Last week Chris Chodnicki (r2i CTO) and I joined more than 3,100 developers, designers, and sales & marketing professionals at DrupalCon 2012 Denver. This massive turnout reflects the growing community surrounding one of the most successful open source content management systems. Just like when I attended DrupalCon 2011 Chicago, I was in awe of the passion from the attendees and the overall paradigm of open source, community-built software.
Dries Buytaert’s keynote illustrated perfectly how Drupal and its community have grown in the past few years. It focused not only on what Drupal has done well, but on what it needs to do now and in the future to ensure its sustained growth. His main argument was for continuous innovation, and he identified several major companies that have failed to continue a cycle of innovation, and for this and other reasons, have either failed completely or aren’t as relevant today as they once were.
The current roadmap for innovation really begins with Dries’ announcement that Drupal 8 will incorporate parts of the Symfony 2 framework, another open source project. At a high level, Symfony will help to modernize what’s running under Drupal’s hood, bringing performance improvements and making custom development more accessible for more programmers. Even though this is a rather huge change for Drupal, we expect that Drupal will look and feel about the same to end-users and probably even to site administrators.
I attended a number of very interesting and informative DrupalCon 2012 sessions and I’ve listed a few, with links to the presentations:
This great presentation demonstrated how SASS, a CSS preprocessor, can help make CSS development easier and quicker. By providing additional functionality on top of familiar CSS, SASS bridges the gap between purely declarative CSS and a more powerful, dynamic programming language. Features of note include variables, complex calculations, and “mixins,” collections of selectors and properties that can be included in other declarations.
Larry Garfield’s excellent presentation posed the classic software development paradigm, which goes something like this: correct, on time, or within budget – pick two. He made the case that the way a system can be architected is never good or bad, but is instead either appropriate or inappropriate. He explained the subtle distinction and went on to give some guidelines around deciding what tradeoffs are possible for certain kinds of problems and that will still result in an appropriate solution.
Narayan Newton shared with us some of the techniques he uses, as well as some general guidelines, to help identify the causes of poor performance. His practical demonstration showed how performance of a Drupal site can be dramatically affected by ensuring certain best practices are followed.
Honestly, the only complaint I have for DrupalCon 2012 is directed more at the laws of physics! There were so many great presentations that I needed a way to attend more than one session at a time. Choosing which sessions to go to was difficult, but at the end of the day, the most important thing I got from the conference was the knowledge that Drupal and its community are stronger than ever and that it really makes sense to use this CMS framework as a foundation for your myriad of web applications. The little CMS that could has begun to grow up.