DrupalCons are unquestionably the biggest events of the year in the Drupal community. It’s an opportunity for developers, designers, users, customers, and businesses to get together and talk about everything Drupal! This year has been a difficult one for conferences, as everyone cancels, reschedules, or moves online. DrupalCon has been no exception to this, bringing both of this year’s conferences online, in an effort to continue fostering the project’s strong community.
Always wanted to go to DrupalCon Europe but couldn’t afford the travel time and expense? DrupalCon this year gives people a unique opportunity - one of the biggest obstacles to DrupalCon attendance is getting there. With the conference being online, the difficulties and expenses of travel are reduced, because DrupalCon comes to you. With the reduced cost of travel, it makes more sense than ever for companies to encourage their employees to attend, and to purchase tickets for those attendees. And, if your company is looking to channel those resources it would’ve spent on travel? Sponsor DrupalCon, or help fund scholarships.
Because DrupalCon is virtual, people who wouldn’t normally travel have the opportunity to attend, giving a potentially larger group to discuss initiatives, work on updates and changes, or just get to know people you might not have a chance to meet otherwise! Supporting DrupalCon now, as an attendee, a company, or a sponsor, helps keep the community active, and moving forward. Meeting new people, attending talks and events, and generally being present helps you make connections you might not ever have made otherwise. Attending this conference also helps ensure there will be additional ones in the future, when we can be together in person.
Who goes to DrupalCon?
As part of the community, Tag1 offered its employees free tickets to Drupalcon, encouraging everyone who was able to attend, to take part in the online event. Almost two dozen individuals took the company up on their offer, from Jeremy Andrews in Tuscany, Italy, to Travis Whitehead and Narayan Newton, on the US West coast. Users from around the world come to Drupalcon to meet and talk with people who share the same passion they do - to better the Drupal open source content management system.
What about the talks?
Tag1 Consulting is a long time participant and sponsor of DrupalCon, and often has multiple speakers giving talks. For this year’s conference, Tag1 has these speakers on the docket:
- Fabian Franz, VP of software engineering, continues the talk he gave at DrupalCon Global 2020, with the next part of his deep dive into Drupal’s caching system. His previous talk is a great place to start for those who are new to Drupal, or anyone having a tough time figuring out how to approach caching in Drupal.
- Michael Meyers, Managing Director, and Jeremy Andrews, CEO, will be talking about the Drupal 7 and D8 end of life, why it matters to you, and what your options are if you’re still running Drupal 7. Tag1 is a pioneer of the Drupal extended support programs. In the talk they’ll tell you everything you need to know about how Extended Support works, and how Tag1 Consulting can help you navigate the challenges ahead with Tag1 Quo, or by helping you plan and execute an upgrade.
- Narayan Newton, Tag1 CTO and Drupal Association Systems Coordinator, is expected to participate in the Drupal.org Update panel, which will discuss everything going on with Drupal.org, and what the future holds.
This year’s conference has five different speaker tracks, covering everything from business to development to content creation and community building.
The Tag1 DrupalCon attendees have one major focus - Drupal itself, but each individual person has their areas of interest as well. Unsurprisingly, people tend to be interested in the Driesnote, because it is a “good gauge of where Drupal is and where it's going next.”
Some specific talks our team here at Tag1 look forward to are:
- The initiative leads keynote, which should cover where many of the strategic initiatives for Drupal 10 are, and how you can get involved in them.
- Similarly, Gabor Hjotsy’s session about Drupal 10, and what it’ll take to get there.
- Kevin Bridges is giving a talk called Drupal is dead. Long live Drupal, which looks to be a big picture talk about Drupal, its place in open source, the projects it is built on, and how helping those projects helps Drupal in the future.
- At Tag1, we help clients upgrade or migrate their platforms, making the talk Setting up your digital project for success: Lessons learned from a 70-site migration to Drupal of a global brand highly relevant for anyone involved in migrations, from developers to project managers.
- Your first steps to a successful content strategy (workshop) goes far beyond just the content, relating each step of your website’s lifecycle to your overall strategy.
- Tag1 leadership has a strong interest in the makers and builders track, primarily on the topics in backend development and Devops & Infrastructure.
- And lest we forget that work isn’t everything, Michael Schmid is helping remind us that there are some best (and worst) strategies for dealing with high-demand work.
What else is there to look forward to?
Like the larger community, many of the Tag1 team members look forward to different things with each DrupalCon. Some look forward to giving talks, or talks given by others. Some enjoy the camaraderie of a convention where everyone is focused on improving the software they use every day.
One of the biggest challenges or drawbacks to any convention (aside from the inevitable con-crud), are the distances involved. While there are generally two DrupalCons a year, one in North America, and one in Europe, the majority of attendees are generally localized to those regions. Long travel times, visas, and expenses can make these trips prohibitive. But those who do attend nearly always say it’s worth the effort. One of DrupalCon’s best tracks has always been the “Hallway track”, where you can walk up to nearly any group, and they’re likely to be talking about something you’re at least familiar with or may have an interest in. It can be a way to quickly meet new people, grab a handful of folks for a quick discussion on a particular topic, or make plans for the evening. DrupalCon’s conferencing software should still enable these very informal chances to ‘meet’ new people.
Somewhere in between the scheduled talks and the hallway track are BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions, where people have small group sessions on whatever interests them, to brainstorm solutions, or just hang out with like-minded people or special interest groups. Past DrupalCons have included BoFs like a knitter and other crafters meetup, the Women of Drupal (which has since grown far beyond a BoF!), to module tutorials and development, to workshops on tools to help you in your day to day work.
Finally, there’s the events like the famous DrupalCon trivia night (watch out for webchick, she knows everything.) Events like this help bring new and long term members of the community together, beyond work, going beyond just Drupal.
For many, DrupalCon is a chance to get together, and meet up with new friends and old. It’s a chance for new folks in the community to meet experienced folks, find projects to work on, and mentors. For folks who are nervous about walking up to a big group, a virtual conference enables you to join in, at whatever comfort level works for you - even without a camera on, if you don’t want it! For distributed companies like Tag1, it’s a chance to spend time with the people you work with, and really get to know them. It’s a good time for job seekers to meet potential employers, and for some, it’s a chance to get deep into projects that could use collaborative help. Big project decisions get made at DrupalCon, and being there is a chance to be part of those decisions. For many DrupalCon attendees, the conference is as much about the people as it is about the code.