Every year, the Drupal community has two main events, which all members are waiting for. The DrupalCon in North America in spring and in Europe in the autumn. With Covid-19 our whole world has changed and unfortunately this affects the Drupal community plans as well.
DrupalCon 2020 goes Global and virtual
The original plans for DrupalCon North America 2020 was an event in Minneapolis, US, but after the pandemic started spreading, the Drupal Association decided to turn it into the first ever virtual DrupalCon. This decision did not affect only the money side of the event (which was saved through the DrupalCares campaign, thanks to the wonderful community), but also meant that we needed to try something new - an online event, which is something completely different to what all of us is used to. Naturally, as the world had to learn the meaning of lockdown and social distancing, we understood that there is no other way to come together, and everybody was looking forward to seeing how the very first DrupalCon Global would look like.
Even though travelling to new places is always a charming part of a Drupal event (and in many cases a very nice reason to attend), attending a rather large Drupal conference from your couch turned out to be very very satisfying. DC Global was organized to match the US time zone(s), so most of the sessions started after 3PM CET, but this allowed more attendees to join (even if it caused a minor jetlag for those who attended the sessions in the middle of their night). DC Global chose Hopin as a conference platform, which was new to most of us. It was interesting to see how people discovered the features of the software, which allowed us to jump between sessions easily, chat with each other during the talks, and even to network. Selfies were taken over by screenshots of our best moments :)
Of course, the content is the most important part of every conference, it was great to see a lot of sessions about how to provide a better working environment and how Drupal helped locals all over the world in these hard times, and of course a lot of exciting and great technical talks as well. We had wonderful keynote speakers, including Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozzilla, and iAsia Brown, program manager of Microsoft. One of the highlights was the session of the Penguin Corps - the kids took over the stage, and they did a fantastic job! All talks will be available online soon for everyone to check.
One highlight of every DrupalCon is the DriesNote, held by Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal. This time, only one months after the launch of Drupal 9, everybody was curious to hear his thoughts about the state of Drupal.
Drupal 9 came out only in June, but we already have a release date set for Drupal 10, planned for June 2022, which gives us 16 months.
Dries introduced 5 initiatives, which may guide us on the road and hopefully lead us to meeting the expected deadlines.
1. Drupal 10 readiness
This largely depends on third-party software components, and upgrading them will be a nice challenge. These include CKEditor, Symfony, jQuery, Guzzle and the support of PHP8 as well.
2. Easy out-of-the-box usage
Media replacing files, Layout builder and Claro need to get over the finish line before the launch. Some of you might have been using these items, but they need finishing touches.
3. Front-end theme: Olivero
A new, beautiful front-end theme is coming with Drupal 10, and even though the progress is looking good, still some work needs to be done.
4. Automated updates
Again, an initiative that has shown a lot of effort in the past, and it is much awaited. The first milestone is automatic security updates, and the long term vision is to build a composabled architecture for Drupal.
Therefore, a Vue and React based JS menu component is recommended, and this is the 5th initiative.
Dries's post about his thoughts and the recording of his talk is available here.
A virtual conference is fun!
Probably most of the attendees were surprised how much this virtual conference was about engaging in discussions, in a way, more than before. This time we did not have our friends around us (only when we organized them together, which, with all the time zone differences was harder of course), but through networking we could meet a lot of new people, and have really good discussions in those 5 minutes which were allocated (sort of like a speed dating session). If you were really lucky, you could even find Dries there (like Baddy did)!
I wasn’t that lucky, but I ran into my dear colleague Adam and Ella instead, which was a really nice suprise :)
The structure of the virtual event was similar to a live one: one stage, with keynotes and talks that would interest more people, and several session and BoF rooms. In these smaller rooms we could easily talk to each other through chat, and for BoFs through screen sharing (one of my highlights was the DrupalPets BoF), and during the sessions we could even ask questions about the topics. Photo source: Acquia's twitter feed
For those, who do not really like to talk in front of a lot of people, this helped a lot in communication as well. I know many of us find these situations challenging, especially if you just want to listen in, but don’t necessarily want to ask. In case of BoFs it was a bit harder, since we didn’t know who was around when we were chatting with each other (during DrupalNapping or our BoF about DrupalCon Barcelona), but it was great to see new people joining, who just wanted to hang out together with friends, music and nice discussions.
And let’s not forget the Exhibit hall and trivia, which are always the fun part of the event. You can chat and play for swag, just bump into friends and meet new people as well. This time the online Exhibit hall meant thematic rooms for sponsors, with every day games, raffles, and you could just join without having to necessarily interact with people around you. Trivia was also done online (we even had three sessions of it!), and it was quite a success.
And of course, I have to mention the other absolute highlight of DrupalCon: Baddy, our CEO received the Aaron Winborn Award! Even if we had our own tickets for the event, we got together in a hangout and watched the ceremony live. The whole team at 1xINTERNET is extremely happy and proud to work with her, so we could not have finished the week better.
Like iAsia Brown said in her keynote:
We are not really social distancing, we are just geographically far from each other right now
I truly believe that going virtual brought the Drupal community a little bit more together and we could let a little bit more sunshine in to look forward to a positive future.