Oct 10 2014
Oct 10
teaser image for blog post

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
teaser image for blog post

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.

Jun 01 2014
Jun 01

The community in the North… is quite hospitable and the Camp in the North was fantastic :)

:)


Drupal Camp Yorkshire 2014

Drupal Camp Yorkshire 2014

Back at Drupal Camp London Paul Driver invited me to Drupal Camp Yorkshire to deliver a session at the Camp. Drupal Camp Yorkshire 2014 was the 2nd Camp up in Leeds I am told, but from the experience I had for the short while I was there it could have been the 10th… it was  very well organised camp no doubt and next time round I will have to make sure I juggle my diary to be able to stay for the entire weekend.

Its been 6 or 7 years since I have been up to Leeds, driven past many a times but did not have an excuse to stop over, Drupal Camp is probably up there in the top 5 excuses to stop over or visit… but before I jump into the details I must mention another community who like myself had taken the Saturday off to take part in a very different but essential sort of activism.

2014-05-31 13.46.51

2014-05-31 13.46.51

On the train up to Leeds I met with a couple of ladies heading up from London, volunteers who were much like our own community giving up their Saturdays to give back.

Did’nt quite catch their names but they were activists heading up to Newark to give them folks from UKIP a hard time and to help the community there see UKIP  true ‘far right’  colours. I would like to thank folks like them who keep Britain grounded and heading in the right direction, giving geeks like me and others the ‘space’ to build, focus on and be part of other communities that rely on a certain kind of society to keep looking ahead and progressing in the right direction… probably not as eloquently put as I could.. but I am going to blame the beautiful sunny Sunday that it is right now!

Ok, back on topic, My session was on ‘Practical’ Agile product development and you can watch the video below to understand what I mean by that.

[embedded content] You can view/download the slides from Slideshare.com.

Lastly I must mention the venue, Electric Press at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds was by far the most picturesque of Drupal Camp venues I have have been to so far, over looking the Millenium square which given the weather was bursting with life and an open air concert set the scene up for a community event quite well.

Excellent job done by the organisers, a huge thank you to everyone who attended my session and apologies to a few friends I could not see or spend time with… for I dashed in and dashed out but will make it up to them at the next Camp or at the Con in Dam.

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”
Rollo May

Dec 05 2013
Dec 05

November was huge for the Open Source community in Middle Earth, Those who attended Drupal Camp Karachi on 2nd November and Dubai on the 30th of November 2013 made history. I shall get to Karachi later, this post is about Dubai Camp, challenges of organising it and the outcome of the journey that started in June 2013.

BaY96-QIQAAQ_I3

BaY96-QIQAAQ_I3

As organisers our focus was both quality and quantity of course; share best practises, tools and knowledge with as many as possible! though we did not get the quantity, 80+ were invited 55 were expected and the campers peaked at lunch with a turn out of 45… and for the last session and closing we had 20.

Organising Dubai camp was a challenge for the organising committee… though committee sounds grand! there was me, Ahmed Koshok and Massoud Al-Shareef, with two regionals on board you might expect things to be easier but with no boots on the ground mobilisation of the community, securing the venue, putting the logistics in place was always going to be a challenge! but planning for it made it that tad bit easier.

DCAE_Email_Volume_2013

DCAE_Email_Volume_2013

At first there was just me (and making very slow progress), then Ahmed came on board and both of us dragged the vision of Dubai camp a fair distance but nowhere close to the starting line… then in Massoud we found a regional champion and a reliable network on the ground to go through the red tape… that was Hani Hejazi; and securing the venue was Hani’s feat. From start to finish organising Dubai camp took 6 months!

DCAE_pic_4_2013

DCAE_pic_4_2013

DC Dubai had a strong contingent of local/regional Drupal rockstars in attendance and that was the magic sauce in Dubai camp, from a total of 16 speakers/trainers we had 9 local/regional speakers/trainers and that was a coup for any first camp I have attended or been a part of in Middle Earth.

At Dubai camp there were many firsts! the faculty was not just curious but participatory and super supportive, Professor Jassim Jirjees the program director for MLIS was in attendance and his staff ensured everything ran like clockwork!

To top it all Professor Muthanna G. Abdul Razzaq the president of AUE announced a full scholarship for anyone applying from within the Drupal community… we shall get the details for application, prerequisites etc and post them on our Facebook page.

A super supportive and involved institution, local rockstars in attendance, informed and engaging speakers, an awesome regional community to network with and a tasty lunch… made it epic.

From Ahmed Koshok, Massoud Al-Shareef and me a huge thank you shoutout to:

And I would not have been able to co-organise Dubai Camp had it not been for Ahmed Koshok, Massoud Al-Shareef, Jihan Al-Shareef, Hani Hijazi  and Marwa Ezzat – we made an awesome team folks! thank you and lets get going for the next one!

For session slides please follow the DrupalCamp Dubai twitter account and we shall be releasing the slides as and when we receive them from the speakers, a few are already up on Twitter.

Looking forward to hearing about meet-ups in KSA, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and beyond!

Oct 27 2013
Oct 27

Drupal

Drupal

There were four drupal camps  for 2013 on my radar… three firsts in Lahore, Karachi, Dubai and Islamabad’s second camp, and as with most plans.. things got skewed after Lahore!

Back in March at Drupal Camp Lahore we had the unpleasant experience of an individual announce himself as a contender for  ‘douche of the community’ award!  spewing out bigoted, racist opinions about fellow community members  from Bangalore whilst we had the Bangalore community with us over Skype…  you can read the details here. Unfortunately that was not the last we heard from the ‘Douche’, instead of apologising and seeing the errors of his ways the ‘Douche’ having been taken to task by several members of the local community announced his own camps in Karachi and Dubai soon after, with dates to coincide to those organised by ourselves. So we called it a day in the summer and postponed Drupal Camp Karachi to November and Dubai thereafter. Yes… I am venting, am a little annoyed for there has been malice at work from the very start to sabotage the efforts to nurture a single cohesive community in Middle Earth.

Being the first in Karachi or Dubai was not the objective, doing it right was and remains! now on to the upside! Having my summer schedule blown wide open was great! I spent August in the high Atlas in Maroc, summited Tizi Agouri and M’Goun and came back rested and with fire in’me belly for the fall camps! 

DrupalCon_Prague_Logo_2013

DrupalCon_Prague_Logo_2013

September was Drupal Camp Belgium in Leuven and then of course the highlight of all things OS for the year DrupalCon Prague and catching up with friends from all over the rock and making some awesome new ones!

October has been a month of careful planning and absolute frenzy! all good though.

DCPKHI_Logo

DCPKHI_Logo

For Drupal Camp Karachi  the local organising committee and I roped in [email protected] and together they have worked tirelessly to ensure Karachi camp would be worthy of  Karachi’s Drupal Community and the awesome city Karachi is (the economic hub of Pakistan and the third most populated city proper on the rock). The venue is the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), folks at IBA jumped on board with epic enthusiasm from the get go! Karachi camp has a little under 400 delegates registered, 13 speakers from 11 different countries! Karachiites have been awesome! and the credit goes to [email protected] and the local organising committee. I have no doubt Karachi Camp will be epic in proper Karachi style.. on the 2nd of November 2013.

With Karachi sorted, well almost sorted it was time to turn my attention to Dubai, and little surprise the Douche was all over D.O with a Drupal camp in Dubai and had it been properly executed I would have conceded that my job has been done and any further efforts to that end redundant, but that was hardly the case. So Ahmed from Acquia and I ignored the meetup dressed up as a camp and ploughed ahead with Drupal Camp Dubai.

facebook_page

facebook_page

Once again the credit goes to local community members Massoud Al-Shareef, Hani Hejazi, Marwa Ezzat from KnowledgeWARE Technologies who have been epic! with neither Ahmed or me on the ground in Dubai the team from  KnowledgeWARE came to our aid and stepped in where we physically could not! thank you for making it happen! Drupal Camp Dubai is scheduled for the 9th of November at the American University in the Emirates with a strong contingent of local Drupal rockstars and international speakers!

Stay tuned…

Oct 03 2013
Oct 03

DrupalCon_Prague_Logo_2013

DrupalCon_Prague_Logo_2013

Coming up to a week  since DrupalCon Prague, caught up with my girls, emails, calls, follow ups and all else… time to reflect.

I stand by my verdict of the 26th of Sept: @drupalcon #Prague No #Munich but No #Croydon either but an informative fun week. That is to some annoyance of a few fellow community members and possibly some folks at DA… folks there was and is no offence intended, someone has to lay it out as it is and I did share the feedback in person with DA and not just tweeted it on my way to the airport HA!

The host city was awesome, the venue was well their congress centre (the best they had to offer I suppose) but the connectivity there sucked! the food though not that important could have been much better, the sessions that I have been catching up on line were good though more diversity is key for the future… representation across the continents please! BoFs were super useful no doubt and some of the SWAG was nice, some just awesome – Acquia and Deeson win the SWAG award!

DrupalCon_Prague_201325 11.51.49

DrupalCon_Prague_201325 11.51.49

Having said all of that the most awesome thing about DrupalCon Prague was the connectedness! on that note Prague won hands down! out did Munich too!

I am going to be at DrupalCon Austin which will be my first DrupalCon across the pond and knowing how conferences go over the Atlantic am sure it will be mind blowing and if not you will hear about it in person. As for DrupalCon Amsterdam… it can be nothing short of epic! but then most peeps who have been to the Netherlands would say that!

It was great seeing old friends and making new ones and looking forward to the next Cons and upcoming Camps across the third rock.

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!

Mar 31 2013
Mar 31

Am back in Islamabad after two very long and tiring days to Lahore and a full on Camp!  details to follow, this is abridged version for the experience!

Drupal Cam Pakistan in Lahore was a strange affair, all in all a great experience, met all my objectives of promoting Drupal and the power of OS in creating jobs, opportunities and prosperity… introduced Drupal to a small army of students,  but could not quite understand the industry representatives in Lahore! of the 60 odd registered from Industry only 20 odd showed up… total count on the day was about 70+ of which the majority were students – which was great but would have been better for the industry to turn up to network and guide the local student population!

Stranger still was discovering that a perfectly normal Drupaler I know in the community in Pakistan turned out to be a bigoted, racist ignoramus! not so nice known ya fella’

We linked up with the Drupal Community in Bangalore and this guy went off on a nationalistic ignorant rant with them on Skype! of course I used my 6’3 110kg mass to push him aside and apologised for giving the podium to a bigot!

Any hoo… the Camp was great, we trained 41 newbies in Hello Drupal and expect the vast majority to keep at it… we linked up with the Faculty lead on relations with industry and convinced Bilal Arshad from UCP to introduce Drupal in their end of year projects for students.

The next camping trip for Drupal Camp Pakistan is in August to Karachi and then I am off Camping in Dubai to build links with the community in the GCC region…

As for right now… am off to host the inaugural 9others meal in Islamabad… more on that later.

Mar 29 2013
Mar 29

An evangelist’s log: Star date – 28th March

Drupal Camp

0730 –  landed in Islamabad, 30 minutes in the immigration queue, walked to the carousel and my luggage is right there! out by 0815 – has to be a new record flying coach! Straight to the Crane’s nest, up since 0700 the day before, Bialetti on the stove, quadruple espresso and the world starts making sense again!

0930 am informed by one of our crane also a trainer for DrupalCamp that there has been a slight oversight on his part for the 30th March camp… it also happens to be the day his sister-in-law is getting married! in all the excitement of the Camp it slipped his mind that his attendance at the wedding is not optional! a key crane has to be excused, but an ex-crane steps in to save the session!

0940ish Asif our network ninja informs me that the net speed in Pakistan is not running at its best because of a damaged submarine cable! but the powers that be are working around the clock (somewhere under the Suez canal) on fixing it asap! I get online, start streaming off Vimeo and yes the speed sucks!

1000ish Fida our organiser supremo informs me that Campus at University of Central Punjab has a fantastic mega fat pipe line… the submarine cable damages comes to mind!

1200ish Atta sends me an article from the Guardian – Cyberbunker is kicking Spamhaus’s behind and the end users are paying for it with reduced speed! the Rock’s largest DNS attack is in play! and the net speed in Blighty is suffering! a three word expression come to mind!

But it would be no other way, the camp is going to Lahore home to the not so famous Lollywood, where the action movies would send Action Jackson cowering; featuring horses and Drupal Campriders who can cover great distances in a flash… from Times Square NYC to Lahore Central in less time than it takes for a villain to pull off the distressed damsels veil, XXXL heroines doing Shakira numbers and heroes who would scare the pants of Jet Lee, guns that never need reloading, heroes who can spill more Red than the Red sea and still manage dialogues and live to fight another few dozen baddies in the next 30 seconds, actors with phenomenal stamina to shout out dialogues over 2+ hours!… and directors who evidently compete on how absurd a movie they can make!

There has to be drama involved! this is LAHORE not Sparta!

#Drupal #DrupalCamp #EmergingTechnologies

Aug 31 2010
Aug 31

With Drupalcon Copenhagen now behind us and Drupalcon Chicago approaching, I've found myself thinking about what Drupalcon is and how it's changing.

My first Drupalcon was in Barcelona, I was lucky enough to get to tag along with the guys from Bryght. I had an absolutely amazing time and met dozens of people, many of whom are now quite close friends. To top it off I also met my now fiancee and a future boss (no longer my boss, but still a good friend).

Since then, the twice yearly Drupalcons have consistently been highlights in my year. It's often the only time I get to see many of my friends in person.

Drupalcon is not a conference. At least not in the traditional sense. It's a time where some of the smartest people in the community get together, work on code, figure out problems, and teach each other what they know. It differs from a traditional conference in that there are no paid speakers and it doesn't come with a $2000+ price tag. In addition almost everyone attending is also a participant, whether they're there to hack code, present, contribute to BoF's, etc., everyone at Drupalcon makes it what it is.

Or I should say Drupalcon was that.

Since the first Drupalcon in Antwerp (correct me if I'm wrong), the number of people in attendance has almost consistently doubled every time. With 3000+ people at DCSF and a planned 4000+ attending Drupalcon Chicago, maintaining the personal feel that Drupalcons have traditionally had is simply no longer sustainable and I don't believe possible.

A few of the signs that lead me to believe this are:
* One of the stated goals of DC Chicago in the opening keynote at Copenhagen was to make it the "biggest" Drupalcon ever. I recall in Barcelona the goal was "Best Drupalcon Ever!". Biggest is still a great goal, but it doesn't say anything of the quality of the con, nor if people will enjoy it or not.

* At the end of each conference, traditionally the final keynote includes a slideshow of flickr photos from the conference. This to me is a reminder that the conference was about the attendees. It's an important reminder that the conference isn't so much about the sessions and learning, as it is about the experience of having everyone there in one place at one time. This was absent from this years closing keynote. In fact, this years closing keynote seemed more like the season finale of a reality TV show, than the closing keynote of a Drupalcon.

* DC Chicago will select a set of more "well known" speakers prior to opening up the session proposals and voting to the public. While this is actually quite beneficial to people who need to convince their companies to let them attend it is a big change (possibly the biggest in my eyes) to the way Drupalcons are traditionally a bit more open for anyone in the community to present their ideas. I see this ultimately heading down the road of having the conference organizers select all the speakers, and possibly even moving to the paid speaker and expensive conference price tag model. When the vast majority of the attendees shifts from Drupal contributors to people trying to learn what Drupal is and how it can fit into their company, this is really only natural.

* Lastly, Drupalcons are now being planned multiple years in advance. This is quite different from the planning that normally occurs one Drupalcon in advance.

None of these changes are necessarily bad things, they're just a sign that times are changing.

For me personally, I think Drupalcon will soon no longer be something I look forward to and anticipate, but instead something I go to out of obligation for the work I do.

This doesn't mean I'm not still super excited about the community and new things that are happening in Drupal, but instead that it's time to redirect my energy elsewhere. I think the stuff I'm really gonna be excited about in the future will be the local Drupal camps, and things like the upcoming PNW Drupal Summit (which unfortunately I'll be missing :( ). Also, I think there will be some very cool community stuff happening in new areas with Drupalcon like conferences happening in Asia, South America, and Africa.

The most important aspect of Drupal is the community. It's sad to think that Drupalcons are leaving that behind a bit, but I also don't think there's any other way it can go.

With that said, I had an amazing time in Copenhagen. There were a few issues (as there always are) but overall the conference organizers did a great job putting it together and I thought the sessions had a very good balance from intro to advanced. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone in Chicago :).

Aug 29 2010
Aug 29

DrupalCon Copenhagen comes to an end, as does my blogging hiatus.

Two of my primary learning objectives here in Copenhagen were configuration management and deployment process. Historically, working with Drupal in these areas has been unpleasant, and I think that's why there is tons of innovation going on in that space right now. It needs to be fixed, and new companies are springing up to say "hey, we fixed it." Often, the people running the companies are the same people running the project that encapsulates the underlying technologies. I'm referring to:

  • The hyper-performant core distro, Pressflow
  • Distros with sophisticated install profiles, like OpenAtrium, ManagingNews and OpenPublish
  • Configuration externalization with Features
  • Development Seed's "for every site, a makefile" workflow using drush make
  • The different-yet-overlapping hosting platforms Pantheon and Aegir

Dries commented in his keynote that as Drupal continues to grow, it also needs to grow up. I think advances like these are part of the community's answer to that. I want to wrap my head around some of these tools, while continuing to watch how they progress. Others, I want to implement right now. What's perfectly clear though is that I have a lot of work to do to keep up with the innovation going on in this hugely powerful community. Which is actually nothing new, but reading a blog post about these technologies doesn't make my jaw drop the way that it does when I'm in the room watching Drupal advance.

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