My first impression is extremely positive. There is something for everybody and, as always, I am blown away by the amazing collaboration and support within the Drupal community. Becoming a Drupalista is still proving to be a high point in my career. This is why…
I arrived in Austin on Sunday and was immediately impressed. I like Austin a lot and could not think of a better place for a bunch of Drupalistas to congregate. The bars along 2nd Street offer a fairly unique experience accompanied by a great music scene. This environment has been great to meet Drupalistas from everywhere. The hotels are nothing special, but who really plans on spending much time in their room…
DrupalCon itself has been very interesting. I spent Monday taking a course on Symfony with an introduction to Drupal 8. Blink Reaction did a great job engaging a full room of other enthusiastic Drupalistas and getting us into Symfony and D8. I learned a substantial amount of technique and functionality, but my biggest takeaway was attend a training at DrupalCon. There are numerous courses available with great people, both instructing and attending, to help everyone grow their skill sets together. In fact, I would go as far to say if you do not take advantage of the opportunity (especially with D8 just around the corner), you are doing yourself a disservice.
The keynote by Dries, which had to be preceded by a sales pitch or two, was scary, awesome, interesting, fantastic, mesmerizing, terrifying, concerning, and completely awesome. I read numerous tweets where people expressed mixed feeling as I have above. Overall I am excited about the future of Drupal and technology in general. I think Drupal is in good hands, the hands of the community and the Drupal Association. Some things are concerning, but they are merely bumps in the road that we need to either run over or smooth out.
My conclusion is that things are changing significantly and will continue to do so for some time to come. That is a positive thing though. The moment we become complacent or static is the moment we stop innovation, stop creativity, stop improvement, and stop being true Drupalistas. I am on board. Let's do this Dries!
My most significant observation and advise I can offer companies going to future DrupalCons is have a gimmick. Yes, we are there to deliver a message and meet other company goals. But you can spend minimal amounts of money to draw people in and they will listen to what you have to say. This could be as simple as having a carnival game or as prestigious as having a custom made, interactive virtual reality experience. Just make sure you still concentrate on your message once you have the attention of the masses.
The sessions have been fascinating and most can stand on their own. I appreciate the time and effort everybody has put into ensuring we all benefit professionally from the DrupalCon experience. I have had the opportunity to increase my understanding and knowledge on a variety of topics due to the hard work and efforts people have committed in an effort to share information with all of us. Go to every session that interests you, even if the interest is minimal. The information is bound to help you as it has been well prepared and thought out.
Two standout sessions I attended on Tuesday were “30 Drupal 8 API Functions You Should Already Know” presented by Fredric Mitchell and “Status of Migrate 8” presented by Mike Ryan and Ryan Weal. Both of these sessions offered important information that anybody interested in getting into Drupal 8 should know. I will also note that I mention Drupal 8 sessions a lot because that is my focus right now. There are still numerous (probably more) resources and session for those who are not ready or not interested in starting down that path.
What is Really Happening (or better titled as 'What You Should Be Paying Attention To')
If you have made it this far with me, thank you. I know I am a bit long winded at times, but I had a lot of things to express about this experience. None were more important than this… What I really appreciate about DrupalCon is what is going on behind the scenes. You may just catch a glimpse of what seems like a few random people gathering at a table or in a room. Or maybe you hear about a few sprints here and there. What I am seeing is dedicated members of the community collaborating and pushing through the Drupal.org issue queue. Even more impressively, they are taking the time to mentor newbies like myself so I can become a contributor to the community and help push to the future.
So… that is my goal for today. I am sold on Drupal and I am ready to commit myself for a better tomorrow for the sake of everybody involved. Time to turn words into action and get involved. Good luck everybody and I will see you out there.
And don't forget to take the bull by the horns!