Dec 04 2018
Dec 04

We are thrilled to have had three of our sessions chosen for DrupalCon Seattle in April 2019. You’ll find us at the booth, in the hallway, and out and about in Seattle, but make sure to visit us in our three Builder Track sessions:

Keep Living the Dream! How to work remotely AND foster a happy, balanced life

Virtual. Remote. Distributed. Pick your label. This style of organization is becoming wildly more in demand and popular among many Drupal shops. While many folks have gone remote, some people find the experience quite isolating and disconnected.

In this session we will talk about how to be the best remote employee, as well as provide ideas if you are a leader of a remote team. We will talk about key tactics to keep you (and all other staff) inspired, creative, productive and most importantly, happy!

Presenter: Anne Stefanyk

Beyond the Screen Reader: Humanizing Accessibility

We talk a lot about the basics of accessibility. But what does it really mean to be accessible? How do we ensure we are including everyone and empowering every user in every scenario to use our sites, products, and devices? We think about deaf and blind users, we check contrast for colorblind users. We consider the elderly and sometimes those with dyslexia. Are we including trans folks? Parents? The chronically ill? People with limited literacy? The injured? People in a major emergency? Who are we designing for? What should we be considering?

If you’re wondering how these folks might be affected by accessibility and you want your website to be inclusive for everyone, this is the session for you.

Presenter: Alanna Burke

Deep Cleaning: Creating franchise model efficiencies with Drupal 8

COIT offers cleaning and 24/7 emergency restoration services. Their 100+ locations serve more than 12 million homes & businesses across the United States and Canada.

It had been years since the COIT site had been updated, and it posed a host of technical challenges. Franchise content optimizations resulted in redundant updates for the SEO team. The mobile experience wasn’t optimized for conversions. There was a mountain of custom technical debt. And despite the current content administrative challenges, the localized experience lacked the level of context-awareness that consumers have come to expect. It was time for COIT to clean up its own mess.

In this case study we will cover the more technical parts of this Drupal 8 implementation: how we kept a multinational but distinctly separate brand presence with geolocative features, maintained custom promotions tailored to each franchise location, and kept the existing hard-won SEO and SEM business drivers intact.

Presenters: Anne Stefanyk and Katherine White

Nov 23 2018
Nov 23

27 Attendees representing 18 Drupal events from around the world.

It’s been almost one month since I wrote the blog post, “DrupalCamp Organizers Unite: Is it Time for Camp Organizers to Become an Official Working Group” and a ton of things have transpired that will catapult us into 2019 with some great momentum. With the support of the many Drupal evangelists, over 50 Drupal event organizers from around the world signed up to attend our first official / unofficial video call.

Then on Friday, November 8, a few hours leading up to the video call, The Drupal Governance Taskforce 2018 Proposal was released. This proposal was put together by the Governance Taskforce in an effort establish a community directive that helps create the next generation of Drupalers. One of the recommendations in this proposal was to provide in-person events, more support, and to establish a Drupal community events working group. The timing of the proposal was perfect for our call. It was really great to see that us organizers were not the only ones who acknowledged that our community events are crucial to Drupal adoption.

Are you a Drupal Event Organizer? Well, join us at our next meeting on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at 12 pm (EST). Register Here

When the time came to start the call I was a little nervous that not very many people would attend and then all of a sudden the chimes started going off and faces appeared on the screen. After 5 minutes we had 25 people on the call. It was inspirational to be a part of something big. It felt like we were the United Nations :).

Flags of all the Countries that were represented

Countries Represented
Canada, Mumbai, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

Drupal Events Represented
BADCamp(2), Drupal Association(2), Drupal North, Drupal Camp Asheville, DrupalCamp Atlanta, Drupal Camp Chattanooga, DrupalCamp Colorado, DrupalCorn(2), Drupaldelphia, Drupal Mountain Camp, Drupal Camp Mumbai, DrupalCamp New Jersey, Florida Drupal Camp (2),Frontend United, GovCon, MidCamp(2), NED Camp(4),Victoria BC Meetup.

Major Points from the November 9th Meeting

  1. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at 12 pm (EST). Register Here
  2. Comment on Governance Taskforce Proposal Issue
    To help Dries Buytaert, prioritize the recommendation of creating a Community Events Working Group, we need as many people as possible to comment on this issue. Please view the issue and indicate why you believe this working group is critical to the success of Drupal. Comment now!
  3. DrupalCamp Website Starter Kit
    Out of all of the discussions, the common pain point is that the website takes up too much of our limited resources. The idea of an event starter kit, instead of a distribution, was really intriguing to us all. We also discussed all of the events donating funding to hire a professional project manager to scope out what a starter kit would look like.
  4. Drupal.org Events Website
    Many of us use the great Drupical to let us know what events are happening. But if you don’t know about that website there is nowhere on Drupal.org that is easily accessible that promotes Drupal events. The idea that was brought to the table was to design a new section of the community page that is a space specifically for promoting and producing Drupal events.
  5. A Centralized Drupal Event Statistics Hub
    Another website related item that was brought up was the idea of centralized data hub that event organizers could submit crucial data of events (attendance, budget, programing etc.) so that Drupal.org could display the data and allow for data manipulation. For example, it would be great to know how many people attended Drupal events in one year. This data would be extremely powerful as it could help organizers to compare events, drive corporate sponsorships and adoption, and get more people involved with Drupal.
  6. DrupalTV — A website with all Drupal Videos
    The topic around Drupal video content came up and one of the biggest issues was that videos are all over the place and are not organized. To solve this problem, the idea of a centralized website (DrupalTV) where videos were tagged by topic, presenter, module, etc.. would allow for content to be easily found. This idea was started before our meeting and you can see a proof of concept here.

I was very happy to be a part of this first meeting and I hope that Drupal leadership also sees the work we do as critical and will make us an official working group. There were a lot of great conversations that took place so I am sure that I have missed something. Feel free to comment and let me know and I will update the post.

Oct 20 2018
Oct 20

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” 
— Helen Keller

Authored by Gábor Hojtsy, Meike Jung, Baddý Sonja Breidert, Floris van Geel, João Ventura, Surabhi Gokte, Andriy Iun, Lars Stadel Linnet, Rachel Lawson and Stefan Auditor

“In his Driesnote he also talked about the Drupal Europe [leads] and it was really impressive because he invited all the organizers of Drupal Europe up on stage, and all of us in the audience gave them a big round of applause. It was a standing ovation for the team. It was really special and I think it was nice to honor them the privilege to see how important they have been for the Drupal community. They’ve done such a good job. […] Standing in the audience […] it was so emotional.” — Podcast hosts https://drupalsnack.se/drupalsnack-81

“Drupal Europe […] was an outstanding conference like no other. The feeling of being part of the community and working towards common objectives is indescribable and very motivating. The event ran seamlessly and provided value to all participants thanks to the highly driven and competent organizers.” https://thunder.org/thunder-drupal-europe-darmstadt

“I am amazed for sure. I did not know what to expect when I came to Drupal Europe. […] By coming here I was just blown away by how professional it is, how involved everyone is, how dedicated everybody is. So I wanna give a big thanks to all the organizers. […] It’s clear that they have gone out of their way to make this Drupal Europe the event of the year.” — Michael Miles in https://drupalsnack.se/drupalsnack-81

“When we put out a conference like this, we come all together. […] There is a whole spectrum that you can do in the community. And they come all here together. We have other events where maybe the people who are interested in frontend go or those who are interested in backend go. But Drupal Europe or DrupalCon Europe, these events bring us all together. […] It is exciting!” — Baddy Sonja Breidert https://drupalsnack.se/drupalsnack-81

“Darmstadt was far from tourist attraction (I’ve been to DrupalCons in Barcelona, Prague, London, Vienna etc) and for me Drupal Europe was equally as good yet far more accessible to all. I had excellent community conversations and did great business too. Works!” https://twitter.com/pdjohnson/status/1041088750544203776

“On a personal note, I thank you all for your warm welcome and letting me be part of an awesome experience I will never forget. Your contribution makes a difference, it did for me and I’m certain for many others.” https://twitter.com/KenMunene/status/1041651771146416128

“It was lots of fun and new learning at Drupal Europe. Thanks to all the volunteers for tirelessly working in making it successful event. This event has really set higher benchmark for future Drupal events.” https://twitter.com/mohit_rocks/status/1041546210258157568

“Just another day in the park, a Chinese, a Syrian, an Indian and Ethiopian playing basketball in Germany. Once in a lifetime experience!” https://twitter.com/tsegat/status/1040261120664252416

“As a graduate of TU Darmstadt [across the street] I’ve always dreamed of visiting Darmstadtium as a conference speaker. Thanks to Drupal Europe this dream came true! This was an amazing conference at an amazing venue. Thank you for having me!” https://twitter.com/hchonov/status/1040641366609588224

“1.5 years ago I was part of the very hard decision to not do a DrupalCon 2018 in Europe. I always hoped that the Drupal Community will step up and organize something themselves. But Drupal Europe exceeded all wishes and hopes, a very very big thank you to all involved people ❤” https://twitter.com/Schnitzel/status/1040907413703073792

“[…] It was hands down the best Drupal event I have been to! Thank you so much for the organization team and the volunteers! You are the heros!”

https://twitter.com/Ayeshlive/status/1040882648443498498

“Thank you so much to the Drupal Europe organizing team and everyone who attended! This was an amazing week and I enjoyed every minute. […]”

https://twitter.com/ekl1773/status/1040881770646970372

“This Drupal Europe has been the best conference I’ve ever been to, of any kind. There is not a single thing I would have changed from start to finish. It’s the people. You are all fabulous. Every single one of you” https://twitter.com/rachel_norfolk/status/1040707031093727232

“This Drupal Europe has been a really special event. Thanks to all the volunteers that have invested so much time on it: a big event like this is really needed to keep the ball rolling.”

https://twitter.com/chumillas/status/1040631234651742210

“‘The Drupal community is an optimistic one and I love that’ — So says @sparklingrobots and after two days here I can confirm the feeling. Loved every minute I had at Drupal Europe” https://twitter.com/FrancescaMarano/status/1040178911265652737

“The passion, energy and sense of inclusion within the Drupal community has amazed me this week. Loving my first Drupal Europe experience!”

https://twitter.com/KatharineShaw42/status/1039771806067040256

Statistics image by Meike Jung

Why Drupal Europe?

From the first DrupalCon in 2005 in Antwerp, the community self-organized to put on events for itself. Some events where lead by specific companies (DrupalCon Szeged or DrupalCon DC for example), while others were collaborations within the community. As the conferences grew very big and more and more professional, no collaboration of people could take on paying the unimaginable amounts of bills (especially up front) and no company wanted to take on the risk of losing a million euros. The Drupal Association gradually took over the logistics parts and then most of the organization of programming other than sprint teams and track content. However, the Drupal Association needs to make money to pay its bills, keep drupal.org up and organize all its other activities for promoting Drupal. DrupalCon was/is a key income source for the Drupal Association so if DrupalCon is not making money that is a problem.

It turned out in 2017 that when staff costs are factored in, DrupalCon Europe was not making money for the Drupal Association (while DrupalCon in the United States did, providing 45% of the total income of the Drupal Association by itself). Megan Sanicki wrote a very detailed blog series that gives a lot of insights into the finances and goals of DrupalCon. In summary DrupalCon Europe cost the Drupal Association around a million euros to put on and instead of making money, it lost around 15% of that consistently. So based on those facts the Drupal Association decided to put the event on a pause while something more sustainable is figured out.

A group of community members were selected to form a committee to help define what DrupalCon is, so a licensing scheme can be devised for event organization companies to apply to organize DrupalCon Europe instead. If this scheme is to work well, then this could bring DrupalCon to further regions of the globe as well. Some people thought if the event is losing money why would anyone sign up to do it and thought this is a cop-out.

Even if this was to be a hope of a long term solution for Europe, we’ve experienced a lot of sadness and outrage at the time at events and online forums in Europe. According to Dries Buyatert’s stats at the time, almost 45% of Drupal contributors are European with the United States a distant second at 29%. Many felt that the Drupal they helped create makes the Drupal Association money in the United States so contributors and users have a chance to meet there, but the substantially bigger contributor community in Europe (who in no small part made Drupal possible in the first place) lost that opportunity. In this light, we did not agree with the consideration of the two DrupalCon events on their own terms, in that profits from the United States would not be brought to compensate losses in Europe, but at the same time we did not wish cuts at any other parts of the Drupal Association which would have been necessary to offset for the situation.

All in all we needed to take the Drupal Association decision and see what we can work out in that situation. Literally as the news hit, DrupalCamp Antwerpen was happening and various attendees of the camp immediately rallied together to skip sessions and discuss the situation and plot a path forward. Those participating showed great interest in maintaining a large event in Europe but recognised the need for that event to look for different ways to achieve results. It wasn’t enough to just continue as we have before.

The discussions continued at the DrupalCon Vienna community summit and then BoFs throughout DrupalCon Vienna. Ideas ranged from making existing camps bigger, switching to university venues, changing the format drastically, buying a big tent and so on. One of the BADCamp lead organizers David Hwang provided lots of input and encouragement. Read the massive notes document of 17 pages detailing various discussion points.

Ultimately we agreed that we need a melting-pot type of event where developers get inspired by Drupal used for fun projects, customers get inspired by the community spirit and how things are made, designers, translators and marketing folks could productively participate, and so on. DrupalCon Vienna ended with a decision that we are going to organize the event, but we did not yet know anything beyond that.

Distributed online team

We set up an online team of leads on google drive for document sharing and used Slack for chat because that was readily available on drupal.slack.com. We regularly had issues with the disappearing history, had to copy conversations to documents and re-explain things but this was the common denominator we could work with and we were not into revolutionizing the chat system used by Drupal but to put on a conference. We wanted to pick our battles. We used Jitsi for video meetings which worked great on desktop and iOS, people on Android had regular issues though. A bit later, by the time the conference happened, the Android client got more stable as well.

The tools we struggled with most were project/task management. We started using Trello, but left it largely unused and grew out of due to the complexities of the project. We started using OpenSocial but did not have people to actively nurture communities there and abandoned that too. We set up OpenProject on our own servers to rescue ourselves but also left that largely unused. At the end we kept each other in check on our meetings and used various spreadsheets to move processes. It was (not surprisingly) hard to get volunteers to track their contributions in project management software.

Photo by Gábor Hojtsy

Later on when tasks were too complicated for one group to handle, we branched out to a web team, program team, volunteer leads team and lead organizer team each with their own meetings, but still kept the all-team weekly meetings going for over a year until the conference was over. We did not have a team/meeting structure for people working on sponsors, financials, venue/catering, attendee care and communications. Those were discussed more ad-hoc as needed and mostly managed by the respective single person responsible for them.

The web team had great success using GitLab’s issue tracker to track issues and do QA and integration of features developed on a staging site. In the lifespan of the website we developed two different versions, the initial simple version being a manually updated static brochure website and the second being a full-fledged Drupal 8 website.

Email was an important tool, too. It was a good decision to set up dedicated IMAP accounts early that could be shared by working groups. Ticket sales/attendee care, sponsoring, and volunteer coordination are some examples where this approach was really rewarding (especially when you cannot rely on a single person monitoring a mailbox full-time).

With the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into full effect in May obviously many web workers (i. e. most team members) had a focus on implications for our tools. We were not perfectly set up for this (using data storage hosted outside the European Union and obviously handling personal data) but we did the best we could for privacy protection. We deliberately did not ask for any personal data other than information we needed for the ticket and to communicate with attendees. We did not send personal data in webform submission notifications. We used tools with GDPR certifications for ticket sales and emails. We did not sign contracts with all site administrators who had access to user accounts, which would have been needed strictly speaking, but we made sure to have a common privacy understanding in the team and limited critical access.

Hello World

We posted our Hello World post a week after DrupalCon Vienna announcing that we are on it because

  1. We wanted an event which brings together the European Drupal community.
  2. We wanted to make sure that the European market sees that Drupal as a technology is a strong brand.
  3. We wanted to prove our community that we can do this conference sustainable and cost effective.

We were primarily looking to solve the financial problems by choosing less fancy venues and not providing food.

It was also very important for us to state that we are not doing this to set up a parallel Drupal Association and we fully intended to collaborate with the Drupal Association. While we did not (intend to) use the DrupalCon brand, the Drupal Association helped us with a lot of historic data, spreadsheet templates, email samples, etc. that sped up a lot of our work and provided key insights to plan our financials. They also helped with our marketing through the Drupal Association channels and drupal.org frontpage. The Drupal Association also needed a place to hold the board meeting and board retreat and organized that around and at Drupal Europe as well.

Settling on a venue

We launched our call for venues two weeks later (which had outstanding results) alongside a call for swag that we could sell and make early money (which did not work). The call for venues had some outstanding results with the following city submissions:

  • Germany
    - Darmstadt
    - Friedrichshafen
    - Mannheim
  • The Netherlands
    - Amsterdam
    - Utrecht
    - Zaanstad (north of Amsterdam)
  • Belgium
    - Antwerp
  • Scotland
    - Edinburgh
    - Glasgow
  • Poland
    - Kraków
    - Wrocław
  • Czech Republic
    - Brno
  • Australia
    - Newstead, Victoria

After all if Australia can participate in the Eurovision song contest, why not have Drupal Europe there, right? ;)

We asked a lot of questions about the venues, and most would have been great in some way for our event. We spent a lot of time discussing various options and locations considering to avoid conflicts with events like IronCamp and Frontend United. We posted an enthusiastic update in November and as you can see there we’ve still been experimenting with how to approach the conference model and proposed a version that got significantly amended later.

We planned to confirm and announce the venue mid-December, but that did not happen before mid-January when we announced our venue and dates.

While most of the venues proposed could have worked, we choose Darmstadt because it provided a good combination of an amazing venue in a very accessible location combined with reasonable venue pricing. It was definitely not a less fancy venue as we set out to have, but the pricing was fair. It was a key deciding factor that the German community not only suggested us the venue but they were ready to stand behind the event and serve as the fiscal entity. While Drupal Europe Stichting has been set up in October in Eindhoven to possibly serve as a backing entity, it did not have staff or experience putting on events and had no reserves in the bank. We also talked to the Drupal Association to serve as the fiscal entity, but as they wanted to avoid losing money and we had no guarantees to not do that, that was also a no-go.

Given how amazing was the venue, we found it surprising that we got it for a reasonable price for this week. We thought that the venue would be hard to work with or there would be lots of hidden costs, so we carefully examined all potential charges listed. We did not find anything hidden and they were very positive and supportive of us. Later on we did find out two issues:

  1. This week clashed with important religious holidays including Rosh Hashanah, Hijra and Ganesh Chaturthi. We did not consider these date conflicts, which speaks to the lack of cultural diversity in the organization team at the time. We regret that some of our (potential) community members could not attend due to these conflicts. One of our volunteer leads celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi at Drupal Europe and helped us become a lot more aware of this religious celebration. Organizers of international events should use http://www.interfaith-calendar.org/ or an equivalent and also consult people to get more context to each holiday/celebration listed especially their significance.
  2. This week also clashed with the Automechanika expo in Frankfurt, which draws 136.000 visitors who take over hotels in the cities around Frankfurt as well. Despite the plenty of hotel rooms normally available in Darmstadt downtown, it is hard to compete with that demand when you are a comparatively tiny conference of at most a couple thousand people. This turned out to cause problems for accommodations for our attendees (but read on later) and even for some of our bigger exhibitors as they had a hard time to find companies to do booth buildup.

Event organizers with a more diverse team would have definitely avoided this week as they would be aware of both conflicts before booking. If we would have known, we would not choose Darmstadt as this was the only complete week available with only 9 months to go before the event in this venue.

Darmstadt

Darmstadt downtown nearby the venue — photo by Jean Fenouil

Darmstadt being a city of 160k people with a sizable university population with the venue located right downtown resulted in an atmosphere where you can go out for dinner and probably bump into another group of Drupal Europe attendees. Randomly meeting other attendees was the norm.

The close proximity of the Frankfurt airport was a big plus. A direct airport bus is running between the venue and the airport normally every 30 minutes daytime. And there are power plugs and free wifi on the bus, how is that for a great arrival / departure experience?

Darmstadtium

While we sometimes felt like mere “conference organizing enthusiasts” in discussions with Darmstadtium, our partnership turned out to be very productive. They worked with us to find the best solutions for our problems within the frameworks they were able to offer. We ended up almost booking the whole venue (except one big auditorium) and basically took over the building for the week. They gradually understood more and more of our diverse program elements and what each meant to us. They even took care of little details like setting the led lighting on the infodesk to the conference’s brand color for the week.

Photo by Jean Fenouil

The venue was very well received by our attendees, especially the natural light in the atriums and most rooms. Even one of our contribution rooms had a huge glass wall letting in natural light and direct street access to get some fresh air.

“We are really digging the venue of Drupal Europe. Large open spaces and some really stunning architecture. […] Our team can’t seem to get over the sheer beauty of the Drupal Europe venue. It’s truly stunning […] Really thankful to Drupal Europe for the great choice!” https://twitter.com/Srijan/status/1039511199312822272 and https://twitter.com/Srijan/status/1040253518798577664

Accommodation

The hotel situation might have cost us a considerable number of potential attendees as the above mentioned expo resulted in many big hotels completely booked by automotive companies. We attempted to negotiate group rates for room blocks in hotels but they said there is no such option for this week as the rooms will be booked either way. And indeed that came true.

We started calling out the issue publicly as early as May telling people to book hotel rooms anticipating this problem, but understandably many people did not yet know if they would attend as no program was available yet, people did not know if they are going to speak or not, etc. Later on some feedback indicated that our calls for hotel room booking was not alarming enough early enough.

Drupal Camping photo by Floris van Geel

After the issue was raised in our Slack channel, several volunteer initiatives started right away and all options were immediately reflected on the web site:

  • Some team members researched hotels farther away and looked up alternative booking portals, even called up remote hotels to reserve room blocks. We did not end up offering those blocks as they were only accessible with cars and the reservations were only valid very short term which did not let us develop a solution to distribute them.
  • A Google map with train stations was set up to indicate towns outside Darmstadt with only a few minutes to reach by train to assist extended accommodation search.
  • Some locals started a couchsurfing channel to share sleeping space available within the Drupal community locally.
  • A group of volunteers started organizing a camping site on drupalchat.me. The so-called Drupal Camping turned out to be quite an attraction with an event bus. We had to cope with very strict german rules, so after 10 pm it was “Nachtruhe”, meaning that we had to skip the bonfire and party elsewhere at the lake to enjoy our music and the stars without bothering other guests. Even with the 60 Drupal people we had at the camping on Tuesday we managed not to get kicked out and in the end be happy campers with not so much troubled camping owners.

Drupal Europe brand

Alongside the call for venues, we also launched a call for designers. While we had a temporary logo right away, we needed a complete brand we can use for the website, roll-ups, stickers, track icons. Our call for designers received many great submissions.

Sample submissions from Aline Skibitzki, Steffen Belz, and sixeleven srl respectively

After thorough discussions we decided to partner with sixeleven srl in Italy, the same company that designed the DrupalCon and Drupal Dev Days Milan brands and work forward from another brand proposal they sent. Sixeleven delivered a brand manual with fonts and colors and worked with us designing the sponsor brochure, stickers, PDF schedule, etc. We also had two designers on the lead team who produced matching designs for the lanyards, rollups, digital signage, further website elements, etc. which worked in perfect unison with the sixeleven designed items.

Social media, giving Drupal Europe a voice

We knew from the get-go that we need to be active on social media. And in fact through the year we posted over a thousand tweets on https://twitter.com/DrupalEurope. We made several announcements on Twitter exclusively especially before we had attendees we could send emails to. We kept posting more detailed posts to our Medium blog, but daily news were delivered over Twitter. While we hoped to be able to, once we had our Drupal website, we did not integrate the blog or the social media channels there, so our Twitter feed was more like the source of the most up to date high level news source while our website was best to review all available information.

While Twitter is quite popular in “insider” Drupal circles, we hoped to reach out of those. We also set up our Facebook presence which replicated a lot of the Twitter messaging and we also had a LinkedIn page that did not get much activity though. Further attempts were made with Xing.com, a dedicated Meetup account, an event page on Airbnb and probably some more volunteer-based initiatives. The idea was to drive interests from various platforms to the channels where we were actually providing information at. None of these approaches were very effective in part because we did not have the resources to keep them up to date.

While we ran a very small ad campaign on Facebook and a bit bigger one on Twitter targeting technology people in the region, we did not seem to succeed with reaching outside of our regular reach with them so abandoned the idea to spend money on them.

Finally we thought it is important to have a consistent social media voice so our Twitter account was managed by a single person. We made sure to make the biggest noise about all the things that helped build our credibility at the start and then things that demonstrated our value provided. Some people considered our social media activity too chatty but it definitely helped give a familiar voice to the conference that was not too formal and contributed to the community camp feel of the event.

Websites and the process of getting them ready

Credits Drupal Europe Web team

As mentioned earlier, over the span of the year we had two different websites. The initial website was a Symfony 4 based HTML-landing page. The other was the full Drupal 8 site with workflows, user generated content and so on, that turned out to be more complex than we initially anticipated.

HTML-landing page

Starting with the simpler of the two first, the goal there was to put together a quick and simple website, just to tell the world that we are here, who we are and what we want to achieve.

It was initially created on the 13. October 2017, in a very simple and slim version, which gradually evolved. We stopped development on it on 17. May 2018 and it was replaced by the Drupal 8 website shortly thereafter. Statistically we had 226 commits over the period, giving an average of 1 commit per day. 8 people contributed to this site with 85% of contributions from 3 contributors.

Using Symfony 4 as a midway point between a fully-fledged website and a simple HTML website worked out quite well, there was a slight overhead to it, but that was mitigated by it providing benefits in regards to asset handling with automated optimization of js, css and image sizes.

Commits graph from GitLab styled by Meike Jung

Drupal 8 website

We explored a lot of different approaches to building the website, the big contenders were CoD, RNG and even using Commerce as a base for the event — but quick prototyping using those approaches did not provide a useful shortcut to a complete website. Ideally CoD for Drupal 8 would be our go-to choice but that was not yet mature enough when we needed it.

We then decided to decouple the ticketing system from the website and later investigate the possibilities of integrating it into the website, which simplified what the website had to do. We ended up going with a setup that required a lot of configuration, but very little custom code for handling the functionalities — we also went at it with the mindset that what we build was not meant to be reusable so if a shortcut was taken that would be okay as the website wasn’t going to live more than a little over a year.

We took good care to make the website responsive and support features we needed with webforms, field permissions and an extensive set of content types, views and paragraphs. We even powered the digital signage in the venue off the website, read on that later.

Ticket sales from Pretix styled by Meike Jung

This website received a total of 795 commits between March 5 when we started its repository until September 26 when our last commits happened as of this writing. That comes down to almost 4 commits per day. There were 17 contributors to this website, the top 3 contributors made 83% of the commits.

Initial release of the Drupal 8 website

While we did not intend to create a reusable website by any means, we realize people may learn from how we did things. So we published the whole source code at the end of the conference at https://www.drupal.org/project/drupaleurope_website. We are not going to support this project, it is merely posted as an example, however other event organisers may want to pick this up and bring it further or cherry-pick some ideas for their websites.

Timing and the website

A look at the calendar can be treacherous when you still have so many months to go until the event. We started too late with defining milestones which put us in tight situations during the course of building the website. At a time when the website team was still evaluating Drupal distributions, it turned out that a placeholder website was not enough to serve the changing requirements during preparation of the event.

We wanted to publish information about sponsorships and found out after a while that it would really help convincing others to show some early sponsors. We wanted to start selling “early supporter” tickets and offer a corresponding badge for download (and optimally already link sold tickets to a user account). While we kept updating the brochure site, that took time away from volunteers’ building the Drupal 8 website. Many little holdups resulted in a really tight timeline before the event. We could not allow much time for session confirmations and we were way too late to use featured speakers for serious marketing on the site.

Verticals as our final program concept

We arrived at our final program concept by the beginning of March. We’ve had lots of discussions with community members to try to solve the life and death problem of DrupalCon Europe that the customer attendees are not there because there is not targeted content for them and sponsors are not there either because they cannot sell to customers as much as in the United States as a consequence. While this is in part a result of how Europe is different culturally from the United States, we could refocus the program on users of Drupal to work around this a bit. We’ve seen the summit model working very well at the beginning of DrupalCons (so much so that DrupalCon Seattle in 2019 is going to dedicate one more day to summits) and we thought we turn that around and organize the program around industry verticals.

Some of us met and sat down at the DrupalCon Nashville sprint to refine the concept and match to possible schedules and room allocations. We published our industry verticals at end of April (and posted the photo above). Our industry verticals where

  • Digital Transformation + Enterprise
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • E-Commerce
  • Higher Education
  • Publishing + Media
  • Social + Non-profit
  • Infrastructure (later expanded to DevOps + Infrastructure)
  • Drupal Community
  • Drupal + Technology
  • Agency Business

We were still assembling a track team at the time. Ultimately we were more successful with some of the topics than others. Healthcare was least successful and needed to be removed with the sole session we accepted from it transferred to Digital Transformation + Enterprise. Drupal + Technology received the most submissions by far.

We hoped to recruit sponsors for tracks as well but that did not work out too well. Only one sponsor bought a specific track sponsorship and the two diamond sponsors used their track sponsorship option. In hindsight the track sponsor packages were not necessarily providing comparable benefits to similarly priced other packages.

“One of my favorite Drupal Europe things was the eCommerce track. Normally a DrupalCon has one, if even two — or even none. There were TEN sessions about Drupal and eCommerce. I wish more events would reach out to this vast market.” https://twitter.com/nmdmatt/status/1040885627309441024

Session tagging

Alongside the verticals we also announced session tagging. We provided a way for speakers to add arbitrary tags to their sessions which we lightly edited later for consistency (eg. title casing them). No limits were provided for tags as we believed tags would give more details about sessions even on skimming the list. They provided a great cross-section of content to browse with, for example looking at all security sessions at https://www.drupaleurope.org/session-by-expertise/security shows content from building secure containers through writing secure code to the The OpenEuropa Initiative. These would not have been in the same track at a traditional DrupalCon. We pre-created tags with the traditional track names and some technologies and tools we expected would show up to inspire submitters.

Session tagging was then also adopted by BADCamp for 2018 and for DrupalCon Seattle in 2019 with a somewhat different approach, picking up to three tags from a predefined set.

Code Sprint Contribution

This question bugged some of our leads for a while.

DrupalCon already replaced “code sprint” with “sprint” some time ago, recognizing that this activity was not only about development but also about translations, design, marketing, and even planning for future development. Still the “sprint” terminology was so firmly established in the Drupal community that it looked hard to change, even though still not representing the activity too well and confusing for newcomers.

It is not a “sprint” where a backlog of sized stories is used to form a set of tasks that a given team of people commit to deliver in a timeframe and then release / demonstrate. The backlog is fluid, the team is fluid and the timeframe is fluid, while the work may or may not be committed and released. It is also not a sprint in the sense of needing to run real fast and getting very tired at the end. At DrupalCons there was usually a segment attempting to introduce the concept before every keynote and as part of the closing keynote explaining around the misleading terminology. Also sprint is not necessarily something that people associate with working on marketing materials together or do project planning. Why not change the terminology to begin with then?

Contribution is a dictionary word that is more natural to understand, more inclusive to different energy levels and types of work. It does not sound (and does not have the history of being) so attached to code development only. So from March onwards we decided to change the terminology and drop “sprint” entirely in favor of contribution. Contribution day, contribution room, contribution mentoring, etc.

The change was in no small part inspired by WordCamps having Contributor days. We decided to use contribution day rather than contributor day as it sounded slightly more inclusive of new contributors, i. e. not the day of those who are contributors (already). Also contributor room, etc. could have othered contributors as if other rooms or sessions are not for them.

Almost empty contribution room on Monday morning — photo by Gábor Hojtsy

Several sponsors signed up to support contribution, two of which also got to name our two week-long contribution rooms. Feedback about the natural light as well as all day coffee/tea and snacks in the contribution area was really good.

“I arrived with some question-mark-salad in my brain and left Drupal Europe with the proud feeling that I contributed to this community, that I now understand what kind of issues this community also faces and that I really can help to find solutions for those issues as well. I am a part of it, so I will contribute.” https://www.drop-guard.net/blog/johannas-first-mentoring-and-contributing-experience

“I love the emphasis on “contribution day” and “contribution space” rather than “code sprint” at Drupal Europe. OSS contributions comes in many shapes and sizes. And representation matters.” https://twitter.com/eojthebrave/status/1039505954138611713

Mentored contribution

We worked with the existing (also volunteer) contribution mentoring team from the start to carry the tradition of mentored contributions on Friday. Altogether 40 people signed up to be mentors at Drupal Europe.

Many people raised before that if they arrive on Monday without experience, they feel out of place then as mentoring only happened on Friday usually. Contributors working on specific areas often only have dedicated time at events like this to work on issues all day and are therefore not often easily or practically approachable to mentor new contributors on Monday. So we discussed with mentors that some of them would be available on Monday already to introduce new contributors to the Drupal processes. We were happy to see a couple people tweeting they enjoyed this. While it is easy to say that full mentoring from Monday onwards would be useful, it also falls on volunteers with limited capacity.

We also provided a mentor’s table in the exhibition space out of our budget and helped provide mentor supplies for Friday. Due to some miscommunication, not all regular mentor table equipment was ready from our side on Monday, but we managed to solve that throughout the week. We also provided the usual eight free mentor ticket codes for volunteers who primarily attend to mentor so they don’t need to even pay for their ticket to contribute. These tickets were distributed by the mentoring leads.

Mentors usually have custom t-shirts provided by the event but this time we did not have the budget nor the possibility to have the right sizes and fits collected and shirts ordered based on them in time, so mentors printed their own green ribbons which were used to identify people doing mentoring especially on Friday but also throughout the week. Compared to the shirt, the benefit of ribbons were that they were more reusable for multiple days and were possible to combine with all kinds of clothing styles.

On Friday we provided space for the usual three areas:

photo by Gábor Hojtsy)
  1. First-time contributors workshop where Drupal processes and tools are introduced to participants (see photo on the left)
  2. Mentored contribution to put that into practice with actual tasks; helped out by mentors
  3. General contribution with topic teams working together to solve ongoing tasks such as media management, modern admin UI, search API, MongoDB, Drupal demo, etc.

We also recognized contribution day itself needs more work to be well organized for non-code contributors as well. We discussed with mentors to structure the introduction in a way that is modular based on the tools needed for specific tasks. However, more effort and processes need to be in place to have recurring translation, marketing, design, etc. teams at contribution days. We set up the #contribution-funnels Slack channel on drupal.slack.com following contribution day to improve on this.

All-in-all there was so much interest in contribution on the Friday that we needed to expand the available space considerably on the spot and ask the venue to set up a whole new hallway with tables and power strips. The new contribution area was available in less than 15 minutes.

Contribution days also provide rare opportunities for lead Drupal contributors to meet face to face and discuss topics important at the time. Drupal Europe provided space for many of such important meetings and was hopefully useful in moving those initiatives forward.

Admin UI and JavaScript modernization team meeting photo by Gábor Hojtsy

“So many contributors today, really looking forward to see the aftermath! Big thanks to all the mentors, who kept a happy face till the end!” https://twitter.com/rouvenvolk/status/1040696363053473792

Initial audience survey

We also launched our initial audience survey in March. We got 92 responses, which may not be highly representative but the people were quite varied from project managers to site builders to frontend developers. It was clear from the results that people thought DrupalCon was awesome (39%) or at least all right (28%), while 20% of our respondents did not even attend a DrupalCon yet. There was no single other event that all the people responding to our survey could meet at. People liked how DrupalCamps feel, but were not concerned of event size as long as they can meet their peers there.

A sample reason why DrupalCon is the best: “I got to meet people from a wide variety of countries, companies, roles, and also friends from the US who only ever travel over to Europe for the big DrupalCons.” Likewise, “Being part of the community” was listed as the top reason to participate for 40% of our respondents, followed by attending sessions which was top priority for 27%. Interest for business, content and editorial as well as showcase sessions were highest. People were evenly distributed among looking for Drupal speakers and speakers from other areas.

75% of respondents said there should be workshops and/or trainings. We did not ask specifics about costs associated which was an oversight. Read on later about workshops and trainings.

40% of the respondents said they’d rather not get a goodie bag and free t-shirt. On the other hand 42% said free coffee and tea all day should be offered. Only 14% said we should reduce the ticket price and not have coffee and tea at all. In terms of lunch, 38% said they are fine with “venue food” (a further 31% even said they would pay extra for better food at the venue), while only 17% said we should not offer lunch and reduce ticket prices instead. The respondents of course did not yet know what kind of “venue food” to expect in Darmstadt.

All in all, the survey confirmed our goal with creating an event that brings the various folks of Drupal together to meet and inspire each other, as well as our focus on industry case studies. On the other hand, our initial cost cutting ideas about catering were not validated.

The first European Splash Awards

At the end of April alongside the industry verticals, we also announced that we’ll hold the first European Splash Awards. While we thought of it as a social event at first, later on we realized it had a lot of value built into the main program as a keynote.

Splash Awards originates from The Netherlands where in 2014 local companies realized they need more celebration of the great projects built by companies. Later on the format was licensed for local awards ceremonies in Germany and Austria, Norway, Bulgaria, Denmark, France and Romania. In Eurovision style we wanted to bring the country-awards together for a European Splash Awards to showcase the wide variety of highly professional projects built with Drupal. This lined up perfectly well with our industry tracks as we attempted to steer the conference towards showing the real business value of Drupal more. It was a logical step to integrate it into our schedule as a keynote. The variety and quality of nominees also impressed Dries Buytaert sitting in the front row:

“Congratulations to all the Splash Awards winners at Drupal Europe! Such an impressive list of brands and innovative Drupal use cases.” https://twitter.com/Dries/status/1039417091571507203

Photo by Paul Johnson

We believe there is a lot of possibilities for improvement in the presentation of the awards, but we got a lot of good feedback on the format already. More countries are looking to host their own Splash Awards next year and DrupalCon Seattle even includes Splash Awards as a program item now. We are looking forward to see how that turns out in the United States.

Driesnote and the Prenote

Other than ensuring Dries can make it to Drupal Europe, we did not need to do much for the Driesnote. Once realizing the date conflicts with religious holidays on the beginning of the week, we moved the Driesnote to the middle of the conference so everyone had the chance to attend or at least view the stream.

Dries was very professional about the preparation and ran a test of the Driesnote on Monday. It was maybe his most action-packed keynote ever with announcements about Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 end of life and Drupal 9 release dates; a perfectly flowing demo of Drupal 8.6.0; extended Drupal 8 security support; video updates on various initiatives; announcing that drupal.org will adopt GitLab and that DrupalCon is back in Amsterdam in 2019. Phew!

Driesnote audience photo by Gábor Hojtsy

Our only challenge about this session was the room size. We hoped we can have everyone in person in the same room for our most popular session. If the conference is to have the 1600+ people as we hoped, we could have integrated the two adjacent rooms (that we used for contribution) for the Driesnote into a much bigger keynote room that could hold most participants. (And in that case cut back BoF space to have room for contributions).

However for all other sessions, the keynote room even in the more compact size we used it in was too big. We did not afford ourselves the luxury to pay for the room for the day and then not use it for sessions, so we attempted to put the most popular / most important sessions in this room. At least for the keynote our audience size was right in the sweet spot and filled the room.

Photo by Amazee Labs

This Driesnote was also special in that Dries invited the lead organizers of Drupal Europe on stage and we received a stunning standing ovation from the audience. Thank you!

Megan Sanicki also announced shortly before Drupal Europe that she is stepping down from the Executive Director position at the Drupal Association and leaving the organization. Dries also invited her on stage and said farewell to Megan.

We continued to not having a question segment right at the Driesnote but have a separate Q&A session dedicated for questions, so a lot more questions can be asked and detailed answers given, which was quite well received.

“This Dries Q&A format is fantastic! He’s right here with us, not far away on a distant stage. I really liked the new Q&A format and hope you keep building on it. I thought the “cozy” room size actually added to the atmosphere.”

https://twitter.com/wizonesolutions/status/1039894979760582657 and https://twitter.com/wizonesolutions/status/1039957709905436672

We moved the Prenote alongside the Driesnote to Wednesday morning. The Prenote kept its tradition to be a welcome event for the Drupal community and was definitely still as good as ever on Wednesday morning.

“So delighted that Drupal Europe continued the fine tradition, no institution!, of Prenote this year. Always causes belly laughs.” https://twitter.com/pdjohnson/status/1040345314367037440

Finally, we also had the traditional conference group photo after the Driesnote, right outside at the back of the building. Not taking chances here, our team members spent hours on the day before to find the best spot even considering the angle of the sun at the time. The photo turned out amazing.

The future of the open web and open source panel

This was the by far most challenging session to organize for us. First of all, we wanted to inspire our attendees to consider how our work reflects on the future of the internet and society as a whole through our open source practices and whether we are building an open or closed web. Recent developments like Firefox’s Facebook Container extension, Apple’s blocking of third party tracking in Safari, Microsoft’s acquisition of Github, the rise of the IndieWeb (see Drupal integration at https://www.drupal.org/project/indieweb) and the Brave browser among various other things were key moves to discuss.

Photo by Amazee Labs

We hoped to have various voices in this conversation from browser makers through policy makers to consumers and software providers. We confirmed and announced our initial group of Matt Mullenweg (WordPress), Dries Buytaert (Drupal) and Barb Palser (Google) in the middle of June but Matt Mullenweg unfortunately needed to cancel due to scheduling conflicts two months later. Our final lineup was Heather Burns (Tech policy and regulation specialist), Barb Palser (Google), DB Hurley (Founder and technical lead of Mautic, one of former development leads of Joomla) and Dries Buytaert (Drupal). Tim Lehnen (interim Executive Director of the Drupal Association) is also passionate about these topics and moderated the panel. They provided a great mix of of views from concept through regulation to implementation.

“Thanks to @Dries, @WebDevLaw, @dbhurley and @TimLehnen for a rich discussion about open web and open source this morning — and to the Drupal Europe volunteer organizers for putting on a super cool event — it’s been an awesome week.” https://twitter.com/barb_palser/status/1040163192780062722

The Open Web Lounge

When an idea is good, chances are high that you are not the only one who had it. That’s good for the idea.

It popped up at DrupalCon Nashville where a sponsor dedicated their exhibition booth with the label “Open Web Lounge” for barcamp-style sessions, inviting people dedicated to other open source technologies as well. Meanwhile the German Drupal Association, as a founding member of the CMS Garden initiative, discussed options of promoting their project at Drupal Europe during their monthly meeting.

Some weeks later, a detailed concept was there and sponsors were found for a dedicated room. The 337 square meter room called “Darmstadtium Lounge” was a perfect fit for the plans. We created a space for sessions open to passersby but also areas with loose furnishing allowing for informal talks about common interests and lessons learned.

CMS Garden invited the communities of other renowned open source CMS and organized barcamp-style session proposals that were agreed upon on a daily basis. Unfortunately we did not record the sessions, but we had some awesome presentations and insights there by simply comparing how other CMS communities handle topics like marketing, “genius but unpleasant” community members, raising diversity, or of course different approaches of software solutions. This “off the island” programming offered great insights for example in how multi-language concepts differ between Drupal, Joomla!, TYPO3, Neos or WordPress.

“Getting a really open insight on how the #wordpress community takes care of marketing at Drupal Europe. They have an open backlog too ;-)”

https://twitter.com/imregmelig/status/1039797106222030848

The Open Web Lounge leads used the possibility to raise awareness by adding talks to the conference schedule each morning, so they were dynamically displayed on the venue screens.

It was a perfect fit that the program team did a great job to convince founders of great open source tools as speakers, who also visited the Open Web Lounge.

Photo by Floris van Geel on google

Rocket.chat and Nextcloud announced their partnership and integration a week after the conference — with a photo of the founders taken at Drupal Europe

Forming a track team and launching the call for speakers

Once we published the concept of industry verticals at the end of April, we needed a team to help us get to high quality sessions. We planned to follow the basic DrupalCon structure of a program team with a couple track chairs for each vertical. Only this time, we needed track chairs for areas that are not strictly Drupal but more focused on industries using Drupal. Healthcare failed out of the gate in that we did not manage to recruit a single track chair for it. Some tracks were hard to recruit a whole team for, such as the publishing track, but then brought fruits several times over. It took a long time to form the complete team, and we started meeting with the subset we had to make sure we can launch the call for papers.

All-in-all our track chair team of 32 track chairs (one of whom later resigned) did an amazing job across our 10 tracks. First they worked on blog posts to announce their tracks which helped them get on the same page about the focus of each industry vertical. These were published on our Medium blog. Then they worked to reach out to a diverse group of speakers and encourage them to speak. We did all we could to have good diversity in various ways on the chair team and had several first time track chairs mixed with people with experience.

We hoped that having experienced track chairs would smoothen the process, but given that this was a considerably different conference from DrupalCons and we needed to figure out a lot of our own process and priorities, that experience did not necessarily help. Leadership tasks of the track team were divided and handed over between four individuals which did not help with the smooth running of the team. Having one strong hand to lead the track team would have made processes a lot more effective but unfortunately no single person had the capacity to take this on.

While the track team worked really hard, due to our budget uncertainties we could only grant them free entry to the conference quite late in time. However we made it clear throughout the process that the worse it would be for them is a voucher granted for a cheap ticket if we cannot afford free tickets, so they did not have ticket purchase pressure.

Speaker selection

Our call for speakers ran for a month originally and was then extended for one more week until July 8, 2018. The submission dynamics looked like the following:

As with ticket sales, deadlines really made things go. We were glad we extended the deadline for a week as we got a lot of good sessions that were still in the making at the original deadline. We were looking for content in the following three formats:

  1. 20 minute sessions (including questions)
  2. 45 minute sessions (including questions)
  3. 2–3 hour workshops
“Building Local Communities — foster Drupal adoption” workshop leads photo by Shyamala Rajaram

For workshops, we ended up providing two 45 minute slots combined with the break in-between, so in practice 105 minutes, which was even less than 2 hours. We wanted to have one workshop room that consistently hosts workshops on all three session days, and these were indeed very well received. A combination of frontend, backend, devops, community and business workshops were selected.

We aimed to have the 20 minute slots after lunch as a “speed-up” block, so each day most rooms (except the workshop room) had two 20 minute sessions. Where our session selection resulted in more 45 minute sessions, we also used this slot for full sessions.

For each industry vertical we gave full autonomy to the track team to decide their scoring and selection methodology and similar to DrupalCons provide a priority list of their selection. We even expanded the available session slots through the process, which some tracks used to add more to the accepted session list than originally planned.

While we asked about diversity in the session submission process, we did not expose the concrete data provided by the speaker to the track chairs to protect speaker privacy. We did expose if there was a diversity category chosen or not as a yes/no flag. While out of our overall submissions 31% of sessions were self-identified as having at least one diverse presenter, out of the actually delivered sessions (following all cancellations that were resolved) we had 29.5% of our sessions self-identified as diverse. Unfortunately in many cases, due to our lack of speaker funding, diverse speakers needed to cancel due to lack of financial possibilities.

While the track teams got to work frantically after the submission deadline on July 8, summer holidays made it very hard to ensure equal representation from all track chairs. Summer holidays also made it hard to get confirmations from speakers about their sessions. There were speakers we’ve literally been tracking down through colleagues or our friends we knew they knew. Two volunteers shared the task of communicating with speakers through a shared mailbox.

It took us almost a month when we finally announced the public session list with 162 hours of sessions and 9 in-depth workshops on August 3rd. In hindsight, more reviews by track chairs of submissions up front could have helped speed up the selection process a great deal.

While we did not have a speaker funding pool, we did offer one free ticket per session. For sessions with more than one speaker, we also provided a coupon code for early bird ticket rates, so that co-speakers at least don’t get a bad deal even though they waited for so long to see if they get accepted. Finally, we provided a coupon code with all declined sessions, so those who did not get accepted could also still buy on the early bird rate. We also called attention to our free diversity tickets in the emails we sent, given the application process was still open at the time, so declined speakers could also apply there as appropriate.

Finally, we also hoped to get some help from our speakers to promote the conference and sent along a voucher code that they would invite people from their networks with. This voucher was valid for a €100 discount from the tickets being sold at any given time. Unfortunately we’ve only seen 5 uses of this voucher, so it did not work really well.

Trainings

While we already mentioned that potential trainers reached out to us in our post at the end of April, we had a lot of conflicting feelings internally about trainings. We considered them important parts of the event to provide high-bandwidth knowledge sharing. On the other hand the Drupal Association even cancelled trainings for DrupalCon Vienna 2017 (before cancelling the whole conference outright for 2018) to save costs. Our rough calculations also did not indicate we could make profits on trainings, at best we could break even. However that compared with the amount of work it took to organize them did not add up.

Nonetheless several trainers were interested and willing to step up, so we agreed with two trainers that they would organize the whole framework. We launched our call for trainings after call for sessions closed on July 10. As we already had a group of interested folks, we only ran the call for 8 days.

Then we drafted a contract between Drupal Europe and the trainers, so they would get a deadline by which they need to pay for the room they booked as well as costs for food for their trainees. They would sell their trainings themselves while the event would also do promotion of the trainings and profits would be shared with the event. We launched training ticket sales a little more than a month before the conference on August 2nd with the following trainings:

  1. Drupal 8 getting started
  2. GDPR for companies
  3. GDPR for developers
  4. Drupal 8 module development
  5. Drupal 8 migrations
  6. Drupal 8 with ReactJS

Trainings did not sell well, however this could very well be attributed to our self-fulfilling prophecy. They were launched too late and as we were busy with preparing for the conference, we did not have big marketing reserves to help push them and make up for launching late.

In the end two trainings remained, “Drupal 8 getting started” and a merged version of the two GDPR trainings. Neither of the trainers got to deliver a training at the end who lead the whole process. We think the topics were quite good, very relevant, and the trainers were also great. It is probably also the case that the free workshops proved to be competition for the trainings. We had a well received ReactJS workshop and also planned to have a migration workshop (which was unfortunately cancelled later), so that may have attributed to the lack of sales of those trainings.

Informal gatherings (BoFs)

Nobody knows the power of BoFs better than us. Drupal Europe was formed in a series of BoF discussions at DrupalCon Vienna (after the initial discussions at DrupalCamp Antwerp).

It was important for us that we have plenty of BoF space and it is self-serve and entirely digital. We also wanted to have BoFs as first class citizens included in the schedule displays (read on later). So we opened BoF submission on August 20, three weeks before the event with 96 slots for three days that was later even more expanded to over a hundred slots. Submitters could pick from a set of predefined room and time combinations which automatically put their BoF in the right room at the right time. Participants could move their BoF around as needed and also unschedule it if they wanted so.

We were delighted to see BoFs following sessions on diversity, Gutenberg in Drupal, Drupal demo, layout management, etc. Also independent of sessions about paragprahs module’s UI design, the Drupal Business Alliance, mentor orientation etc. There were also various fun BoFs like Tunisian fine pastry tasting or the movement BoF that took place outdoors. The German Drupal Association also used a BoF space to organize its yearly meeting and the DrupalCon Europe 2018 organizers also used a BoF space to meet the community and take questions.

We let submitters to assign industry tracks and expertise tags as appropriate so BoFs would also show up on pages for specific tags or tracks.

Roundtable discussions

While not organized by us, these are important to mention. Events like Drupal Europe are ideal to gather various interested parties for deep discussions. So the Drupal Association organized various roundtable discussions with supporting partners as well as local community leaders.

Community leaders round table photo by Paul Johnson

The reception of the community leaders round tables were great as people had a chance to share pain points cross-borders and get direct feedback from the Drupal Association and Dries Buytaert in person about their concerns. The second community leaders round-table was organized to focus on some top action items. For example, a “Marketing Drupal to Customers” initative was formed by Suzanne Dergacheva, Paul Johson and Ricardo Amaro and is looking for your participation to make materials happen.

“Awesome to meet over 30 Drupal community leaders from different European countries and to represent Austria. As somebody said, together we can create magic!”

https://twitter.com/crizzirc/status/1039173387569049600

Volunteer coordination

“Volunteers do not necessarily have time, they just have the heart” — Elizabeth Andrew

Drupal Europe was organized by volunteer leaders from the get-go. For the scope of this section we’ll use the “volunteers” term for contributors who were not involved in the larger creation of the event but signed up for specific tasks instead.

(Some) volunteers group photo by Dropsolid

No event is successful without helping hands, and we found many of those at the right time. We created and posted a questionnaire on the website asking interested people to answer some basic questions regarding how they want to help, what medium of communication they prefer and will they be able to help on-site.

We sent out the first email to the volunteers who signed up via the questionnaire in early August. In this email, we explained the volunteering tasks and the communication methods to use. In further emails we provided details about the signup sheet we used to let people pair up to tasks.

We designed our volunteer signup sheet based on the sheet from DrupalCon Nashville. The sheet detailed the roles and responsibilities of the tasks they were supposed to do on-site. Two weeks prior to the conference, we sent out the signup sheet and asked volunteers to assign themselves to tasks they are comfortable with. We did not set any required amount of tasks or hours for volunteers, but we were not able to offer any benefits other than warm feelings either. Everyone spent the time they could contribute.

We had a great team of on-site volunteers helping us with activities like check-in at the registration desk, monitoring the sessions in rooms, sponsor care, trivia night, contribution rooms, photography and videography.

The tasks of monitoring sessions in rooms demanded the highest amount of volunteers and we had several gaps. We tried to fill those by approaching attendees we knew who did not yet sign up to volunteer but were attending those sessions either way. A printed checklist was created for room monitoring containing the necessary action items for the room monitor at that time slot to check before and during the session.

The almost 900 amazing photos that you see in our Flickr group were taken by a few people, huge thanks for your continued service!

The first in-person meeting with all the volunteers was held on Monday, September 10 where they could meet other volunteers and ask questions. During the meeting, we also dealt with unassigned gaps in the volunteer sheet.

During the event, we used Slack for communicating with the volunteers. We also decided to use drupal.org issues to give credits for contribution. On drupal.org we have a Drupal Europe 2018 project issue queue where we created issues for most of the volunteering activities from the Drupal Europe volunteer signup sheet.

The budget

The hardest part was always the budget which is probably true for any event of some size. The venue contract required a downpayment and apart from some small savings in the German Drupal Association’s bank account there was no money to work with yet.

The financial report of DrupalCon Dublin served as a benchmark. We used a copy, filled in the cost estimations we had and quickly drafted ticket price levels. While the Drupal Association historically been putting on DrupalCon Europe for somewhat more than a million euros, our target was half a million euros instead. We hoped we can gather similar attendance and sponsorships but we had no history or credibility with participants or sponsors so that was hard to predict. Some people just assumed we are replicating a DrupalCon while others considered this a big DrupalCamp and did not expect the quality we were aiming for. Our target of break-even was set at around a thousand attendees with various flexible budget elements. Selling faster/better would make spending on marketing to wider markets possible, grants to attendees possible, more diversity support possible, etc.

Given very little seed money to work with we needed to sell fast. We decided to sell a batch of “early supporter” tickets for a little less than the estimated break-even ticket price at the time. We also quickly created our initial sponsorship packages and started promoting these. All that while we still had a pretty “drafty” static web page. It all looked far from professional.

A comparison of our actual ticket and shirt sales (ticket shop) income compared to contracted down payments that could not be postponed shows how close we were at the start to make it or break it. While we had sponsor income as well later on, that was not there at the time of the first payment yet and just started to be significant after the second payment.

The chart compares major costs to the actual income situation over time. At each point in time we were interested if we can pay the next down payment (shown also as accumulated amounts) and ultimately hoped for reaching the point when the blue income reaches the pink costs, as we would not be losing money at that point. Week 37 is when Drupal Europe took place, and we only reached break even two weeks before.

Faith moves mountains is beyond any religious context true for the Drupal Europe lead volunteer team. Almost all lead volunteers immediately bought their ticket (and those for their colleagues) at the start. Some even offered a private loan, which we were not too far from needing on week 15. The Drupal Association bought all tickets it needed right away. (Thanks!) About half of our sponsors and around half of our attendees were also relatively easy to convince. The other half took a lot of work to convince which took most of the lead’s time to ensure that the event is at least break even.

In our regular budget reviews, up to two weeks before the event we were to lose money. This has cost us a lot of things. If we would have had financial certainty much sooner we could have had time to raise funds to organize scholarships, could have supported our speakers to cover at least some of their costs, we could have organized better quality video recordings, ensuring all content is recorded, etc. As it was though, we even had uncertainty up to a month before the conference even if we can grant free tickets to the track team who worked for months to assemble the conference program. And we had to plan with a gap to cover incidental expenses like that of the on-the-spot expansion of the contribution area on Friday.

If we may give one advice to the community, for any future Drupal event: sign (and pay) your sponsorship early. Buy your tickets early, don’t wait for the full program if you’ll go anyways. If you are faithful you’ll be part of the momentum that moves a mountain.

Since the tax amounts are only estimated, we only know our profits for sure once the finance authorities make the final decisions in terms of taxes next year. If there is indeed profit left, we hope to support Drupal events in Europe.

General tickets

As mentioned earlier, we set up Early Supporter tickets to be able to pay our first downpayment to the venue. And we succeeded, thanks for believing in us! Our Early Bird rate was the same as for DrupalCon Vienna and our Regular rate was 10% more. That does not sound very much like the affordable conference we set out to organize, right? Well, the Drupal Association kindly provided us with some ticket breakdowns from previous DrupalCons and we were quite surprised about the number of granted tickets. Our final total ticket income of € 270.000 divided by the 1000 or so attendees we had comes down to an average ticket price of € 270. That is well below even the Early Supporter rate. About a third of our attendees did not pay directly for their ticket. Their ticket was either included in a sponsorship package or were speakers or track chairs or received a diversity ticket or they were the few mentors who received free tickets. So if all attendees would have bought their tickets, the price would have come down to € 270. On the other hand, we considered it important to give free tickets to speakers for example and in fact would have loved to provide more financial support to them, since some of them even needed to cancel their participation because they did not have enough funds to attend. None of the people under categories receiving tickets that they did not directly pay for looked fair to exclude.

We were also surprised by the historic sale dynamics of tickets being sold very, very, very late in the process practically starting 5–6 weeks before the event once sessions are announced. Up until then its very hard to tell your conference size or even how many people to plan with. We did not have significant seed money to work with so we needed to have more aggressive timelines and have a larger part of our income earlier. We also did not have certainty of the amount of tickets to be sold. We had a venue flexible to accommodate a DrupalCon Vienna sized event with 1600+ attendees and we shot for that target in our marketing as well.

Our actual ticket sales were as follows. Number of tickets sold in dark blue, number of shirts sold in violet and number of general donations made in light blue from February to September:

Here are all the rates for comparison:

We also sold single day tickets onsite for € 270 to be used on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for one ticket per person. We sold 24 single day tickets at the conference and 28 ahead of the conference. In other words most attendees bought a weekly ticket.

Ticketing and payment processing

We did a lot, really, a lot of research at the start around ticketing and payment providers. All the usual online services came up. We settled on a solution using the Pretix open source ticketing system and Stripe for payments. We could ensure our Pretix setup was GDPR compliant since we hosted it ourselves and controlled all the data. It had good usability even on the admin side. This let us run our own ticketing software and control every detail we needed. We had flexibility to set up various ticket types, coupons, discounts, upsells, etc. Using this setup we estimated we saved €30.000 in fees considering usual online ticketing provider fees.

While we had hoped to integrate Pretix with the website more than the embedded widget, we did not end up having time to do that. Unfortunately that lead to us spending lots of time deduping website accounts with tickets bought and more waiting time at the registration desk for attendees who did not have website accounts (despite receiving a mail to register on the website for a badge).

We also used the open source pretixdroid app on reformatted spare Android devices donated by volunteers for checking in attendees. Some devices and some pretixdroid software versions worked better than others, but scanning the QR code of tickets resulted in very fast check-ins for those who brought their QR codes along.

At the registration desk, we (intended to) split the registration lines in letter batches according to given names, and had a separate line for speakers. In an ideal world, attendees would have noticed the letters and the speaker queue and queued up nicely. In reality they were overwhelmed with their first impressions, were still trying to find their place, noticed familiar faces and started discussions, etc. Maybe more visible signage about letters or volunteers helping people find the right queues even could have helped. In hindsight, the separate speaker line also became an issue since many speakers did not pay attention to it, which resulted in several of them having handwritten badges and loss of time at registration.

Coupons and other promotions at events

While we kept raising the sales prices for tickets, we wanted the community to still get good deals. So we ran various coupon campaigns at DrupalCon Nashville, Frontend United, DevDays, etc. For DevDays we printed little business card size coupons and got them in each attendee bag to encourage people to buy tickets. We also got rollups printed that were brought to various events across Europe and the US and flyers to hand out to conference attendees and meetup participants.

For DrupalCon Nashville the Drupal Association let us place our rollup in their booth and we got Drupal Europe hoodies made to wear there to promote the event and make our organizers easy to spot. For further events we made pilot versions of the event t-shirt in white to wear and use as promotion. Our volunteers were present at each and every event we could be at appropriately dressed, handing out flyers. All-in-all we probably reached all the usual Drupal audience we could.

Photos by Gábor Hojtsy

In hindsight it was not worth the effort to create vouchers for every single event as the conversion rate was very low. It was not enough to offer discounts, we should have promoted them more heavily.

Diversity tickets

Especially since we kept ticket prices comparable to DrupalCon Vienna, we wanted to provide new opportunities to potential attendees from diverse backgrounds who would not have a chance to come. We also wanted to give opportunity to all who believes the same to financially support this effort, so starting with Early Bird tickets, we provided the opportunity to purchase 25% to a 100% of an additional ticket to be used for granting diversity tickets. This did not work at all. We did not sell even a single ticket this way. There are probably many reasons. Our explanation of the options were perhaps unclear and we did not exactly define how such tickets will be distributed (as we did not yet know at the time). It was also definitely a new concept. One track chair offered their previously purchased ticket for this pool.

We did not want to abandon diversity tickets however and decided to dedicate the few general donations we had received (altogether € 1.270) as well as funds from our main budget to cover 25 free diversity tickets. We thought this is going to be such a small drop in the ocean for a conference that hoped to have 1600+ attendees, but without any attendee-funded tickets and no financial certainty of the event yet, this was the extent we could commit.

As we did not have credibility/history in the community and our date selection drew deserved criticism for our lack of diversity earlier, we decided that we should not make decisions about who receives diversity tickets. Instead we partnered with diversitytickets.org which also hopefully helped us reach outside of the Drupal community serving yet another dimension to diversity. While we were ready to even expand the ticket pool if needed, for our 25 offered tickets unfortunately only 17 applicants signed up. All of them received their free ticket codes. 10 of them used the ticket code.

Contributor tickets

Back in our Hello World post right after Vienna we stated we want to make the event accessible to contributors who are not interested in sessions but all the more in meeting community members and work with them to make Drupal happen. We (again) did not know if we’ll have money for this, so we perhaps launched this program a bit late, a month before the conference. After much debate we decided that contributors paying for their catering is fair, so we set up a €100 ticket for contributors. We also decided that one would need to fill in a webform to explain their reason for the ticket, so its not misused and does not endanger the budget. Six applicants requested a contributor ticket, all got the voucher code to buy one and all of them used their vouchers. Honestly we were quite surprised by the low number especially that we promoted the option in social media and right on the frontpage of the event, but it was a late offering.

Sponsors

How to convince sponsors to significantly support an event that has never taken place before? That was the first challenge the sponsorship team had. The goal was set to get sponsorships worth the cost of the venue, which was around € 200.000. That was approximately 1000% of what we were used to raise for local Drupal events and therefore we had to think a lot about how to convince companies to sponsor the event. We decided very early on to use similar sponsorship packages and format as in DrupalCon as many sponsors knew how those worked. We gathered information about potential sponsors and on March 13th, we sent out the first version of the sponsorship brochure.

But what were we selling? To start with, we were just selling an idea. An idea of a large scale Drupal event that would attract 1600+ attendees. Within the first hour, two sponsors signed up and one more followed on the same day. The first diamond sponsorship was signed one week later and also two module sponsorship packages. We got confident that this could work out, as we had raised nearly € 35.000 on the first week.

We had to create formal sponsorship agreements and make sure that all the venue rules got included in them. We noticed that many companies were still unsure about Drupal Europe and were waiting to see what the program would include and how many people we would attract. You could say that we had the famous chicken/egg problem in front of us. We had to think about some alternatives.

At DrupalCon Nashville, we came up with the idea of a country marketing sponsorship, which we presented to some agencies. The idea was to encourage Drupal agencies and communities from different countries to market themselves together. This could attract visitors from the countries to visit the booth and start a conversation with agencies. Some countries showed interest but unfortunately we couldn‘t convince anyone to take this sponsorship package. We still think this could be an interesting approach for agencies / communities to promote their work at DrupalCon Europe.

As this didn‘t work out, we had to come up with more ideas. Again, DrupalCon Nashville inspired us with the Open Web Lounge that was sponsored by Automattic and after discussing the idea with CMS Garden we decided to have an Open Web Lounge at Drupal Europe and started to contact potential sponsors. This idea became successful and we managed to get two sponsors for it.

Only one week before the actual event, the last two sponsors confirmed their sponsorship and we hit our goal and even € 4.000 more. Kuoni, the professional company that will organise DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019 signed the sponsorship agreement that made us hit the goal. Thank you Kuoni for supporting our event and showing the community that you care!

In August we had to start organising the exhibition area. The employees of Darmstadtium helped us to do that and we started to contact sponsors and allocate them a booth area. There is a lot to think about when planning an exhibition area and as we had never organised such a large event before, we definitely hit some hurdles on the way. With the patience of our great sponsors, we managed to organise everything needed for the event, such as renting computers, screens, tables and chairs.

Photo above by Baddý Sonja Breidert.

One of the learnings from the event itself, was that it is important that there are clear rules about what the sponsors are allowed to do and what is not allowed. We noticed a lot of advertising material flying around the venue (literally as well as physically), some of the companies didn‘t ask for permission to do so and we even noticed flyers by companies that did not sponsor the event by any means. Sad.

We should have better promoted the designated „open area“ where the community could place stickers and advertising material, and then keep the sponsor area clean and only available for sponsored content. The German Drupal Association’s community stand close to the registration area served as the “open area”, welcoming every not-for-profit Drupal project to place their promotional materials there.

Again, we want to thank all of our sponsors. Without you, this event wouldn‘t have been possible.

Childcare

Various of our organizers have kids and we thought it would be important to provide professional childcare for attendees and speakers to make their participation possible. This decision was in no small part inspired by very successful childcare services at WordCamps. We announced the plan for childcare on May 18th. In hindsight this was quite late for family-travel planning 4 months before the event. We were expecting small children as most European countries already had school at the time of the event, but ultimately the service we would have offered depended on parent requests. We researched various service providers and were really looking forward to how this turns out. While we got lot of good feedback for trying, less than 10 interested parents signed up and only one of them responded to our request for details (age, etc) about the kids. Even that single parent did not attend at the end, so we did not end up offering childcare.

Our decision to have childcare sparked a lot of discussion and had wide reaching effects of other conferences looking into the option as well.

Onsite services for attendees and speakers

While childcare did not work out, we still wanted to provide parents with support, so we offered a lactation room for those who preferred privacy for breastfeeding or pumping. We also continued the tradition of a quiet room which could be used to get away from the buzz of the conference for some quiet time or prayers. To make these rooms private, we booked two rooms in the quietest area of the venue, the door to which were sometimes unfortunately closed by venue personnel. We were not diligent enough to check often but immediately acted when an attendee called that to our attention.

Speakers were provided their own preparation room that also included drinks catering in the room so they could have personal time to prepare for talks.

All attendees were expected to abide by the conference code of conduct, which we built almost entirely based on the DrupalCon code of conduct for simplicity. There were some necessary changes as our code of conduct contact would of course not be at the Drupal Association and we cannot deny entry to future Drupal Association events for misconduct at our event as we don’t have authority to do that.

We also provided communication stickers (green: open to communicate; yellow: only if you know me; and red: I’m not interested in communicating at this time) at the registration desk and green lanyards to request not be photographed. The Drupal Diversity and Inclusion group provided pronoun stickers (she/her, they/them, he/him, etc) and we planned our badge with enough space to place that sticker as well. Green communication stickers run out fast. We’ve expected a subset of our attendees to use these stickers but they were widely used. No-photography lanyards were ordered as neon green which turned out to be not true. A true neon color would have helped to spot attendees with this lanyard in photos easier and therefore such accidental photos to be discarded easier.

The venue is very accessible for wheelchairs with ramps and elevators. We also offered help with arranging interpreters if needed, but no attendee requested that.

We also offered an all-gender restroom block that included toilets that are otherwise marked men, women and an accessible toilet. This block was right at the second biggest session room with an easy accessible path to it as well.

Social events

What’s a major Drupal conference without good social events? Various people highlighted social events in general or specific social events as their favorite moments in our post-conference survey. In that light, it may sound odd, but we only (co-)organized two social events all week and left the rest to the community to figure out. (And you figured it out very well, thank you!).

Trivia night photo by Amazee Labs

A major social event that is a mainstay is the Trivia night as it is fun for beginners and experienced Drupalers alike. So much so that we built in the financing of it in the sponsorship packages. This has historically been organised by the Irish Drupal community and they were back here to lead the event at Drupal Europe as well. But finding a suitable venue for it was not easy. We got various quotes and explored several options but they were either very expensive or at very sketchy areas of town. We even ping-ponged for a long time between which day it should be, which made social event organization for others a challenge. Finally we settled on the traditional Thursday and agreed that the venue would host it in the convertible keynote hall re-furnished for this occasion. Again we were lucky to find a good partner in Darmstadtium and their technology, as they could create a ballroom with tables for groups of five people out of the keynote theater in an hour. Hosting it in our own space helped us avoid smoking, loud music, etc. but still host a bar. Unfortunately some attendees got very carried away with their party-time, throwing paper airplanes and beer coasters around which we should have stopped when it started as opposed to only when the complaints came in. Other than that we only got good feedback about this event.

“First trivia night. I really enjoyed it, we had pretty good scores for beginners and even made a new friend David Needham”

https://twitter.com/MadaPosto/status/1040362882347802624

Biergarten photo by Jean Fenouil

Our other social event was outdoors in the Bayerischen Biergarten which was organized almost last minute. With luckily amazing weather, the plentiful fully outdoor space helped to not feel like a cramped crowd.

Several other events were submitted by you! Thanks! The game night hosted in the venue drew a very diverse crowd with lots of games (photo on the right by Gábor Hojtsy), a small group of people walked around town, the camping group hosted a social night, there was a CEO dinner discussing the Drupal Business Survey results and other topics, the Belgian and Dutch associations hosted a party as well in the park right next to the venue and there was a publishing and media get-together. In short, you did not disappoint! We made a requirement that all submitted social events would apply the same code of conduct that the conference used.

We did not have capacity to organize a first timer’s social event or the traditional women in Drupal get-together, neither the usual exhibition opening party. While many social events were organized by you all, it is not surprising that nobody took authority independently to organize these. We could have been more transparent about the need to help organize these which may have resulted in them happening.

While we were happily in our bubble, the church bells at Tuesday midnight reminded us of 1944 September 11, when 80% of Darmstadt was destroyed in a bombing. It reminded us of a horrific world war’s scars still present but at the same time of how respectful international collaboration has fostered a long period of peace (at least in Europe) ever since.

Catering

The major issue with conference centers is that if you are to have catering, you are required to work with the house’s caterer and they have their usual pricing. Yes, one of the ideas to reduce the budget was to not offer catering. On the other hand we have been to DrupalCons that were harshly criticized for running out of coffee. Also the need for lunch and especially coffee and tea all day was underscored in our initial survey as well.

We have discussed the option to let attendees go get their lunch outside the venue. Theoretically this would not be difficult because Darmstadtium is located in the center of the city. But Darmstadt’s downtown is not quite big enough to effortlessly feed 1600+ people spreading out to the nearby restaurants, easily expanding beyond a two hour lunch break even. The caterer sent us an offer with a self-buyer’s option for lunch. That was the point when we realized that we would save € 5–7 per person per day on lunch. So we decided that we’d include lunch. Nothing fancy, just basic tasty food.

In dietary terms, the organizer team is pretty diverse. We had no doubts that an inclusive event needs to respect all common diets and have options for diverse food intolerances and allergies.

Photots by Gabor Hojtsy Photo by Shyamala Rajaram

We came up with a brisk idea: let’s serve vegan food. That way it already respects vegetarian, vegan, halal, kosher, lactose-free and free of two major allergens. Looking at the dietary requests in the user registration form one of these were already a requirement for more than 25% of the attendees. The plan to always have one of two dishes gluten-free did not work out on all days, but we managed to provide solutions on the fly with the caterer. We must admit we challenged the cooks a bit. In the end they thanked us for all the new ideas.

So actually on the one hand pre-contracted caterers might be an issue but on the other hand there are several advantages in working with one. They were experienced partners of the venue, they knew their workflows and spaces and they could usually make educated estimations. In our case the caterer made the plans for the placement of the buffet and drinks stations directly with the venue’s people. And we just had to mention once that we don’t want to hear any complaints about the availability of coffee or water.

While feedback on the food was overwhelmingly positive in social media and onsite, the post-conference survey had a more balanced view. Some people really missed meat options and a few people mentioned the food could have had more variety within its boundaries. The option to have a dedicated meat stand with some availability to extend this concept came up while talking to people.

We only heard positive things about the all day coffee and one person mentioned there should have been an option to have tap water. We already had no plastic or single use wrapping or cups or plates and we asked the caterer to donate the leftovers to a local food charity.

“Great atmosphere, interesting talks at Drupal Europe. And btw, all food vegetarian/vegan with no single-use wrappings whatsoever. That’s the way to go!” https://twitter.com/hukkajukka/status/1040186240585355264

“Deep talk about the delicious croissants at Drupal Europe at night! Loving it XD”

https://twitter.com/ChosenLuna/status/1039996687975112704

“Love the fact that all food at Drupal Europe is vegetarian and there are no plastic or paper cups, plates or other such waste. And finally, food is really tasty and there is plenty of it.” https://twitter.com/plastic/status/1040185970564521985

“The food was excellent, plentiful and varied. I like the fact there were pastries in am. As someone who skips breakfast to be at the prenote, keynotes etc that was marvellous. And fruit. Yay!” https://twitter.com/pdjohnson/status/1040320555692503040

Wifi

The Darmstadtium has a dedicated page to boast about their network capabilities and their award won for it.

Latest IT infrastructure, a fast internet connection (up to 10 GB/s), extreme reliability and the provision of individual customer networks (VLAN technology) — with our digital infrastructure, we fulfil the most stringent requirements for network technology and connectivity.

But, you know, we’ve seen many things before and DrupalCon has brought down the wifi system of some venues in the past where the IT people were so confident. Not here! Apart of a few isolated issues with client devices, the network worked flawlessly even on the contribution day when most people were concentrated in one specific corner of the building.

We had more than a thousand clients every session day on wifi. Somewhat less than half of those devices were Apple devices according to network stats. Roughly 10% of all devices used the 802.11ac protocol while 25% used 802.11n on 2.4Ghz and 75% used 802.11n on 5Ghz. 1TB of data was transmitted over wifi on the session days, while our wired devices doing session streaming also transferred another 1.7TB of data.

Our main contribution for making the wifi work was the network name and password. We chose “DrupalEurope” and “ContributeToday” to signify and spread the community spirit that brought together the conference in the first place.

“Very few conference centres deliver on WiFi availability for number of clients nor speed. Not once in the week, even during keynotes, did I experience problems. Fantastic service, that’s not just the WiFi either. Highly recommend your conference centre as a venue.” https://twitter.com/pdjohnson/status/1041595697680797697

“Conference centres never believe us when we say we will eat all your data. And use all your connections. @ds_darmstadtium thank you for providing us with the perfect environment. I hope we’ll be back again some day.”

https://twitter.com/kattekrab/status/1040610271776129024

“Possibly the best internet of any large Drupal event @DrupalEurope. Super productive event and we haven’t really started yet. Hopefully we will see you here. #DrupalEurope”

[Speedtest.net results showing 3ms ping, 140.83Mbps download and 113.76Mbps up]

https://twitter.com/cyberswat/status/1039401275845009408

Digital signage

A significant cost cutting measure that was also great for the environment was to skip printing program booklets. DrupalCon had already done away with goodie bags that we did not have either, but we went one step further. Thankfully for us, the venue had plenty of digital screens everywhere starting from welcome screens in the parking lots and elevators (see on the side, photo by Gábor Hojtsy) through screens in the elevators, screens in the hallways and even screens on the doors on the second and third level.

The screens could display any URL and would normally reload every 10 minutes. So we built some screens as custom styled Drupal nodes while others were powered from Views and included some custom JavaScript and CSS. We built several screen variants up front and used timelapse simulation for testing to check the dynamic time based logic for various screens.

We got some of them tested well with the venue remotely (eg. the door screens for rooms). The ones that were well tested ahead of time worked from Monday onwards without a hitch. As we were ready with some screens last minute, we did not give the venue much time for remote testing, so we had to spend quite some time with testing and adjusting some of them on Monday.

Slightly unfortunately all screens used Internet Explorer 11 to display content and almost none of us had that on their development environments. We relied on a browserstack.com subscription for this occasion. We also set the refresh interval to much more often when we were adjusting screen display. Another issue we had was with Drupal 8’s great caching, which caused us issues once people were not updating their BoFs anymore and Views caches did not get invalidated often enough normally. We adjusted our configuration when we realized this and that made the program overview screens follow time more closely.

All-in-all the usage of digital signage allowed us to skip a lot of housekeeping time before/after the keynotes and update program items dynamically as they needed updates. When a talk was cancelled midday or another replacement was added, we could update the online schedule which updated all screens almost immediately.

Photo by Gábor Hojtsy

Informal gatherings (BoFs) were self-scheduled by participants but immediately showed up alongside every other session or workshop in a timeslot on all screens (see photo on the right by Janne Kalliola). We heard that this resulted in a lot more activity at BoFs. We also created program items throughout the day from the Open Web Lounge unconference schedule that was always defined in the morning for the day, which drew participants to those as well. (Additionally to the Open Web Lounge having its own screen).

Some extra work went into SVG maps of the venue that laid out the spaces of the building including where to find each sponsor. We displayed these as well in rotation (floor by floor) on some of these screens.

Photo by Janne Kalliola Twitter wall photo by Janne Kalliola

Finally, on our last venue visit, we had various interesting ideas for the use of the big gray projector wall in the main hallway. As people arrived and went towards the keynote room and contribution rooms we wanted to add a welcoming touch. Our initial idea was to feature photos from previous events on the first day and then from this event onwards. That morphed into a curated twitter wall that we could still use to display photos on but also had the option to feature text-only posts or photos where the added text was useful for clarification.

We evaluated various ready-made services for the Twitter wall, signed up for a few to try them out but the decent ones usually cost € 200 per day for a live curatable feed and we did not have that kind of budget to spend. Building our own quick solution with Views and oEmbed for tweet display was a logical next step. It would be amazing, if someone could bring this forward and create a supportable module or distribution out of our open sourced code.

We were not even ready with the twitter wall on Tuesday morning, so we used the keynote live feed to display on the screen and invite attendees in to the keynote. Once the session days were over we used this same screen to display wayfinding information for contributors behind the welcome tables of mentors and to say farewell to our participants at the end of the day.

Photos by Gábor Hojtsy

“Brilliant!! [the screens] were amazing, accurate and very helpful.”

https://twitter.com/piyushpoddar/status/1041996646819815424

Video recording (and streaming)

This is an area that was most affected by our lack of funds. We asked for a video recording/streaming offer from the venue which was impossible to fit into our budget so we attempted to put our own solutions in place. There was no single source of existing video recording equipment at the European communities in the quantity needed that we could use and we of course did not have the budget or intention either to buy 10 recording kits. While we did not promise recording or streaming of any of our program, we wanted to do our best to try and do it.

We set up https://www.youtube.com/c/DrupalEurope (for most of the time without the custom URL as we became eligible for that way after the conference) to stream on the week and host our videos after the event.

We ended up with three solutions for video with overall very mixed results.

  1. We had a very dedicated volunteer for recording and streaming the keynote hall. He had been working on a sustainable concept of a bullet-proof hardware solution for such purposes and took the chance to get the most out of his idea. He installed three cameras, one at the back of the stage to cover the audience, one in the middle of the audience and one up at the ceiling where the video control room was. He then mixed these live with the projected screen footage, the digital signage screen developed for this room and audio feed from the venue. The result was recorded locally and streamed live. We had great results with this solution as even though the live streaming broke at some points due to conflicts with configuration of our other live streaming equipment in other rooms, the local recording was consistently useful and could be used later to upload the correct session videos (except where speakers requested to withhold their publication).
  2. We also had four previously used streaming boxes from the Dutch Drupal Association. Without a dedicated volunteer to attend to these and a lack of testing up front, it turned out too late that they were not getting audio from the HDMI over IP boxes they were connected to. Once we installed audio inserters alongside the streaming boxes, the streams were working well, but that was too late for many sessions unfortunately. These did not do local recording, but even if they would have done so, the lack of audio would have been an issue. Finally, the streaming from these boxes only worked if the input was 1080p or lower, higher resolutions did not work. As we got our recording equipments together last minute, we did not have the possibility to let the speakers in these rooms know ahead of time and pre-session setup did not always include setting it to a working resolution.
  3. Finally the remaining five rooms had recording done with boxes we received from the Austrian Drupal Association. These only did local recording, not streaming. They needed to be manually operated and required a lot more work after to cut the recordings and do uploads. Results were also mixed in terms of whether audio or video was recorded.
Keynote hall video setup photo by Floh Klare

It is clear we had too much trust in the self-sufficiency of some of the technology we used, given that the individual solutions were proven at previous Drupal events. However they were not used on this scale nor in this combination and were likely operated/maintained by more dedicated people even at those smaller events.

We should have done better testing of everything and assign one person responsible per room to be sure that the technology works in each case, on top of the room monitor that was there to help the speaker. The German Joomla! community kindly offered their equipment and operating team earlier that we turned down at the time as we did not have the certainty of the budget yet to promise to cover their travel and accommodation expenses.

After the first session day on Tuesday, the organizers team stayed in the venue until sunset for a retrospective meeting to figure out ways to improve how we solved problems especially in regards to the recording solutions on the spot. We received several complaints over Twitter about the video streams at the conference. While we decided to focus more lead volunteers on further days to help speakers set up and make sure recordings work, we did not want to sacrifice the experience of people actually participating in person so we kept that as our first priority.

Tuesday retrospective photo by Gábor Hojtsy

It took us several weeks after the event, but eventually we got most things that were usefully preserved online, see https://www.youtube.com/c/DrupalEurope. As of this writing we are still looking at cutting session slide imagery as a video track on top of session audio recordings where we only had audio.

In hindsight if we would have had the budget capacity and more of a budget certainty in time, we would have signed up professionals or semi-professionals to do this so it does not fall on the limited set of leads who were busy with serving the in-person participants as well. At least we cannot blame the volunteer coordinators, they have been trying really hard to find enough room monitors early enough and still weren’t 100% successful.

In summary what would have improved our situation would have been to split speaker screen video right at the laptop and not receive video from the venue’s system. Ideally we would have been able to record, stream and monitor the output at the same time. Without monitoring, relying on local recording was not sufficient and monitoring the too numerous streams we had would have also required more people. Because we did not have tech personnel available in every single room at the beginning of every single session, some people tried to solve problems unplugging and moving our kits and that did not help. We should have had readily available tech help in every few rooms and tell people not to touch our tech.

Post-event survey

We got lots of feedback onsite, both good and bad. We tried to turn any onsite negative feedback into actionable improvements right there by changing room tech support, getting more tables for contribution when needed, etc. However we also wanted to get a better overview of what people liked and did not like so we can inform future events. While there will not be another Drupal Europe, the results could still help DrupalCon Europe and other events. Here are some highlights from the survey results based on 151 submissions we received as of this writing.

First of all, we asked respondents to rate the conference from 1 to 10 (10 being best) and our average rating was 8.44. Not bad!

For 14% percent of our respondents, Drupal Europe was their first big Drupal event and most of them found it very easy or easy to network with others. The subset of them who said they were new to Drupal said Drupal Europe was a good introduction. This is somewhat contradictory to what we felt that due to the lack of external marketing we only reached the usual suspects. Of the people having their first big Drupal event, most were out of Germany, for example Kenya, Zimbabwe, Greece, etc. 55% of our respondents were DrupalCon regulars and 31% already been to at least one DrupalCon.

In terms of overall country distribution, almost half of our respondents were from one of these three countries: Germany, United Kingdom or the Netherlands. The diversity gets a lot more interesting beyond that, we had attendees from Tunisia, Zimbabwe, India, Ethiopia, Canada, Ukraine, Australia, Pakistan, Armenia, Russia, Jordan, South Africa, Egypt and Congo. Given the numbers of them, it is also no wonder the Dutch and Belgians hosted their own social night! A potentially important data point is that based on the results, Austrians did not turn out in numbers at all, despite or maybe due to the DrupalCon in Vienna last year. (But the usual caveats apply about survey respondent samples).

82% of the respondents said they received somewhat or much more value then they expected and only a single respondent said they received significantly less.

A roughly equal number of people said they missed the opening and closing keynotes or to the contrary they enjoyed having more industry programs instead. Similar about the food, we received many praises for the food being varied and not too heavy so people could keep going with their day while others said we should have had more sauces and variety with the food even if we kept the same constraints we set up.

A considerable number of people said they would love to see more in-depth workshops while at the same time a few people said more high level sessions would be nice. A middle ground as someone suggested is to really mark the approach each session takes well in the schedule (which requires a lot of discipline up front from speakers as well).

Several people noted that first-timers tool workshops would be nice ahead in the week so they can be productive on contribution day or at least get to know the tools even if they don’t manage to attend contribution day. More visible non-developer teams for contribution day was also requested by many. Here’s your chance to recruit design, marketing, project management, translator, documentation, usability testing, event organization, etc. talent for your topics!

As for what should be cut, a recurring line of feedback was to have less sessions as there were too many things going on at once. We designed this conference with 1600+ attendees in mind, and picked optimal distribution of people to room sizes based on that. With around a thousand attendees, some sessions were not that well attended. At the same time, some people pointed out that certain sessions were standing room only. If we were to cut some of the competing topics at the same time, this would have been worse given the same room configuration. We could have merged some session rooms and create bigger session rooms though to adapt to such an event setup.

Our digital signage, website and twitter account were used to keep people up to date with conference changes and program announcements and we did not have pre-keynote segments and opening or closing sessions to inform people. Half of our respondents found this very useful while a third found it only somewhat useful or not very useful. Probably a combination of the two approaches would work best.

Finally some choice quotes about favorite moments:

  • “Seeing many of my favorite Drupalers and being introduced to some excellent new folks! […]”
  • “The constant flair that everyone helps each other.”
  • “Getting (nearly) all of the local association leaders together in a room. Was really powerful. We need to do more of this…”
  • “Becoming a mentor […], learning that I can share my knowledge and people are grateful for the support.”
  • “Randomly having a conversation with someone who then went off [and] had a similar conversation with someone else and connected us.”
  • “Getting help on Friday and that ‘aha!’ moment.”
  • “Celebration of the Drupal Europe team. It reminded me of why I was involved in Drupal for the last 10 years (which has sometimes been hard to remember sometimes, specifically as Drupal and I change over time).”
  • “It was the sum of all those little details, Drupal Europe was an ongoing favourite moment.”

Final words

This year was fast paced and very activity filled for us. We learned a lot and enjoyed working together thoroughly. While we organized an event in Europe, we’ve been working with inspiring people from all over the globe from India, Suriname, Canada, Ethiopia and so on to put on the best event we could.

At the same time as volunteers, hardly any of us had a grasp at the extent of the work needed to do to put on such an event. Many underestimated the time and attention required. Some left the team when it became apparent to them that they cannot contribute as much as they hoped and we tried our best to support them. Even in hindsight reading back all the stuff we wrote about what we did, it is hard to believe. We had a very strong sense of purpose of providing this energizing family reunion that is also a great technology conference and we absolutely put our hearts and souls into it.

At the same time when we give volunteer labour we take that time from somewhere else. Whether that’s taken from our family, friends, employers, free time, or sleep time. It comes from somewhere. We need to account for it. We’d like to extend our thanks to all companies who supported volunteers in some way and especially our families and friends who put up with us.

As you may have learned in the Driesnote or online, DrupalCon is back in 2019 in Amsterdam in partnership with Kuoni. They already attended DrupalCon Nashville earlier in 2017, and following the announcement, a BoF was held at Drupal Europe to provide a place for all to meet Kuoni and ask questions. Three of our organizers will be involved in an advisory capacity in a committee to help transfer know-how and keep the community spirit.

Kuoni at Drupal Europe photo by Paul Johnson

We don’t think we quite figured out a sustainable way to put on Drupal Europe even though we set out to do so. We would not be able to organize another one with the same team for 2019 for sure as many of us need to shift focus back to their families and jobs. Therefore we are looking forward to how a shared model could work with an event production company directly advised by a community group. See you there! If you need more reasons to come, Paul Johnson created a video at Drupal Europe to showcase the various goals people attend Drupal events of this magnitude with.

“It was the first drupal event I attended and I must say I was amazed! I want to go again and do more workshops, more contributions, meet more people. Drupal has such an amazing community! ❤”

Survey respondent

Apr 05 2018
Apr 05
April 5th, 2018

DrupalCon Nashville has lifted the veil on sessions at this year’s event and we’re thrilled to be a part of it! Our Web Chefs will be giving talks, facilitating the Business Summit, and running BOFs, so keep an eye out for our green jackets. We’re always happy to have a conversation!


Michal Minecki
Director of Technology at Four Kitchens


Patrick Coffey
Senior JavaScript Engineer at Four Kitchens

Recently there have been strides in web-based VR which enable producers to publish VR experiences via the web. Four Kitchens has been keeping an eye on these technologies and we want to share our experiences building real WebVR applications.


Joel Travieso
Senior Drupal Engineer at Four Kitchens

Any amount of automation is worth it, as long as it is effective. From simple things like manipulating pull request labels and ticket statuses, or using your CI engine to build your changelogs, to strategic operations like removing obsolete Pantheon environments or ensuring you always pick the right database for your build, little chunks of automation can substantially improve your workflow.


Adam Erickson
Senior Drupal Engineer


Jeff Tomlinson
Architect

Drupal’s core search can only take you so far. In this session, we will talk about what it takes to ramp up the search functionality of your site by using Search API and Solr. We can achieve this with the addition of a few modules, configuration adjustments, and the set-up of a view. We will take you from with getting a plan in place all the way through to monitoring your site’s search usage and looking for ways to make improvements.


Randy Oest
Senior Designer and Frontend Engineer

With the growing shift towards a decoupled future a company’s presence is going to be represented by an ever-expanding collection of websites, apps, and talking speakers.

Maintaining design and tone consistency across those channels will be challenging but if done right, it can allow you to enter markets more quickly while keeping the style and tone of your company aligned.

Business Summit


Elia Albarran
Director of Operations

Elia will be co-leading the Business Summit, gathering and confirming speakers, giving feedback on the programming and schedule and emceeing the event.


Trasi Judd
Director of Support and Continuous Improvement

Trasi is speaking at the Summit with one of our South American partners, Alejandro Oses from Rootstack, on how to have a good partnership with near-shore vendors.

Four Kitchens

The place to read all about Four Kitchens news, announcements, sports, and weather.

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Events

Blog posts about ephemeral news, events, parties, conferences, talks—anything with a date attached to it.

Read more Events
Jan 08 2018
Jan 08
The 2017 DrupalCamp Atlanta was held in Buckhead neighborhood in Atlanta

DrupalCamp Atlanta is upon us again as we continue to inch closer to the finishing touches to the camp. The Atlanta Drupal Users Group (ADUG) team has been fast at work on getting the camp together, the website updated, the leadership team together to discuss programming and logistics… You would think we have it automated at this point! Well, some of the items are, such as some trusted vendors and some of the process, but every year we try to do something different to provide a better and fulfilling experience for our camp go-ers.

This year is no exception, with us changing our venue (much to the appreciation of the community, we’re sure!) to the Buckhead area and reverting to our 2015-style of camp that we found to be the best format (Friday and Saturday tracks AND training). With the new venue comes its own challenges, such as the layout of the facility to the positioning of sponsors. All these things need to be planned out way in advance. We need to understand the return on investment with an event like this, being we are a non-profit and have very limited resources.

In talking about resources, we wanted to put together some new “in-kind” contributions this year that can help us put on an event like this. These contributions are focused around the tangible things we need to pay for every year: t-shirts, bags, badges, lanyards, A/V, event catering, the location, the after-party, the speaker coordination and expenses, websites, graphic design, and the countless man-hours it takes to get all of this set up, delivered, and managed. We also decided to open the door to the community to really see how much an event like this costs. Below are some of the expenses we have this year that must be met:

  • Catering: $13,394.70
  • Video Recording: $1,800.00
  • A/V Onsite: $4,055.00
  • Keynote Speaker Travel: $1,200.00

These charges don’t include all of the event merchandise, website fees, documentation, or additional costs for random event items like signage and photography.

Historically, there have been many people involved in this effort. Since ADUG has been managing the event, there have been 5 or less people actually planning and executing on all of this with the help of day-of volunteers. This year, we are fortunate enough to have 7 people who have dedicated time and energy out of their normal lives to put this event on. So, how do we do it? How do we make this happen this year…a bigger, more expensive event?

By being fortunate enough to have so many people come from all over to attend the event. It makes it all worth it. We have so many people from so many backgrounds, cultures, and professions come to Atlanta to learn. The congregation of all of these folks for two days, sharing knowledge and helping the community is worth it all in the end. With the attendance comes registrations, a contribution to the community to put on this event. With us moving from Kennesaw State, where we called home for the past 3 years, our costs have almost doubled. Our hope this year is that we will have a much better attendance while also attracting more sponsors, which would help out tremendously.

Speaking of sponsors…they have been amazing. We can’t thank them enough for the help they give us in throwing these events. Mediacurrent, Sevaa Group, Paramount Software, Celebrate Drupal. They have been amazing in getting us up and running again this year by donating early. We definitely need more this year, and hope that we can reach more with lower cost sponsorships so it’s not always the largest companies that can get their names out there. We want the community to be involved so that they can contribute to hosting this event, getting their names out there, and being able to increase their networks as well. So, these in-kind contributions help with this gap while also being able to directly affect the outcome of the camp.

Want your company name on the lanyards everyone is wearing? What about your logo on the side of our bags? How about donating some cool stuff for our raffle and get a shout out?

These are some easy ways to get involved, get some great advertising to the community you serve, and to get involved in making this an amazing event.

ADUG

Nov 14 2017
Nov 14

Christmas is almost here!

In our last post you saw our call for venues. Europe answered the call and we received 13 venue submissions from 7 countries, including Australia. We are now working through the submissions and we will send out a more detailed question list to all submitters.

Get involved

So far a lot of work has been done in norming and storming and the team continues to build great momentum and is strengthened almost every day. We believe that “Many hands make light work” and we’d like you to get involved. Even helping with small tasks will help to make this great event happen. So if you want to participate then now is the time to take action and get involved! Sign up on our OpenSocial website and spread the word by tweeting and sharing on Facebook about this great community-driven event.

The proposed event model

The current consensus is to start with a minimum viable conference model:

  • Two days of sessions (Thursday and Friday)
  • General Contribution Day (Saturday)
Schema

If possible, this could be expanded with two days beforehand for trainings and a community day. This also means a contributor can contribute for 5 days.

This is still at the planning stage and any ideas you may have would be greatly received.

To make this event sustainable, we may not be providing food which will significantly cut down the cost for this event. We’ll make the final decision based on what is possible with the budget. Best effort will be made to invite food trucks and find good restaurants in the area if needed.

Wifi is under heavy debate and depends on what the location is charging. We are hoping that we can come up with a cost effective solution. It is the next tier in this growing conference model. Followed by coffee and snacks.

If we get the main community event funding model correct, then we might be able to also facilitate food in the training and community days. In summary we are looking at budget items in priority order and not as a given.

Conference costs for Dublin 2016

This might be confusing to read but is in fact very logical if we look at the thumb figures from Dublin. In a blog post from the Drupal Association, the financial problem of DrupalCon Europe was explained.

Around ⅔ of the income comes from ticket sale and the rest comes from sponsorships and other sources. If we look at the expenses, roughly 50% of the expenses are for the catering and the facility cost. For more detailed information you can look at the Profit & Loss statement from the blogpost.

What do these numbers tell us? It helps us to understand what are the largest expenses of an event of this size. We are using this information to help us to find ways to cut down costs. For example, we can:

  • Cut down on the floor space needed by having a smaller auditorium and streaming the keynote to other rooms at the venue.
  • Use a venue that is close to local food outlets which could make supplying food optional
  • Aim for locations that allow us to cut down on staff costs by means of volunteers

If we do this, then this could become a viable, even profitable event. Any profits generated could be used in supporting camps in the region as well as flow back into the project.

Going out of the comfort zone

In 2017 we had over 50 Drupal camps in Europe. Almost all of them were within the Drupal camp comfort zone of 500 attendees maximum, with a budget between 50k and 80k euros. So in order to be successful we need to experiment and consult or even hire some professionals.

Drawing by Baddy

What is next?

The venue is very important for any conference but we are not losing sight of what is ahead. We have many steps that we still have to cover in order to bring you, your friends and colleagues a great event:

  • Define sponsor benefits and packages
  • Decide how to handle talk/session proposal and selection process
  • Marketing and Promotion — in the community and outside
  • Volunteer coordination — can some tasks be crowdsourced?
  • Create an event website — we are still looking for some design help here!

But before we dive too deep into any of those tasks, the venue needs to be in place — we will be reaching out to those that have submitted proposal with some additional questions (if all goes as planned those will be sent out Monday) and we expect to be able to confirm the venue mid-December.

If you can provide some insights, advice or want to help collaborate getting this event further on its way, please do not hesitate reaching out to us! Either on twitter or [email protected]

May 10 2017
May 10
May 9th, 2017

DrupalCon is many things to many people. For me, this year’s North America DrupalCon in Baltimore was a chance to connect with my remote co-workers in the same place, help share knowledge while learning things myself, and celebrate all the things that Drupal makes possible.

The Drupal 8 with React.js and Waterwheel Training

Our first big event was “API First Drupal 8 with React.js and Waterwheel Training”, where Web Chef Luke Herrington took a canonical JavaScript application—a todo list built with React—and hooked it up to Drupal 8 through a new JavaScript library called Waterwheel.js. Todos were stored in a headless Drupal site via the JSON API module, and we even provided a login page and a `like` button for todos. Although we had a small army of Web Chefs available to help, Luke had created such a great training that our extra support wasn’t needed, and the attendees were really able to dive deep into how everything worked.

Future of the CMS: Decoupled

“I’ve completely rewritten my talk,” said Todd, the Four Kitchens CEO, at the team dinner on Monday night. I’ve seen him give this talk before but this declaration really piqued my curiosity.

There were a lot of talks at DrupalCon about the “how” of decoupling, but Todd’s revised talk is a great summary of the “why”. In it, Todd talks about the differences between CMSes being “content management systems” versus “website management systems” and about how that content can be managed so that it is reuseable on all categories of devices. Because the technology is always changing, it’s a talk he rewrites at least once a year, and I’m glad I got to see this version of the 2017 talk when I did.

Supercharge Your Next Web App with Electron

To show off his work in Electron, Web Chef James Todd brought two drawing robots to DrupalCon that he set up in our booth. Each machine was powered by RoboPaint, a packaged-up web app. I’ve been curious about Electron for a while, and when I learned that James was giving a talk on the subject I immediately reached out to help him build his slide deck so that I could learn more. His presentation was thorough and entertaining, and he encouraged people to “experiment and play with it, it’ll be fun”.

Drinks with a Mission

The Drupal community believes that open source technology has the power to improve the lives of others, so instead of the usual DrupalCon party, this year, Four Kitchens teamed up with Kalamuna and Manatí to host “Drinks with a Mission”.

We started the night by asking, “If you had a magic wand that would fix a problem, what problems would you fix?” Answers were written down on post-it notes, which were then sorted into groupings, and finally assigned to teams. Each team took their topic, such as How to Better Connect with Nature, and had to come up with solutions to the topic problem. Great ideas can begin in unexpected places, and the ensuing solutions were as thoughtful as they were hilarious.

Watch the recorded stream of the event: Part 1, Part 2

Taking the Train Home

In the last few years I’ve started to become enamored with the concept of “taking the train”. So at the end of DrupalCon I got my wish, and instead of flying, I spent an entire day traveling by rail: from Baltimore, through Philadelphia’s gorgeous train station, and then on to home in the middle of Pennsylvania.

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Randy Oest
Randy Oest

Randy Oest is an avid Star Trek fan, plays too many board games, and bought his mother an iPad so that he wouldn't have to fix her computer anymore.

Apr 24 2017
Apr 24
April 24th, 2017

Making Huge Strides Back to Desktop

So what is this Electron thing everyone keeps talking about? Even if you haven’t heard of it, you may have used it! With over 4 millions daily users on Slack’s business oriented chat system, their cross-platform desktop application helps them reach their users outside of browsers, but these systems are in fact part of the same thing.

Back in May 2014, prolific bastions of open source and $2b valuated company, GitHub, took the custom application wrapper it originally created for its Atom code editor and released into the world—and Electron was born. Rebranded from “Atom Shell” in 2015, Electron began to take off almost immediately, allowing regular web developers the ability to make native-like, high performance desktop applications using the exact same HTML, CSS, and JavaScript technologies they use to make the rest of the web.

Piggybacking on the huge wave of API first work in Drupal 8 utilized via the Waterwheel client wrapper, building with Electron allows you to create nearly native desktop experiences using frameworks like React, Redux, Angular, or anything else that your team can construct to run in a web browser. Beyond even that, Electron gives JavaScript direct access to low level Node.js and operating system APIs, allowing your application direct file access, running custom binaries for data processing, execution of alternative scripting languages, serial port or hardware access, and tons more.

Supercharge Your Next Web App

This year at DrupalCon Baltimore, we present “Supercharge Your Next Web App with Electron”, a session that digs deep and covers everything you need in order to dip into the waters of Electron. We’ll talk about what big companies have already taken the plunge and even provide a checklist for when not to move from the web to a desktop app.

Though an Electron app may not be the right choice for your next application, knowing what tools are available to you—and understanding their incredible possibilities—is going to serve you anytime you’re  considering user-oriented frameworks. Don’t miss out on this interesting view into a future of low-energy/high-return desktop applications in the DrupalCon Horizons track this year.

And, during active exposition hours, make sure to come over to the Four Kitchens booth to see a live demo of an Electron app powered by JavaScript—we build a robot artist!

Four Kitchens: We make content go

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James Todd
James Todd

James tinkers with hardware, software, and everything in between.

Events

Blog posts about ephemeral news, events, parties, conferences, talks—anything with a date attached to it.

Read more Events
Apr 18 2017
Apr 18
April 18th, 2017

Fun & Games

DrupalCon Baltimore is next week and we’re so excited to get back together in Baltimore! As the official Drupal Games sponsors, we take fun very seriously and this year you can be sure to find some exciting things to do at our booth—we won’t spoil the surprise but let’s just say you’ll get to see some of us IRL and IVRL.

And if you visited us last year, you know we are all about that Free Throw game. Our undefeated Web Chef, Brian Lewis, will be there to take on any challenger. We’ve all been practicing and we are READY. Are you?

We’ll also have some of our widely-enjoyed Lightning Talks during lunch intervals right at our booth! Learn something new in just a few minutes, howbowdat? Stop by our booth to check out the schedule.

Web Chef Talks

It’s been an exciting year and the Web Chefs are ready to drop some knowledge, including:

Future of the CMS: Decoupled, Multichannel, and Content-as-a-Service, presented by Four Kitchens Co-Founder and CEO, Todd Ross Nienkerk.

Supercharge Your Next Web App with Electron, presented by Web Chef engineer, James Todd.

Why Klingon Matters for Content: The Secret Power of Language, presented by our content specialist, Douglas Bigham.

Training: API First Drupal 8 with React.js and Waterwheel, a training with JavaScript engineer, Luke Herrington.

Party with a Purpose

Last—but definitely not least—you’re cordially invited to our official DrupalCon gathering, Drinks with a Mission, hosted by Four Kitchens and our friends at Kalamuna and Manatí.

Join us on April 25th at Peter’s Pour House from 6-9pm for lively conversation, free-flowing libations, and a structured forum for hashing out ideas on how to use Drupal to overcome the challenges many of our communities face in today’s national and global political climate.

RSVP here!

See you in BMD!

Oh! The kittens are coming along to Baltimore as well—four of them to be exact—and we can’t wait to reveal this year’s DrupalCon t-shirt design. We’re not kitten around. We wish we could show you right meow.

P.S. Check out the 10-day Baltimore weather forecast.

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Lucy Weinmeister
Lucy Weinmeister

Lucy Weinmeister is the marketing coordinator at Four Kitchens. She loves to share all the new and exciting things the Web Chefs are cooking up at 4K. She is forever reading a book.

Events

Blog posts about ephemeral news, events, parties, conferences, talks—anything with a date attached to it.

Read more Events
Feb 27 2017
Feb 27
February 27th, 2017

Drupal at the Beach.
(The Very Windy Beach)

Every year in February, Drupalers from across the country travel to San Diego to get away from the harsh winter and enjoy the perfect 72 degree California weather. Attendees visit Pacific Beach, walk down the boardwalk, and sometimes even go sailing.

Picture of former Web Chefs sailing.Former Web Chefs Matt Grill and Dustin Younse sail through Mission Bay after a weekend at SANDCamp 2016.

This year, however, attendees were met with … a little weather.

San Diegans, like myself, always find weather surprising and novel to the point where any time it rains for more than 10 minutes, we describe it as “really coming down”. But this time it really was pouring. 75 mph gusts of wind, cloudy skies, and a strong atmospheric river causing record rainfall. Drupal was not at the beach this year.

Weather map showing storms over San Diego.SANDCamp 2017: A little weather.

Drupal Near the Beach

Falling in mid-February every year, SANDCamp affords many speakers the opportunity to field test trainings and sessions before they’re given at DrupalCon.

Drupal 8 with React.js and Waterwheel.js

With the help of my fellow Web Chefs, I presented the first iteration of my training API First Drupal 8 with React.js and Waterwheel.js which I’m happy to announce will also be given at Drupalcon Baltimore! In the training, we took the canonical JavaScript application, a todo list built with React, and hooked it up to Drupal 8 through a new JavaScript library called Waterwheel.js. Todos were stored in a headless Drupal site via the JSON API module and we even provided a login page, and a like button for todos. Overall, the feedback on the training was excellent. People enjoyed learning how to turn Drupal 8 into a world class content API while also getting their feet wet with a frontend JavaScript framework like React. I’m looking forward to improving the training and giving it at Drupalcon Baltimore this year.

Every Project is a Story

One notable session was Dwayne McDaniel’s talk Every project is a story: Applying storytelling to your client interactions in which he explained how the patterns that form good stories, form good projects, budgets, and discoveries. Dwayne explored these story structures and how they can help translate clients’ and stakeholders’ dreams into real plans.

Kalastatic

The session that caught my interest the most was From Prototype to Drupal Site with Kalastatic. Through a case study, Crispin explained the benefits of component driven design and showed off an open-source framework Kalamuna built called Kalastatic. It’s a kss-node driven static site framework for building prototypes and living style guides that integrate with Drupal. It’s a tool very similar to Emulsify, Four Kitchens’ component-driven prototyping tool and Drupal 8 theme. It is great to see the Drupal community converge on component driven development as a solid pattern for building frontends.

Keynote Surprise!

Due to the inclement weather California was experiencing that week, the scheduled keynote speaker, Darin Andersens, had his flight cancelled and couldn’t be there. Luckily Todd, Four Kitchen’s CEO and Co-Founder, always has a keynote in his back pocket. He fired up his laptop and gave his talk on The Future of The CMS, pontificating on where the web is going and what CMSes like Drupal must do to stay relevant.

Always Be Keynoting. https://t.co/OIqmOBur3L

— Four Kitchens (@FourKitchens) February 17, 2017

Thanks, SANDcamp!

Maybe I’ll see you at SANDcamp next year! Also, if you’ll be at DrupalCon Baltimore, sign up for my training API First Drupal 8 with React.js and Waterwheel.js, and check out the other Four Kitchens Web Chefs, too!

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Luke Herrington
Luke Herrington

Luke Herrington writes JavaScript for work and for fun; he enjoys hacking on new technology and reading about the ethics of artificial intelligence.

Jan 17 2017
Jan 17

The weekend of Saturday 28th January is the Drupal Global Sprint. It’s a worldwide event to help Drupal and its community improve; an opportunity for anyone who loves Drupal to contribute to core or contrib modules; while non-technical people can get involved with testing, reviewing, documentation or translations.

With sprints taking place in over 20 cities around the globe we wanted to get involved, but surprisingly couldn’t find a local sprint in London. So we’ve made our own.

We’re opening our studio to anyone in the Drupal Community who wants to participate in the Drupal Global Sprint. Everyone is welcome; if you have built a site in Drupal, you can contribute. We will split into groups and work on Drupal core issues. Bring your laptop. For new folks: you can get a head start by making an account on Drupal.org and getting some contribution tools. Developers can install git before coming and git clone Drupal 8 core.

We’ll be throwing on some pizzas and refreshments to keep brains nourished and agile.

Where and when

Manifesto, 1st Floor, 141-143 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JE (Map)

Saturday 28th January, 10:30 am – 5:00 pm

Sign up

Please register via Eventbrite, selecting the ticket type (Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced) which best reflects your skill level so that we’re able to better organise the sprint teams.

If you have any questions at all, drop us a line: [email protected]

Dec 13 2016
Dec 13
December 13th, 2016

WordPress is growing. It currently runs more than one quarter of all websites on the Internet, including Four Kitchens’ own website). I’ve been immersed in Drupal for the last five years or so, but I’m curious what is going on with WordPress and its community. And so I bought a ticket to WordCamp US, dusted off my WordPress skills (that I haven’t used in over a quinquennium), and drove to Philadelphia.

What is WordCamp US?

WordCamp US (WCUS) is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. People from around the world attend—casual users to core developers— to participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.

Community

The first thing that I noticed about WCUS is that WordPress has a huge umbrella—international travelers were plentiful, there were a lot of women, and there was a wide range of diversity. There was even a 10 year old boy in a hallway, face in his laptop, working on his WordPress blog for Minecraft.

The sessions were setup to be accessible to everyone. Each presenter’s slide deck had a space at the top for closed captioning that was done live at the event. And for those who couldn’t make it to the event, every session was recorded and live-streamed in real time.

Everyone was welcoming, questions were encouraged, and conversation flowed. I was upfront with everyone that I was a Drupal developer exploring a foreign land and I got a lot of good information about the WordPress ecosystem.

Comparing Modules and Plugins

Drupal and WordPress both share a love for being open source. Both communities strongly encourage contributing back to the project. But there is one place where Drupal and WordPress have very different opinions—paid modules and plugins.

Drupal modules generally provide building blocks for developers to use as they implement custom solutions for clients. In WordPress, this is sometimes the case, but usually WordPress plugins are complete solutions for a need. For example, to implement a custom intranet with user groups and a Facebook-style feed, a Drupal dev would install a few modules, build some views, and style the new theme elements—and that would all take time and expertise to put together. To accomplish the same thing on WordPress, a user (who doesn’t even have to be a developer) would simply install BuddyPress.org and fill out some administration choices.

I believe that because of this difference between modules and plugins, the WordPress community welcomes paid plugins. And just because they are paid doesn’t mean that they get to be proprietary. The expectation for paid plugins is that they still be open source and what you are paying for is a license for upgrades and support. A lot of the people who I talked to either have their own plugins that they sell as part of their own business or make generous use of paid plugins. Why not pay $100 for a full featured calendar plugin that saves you hours (or weeks) of work?

Looking Forward to WordPress

I enjoyed my trip to WCUS and exploring WordPress. It is a great community and I’m looking forward to continuing to explore it more. Right now I’m looking into development workflows, so if you have any advice, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

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Randy Oest
Randy Oest

Randy Oest is an avid Star Trek fan, plays too many board games, and bought his mother an iPad so that he wouldn't have to fix her computer anymore.

Nov 01 2016
Nov 01

Trip Report: BADcamp 2016I've just returned from my first big Drupal camp and I'd like to tell you about my experience.

The post Trip Report: BADcamp 2016 — Teaching, Learning, and Bonding appeared first on Four Kitchens.

Aug 17 2016
Aug 17

Last week Drupalaton 2016 took place. With about 150 registrations this was the largest Drupalaton so far. The organizers did an amazing job in coping with this mass. There were two session threads and a sprint room. Of the many interesting presentations I would like to mention Fabian Bircher’s “Configuration Management: theory and practice” (a must for everyone who gets lost while trying to work in a team on a Drupal8 project) , Pieter Frenssen’s “Working with REST APIs”  (it was good to see how simple it is in Drupal8) and “Drupal 8 Media” from Pónya Péter, Szanyi Tamás and Rubén Teijeiro (seems we have a huge step forward in media handling since Drupal7!). I held a session on caching in Drupal 8 which was the shortened version the one I did on Drupal Developer Days in Milan.

Liip was a silver sponsor of the event.

Finally, some pictures on the Friday ship cruise. Thanks to Brainsum for sponsoring it!

Mar 31 2016
Mar 31

Stanford Drupal Camp 2016: 10 Sessions You Won’t Want to Miss

CivicActions is excited to be both attending and presenting at Stanford Drupal Camp 2016 for the first time on April 1-2, 2016 in Stanford, California. We’ve prepared a list of sessions that we think will be exceptional and you won’t want to miss!

Presentations by CivicActioneers include:

Other presentations that look equally compelling:

Will you be at Stanford this weekend? Feel free to reach out to team members Dan Gurin and Heather Rodriguez!

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Jun 29 2015
Jun 29

Time flies – it’s already summer, and I hope yours is going well! Seems like just yesterday I was at DrupalCon in Los Angeles, the famous city of movie-making – to make it sound more like a dream… at least my own dream, one that was made true. Because part of our team was invited to LA by an extraordinary company – X-Team.

(Side note: I must say that combining work with travel is a greatly recommended experience, as it brings a breath of fresh air to your usual working process.)

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DrupalCon brings together thousands of people from across the globe who use, develop, design, and support Drupal.

Such an IT event sounds loud. Combined with California and Silicon Valley – sounds even louder. Like a promise that can be hard to deliver on. But it totally was, and with an impressive style. There were a lot of attendees, talks, trainings, huge conference halls and a lot of social events. There was a little something for everyone.

Although it can be pricey to get to one of these, I would definitely attend another, as the value you get from one is incredible. Here’s why:

DrupalCon is inspiring

For me, it’s more about getting inspired, and you certainly get that from the core team’s keynotes (by Dries, Whitney Hess, Matt Assay). Those serve as an example that show how influential people involved in Open Source can be. During such keynotes (but not only!), you can hear a crucial word or two that will have a direct impact on your Drupal research, and will push you forward. And, of course, the future plans for the technology you use will be revealed before you! Learning from strong, inspiring leaders gives you yet another advantage as a Drupal developer.

But getting inspired isn’t limited to just the keynotes – all community collaboration that happens also counts, as it gives you a strong motivation to write high-quality code, work on interesting projects and, of course, share knowledge and contribute to the Open Source movement. And it’s great to see so many people around you who want work with, use and improve technology for the common good.

Drupal already has a really huge and awesome community – one that continuously keeps growing! And conferences certainly play one of the key roles here: every attendee that happens to be putting their very first steps in Drupal’s world can always find support during trainings and even social events like the First time Attendee social. And that works just great, thanks to such a positive atmosphere where people feel very comfortable. So basically, no one should ever be afraid to attend their very first conference!

DrupalCon helps you meet colleagues

Personally, this conference will be remembered also as an opportunity to meet with my teammates (Ardi, Kuba, Sven) in-person. Since we all work remotely, conferences, meetups, camps etc. create a unique occasion to hang out together, get to know each other better, and strengthen bonds.

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And the very same applies to business partners – many of them often attend such events as well, and it’s always great to do a real handshake with them. Not to mention participating in a daily scrum meeting with people from five different countries, sitting at one table…

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If you’re going to DrupalCon, be ready to meet people from all over the world, have a lot of fun, discuss advantages and disadvantages of Drupal and any other web novelty, find people for collaboration/research, work partners, and sometimes even a job. And last but not least – you’re bound to make new friends.

Unleash at your next DrupalCon and become part of the community. See you in Barcelona!

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Jun 29 2015
Jun 29

drupalgovcon logoWe’re excited for Drupal GovCon hosted in the DC area July 22nd through the 24th! We can’t wait to spend time with the Drupal4Gov community and meet fellow Drupalers from all over! Forum One will be presenting sessions in all four tracks: Site Building, Business and Strategy, Code & DevOps, and Front-end, User Experience and Design! Check out our sessions to learn more about Drupal 8 and other topics!

Here our are sessions at a glance…

Nervous about providing support for a new Drupal site? A comprehensive audit will prepare you to take on Drupal sites that weren’t built by you. Join this session and learn from Forum One’s John Brandenburg as he reviews the audit checklist the our team uses before we take over support work for any Drupal site.

Drupal 8’s getting close to launching – do you feel like you need a crash course in what this means? Join Forum One’s Chaz Chumley as he demystifies Drupal 8 for you and teaches you all that you need to know about the world of developers.

If you’re wondering how to prepare your organization for upgrading your sites to Drupal 8, join WETA’s Jess Snyder, along with Forum One’s Andrew Cohen and Chaz Chumley as they answer questions about the available talent, budgets, goals, and more in regards to Drupal 8.

The building blocks of Drupal have changed and now’s the unique time to rethink how to build themes in Drupal 8. Join Chaz Chumley as he dissects a theme and exposes the best practices that we should all be adopting for Drupal 8.

Drupal 8’s first class REST interface opens up a world of opportunities to build interactive applications. Come learn how to connect a Node application to Drupal to create dynamic updates from Forum One’s William Hurley as he demonstrates the capabilities of both JavaScript and Node.js using Drupal, AngularJS, and Sails.js!

Are you excited to launch your new website, but getting held down by all the steps it takes for your code to make it online? On top of that, each change requires the same long process all over again… what a nail biting experience! Join William Hurley as he demonstrates the power of Jenkins and Capistrano for managing continuous integration and deployment using your git repository.

If you’re a beginner who has found the Views module confusing, come check out this session and learn important features of this popular module from Leanne Duca and Forum One’s Onaje Johnston. They’ll also highlight some additional modules that extend the power of Views.

Have you ever felt that Panels, Panelizer and Panopoly were a bit overwhelming? Well, come to our session from Forum One’s Keenan Holloway. He will go over the best features of each one and how they are invaluable tools. Keenan will also give out a handy cheat sheet to remember it all, so make sure to stop by!

Data visualization is the go to right now! Maps, charts, interactive presentations – what tools do you use to build your visual data story? We feel that D3.js is the best tool, so come listen to Keenan Holloway explain why you should be using D3, how to use D3’s visualization techniques, and more.

Implementing modular design early on in any Drupal project will improve your team’s workflow and efficiency! Attend our session to learn from our very own Daniel Ferro on how to use styleguide/prototyping tools like Pattern Lab to increase collaboration between designers, themers, developers, and your organization on Drupal projects.

Are you hoping to mentor new contributors? Check out this session where Forum One’s Kalpana Goel and Cathy Theys from BlackMesh will talk about how to integrate mentoring into all the layers of an open source project and how to develop mentoring into a habit. They’ll be using the Drupal community as an example!

If you’re a beginner looking to set up an image gallery, attend this session! Leanne Duca and Onaje Johnston will guide you in how to set up a gallery in Drupal 8 and how to overcome any challenges you may encounter!

Attend this session and learn how to design and theme Drupal sites using Atomic Design and the Drupal 8 CSS architecture guidelines from our very own Dan Mouyard! He’ll go over our Gesso theme and our version of Pattern Lab and how they allow us to quickly design and prototype reusable design components, layouts, and pages.

Can’t make it to all of the sessions? Don’t worry, you’ll be able to catch us outside of our scheduled sessions! If you want to connect, stop by our table or check us out on Twitter (@ForumOne). We can’t wait to see you at DrupalGovCon!

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May 14 2015
May 14

Drupal left the island.

Larry Garfield brought us an awesome speech about Drupal 8, which you can see here.

Dries explained to us why Drupal 8 had to change. Larry showed us those changes, and everybody loved his demo, but the important thing came after that. The inline editor, content management improvements, rendering HTML5 are awesome improvements, but in the end, these are just details compared to the big message: Drupal finally left the island.

Until version 7, Drupal was built “the Drupal way”. Hooks, nodes, the Form API, all built using its own methods and vocabulary. Everything was in-house solutions. It worked great so far, but no matter how big your community is, you’re limited to your own workforce and concepts, and it has its limitations:

“We need enough humility to accept that there are way better ideas floating around out there than exist in Drupal, and we should be open-minded enough to learn from them or adopt them wholesale.”

This quote is not from his speech, but from his blog, as the need to look “beyond the fence” is a message he tries to spread quite often.

And he’s not talking just about code, but about the ideas and even the attitude, because opening the codebase and introducing other projects into Drupal core is not just about adopting better solutions from the outside. These are practical reasons, but there’s something more important behind this way of thinking. It means accepting other communities’ ideas, and being ready to contribute to them the same way we contribute to Drupal.

It’s not about trying to make Drupal win. It’s about trying to make other projects win with us. And this is important because of this “push paradigm future” Dries talked about. This future is already here for a handful of megacorporations: Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook. They have an astronomical amount of data and the muscle to process it to their advantage.

How can small companies make their own space in this future without the massive resources they don’t have? Such companies, and the systems backing them, have to collaborate, because this new future can be overwhelming for any community, no matter its size, if it tries to face it on its own. Drupal was about people joining forces. Now it’s about entire communities joining forces.

Because “We are smarter than me”.

That’s cool… for new projects, but what about old projects in D6 or D7? How do we move forward?

Moving forward is in our core. Migrating into Drupal 8.

This was a more technical speech by Ryan Weal and Novella Chiechi from Kafei Interactive, Montreal, and you can see it here.

The major key point of their presentation was: Migrate is in core and it’s the preferred path. What does it have to offer and what would be your first steps.

A huge effort has been put on this migration tool, trying to overcome one of the major drawbacks of Drupal: its compromise for quality and improvement sometimes meant breaking with the old and embracing new and better ways to do things… leaving a lot of users behind, trapped in an old version with no clear update path.

While Migrate for D8 is not a magical solution, it opens the way and greatly simplifies the process, not only for D7 users, but for D6 also. And this is nothing short of amazing. There is still a gap, but the gap is closing every day a little.

As usual, this means very little for large companies with enough cash to pay for upgrades, but it lowers the bar for smaller groups with limited budgets, letting them keep their websites at a lower cost and jumping less technological barriers.

The human factor is not a “resource.” Creating a Culture of Empowerment

And last, a presentation by an extraordinary speaker: Todd Nienkerk from Four Kitchens.

Todd brought us a presentation with no code, no Drupal, no web, no technology and no processes. It was amazing, and you can find the video here.

This was a speech about management ideas that actually matter if you truly value your people. And this is a subject we’re very interested here at X-Team, where we don’t talk about “human resources”, but about “human beings”.

He started with a personal experience that is a total mind-opener: how a small detail, “bean-counter style” detail from management screwed the whole culture of a company. I won’t spoil you, but invite you to listen to it instead, starting at 2’05” of his presentation. This is probably the most interesting part of his chat.

After that, he went deep into the main subject following a structure suited for a scientific article: firstly, define the subject. What does culture and empowerment mean. Secondly, why is this a relevant subject. Thirdly, how do they try to create and maintain this culture of empowerment; and fourthly, the use of language to communicate all this, and how it makes a difference to companies that say one thing while doing another.

The use of language is a very interesting topic, as it’s a very powerful tool to create culture, even in the most subtle details. An example he used: the word “employee” creates a hierarchical structure the moment you use it. It propagates its meaning beyond its particular use case, as using it has a lot of implications: if you have an employee, you have an employer. If there’s an employer, there’s a “my employees”, and suddenly, people is not working with you because they want to. They became “your employees”, they’re “yours”. And all that comes from a single word… and the culture that generated that single word.

Todd clearly sees the language issue in a very Orwellian way: “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” Language doesn’t express thought. It is thought.

But in the end, most of what he says is applied common sense in large quantities, and it can be tracked down to a single, very simple idea that you can’t fake: either you respect and trust the people who work with you, or you don’t. Everything else comes from this.

And it’s an issue of top relevance. Culture is the invisible glue that keeps a human group together. Quoting Nilofer Merchant: “Culture trumps strategy. Every time”.

Extra. Acquia.

In Colombia I could meet some Acquia folks, which we collaborate with on Fox. Mariano demoed Acquia Cloud for me. By a crazy coincidence, we have a common friend in Barcelona.

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Conclusion

What an experience. To be honest, I expected to be the only European participant at the conference, but I was not.

Drupal 8 could have been named Drupal 11, considering the amount of changes. It’s refreshing to see the project backed by such a strong community, and see the heads keeping an eye on the future and working long-term. Drupal is healthy and strong, and it will be stronger in the future.

But sometimes I think this is becoming too corporate. Maybe Backdrop’s founders were right: how much space is there for the small fish? I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Drupal 8 is a huge jump forward, but this doesn’t mean it is the right solution for every situation. What about smaller, more focused solutions based on Drupal?

Maybe other systems have their point.

Maybe we should have a look over the fence.

Addendum

This is me. This is Giorgio de Chirico, part of Fernando Botero’s personal collection. This photo was taken at the Botero Museum, which has an amazing collection of modern art. If you ever go to Bogotá, you have to go to the museum. I will say no more.

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May 14 2015
May 14

My colleague Adam Juran and I just finished with our session, Zero to MVP in 40 minutes: Coder and Themer Get Rich Quick in Silicon Valley, at DrupalCon LA. This one was a real journey to prepare, and through it we learned a lot of dirty truths about Drupal 8, Javascript frameworks, and the use cases where the two make sense together.

The live coding challenge in our session proposal seemed simple: create a web application that ingests content from an external API, performs content management tasks (data modelling, relationships, etc.) through the Drupal 8 interface, and deliver it all to an AngularJS front-end. This is exactly the “headless Drupal” stuff that everyone has been so excited about for the last year, so doing it in a 40 minute head-to-head code battle seemed like an entertaining session.

Ingesting content from an external API

The first hard truth we discovered was the limitations of the still-nascent Drupal 8. Every monthly release of a new Drupal 8 beta includes a series of “change records,” defining all the system-wide changes that will have to be accounted for everywhere else. For example, one change record notes that a variable we often use in Drupal forms is now a different kind of object. This change breaks every single form, everywhere in Drupal.

The frequency of this kind of change record is a problem for anyone who tries to maintain a contributed module. No one can keep up with their code breaking every month, so most don’t. The module works when they publish it as “stable”, but two or three months later, it’s fundamentally broken. changes like this currently happen 10-15 times every month. Any module we were hoping to use as a part of this requirement – Twitter, Oauth, Facebook – were broken when we started testing.

We finally settled on using Drupal’s robust Migrate module to bring in external content. After all, Drupal 7 Migrate can import content from almost any format! Turns out that this isn’t the case with Drupal 8 core’s Migrate module. It’s limited to the basic framework you need for all migrations. Importers for various file types and sources simply haven’t been written yet.

No matter which direction we turned, we were faced with the fact that Drupal 8 needed work to perform the first requirement in our challenge. We chose to create a CSV Source plugin ourselves (with much help from mikeryan and chx) just to be able to meet this requirement. This was not something we could show in the presentation; it was only a prerequisite. Phew!

Displaying it All in Angular

Building an AngularJS based front end for this presentation involved making decisions about architecture, which ended up as the critical focus of our talk. AngularJS is a complete framework, which normally handles the entire application: data ingestion, manipulation, and display. Why would you stick Drupal in there? And what would an Angular application look like architecturally, with Drupal 8 inside?

You always have a choice of what to do and where to do it. Either system can ingest data, and either system can do data manipulation. Your decision should be based on which tool does each job the best, in your particular use case: a catch-all phrase that includes factors like scalability and depth of functionality, but also subtler elements like the expertise of your team. If you have a shop full of AngularJS people and a simple use case, you should probably build the entire app in Angular!

Given that perspective, Drupal really stands out as a data ingestion and processing engine. Even when you have to write a new Migration source plugin, the Entity model, Drupal’s “plug-ability”, and Views make data crunching extremely easy. This is a strong contrast to data work in Angular, where you have to write everything from scratch.

We feel that the best combination of Drupal and Angular is with Drupal ingesting content, manipulating it, and spitting it out in a ready-to-go format for AngularJS to consume. This limits the Angular application to its strengths: layout, with data from a REST back-end, and only simple logic.

The Session

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In the session, we talked a bit about the larger concepts involved, and moved fairly quickly into the technical demonstration. First, Adam demonstrated the flexibility of the decoupled front-end, using bower libraries to build an attractive layout without writing a single line of custom CSS.  Then I demonstrated importing data from CSV sources into Drupal 8, along with the simplicity of configuring Drupal Views to output JSON. Taken together, the videos are 37 minutes long – not bad for a totally custom RESTful endpoint and a nice looking front-end!

Here is Adam’s screencast, showing off the power of the bootstrap-material-design library to build a good looking site without any custom CSS at all:

Here is my screencast, demonstrating how easy it is to create Migrate module importers and REST exports in Drupal 8.

And here is the final screencast, quickly showing the changes we made in AngularJS to have it call the two Drupal Services.

Want to learn of Forum One’s Drupal development secrets? Check out our other Drupalcon blog posts, or visit our booth (#107) and talk with our tech wizards in person!

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DrupalCon LA Day 1!

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Hacking the Feds: Forum One Among the Winners at GSA Hack-a-Thon

Jan 08 2015
Jan 08

Drupal at Forum One - Powering Problem SolversWant to join me for a marathon next weekend?

As part of a worldwide effort known as the Drupal Global Sprint Weekend, hundreds of coders from around the world are joining together in a united effort to complete a marathon task: the launch of the next generation of the world’s most popular open-source platform, Drupal 8.

To participate in this massive movement and contribute to the Drupal Community, Forum One is hosting a local Code Sprint in downtown Washington, DC on Saturday, January 17th. Sign up here »

Never been to a code sprint before? No worries; we’re pros at these events! Here’s what you can expect:

What is a code sprint?

A code sprint is when developers get together and write code. There’s minor instruction and some ad hoc mentoring, but mainly the focus is just uniting developers and hammering out code together. That’s all there is to it!

How will this event work?

Our developers will work with you to find Drupal 8 core issues for you to focus on. You won’t need to research anything on your own, but you will need to bring your own laptop, and it helps a lot if you set up your development environment beforehand. For instructions on how to get set up and for additional details like the event agenda, visit the RSVP page »

Why should I attend?

  • You’ll meet other DC area developers!
  • You’ll roll up your sleeves and become a bona fide Drupal 8 Core Contributor!
  • You’ll learn from our on-site mentors and fellow developers!
  • You’ll earn tons of karma by furthering the mission of the open-source development model!
  • It’s totally free!

Intrigued? Excited? Can’t hardly contain your enthusiasm? Awesome! Sign up for this free event and join me and the DC open-source developer community as we take on this marathon effort and get 26.2-ish miles closer to bringing Drupal 8 across the finish line.

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2014: A Year In Review

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8 Ways to Get Developers to Start Using Your Data

Sep 29 2014
Sep 29

Where in the world is DrupalCon

How do you get to DrupalCon? Well, apparently you just follow the signs!

I’d never thought about it, but nothing makes one happier than official street signs guiding me from the hotel to the venue!

But even with such a welcome, I love the first day of DrupalCon, and I don’t mean trainings, community summit, or sprints, although they are important and valuable. More than all of that I love reconnecting with friends, colleagues, and collaborators.

Adam and Webchick

We discuss the state of Drupal 8, and celebrate recent accomplishments, like the acceptance of the pagination dream markup into Drupal 8 core! This particular issue is one I’ve been working on consistently since Drupal Dev Days last March, but it’s not my victory alone, seven of us worked heavily on the ticket and many others contributed in smaller chunks.

We talk about which sessions we’ll attend and promote our own, namely Campbell’s and my Coder vs. Themer Ultimate Grudge Smackdown: Fight to the Death!

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Kalpana

We also discuss new challenges and next steps, and in the sprint area we collaborate and problem solve together. Forum One’s Kalpana Goel is immensely passionate about core contribution and sprinting and received a scholarship from Drupal Association to come to Amsterdam and do just that.

Last but not least, we talk about the after parties and the social activities. But ultimately, it’s not about the hippest new nightclub or sushi at a shi-shi restaurant, it’s about people. I vastly prefer collecting colleagues and friends old and new into a semi-spontaneous dinner group, and so that’s what we did.

So that’s completes my recap of Day one in Amsterdam. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

Read our other updates for DrupalCon:
DrupalCon Amsterdam, Day 2: From Memories to the Future
DrupalCon Amsterdam, Day 3: Drupal 8 Beta Released
DrupalCon Amsterdam, Day 4: Our Kung fu is more powerful than yours!

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Arriving at a Shared Vocabulary and Understanding of Design Composition

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DrupalCon Amsterdam, Day 2: From Memories to the Future

Aug 09 2014
Aug 09

“Contributing to Drupal is life-changing.”

Dries, you couldn’t be more right.

At DrupalCamp Singapore 2014, developers from all over Asia had the opportunity to spend a day focused on learning, collaborating and preparing for Drupal 8.

One takeaway was being reminded of the fact that Drupal 8 still needs significant help from its community to be ready for enterprises to adopt it.

Dries Buytaert (Drupal’s founder) actually gave opening remarks at the event and called for Drupal developers to start reporting (and fixing) bugs for Drupal 8.

We want to help the Drupal community create the best version of Drupal ever; it’s already headed down that path, and with a little #sleepcanwait attitude, a united community can get it there.

So today we’re announcing ContributeX — an event using our special approach to help inspire the Drupal community to jump in the trenches of Drupal 8 and make X happen.

ContributeX is a full-day event inviting Drupal developers to unleash their superhero and contribute to Drupal 8, and in return, the Top 5 contributors will be welcomed into The League of the Extraordinary and be awarded the most coveted X-Team award — a superhero illustration/reimagining of themselves (aka become HEROized).

The “X” in ContributeX represents the infinite ways that a developer can contribute to a community. We want this event to be a reminder to Drupal developers that contributing to Drupal 8 doesn’t have to be building a module — it can be as simple as supporting your colleagues, submitting bug reports, testing, documenting changes, giving someone a high-five, sharing Drupal 8’s progress with the world, and so many other ways.

The first ContributeX will be hosted by one of the best Asian Drupal communities, the Drupal Pilipinas organization from the Philippines, lead by X-Teamers like Paul de Paula and Gerald Villorente.

So we invite every Drupal developer in the Philippines to join us at this first event. We hope to see more of these happen in Asia, and then the rest of the world.

Drupal 8 needs you. Now is your chance to give back to such an extraordinary community. See you there.

Event Details

Location: Microsoft Philippines, 6750 Ayala Avenue, Makati, Philippines
Time: 1 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Sponsored by X-Labs, an X-Team open source support fund.

Jun 03 2014
Jun 03

Drupal definitely has one of the biggest and largest communities in the world. I can still remember one of Dries Buytaert’s tweets showing the rapid growth of Drupal by showing a photo of a few attendees at the first DrupalCon, compared with the most recent which was packed.

(On a side note: It’s exciting to think there might someday soon be a DrupalCon in the Asian region (see: here).

Besides DrupalCon, there are a lot of other Drupal community activities organized throughout the world, such as Drupal Camp, Drupal BarCamp, Drupal Meetup, etc. And the best part is, these are also supported by Drupal.org. (If interested, here are some tips on how to organize one: https://drupal.org/node/247972). You can even ask them to become a main sponsor, or request funding (as long as it complies with their rules). How cool is that?!

Drupal Camps are quite popular and can be considered a mini version of DrupalCon, as they also feature several sessions discussing various topics surrounding Drupal, usually a small hackathon, etc. Drupal Camps also attract lots of Drupalists and other tech evangelists from all over the country to gather and mingle together.

Drupal in Singapore

There’s no doubt that Drupal is gaining more traction and popularity in Singapore, and this is also indicated by the fact that lots of big corporations in many industries in Singapore are starting to switch to Drupal as their main technology platform.

Singapore has already organized two Drupal Camps, and this year will be the third, to be held June 14, 2014 at SMU (Singapore Management University). You can learn more about it here: http://drupalcamp.sg/contact-us

We’ve received many session submissions, which indicates that more people from different industries and backgrounds are interested to join the fun and are willing to share their knowledge with all of us.

And, of course, the food will be awesome, too.

And it’s all thanks to our beloved and loyal sponsors (including X-Team), as without them, this event wouldn’t even happen.

This year’s theme will be about Drupal 8, one of the most popular topics and also most controversial (in my opinion). So for sure this will bring even more excitement to the event!

Tickets can be purchased on our website: http://drupalcamp.sg/, and it’s only S$25.

We guarantee you’ll enjoy every moment of the event, as well as the warm Singaporean hospitality. And of course, you could always stay with our community in Singapore any time you want; just like Drupal’s slogan says: “Come for the software, stay for the community.”

Cheers!

Jul 19 2013
Jul 19

We’ve been an open source shop for over 15 years, and a Drupal shop for the past five. This month, we’re expanding our support for the Drupal community in two important ways.

First, we’re excited to announce that Forum One is now a Premium Supporting Partner of the Drupal Association. The Drupal Association is the nonprofit organization that works to foster and support the Drupal software project, the community and its growth. The association ensures that the Drupal project flourishes and remains free software for anyone to download. They also provide support and convenings for the community of over 600,000 users and developers. 

We love Drupal and how it empowers our clients to make a difference in the world. After building nearly 200 sites in Drupal we are dedicated to using the CMS and making it work more effectively for our clients. Our membership is a demonstration of our support and commitment for its long-term growth. 

Second, we are Platinum sponsors of the 2013 CapitalCamp DC on July 26-27. CapitalCamp is the largest Drupal regional event in the DC area, and we are pleased to be sponsoring and helping to organize once again.

At CapitalCamp, we will be delivering three sessions:

CapitalCamp is great opportunity to learn, network, and code. It is also a lot of fun. Therefore, we are co-sponsoring the CapitalCamp Happy Hour on Friday, July 26 at 4:30. Please join us!

We’re looking forward to meeting more Drupal fans at CapitalCamp and through our new Drupal association partnership.

Jul 09 2013
joe
Jul 09

Live in the Midwest and like Drupal? So do we! Or at least some of our team. And as such we'll be attending the annual Twin Cities DrupalCamp in force this year.

As a resident of Minneapolis I've been attending this camp regularly since its inception and it's always been a great opportunity to meet other local Drupal developers and to interact with those that I've known for years. Every year I'm delighted at the number of people who come to learn about Drupal. Last year we had nearly 300 people attend the camp. This year is shaping up to be just as good and myself, Andrew, and Emma will all be in attendance and would love to meet you. In addition to being there in person, we're happy to be a Gold sponsor this year, and we'll be giving away a free annual membership to Drupalize.Me as well!

I've also been participating in helping to organize the camp this year in a much larger capacity. I've normally poked my head in a bit here and there, but this year I've been involved with the entire session selection process: soliciting session submissions, helping to choose sessions, and contacting presenters. It's been a great way to get to know more of the people in the local community. We used the camp website for much of the content selection process and this year I also helped to build the website as well.

Sessions

It's fun to get to meet people face-to-face rather than from the other side of the Internet. This camp is a great chance to meet our trainers as they do their thing in person. I dare say we're at least as much fun, if not more-so, in person.

The Drupalize.Me team will be presenting the following sessions:

I am really exited about the great content from all the speakers. And, unlike past years where we waited till the last minute to schedule everything, we're ahead of the curve this year and have already put together a complete schedule for the weekend.

Free PSD to Theme Workshop

Last year Emma was the keynote speaker at the camp and during her presentation announced that she would be open-sourcing her PSD to Theme workshop. This year Emma and Joe will be teaching a version of the PSD to Theme workshop that is completely free to the first 30 camp attendees that signup for the workshop. There was only one seat left at the time this blog post was written, so signup and get the last seat now (if it's not already too late)!

We're looking forward to seeing you at the camp in a couple of weeks. Be sure to say "hello"!

Jun 11 2013
Jun 11

During the week June 24th a mass of Drupal folks will converge on Dublin, Ireland for Drupal Dev Days. This year, in addition to the three days of DrupalCamp that is happening (June 28-30), there is also a week of sprints leading up to the camp, and to the Drupal 8 code freeze deadline. This is it. If it's going to be in Drupal 8, it needs to happen before the end of June. Once we get beyond code freeze, our focus will shift to polishing what's there, fixing bugs, and cleaning up performance. (For more info about this, you can read all about the Drupal 8 release cycle.)

While the name of event could lead you to believe this is only for developers, this will be a crowd of people from all skills and experience. The camp itself will have sessions for a range of interests and levels, and the sprints will need people to cover a wide range of work to get things done in time. There will be a lot of opportunities to learn, as well as dig in and get your hands dirty, working on real problems to be solved. If you ever wanted to experience the Drupal community in its glory, Drupal Dev Days proves to be one of the best events this year to feel that energy and make a difference.

We're proud to support this event as a sponsor, and as presenters. In the spirit of helping Drupal core, and helping new folks be part of that experience, we are once again offering the free Community Tools workshop, on Friday, June 28th. Addison Berry will be leading this workshop, along with a host of volunteers, to show you how the community communicates, and get you set up with the tools you need to get up to speed. You'll also be able to listen to Juampy work his magic in a session or two (the final session selection isn't done quite yet) and catch Sally Young sprinting hard. If you see us around, please come up and introduce yourself. We'll also have a handful of sparkly Drupal superhero stickers to show the world how much you rock, so we hope to see you soon in Dublin!

May 14 2013
May 14

Like the ’90s, Drupal really is alive in Portland, the city made popular again from the much-watched TV show, Portlandia. Portland is the homebase for the Drupal Association and host for this year’s DrupalCon, Drupal’s largest North American conference. 

DrupalCon Portland Platinum Sponsor

This will be Forum One’s biggest presence at DrupalCon since we went to our first conference in Washington, DC, in 2009. We’ll have 17 web developers, project managers, and strategists attending the event from our offices in San Francisco, Seattle, and DC. We can’t wait to meet more Drupalers, share our experiences, and explore Portland!

During our Day Stage session, EPA.gov: Building a Sustainable Drupal Platform, we’re excited to share the challenges and successes we faced in migrating EPA’s large web presence to Drupal. In a “game-show” style session, we’ll investigate how we navigated the unique needs of a large government agency, share project challenges, champion our successes, and provide best practices for other large organizations considering moving to Drupal.

Another highly anticipated session is What Users Want (or Why Webpages are Dead) by Nam-ho Park and Stein Setvik. They’ll dive deep into real questions about the future of websites in the face of the rise of mobile and explore the implications for Drupal.

Each year, it is encouraging to see Drupal growing. With 613 active distributions and more than 25,000 contributors, Drupal is now the largest and most recognized open-source community. It will be interesting to see how keynotes from Dries Buytaert, Karen McGrane, and Michael Lopp address the sheer size of the project and how to get Drupal to even more users.

If you’re going to be in Portland next week, stop by our booth. We’ll have free “Nodetoriusly” awesome T-shirts that will be sure to take you back to the golden age of hip-hop. Plus, we’ll raffle off an iPad mini. And if you have a big heart and bright mind, consider joining our team by checking out our career openings. Come talk to us and help us keep the dream alive at Portland DrupalCon!

Mar 15 2013
Mar 15

A week ago today I got up on stage at DrupalCamp Stockholm 2013 and held my first ever presentation. The topic was Symfony basics and the future of PHP and Drupal.

It was absolutely nerve racking but also really, really fun! I definitely got a taste for presenting and I hope to do it soon again.

If you happened to miss the Symfony Intro presentation, my good friend Viktor Miranda recorded the entire session (thanks, mate!) and I just finished uploading it. Put your Swedish on and hit play below.

[embedded content]

The slides are available online.

Getting up on stage before all these people scared the shit out of me. So big thanks to all who helped me prepare! Viktor, Andreas, Mia, Daniel, Samuel, Per and Anna — much appreciated.

Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

Mar 04 2013
Mar 04

Hosting the Content Strategy Conversation in a Brand New Breakout Room

Content matters! Bold, boisterous content matters; shy bits of micro-content matter; even the nuances of your error messages deserve careful attention! Lullabot’s Insert Content Here podcast is all about content, and every episode features a new conversation with content strategy experts from a variety of industries and disciplines. On June 3-5, Lullabot will also be sponsoring the third annual Confab, a fabulous conference that's dedicated to content strategy! Every year in friendly Minneapolis, Minnesota, Confab brings together a host of experts to discuss the big issues and tiny details of content strategy.

Why Attend Confab?

One critical issue has wiggled its way into quite a few episodes of Insert Content Here: the often-strained relationship between content teams and development teams. At Confab, Insert Content Here's host Jeff Eaton will take a closer look at that contentious relationship and offer an hour of feud-soothing tools. In Hugging the Hatfields: Turning Cantakerous Development Teams Into Allies, Eaton will teach content creators to understand the developer's world and speak their language, ensuring that critical editorial needs are heard. He'll also explain how content strategy's tools can make life easier for both disciplines by alleviating developer pain points.

In addition to sponsoring and speaking at Confab, Lullabot is excited to debut the “Insert Content Here Breakout Room!” (Always fans of novelty, we're proud to note that it's the longest-titled breakout room in the conference’s history.) Fittingly, Jeff Eaton’s session will be held in the Insert Content Here breakout room, as well.

See You There!

Last year, Confab sold out quickly! If you're responsible for content in your business, or you're a stakeholder who needs a roadmap for sustainable content, reserve a spot ASAP! Be sure to make room in your schedule for Eaton’s Hugging the Hatfields: Turning Cantankerous Development Teams Into Allies, and stop by our breakout room afterwards to say hello. We look forward to seeing you!

Mar 04 2013
Mar 04

I recently had the pleasure of traveling to London to attend DrupalCamp London. There, Joe Shindelar and I taught a one-day Introduction to Drupal workshop. The class was great and the attendees actively participated, as they were very interested in what Drupal has to offer. This was my first experience teaching with Joe in person, and even though I work with him regularly on our videos here at Drupalize.Me, all I can say is he is a fantastic presenter and teacher. If you are ever at a camp, con, or meetup, I recommend that you take some time to sit in and listen to Joe speak.

After that we, and some other Lullabots, took the camp by storm, presenting and attending sessions the next couple of days. Sally Young and Blake Hall did a session together, Going Mobile, about building Drupal-based mobile apps, and separating the backend from the frontend on a site. Although this was way over my head, those that attended were very curious and excited about what they were saying. Addison Berry also took some time teaching a session on the Drupal Ladder. I love seeing people get excited about working on core. The session had a fair number of people attend and plenty of questions were asked. It is also very cool seeing Addison still get excited to teach about the community. Finally, Joe "performed" a session on Fun with the Form API. The session was fairly packed and everyone had fun (non pun intended) listening to Joe show the importance of learning the Form API.

The rest of the camp was packed full of sessions and an overall excitement of people learning Drupal. I could go on and on about the camp, but I also want to talk about life as a simple American in London. Especially a life of a person that sits behind a computer most of his days.

My day usually begins with a couple cups of coffee and gathering my thougths while organizing email. For me, a couple cups of coffee are easily made with a coffee maker. This is where I began to notice I wasn't home anymore. A cup of coffee in London is not just a drip of water over coffee beans. No, it is a ritual — single serving, and what appeared to me, a project. Let's just say, I had less coffee than I normally do.

My next foray was a very unexpected trip on the "tube." Now I have traveled to Europe a few other times, but never had to use the tube during rush hour. At one point it was so packed I swear there is no way more people will fit on this thing. They did anyway. I'm sure New Yorkers are very familiar with this, but as a non-city person, it was a bit overwhelming. I made it out alive though.

Kyle Hofmeyer

Unfortunatly most of what I saw of London was either going from tube to tube, or walking from the tube to a place to eat. That leads me to my next favorite part of London: the food. Sally was our tour guide and certainly knows where to take people to eat. I had some "awesome" food during my five-day visit and have learned to eat with a fork in my left hand and my knife in the other (thanks Sally).

Besides the food I did get to see Old Ben from a car window, and the Tower Bridge (apparently the London Bridge is not all that). We also took a moment to jump over the Prime Meridian, and I played the role of a tourist with Oscar-like potential, as you can clearly see in the picture here.

I am now siting in the airport waiting to travel back home to the States. You may be asking yourself what this post has to do with anything. I guess it is really about how being part of the Drupal community offers the ability to step outside our normal boundaries and experience the world around us. One of the greatest aspects of Drupal is it has no worldy boundries and events are everywhere. From Portland to Copenhagen, Denver to Sydney — Drupal can take you anywhere, and I am better for it.

Feb 22 2013
Feb 22

Kind-of-annual event DrupalCamp Stockholm is about to kick off again, just two weeks from today. Mark your calendars — March 8th will bring a lot of geeky fun to our capital city.

There are some really promising sessions planned for this DrupalCamp. I am especially looking forward to Fredrik Jonsson’s talk on Git and Fabian Sörqvist’s talk on Jaegirmeister. As always there are some conflicting sessions where I would love to see two talks but they are at the same time, like Ida Franceen’s talk on kodsmuts which clashes with my own presentation.

I will present a talk on Symfony, from the perspective of a Drupal developer. If Dependency Injection, Mediators, HTTP abstraction and code decoupling ticks your boxes — this is the talk for you!

Tickets generally sell fast the last couple of days, so be sure to visit the site and get yours right away. At 295 SEK for the entire DrupalCamp, including lunch and wraps for dinner, this is a bargain!

See you there?

Nov 29 2012
Nov 29

You’re Invited to Co-Work at the Lullabot Activity Center

Are you a Rhode-Island-are freelancer, remote worker or self-employed professional? If so, come join us on Tuesday, December 4th for a day of co-working at our beautiful Lullabot Activity center in downtown Providence.

Perks of the Lullabot Activity Center (LAC):

  • speedy wifi
  • strong coffee
  • clean tables (free of espresso rings and splenda residue)
  • a warm space that’s teeming with nerdy entrepreneurship
  • no worrying about some green-aproned barista giving you the stink eye

Bring your laptop and a friendly disposition. Just be mindful that this is an event to foster distraction-free productivity and not a place for group meetings or business pitches.

Our space can only fit about 20 people so be sure to register in advance.

A Bit More About the LAC

Lullabot's Activity Center in the Providence Jewelry District is a big loft space that we rearrange for meetings, meetups, training events and even video shoots for our Drupalize.Me video training site.

Want to Get Alerts About Other Events?

Check out Providence Virtual Workers, a MeetUp group connecting Rhode-Island-area virtual and remote workers. Exchange ideas, be productive and get plugged in to a cool, creative network.

Aug 22 2012
Aug 22

As the summer heat hits Europe, Drupal geeks gather for another edition of DrupalCon. The event takes place in Munich, Germany this time. Of course, the Krew, reinforced with new team members, attends the event, eager to gain new insights and share knowledge.

The news that Krimson, Mearra, NodeOne and Wunderkraut decided to join forces, was announced over the past two days. As Wunderkraut, the 140 coworkers aim to deliver measurable client happiness and business value. The entire team got together at an introductory meet up on Monday, well before the main event. As the day progressed, team members shared ideas, practices and solutions in a set of open spaces in the relaxed environment of one of the Münich city parks.

Krew member Nelia: “During the open discussion I joined the developer open space. As junior developer I learned a lot. A lot of useful information was shared and discussed between the backend developers. Because of the merge, we are confronted with different ways of working, but as we got along, we discovered that we shared a common view on most development practices and methodology.”

Krew member Jurgen: “As dedicated Support engineer I was faced with the challenge of finding the open space that worked for me, my area of work spans from front-end to system monitoring and everything in between. I joined the growing force of front-enders and later the System Administrators' open space where a lot of the Support tasks are being handled. It became apparent that across the board we all strive towards openness and processes that work in the long term so we can focus on doing what we love to do, delivering kick-ass Drupal products.”

The new Wunderkraut team ended the day with a few celebratory beers.

DrupalCon Munich opened its' first day with the ABC of DrupalCon, in traditional Bavarian style. As we were welcomed, we learned, amongst other things, how to jodel like a boss and what DrupalCon and the Drupal community is all about. Captain Drupal flew on the stage, in the style of a true superhero, announcing the Wunderkraut merger. It was quite an awesome sight to see all the Wunderkraut people wearing their brand new t-shirts, saying Hi to them when they pass by and sharing experiences and plotting the future. It shows the power of people working together under one brand, powered by the entire Drupal mindset.

The actual opening of the conference was, as always, the highly anticipated keynote by Dries (aka the Driesnote) Josh Koenig interviewed Dries about the state of Drupal.

Dries gave a preview of Drupal 8 showcasing such new features as inline content editing, import/export of configuration and mobile website administration (SPARK). Drupal 8 development is moving towards a feature freeze this december. The community is now looking forward to a release date set around this time next year. With Drupal entering new markets and going for enterprise business, large companies are getting involved with Drupal. This evolution introduces benefits, but also drawbacks to the Drupal project. In the end, when the market consolidates around 2 or 3 really big CMS'es - as it did with operating systems - Drupal ideally conquers itself a place among those.

DrupalCon schedules a wide variety of sessions. The Krew attended several of those. The new Entity and Property API in Drupal 8 session was presented to the attendees. Core developers Fago and Dixon_ ran a technical overview of the different API’s. The main goals of the revamped API’s are to improve the consistency of the logic, make fields fully translatable, improve the interoperability - which is important since D8 is geared towards services - and introduce standards in the data model and the code. The session draw to a close with a round of Q&A and a call to dig into the issue queue.

The Think like a hacker: Drupal security session taught Krew the finesses of building a website using secure code and best practices. Security is an important factor to think about during the entire development process. While it might present an overhead cost, everybody benefits in the long run since fixing security breaches are way more expensive once a leak has been exploited. During the session, we learned quite a few developer best practices such as using Drupal specific security functions in your code and always validate user input.

Drupal 8 is also going to come with a lot of changes at the theming layer. The Designer friendly theming system in Drupal 8 session explores these changes. Learning how to theme has always been difficult as the system comes with a steep learning curve. Front-end specialists are required to deal with the intricacies of PHP and the Drupal API. With the introduction of Twig, the community hopes to stow away most of that complexity, lowering the bar and aiming for simplicity and consistency. The development of the system is very much a work in progress, just as the Entity API, and the speakers invited everybody to join the code sprints which take place during the conference.

As the day came to a close, all the attendees gathered at the Biergarten am Chinesischer Turm having a great time, enjoying a fresh beer and typical Münicher dishes.

Jul 06 2012
Jul 06

When the Four Kitchens’ team of web chefs develop a new training course, our guiding principle is: Provide a strong return on investment. You invest the time traveling to the training, attending, and afterwards, practicing the skills acquired. You also invest the energy and effort necessary to develop new skills. You place your trust in the trainers to guide you from where you are now to where you need to be. In return, we invest our time, energy, and best effort in creating training experiences that give you a stronger, more relevant, skillset and the confidence you need to apply it.

We also want you and the training to be the right match, building on your current skillset. Before the event, we send a very specific list of required skills, so that you can be certain that the training you purchased is right for you.

To ensure a valuable return on your investment, we develop our trainings with four essentials in mind.

  1. You leave with skills you need. We are interested in many things. The web chefs’ IRC chat room is a steady stream of links and memes. But when it comes to training, we make sure that the skills we teach are the ones you must have as a web professional. We want the skills you develop to increase your value in the marketplace.
  2. Hands-on experience, in class. Seeing is not doing. We know that the only way to develop a skill is to jump in and do it. We provide a safety net. We approach training as an obstacle course designed to build confidence. Instructions are given and then, you tackle the obstacle. We put the smaller obstacles first so that by the end, you are scaling big walls without breaking a sweat.
  3. Subject matter expertise AND training expertise. Many technical training courses fail because the trainers are not subject matter experts or the subject matter experts are not trainers. We develop trainings as a team, combining expertise in the subject with expertise in the art of training. The finished product is an intellectually satisfying, fun, and valuable day with the web chefs.
  4. Enjoyable, cooperative, encouraging. Training is a community experience. We create an environment where trainees can help each other, receive help from us, and participate in every discussion so that the group builds their skills in a cohesive, connected way. We also have a lot of fun.

Our next training is at DrupalCon Munich. Join us for Responsive Websites: Design and Build for All Devices. Also, keep an eye out for more trainings at BadCamp and DrupalCamp Austin.

Do you need personalized training for your team? Contact us for more information about we help teams become Drupal Experts.

May 16 2012
May 16

In this series we focus on building calendars with Drupal. We'll be covering topics such as basic configuration for fields and views, using calendar templates, creating blocks and different ways of displaying the calendar, along with customizing the look and feel.

This video assumes that you understand the basics of content, fields, and Views in Drupal. If you need a refresher on these topics, or want to find out more about using the Date module, here are some other tutorial series to review:

Apr 06 2012
Apr 06

This screencast shows how to:

  • Invoke a Rules event
  • Send parameter data to a Rules event

This is shown by an event triggered every time a view is being rendered, sending the name of the view as a parameter.

Apr 06 2012
Apr 06

This screencast shows how to:

  • Declare a Rules event
  • Declare the data provided by the event
  • Use that data in a rule

The example used creates an event "View is being rendered", passing along information about which view is being used.

Mar 14 2012
Mar 14

March 14th, 2012

Interested in exploring how Drupal might be the right CMS for your organization? The Drupal Business Summit is coming to Vancouver on June 1 at UBC Robson Square and may be the prime event for you to get a closer look at one of the hottest technologies on the web. Come learn how Drupal is being used in various sectors including publishing, media, technology, non-profit, education, social, ecommerce and the enterprize.

Throughout the day we will share examples of Drupal-in-action, lessons learned, and identify best practices. Things will kick off with a continental breakfast followed by presentations from Kieran Lai, Peter Guagenti and Jeff Walpole along with a number on case studies from prominent clients who will deliver inspiring stories of how they’ve been using Drupal to solve real world problems in innovative ways. One of the highlights of the Summits are the break out sessions that allow attendees to connect with individuals who are exploring Drupal in similar verticals. Beyond the learning, there will be lots of opportunities to meet some of the top movers and shakers in the Drupal space while enjoying plenty to eat and drink. And if you didn’t get enough, there’s always more at the wrap up where we complete the day with a social time of free appies and an open bar. The cost for the day is a steal at just $39/person for our Super Early Bird Rate (before April 1).

Should you wish to join us for this memorable day, feel free to register on our Summit site here. You’ll discover how smart investments in the leading open source content platform returns immediate business benefits and also continues to pay dividends for many years to come.

Summit Organizers

Posted In:

Mar 14 2012
Mar 14

Hey, Nice Nodes!We've been DrupalCon participants for a while now, going back to our first participation at DrupalCon Washington DC in 2009. Since then, Drupal's growth and the growth of this event have been exciting to watch, and we're thrilled to have our biggest participation ever in the event this year.

We'll have 13 of our web developers and senior strategists attending. We're a Platinum Sponsor – and perhaps most importantly – we'll be debuting new, freshly minted "Nice Nodes" T-shirts along with "Nice Nodes" stickers.

As Drupal has grown in maturity and capability, it's become a permanent fixture around the web. Over 150 government websites are now using the platform. The developer community is arguably the largest and most active open-source publishing project out there, and Drupal adoption is growing faster than the likes of Joomla and Plone. And I think things are just warming up.

As I look forward to DrupalCon next week, I'm particularly optimistic for Drupal's future because it's a system that isn't just a collaborative publishing and management system. It's a platform that unifies communications, content, and people across enterprises and across the web. I look at the HTML 5, Services, and Mobile Initiatives in the works for Drupal 8, and believe that Drupal is well positioned to keep its leadership position as we move into the mobile, cloud-based world of tomorrow's information systems.

So if you're going to be in Denver next week, please stop by and see us at our booth. And come hear what we're up to with mobile and Drupal during Thursday's "Drupal Means Business Event," where Senior Programmer Aaron Zinck and I will be presenting "Drupal on the Go: 3 Keys to Low-Cost Mobile."

, and we'll save a Nice Nodes t-shirt or sticker sheet for you. See you in Denver!

Feb 22 2012
Feb 22

Perhaps you’ve heard about Jekyll, the simple static site generator that powers Github Pages and a number of other sites including our friends at Development Seed. Jekyll is great because you can write a whole collection of items in Markdown and then easily turn it into a website.

Heykll and Jekyll

A few weeks ago, Steven Merrill and I had the idea to create a presentation in Impress.js using Markdown files for each slide. We enjoyed that Impress.js rivals many of the features of Prezi, but was ultimately just HTML+CSS+JS, which meant that versioning and tweaking the talk could be much simpler than Flash-based Prezi. For my lunch break that day, I dove in. The result is Hekyll, a Jekyll-based presentation generator for Impress.js. Learn more about the process of making Hekyll here.

Drupalcon Denver 2012 is rapidly approaching and Steven and I have been busy getting our slides ready for our Zagat.com Case Study presentation. We’ve been using Hekyll to collaborate and I have to say it’s been absolutely delightful. Our talk is in a hosted Git repository, so we can both be working on separate parts of the presentation simultaneously and, because all of the styling is done in CSS, we can focus on the content first and then make it look great.

Speaking of making it look great, Hekyll has the concept of ‘themes’ built in, which makes it super easy for you to create your own look and feel, or try out a few different ones. Right now, Hekyll only has a fairly basic theme based off the Impress.js demo, but we hope to add a few more simple general designs in the future.

Drupalcon Denver theme for Hekyll

Drupalcon Title Slide, powered by Hekyll

If you’re planning to speak at Drupalcon Denver and you’re interested in Hekyll, I’ve made a Hekyll theme based on the Drupalcon presentation templates, which is available (with installation instructions) on Github here: https://github.com/bmcmurray/drupalcon-denver-2012-hekyll.

I’d love to hear if you decide to use Hekyll for your presentation, and if you’d like to get involved, Steven and I are fairly actively working on feature improvements on Github.

Pages

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web