Drupal Developer Days 2014, Szeged - my perspective
I had a great time at the Drupal Developer Days in Szeged (Hungary's third largest city) meeting other Drupal developers, core maintainers and people involved in the community. This event has been taking place yearly and brings together Drupal developers and enthusiasts from all over the world. Recent years have seen the event being held in Dublin, Barcelona & Brussels.
This year was particularly of strategic importance as we were coming together to work on Drupal 8 which is due to be launched in beta later this year. The last time a major release was launched (Drupal 7) was in January 2011 and there have been a lot of changes that have been brought into the core installation profile since then. Additional functionality, improved usability, easier theming, more maintainable code are all on the list of improvements. This meant that the event was longer than usual Monday – Sunday, with additional events such as sessions in which information was shared and exchanged taking place Thursday – Saturday.
As it was my first Drupal event outside the UK, although I have been building websites with Drupal since 2007, it was a really big deal for me. The excitement of meeting and working with people whose modules and themes I had used, along with those I had been following and communicating with on Twitter was almost overwhelming. As I would have described myself as a 'site-builder' until about a few years ago due to being able to install and configure and use other people's contributed modules I may not have considered myself part of the Drupal Developer Days circle as did not actively contribute to core or contributed modules. I realised the skills and knowledge gap was not so scary due to all of the really welcoming and friendly people I came across and really recommend anyone considering it to definitely attend next year, regardless of level or experience as there are always things you can do such as issues tagged 'novice' that are a perfect place to start.
Volunteering at the event
This assisted me in getting to know more people and was useful when introducing people to each other, as I noticed there were others in a similar situation to myself who felt a little shy too. I really wanted to make up for lost time and found myself participating in code sprints, networking with others, exchanging stories of challenging projects and clients and learning from each other. As we had the opportunity to meet in Budapest before leaving for Szeged, with social activities of dinner, drinks and dancing arranged by the wonderful organisers it gave an excellent foundation for us to build upon.
I was very proud of the dedication and commitment of my fellow Drupal community members. Over the week we managed
- 115 core commits,
- 706 changed files,
- 11k+,7k- lines
- 7 change records
- 19 beta blocker/targets fixed
- 7 "hard problems" discussions
I joined the Drupal 8 front-end united sprint team led by Lewis Nyman and Reuben Teijeiro and worked on issues including making the default Bartik theme look nicer with some CSS amendments. I also submitted my first core patch with an amendment to theme.inc with the assistance of a few of my new friends. It was a very supportive environment where everyone was encouraging and helped to mentor new contributors with navigating issue queues, using IRC (internet relay chat) and correctly writing and submitting patches. Also the front-end team's creative use of Drupal Marvin in photographs and tweets as a way of encouraging people to help with issues was particularly innovative. I was glad to be part of the fun here and had a few similar ideas for interesting
The session I most enjoyed was Coder Vs Themer : Ultimate Grudge Smackdown by Adam Juran & Campbell Vertesi, which was very entertaining but definitely an underlooked area that isn't spoken about frequently. Adam was only allowed to use the theme layer and Campbell was only allowed to use the module layer. It reminded me of a scenario I have been in when working with front end developers / themers to make my back end work look nicer and match the designs we were given. In the end neither had a perfect solution and it stressed the importance of teamwork along with good planning and communication. This is a little different to how many design and digital agencies operate where I have worked as they tend to see it as a separate process that back end is created without consultation of the front end. The issue then becomes needing to get certain components in a separate wrapper, or rendered in a different order which means having to go back and sometimes making substantial changes. The session that I found most useful was on Cracking Drupal, which focussed on security. This was presented by Klaus Purer and covered a lot of important things we need to remember. Who wants to spend lots of time and effort building a great website to see it compromised? This was very timely as the evening before I heard stories from colleagues of how websites had been hacked and some of the easy ways they could have been saved. A lot of the advice given were things I was already aware of but it having an expert looking at them and giving me the peace of mind was priceless.
I look forward to attending Drupal Dev Days again in the future!
I'm very excited in taking part in more camps and related events and these were mentioned in the closing presentation.
- DropCamp, Netherlands in July
- Drupalaton, Hungary in August
I have also compiled a list of upcoming Drupal camps in Europe in 2014