When people ask, "What is Drupal?" there is a popular response in the Drupal world:
- it is a content management system
- it is a content management framework
- it is a community
The hardest part to describe, at least to a techie like me, is the community part. But the best way to understand the uniqueness of the Drupal community is to attend a DrupalCon or DrupalCamp. So after DrupalCamp Austin I decided to write down the community-isms (that's a word I just made up to mean community embodying events) from the past weekend. This post is for anyone, Drupaler or not, that hasn't fully experienced the Drupal community. For those who have, it's just a fun wrap-up of the camp.
Saturday started at 9:30 with Todd Nienkerk from Four Kitchens doing the "Welcome to DrupalCamp Austin" talk. Four Kitchens along with Tim Hamilton at Praxent and Lynn Bender, organizer of Geek Austin, organized the camp. One important thing to realize is camps are a lot of work for not a whole lot of money. Actually, no money. You do it because you want to build the community...and maybe because you want to share beers with 308 other Drupalistas. So thanks guys for organizing a great camp! Next was Jeff Robbins from Lullabot showing off all the great blue chip sites built in Drupal. It's amazing that all three of the top recording labels in the U.S. are now building their artists sites in Drupal. After Jeff's talk, I bumped into Greggles from GVS who had flown down from Colorado. The previous afternoon we had launched the 3rd rendition of our iSite Essentials distribution, now called Open Enterprise and put up a demo site. Greg is a world renowned expert in security. He had already looked at the distro and the demo site. He gave us a few pointers on things we overlooked in our rush to Austin. Thanks to Greggles, we got them fixed. So we got a security audit and we didn't even have to ask. That's well worth the price of admission, which was only $30 - so it was worth way more than that! In case you didn't know, the Drupal security team not only tirelessly works to keep Drupal core secure, they also oversee security on the 6000+ contributed modules. But apparently they are even going the extra mile to check demos on 3rd party sites and did it overnight. That's dedication - and a great example of how the Drupal community works. I caught Chris Sloan's presentation on Cool Drupal modules, had lunch, and then gave my presentation on Building Online Leaders at 2:30. At 3:30 I went to Jakob Persson's Getting Early Estimates Right. Jakob flew in from Sweden to teach us about agile estimating and about NodeOne's distribution NodeStream, which is apparently pretty cool, because Chris Sloan couldn't stop talking about it for a half an hour...but back to the agile thing. There are two things I find fascinating about the Drupal community. The first is that virtually all of the established Drupal shops use agile methodologies. Agile is a far superior way to build websites. It does require discipline and resolve as it stands in stark contrast, even seeming counter-intuitive, to traditional development methodologies that still dominate the majority of web development. The community seems to have committed to not just a great CMS but a higher integrity development methodology. The second element I love about the Drupal community is their willingness to share, not just technology knowledge, but also business knowledge that most outsiders would consider trade secrets. Most realize that in Drupal we grow as a community; technology, methodologies, business and otherwise. Agencies share their insight freely with each other and with the freelancers and smaller shops helping to assure that Drupal projects get successfully deployed at all levels. This brings me to Best Practices for Running a Drupal-based Business panel. This session featured founders of six of the top Drupal shops; Ben Finklea of Volacci, Dave Terry of Mediacurrent, Jeff Walpole of Phase 2, Michael Caccavano of TreeHouse, and Glenn Hilton of ImageX Media. It was moderated by Ron Huber of Achieve Internet. Again, a generous sharing of insight and secrets to ensure other shops excel. After that session I walked out to find David Strauss at the center of a 40 or so impromptu session about Drupal 7. When David Strauss talks, people listen. Not many understand, but they listen. Later that night we hit the Dog and Duck. Talked to a lot of people about their various projects. I shared some beers with Ron Huber, Mike Caccavano and Glenn Hilton. Great company, and apparently, I am now going to SandCamp. San Diego rather than Dallas in January, hmm. Not a lot of arm twisting required, but I appreciated Ron's effort nonetheless.
Ben Finklea kicked off the day with his Building a Strong, Profitable Drupal Business. It had been a year since the last time I saw this talk. Ben has always been a good presenter but he outdid himself this time, sharing some great insight about what works at Volacci. It was a tough decision on the 12:00 sessions but I had to go with Kieran's Integrating Drupal into the Enterprise Architecture. What I thought was going to be a tech talk turned into a highly inspiring call-to-arms for empowering the enterprise with Drupal. Kieran made it quite clear that Drupal iscrossing the chasm. Ubiquitous enterprise deployment is the key for majority adoption and it is up to all those in the community to fuel the charge. It is a very powerful movement to be a part of. At 2:30, I presented Secret Weapons for Driving More Traffic and Visitor Engagement. For the last session was planning to go to Usability Testing in the Wild and on the Cheap but accidentally walked into Transcending SQL in Drupal 7. I had learning about NoSQL on my to-do list, so I decided to stay. It was very technical and chx (Karoly) has quite the accent. Normally this translates into a dry talk, however Chx was very passionate and funny. I learned a lot about the history and failures of SQL as a standard and the NoSQL standards that are emerging. I finished off the weekend with dinner at Salt Lick with some of the gang. The perfect ending to a perfect weekend, except Salt Lick was 25 miles the wrong direction. I didn't get back to Dallas until 1:00 am. The DrupalCamp Austin guys definitely set the bar high. We will have to elevate our game here in Dallas next year.