DrupalCon CPH day one

This week, our team arrived from the Netherlands by car and plane in Copenhagen, Denmark. We are attending DrupalCon and here is a overview of our day one. You can also read about day two and day three.

9:00 Drupal distributions Do’s en Don’ts (link)
Presented by one of the maintainers of Open Atrium. Some topics:

  • install profiles
  • Exportables (ctools)
  • Kit specification (for features + context, drush make)

Tips:

  1. Install profiles just list modules, and are executed on install, not update.
  2. use batch (API) processing (ist of modules can take a long time to install).
  3. organize features functionality.
  4. use context (especially version 3.0 which has layouts).
  5. always fix module versions in your drush make.

Unfortunately there was little time left to talk about some of the possible business models which are possible as a service or product.

10:00 Propeople: behind the scenes (link)
Case studies of a large Drupal company. They talked about fdm.dk and unicef.dk and how you can impress a client by just showing what Drupal can do.

Don't be afraid to give your client control or even the possibility to extend the system (indirectly by asking you for some module functionality). Do ask you clients for testimonials after a succesful project, which you may use on your website.

11:00 Dries Buytaert Keynote - State of Drupal
This one was a bit different as usual. Dries didn't have much news on D7 or the drupal.org redesign. So instead the keynote was about different visions on how Drupal might look like in 2020. The future of Drupal and the community. I enjoyed how Dries is able to pull together the big picture and put things in perspective in his keynotes, but there was some discussion on some of Dries' remarks about women in the community. Other topics:

  • Everybody is looking for Drupal Talent - but it's pretty hard to find that talent.
  • Drupal is invading the enterprise.
  • Why? It’s actually become a better piece of technology.
  • Looking back at history, trends and current situations, Drupal wil grow a factor 10 by 2020
  • 10% of the web might be Drupal in 2020 (currently 1%)
  • Comparison with Apple - don’t sell the features

Trends:

  • Drupal SaaS (for the low-end user)
  • Drupal distributions
  • Integration with other system (legacy or social like facebook)

Directly after this, the group picture was made:

13:30 Drupal: the next generation (link)
Very interesting session by Larry Garfield who talked about future plans for Drupal 8 or "how Drupal 7 sucks". Because while D7 might be awesome, it still is pretty bad at some very fundamental issues:

  • Contexts Drupal has no idea about contexts. You have node pages and blocks, but there is nothing tying it all together. There are some solutions in contrib like context and spaces or panels, but they work around an existing fundamental problem in Drupal core. We need an intermediate layer -> the butler project There is also a premature D7 module on github.
  • Swappable functionality Because hooks are meant to add functionality not replace it.
  • Drupal returns html Sometimes you want to return just a part of a page or something in JSON, SOAP, etc. (now you must use the services module and the required bootstrap requires a lot of code needed to be loaded which you do not need.
  • Performance Too much code on every single page request. Render API is a memory hog. Related: http://www.garfieldtech.com/blog/benchmarking-magic

The new architecture would also mean things are cached by context -> ESI caching (Varnish) building into drupal (more)! So Drupal 8 will be much about cutting overhead processing, some fundamental redesigns (will we still need hook_menu if we have contexts?) and other performance optimizations. This will probably mean that Drupal 8 will be more of a change 'under the hood while D7 has a lot of 'outer' user experience and usability improvements.

14:45 MongoDB: humongous drupal (link)
This was a pretty theoretical session by Chx about the benefits of nosql.

  • nosql
  • clash of two cultures
  • ACID vs BASE
  • reality isn’t rigid (example: sell cars, color attribute, but what if a car has 2 color)
  • You need a lot of ram en a lot of diskspace

Others non relational databases: cassandra (facebook and twitter use that) and couchdb. 14:45 Getting Early Estimates Right (link) This is an excellent session my colleague Erik attended, covering your client's question which is always difficult to answer: So, how much will it cost? You can find notes about this session over here.

16:00 Building scalable high performance drupal sites in the cloud (link)
Another advanced session by Barry Jaspan, a senior architect at Acquia. File sharing on AWS :

  • Drupal needs a POSIX filesystem for user-uploaded files
  • elastic block store (EBS) is single instance
  • rsync does not scale past two web nodes
  • S3FS is worse than useless for this (too slow, non-POSIX, unreliable, unsupported)
  • A network filesystem is required...

Challenge: HA load balancer

  • load balancer might fail
  • elastic load balancer (requires a hot spare or second active instance)
  • Elastic IP (also requires hot spare)

Then there was also some talk about Puppet as a solution for a lot of issues. Which was pretty neat to hear, because our hosting partners are actually now adopting Puppet.

17:00 Awesomeness redefined: Drupal 7 theming (link)
Session presented by Morton and Jenny, talking about the changes in Drupal 7 for themers (which are great!) and Bartik - one of the new core themes for Drupal 7. Some of the new theming stuff in Drupal 7:

  • hide and render will be your new best friend
  • hooks are possible in template.php (which means themers now at last can modify/theme forms!)

If you want a more detailed overview check out this video from Drupalcon Paris on this topic.

As for Drupal 6, you might want to check out Display Suite, which makes the life of a Drupal 6 themer a lot easier.

Evening /night: After a good meal of pasta in a nearby gigantic shopping mall (our appartment is actually around 200m from the Bella Center and 5km from the city center) We spent the evening and night at the FooBar which had sponsored beer. Nice! Also very nice in Copenhagen: the metro runs 24 hours a day!

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