Drupal Mountain Camp 2019 Recap

Drupal Mountain Camp 2019 Recap

Day one

The weather was snowy and cold and caused some transportation delays. Though I arrived later than planned, I was able to attend afternoon workshops and work on some Drupal Contribution projects. The day finished with an Apéro, where everyone gathered for good drinks and great conversations. To finish the night, the Amazee team left to have dinner together.

Apéro

Day two

The 2nd day of Drupal Mountain Camp began with a discussion by a panel made up of Nick Veenhof, Imre Gmelig Meijling, Yauhen Zenko and Vincent Maucorps, to discuss the future of Drupal communities. The panel was moderated by Rachel Lawson. They took questions from the audience members, which included:

  • How can we attract young talent?
    By targeting students, as they have the most time. Having a DrupalCamp in a university shows them what the community has and can to offer. This can also be achieved by getting Universities to add Drupal to the course curriculum. Another way is offering a training initiative or talking to agencies.
  • What can we do about International collaborations?
    Related to the previous question, maybe offer a base camp or training day. This allows those who wouldn’t be able to attend a larger event to learn. Live streaming is a good option for those not able to attend in person.
  • What are the benefits of sponsoring events, such as Drupal Mountain Camp?
    Sponsoring is a great way to find talent and increase brand recognition, particularly to companies that are new.

GraphQL 101: What, Why, How

This session was presented by fellow colleague Maria Comas, as a beginner’s guide to GraphQL. Throughout the presentation, it became clear why GraphQL is so powerful. I really liked the abbreviation WYGISWAF (What You Get Is What You Asked For), because that is essentially what GraphQL does. It will return only the data that you need. Maria showed us how this is achieved through demo code, before letting people know that this is already available in Drupal through the GraphQL module. As it was International Women’s Day, it was fitting that Maria ended the session with the following quote by computer scientist, Grace Hopper.

The most damaging phrase in the language is "We’ve always done it this way!"
- Grace Hopper

Maria

Mob Programming: An interactive session

Next was Daniel Lemon, whose session was all about mob programming. Having already introduced a scrum team to mob programming, Daniel wanted to share the experience. This presentation gave a broad overview of mob programming. What impressed me most about this session was that Daniel didn't just want to explain to the audience what mob programming is, but got members of the audience to participate in a live mob session. This meant that those involved and those watching could see how mob programming works.

Participants were tasked with creating a gallery page and menu to the Drupal Mountain Camp site, within 15 minutes, taking turns of 2 minutes each, being the driver or navigator. After introducing the task, the 5 participants were able to create a basic implementation of the gallery page. The session ended with a quick retrospective, in which participants were truly motivated to try this within their own company. Many felt it was a nice switch from the ordinary single-developer experience, but some observed it could be difficult to keep up especially in the role of the driver.

Stage

Splash awards, fondue, sledding, and drinks!

The Splash Awards is about awarding the best Drupal projects of the year. Amazee Labs won an award for Zuerich.com in the category of Design/UX.

During the awards, Jeffrey McGuire treated us to sounds from the Alphorn, which I, personally, had never heard before. The sound produced was truly beautiful. After the awards, everyone made their way to the funicular station to collect their sleds and made their way up to the Belle Epoque restaurant. I was unable to go sledding as I didn’t have the right footwear, so I went to eat fondue with fellow colleagues Victor, Bastian, and Michael. There really is nothing better than ending the day with fondue.

Splash Awards

Day three

Day three started with a keynote, presented by Matthew Grill about the Drupal Admin UI & JavaScript Modernisation initiative, in which he informed us about the current progress of the administration. After the initial showing at DrupalEurope, it was clear that existing modules wouldn’t be compatible. This led to the team creating extension points, which would allow current modules to bundle and transpile the JavaScript to be used with the AdminUI, without having an extra build step.

It was clear that this was still a work in progress but nonetheless, it was nice to hear the latest update about the initiative. After the session, everyone was invited to the group photo. Say “Drupal”!

Group Photo

Current state of the Drupal Admin UI Redesign

The next session was again about the Drupal Admin UI, however, this time about the design. This was given by Sascha Eggenberger and Cristina Chumillas, they both explained and showcased the new design system, wireframes, and the current state of designs the initiative is proposing. It was clear that the design process was long and opinionated after they explained that designing a button wasn’t as straightforward as expected, due to many states and types. The team are hoping for a release in Drupal 8.7. but it was clear, after someone asked, that it seems to be a slow process, that this might not happen in time. It was noted that they also need help from contributors.

If you want to help or just know more about the above, head to the Admin UI & JavaScript Modernisation initiative.

Optimise your JavaScript

Saša Nikolić gave his session on optimising JavaScript. After a short history of the internet, in which I learned that Drupal came before Facebook. Saša also covered data loading. Loading lots of data, with lots of data manipulation is not a good idea for the user as this will slow down page loads.

The session also explained how to address various scenarios and the general rules that every JavaScript developer should be familiar with in order to boost your site’s performance. This includes using tools like Google Chrome dev tools, and Lighthouse. Tree shaking was another suggestion, by including only the functions that are needed. I also came to learn about prepack, a JavaScript bundle optimiser. Another useful piece of advice was to utilise CSS. Why use JavaScript for animations when CSS can take care of this? If unsupported browsers are the reason, leave it out, and make it look graceful as possible. I also enjoyed the joke about “eval() = bad”.

Network was the bottleneck, now it’s JavaScript.
- Saša Nikolić

Open source contribution

This was my favourite session of the day in which I learned about the opinions of Christina Chumillas, Miro Dietiker, Kevin Wenger, Michael Schmid, and Lukas Smith about everything to do with open source. This was an open forum, moderated by Josef Dabernig, in which an audience member was encouraged to ask a question they had about open source.

  • What motivates you to contribute to open source?
    It is concrete, you can see what you have done. People will code review, this will not only help make it better but will make oneself better. On a side note, people should just work together, join forces, this is the mindset of Drupal.
  • What is the advantage of open source software over proprietary software?
    Not only does it help with the maintenance of the code, but having different backgrounds, helps with the innovation of the code. Proprietary software means being on your own, which sometimes is not productive.
  • What is a good way to avoid maintainer burnout?
    Having a coach is a good way to let them, and other people, know of any problems and get help from them. Avoid those that don't have your best interest at heart. Share the knowledge, don't let one person do everything, and don’t let yourself be only one to complete someone just for the credit.

It was really nice to hear those answers and I couldn’t agree more. As someone who loves to contribute to open source, I think the biggest benefit is that your code will only become stronger if you share your code with others. After all, two heads are better than one.

Closing

Lukas Smith gave a very thought-provoking and inspiring closing session titled "Diversity & Inclusion: Why and How?". Lukas shared personal insights into becoming active in improving diversity and inclusiveness. He challenged the audience with some shocking statistics on the low amount of female to male programmers across Switzerland and the United States and then revealed that in open-source this percentage is even lower.

What can we do to better ourselves and improve Diversity? He also finished off the session with several tips to improve Diversity, some of which I find important to highlight:

  • Challenge your cognitive biases.
  • Consider following specifically people from marginalized communities in your chosen field.
  • Believe when members of marginalized communities point out issues with bias even if you have never encountered them.
  • Work on using inclusive language.

While talking about inclusion, I, along with everyone who attended, was happy to see that there were three sign language interpreters at the event. This meant that those who are deaf or with hearing difficulties were not excluded from the camp. This was another reason why this camp was exceptional.

If someone points out an offensive statement, make an effort to not become defensive. Listen, learn, move on.
- Lukas Kahwe Smith

After the closing everyone was invited for the ice hockey match between HC Davos and Rapperswil. This was my first time watching an ice hockey game, so it was wonderful to attend. It was a great match, with both a great atmosphere and great people. With that ended the great weekend that was Drupal Mountain Camp. I can honestly say that I had such a great time, especially spending time with my team and the Drupal community.

Finally, you hear it all the time, “thank you to all the sponsors”, but honestly, it cannot be expressed enough. Without them, great camps like Drupal Mountain Camp wouldn’t be possible.

The Game

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