My first DrupalCon North America (NOLA 2016)

Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/13/2016 - 14:11
There is a Con in New Orleans

It's been some time since I returned from DrupalCon New Orleans, my first DrupalCon in North America and the second Drupalcon,which I attended, the previous one was Bogotá. I think it is enough time to look at the distance and evaluate the experience.

Also I have to begin by thanking the Drupal Association, who made possible my participation in such spectacular event, I feel really privileged to have had the opportunity to attend, especially being the only attendee from my country, which brings me back here recharged with energy and more eager to contribute to Drupal and wanting to share that feeling with my local community.

The path

It was 2010 when I first learned about the Drupalcon. I had started to learn Drupal about a month ago when I found the site of the DrupalCon San Francisco, then an invaluable source of information for an apprentice who was just starting. I could say that was my first contact with people that make this possible, I began to know the names of people and companies that make Drupal and give life to this community. I can certainly say that has been the most influential Drupalcon on me, although I was never there in person, but having seen all the videos from that time, created an interest that exists until today on me about this wonderful community.

Since then many years have passedDrupal 7 came, many other Drupalcons, which always watched at distance with attention, I participated in several events in the Latin American community, where I confirmed my interest in the platform and the community and started making Drupal meetups in my country. The first DrupalCon in Latin America was made, not without problems in the process and in my country, we organized our first DrupalCamp.

For all the above said, attend this Drupalcon was for me a consequence of all the previously walked. And even when it was the second Drupalcon to which I attended, the experience was very different in many ways, being the most noticeble, the amount of people and very diverse backgrounds of the attendees.

The arrival

Monday 9, noon, after a hectic morning I get to New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, directly from the airport, had to seize the day. The first thing that impresses me is the vastness of the place and beside the Drupalcon there were at least two other conferences being held in the same building. After some asking I find the first signs of Drupalcon.

That first day was a good approach, I was in the Community Summit (special mention for one of the conclusions from there) and in the Sprints room, it was a good time to reconnect with people in the community and start meeting other new people. After that we headed to the "Opening Reception" at the sponsors room better known as Exhibit Hall, a good opportunity to meet many of those who make the event possible ...

The importance of the Exhibit Hall

At first I didn't get it, maybe was the size of the event, at least ten times larger than any other Drupal event that I have been before, but here everything is organized/separated. This has its good and bad points, but if you want to know about a particular topic or talk to someone, you need to found. Given the diversity of the event, is less likely to encounter casually with people with the same specific interests, a good place for that is the Exhibit Hall. At first I thought that this space was only given to marketing and sales mainly, and it is, but also much more. Many interesting technical discussions are given in the Exhibit Hall, it is easy to meet people with similar interests if you seek, and even many mini-depth talks or demos are given on request. Furthermore, it is an excellent place to rest and have a more relaxed conversation and leave for a moment the hustle of the sessions.

The prenote: There was a Con in New Orleans

The already known and favorite of many pre-note, and also described by many as "an ode to the taste of the Drupal community for bad jokes." The truth is that it is a relaxing moment, it helps to welcome the participants and sets the tone for what will be the event giving us mood of what is new Orleans. This time began with "There is a With in New Orleans" based on "The house of the rising sun".

The #DriesNote

Once the event was officially open came the traditional Dries's keynote, or #Driesnote for friends, with the traditional talk  The State of Drupal, wherein he told us the current status of the project and its vision of the future, both the Drupal project, as the web in general. It is important to consider his vision given that often Dries has anticipated uses of the web in things we now know as usual. Some important points to note from the keynote are level of adoption of Drupal, where will the web go and how to grow the platform to remain it relevant in that future.

Speaking specifically about Drupal can also be noted that:

  • Drupal 8 has already been published and the people who contributed to its creation has tripled, over 3,000 people have contributed to its code.
  • Drupal 8 has over 200 new features and the development branches model and minor releases schedule have enabled much more rapid innovation.
  • In Drupal 8.1 very innovative new features have been included:
    • Experimental migrations through UI
    • Better composer support
    • Spellcheck support in CKEditor
    • Javascript testing
    • BigPipe
    • Improvements in help and documentation.
  • The adoption level of Drupal 8 has been much faster than Drupal 7, it took three months to reach 60,000 websites unlike Drupal 7 which took 6 months to reach that number. By the end of 2016 is expected to see a real boost of sites in D8 and reach the point where new sites developed in Drupal 8 are more than in 7.
  • Considering the above points, he went on to detail proposals on the way forward and what should be Drupal in the future to be relevant on the web in the coming years, noting that Drupal has remained because it has reinvented itself many times. To shape the future Dries told us some development initiatives which will be Drupal in their next releases, these are:
    • Media iniciative, to improve the management and use of multimedia elements on the website.
    • Workflow initiative, to improve workflows and make them more configurable.
    • Blocks & Layout, to have an easier handling of custom layouts by the editors.
    • Data modeling tools initiative, to improve site building tools.
    • API-first initiative, to improve integration with other systems, bringing content wherever and deploy them in different ways (other websites, applications). Examples of use: Tesla App, Lufthansa in-flight system.
    • Web components, for reusable web components.
    • Cross-Chanel, for communication to multiple devices, "push web" (clocks, verbal interfaces, etc.)
  • The new version model makes these innovations possible in a timely manner.
  • The vision is to build the leading platform to assemble the best digital experiences in the world. "We are playing the long game and we'll win."
  • Then we got a glimpse of how the future electronic commerce can be with Gourmet Market demo, and how Drupal can be part of that world of IoT and voice-controlled devices if all keep working to make this possible.

Drupal 8 already has more than 6 months published, all the interesting innovations on the platform are being carried out in that version, it is projected that a few months developing sites in Drupal 8 exceeds Drupal 7. For more information, you can look the Dries's post about his talk, which contains his presentation and his reflections about it.

The Sessions

After the DriesNote, my intention was to go to as many sessions I could, but it is humanly impossible not to miss talks of interest when there are up to eleven in parallel. The hardest part was deciding between so many sessions that were of interest to me, besides the alternative of staying talking "in the hallways", go to BOFs or sprint lounge, where later I confirmed what I had heard many times, " it is where the real Con happens."

So from one point I decided to relax, talk to as many people as possible and go to sessions, without hurry, and if I missed a session that interests me, it is always possible to see it recorded later. The list of DrupalAssoc channel has 149 videos related with Drupalcon NOLA !!!, I am still finding interesting things I didn't saw there.

I plan to do another post where I will tell in more detail about the talks that I found most interesting at the Con, among which I attended as I have seen later on video.

RIP Drupal 6

It's been more than six months Drupal 8 was made public, which means that it has reached a stage of "end of life", ending the official support for Drupal 6 by the community. And to celebrate this, it was made what I believe will be one of the most memorable events of this DrupalCon, a funeral for Drupal 6 New Orleans style. What does that mean?, it means a funeral that includes dance, a jazz band and a march through the streets of the city, ending at the "Rusty Nail" where many dedicated them his heartfelt words to Drupal 6.

The volunteering

One of the scholarship requirements was to volunteer a minimum of 4 hours helping with tasks for the event. Among the available options I chose "room monitor" in four sessions, a task that honestly I think, it does not mean a great effort, especially if there are sessions you want to attend and are previously chosen. The "work" was quite pleasant and easy, basically counting attendees, be aware that the presenter does not have any inconvenience and ask people to not stand at the doors so that more people can enter. In addition, I signed as a volunteer the day of the Sprint, I did not feel confident to apply to be a mentor, although finally, I ended doing it anyway. More on this later.

Finally I can say it was a very rewarding feeling to help, even being a very small part, in some part of the making of an event like this. Anyway, I got the feeling I could have done much more, perhaps because I was a Drupalcon newbie, or din't know where to start I did not dare to take on more responsibilities. Anyway, I think if I go back to a Drupalcon, I will do much more to help make the conference, I already did once and I liked it and I want more.

The Sprint

One of the main reasons why I wanted to attend the Drupalcon was the Sprints. What better than to be in the same place that those who make Drupal and learn from them empirically. But above all, my intention was to see how is organized within the Sprint and meet those subtle details that are not seen when one is not part of the organization, all with the idea of ​​replicating in the community of my country. I wanted to help in making the Sprint, but I did not feel sure to register as a mentor, perhaps lack of confidence, perhaps because the impostor syndrome. The point is that finally I signed up as a volunteer for the Core Sprint, I think a perfect opportunity to be involved without necessarily be mentor. Anyway upon arrival and ask what to do, and explain the reasons why I wanted to participate, Cathy gave me enough encouragement to be a mentor and learn by doing as the sprint is done. The experience was one of the most rewarding I had at the Con, and although I have a lot to learn yet, also there is much that I can deliver and can help some users who want to get involved a little more in the development of Drupal.
I would like to give special thanks to Cathy, Lucas, Darryl, Manish, Shawn and Leandro with whom I was that day and I could learn something from each of them.

The other activities

Drupalcon is above all a social space, where people gather to share knowledge, improve Drupal, but also meet old and new friends. It is necessary to mention the activities / events organized by Mediacurrent, Lullabot, Pantheon, Palantir and Kalamuna, each in his own style, creating space for participants to follow the conversation in a more relaxed (or not) environment. Can mention among these different activities parties the most varied styles, the unforgettable funeral of Drupal 6 or the classic trivia night at the World War II museum.