Drupal Camp Colorado was located a mile high at the Aurora King Center, but the topics reached deep beyond the development of technology. Sessions and hallway-track conversations explored the human side of our lovely technology-centric project and I enjoyed the extra depth of those talks.
Connecting With People
Normally camps and cons are crazy for me - packed with marketing, sales, meetings, organizing stuff, herding cats, and volunteering. Experiencing Colorado Camp primarily as an attendee allowed me the space to revisit why I was originally drawn to the Drupal community.
I met old friends and got to meet people in person that I only knew by online reputation. In a good way, of course! Shout out to the Lullabot podcasters Chris Albrecht and Matt Kleve for providing such excellent content over the years! It was glorious meeting folks from the Denver area - the whole vibe of the camp and the Colorado Drupalers is genuinely happy and inviting. The organizing team did a great job and put on a high quality and information packed event. If you have a chance, check it out next year!
A few attendees at the camp were brand new to Drupal and Drupal Camp Colorado was their first event! Sharing the newcomers’ experience sparked memories from other long-term community members about their first event.
Do you remember your first Drupal event?
I hope that when you read this question, memories of your first Drupal event may surface and you take a moment to revisit the feelings, location, people, and experiences.
A few of us rekindled our memories of our first Drupal event. Matt Kleve from Lullabot pulled out a picture of a bunch of the Colorado Camp folks at a table from 2007 hacking away at a table at a restaurant - some who are still active in the Drupal community. Wow! I got to see the beginnings of the Denver Drupal community. Thank you for sharing, Matt!
I remember going to a small San Francisco Drupal Users Group (SFDug) in John Faber’s co-working space. It was 2008? 2007? The date is blurry. Kiernan Lal from Acquia and John Faber had a couple of six packs of beer and snacks for the ten or so people who attended. At that time I was an “active lurker” trying to wrap my head around the Drupal Community. Coming from the Big Enterprise and Proprietary Software Giants environment, I was in disbelief that people could be so open and sharing. What was wrong with the Drupal community? Why are they so genuinely nice? After attending multiple events with the same inclusive group of people, the answer was clear to me: the community is full of giving individuals and genuine good will...with fun technology!
Why do we still have Drupal camps?
Conversations then explored why we still come to Drupal events - user groups, regional camps, or the big conventions. Everyone’s personal stories are different and each provides color to why volunteers and organizations continue to create a thriving social community.
At the surface, we come to learn, teach, and collaborate on the Drupal software platform. We also explore Drupal-adjacent technologies and the human aspects of being within a community and in a technology profession.
Our events are also a place of human connection. They provide a venue for a reunion of old friends, an opportunity to see remote coworkers in person, a time to collaborate with diverse people, and sometimes those star-struck moments when you realize you are standing next to Drupal core contributors in the coffee line or you are meeting the person who wrote the module you love and use so often.
Meeting kind, giving, silly, smart, passionate people is why I personally love the Drupal ecosystem and one of the main reasons Drupal was the platform of choice for my professional career path.
Beyond the connections between sessions I was able to sit in and listen to other experts give share their stories of struggle and success. I was enjoying being a listener again, and taking in all the knowledge that my community has to offer.
The extended Feeds module ecosystem from Drupal 7 provided a user interface for content editors to import data without having to program migrations. The non-developer import features have been a big gap in the Drupal 8 system.
Perhaps the true business value of a non-developer based import system isn’t fully realized by the community or supporting organizations yet. Having a non-developer way to import content will be a huge help those transitioning from the end of life Drupal 7 to a Drupal 8 platform - especially within the smaller and midsize implementation. The session “Feeds UI + Migrate Engine = Dream Migrations and Imports” by Irina Zacks and Martin Keerman from Tableau talks about just that.
I have to admit, the Feeds UI / Migrate UI movement would not exist without the pure passion and boundless energy of Irina. She has been championing this effort for years and is finally gaining traction and support, but the efforts still needs help!
Layout Builder and Site Building in Drupal
Kris Vanderwater (ElipseGc) gave us an update on the progress of Layout Builder in “Site Building 2.0: How Layout Builder is Changing Everything”. Layout Builder in core is a collaboration of all the layout-centric module maintainers of times past (e.g., Panels, Display Suite) to provide a unified way to provide the features of the previous layout systems. It is still an ongoing work in progress but is really ready for use by the greater community. My biggest takeaway from this session is “Layout Everything!” - content types, nodes, blocks, and entities. You can even layout a single taxonomy term page!
Challenges Turn into Strengths
Matthew Saunders shared his personal stories of life’s challenges that were turned into opportunity. Matthew’s path is unique but his experiences represent situations and challenges we may have had in the past or come up against in the future. “Pivot-Points - Recognizing Opportunity, Turning Challenges to Strengths” was incredibly touching and personal. Thank you, Matthew, for sharing your story with the community. The session provided an important moment to reflect upon the fact that everyone may be experiencing challenges that other people don’t see.
Exploring & Designing Your Career Path
A job is something one does for money, a career is connected opportunities and fuels one's future. Humans on a career path experience moments when they feel like their direction needs to alter. Money, work-life happiness, interests, and work environments are all catalysts and reasons to revisit and map your career path. My session, “What happens next? Explore and Design Your Professional Path”, is relevant for all levels and roles within the workforce. I’ve personally used the industry standard topics, tools, and methods presented in the session, even as recently as June when Hook 42 had its seven-year birthday. As an organization we continuously incorporate the tools and techniques to mentor our employee’s growth paths.
Dad and Daughter Cover Drupal.org Profiles
“Extreme Makeover: Drupal.org Profile Edition” was presented by the father-daughter team of Greg Marshall and Amanda Marshall. The session provides reasoning why one should represent your online resume and contribution profile on Drupal.org. A how-to of the profile edit pages were demonstrated, including the new changes from the diversity and inclusion team.
I could see the impact this session has on our community instantly. While there, a new community member made his Drupal.org profile with the great instruction provided by Greg and Amanda. This session would be a great addition to a new-drupaler’s orientation of Drupal.org.
There was a loving and supporting banter between the two punctuated by the occasional Dad Joke, which I am no stranger to. The combination provided good will, good humor, and caring fatherly advice that is now extended beyond the Marshall family to the Drupal community.
I'm thankful to have been able to attend this camp as an attendee and really touch-base with my inner Drupal community member again. Connecting with those I have known for ages, and learning how new people are being introduced to the community provided a closeness to the community that I was losing sight of. Not in a way where I wasn't part of the community, but in a way where being in the weeds with everyone was a refreshing point of view to obtain again. It is important to take a step back, and remember our roots as we grow within a community that has so many moving pieces. Thank you, again, Drupal Camp Colorado for a wonderful experience.