Drupal Camp Austin 2010, Day 1: A Review

by Chadwick Wood
November 22nd, 2010

This past weekend, I attended Drupal Camp Austin, a two-day conference at the AT&T Center that hosted a lot of really great presentations on various Drupal and general web topics. It was my first conference, and a good experience. I've always been a little anti-conferences, but this weekend may have changed that stance. Here is some of what I most enjoyed from the first day, and some links to resources that I found out about from the conference.

Jeff Robbins: Whole Lotta Drupal

"Drupal is Everywhere!" Those weren't his exact words, but that was the gist of Jeff Robbins' keynote on Day 1 of the conference. He presented a massive number of large, mainstream websites that are running on Drupal (I wish I could find the slides). I've known that Drupal is gaining lots of popularity (and there's no shortage of work to be had), but this was beyond what I'd imagined. The presentation left me feeling like I have undoubtedly chosen the right CMS to be an expert in (nice job).

The second half of his presentation went through the 25-minute process of setting up an simple online bookstore using Drupal. Impressive, although it was a video. I was expecting the real deal, Jeff! During that part, the DraggableViews module was mentioned, which somehow I'd never heard of. If you need custom ordering of elements in your Views, this is it.

I take it this guy is a Led Zeppelin fan. I wish he would would have paraphrased "Whole Lotta Love" in his talk: "Way down inside... clients... you neeee-eeeeed: Druuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal" (cue the drums!).

Stefan Wray: Open Media Project

I caught the second half of Stefan Wray's presentation about the Open Media Project and how channelAustin is using it to enable video submission and distribution online. It looks like a fun and challenging project they have going on, and they could use development help, I think. I said a brief hello to Stefan at the end of his presentation, because I'd like to volunteer some development time with them if/when the timing is right. If you're an Austin-based Drupal dev with some extra time, consider getting in touch with them.

Erik Summerfield: CTool Plugins and Exportables

Erik Summerfield's presentation on CTools Plugins and Exportables was an interesting and code-heavy (which I like) talk on these two parts of the CTools suite. I have yet to use CTools, and while the stuff you can do with it looks very cool, and will probably be increasingly used in contributed modules, I don't think I'm ready to jump into using this stuff in any of my custom modules. If you're writing a module that should provide extensibility for other modules to add functionality to, then Plugins looks like the way to go. The code caching aspect of it is very appealing, too, for performance. Exportables looks like a great idea for taking more site configuration out of the database (and thus making it work with version control more), but there are a lot of caveats to using them right now, so I'm a little apprehensive.

Tom McCracken: Building Web Leaders With Drupal

Tom McCracken's presentation was an interesting Drupal-slanted overview about the process of building a brand and an audience on the web. Although he used a lot of business buzzwords, the information he presented was very practical. Check out the slides from his presentation to get an overview of what he talked about. I'm looking forward to installing the Keyword Research module that he talked about (and wrote)... keyword research is something I have yet to put any real time into.

Chris Ruppel: Blocks are Dead! Long Live Panels

I disagree! But, I see where he's coming from in his presentation. Somehow I've never used Panels (and yes I feel stupid for that, considering how many sites I've built). To me, it looks like Panels are the obvious solution for pages where you need multiple sources of content (many nodes, views, etc) in your main content area, and/or you need a custom layout for a specific page or few. On the other hand, I think it's going overboard to use Panels as the basis of your site layout, unless you really just want to do everything via a GUI as much as possible (which I find to be a slow, frustrating way to work). Again, I have yet to use Panels, so maybe the more I get into them, the more I'll like the taste of that kool-aid! Regardless, it was a very informative presentation.

Check back tomorrow for my review of Day 2 of the conference. Were you there as well? Leave your thoughts in the comments.