A Summary of Drupal Camp Toronto 2008



May 28, 2008

Mike, Charlotte, and I spent the weekend in Toronto, attending the 2008 Drupal camp. It was a very enjoyable time and I'd like to thank the organizers for putting together a great event. I only arrived in Toronto midday Friday, so I missed both the morning sessions, but I was able to attend John Resig's talk about jQuery. I had only briefly looked at jQuery before this talk, so John's talk was very informative, as well as impressive. I can safely say jQuery is a great tool for dynamic doing dynamic UI manipulation and definitely a handy tool to have integrated in Drupal core. Afterwards I listened to Khalid Baheyeldin of 2bits' talk about Open-Source: For Fun and For Profit. Some interesting ideas about working with open-source projects were mentioned during this talk. One of my favourite points of the talk was in regards to mutualism vs commensalism in open-source projects, where as community members, we should bake more 'pie' instead of eating it all. Saturday morning, I attended Colan Schwartz's session on SVN and Trac for project management. Before the talk, I had general knowledge of both SVN and Trac, but I gathered some useful ideas on how to implement Drupal projects in such a system. The question remains whether or not it is worth the time creating a SVN and Trac installation for each project, as Trac does not handle multiple repositories. The following session I sat in was Julian Egelstaff's Formulize presentation. Definitely an interesting system, but I can't help but feel like the added application layer (Xoops, in this case) is extra bloat that outweighs the advantages offered by the Formulize system. Not to mention, the UI and administrative options are very complex, making the learning curve very steep. The important reason I doubt the usefulness of Formulize for any OpenConcept projects is the simple fact that I don't see any applications where Formulize is the best solution as opposed to a native Drupal solution. Alan Dixon mediated an interesting discussion in the afternoon about "Thinking Outside the Code", or simply thinking about projects beyond the development phase. The participants in this session all seemed to have similar issues with things such as RFPs, requirement gathering, flexible contracts, flat fee vs hourly rates, and other issues that plague most small development firms. The scale of the conversation makes it difficult to expand on all the ideas discussed in this post, so I may follow-up with a post about this session in specific. Lastly, I sat in Khalid's presentation about Drupal Scalability and Optimization. A lot of great tips were given during this presentation. Most of them were very technical, and intermediate to advanced knowledge of the LAMP stack would have been key to understanding and enjoying this session. I am under the impression that the presentation slides themselves should be made available on the Drupal camp website, and once I find it, I will post a link here. In summary, the camp was a great opportunity to share knowledge about Drupal with fellow developers, themers, and Drupal enthusiasts in the surrounding area. I met some great people, doing some very interesting things with Drupal, whom I look forward to hearing more about in the future. Ideally, I would have liked to attend all the sessions, yet that isn't a possibility. The one thing I would like to see done at camps in the future is having a more organized wrap-up session or meeting. After the last session, everyone simply dispersed and went back to whichever dark, development dungeon they came from; this seemed like a shame, and it would have been nice to have an organized social meet-up afterwards, to cap off the weekend. Look forward to seeing you all at the next Drupal camp.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.