DrupalCon Latin America 2015 - A recap

For the first time, DrupalCon happened in Latin America! Dagmar, Emma and me spent a week in Bogotá to speak about Drupal and to connect with the local communities. 

DrupalCon Latin America

To be honest, after low registration numbers and too many e-mail reminders for buying tickets, my expectations for the first DrupalCon in Latin America were not too high. Together with our project manager Dagmar and front-end expert Emma, we were still excited to go and support the regional communities. After having made many friends during my Drupal tours in Central America it felt like a great opportunity to visit South America for the first time and share experiences with local leaders.

A local looking out over Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia
A local looking out over Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia

 

Colombian selling coffee on the streets of Bogotá
Colombian's selling coffee on the streets of Bogotá

DrupalCon

With 260 attendees, the conference was more like a camp and can't be compared with DrupalCons in the U.S. or Europe, which have several thousands of attendees. Still, this DrupalCon Latin America wasn't just a camp: attendees came from all over Latin America and many even flew in from the United States, Europe or even South Korea. The presentations I was listinig to where of high quality and the live-translation service from and into Spanish, Portuguese and English seemed to be working great and was constantly being used by many attendees.

Attendees gathering in the main conference room
Attendees gathering in the main conference room

While Dries Buytaert's keynote pointed out some good examples on how the web is evolving, the analogy of using technology to minimize time being spent for getting a valentines present didn't play well for my taste. Larry Garfields held a very motivating keynote and you could feel the audience getting excited for the sprints on Thursday.

Driesnote
Driesnote
Larry Garfield's keynote
Larry Garfield's keynote

Other session highlights include: Drupal 8 CMI on Managed Workflow with a great music / dance intro by Matt Cheney and Molly Byrnes; Drupal in the Post-PHP-Renaissance World by EclipseGc; Designing Drupal 8 by Lewis Nyman; An Overview of the Drupal 8 Plugin System by Joe Shindelar and Persiguiendo el unicornio: Por más mujeres en tecnología by Kandra. As usual you can find the videos on the Association's Youtube Channel and they are linked from the session pages.

A dancy kick-off to the CMI managed workflow session
A dancy kick-off to the CMI managed workflow session

Dagmar did a presentation on SEO for Drupal. The presentation was packed and a big success. My presentation for DrupalCon was special for me. For the first time #d8rules - Web-automation with Rules in Drupal 8 was code-driven. Given the early stage and complexity of the project, I initially struggled with the preparation. In the end, diving into the Rules 8.x code and putting it into a presentation turned out to be fun and a good example to show some new programming patterns in Drupal 8.

Dagmar presenting Amazee Labs best practices on SEO
Dagmar presenting Amazee Labs best practices on SEO

The size of the event also allowed to connect even better with the attendees. I feel like I got to shake almost everyones hands and was able to connect much better than on large-scale DrupalCons where it is unlikely to run into the same person twice even during several days of conference.

Attendees wearing ear-plugs for live translation services from and to English, Spanish & Portuguese
Attendees wearing ear-plugs for live translation services from and to English, Spanish and Portuguese

I love to travel in the Latin American region because of the friendliness of people and the special vibe of the culture. The local team setup a great set of social activities ranging from cycling through the city, traditional & explosive games to enjoying city views at night and of course latin dances such as Salsa.  "Northern" Drupal events tend to be a bit stiff, we can definitely learn from our Latin friends in this matter!

Watching the city lights as part of a tour organised by the local team
Watching the city lights as part of a tour organised by the local team

 

The conference venue after the last session
The conference venue after the last session

Drupal in Latin America

Latin America is an uprising market that has lots of potential, not directly comparable but similar to India where DrupalCon makes its extra-stop in 2016. It was good to see a variety of local Drupal shops present at the conference that already have years of experience in delivering web solutions based on Drupal that where looking to hire new talent to grow their business. 

A room full of sprinters working on Drupal 8 and other initiatives
A room full of sprinters working on Drupal 8 and other initiatives

There is a lot of dedication and passion available from the regional folks. It was great to see people from many countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brasil etc. Most of them have vibrant local communities and you could see their interest in contributing by the sheer number of people that showed up for the sprints on Thursdays (67% attended, compare with 23% Austin and 34% Amsterdam!).

Sprinters at work
Sprinters at work

Unfortunately, WiFi couldn't make up for number of sprinters in the beginning, but after a cold start and passionate leading from the mentors, it turned into a productive day. On our side, Emma was especially excited to get patches committed for people that she had introduced into the contribution workflow as part of her Bartik mentoring work, Dagmar worked on a prototype to improve mobile table drag & drop UX and I worked on a first integration to scaffold Rules 8.x plug-ins with the shiny Drupal Console project that is exclusively maintained by Latin Americans.

Sprinters at work
Sprinters at work

 

Around the conference

While the primary goal is to meet, present and connect on Drupal, Bogotá was also a great opportunity to get to know an exotic country for many non-locals. People hiked Monserrate, travelled to the rain forests or Dagmar, Joel and me even did our first hike above 5000m at the Sierra Nevada of El Cocuy. Special thanks to our client Exped: their gears made sure that we could travel light while being prepared well for nights below 0°C.

Hiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El Cocuy
Hiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El Cocuy
Hiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El Cocuy
Hiking up and above 5000m at Los Nevados de El Cocuy

 

Sunrise at Los Nevados de El Cocuy
Sunrise at Los Nevados de El Cocuy

You can find more pictures on our flickr page. Also see Nick Vidal's and Jesus Manuel Olivas' blog posts. Thank you everyone involved in DrupalCon Latin America 2015. We are looking forward to more conferences like this one!

February 25, 2015
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