DrupalCon 2013 session roundup

So my individual panel notes are terrible, or at least remarkably cryptic. But I’ve gone through and gotten the highlights from all of them, which should help with using this info later. I’d also like to write up something about the non-session parts of the event, maybe later today, maybe this weekend.


Large-Scale Drupal at OSU — dry, mostly geared towards the Ops side of things. Lots and lots of detail, managing huge numbers of sites. One thing that I want to remember for later is that they’re now using more Organic Groups vs separate sites.

Asset Management in Drupal 8 – part of the Scotch initiative, using some external thing called Assetic, to better manage inclusion of JS & CSS in Drupal themes & modules. Looks intriguing, not sure how much it’ll be in the final D8, or in what form exactly. If it works, it could be amazing, and a huge improvement over both D7 and Cascade.

Higher Ed Unconsortium (panel from 3 CA colleges) – this session had the unfortunate luck of being in a dim room right after lunch. I do like the idea of “messy, hasty pluralism” in terms of trying lots of things in parallel. Want to see their project (http://edudu.org/) at some point.

Post-Mobile – great presentation, not tons new to me, but gave me some things to think about in terms of structuring content for remixing, including the possibility of an entirely different model of content ownership. Cryptic thing from my notes: “model meaning, not presentation (and maybe not ownership, either)”

Content Strategy the RPG – mostly made me feel good about what we’ve been doing with content strategy. Interestingly enough, she recommends manual content audits (vs automagic) so that content owners feel the pain. Three things to look up more about: “page table”, a LEGO methodology, and “orbital content.”


Keynote (Karen McGrane) – Just pure awesome. Interesting that she’s very positive towards Drupal overall, but quite (justifiably) critical of some new initiatives, inline editing in particular. Things to look into: content strategy that includes digital signage; “content packages”, metadata is the new art direction.

Design Ops – Sort of a weird beat poetry/performance Tumblr presentation. A couple of specific things to look into: experience maps, continuing to develop a UI library.

UX Spaces – An interesting technique for handling UX development within the constraints of implementing in Drupal. (I think it can be generalized to UX in relationship to CMSs in general.) Sort of a diagram: in a “space”, there is data, behaviors, and users. Think subject verb object. And having those diagrams allows for reworking into Drupal things. Some interesting modules mentioned: Display Suite, Geofield, OpenLayers, Image styles, Lightbox2, Node Ownership.

Using Twig – The new templating language for Drupal 8; it was “committed” to core on Friday. A interesting demo of the simplicity and readability of the system, plus some ideas for how it might be more deeply integrated into Drupal. I’m very excited about this change. Looks to be easier than both the current Drupal template system AND what’s available in Cascade.


Keynote (Michael Lopp) – I am deeply ambivalent about this presentation. Some of it rang true (the general concept of the Engineer, the Designer, and the Dictator; I think my life goal may be “Content Engineer”) and some of it felt off-putting and elitist. In particular, the idea of substituting a person’s digital life for a resume or business card strikes me as prejudiced against people who aren’t able to participate that way: newbies, people with lots of non-work responsibilities, the shy, those under various NDAs, etc., etc. And of course there was the whole “mom as non-technical user” thing that was just a cheap laugh and totally distracting.

Drupal 8 Configuration System – Missed a chunk of this, and ended up sitting way off in the corner, so I feel like I didn’t get as much out of this one as I wanted. That said, I think this is yet another excellent step towards a Drupal that’s going to be significantly easier to run and comprehend. I like the idea of taking configuration out of the database (because I’ve been bit by that), and it sounds like they’ve done a lot of work around creating a good flow for dev > staging > live. (This is not a huge surprise: the very first presentation I saw from Greg, he talked quite a bit about those issues in his work at the Seattle Times.)

Responsive Discovery – Very thoughtful & moving and also good stuff about doing research and tools for understanding process. See http://responsiveprocess.com/ and http://hellofisher.com/secret.php for good stuff.


Code Sprint – I didn’t get to do much at the code sprint, but I did figure out setting up a Drupal 8 environment on my laptop, got to meet some people, and clicked “re-test” on a bunch of patches for Twig. I’m glad I went, and I’d do it again.