DrupalCon: Thursdays Are Memorable

Thursdays at DrupalCon are an interesting time. With everyone at least three days into it, fatigue starts to take its toll. Then the good stuff happens.

DrupalCon at the conference center

Writing this post in the wee hours on Thursday night, I’m starting to realize that the week in Portland has gone by too quickly. I guess that’s typical when we have so long to anticipate an exciting event like this. Plenty of excitement and build-up, and then you blink and it’s gone. Fortunately the team has learned a ton, been inspired, and made some memories. We will return home tired, but excited about applying what we’ve learned to our current projects.

It was another rainy day in Portland right from the time we left the hotel in the morning. The response from the locals seems to be pretty much a unanimous “well, that’s Portland for you.”

Rain. In Portland.

This morning opened with a keynote session by Michael Lopp, best known for his blog Rands in Repose. I often read his work, and appreciate his thoughtfulness. Today’s talk was about the three kinds of people that are needed for software projects: the engineer, the designer, and the dictator. It was an interesting exploration of the characters who drive excellence in projects and what is needed to balance them.

I next attended Josh Koenig’s session on maintaining development swagger after site launch. Next to Jeff Eaton, Josh Koenig may be my favourite DrupalCon presenter, and once again I got a lot of value from his entertaining talk. His topic, more specifically, was about application lifecycle management and how to ensure that it’s possible for sites to evolve after they launch. Drupal developers face the challenge of having difficult time of development/testing/production environments and keeping everything in sync. Josh described some of the ways to address these headaches using continuous integration and version control.

After lunch Trevor and I got a look at Pantheon in a vendor presentation. My interest in Pantheon was largely a result of Josh Koenig’s earlier session, and seeing it in action was very impressive. The whole system is made to help keep that development swagger throughout the application lifecycle. We then attended a birds of a feather session about Open Atrium 2, the completely re-built collaboration tool built on Drupal. The Drupal 7 branch of the project has taken a very different direction than version 1 did, so it was enlightening to be introduced to that. I may spend Friday at the Open Atrium hackathon to learn how to build plugins for the system.

My final session was a team of presenters discussing mapping in Drupal. There were some exciting demonstrations using OpenLayers and some Solr integrated clustering tools. Mapping is something that I’ve found intriguing in Drupal for a while now, so these tools and techniques are something I’d like to learn more about, even if just on my own time.

Between sessions we made sure to get together for a group photo in front of Druplicon, and then a few of us encountered Dries for a photo with him as well.

Team photo in front of Druplicon

WE MET DRIES!!!

And since this was the final day of the conference sessions, it was also the last day for collecting swag. My collection is meagre compared to Dan’s, but I think there are a few tchotchkes that the girls will have some fun with.

DrupalCon swag

Dan and I made a quick stop at the hotel to drop off our bags before heading to Open Sourcery for the kick-off of the pinball pub crawl. Some tasty pizza and locally brewed beer (is there any other kind of beer in Portland?) was followed by a pinball tutorial from Greg Dunlap and some free play on a variety of old and new tables.

Pinball at Open Sourcery

We met some folks from VoyageurWeb at Open Sourcery and headed over to a pub with them for a while before determining that the pinball tables at that location were in use for a tournament of some sort. We decided to then embark on the twenty minute walk to Ground Kontrol, an arcade and lounge where the pub crawl was to end. At our destination we found a line-up outside the door of folks waiting to get in to the full venue. Rather than wait with them we continued on our way to Voodoo Doughnuts, because who wouldn’t want another doughnut, right?

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And before the night was out, we decided we needed more pizza, too, so we shut down Old Town Pizza, enjoying some delicious pizza with, you guessed it, locally brewed beer. The night didn’t go quite as expected, but we met a fun group of people and had a great time hanging out with them, and that’s what makes DrupalCon truly memorable.