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Mar 10 2009
Mar 10

created on Tue, 2009-03-10 12:58

Today is my first day back at Raincity after DrupalCon DC and I think so far I haven't done a great job of verbally communicating to my colleagues who didn't attend what the conference was like, what I personally enjoyed most about it, what new stuff I learned, etc. so here's a more organised version of my thoughts about the conference.

I got so much out of DrupalCon DC 2009 - there were great talks, great parties, great people. The main presentation highlights for me were:

  • The session by Chapter Three's Josh Koenig on handling asynchronous data in Drupal. It began with a basic demonstration of how ajax is done in Drupal, the use of Drupal.behaviors, making sure your ajax degrades gracefully without JavaScript, etc., after which he asked the question "Who thinks this is totally remedial and boring?" and a handful of people put their hands up. Now, the room was pretty packed, so I think less than 10% found it remedial or boring. For me, though I didn't put my hand up (because I'm never bored when someone's talking about ajax), I was glad that Josh nonetheless moved on to talk about some more advanced aspects of the use of ajax that I had little experience with yet, in particular the challenge of building truly scalable ajax applications. He talked us through the problems they had come up against when building a live chat system and some of the solutions they looked at before deciding on using Memcached, the distributed memory caching system. He also discussed security considerations with ajax such as the ability of someone who knows the path to an ajax callback to access that path directly and e.g. make an unsuspecting visitor to their site cause a vote count to be incremented (as was subsequently demonstrated in one of the security talks).
  • The talk on building reusable features in Drupal by Ian Ward, Robert Soden and Young Hahn from Development Seed. I had heard about their Context and Spaces modules before but hadn't taken the time to look into them and so when they were discussed during this talk and subsequently explained in detail in the BoF session later that day, I was pretty blown away by them. The talk itself focused on the more general issue of leveraging the exportability of things like Views, Panels and Imagecache presets, and scripting the non-exportable elements such as CCK and taxonomy, to build fully fleshed out features that can be reused across multiple client sites simply by installing and enabling them.
  • Konstantin Kaefer's talk, What's New in Web Development held some fascinating insights into the new amazing features of HTML 5 and CSS 3 and his other talk on building JavaScript widgets was also excellent - Konstantin is always right at the cutting edge of front-end web technologies. I was just disappointed that the JavaScript talk wasn't longer as it was only a 30 minute session.
  • Sascha Chua's 25 Tips for Totally Rocking Your Drupal Development Environment. Wow. What an awesome speaker with an awesome mind and a truly engaging way of sharing her knowledge of development best practices. Lots of gems in there.

A huge highlight of the conference in general for me was the opportunity finally to meet my Quick Tabs co-maintainer, Pasqualle, face to face. This made the codesprint on Saturday an extremely productive day as the two of us spent time going through the issue queue and figuring out what we need to do in order to make a stable 6.x release. We also resolved to work towards making Quick Tabs exportable, like Views and the other modules mentioned in Young Hahn's presentation.

And then of course there were all the parties. All the awesome parties. Props to Development Seed, Chapter Three and Lullabot on that front. That's probably where I had the most in-depth conversations with other Drupalers, albeit under the influence of much beer. In particular I was delighted to meet the spectacularly talented Sam Boyer, of Panels fame, and Nate Haug aka quicksketch (of Lullabot, #ahah, and all round JavaScript awesomeness fame).

Development Seed did an absolutely fantastic job in general - the conference was extremely well organised. Apart from all the behind-the-scenes stuff that ensured that everything went off without a hitch, one of the best aspects of this was how the videos of the presentations all went up within a day or two. So, though there were many talks I wasn't able to attend, I have a whole bunch of them lined up to view so I won't have missed out on any of them and don't have to feel any sort of regret about the time I spent at the Raincity table meeting new people instead of attending sessions.

Aside from the conference, the visit to DC was my first and a thoroughly enjoyable one. The weather was bizarre, to say the least. It was about -10C or so for our first few days there but by Friday the temperature had started to increase dramatically so that our weekend was one of muggy days and balmy summer evenings. Which of course makes returning to Vancouver's second snowmageddon all the more difficult. But really, though the week was very wonderful, I'm delighted to be back with the rest of the team at Raincity HQ.

Photo credit: chrys


Feb 25 2009
Feb 25

created on Tue, 2009-02-24 21:00

The 2009 North American DrupalCon is just around the corner. From March 4th-7th, Drupal fanatics from around the globe will be descending on Washington, DC for four days of open-source madness. The conference is already sold out, so if you were lucky enough to get tickets you're in for a treat. With over 1200 people attending, this is going to be the largest DrupalCon ever.

For those who are not familiar, DrupalCon is the official Drupal unconference and one of the best chances for the Drupal community to get together and have some fun in person. This year's conference has a fantastic lineup of presenters and is bound to be great experience for everyone attending. Everyone seems pretty excited about the state of Drupal 6 and its contributed modules. There's been a lot of hard work and the future is looking good for Drupal.

Raincity Studios is a sponsor again this year and we'll absolutely be attending. Come visit us at our sponsor table, check out some of the projects we've been working on and learn about some new services we have coming down the pipe. We're looking forward to meeting everyone so please don't be shy.

The conference will be held at the Walter E Washington Convention Centre and early registration will begin at 4pm on Tuesday, March 3rd. To get the details, check out the DC DrupalCon website for scheduleand venue information.

This conference wouldn't be possible without the hard work of many dedicated individuals. We owe a big thank you to the Drupal Association for carrying this torch and we'd especially like to offer many kudos to the good people at Development Seed, Jacob Redding and the DC Drupal Community for their hard work this time around.

See you at DrupalCon!


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