Aug 28 2012
Aug 28

DrupalCon Munich 2012 was a blast! The whole Drupalize.Me team (myself, Joe, and Kyle) went over to Germany and soaked up the Drupal goodness. I had a very busy con, and want to share some of the great things that came out of it. (I'll try to be brief, but wow there was a lot of good stuff just in my little corner of the con!)

My week started off by being part of Bryan Hirsch's Drupal Ladder presentation, as part of the new steering committee we've set up. In addition to spreading the word and continuing to push the Ladder project forward, it spawned a number of really good conversations about how to get people bootstrapped into helping out with Drupal core. As the new lead for the lessons and ladders, I have a number of tasks on radar. First and foremost, we need to get our existing lessons completed and reviewed. In addition to the main ladder we already have on the site though, we also want to create ladders for each component of Drupal 8, and the initiatives that people are pushing to complete. To that end, I attended several core conversation sessions, and talked with folks about how to best put together these somewhat nebulous ladders. In a late night of chatting and beers, we got Gábor Hojtsy to create an outline for a Multilingual initiative ladder, based on the way that he has been getting volunteers up to speed on his work. We still need to fill this out, but it is a great start to getting a prototype initiative ladder created so we can test it out and get more people rolling. I. Am. Stoked. (If you want to help fill these lessons out, please feel free to dig in by getting an account and posting a comment on a lesson in the ladder.)

On day two of the conference I shifted focus a little and spent time talking about local community, both in the form of meetups and camps. For me, local and regional events are the prime place to really flatten your learning curve, and sorting out how to get more of them happening, successfully, is an important piece of Drupal education. I was on a panel called "To Beer Or Not To Beer? Making meetups work," along with Brock Boland, Karyn Cassio, and Paul Johnson, where there were lots of great ideas from the other panelists, and from the audience. I also attended the Plan and run a Drupal Camp while having fun, empowering others, sharing knowledge, and getting enough sleep* session, and the related BoF right afterwards. That focused on a project underway creating a camp "kit," that would not only provide an easy to set up camp version of Drupal's Conference Organizing Distribution (COD), but also branded promotional material, best practices documentation, and eventually a system that can be added to COD to actually have the camp team organize within the site itself, and a timeline with reminders to keep you on schedule for a successful event. Neat stuff!

On the last day of sessions there was a Birds of a Feather (BoF) called "Drupal Training: Good, Bad & Ugly" where we packed the room, and largely talked about what training resources are missing in the community (biggest hit there was assessments and quizzes), and how we might better share the resources we have. That played right into my "The State of Drupal Community Education" presentation, which was the last session of the con. I ran through my results from trying to sort out what free, community resources we have for learning, and supporting teachers. I generated more questions than answers, and we uncovered some other resources. I'm really hoping that conversation will continue in the Curriculum and Training group on groups.drupal.org. Once I get some time, I'd love to rework the group home page to make things clearer and encourage conversation for working together as teachers and trainers, but please feel free to check out the post we've added (thanks Sharon!) with a quick list of current resources out there and give feedback on others we may have missed.

My week wrapped up with what is arguably my favorite part: the Get Involved with Core sprint. To help out the core mentoring team, Drupalize.Me provided a free workshop on the morning of the sprint to get people eased into the community. Things were pulled together at the last minute but we ran with it (huge thanks to Jess (xjm) and Neil Kent!) and we managed to make a workshop of it. Joe, myself, and Cathy Theys walked about 50 people through the steps of getting started (using the issue queue, IRC, local web server, git, and an installation of Drupal 8), very similar to what I did with Kyle at CapitalCamp last month in Washington, DC. The best part for this workshop though, was that once people got set up with all of their tools there was a room of almost 200 people around them working on core issues that they could dive right into. As a matter of fact, two of the people that were in our workshop worked on an issue that afternoon that was then committed to core live on stage at the sprint by Dries himself. That was pretty amazing! I'm super excited for us to do this workshop again at BADcamp, and we're looking at other camps and cons to show up at as well (let us know if you're interested in us coming to your event to lead a community tools workshop). With our experience in two different scenarios, and more time to plan the logistics, I just can't wait to keep it going. It is one of the most fun workshops I've ever done, and it feels so great to see people really getting their mojo going with Drupal tools and the community.

Of course, in addition to great sessions and hard work, there was just the great time to see friends I hadn't seen in a while, spend the beautiful summer evenings in the beer garden, and re-connect with the wonderful energy of the people in this community. This really was a great DrupalCon, and I'd like to thank everyone involved for making it rock so hard. I feel inspired and excited, and am raring to go on a number of initiatives in the Drupal education space. If you want to know more about any of the things I've covered here, please ask, as I could probably go on for hours about any one of these cool things. I also hope to see you at the next DrupalCamp or DrupalCon to talk face to face, and direct our energy together into making Drupal even better than it already is.

Aug 06 2012
Aug 06

The Drupalize.Me team is excited to be going to Germany in just two weeks, for DrupalCon Munich. DrupalCon is always an amazing event with thousands of Drupalers sharing ideas, having fun, and helping to make Drupal even better, both as software and as a community. For our part, we will be involved in several sessions, as well as doing everything we can to make the sprint day successful by providing free training on community tools. What is a "sprint day" you ask? Well let me explain what's going on and why we're so excited.

DrupalCons have always traditionally had an open space on the last day of the conference for sprinting. Everyone in the community comes together and simply works on tasks to make Drupal better, everything from coding for Drupal core, to writing better documentation, to helping out your favorite module or theme. It is a wonderful way to get plugged in to the community and make an immediate contribution. So many people are available to help guide you and bounce great ideas around. The biggest problem that often happens though, is that there are a lot of people working on lots of different things, and it can be very overwhelming for someone who is new to either the community as a whole, or even just new to the concept of a sprint. Another problem we often see that leads to lower attendance in the first place is that many people don't feel that they have the knowledge or tools to contribute. Everyone can contribute, whether you know how to code or not. Figuring out what you can contribute though is often daunting enough that most people stay away, instead of peeking in the door and seeing all the great fun going on that they could be a part of.

Recently the core mentoring team has been working hard to create better organization around working on core to make the on ramp that much smoother for new people, and give people better direction for how they can help. At the same time there is a new initiative called the Drupal Ladder that has been focusing very narrowly on creating step-by-step guides for people who want to contribute. Our team has been involved with both of these efforts in a number of ways. At CapitalCamp a few weeks ago we wanted to add our help in a new way. We created a new, free, half-day workshop to teach people our community's tools. (You can see the outline and resource links from the workshop.) We wanted to have a very relaxed and guided place for people to not just get exposed to the tools we use and how, but to also provide hands-on help and make sure people really felt comfortable. We had a huge turnout at the camp — more than we anticipated — and it was a blast! It was such a success that we're excited to provide the same training in Munich for the DrupalCon sprint. We're still working out the details of the when/where, but we will definitely update you here on our blog, as well as get the word out at DrupalCon. If you will be in Munich, we hope to see you on sprint day, and we'll be there to help you feel welcome and confident as you jump into the wonderful world of contributing to open source.

Oh! We also have some extra fancy, special, limited-edition sparkly pony stickers, just for DrupalCon Munich. We only printed 1000 of them, and they'll only be available at DrupalCon. Once they're gone, that's it. So, make sure you track down Addi, Kyle, or Joe during the conference to get 'em while you can!

Mar 26 2012
Mar 26

The whole Drupalize.Me team was at DrupalCon this past week, and we certainly had a blast! I spent most of my time chatting with people, and handing out our sparkly pony stickers, so I didn't get to see many sessions. One session that I did go to, though, was the Boston Initiative presentation about the Drupal contribution ladder (Learn Drupal), along with one of their BoFs. It got me really interested about the work going on to get more people up to speed with contributing to the Drupal community. I've spent a number of years doing a lot of community work, and what got me excited about Learn Drupal is the great way this has been developed with the Boston community and the plan that they have for next steps. So many community efforts end up sort of wandering in circles at a certain point, including some of my own past efforts around documentation, so the thought, planning, and organization around Learn Drupal is pretty exciting to me.

The short of the project is that the Boston community spent the last six months or so trying out various ways of creating a step-by-step curriculum, or ladder, for working your way through the steps to becoming a contributor for Drupal core. They have started getting a framework in place to provide a guided plan to becoming a contributor, a web site to pull it all together, and an install profile to give everyone the same tools and Drupal environment while working through the ladder. They also have some ambitious goals. Our current percentage of active users who actually contribute to core is hovering around 0.1%. They want to get that up to a full 1% in 2014. They aren't shooting low. ;-)

One of the things that I think is key to the success of this project so far is that it was a focused group effort, in a relatively limited circle, so they could test things out and see what worked well. With that controlled practice they made some good discoveries that they can now articulate and share with other groups. The immediate goals, to be achieved by DrupalCon Munich in August this year, are to get at least 10 more local user groups regularly having meetups where they work through the ladder, clean up the web site so it is more usable, and to get the install profile up to a 1.0 release.

There is a lot of work to do, but I think this is very achievable and I want to help make it happen. I'm going to be introducing Learn Drupal to the Copenhagen Drupal community in April, and in that process also help them fill out the lessons and make sure we have the material we need for other groups to jump in and get started too. I'll also be hopping in the issue queue to help with the important work of getting the web site and install profile into better shape. They have a lot of good pieces in place, but a lot of it is preliminary and we need more hands on deck to get into a truly usable state. In addition to my personal commitment to helping this project grow, we here at Drupalize.Me will also be dedicating some of our regular working hours to helping out too. Look for new free Community videos that match up with the Learn Drupal lessons on the Drupalize.Me site soon.

I hope to see you in the Learn Drupal issue queue or chatting about your local group's involvement. You can become part of the fun by going to learndrupal.org and creating an account.

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