camp Speaker Sledding

With Drupal Mountain Camp we wanted to set a theme that would not only excite attendees with Swiss quality sessions but also create a welcoming experience for everyone. On top of our Code of Conduct, we organized various social activities that would allow attendees to experience Switzerland, snow and the mountains.  

Drupal Mountain Camp Sprints

Sprints are an essential way to get started with contributing to Drupal. At Drupal Mountain Camp, we organized a First-time sprinter workshop and had Sprint rooms from Thursday until Sunday with many sprinters collaborating.

Drupal Mountain Camp Amazee.io

For our hosting company amazee.io, Drupal Mountain Camp was a great opportunity to demonstrate our docker based development environment and scalable cluster stack using a set of raspberry pies.

Drupal Mountain Camp Snow

And of course, we ended the conference with skiing and snowboarding at the Swiss mountains :)

Pictures from the camp: selection and all. Curious about the next Drupal Mountain Camp? Follow us on twitter to stay on top and see you at the next event.

Feb 09 2017
Feb 09

Next week, the Drupal community from Switzerland and the world will gather in beautiful Davos for the first Drupal Mountain Camp. Together with a dedicated team, we are working hard on the last bits before the conference kicks off. Let me give you a brief overview, of what to expect.

The Davos Congress center, located right in the Alps, will host us for 4 days from Thursday, 16 to Sunday, 19 February 2017. From the Zurich airport, it’s a bit more than 2 hours by train, so make sure to use the coupon code for a 25% discount on the railway ticket. More details on the venue and travel options can be found on our website.

Davos
© Destination Davos Klosters

What to expect

We’ll kick off with workshops and sprints on Thursday. Join our First-time Sprinter Workshop and get started with contributing to Drupal. Our team of sprint mentors will ensure everyone will find a good way to become a successful contributor to Drupal 8 core. Also, initiative leads from Media, Paragraphs and Rules will be happy to collaborate with you.

Thursday afternoon, you can either continue to sprint or join one of the hands-on workshops:

Laura Gaetano (@alicetragedy), manager at Travis Foundation and the organiser of Rails Girls Summer of Code will open Friday's activities with a keynote: Making your voice heard: Open Source Needs You.

Saturday’s keynote will be presented by Preston So (@prestonso), Development Manager of Acquia Labs: API-first Drupal and the future of the CMS.

On Sunday, you can either continue to sprint or join us for some skiing and snowboarding on Jakobshorn. The other social activities include: ice skating, night sledging as well as an ice hockey match.

Skiing
© Destination Davos Klosters

Jam-packed programme

The full schedule contains 30 sessions in 3 parallel tracks.

Let me highlight a few:

Responsive Images under control by Cristina Chumillas (@chumillas)

Apart from those tech-oriented sessions, we’re also excited to bring various show-cases such as: 

Presentation  Sprinting
  
Source: Amazee Labs

Big thanks

This event wouldn’t be possible without the great help from our sponsors. A big thank you goes out to platform.sh, Somedia Production and Amazee (Gold), Acquia, unic, hostpoint, Previon plus, IWF Web Solutions, Liip, Gridonic, netnode, getunik AG, MD Systems, WONDROUS, Softescu (Silver) as well as others: Soul.media, JetBrainsm, amazee.io.

Get your ticket today!

So far, more than 110 people have registered. Don't miss out! Go, get your last minute ticket via the website. We are looking forward seeing you in Davos.

Dec 08 2016
Dec 08

This blog post was intended to be a recap of DrupalCamp Munich. It was a very well organized conference but the event was overshadowed by an intense discussion about diversity. This is why I want to focus this blog post on the learnings and takeaways from Munich regarding diversity at Drupal community events.

Setting the scene

On the day before DrupalCamp Munich, a discussion about diversity came up on Twitter and at the sprints venue where organizers were working hard on preparing for the conference. There were two related sources leading to the discussion. First of all, as Ekes pointed out via Twitter - out of 47 speakers there was only 1 woman on the agenda (2%). This is already saddening but the big attention came to happen when Twitter found out that copies of a men's lifestyle and entertainment magazine were about to be handed out to participants as part of the goodie bags.

The initial responses by the organization team were defensive rather than acknowledging the problem, basically stating that the event team can’t fix the problem of there not being enough female speakers at the conference. After a while penyaskito cancelled his session: he wouldn’t because of the two issues but mainly the lack of action and communication around them. By the end of the day, the DrupalCamp team published an official statement of apology.

I cancelled my session at #dcmuc16. Hoping you learnt from to community's feedback for next events. Thanks @Lingotek for supporting me pic.twitter.com/IwXGkADTIE

— penyaskito (@penyaskito) December 2, 2016

Thinking about the facts

I’m glad to see that the issues have been taken seriously. Obviously there was a different perception of the severity of the problem. From my personal experience, bringing in diversity into tech events is a challenge, especially when they are organized by teams that aren’t diverse in the first place.

But if we look at the data, we can see that DrupalCon New Orleans (19% female and 81% male), DrupalCon Dublin: (17% female, 82% male) had quite similar ratios. Even though they still have a long way to go to improve this, they’re better than what we accomplished for DrupalCamp Vienna (13.6% female and 86.4% male). With DrupalCamp Munich only achieving 2% female speakers, I think this is a very alarming sign that we have to react upon and therefore support the call for action very much.

Everything back to normal?

The discussions were quite heated, especially on Twitter. Special thanks to Jeffrey “jam” McGuire for following up with a blog post on “Empathy, diversity, and open source”. Aside from agreeing on the problem, Jam acknowledged the hard work and best intentions of the local team to host a good conference. I think it is important to see & hear both sides of the conversation and from there continue the discussion.

Diversity BoF at DrupalCamp Munich

And this happened through lots of talks - both online and onsite at the camp. On Saturday evening, we had a big “Diversity Matters” BoF. 7 women and 48 men discussed the issues with live notes taken.

Some of the important takeaways from the discussion for me where:

  • Diversity needs to be looked at on all levels.
  • Providing safe spaces is needed to support minorities in joining a community.
  • A code of conduct is a good foundation but needs to be lived.
  • We need to listen to the views of others before defending our own viewpoints.

Where can I get more help with this?

We are not alone in this. To figure out how to get better diversity at Drupal events in Europe, we can look at role models and the support they provide by leading by example.

JSConf for example, has documented how they reached 25% women speakers already in 2012. Their call for speakers highlights how they offer support to attendees to become confident about their wish to speak. They also embrace an anonymous submission process. If you want to find out more, you can check out “We Are All Awesome” for some great materials for both speakers and curators.

In Drupal, Ashe Dryden’s session from DrupalCon Portland provides a good overview of why diversity matters. If you want to help or join the discussion: Drupal Diversity is a working group discussing diversity & inclusion in Drupal and web development. They have extensive resources on why we should care and what we can do to improve diversity. On the Drupal slack, find us in the #diversity-inclusion channel with more than 100 members already. Also the Drupal Community Working Group is working on a response to the happenings. You can also follow them via Twitter.

What did I learn?

Since I joined the Drupal community, diversity has been important to me. One of the reasons why I joined Amazee was that I was looking for a more diverse team to work with. Working with a diverse team is still a privilege in our industry and I would like to see a bigger movement towards getting better diversity across the whole industry.

The recent incidents have made it clear to me that this needs to go further though. It’s not enough to simply say “we want more diversity”. We need to look at diversity as a common goal and everyone of us need to make more effort in order to achieve it.

The DrupalCon Baltimore call for sessions just started and shows a clear effort to inclusivity. Optionally, speakers can identify with underrepresented communities to help the session selection team ensure better diversity in the program. Also read their blog post about setting diversity as a DrupalCon goal.

As part of the Drupal Mountain Camp team, this discussion has inspired us to focus more on diversity. We agreed to think about it on all levels:

  • Promote diversity and the code of conduct on all levels of the event.
  • Set and communicate diversity as a goal for the session selection process.
  • Actively encourage diverse speakers to attend.
  • Offer support to speakers via coaching & mentoring.
  • Provide a safe and healthy environment for all attendees.
  • Educate ourselves as event organizers by reading materials stated above.

I’m looking forward to strive towards this goal for more diversity in Drupal.

Dec 02 2016
Dec 02

Together with the local Drupal Community, we are inviting you to join us for Drupal Mountain Camp in Davos, Switzerland. More than 200 attendees are expected to come for sessions, workshops, sprints and stay for the community ... as well as a great amount of powder for those interested in skiing or snowboarding under perfect conditions!

After a very successful and very interesting Drupal Commerce Camp in 2011, the team of Drupal Events Schweiz decided that it is again time for a Drupal Camp in Switzerland. As Switzerland provides so much more than bright attendees and speakers, we also want to show the beauty of our country and mountains. We found the perfect location for this: Davos!

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The camp will happen from 16 to 19 February 2017 at the Davos Congress Centre. We expect around 200 attendees from Switzerland, all over Europe and the world. We will feature a day of summits, two days of sessions, a day fully dedicated to sprints, and social activities each day.

I'm especially excited that Preston So has been confirmed to be the first keynote speaker. He will be giving a talk on "API-first Drupal and the future of the CMS". In addition, we have confirmed a number of speakers internationally & from Switzerland. Interested in presenting? The call for sessions is open until beginning of January.

Preston So - Keynote Speaker for Drupal Mountain Camp

Sprints are a great place to get involved with development of Drupal 8, join an initiative and get to work with experts and people interested in the same areas. See the sprint sheet to sign up already to join forces for improving Media, Paragraphs, Drupal 8 core as well as the Rules module for Drupal 8.

We are thankful for a great number of sponsors already which help keep ticket prices low. If you are interested in finding Drupal talent or providing your services to Swiss customers, this is a unique opportunity. See the Drupal Mountain Camp website for information about sponsoring or contact Michael directly. 

Discounted hotel options are available from CHF 59 per person/night via the following link: http://www.davoscongress.ch/DrupalMountainCamp

Early Bird Tickets are available until end of December for only CHF 80. With your purchase you already get a discount on travels with the famous Swiss railway service. There is more to come!

See you 16-19 of February in Davos, Switzerland. In the meantime, follow us on twitter.

Sep 07 2016
Sep 07

Curious about the latest and greatest in decoupled web architectures and how they integrate with Drupal? No compromises – React, Relay and GraphQL on Drupal 8 by Sebastian Siemssen (fubhy), Campbell Vertesi and Moshe Weitzman in the Horizons track is mainly targeted at experienced developers. Sebastian, Campbell and Moshe share their experience with setting up a Drupal website architecture based on these latest technologies.

It’s almost 10 years since Amazee has started reaching for the stars. Check out A tale about building businesses and sleeping on sofas by Dania Gerhardt in the Business track. As the CEO of our Cape Town office, founder & partner she is happy to share her very own startup and business story. Attend her session to find out about building five companies in nine years on three continents.

The way we build sites and implement layouts has changed massively over time. Remember Contemplate, Context or the Panels modules? The session How to create content layouts in Drupal 8 by Josef Dabernig (dasjo) and Inky Talbot (Inky3d) in the Site Building track features the current best practices that Amazee Labs has developed during the last 3 years; since we started to work witn Drupal 8.

Scaling high-performance websites around the globe is one challenge that our DevOps team enjoys tackling. To CDN and beyond! Speed up websites beyond the US and Europe by Bastian Widmer (dasrecht) in the Performance and Scaling track features a good mix of best practices and lessons learned on setting up CDN's with Drupal, hosting in mainland China and other fun optimizations that the Amazee.io team has done.

Automation and watertight processes are really what you want when it comes to ensuring the security of your web applications. Drupal Security: There is a Mini-DrupalGeddon every week and how to survive it is a joint session by Michael Schmid (schnitzel) from the Amazee.io team and Manuel Pistner (manuelBS) from DropGuard in the Drupal Showcase track. Join these two experts in Drupal hosting and security automation to find out about the Drupal security patch release process and how we integrate it into our CI/CD workflows.

What makes us effective, how do we accomplish tasks? My talk Let me help you help me - Selfish empowerment of others in the Being Human track is all about trial and error with leadership both in the Drupal community and at work. I’m looking forward sharing my experience with delegating tasks and supporting others on their career paths.

Interested? We look forward to seeing you September 26-30 at DrupalCon Dublin. Find us there in one of our sessions or at our booth, but also remember - all sessions will be recorded and put up on the Drupal Association YoutTube channel.

Jul 14 2016
Jul 14

Last week, a few more than 100 Drupalistas gathered in sunny Barcelona for a conference. Let me share a few impressions from the sprints, trainings and sessions which were accompanied by good weather and the expected beach vibes.

The Spanish Drupal community is one of the most active to my knowledge. They organize a variety of Drupal events within a year. After DrupalCamp Spain in Granada and before the upcoming Drupal Day in Galicia, the Catalan user group DRUPAL.CAT invited us for Drupal Summer Barcelona last weekend.

DrupalSummer - Venue

The excellent venue Citilab was already familiar from previous events like Drupal Developer Days 2012 (that's where I ran my first contribution sprint around mapping). DrupalCon Barcelona 2007 was also hosted there, I was told :)

DrupalSummer - Training

Friday started with trainings and sprints. Forcontu provided a full day of free Drupal 8 Site Building introduction to a packed room of people getting started with setting up their first sites. 

DrupalSummer - Sprinters

The sprints were again a great place to start working on tickets. As part of my session preparation, I cleaned up a few tickets for the #d8rules initiative. It was superb to connect with great minds from the community like Jose Jiménez (picture above) or Juampy NR.

DrupalSummer - Sessions

Saturday's focus was sessions. Check the schedule for a list of inspiring talks both in English and Spanish.

DrupalSummer - Food Truck

One great feature of Drupal Summer was the vegan food truck, providing delicious food for anyone.

DrupalSummer - Beach

Obviously, the group of attendees was striving to get some summer feeling, so we gathered at the beach after sessions for refreshing swims and great conversations. 

DrupalSummer - Goodbye

Check my flickr album for more photos from Drupal Summer Barcelona. Thanks to all the organizers for having us at such a well-organized conference!

Jun 28 2016
Jun 28

Last week, Sebastian and I attended Drupal Developer Days in Milan. An international group of 400 people gathered for a full-week conference in Italy to work and talk about Drupal 8.

The local team put up an outstanding conference, featuring a complete program with a week of sprints, high-quality talks and a lot more to like.

Sprinters

We could only attend from Thursday to Sunday, but the event already started Tuesday with 100 sprinters working on initiatives to move Drupal 8 and its contributed modules forward.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Sprinters

A look at the sprint planning sheet highlights the variety of topics that different sprinters have been working on.

The UX sprint was probably the biggest one with Gábor Hojtsy, Peter Droogmans (attiks) and Bojhan attending. I was especially excited to see ifrik and Rachel Lawson (rachel_norfolk) work on improving the organization of the Drupal admin UI. See their plan issue “Restructure the Admin interface” for further details on that.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - UX

A lot has been improved related to the UX process of Drupal. You can find a good read here, follow the DrupalUX twitter account and get more info on the initiative page.  

The multilingual initiative has been sprinting as well. Check out the great #d8mi initiative page to find out more. Gábor Hojtsi even presented his experiences with the initiative at the WordCamp Europe in Vienna, the same weekend.

Related to the media initiative, Christian Fritsch from the Thunder core team has been sprinting together with people like Janez Urevc. Check out the initiative page or follow via twitter for more info.

The Search API sprints were packed again. Thomas Seidl, Markus Kalkbrenner, Joris Vercammen, Mattias Michaux and Christian Spitzlay amongst others have been working on issues for Search API, Facets, Search API Solr and Search API Solr Multilingual.

A lot more had been sprinted on during the week, almost impossible to give a precise overview. Some examples are Drupal Commerce 2 with Bojan Živanović, GraphQL with Sebastian Siemssen, Paragraphs with Miro Dietiker. As part of the #d8rules initiative, yanniboi and various others helped out with issues and we will announce our next initiative meeting soon via the #d8rules twitter account.

Sprints are really the key element that allow for collaboration between so many great minds. Its great to see more and more camps taking in sprints as part of their program and having Drupal Developer days as the leading format in that area.

Keynotes

There was a great variety in keynote topics. We built it, now what good is it? by Jeffrey A. McGuire, Evangelist at Acquia gave a deep dive into the new features of Drupal 8 and what they mean to our customers. Making a Drupal shaped dent in the universe by Bojan Živanović, Development Lead at Commerce Guys is a talk to show how cross-community has developed over the recent years. With Drupal getting off the island, Commerce 2 for example is taking a very forward-thinking approach by developing features not as Drupal modules but small, interoperable PHP libraries first.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Keynote

On Friday, Data Triangulation: Moving beyond Qual and Quant by Razan Sadeq, User Researcher at Spotify brought in the perspective of an expert working for a big product. Razan was able to show by real world examples from her work at Spotify how UX can be driven by data successfully.

Following up, there was Transforming the experience: pixel by pixel by Alessia Rullo, Software solutions user experience lead at Hewlett Packard. In her keynote, Alessia talks about aesthetic considerations with regards to web design and UX.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Attendees

Saturday’s keynote was Automating Access to Development by Jessica Rose, Developer Relations at DreamFactory Software. Jessica brought together a variety of interesting topics such as diversity and automation.

Sessions

Check out the program to find a list of outstanding sessions being presented during the “talk days” of the conference from Thursday to Saturday.

Sebastian’s talk Decoupling Drupal with GraphQL & Relay was packed as usual and gave a great opportunity to share the details about how we build a decoupled architecture based on GraphQL and Relay that talks to Drupal as a datasource. The slides are up already.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - GraphQL

I was excited to be able to talk about our experience at Amazee of using Scrum for project management. SOS - We need a Scrum process! Going from specification to collaboration is a walk through of how we managed the whole process of introducing the process and was a great opportunity to share hands-on experience of the learnings we had so far. You can find the slides here.

Are Geeks from Mars and Geekettes from Venus? - I was glad to be invited for a panel discussion on gender & diversity in tech led by Alessandra Petromilli. Together with Razan Sadeq, Kristof Van Tomme, Alessia Rullo and Jessica Rose we had inspiring discussions around the topic.
 

Conference

Besides the great experience of  sprinting & watching sessions, conferences are mainly about connecting with others from the community. The Drupal Dev Days team has made great effort to make sure all the required facilities to make this happen were provided. I’d like to especially highlight the quality of food. Good catering with healthy options makes sure that attendees don’t dehydrate and get the vitamins required to stay energetic over days and avoid the Drupal Flu.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Food

The social program featured a Night at the museum @ Leonardo3, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with inspiring looks at all the impressive work that Leonardo Da Vinci did. Also many thanks to the Italian community for inviting everyone on Thursday evening for the official social event at a great bar in Milano!

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Museum

I was really excited to see #TourDeDrupal bringing together a motivated group of 8 cyclers. We rode over 50km along the Martesana canal and back into the city. On Sunday, Riccardo Bessone and I had the pleasure of cycling along Lago de Como and experiencing true retro cycling up to Madonna del Ghisallo.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Tour de Drupal

Volunteers & Sponsors

It was especially great to see this size of event to be realized in Italy. In 2011 I had first met Claudio Beatrice (omissis) at DrupalCamp in Brixen/Bressanone with less than 50 attendees. The Italian community has organized a couple of camps over the last years and now, with Drupal Dev Days, they could really show that an international camp with 400 people can happen really well in Italy.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Crowd

A successful Drupal event wouldn’t be possible without a lot of effort being put into the event. Having organized a DrupalCamp myself, I know how much of your free time you need to sacrifice to make it happen. A big thank you to Claudio (omissis), Marco (mavimo), Riccardo (bessone).

Here’s the full list of volunteers: Alessandra Petromilli, Alessandro Sibona, Andrea Pescetti, Antje Lorch, Chandeep Khosa, Chiara Carminati, Claudio Beatrice, Edouard Cunibil, Fabiano Sant'ana, Guillaume Bec, Julien Dubois, Kester Edmonds, Luca Lusso, Marcello Testi, Marco Moscaritolo, Paolo Libanore, Pierluigi Marciano, Riccardo Bessone, Simone Lombardi, Tamer Zoubi, Yan Loetzer, Yi Yuan, Zsófi Major.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Sponsors

Also many thanks to all the sponsors.

Upcoming events

Which events are coming up after dev days? Here’s my short list:

Where are the next Drupal Dev Days going to be? New locations can sign up here.

If you are interested in organizing a similar event, you might also be interested in checking the following presentation: Drupal Camp Organization: The Good Parts by Zsófi Major. Her slides are up already.

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Zsofi

Thanks again to all the volunteers of Drupal Dev Days Milan. Amazee Labs was glad to be a sprint sponsor. More pictures can be found on our flickr album. See you again soon!

Drupal Dev Days Milano - Milano

Apr 01 2016
Apr 01

Amanda Gonser, the lead DrupalCon coordinator, was kind enough to provide me with a list of the Indian communities that participated in organizing DrupalCon Asia 2016. We got in touch and below are some of the highlights they shared with me (in their own words).

Shyamala Rajaram from Chennai

"DrupalCon Asia gave many of us a chance to actually be at a DrupalCon. It gave us a chance to see and be a part of the exciting Drupal community. It has motivated and charged the community!

Drupal Chennai

We have since ventured to make at least one #sprintweekend a month and started planning for a DrupalCamp in our region to share our experience with more of us!"

Find out more about the Chennai Drupal community on groups.drupal.org.

Shyamala Rajaram from Chennai

Shyamala Rajaram worked as a project manager for the Drupal 8 Mobile initiative since the beginning of 2013. She is an active member of the local Drupal chapter: Chennai Drupal Community, India. Shyamala also conducts Drupal introductory courses at colleges around the city.

Shyamala has recently been elected by the global community for the Drupal Association At-Large seat - congratulations!

Piyush Poddar & Prateek Jain from Jaipur

"Drupal Jaipur community started with a handful of people and now we are going strong with 30+ regulars. The local community keeps organizing infrequent meetups, Drupal release parties and after having participated at DrupalCon Asia as its first official representation at a Con, we are planning an active event and activities calendar for 2016."

Drupal Jaipur

"Having a community booth at DrupalCon Asia to engage people and spread the love of Drupal was a great experience. At least 12 members from Jaipur attended DrupalCon and educated attendees about the Jaipur community and its activities. This brought a lot of visibility for us. Now we have got around 65 registered members on Drupal.org, 280 likes on Facebook page and are planning to host the first DrupalCamp in Jaipur this year."

Find Drupal Jaipur on Drupal.org, Facebook or Twitter.

Piyush Poddar from Jaipur

Piyush Poddar started the Jaipur Drupal community in January 2011 and has been an active lead and evangelist of Drupal and the local community since then. Piyush is based in Jaipur and works as Director of Professional Services for Axelerant.

Prateek Jain from Jaipur

Prateek Jain has been one of the early members and active leaders of the Jaipur Drupal Community and an evangelist of both Drupal and the community. Prateek is based in Jaipur and works as Associate Engineering Manager at Blisstering Solutions.

Ujval Shah from Gujarat

"The Gujarat Drupal Community started back in 2007. We organized the very first Drupal Camp India in 2008. We aim to spread Drupal using meetups, camps and code sprints. 2016 is an awesome year for our community. We have planned 1 camp, 3 meetups and code sprints as well. We were proud to represent our community at the community desk and ran a kite-flying event at DrupalCon Asia.

DrupalCon Asia was an amazing and unique experience - 4 days, 1025 attendees, 32 countries, 50 promising sessions, full day summits, 72 unique speakers and lots of memorable moments.

It was inspiring, Life is all about getting inspired. Presence of Drupal Key faces - Dries, Webchick, Holly Ross, Megan Sanicki, Gabor, Jeffrey (Jam),  Rachel Friesen, Amanda Gonser, Larry Garfield, Campbell, Josef (dasjo), Michael Canon and many more.  It was an awesome opportunity to meet, discuss and share our ideas with Drupal community's inspiration people. No more IRC Chats, Skype, Hangout Calls, LinkedIn Connections needed :), It was a well deserved face-to-face meet up opportunity to get connected with everyone."

Drupal Gujarat

"Most favorable moments were a face-to-face meet up and selfie with Dries. Also a signed T-shirt from all time fav’s, a video podcast with Jeffrey (Jam), discussions with mentors and people I admire, good inputs from Gabor and Webchick, the pre-note by Dies. A+ to all sessions, many new friends, as a regional lead represented and promoted GDUG in the community summit, lots of selfies, organized a kite flying event (GDUG Team), met with all time good Indian community friends, dance on the stage, goodies from sponsors, delicious food."

Meet the Gujarat Drupal User Group on their website.

Ujval Shah from Gujarat

Ujval Shah is a Drupal evangelist, enjoying every bit of Drupal since 2006. He is one of the long-time Drupalistas who have worked with Drupal 4.x to 8.x. He is also leading the Gujarat Drupal User Group community. Ujval was part of the management team for very first Drupal Camp India in 2008 and hosted a couple of sessions on theming and UI. He also delivered a session at Drupal Camp Pune in 2009 and has held sessions at various meetups and local events for Drupal and Open Source. Ujval is a frequent speaker at various colleges across India on Drupal and Open Source.

Chakrapani Reddivari & Hussain Abbas from Bangalore

"DrupalCon Asia was special, as more than 80% of the audience got to witness their first DrupalCon ever. It was a great opportunity for the Indian Drupal community to demonstrate that we are no longer just consumers but contributing back in a big way.

DrupalCamp Bangalore

It was very special for the Bangalore Drupal community because we are now recognized as one of the vibrant communities globally. In the last one to two years we have become one of the top contributors in terms of individual and organizational contributions. We are very happy that our initiatives on monthly meetups, regular sprints, and camps are proving fruitful. Dries talking about it in the keynote was a proud moment for us!"

Meet Drupal Bangalore on facebook, twitter, meetup or groups.drupal.org.

Chakrapani Reddivari from Bangalore

Chakrapani Reddivari is an active contributor to Drupal 8 and has spoken at various Drupal events in India and abroad.

Hussain Abbas from Bangalore

 

Hussain Abbas is a Drupal 8 core contributor and works as Technical Architect at Axelerant. He is a regular speaker at Drupal and PHP meetups and camps, in India and all DrupalCons since DrupalCon LA.

Siva Epari from Hyderabad

"DrupalCon Asia was an exciting opportunity for us to meet the people from the Drupal community across the globe, who collaboratively sustain the growth of Drupal and its community. We got tons of beautiful experiences and knowledge, which we carried back to our regional community and reenergized them with a sense of contribution and collaboration.

All starts from the fun filled pre-note event, a first time experience, which was unexpected from a tech conference opening session. The jokes, costumes and not to forget Dries reciting tongue twisters in local language and taking the Indian spicy food challenge :).

Drupal Hyderabad

The keynote by Dries threw light on the future of the web and how Drupal would approach solving those problems. It was exciting to hear about BigPipe, service workers and mobile initiatives. Later, when the conference was kick-started, tons of speakers shared their knowledge on different aspects of Drupal and technology. The crucial part being the conversations happening after each session in the rooms and in the lobby.

Apart from the sessions, there were BOFs and sprint planning led by xjm. One of the BOFs was about “Progressive decoupling and Drupal's front-end future” where we got a chance to directly interact with Lauriii, mortendk & cottser about future of frontend.

<p><a data-cke-saved-href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4jAEOfvvBY" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4jAEOfvvBY">Video: FlashMob at DrupalCon Asia 2016</a></p>

Taking the conf to next level of fun, 8 people from Drupal Hyderabad community performed in the Flash mob. A big thanks to Rakhi Mandania and their team to train us in such a short span of time and make us shake a hip.

After all this fun and excitement, the conf came to its last day. People crowded the Sprint halls to give back to the community. We helped people set up their computers with Drupal and helped them kick-start contributing patches to Drupal. The first-time sprinters room was filled with energy and gave us a hope that India can give back and move on from 'consumption' to 'contribution'. We will definitely keep the heat up and organize such sprints in our regional community.

Keeping this pace up, we are planning a couple of Drupal trainings in colleges around Hyderabad and give the students/academics a glimpse of Drupal. Later in the year, we plan a camp (as we did in 2015 - http://2015.drupalhyderabad.org) and to reach out to a larger audience of professionals, businesses and community members. All fingers crossed!"

Meet the Drupal community from Hyderabad on Facebook, Twitter, Meetup and groups.drupal.org.

Siva Epari from Hyderabad

Siva Epari is a Free Software Hacktivist, Project Manager, Drupal trainer, Drupal developer & Cloud developer.

Rachit Gupta from Drupal Mumbai

"DrupalCon Asia happening in Mumbai was a dream come true. Apparently it's the same time of the year when we do DrupalCamp :). DrupalCon has helped connecting all local regional communities which was very important to bring this community in India and Asia further. Another very important outcome of this con is that a huge number of new Drupalers (82% were first time attendee) joined the community and have learned to contribute. I believe meeting Dries and Drupal superheroes from across the globe will motivate and push them to contribute to the project and community.

Drupal Mumbai

Drupal Mumbai started back in 2011 as the Drupal Mumbai Meetup Group (DMMG), with an objective to revive and strengthen the local Drupal community in Mumbai. Since then over 700 members have joined the group and we have conducted more than 70 community events. Drupal Mumbai's primary purpose is to build and foster a strong community of Drupal and Open Source contributors in and around the Mumbai region. We invite and welcome Drupal enthusiasts, newbies, designers and hackers, businesses and marketers to join us. We have conducted some very large camps, our last camp had 650+ attendees - http://2015.drupalmumbai.org/. The Drupal Mumbai community has played a very active role in organizing DrupalCon Asia 2016."

Meet the Drupal Mumbai community on Twitter, Facebook, Meetup and groups.drupal.org.

Rachit Gupta from Drupal Mumbai

Rachit Gupta is an Open Source enthusiast and big time Drupal evangelist, who loves to innovate and build things on the web. He has been associated with Drupal for the last 7 years. Rachit started his Drupal career while in college and has since then fallen in love with the awesome community. He has also been leading the Drupal Mumbai community, which now has 700+ members, for the last 6 years. He is currently working on the Drupal Campus Ambassador Program (DrupalCAP.org), a community initiative to evangelize Drupal in Education - groups.drupal.org/drupal-campus-ambassador-program-dcap.

Dipen Chaudhary, Prafful Nagwani & Harshad Gune from Pune

"The Pune Drupal User Group (PDUG) was started in February of 2009 and has 100+ members from over 20 companies in participation. We have a meet-up every last Friday of the month where we have technical talks and BOF sessions. These meetups give us a way to connect with Drupalers in Pune and learn new stuff around Drupal.

As an initiative members of PDG also organize workshops for college students and we saw a full day Drupal track at the coveted Open Source conference GNUnify. Pune is also the city to have the pilot for Drupal Campus Ambassador program (DCAP) at SICSR, which aims to introduce Drupal to universities and engineering college by creating a network of Drupal Campus ambassadors.

Along with the numerous workshops and trainings and Drupal Camps we try to cram lots of fun in the middle, like celebrate Drupal 8 release parties and Drupal Birthday.

Drupal Pune

DrupalCon Asia was a brilliant meeting place for all of us. Here we interacted with Drupalers from other Indian and Global Committees, exchanged notes on making the meets interesting and getting more people involved. Our high point of the Con was getting a shout out by Dries during his prenote. It made us feel pretty awesome :).

Find out more about the Pune Drupal group on Facebook, Twitter, Meetup and Drupal.org.

Dipen Chaudhary from Pune

Dipen Chaudhary is Founder of QED42 and a long time Drupaler. He helped organize the first Drupal camp Pune in 2009 and has delivered Drupal workshops at colleges in the past. He was part of the first Drupal meetup in Pune which boasted 2 members in attendance and is extremely proud of how Drupal has grown in Pune.

Prafful Nagwani from Pune

Prafful Nagwani is a Technical Project Manager with Acquia and works out of Pune. He has been actively involved with arranging the PDG meet-up every month, right from getting hosts to coordinating speakers for meetups.

Harshad Gune from Pune

Harshad Gune is an Open Source evangelist and one of the front runners for Open Source in India. He is a member of the faculty and associate professor of the Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research and a former board member of the Open Source Initiative. He is one of the key members behind GNUnify.

Ravindra Singh and Vaibhav Jain from Delhi

"We organize DrupalCamp Delhi (DCD), involve folks from NRC (Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad) and organize Drupal events (CodeSprint, meetups and global training) every month in different localities in NCR. The aim of Drupal Delhi Community is to involve as many people as possible. We have top contributors which makes our community awesome.

Drupal Delhi

For us DrupalCon Asia was an international talent pool. We met world class Drupalers which was really amazing and more than expected. Having a community booth in DrupalCon Asia we got to know that lots of people are eagerly waiting for DrupalCamp Delhi 2016. So we have started the discussion the Drupal Delhi Group. Once again big thanks to the Drupal Association for making this event a success in India."

To know what’s going on in Drupal Delhi Community:  g.d.o,  facebook, twitter

Ravindra Singh from Delhi

Ravindra Singh is an active Open Source contributor (Drupal, JS), mentor, speaker and Technical Architect at Srijan. He specializes in developing web based E-commerce applications and social networking applications in Drupal and PHP.

Vaibhav Jain from Delhi

Vaibhav Jain is Technical Lead at Acquia with 5+ years of experience in Drupal development and customizations. He is an active member of the Delhi Drupal community.

Bassam Ismail from Kashmir

"Drupal Kashmir was started back in the fall of 2012. It has grown from a handful of people working with Drupal full-time to a community with more than 50 people with various backgrounds. Drupal Kashmir has been organizing Drupal events, sprints, and trainings for the last three years.

Drupal Kashmir

5 members from Drupal Kashmir were able to attend DrupalCon Asia and for most of them it was their first DrupalCon. Its was an amazing experience for everyone to see how people from all over the world came together for Drupal.  Also to see more talks about Drupal 8 was a boost, as the recently built site DrupalKashmir by the community members was a part of Acquia's Drupal 8 early adaptors showcase https://www.drupal.org/drupal-8.0/early-adopters.

During DrupalCon a couple of Drupal Kashmir members got their patches in Drupal 8 core and one of the members was a speaker at the conference."

Meet the Drupal Kashmir community on their website, groups.drupal.org, Twitter or Facebook.

Bassam Ismail from Kashmir

Bassam Ismail has been working with Drupal for more than three years. He works as a frontend architect at Axelerant, is one of the co-founders of http://www.drupalkashmir.org and has been organizing Drupal events and training since 2012.

The bigger picture

Thanks to everyone mentioned above for sharing your experiences with me! Also, a special thanks to Amanda & Parth for helping me put this post ogether .

Finally, being a map-nerd, I created another map to indicate where all these communities are based:

DrupalCon Asia Communities Map

Map of Indian Drupal Communities co-organizing DrupalCon Asia.

If you are interested in connecting with one of the Indian communities, find them via the map or search for more. You will find many more Indian Drupal communities on the g.d.o directory or you can just create your own!

Mar 10 2016
Mar 10

DrupalCon Asia was an impressive and very successful event, bringing together more than 1000 Drupalistas from India, Asia and the entire world.

This conference was special in many ways. The spirits of the various Indian Drupal communities definitely had a huge impact on how outside visitors, like myself, perceived the whole conference. It was great to see so many people from all over India and beyond gather for 4 days of sessions, sprinting, BoFs and more.

Coming from a small European country and being a first-time visitor, the scale of India was just overwhelming. And so was the size of its community. One of my goals for this trip was to get a better understanding of the local community. I'll publish a second blog post, to highlight the diversity of the community that has been represented at DrupalCon Asia, in the weeks ahead.

For now, I’ll share my experiences of DrupalCon Asia. Before DrupalCon India kicked off, Parth Gohil showed us around Mumbai. The capital city of the Indian state Maharashtra has more than 18 million habitants. Being stuck in traffic for hours, when travelling north/south during rush hours, is nothing unusual.

DrupalCon Asia - Gateway of India

Of course we went to see impressive architecture, including the famous Gateway of India

DrupalCon Asia - Mahim Bay

The city felt much more organized than I had expected. Here we're walking on the promenade of Mahim Bay. The bay features an enormous bridge of 5.6 kilometers: the Bandra-Worli Sea Link connects the upper and lower ends of the bay. 

DrupalCon Asia - Train Station

Mumbai had a lot to offer and in our efforts to see interesting architecture, we passed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. The busy train station is an entry point to connect with Indian Railways - one of the largest railway networks consisting of over 100 000 km' of track. The Mumbai local trains carry more than 7.5 million commuters per day!

DrupalCon Asia - Enzo

I was glad to meet enzo - Eduardo Garcia, amongst many others. We first met at DrupalCamp Centroamerica 2009 in Nicaragua, when he just started travelling Around the Drupal World in 120 Days. Quite impressive: Enzo is currently visiting 13 countries in Asia, Australia and North America.

DrupalCon Asia - City

DrupalCon Asia was held at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay - IITB in Powai, a modern neighbourhood featuring a big lake and tall buildings. The IITB has a long history of using Drupal themselves, led by pioneers like P Sunthar. Thanks to their cooperation, DrupalCon Asia could provide affordable ticket prices to the diverse audience from all over India and beyond.

DrupalCon Asia - Rangoli Sand Arts

The theme of colourful India not only dominated the beautifully designed website, but also made it physically to the venue. The Indian folk art of Rangoli, visualised the conference logo using sand art at the venue.

DrupalCon Asia - Prenote

The prenote was a really special one. "We've outsourced the Prenote" - Indian community representatives decided to outsource this task to a United States company. Obviously, this leads to a great amount of funny paraphrases on the topic of outsourcing and the stereotypes we may have about the U.S. or India.

DrupalCon Asia - Dancing

The whole opening session culminated in a Bollywood dance act, with half of the attendees gathering on stage to celebrate DrupalCon Asia in India. As reported on twitter, this was the most people ever dancing at a DrupalCon prenote.

DrupalCon Asia - Candle Lighting - Deep prajwalan

Next, the Indian community representatives gathered with Dries, inviting him to wear a turban of course! After that, they lit a candle together. This local tradition is referred to as "Deep prajwalan" - no Wikipedia article exists on that, but according to my fellow Indian attendees, this it means: "Lead me from darkness to light".

DrupalCon Asia - Community

There were a lot of opportunities to grow for everyone involved in the conference. The sponsors’ area was really crowded and active. Many local Drupal agencies ranging from a few to several hundred employees, are hiring at the moment.  

DrupalCon Asia - Sessions

One of the most attended sessions was Hooks, Events, Plugins, and Services: Pick the right tool for the job by Kim Pepper. He was amongst various other attendees from Australia and I was glad to hear more from the folks who worked on supporting the digital transformation of the Australian Government web platform aGov.

DrupalCon Asia - People

DrupalCon and any kind of Drupal event are all about connecting people. This conference really felt special because it was big (more than 1000 attendees) and 80 per cent of the attendees were attending their first DrupalCon.  

DrupalCon Asia - Denise Cooper

As part of her keynote on day 2, Danese Cooper, Board Member of the Drupal Association gave an in-depth historical analysis of the Indian free & open source movements.

DrupalCon Asia - Flashmob

Again, the local community surprised the audience with a flash mob and Bollywood dancing.

DrupalCon Asia - Community table

The sponsor area also featured a community stand, where representatives of the different Indian Drupal communities were available for discussions. They also gave out stickers and flyers. 

DrupalCon Asia - Party

Of course, there's no DrupalCon without parties & after-event activities. The locals took us to some great places with awesome views over the city. I was especially excited about doing some Bollywood moves together :) 

DrupalCon Asia - Lake

As mentioned, the venue was close to the very calm Powai Lake. 

DrupalCon Asia - Sprints

Sprints were a huge success for DrupalCon Asia. More than 350 people attended and collaborated on improving Drupal 8 and contributed modules. 

DrupalCon Asia - BoFs

They were also great opportunities to connect with different communities. So MortenDK set up a discussion with Dan Callahan from Mozilla to explain and discuss service workers for Drupal.

DrupalCon Asia - First-time commit

One of the biggest, and my favourite moment of any DrupalCon, is when new contributors get up on stage and get their first patches committed to Drupal core. This time, Angie "webchick" Byron was joined by the three Indian contributors, sidharthap, vaidehi bapat and nileema.jadhav, who collaborated on an improvement for Drupal core. Their commits got attributed and were pushed to Drupal 8.1.x and 8.0.x respectively.

DrupalCon Asia - Food

DrupalCon India had a lot to offer; many people, many cultures, many great success stories and many to follow. Besides all the happy faces, I'll definitely also miss the outstanding variety of foods! 

DrupalCon Asia - Attendees Map

Finally, let me leave you with a map: these are the attendees of DrupalCon Asia 2016, which have had their country/city information publicly shared on the event site. It was a great experience, meeting with such fresh, mature and fast-growing communities.

Thank you to everyone involved and I hope to see you at one of the upcoming Drupal conferences. Find one next to you on Drupical or start your own! Stay tuned for my follow up post, featuring more details on the communities represented at DrupalCon Asia.

(Main image was taken with Michael Cannon's camera)

Dec 14 2015
Dec 14

For the third time DrupalCamp Vienna brought together people interested in Drupal and related web technologies for a 5-day conference. With 2 days of sessions, an official sprint day and two extended sprint days it was a great opportunity to learn from and share knowledge with each other. It was my pleasure to not only be part of the conference but also of the team who organised it.

Especially with the recent release of Drupal 8, our topic; connecting open minds, was a great platform for a dialog between free and open source communities.

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 Jenny Wong

Jenny Wong's keynote "Bridging Communities" provided a great opportunity to learn from a Wordpress developer and community enthusiast's perspective. Here is some feedback on her keynote:

Jenny Wong Twitter DrupalCamp Vienna

There was a dedicated PHP Track and its schedule was packed with sessions from the Drupal community.

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 Crowd

I was especially excited to have Karin Christen talking about her experiences of running a remote business

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 Karin Christen

Amazee Labs was one of 24 sponsors and we supported the official party on Friday. In collaboration with Joja, the club Celeste provided interactive visuals, music & a room for conversations after the long day of conference sessions.

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 Party

 We were glad to have the FH Technikum Wien for the second time after 2013 as our venue partner. Their building provided 4 session rooms, an extra coder's lounge, a BoF room and we could use the auditorium to hand out food to the attendees.

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 People

Some sessions were pretty packed, but we should count this as a good sign :)

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 Crowd

Community activities, initiated in 2013 with the hash tag #schnitzelcon provided a great oppurtunity to meet after the (conference) day. On Saturday night people attended a Mozart-Requiem in St. Charles Church. My highlight was the Drupal Cinema Night & acolono Birthday Bash Acolono.  I really hope that video will be presented again :)

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 Acolono

DrupalCamp Vienna attracted people from all over Europe and beyond.

The 400 seats were sold weeks before the conference. The local team did a great job in bringing together such a diverse audience from 28 different countries.

Among the top attending countries are Austria (for obvious reasons), Germany, Serbia, Slovenia and Switzerland, but we also had people from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Belarus and Armenia.

DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 Map

I have created a map to visualize where attendees came from. 

A big "thank you" goes to the whole team and the volunteers, who have made DrupalCamp Vienna a great experience for everybody. I'm especially proud that we adopted a code of conduct this year to make sure everyone felt welcome.

More photos can be found on our flickr account. If you are interested in DrupalCamp Vienna, follow us on twitter.

Nov 17 2015
Nov 17

The final release for Drupal 8 is just around the corner - for some it might feel way too early to think about using Drupal 8 to actually build sites, others already do so. It’s never too late to get started and here is how we approach figuring out, what we can already achieve for our clients with Dupal8.

Having launched 7 sites on Drupal 8 already, here at Amazee Labs we are working with it on a daily basis. This continuously exposes us to adventures with a fresh ecosystem that our developers love to work with and our clients also appreciate for better usability and forward-thinking technologies. It also gives them a leap ahead in the every-day evolving web.

A framework for estimation

In this blog post, I’d like to share with you some insights into how & why we decide to build certain websites using Drupal 8. Which feature will be ready when? Will it cost a different amount if built with D8 and when should I migrate? I certainly won’t be able to predict the future, but provide a framework that works very well for us so far to estimate new projects and their feasibility with Drupal 8.

From requirements to epics

Our offers consist of a rough estimate based on line items, which map to functionality the client probably wants. As we are doing more and more agile projects, the granularity of specification is kept to a minimum, providing a good understanding for the client on what to expect but giving the team flexibility on the go to account for change requests and gained, additional knowledge about the requirements throughout the project.

From the requirement, we’ll derive a line item that can be seen as an Epic in Scrum terminology. Examples are Setup Drupal, Content Editing, Notification System, Media Library or Search.

Prioritize what can be done using Drupal 8 core

There are currently 32'315 contributed modules available on Drupal.org. This great amount of extensions isn’t yet available to Drupal 8 sites. On the other hand, Drupal 8 core itself got a lot more powerful. 23 modules alone have been integrated into Drupal 8 core; such as Ckeditor enabling full WYSIWYG editing out of the box, Views for dynamic listing or important field types such as Entity Reference, Link or Email Field. Together with other improvements such as View & Form modes, they make the site building experience out-of-the-box already so much more powerful than it was with Drupal 7.

So instead of relying on dozens of contributed modules, we try to achieve more with Drupal core and the few contributed modules that exist at the moment. This is also a great opportunity to design website content first - of course with great designs in front, but without the “featuritis”. We have seen too many sites out there that just combine a hundred modules because “there is a module for that” and create technical debt by doing so.  

From epics to Drupal modules

Of course, there are cases where Drupal core itself doesn’t make the cut. Let’s look at the example of a “Notification System”. In Drupal 7, we usually recommend to use the Rules module for that purpose. It allows building powerful notification systems that are easily adaptable by clients. As a client admin can modify notification texts through the administrative interface, we reduce the need to ask one of our developers when the client wants to adapt such texts. Thus, implementing a full notification system as we are used to in Drupal 7, would require us to wait for the Drupal 8 version of the Rules module. 

Checking the status for those modules

But wait, how can I know that I still need to wait for the Rules module to being ported? And if there is a Drupal 8 release available, is it safe to being used?

As I’m one of the organizers of the #d8rules initiative, figuring out the current development status is a no-brainer, but for the average person interested in using a module, here is what you should do:

  • Does the module page lists a stable release for the module I want to use? When you check here you will note, that for Drupal 8 there is only an unstable release available by today: 8.x-3.0-unstable5. While there are modules with good alpha or beta releases out there, this is not a good sign for stability of a module.
  • Do the statistics linked from the module page look promising? If we compare the Drupal core statistics with those for the Rules module, we’ll find out that as of October 25, there are 44,863 active Drupal 8 installations and only 84 of them have the Rules module installed. That’s less than 0.1% - while in Drupal 7 the adoption rate is above 25%. Not a sign that the module is usable already in Drupal 8.

If you are looking for an overview of contributes modules in D8, the following resources should be helpful:

  • Drupal Contrib Tracker Kanban board listing states as “No Port Active”, “Work Started”, Has Alpha/Beta”, “Has RC”, “Stable Release”, “In Core”, “Renamed/Obsolete” and “Blocked”. This is a great tool to get an overview of what’s going on.
  • D8 Module Status on the other hand is a test-driven approach, which lists PHPUnit & Simpletest coverage & test statuses.

Providing alternative options

Continuing with our example about the notification system, the Rules module doesn’t seem to be available at the moment. So we’ll tell the client that, if we want the full flexibility, we should wait for the module and try to postpone the feature until a later sprint. If the notification system is really needed at an earlier stage of the project, alternatives should be looked at.

Depending on the complexity of the module that is needed, it might make sense to invest into the porting process from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Some initiatives provide sprints, e.g. the media initiative or you can help by donating funds like for #d8rules.

Let’s assume that for the Rules module and for this particular project, we don’t have the necessary resources of getting the module ported or time constraints apply. A common strategy is that we offer an alternative, interim solution. A “notification system light” could be implemented using custom code. This doesn’t give the client the flexibility of the Rules UI where notification mechanics & texts can be adapted through the user interface. But in the end, when the texts can be defined up-front, we can still implement a simple notification system that does the job.

In a later phase of the project, the simple notification system based on custom code can then be replaced by a configurable notification system based on the Rules module.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Content
    • Now: Content basics - we can already build great a content model based on content types, fields, view modes, CKeditor, ...
    • Later: Advanced content workflows - the workbench moderation module isn’t ready, yet
  • Media
    • Now: Basic file management - Drupal 8’s basic file management is limited but works
    • Later: Media library - reusability of files from a central repository depends on the joined efforts within the media initiative
  • Search
    • Now: Basic search - Both Drupal 8’s core search and Search API are ready to serve good basic search capabilities across contents of the website
    • Later: Extended search - Facet API has only recently had its first release, so at least we need some time to investigate the maturity of the module
  • Layouts
    • Now: Content layouts with Paragraphs - we already used the paragraphs module on Drupal 8 to build great landing page authoring tools. Excitingly it also works great for multilingual site configurations
    • Later: Content layouts with Panels - the panels module only recently had its first alpha release for Drupal 8, so again there is potential but the maturity needs to be validated
  • Metatag
    • Now: Basic metatag functionality - we already use the metatags module for content pages such as nodes, which works really well. In addition, some easy scenarios can be accomplished using custom code
    • Later: Deeper metatags integration - the metatag module doesn’t provide integrations like for example with Views or Panels
  • Migration
    • Now: Migrations - the Migrate API is part of Drupal 8 core
  • Forms
    • Now: Basic forms - using the Drupal 8 contact form module, we can provide solid forms for entering data & requesting information
    • Later: User-customizable forms - the web form module isn’t available for Drupal 8, yet

Of course, the above listing is a personal assessment & subject to change based on the experience that we gain with each project. We will feel more comfortable using some of the early-stage modules in Drupal 8 as soon as we have used them already on other projects. And, as Drupal 8 and its ecosystem is developing rapidly, this listing will probably be out-dated within a few weeks, already.

Its up to all of us Drupal agencies to contribute to a sustainable development of Drupal core and its contributed modules to ensure that also in the future we can build on the shoulders of giants. At Amazee Labs, we sponsor Drupal events like DrupalCons and Camps as well as contribute to initiatives like the multilingual initiative or #d8rules. Also in our day-to-day business, we try to solve problems by improving existing solutions & creating patches rather than implementing everything in custom code.  

In this article, I tried to give insights into our continuous process of evaluating new tools, testing them & actually providing them to clients. I have shown how we go from requirements to epics & prioritize what can be done using Drupal 8 core. Then we go from epics to Drupal modules, check statuses of those modules and finally provide alternative options. By showing, what we can do now and what probably should be done later, our clients are able to take informed decisions.

Sep 29 2015
Sep 29

DrupalCon is not only about sessions, though they are a big part of the conference. Up to 10 presentations at the same time ensure, that there is quality content for any audience. At the same time, many things happen alongside of the sessions.

Some of the side activities might be really familiar to anyone who has attended a Drupal event; some might be hidden gems that I would definitely recommend checking out.

Drupal is all about the people behind the great software we are using. Let's find out together what happens during DrupalCon.

Tour de Drupal Mountains

Before starting with the actual conference, we did the second Tour de Drupal. This time, we were a much smaller team. Christian and I started in Andorra, cycling over the Pas de la Casa over the French boarder and back to Puigcerda, Spain on Friday. The next day we took a train to Vic and biked over some nice hills and down to sea level located Blanes.

Tour de Drupal Beach

Finally, on Sunday, the Tour de Drupal crew was completed when Gaele joined us from his 2 weeks cycling trip, along with Martin, for the final lap from Blanes to Barcelona alongside the beautiful beaches.

Beach bar

The local Spanish community and other conference attendees welcomed the Tour de Drupal team.  At a beach bar next to the conference centre we got to see some nice fireworks from the city centre. Pictures from Tour de Drupal Barcelona 2015 are available here

Photographer Boris

We got to the conference on Monday, where community members where already working on fixing the last critical bugs for the upcoming Drupal 8 release during the extended sprints. There are always a few people taking pictures, including for example Paul Johnson. We were also glad to see Boris Baldinger, former Amazee Labs colleague, join us for DrupalCon as part of his new business as full-time photographer.

Community Kick-off

Mondays at DrupalCon are often underestimated as just a day of arrival, attending trainings, or participating in the business summit. But besides that, there is a room full of sprinters and there was also a community kick-off event happening. People interested in the inner workings of the Drupal community joined together to discuss internal topics like event organization and best practices - for example.

Sponsor stand

On the ground floor, companies were busy preparing their sponsor booths in the exhibit hall. We from Amazee Labs traditionally see DrupalCons as a big investment; we are sponsors, and put a lot of work into our booth. In this way we can both support the Drupal community by facilitating such an important event but also represent our brand across the community and provide visitors and employees a comfortable area to discuss business and hang out. 

Bar

The evenings and nights after DrupalCon are packed with social events where community members gather to chat, drink, or eat together in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Prenote

Tuesday morning, just before the Keynote by Drupal founder Dries Buytaerd (aka "Driesnote"), Robert Douglass, Jeffrey "Jam" McGuire, and a team of creative community members present the "Prenote". Each DrupalCon, they come up with a great show explaining Drupal to newcomers and share regional fun facts about the hosting city or country. 

Keynote Interviews

After each keynote there is a moderated Q&A where Mike Anello asks questions collected via twitter, which provides a great way to discuss instant feedback from the audience on the presented topics. Check out the hashtags #driesnote, #DCNahai, #DCRozas, #DCBell for more info.

Group picture

Just after the first keynote, all conference attendees gather outside for a big group picture. This time, more than 2000 folks interested in Drupal joined in. That's Diana up there at the top, the DrupalCon production lead, strapped in a safety harness to get the shot!

Commits graphic

Drupal heavily relies on contributions by individuals who invest a lot of time into making the system better. Drupal 8 has an incredible amount of more than 3000 active contributors. In the sponsor hall, the Drupal8 Contributors Hall Of Fame, contributed by CTI Digital, visualized all the names as a floor graphic.

Party

Tuesday evening, the local Drupal association threw a great party at the beach with live music allowing the diverse crowd to connect with each other in an open, outdoor environment. 

Interviews

Alongside sessions and workshops, many interviews were held, capturing voices from influental community members about the current state of Drupal, and their experiences doing business and working with the community.

Beach

To compensate for heavy coding sessions and deep technical discussions, Drupalists also hang-out with each other and just have a good time at the beach, swimming or enjoining the ocean breeze.

Core conversation

While most of the sessions are related to technical topics, there is also another track that I find really interesting. In Core Conversations, we discuss how to improve our processes, what works well, and what needs to be fixed in order to work well together. On the above picture, you can see YesCT, kgoel, bfr, and alimac in their session Paid contribution: past, present, and future.

Retrospective

Drupal core development is a constantly evolving process. In the Drupal 8 release cycle, initiatives where introduced to allow breaking down the complexity of tasks into different areas. Now, with the Drupal 8 release coming up soon, Dries and the team of core committers took a chance to do a retrospective on what went well and what needs improvement: Drupal 8 retrospective with Dries.

Next DrupalCon

In the closing session, the next big DrupalCon events are announced. Besides Frontend United Ghent (May 27-28, 2016)Drupal Dev Days Milano (June 2016), DrupalCon Asia (Feb 18-21, 2016)DrupalCon New Orleans (May 09-13, 2016) and DrupalCon Dublin (September 26-30, 2016) were announced. In the above picture you can see the enhusiatic Indian community promoting their local event. 

Trivia Night

On Thursday evening, "Trivia Night" was on! A fun Irish-style pub quiz with questions on Drupal and picture puzzles. 

Trivia People

Conference attendees from various countries and continents celebrate the game together.

Mentoring

Friday is the official sprint day of DrupalCon. The entire day is dedicated on workshops that allow contributors to improve Drupal core and contributed modules. Our sucessful mentoring system ensures that new contributors are onboarded properly to Drupal's contribution systems and processes.

Workshop

A great collaborative effort is being made to facilitate moving Drupal forward, while at the same time providing free training for anyone interested in learning new systems first-hand from the experts in Drupal.

There were three rooms full of contributors: one with a First-Time Sprinter Workshop, a second one hosting a Mentored Core Sprint and a third one where contributors work in a self-organized way on different initatives per table. As part of the #d8rules initiative, I led a sprint table for porting the Rules module to Drupal 8.

There is a lot going on during DrupalCon. Thanks to everyone for organizing and making DrupalCon such a multifaceted event!

More photos can be found on the Amazee Labs flickr account:

Feb 25 2015
Feb 25

For the first time, DrupalCon happened in Latin America! Dagmar, Emma and me spent a week in Bogotá to speak about Drupal and to connect with the local communities. 

DrupalCon Latin America

To be honest, after low registration numbers and too many e-mail reminders for buying tickets, my expectations for the first DrupalCon in Latin America were not too high. Together with our project manager Dagmar and front-end expert Emma, we were still excited to go and support the regional communities. After having made many friends during my Drupal tours in Central America it felt like a great opportunity to visit South America for the first time and share experiences with local leaders.

A local looking out over Bogotá, the capital city of ColombiaA local looking out over Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia Colombian selling coffee on the streets of BogotáColombian's selling coffee on the streets of Bogotá

DrupalCon

With 260 attendees, the conference was more like a camp and can't be compared with DrupalCons in the U.S. or Europe, which have several thousands of attendees. Still, this DrupalCon Latin America wasn't just a camp: attendees came from all over Latin America and many even flew in from the United States, Europe or even South Korea. The presentations I was listinig to where of high quality and the live-translation service from and into Spanish, Portuguese and English seemed to be working great and was constantly being used by many attendees.

Attendees gathering in the main conference roomAttendees gathering in the main conference room

While Dries Buytaert's keynote pointed out some good examples on how the web is evolving, the analogy of using technology to minimize time being spent for getting a valentines present didn't play well for my taste. Larry Garfields held a very motivating keynote and you could feel the audience getting excited for the sprints on Thursday.

DriesnoteDriesnoteLarry Garfield's keynoteLarry Garfield's keynote

Other session highlights include: Drupal 8 CMI on Managed Workflow with a great music / dance intro by Matt Cheney and Molly Byrnes; Drupal in the Post-PHP-Renaissance World by EclipseGc; Designing Drupal 8 by Lewis Nyman; An Overview of the Drupal 8 Plugin System by Joe Shindelar and Persiguiendo el unicornio: Por más mujeres en tecnología by Kandra. As usual you can find the videos on the Association's Youtube Channel and they are linked from the session pages.

A dancy kick-off to the CMI managed workflow sessionA dancy kick-off to the CMI managed workflow session

Dagmar did a presentation on SEO for Drupal. The presentation was packed and a big success. My presentation for DrupalCon was special for me. For the first time #d8rules - Web-automation with Rules in Drupal 8 was code-driven. Given the early stage and complexity of the project, I initially struggled with the preparation. In the end, diving into the Rules 8.x code and putting it into a presentation turned out to be fun and a good example to show some new programming patterns in Drupal 8.

Dagmar presenting Amazee Labs best practices on SEODagmar presenting Amazee Labs best practices on SEO

The size of the event also allowed to connect even better with the attendees. I feel like I got to shake almost everyones hands and was able to connect much better than on large-scale DrupalCons where it is unlikely to run into the same person twice even during several days of conference.

Attendees wearing ear-plugs for live translation services from and to English, Spanish & PortugueseAttendees wearing ear-plugs for live translation services from and to English, Spanish and Portuguese

I love to travel in the Latin American region because of the friendliness of people and the special vibe of the culture. The local team setup a great set of social activities ranging from cycling through the city, traditional & explosive games to enjoying city views at night and of course latin dances such as Salsa.  "Northern" Drupal events tend to be a bit stiff, we can definitely learn from our Latin friends in this matter!

Watching the city lights as part of a tour organised by the local teamWatching the city lights as part of a tour organised by the local team The conference venue after the last sessionThe conference venue after the last session

Drupal in Latin America

Latin America is an uprising market that has lots of potential, not directly comparable but similar to India where DrupalCon makes its extra-stop in 2016. It was good to see a variety of local Drupal shops present at the conference that already have years of experience in delivering web solutions based on Drupal that where looking to hire new talent to grow their business. 

A room full of sprinters working on Drupal 8 and other initiativesA room full of sprinters working on Drupal 8 and other initiatives

There is a lot of dedication and passion available from the regional folks. It was great to see people from many countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brasil etc. Most of them have vibrant local communities and you could see their interest in contributing by the sheer number of people that showed up for the sprints on Thursdays (67% attended, compare with 23% Austin and 34% Amsterdam!).

Sprinters at workSprinters at work

Unfortunately, WiFi couldn't make up for number of sprinters in the beginning, but after a cold start and passionate leading from the mentors, it turned into a productive day. On our side, Emma was especially excited to get patches committed for people that she had introduced into the contribution workflow as part of her Bartik mentoring work, Dagmar worked on a prototype to improve mobile table drag & drop UX and I worked on a first integration to scaffold Rules 8.x plug-ins with the shiny Drupal Console project that is exclusively maintained by Latin Americans.

Sprinters at workSprinters at work

Around the conference

While the primary goal is to meet, present and connect on Drupal, Bogotá was also a great opportunity to get to know an exotic country for many non-locals. People hiked Monserrate, travelled to the rain forests or Dagmar, Joel and me even did our first hike above 5000m at the Sierra Nevada of El Cocuy. Special thanks to our client Exped: their gears made sure that we could travel light while being prepared well for nights below 0°C.

Hiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El CocuyHiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El CocuyHiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El CocuyHiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El Cocuy

Sunrise at Los Nevados de El CocuySunrise at Los Nevados de El Cocuy

You can find more pictures on our flickr page. Also see Nick Vidal's and Jesus Manuel Olivas' blog posts. Thank you everyone involved in DrupalCon Latin America 2015. We are looking forward to more conferences like this one!

Jan 28 2015
Jan 28

We just completed our third Drupal 8 project: SGG - Schweizer Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft. After relaunching our own website and helping out with Drupal.com (our first two Drupal 8 sites), we are excited to launch our first client website 100% on the upcoming major release of our favorite open source CMS.

After we had built the community site Intergeneration and the voting platform CHymne using Drupal 7, we now chose Drupal 8 for the relaunch of the corporate website of SGG. The compact feature of the site allowed us to apply the strengths of Drupal 8 as per today and so we created the association's new website relying entirely on Drupal 8 core functionality.

Building the new SGG website was a team effort; continue reading for the findings of each of us while we were creating the new site on the latest beta release of Drupal 8.

Boris was involved with site building and these are his thoughts:

Drupal 8 in terms of sitebuilding is awesome. After a short time you are able to build almost everything out of the box. Sometimes you have to think around the corner to get your result. And sometimes you get stuck because of some nasty bugs.

But with a great Backend-Developer at Hand (Alex) we could also solve some issues during creation of our project:

  • Building content types is much more powerful with Drupal 8 core: you can define view modes, form modes and many field types like e-mail, entity reference etc have been integrated
  • Full translation capabilities: thanks to #d8mi you don't need a dozen of i18n modules, but Drupal 8 core ships with configuration, content & interface translation
  • WYSIWYG editing functionality is part of core and just works
  • Views in Core: we can create dynamic listings  
  • Enhanced block system: we can even reference blocks using entity reference now
Views in core

Alex did backend development for the SGG relaunch and this is his feedback on the project:

  1. A lot of things in D8 are plugins and the new plugin system is really cool: to extend a plugin, all you need is to extend its class and place your new class in the proper namespace.
  2. Even if core still uses some PHP magic, everything is documented well with PHPDoc, and the IDEs help a lot to write code.
  3. Hint: while Drupal 8 still is in  beta stage, use core dev releases only for core development. I tried dev releases twice, in both cases a lot of functionality was broken. If you need D8 in production: use beta releases, they are much more stable.
  4. Every piece of PHP code is covered with tests. That's super cool: if you want to understand how a thing works or what its purpose: read its tests and you will learn a lot from that.
  5. Sad: there is no core stuff for testing JavaScript code. There are some contrib modules for that, but, anyway, it's not in the core, so JavaScript tests are not mandatory.
  6. Sad: beta-to-beta updates are not ready. That makes core updates really hard. The good thing is that it's the target number one.
  7. The translation system is really good. All translation cases are handled right in the core.

Overall, I have really really good feelings about D8. Previously we said "Drupal way" about many coding things. Now it's the "right way"! Drupal core now uses bleeding edge technologies, and that makes work really interesting.

Blocks are plugins in Drupal 8

Kathryn did front-end development, this is what she would like to share:

Building a custom theme for Drupal 8 is almost an entirely different process than building one for Drupal 7. I think this is especially true for Amazee Labs since historically, we are "Panels people." Because the Panels module isn’t ready for Drupal 8, we're forced to make heavy use of template files. 

In my experience with Drupal 8 (and on this project in particular), working with Twig templates is much more concise and straightforward to code than a D7 .tpl file. As a developer with only basic PHP skills, the Twig syntax is easier to grasp. 

For the SGG theme, there are over ten custom Twig templates, most of which extend upon another.

Even though the design of the SGG theme appears simple, there were many instances where the content display required use of the Twig {{ dump() }} function to drill into variables. 

One thing I found frustrating during this process was sifting through the output of the dump’s results. Krumo formatting in D7 is so nice and tidy, while the D8 output is a jumbled mess, even after wrapping it in a <pre> tag. 

To work around this, Kint is your new best friend. You’ll need to download the 8.x version of the Devel module, enable it, along with Devel Kint. Include {{ kint() }} in your template file and voilà - nested arrays that won’t make your head spin around. 

I could go on, but the gist of it is: mastering Twig continues to be my number one priority for Drupal 8. The SGG Drupal 8 project was no exception.

A sneak peak into Drupal 8 twig templates

And this is the result: http://sgg-ssup.ch

Creating web sites with Drupal 8 is possible today. You certainly have to be aware of constraints regarding not-yet-upgraded modules and account for some core bugs along the way. On the other hand, working with Drupal 8 just feels right already now: best practices from back-end to front-end development have been incorporated and the site building experience is really solid.

Step by step we will approach bigger client projects with Drupal 8. Interested in a future proof website? - let's start a project together.

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