Drupalcon SF 2010 Day 3 Review

My third day at Drupalcon started with a most curious session: “Top 100 modules.” How was the presenter going to discuss 100 modules in only 60 minutes? To my pleasant surprise Deborah Fuzetto did about as good a job as one could be expected to do. Her presentation was especially good for a relative novice like me, a quick overview of popular modules and a description of how they are most commonly used. I hurriedly took lots of notes.

Next up was Wednesday’s keynote by Whitehouse.gov representative David Cole. The presentation was brief but informative. It’s reassuring to see Drupal being used for such a high-profile Web site that serves up lots of data.

I struck out during the post-keynote session, I attended a contrib development session that was over my head, then I jumped over to a session about UX development within Drupal. I had been keeping an eye on the #drupalcon Twitter posts and saw good reviews coming from that session, but by the time I got there it was over.

My last session of the day – and the conference as a whole – was “Module Building for Beginners.” The intention of the session was to show the development of a very simple module from scratch. The presenters moved very quickly. I was trying to follow along but it was very difficult. I encountered a hiccup early in the development of the module and the session was almost lost. I managed to get things working again and barely hung on for the rest. As I had hoped, I came away with the very basics for building a module.

All in all, Drupalcon 2010 was three days well spent. I learned more about theming, module development, key contributed modules and how to use them, what’s coming in Drupal 7, and some SEO info. The level of knowledge I gained wasn’t deep in any one area, but it was about all I could have expected with my current level of experience.

Perhaps most importantly, I left the conference with a good feel for the outstanding and growing Drupal community. Drupal developers and contributors are passionate about what they’re doing. I came away very confident that Drupal is in for a long, successful ride.

Drupalcon SF 2010 Day 2 Review

Started off Day 2 strong with “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your Drupal site,” a good presentation about SEO and Drupal. The session had tons of good information, but was marred by a few session-goers interrupting with questions. Possibly the most important element of the session – a chart showing what modules to use for what SEO benefits – was glossed over because the main presenter (Jen Lampton of Chapter 3) took questions during her talk. Overall very informative though.

Next came another information-packed session given by Todd Nienkerk of Four Kitchens. The session was “Accelerated grid theming using NineSixty.” Todd moved pretty quickly and it was hard to take proper notes, but again, lots of great info.

The third session I attended was “Views for developers” by Larry Garfield of Palantir.net. I’m sure this session was quite good for an experienced Drupal user but I was lost. I used the time to do some work.

Tim O’Reilly’s keynote “Open Source in the Cloud Era” was entertaining and thought-provoking. He provided a context for the value of Drupal and the Drupal community. Comparing it to the growth pattern Linux went through, he basically put Drupal at a tipping point where the community might take it to be a true major player CMS. He also looked ahead to the day when Drupal might add so many features that the acquired bloat/feature set may make it more appealing for enterprise solutions, but less appealing to users looking for a lightweight, fast solution. “Work on stuff that matters” were his last words to the crowd.

My last session of the day (I left a little early) was “2.4 million page views per day, 60 M per month, one server!” by Khalid Baheyeldin of 2bits.com. Khalid described some really clever ways he streamlined the performance of a site built for an unnamed entertainment company. Replacing little-used CCK module with some custom code, putting separate tasks (DB, Logs, etc.) on separate disks (rather than separate servers), and doing an end-around on the Drupal’s default way of handling 404 redirects were just some of the creative ways he found to keep the site zippy.

All in all a pretty great day. I attended sessions from 2bits.com, Chapter 3, and Four Kitchens.