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Oct 10 2014
Oct 10
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I'm Andy, a developer at Ixis and having just settled back in after my first DrupalCon I thought I’d wrap up my thoughts after attending the annual European conference for the first time.

Initially - wow - DrupalCon is big! I’ve only been to some smaller PHP conferences so to see over 2000 people in one place was quite something. What struck me was how well it was organised - everything was on time with very few technical hiccups. I found the number of sessions quite overwhelming - there was so much to choose from, so having the videos of the sessions online with in an hour or so after it finished was really helpful. I’m still ploughing through the ones I’m interested in.

Just a quick note on my favourite session: "Field API is dead. Long live Entity Field API!". It looks like the Field API has really grown up and using some solid OO practices. I think it solves a lot of Drupal-isms developers have had to work with in the past - this session seemed really well received with lots of applause. I really am excited about working with Drupal 8.

It was also the first time for Peter our project manager:

Still under the thousands of impressions what I've received during Drupal con :-) The event was absolutely magnificent, meaningful and enjoyable at the same time. The organisers appeared very keen to provide a high level of technical, catering and professionalism to the event.

What I especially enjoyed was that I could meet the faces of the Drupal community: developers, project managers, company owners, freelancers, people who are working on small to large scale projects. The diversity of the community was amazing. The socials which were organised besides the main event were great as well. I think the greatest challenge on the event was to find enough time to sleep and rest.

I had a number of favourite sessions and it's hard to pick just one, so try to my best and pick two:

How to sell Agile - Vesa Palmu  has really good entertainment skills. It was a well built presentation about Agile's advantages, pitfalls and some honest advice about the limitation of the methods.   

Part 2: Train Wrecks & Ugly Baby Client Meetings - Susan Rust's presentation was more like a discussion about everyday challenges of a project manager, rather then a real presentation, but definitely useful.

So altogether if you haven't been to a DrupalCon we have to tell you it was worth it. Consider next year's European one in Barcelona.

Sep 05 2014
Sep 05
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With the 2014 European Drupal conference fast approaching, the Ixis team members attending this year have scoured the schedule for their must see see sessions this year, and why.

For the Developers

Content Staging in Drupal 8 (Wednesday 10:45) - moving content about from dev to production has always been a huge pain in Drupal, so hopefully we'll get a chance to see how this might work in Drupal 8 and finally put an end to the question of when and where the client should start adding their conent during the development phase.

Drupal's PHP Component Future (Wednesday 14:15) - we're already using and developing modules for our work with Codeception, so we would benefit from learning how this might apply to Drupal 8, or even 9.

A Decoupled Drupal with Silex (Thursday 14:15) - decoupling Drupal from the front end has been a topic for a few years now. Learn from others who have jumped on early and ironed out the development problems. Relevant to Drupal 7and 8.

Drupal 8 CMI on Managed Workflow (Wednesday 13:00) - as projects get more complex the pain of the Features module becomes well known, CMI holds much hope for the future of automated repeatable builds.

Future-Proof your Drupal 7 site (Wednesday 14:15) - Until Drupal 8 is out and under some real world use we can ensure our Drupal 7 development choices make the upgrade path less painful. We'll see what's in Drupal 8 and how that maps back to the available Drupal 7 modules that are currenly available.

Twig and the new Drupal 8 Theme System (Tuesday 10:45) as we all know Drupal 8 will be using a new theme system called Twig. This session should provide an insight into what to expect from a support point of view.

For Business Owners / Project Managers

Project Train Wrecks (Wednesday 14:15) promises to be an insight from other agencies on the problems faced and solutions to keep projects running smoothly.

The Myth of the Meerkat: Organising Self-Organising Teams (Tuesday 13:00) finding the balance between processes and control when working on a project as a team in order to get things done. Leaving everybody to get on with it rarely works.

There's plenty more to attend during the week to keep everybodies minds happy - the countdown to September 29th begins, and tickets are still available at the slightly discounted rate until September 16th.

Aug 08 2013
Aug 08
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With some seasoned and new members of the Ixis team attending Drupalcon in Prague this coming September we wanted to share our suggestions on essential sessions to attend from our teams point of view.

Matt P in our support team has been working with Drupal 6 & 7 for the past year and feels brushing up on what's coming in Drupal 8 for a site builder will be helpful as a primer when existing clients are begining to plan their site upgrades.

Also in our support team Adam T is keen to begin contributing back to the project so the session on becoming a contributor to the Drupal project looks like a good kickstarter coupled with the introduction to Your First Drupal 8 Module.

For the developers Paul B thoroughly recommends Alex Pott's talk about Not Invented Here a Drupal 8 Story which he previously saw at Drupal Dev Days Dublin. For those seasoned Drupal "developers" moving to Symfony and a more OO Drupal 8 framework will hopefully benefit from the Don't be Stupid Grasp Solid introduction to OOP talk.

In our DevOps team Michael A picked out some sessions around the current hot topic of containers with the Docker and Vagrant session by Acquia's Senior Cloud Systems Engineer Ricardo. We're looking forward to seeing where it goes when it eventually becomes production ready.

Designing Distributed Systems from CommerceGuys CTO looks to provide a good understanding the hard problems at play in distributed systems.

For myself there's so much variety on offer - from undestanding and making sure Ixis will be ready for Drupal 8 next year through to learning from others on how to ensure doing Support is a Blast for the team looking after our clients.

If it's all getting a bit much for your brain then we can definetly recommended the light hearted look at the history of Drupal Blocks which got a lot of great feedback at DrupalDevDays Dublin earlier in the summer.

If you've not yet decided on attending Drupalcon Prague then there's still time to grab a ticket. We'll hopefully see some of you there in September!

May 06 2013
May 06

We have mentioned before that both Pressflow 6.x and Drupal 7.x (but not core Drupal 6.x), disable page caching when a session is created for an anonymous user.

An extreme case of this happened recently, because of a perfect storm.


The client sends a newsletter to site users, be they who have accounts on the site, or others who just entered their email to get the newsletter.

After a recent code change, when a newsletter was sent, suddenly, we found saw a very high load average, very high CPU usage, and because we plot the number of logged in and anonymous users too, we found around 800 anonymous users on the site, in addition to the peak of 400 logged in users!

Since this is Pressflow, anonymous users are mostly served by Varnish, and they are not supposed to have sessions.


So, we started to investigate those anonymous sessions in the database, in the sessions table.

Indeed, there are lots of anonymous sessions.

FROM sessions 
WHERE uid = 0;
| count(*) |
|     6664 |

And upon closer investigation, most of those sessions had a message in them saying "Comment field is requried".

FROM sessions 
WHERE uid = 0 
AND session LIKE '%Comment field is required%';
| count(*) |
|     5176 |

And just to compare the day the newsletter was sent to other days, we confirmed that indeed, that day had many multiples of any other day in terms of sessions.

In fact, more than 5X the highest day prior, and up to 55X higher than more typical days.

FROM sessions 
WHERE uid = 0 
GROUP BY date;

| date       | count(*) |
| .......... |       .. |
| 2013-04-19 |       55 |
| 2013-04-20 |       81 |
| 2013-04-21 |       66 |
| 2013-04-22 |      115 |
| 2013-04-23 |       99 |
| 2013-04-24 |      848 |
| 2013-04-25 |       72 |
| 2013-04-26 |     4524 |
| .......... |       .. |

Graphs show the magnitude of the problem

Look at the graphs, to the very right of each one, after Friday noon.

You can see how the load shot up after the newsletter was sent:

The number of anonymous sessions shot up from only a handful to around 800!

The number of logged in users had a spike to 400, up from the 300 or above.

The number of SQL queries also shot up.

And so did the MySQL threads too.

And the CPU usage was very high, with the server trying to serve around 1200 users with no caching for them.

Root Cause Analysis

So, it turns out that the recent code change was done to encourage more people to sign up for an account on the site. This form alters the comment form and adds extra fields to prod the visitor to register for an account, including the email address. Another form above the node also captures the email address.

If people clicked on the button to add their email, Pressflow complained about the missing comment field. And since any message, be it for a logged in users or an anonymous one, is stored in a session, all users who tried to register for an account were treated as logged in users in that they bypass the page cache for Pressflow. This effectively tripled the number of logged in users (from 400 to 1200), who all have to execute PHP and MySQL queries and not being served from Varnish.

Hence the high load and high CPU usage.


The fix was to revoke the post comment permission for anonymous users, and therefore, remove the comment form from the bottom of every node.

After that, the newsletter was sent without increasing the load the server at all.

Although this problem was on Pressflow 6.x, it should apply to Drupal 7.x as well, since it also disables sessions for anonymous users.

Apr 05 2013
Apr 05

No votes yet

Florida Drupal DiverWe're trying something new this year at Florida DrupalCamp 2013 (Saturday, April 20 - tickets on sale now for just $25) and we're looking for some (financial) help to get it done.

We'd like to be able to record all sessions and post them online for the entire Drupal community. In order to do so effectively, we've decided to hire Davram Tech (contact me if you'd like to be put in touch with them) to take care of it for us. Utzu from Davram Tech has agreed to travel to our camp, record all the sessions, and upload them to a video hosting site of our choice. The interesting thing about it is that it is going to provide a valuable new sponsorship opportunity for our camp. The sponsorship of a session video will allow the sponsor to add branding to the start and finish of the video - as long as it remains online. This type of ongoing branding is surely worth much more than we're charging for it (more on that later).

Of course, hiring an organization to do all the work of recording sessions isn't free. In our case, it works out to about $150 per session. We raised a good deal of money from our amazing sponsors, but not quite enough to have full coverage of all sessions. So, we decided that, at a minimum, we're going to record 20 sessions. These 20 sessions will be sponsored by our existing Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsors. The remaining 16 (or so) session are officially up-for-grabs. We're looking for some additional sponsors to pony up $150 for each session video they'd like to sponsor. Interested? Let me know.

Here's the way it works: we're letting our current sponsors pick the sessions they'd like to sponsor. After that, it's first-come, first-serve. Want to get your organizations name permanently attached to a #fldc13 session video? Let me know.

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Oct 02 2012
Oct 02

Berkeley + Early November = BADCamp.

I'm a big fan of camps - I have helped organize quite a few in Colorado. They help cement local communities. With the cross pollination of camp goers, they provide ways for those communities to interact with one another. Many of the camps have become conferences in their own right - with BADCamp being one of the largest.

Trellon is a core sponsor this year. Our hope is to lead a few sessions this year. We could use your votes!

    Do you often think about making your mobile Drupal website friendly for smartphones? Or have you already started to build a Drupal mobile application using MAG (Mobile App Generator) module and PhoneGap? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you should attend this session!
    This session will present 8 things you can do with CRM Core to manage contact relationships and accelerate your site development. We will also focus on ways you can extend it to handle use-cases specific to your business needs.
    Project management requires a blend of techniques and tools to effectively shepherd projects from ideation to release. We'll explore and discuss different tools and methodologies that can help make your project successful.

These presentations were shared in Munich. The presentation on the agile process was also one of the keynotes at last year's Drupalcamp Austin and was updated and presented in Denver.

Vote for the Trellon sessions and then come learn about the interesting things the team has been up to!

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May 12 2012
May 12

Apparently my reputation is not as bad as i have feared!
After presenting & speaking at a bunch of drupal events over the last couple of years i have earned some kinda reputation -why im now starting my session in the prude states with a formal "im sorry but im gonna curse as a sailor" slide. I have been at a a couple of events in sweden, where I really haven't hold anything back in the teasing : Comparing Drupals Markup to the Wasa ship was maybe a highlight of that (if we do an insult you need to make it count)

Now the swedes invited me back again! This time to sweden 2. Largest city Gothenburg and they even put me up first as the "keynote speaker" for the Drupalcamp Sweden - look at me all fancy keynote speaker


I gave a shorter version of the HTML4S talk i did at Drupalcon Denver, and its evolving a bit - which is always nice - im very excited for the shift we have now from xhtml(4) to HTML5 and it really gives us in the Drupal world a chance to sit down and look at what were doing & make it better for the future instead of what i think we have been doing for years: looking back at what was the hot shit & tried to mash that into the frontend. I was a (tiny bit) worried that people really didnt gave a rats ass about markup & future thinking in the frontend. But it really seemed like they enjoyd it (well they clapped at the end & laughed at the right time so i think i succeded)

[embedded content]

Gothenburg HTML4s slides

mothership live demo

I also got a chance to do a quick presentation of the Mothership Theme which i did completely unprepared (during to all kinds of other crap) but now that people are beginning to use it and ask for it. I better get to do some prober documentation.

[embedded content]

calling dr. love

As usual i didnt really see anything else at the camp. was standing in the hallway talking crap & making way to much noise (sorry) and now i aparently have a role in the community as a match maker

A highlight for me was when i was asked if i could find a couple of ux'ers to help out with configuration management.
Aparently my loud voice can be used for something good and a little part of the whole Frontend United concept that im pushing is to build a base for anybody that builds in the Frontend (no matter if its design, ux, ui markup whatever all the visual stuff)
I dont know if i was Rude by calling directly after some "volunteers" from the stage - but to be honest dosnt really care, if this was a little step to get more ux'er into core development and not beeing crushed under the issuequee im very happy to provide that match making.

So ladies & fellas come to the Doctor of Love, and lets make some hot steaming cms rocking ;)

All the sessions can be watched here

The camp seemed well organised (as it always is in sweden) it was kinda funny though that it seemed like it was only people from the western part of sweden that was there -seemed like the geeks from stockholm had a hard time finding all the way over to the west side ;)

Im looking forward to next time (if im invited) then Sweden will be rocked, and hope to build more bridges up north.
oooh and not to forget the epic gay beer we ended up at & generally good feeling that was around the whole swedish community

thanx Adam & Amy for getting me up there!
I hope they invite me back someday ;)

Feb 08 2011
Feb 08

I made it down to the european Drupal Developer Days in Brussels, and were lucky enough that they accepted my speak, even that Im not real a developer.
As i promised in Brussels I would make a post outta this this + a link to the slides, and add some more background. Thanx for not throwing rocks after me during the session

Scratch your own itch

My big itch with drupal since day one (drupal 4.7) have been that drupal adds markup and css by The truckloads, it never seemed like the developers really minded, about this little detail. "dude it works"

Dont Think its out of pure devloper evil but simply by having another focus, after all gettig the functions & site to work is a bit higher up the list than satisfieng a capucino drinking smartass designer-themer-whatever
The answer always been "dude you can overwrite it"

This have resolved in themers and designers using obsene amount of time looking through sourcecode ( thanx firebug) to figure out where a css class could be overwritten, not to mention the hours of trying to change the markup somewhere wrapped deep down inside of 43 divs. the sad reality have also been that by overwriting some css elements, or removing classes or markup could actually break modules (my mothership did that with views ajax pagination, actually I was a bit proud when that happend ;))

Drupal7 is heaven

Now in drupal 7 theres been taken giant leaps forward, thanx to both developers & themers and designers.

One of the thing im most excited about (besides the 6000 theme preprocess calls and hooks) is the way that modules should declare its css files, So the drupal dev days brussels seemed to be a perfect spot to indoctrinate the european drupal developers about this new namescheme.
If theres one thing i really learned during my now soon to be 5 years with drupal is that theres a huge difference in the way that we look at the website (and the world) and that the rest of the world really dont gets the diffence between frontend and backend "its just a website", so hopefully by adding that little story into my slides i also managed to break some barriers, and explain what it is that makes us speak diffent dialects of geek, and why we not always understand eachother.

If you dont really care about all that and just wants the 10 seconds talk, here it is:

  1. Dont add crap to the frontend
  2. name you css files by what they do (modulen.admin.css, module.base.css & module.theme.css)
  3. Dont add crap! - its the themes job to make it look & feel its the modules job to make it work.

Heres the slides on slideshare (I even made it to be the featuredslides of the day)
Hopefully this will be yet another step to change the way that we develop sites in drupal forever(!)
If you wanna dig deeper down then read these to post from Jacine Luisi

    The Brussels Dev Days

    oh and did drupal developer days brussels kick ass? bet ya!
    It was as always great to meat discuss & talk drupal with people in and around the community.

    I made swentel blush, with my love for display suite & got around to talk alot from drupalappstore to surviving as a freelancer + everything in the middle + html5 and hopefully made a ton of new

    I was very amused by the amount of geeks that didn't understood that danish developer Tinef wasn't someones girlfriend . just because she wear high heals apparently she didn't looked like a developer ;) Dudes accept it Drupal is so hot & big now, that we are attracting everything from high badass heels to people wearing long leather jackets and carry swords on their backs (or was that only the ones that studied old medieval german literature - oooh details forgotten in the liters of belgian beers)

    a huge thanx to the whole team behind the Drupal Dev days in Brussels!
    Im looking much forward to comming next time, where ever its' gonna be in europe, and preach about the wonders of design for developers ;)

    Dec 02 2008
    Dec 02

    The Workhabit blog is chock full of updates to our products, videos from our crew, and discussion about our design, development, events, business strategies, and observations.

    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
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