Myself and other members of CTI Digital spent this weekend at Drupal Camp North West at Media City UK. Drupal Camp is like a mini regional Drupal Con with talks, workshops, stalls - all related to Drupal. The Friday (which I wasn't at) was a free Business Day with non-technical talks to agencies and national businesses. CTI was represented with a talk by Steve Gale on the planning and pitfalls of migrating data to Drupal.
The Saturday was the main event with a full day of lectures and talks over a wide range of topics relating to Drupal. The morning keynote was by Morten DK - creator of the Mothership theme - who gave an impassioned plea for Drupal (both as a framework and individual developers) to make front-end developer tasks easier. It was great to hear someone speak up for front-end development which isn't always intuitive in Drupal, but it sounds like things are improving with the introduction of Twig into Drupal core!
After the keynote the sessions split into two tracks. Thankfully CTI had enough people there to break up the numbers so we benefited from both tracks. I stayed on for Git your act together and keep your code under control by James Panton. It was a really good talk for beginners on how to use git for version control. Thankfully everything talked about we already have in place as part of our workflow at CTI - but it's always good to get confirmation you're doing the right thing!
After a coffee break I went to Wax On, Wax Off! Improve your coding skills at the DrupalCampNW Coding Kata which was a joint talk by Chris Maiden and Mark West. It was a really useful session on applying the Kata martial arts philosophy to development in order to improve your skills. They gave a good example of test driven development with a couple of volunteers from the audience in order to demonstrate best practice techniques! Testing is perhaps an element of my skill set which needs some work, so it was great to have some inspiration to improve on that!
The final session before lunch was Configuration Management Makes Drupal 8 Cex-Y by Alex Pott. This was a great introduction to the new way Drupal will handle saving site configurations in Drupal 8. It will now be very easy to save site configuration into files using the YAML specification. This should reduce the reliability on the database and make deploying site changes so much easier than with Drupal 7. Features in 7 is fantastic, but this looks like it'll make it even simpler!
After lunch I went to Launch in 3 days: Rapid prototyping with Drupal by Liang Shen. The talk mostly centred around a specific case study of a site Liang had developed in 3 days using the Twitter API and geodata. I would have preferred the talk to go into more detail of the theory of rapid prototyping, but the case study was very impressive, and the graph of the Startup Financing Cycle was great.
The final session before the afternoon keynote was Get your bits in!… Or how to use the Migrate module to populate your Drupal site by Elliot Ward. At CTI we do a lot of content migration and have a lot of experience of writing custom solutions. I'm definitely interested in plugging the work we've already done into this Migrate module as it looked like a real life saver - especially being easily able to rollback a migration! This is definitely a talk I'll be watching again.
The afternoon keynote was a remote talk given by Josh Koneig on Drupal's Destiny which outlined Drupal's place in the internet world, and what we could expect in the future from CMS based web development as a whole, and specifically where Drupal will fit into this. It looks like exciting times ahead, fingers crossed!
In the evening Drupal Camp NW had a private room in Missoula Bar in Manchester where it was great to have a chat with some familiar faces from NWDUG as well as some new ones who'd travelled from all over the UK and Europe for the event. The Drupal community is such an impassioned one and it's great to get so many people together to discuss how to improve Drupal as a whole, and the way we use it.
The Sunday ran an unconference format of informal code sprints, discussion groups and talks about whatever anyone wanted to talk about. I joined a discussion on the Commerce module, while other members went to a Twig sprint with Morten DK. After a bit of lunch Ben Anderton from CTI ran a very informative talk on using OOP in Drupal module development, how this is already being used in some contrib module, and likely in Drupal core in the future.
One of the great things about these events is that even if you miss a talk - all of the Saturday ones were filmed! You can find them all on the Drupal Camp Northwest Vimeo group, or they're linked in the individual session pages on the Drupal Camp North West site. Overall this was a very well organised, informative and overall enjoyable weekend. I have to say a big thank you to all the organisers and volunteers who put so much effort into making sure everything ran smoothly!
Hopefully the success of 2012 will lead to a Drupal Camp North West 2013! Or at the very least I'm hoping to see more regular's down at North West Drupal User Group!