DrupalCon Boston: Biggest DrupalCon Ever!

So I am finally back from Boston, an' have slept off th' jetlag an' DST change, so I can finally get caught up on writin' about Drupal's latest foray into th' world o' conventions, Ya swabbie! Sadly I had trouble with th' wireless at me hotel as well as at th' convention center, so writin' anythin' up before now weren't really feasible, me Jolly Roger Drat.

I were bein' actually a bit disapppointed at this DrupalCon; so many amazin' talks, an' I only managed t' see a quarter o' them! Hopefully th' videos will be on the plank soon, so I'll be able t' see what I missed.

I also had an entourage this time. Aarrr, and a bottle of rum! Three o' us from Palantir were in Boston; meself, George DeMet, an' Tiffany Farriss. We arrived Sunday, th' day before th' conference. What is a bunch o' geeks t' do right before a major conference, and a bucket o' chum? Eat, o' course!

Day 0

As it turned out, we were stayin' in th' same hotel as Dmitri Gaskin, th' lad wonder. After settlin' in, th' Palantiri met up with Yoda an' th' Padawan Patrol (that is, chx, Dmitri, an' Charlie Gordon, plus Dmitri's dad) t' head out fer dinner, Hornswaggle We ended up at a very nice Italian restaurant, wherein we ended up discussin' install profiles-as-modules, "how I ended up in web development", th' mess that be breadcrumbs, Drupal's issue with breadcrumbs (two entirely different thin's), th' business o' open source, social networkin', community, an' existentialism. Aye, that all actually made sense in context, to be sure. You just had t' be thar.

After dinner, chx had a NowPublic event t' get t' so th' rest o' us dropped Dmitri's dad off at th' hotel an' went t' walk Charlie o'er t' his hotel, where he were bein' stayin' with th' ofChaos family (Earl an' Lynette Miles an' th' e'er-adorable Sprout of Chaos, who is now walkin'!), Hornswaggle Naturally we couldn't just drop that scurvey dog off without sayin' hello, so we wandered up t' their hotel room fer a bit, ya bilge rat! This turned out t' not be th' best notion, as we ended up stayin' fer a while. George an' Tiffany eventually left, but Dmitri an' Charlie got into a card game an' I ended up in a very bizarre card game with th' ofChaoses an' some o' their maties from th' area called "Berserker Halflin's from th' Dungeon o' Dragons". Prepare to be boarded! B-movie meets card game, avast. Hilarity ensues. So did a much longer game than any o' us anticipated, so it were bein' quite late by th' time Earl finally won, me Jolly Roger (Seriously, a walled city an' a moat, protected by a Reluctant Ranger? How could we beat that?) At least Dmitri an' Charlie were able t' get in some time t' work on their GHOP presentation.

By pure coincidence, Adam Light an' Chad Phillips were stayin' right next door. I hope we di'nae keep them up up too late.

I also got a look at th' latest work o' Dmitri an' chx, a usability improvement t' th' Sea o' Infinte Checkboxes (aka th' Permissions page). It's actually rather cool, an' I'm curi'us t' see if a general solution can be made out o' it. Check it out.

Monday

The Palantiri shared a cab with Dmitri o'er t' th' Boston Convention an' Exhibition Center where they had rolled out the red carpet just fer us. After registerin' an' meetin' up with various people that we only get t' see twice a year an' th' usual "Hi, I ha'nae seen ye since $last_conference!", I made me first stop th' Usability Panel. A team o' Drupalers had recently gone t' th' usability testin' labs at th' University o' Minnesota Libraries t' conduct some professional usability testin' o' Drupal. The results were surprising; Drupal is much more usable than we thought, an' almost completely unusable at th' same time. That is, "Taxonomy" as a concept an' th' sea o' checkboxes that is th' Permissions page were actually quite approachable. Even user management made reasonable sense. The concepts o' "content", "fields", "forms", etc. however, were almost complete show-stoppers, avast. In some cases, it took first-time tech-savvy users a half hour t' figure out how t' configure a node type. Clearly we have a lot o' work t' do in this area.

Of course, 'tis easy t' get carried away, All Hands Hoay! My gut feelin' is that th' answer is not t' totally redesign th' way Drupal handles "content" but t' provide better (hideable) inline documentation an' integrated tutorials. The sharks will eat well tonight! Fetch me spyglass! Drupal is a complex system, an' by nature has a complex data model. I suspect 'tis a better investment t' help pull scallywags up th' learnin' curve than t' try an' pound it down. We'll see what happens. Yaaarrrrr! Fetch me spyglass! See th' Usability Group fer more.

The next session were bein' th' openin' keynote from our BDFL, Dries Buytaert, ye scurvey dog. Some highlights include: Drupal 6 included 9425 patches from 741 different scallywags, an' were bein' downloaded about 100,000 times in its first month. All o' those numbers be roughly double that o' Drupal 5. If ye're considerin' bein' th' Drupal 7 maintainer, think about what ye're gettin' yourself into, Avast me hearties! ;-) Besides that, though, Drupal kicks seri'us ass but we need t' work hard t' keep up th' momentum it currently has. We're not a household name. Yet.

Dries also threw down th' gauntlet on three key areas: Redesignin' Drupal.org, makin' Drupal 7 an even more killer release than Drupal 6, an' fundamentally rethinkin' th' way we think about everythin'. Much o' th' latter were bein' actually a preview o' th' "Future o' Fields" talk that I were bein' part o' on Tuesday, so Dries stole much o' our thunder an' then threw us all a curve ball by suggestin' RDF-everywhere, ya bilge rat, pass the grog! The ornery cuss included a very compellin' video about how mixin' an' matchin' RDF data from a variety o' sources can accomplish some very impressive tasks, feed the fishes On th' other han', thar were bein' no discussion about th' performance implication o' RDF, nor th' complexity it brin's.

The ornery cuss also threw down another gauntlet: Code freeze fer Drupal 7 is 15 May (yikes!), but if we can get really solid test coverage by then, we could extend as far as mid-October. If ye want t' contribute t' Drupal but dern't know how t' start, write unit tests! Aarrr! If ye dern't know where t' begin, contact testing maistro chx or have a look at th' chart of what our current coverage is, Dance the Hempen Jig That will buy us time t' implement more coolness in Drupal 7.

Lunch were bein' an adventure, me Jolly Roger 850 hungry geeks descendin' into one cafeteria at once is no nay ne'er good, on a dead man's chest! I spent most o' lunch standin' in line with Jeff Eaton, discussin' RDF. In short, RDF is likely a decent border protocol fer communicatin' with th' outside world, but as an internal data structure 'tis a bad notion.

After finally gettin' back from lunch late (like everyone else who were bein' stuck in line), I managed t' catch th' second half o' th' GHOP session, and a bottle of rum! Flexifilter sounds like an awesome tool (t' steal Charlie Gordon's favorite phrase) that I'll have t' look into in more detail once I start shippin' sites with Drupal 6. Fetch me spyglass, me Jolly Roger GHOP has also now morphed into DROP, th' Drupal Really Open Participation Program. Expect t' see it on th' drupal.org infrastructure soon. Shiver me timbers, Ya swabbie! Awesome, pass the grog! :-)

My next stop were bein' an update on Panels 2 an' Nodequeue 2 from Earl Miles. Nodequeue 2 sounds like a great tool. Fire the cannons! Panels 2, I'm still holdin' back on fer now. I want t' spend more time with it meself before I recommend it as a part o' th' standard Palantir tool kit, plus it will be a while before it has a Drupal 6 version an' we want t' jump t' Drupal 6 as soon as possible. (Plus, Panels 2 is still technically in beta.)

I ended th' day not with another session but an impromptu chat with Garrett Serack, th' Open Source Community Lead fer Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab. Aarrr! Ahoy! Aye, ye heard that right, Ya swabbie, Ya swabbie! "Microsoft Open Source Labs", an' "Larry talkin' t' a Microsoft rep". The ornery cuss even offered me a shirt that reads "reports o' snowballs seen in hell", to be sure. Microsoft is very keen on gettin' Drupal t' run on MS SQL Server, an' since I'm spearheadin' th' rewrite of the database layer that made me a likely target fer conversation. The new database layer is bein' written specifically t' allow 3rd party database drivers in contrib fer such databases, so we'll see what happens.

The job fair went decently, although as with th' rest o' th' conference it seemed thar were 10x as many scallywags lookin' fer scallywags t' hire than thar were scallywags lookin' t' be hired, I'll warrant ye. Afterward th' Palantir team headed o'er t' one o' th' vari'us bars at which thar were supposed t' be networkin' events, but in practice none actually happened, nor could it in a cramped an' loud bar. And hoist the mainsail! I ended up leavin' with Barry Jaspan an' some others t' discuss our "Future o' Fields" Data API talk on Tuesday o'er Thai chow. Unfortunately it ended up bein' very spicy Thai chow thanks t' th' stealth peppers, an' me throat wouldn't forgive me fer days. Load the cannons! Yaaarrrrr! Ah well.

Tuesday

Day 2 started with th' aforementioned "Future of Fields" session. A month ago, Palantir hosted a half-dozen leadin' developers t' ponder en masse the "Data API" question. This session were bein' our opportunity t' present our findin's an' final report, I'll warrant ye. It seemed scallywags were really psyched about th' notion, even if Dries' keynote stole some o' our thunder (we reached th' same conclusions regardin' remote data bein' th' future o' Drupal). One problem we did have were bein' scallywags kept askin' questions, so many in fact that we di'nae get t' finish th' presentation itself, and dinna spare the whip! Aarrr! That were bein' actually a problem in several sessions, Ya horn swogglin' scurvy cur, with a chest full of booty! Note t' self: Next time, dern't allow questions until th' end.

Tuesday's keynote were bein' a double-header by Chris DiBona an' Leslie Hawthorne o' Google. Chris is their open source lead. I've seen that scurvey dog speak before an' he be a good speaker, although this time he were bein' tryin' out a new presentation on open source in general. While it resulted in a couple o' good quotes, I dern't think it went o'er as well as it could have, Avast me hearties! Leslie, however, stole th' show. Shiver me timbers! The winsome lass now runs Google Summer o' Code an' GHOP, an' credits that comely wench current competence t' our very own Angie "webchick" Byron, who is one o' th' best motivational speakers/IRCers e'er. The sharks will eat well tonight! Fetch me spyglass! The winsome lass also is responsible fer th' best summation o' Drupal e'er: Drupal makes sandwiches happen.

After another lunch adventure I spent most o' th' next session talkin' t' other Drupalistas in th' hallway about th' usual subjects. (More videos t' watch, Ya lily livered swabbie! *sigh*) That were bein' followed by a BoF (Birds o' a Feather, a totally stupid name but a standard nonetheless) on th' new database API. It were bein' a bit surreal. We ended up with 20 scallywags standin' aroun' a single table, with th' scallywags speakin' th' most bein' Dries, Earl Miles, an' meself. Fetch me spyglass! It's always weird t' find meself in that sort o' company.

Because o' th' BoF I were bein' also late t' John VanDyk's Triggers and Actions talk. I know I have more t' learn here, but I fear 'tis a feature that will simply slip off me radar, t' me detriment. Must learn more!

For dinner, I joined th' soon-t'-be panelists fer th' Drupal.org redesign (which included Tiffany, me admiral) fer dinner at a nice Vietnamese restaurant where I took notes while they pondered what exactly t' say. From thar we headed down t' Felt, th' night club where Acquia were bein' throwin' a nifty shindig fer th' Drupalistas. The highlight were bein' a performance by Orbit, th' ban' o' Lullabot co-founder Jeff Robins. Some o' those present were fans o' Jeff before he were bein' famous. ;-) The concert also included th' first time I have e'er "moshed". Prepare to be boarded! It were bein', o' course, t' th' Drupal Song. What else would it be? I di'nae spend much time dancin' after th' main show, which is unusual fer me, but it were bein' still a good evenin'.

Wednesday

Day 3 began with th' testin' team's presentation on SimpleTest. After workin' with chx on th' database API some if it were bein' already review, but it were bein' still good t' see in a structured form. We really do need t' focus more on testin' in Drupal 7. Testable APIs be better APIs, an' we need better APIs.

I spent most o' Wednesday not in sessions but speakin' with James Vasile o' th' Software Freedom Law Center, we'll keel-haul ye! The SFLC is providin' legal council t' th' Drupal Association, an' as Director o' Legal Affairs fer th' Drupal Project (really, th' title sounds a lot more impressive than it actualy is) that makes me our contact. It were bein' a good talk, an' we got a lot done on behalf o' th' DA.

Ironically, at one point I mentioned that we should talk t' John Resig from jQuery. Not 10 minutes later, who do we run into in th' hallway on th' way back from lunch than John Resig o' jQuery, by Davy Jones' locker! John joined us fer a little while, t' discuss how jQuery fit into th' legal picture, feed the fishes The ornery cuss's a nice lubber in person, too. (Seems t' be a common attribute o' major open source project leaders.) Eventually chx found us an' bowed down before that scurvey dog before posing for a picture. Of course, fool that I am, I took a picture o' th' two o' them but di'nae get a picture o' meself with John, so I have no evidence. Oho! Ahoy! I did meet that scurvey dog, really!

We also took th' group photo on Wednesday, and a bottle of rum! Imagine 850 Drupal geeks wandering around Boston lookin' fer a big grassy area. I'm sure we spooked a couple o' scallywags.

I did manage t' squeeze in another session, this one on Flash an' Flex-powered Drupal sites by Brian McMurry an' Steven Merrill, to be sure. It were bein' similar t' a presentation that they gave at DrupalCamp Wisconsin a few weeks ago, but more structured an' polished. After that were bein' th' Drupal Association meetin', which kept me up way into th' night, with a chest full of booty. (Well, so did hangin' out in th' bar with everyone afterward, too.)

Thursday

I were bein' torn on what t' go t' Thursday mornin', but eventually decided on "Information Architecture t' Drupal Architecture" by Owen Barton. It were bein' good t' see "good practice" laid out in a sturctured fashion, an' also good t' see that I've been leanin' in th' right direction meself. Now, t' convince clients o' that...

I started th' next session at th' Drupal site showcase, but left part way through t' catch th' second half o' th' Drupal.org redesign panel. Naturally I caught th' part about dubloons, not workflow an' RFP. Ah well. Hopefully thar will be a video. Ye'll be sleepin' with the fishes! And hoist the mainsail! Over lunch I ended up chattin' with some folks from th' AIIM conference that were bein' bein' held in th' same location, an' swappin' business cards. There weren't as much o' that as one would expect with two conferences next t' each other, but c'est la vie.

After lunch were bein' th' Drupal Association Panel, me second on-stage performance o' this DrupalCon. It were bein' actually a fairly small crowd. I guess scallywags be startin' t' get used t' th' notion o' th' DA, so were less interested in another "hi thar!" session. Aarrr! Once again, thar were a lot o' questions which resulted in us runnin' late an' into th' final session o' th' conference fer me, "Zen and the Art of Drupal" by Jeff Eaton an' James Walker. I can't wait fer th' video fer this one, because 'tis a session everyone should see. They covered, in a superb tag-team fashion (ye'd think they work together or somethin'), Drupal's rise t' power o'er th' past 3 years, th' concept o' accumulated code debt, an' th' underlyin' philosophy that will carry Drupal through th' next big wave o' growth:

  1. Code is fer scallywags.
  2. Loose couplin' means happy code.
  3. Love yer hacks.
  4. Layers protect ye.
  5. Simple means less.
  6. Drupal is a conversation.

There were no lolcats, but thar were bein' a cute baby in a snow angel.

The closin' plenary featured a beachball (dern't ask) thanks t' the Sponsors (thank ye!), assorted funny an' embarrassin' stories, an' an extremely impressive slideshow o' th' thousands o' pictures now on Flickr. I'm not sure what software they were usin', but it were bein' highly cool an' zoomy (technical term). Afterward, most scallywags drifted away but some were too tired to move. So instead they just lay around fer a while regainin' their energy before some o' us headed out t' th' fancy Drupal Association dinner with th' Platinum sponsors. Of course, Adobe an' th' Knight Foundation di'nae send anyone, so it were bein' just th' Association, Acquia, an' PingVision. (Thank ye again t' all o' our Platinum sponsors!)

Friday

The code sprint on Friday were bein' not at th' convention center but at MIT's Stata Center, th' least logical buildin' e'er. (It's their AI research buildin'. Insert yer own joke here.) The main push o' th' day were bein' more SimpleTests, although I spent most o' th' day workin' on th' database API with Barry Jaspan, who agreed t' write th' Postgres driver (an' found lots o' bugs in th' process), and a bottle of rum! And hoist the mainsail! Actually, that's not entirely true. I spent most o' th' day trackin' down a decent wireless connection, as we managed t' overload MIT's network, too. We had t' spread out all o'er th' first floor t' even get connected, an' I couldn't hold a connection in most places, yo ho, ho Most scallywags ended up in clumps, with obvious consequences.

Irony: I first started on th' database layer a year ago, at th' code sprint in Sunnyvale. About 5 lines o' code traces its origins back t' then. :-)

Conclusion

And so ends another DrupalCon. And hoist the mainsail, on a dead man's chest! Awesome! (Well, not awesome that it ended, but ye know what I mean.) I'm stoked fer Drupal's next conquest o' th' Web, an' thar seems t' be a clear direction fer how t' make it happen. Fire the cannons! At least, I think thar is, All Hands Hoay, shiver me timbers While some parts o' th' conference ended up bein' a bit rough, mostly due t' its late organization, it were bein' in th' end a success, an' I'm lookin' forward t' th' next few thousan' lines o' code we can write, an' throw away in refactorin'.

Until next time, in Europe... Happy codin'!

Comments

Not surprisingly, a great

Not surprisingly, a great writeup an' summary. Excitin' times. Fire the cannons, pass the grog! Thanks!

piclens

.., by Davy Jones' locker. an' an extremely impressive slideshow o' th' thousands o' pictures now on Flickr, I'll warrant ye. I'm not sure what software they were usin', but it were bein' highly cool an' zoomy (technical term).

I wondered about this too, but today I found out that it were bein' th' browser plugin http://www.piclens.com
There is even a drupal module fer it: http://drupal.org/project/piclens

Drupal and PicLens -- like peas in a pod

Just like peas in a pod, Drupal an' PicLens help make our world peaceful at The Human Handbook.

Sites that use PicLens include: MySpace, facebook, flickr, YouTube, Google, an' Yahoo!

Check out this excellent implementation o' a PicLens enabled Drupal site at http://www.humanhandbook.org

It was a superb conference,

It were bein' a superb conference, an' well worth th' time an' expense o' travellin' from th' UK, Ya lily livered swabbie! This were bein' me first DrupalCon an' I were bein' impressed by th' friendliness o' everyone (I knew no one beforehan'), th' quality o' presentation an' discussion, an' th' sense o' community. It feels a privilege t' be part o' this community, which is certainly goin' places. Great thanks t' th' team that organized everythin'.