Reflections DrupalCon Munich
DrupalCon Munich wrapped up one week ago. This was my fourth DrupalCon and a couple of things made it really stand out. So let's reflect back on what makes this such a great conference.
DrupalCon Munich hosted 1800 Drupal enthusiasts, developers and business people spread out over two hotels. Because everyone was concentrated in one location, you had ample opportunity to bump into some like-minded soul during and after conference hours. Another benefit: we didn't lose a lot of time commuting between the venue and our hotel. The sessions and keynotes themselves were excellent. I learned a lot over these past days. Didn't attend this edition? Most sessions were recorded. You can revisit them at the DrupalCon website. Another kudos goes out to the catering. The food was excellent and plenty. The Organizing Committee did an outstanding job. A thorough understanding and experience is required to be able to organize an event of this scale. To me, a successful conference like this is a sign we are maturing as a community.
Wundernauts are great people
I wanted to work for Krimson because they value people, community and knowledge. And of course their projects. So, I was very happy to hear that we have merged with three other Drupal companies just as ambitious, talented and focussed. The new organisation will continue under the name Wunderkraut.
On Monday, the day before DrupalCon, we finally got to meet our new colleagues. Assembling 130 new coworkers from all over Europe is no small feat to pull off. This was an unique opportunity to exchange experiences. We spent the day having open spaces getting to know each other and learning from each other's processes through intensive discussions.
Merging is not easy. But I'm convinced we, Wundernauts have a really big opportunity of working together as a whole and creating a bright future for the company. All companies have Drupal in their DNA. The cultural similarities are striking. That should give us enough of a head start to provide top notch services.
Spreading knowledge to the outside is part of our identity. Now, we can also share knowledge and ideas with our coworkers over the whole of Europe.
Of course, I attended a good deal of sessions. I've compiled the highlights and major themes of this edition.
Drupal 8 Configuration Management
I've spent more time in Drupal Core sessions than any other year. With the upcoming 8 installment of Drupal, there is a lot that's going to change. Drupal is growing up fast and it's becoming a fully functional and flexible framework consisting of a number of new and revamped subsystems. The system I'm really looking forward to is Drupal 8's improved Configuration Management.
The Configuration Management Initiative is geared toward tackling the challenge of pushing configuration between Drupal websites. With configuration we mean that part of the website's functionality which is stored in the database as blobs of settings. The same database which also holds the clients' content. The tight interlocking of configuration and content into the same store makes deploying new features, security updates and fixes a drudgery.
Fixing this problem is important as our projects grow in complexity and we are more meticulous about quality control. The improved Configuration Management Initiative (CMI) makes it easier to develop on one environment, push changes to the acceptance environment so the client can review, to finally end up in the production environment.
This is essential for continuous and faster release cycles. Something we all strive for.
Drupal 8 Web Services
Basically, Drupal will act more like an open system to manage content which can be distributed all over the web. Content isn't confined to a website, but can also be exposed to the users through whole array of applications and devices. Since these new kinds of applications are becoming more commonplace, an efficient content management tool is essential. This means businesses can manage their content in one place for their website, android app or iPad application.
This change requires a radical change in architecture. To accommodate this, the initiative makes use of Symfony components which brings me to my last point.
Drupal is heading a new and better direction with Symfony
Symfony 2 is a fully stacked PHP web framework on one hand, and a set of reusable components on the other. The Drupal community decided to make use of these Symfony 2 components as it was taking on the challenge to take the system to the next level. There are a few good reasons to do this.
First and foremost, we don't want to reinvent the wheel. Rather then solve certain complicated problems again, we'd rather make use of existent sophisticated solutions provided by Symfony instead. This provese to be a huge timesaver.
Second, Symfony 2 components are written in elegant Object Oriented PHP as opposed to the prevalent procedural style of Drupal. This means Drupal is becoming more mainstream and familiar to non Drupal developers which will make it easier to bring new talent in the community. Companies might find it easier to find skilled Drupal developers.
Third, this change also brings new perspective in how code should be written which in turn will increase its' quality.
Fourth, we are not just using Symfony components, we are working together with the Symfony community to make them better and vice versa. This joining forces will strengthen our skills and knowledge.
Fifth, as our projects become bigger and bigger, sometimes they tend to lean more to the application side compared to pure Website Content Management. By using Symfony Components, we are better prepared to use the Symfony tools to tackle those problems. Basically we will have a richer toolset which will benefit certain types of projects.
Lastly, I perceive this as a sign we are maturing and getting wiser as a community and building a more robust product. As developers, we often think we should build everything ourselves. It takes courage to identify and use systems which are already optimized for a given problem set.
That we made such a decision as a community makes me believe we will make more of these wise decisions in the future strengthening our community and making Drupal a stronger product, increasing the value for our customers.
This edition of DrupalCon Munich was a blast. The organisation did a great job and gave everyone an outstanding experience. Of course, for us, we had the extra dimension of becoming Wundernauts and got a unique chance to hook up closely with fellow Drupalistas from all over Europe. Finally, the Drupal project is heading towards a bright future with new, exciting challenges.