DrupalCon unites people who use, develop, design and support the Drupal platform from around the world. This year, DrupalCon Europe 2021 brought together the European community by hosting various regional Drupal camps within the main conference. We had camps representing Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and Ukraine. Alongside the camps, we had contribution periods available every single day with official Drupal sessions taking place over 5 hours per day, leaving the rest of the day open to contribution or networking with others from the community.
Day 1: A Musical Entrance
DrupalCon kicked off with a keynote by LJ Rich entitled “Sound Ideas: Unlocking Creativity” where LJ simultaneously played two instruments, a piano and a soundboard; and managed two different computers all while teaching us about music and how it has an effect on our learning capabilities. Highly talented with musical synaesthesia, LJ creatively explained the similarities in writing music with writing open-source software. This was by far one of my favourite talks I’ve ever had the privilege to watch live. LJ finished off the talk with a remix of the Drupal song, which motivated the whole community into a sense of belonging. A wonderful start to the conference.
There were 5 simultaneous parallel tracks with talks ranging from “The Future of Accessibility is Choice” by Carie Fisher to workshops about getting started with Drupal by Mauricio Dinarte. There was a good balance of different sessions for people who were new to Drupal to those who know the ins-and-outs at a more experienced level. The evening ended with a networking reception that led into the “Women in Drupal” event hosted by Baddý Sonja Breidert and Lenny Moskalyk.
Day 2: The Dutch Jam
The second day of DrupalCon started early in the morning with a wide range of talks and workshops. I followed along with the workshop entitled “DruxtJS 101: Fully Decoupled Drupal with JSON:API and Nuxt.js” by Stuart Clark. It was structured very well and delivered at a pace that everyone could follow along. We learnt the basics of Druxt and how to build out a fully decoupled Drupal website.
I watched Anita Ihuman’s talk on “How Implicit Bias Affects Diversity and Inclusion in Open-Source.” Anita explained different types of implicit bias such as gender bias, the tendency to prefer one gender over another; or affinity bias, the tendency for people to connect with others who share similar backgrounds, experiences, and interests. Anita then gave us different steps to eliminate implicit bias, from learning what unconscious biases are, to setting diversity and inclusion goals.
We then had the keynote “Build vs Buy - Pfizer and Open-Source.” This was a fireside chat hosted by Jeffrey ‘jam’ McGuire joined by Richard Jones, Jess Romeo, and Dick Olsson. They explored the story of how Pfizer uses Drupal with their strategy to “build vs buy.” It was a rare glimpse into open source at enterprise scale in a highly regulated industry.
After this, the Dutch community hosted “DrupalJam,” a mini-conference held in a live television studio in Rotterdam. They held various sessions and interviews in Dutch. It was interesting to briefly attend and listen in, although I do not understand much Dutch. It was a great way to interact with the Dutch community and to see them celebrate Drupal’s 20th anniversary together in person was inspiring.
Day 3: Driesnote
The third day of DrupalCon started with the main keynote, the “Driesnote” by Dries Buytaert. Introduced by Heather Rocker who gave a short “prenote” presentation that was both inspiring and informative. Heather drew parallels with the TV show, Ted Lasso, telling us that we are capable of great things and we deserve the best possible outcome if we continue to believe in Drupal. Dries explained that we’ve come a long way and that Drupal 10 is already on the horizon. There are still many Drupal 8 modules that only require an automated patch to be compatible with Drupal 9. The Drupal core initiatives help to continuously push Drupal to the next level. With a new frontend theme coupled with an easy out-of-the-box experience, Drupal is leading the way forward not only with its’ welcoming open-source community but also with new features such as the decoupled menus that are a stepping stone to make it easier to build a fully decoupled website.
I watched the Driesnote in the comfort of the Amazee Labs office with friends from the Drupal Switzerland community. We hosted one of the local Drupal Camp events, “Drupal Mountain Camp”, as an informal gathering at our office in Zurich. This was twinned with a parallel event happening in the Inovae offices in Geneva for the Swiss community-based in the Romandy (French-speaking) region of Switzerland. It was invigorating to be able to spend time in-person with Drupal friends again, where we could network and enjoy the talks of the day. The two local Drupal Switzerland events were sponsored by Liip, Inovae, and Amazee Labs.
After lunch, we watched Sascha Eggenberger’s talk titled “Gin Admin Theme: The Past, The Present, & The Future”. Sascha then took some time to have a special Q&A chat with the Swiss community in Zurich. After which we brainstormed the next Drupal Mountain Camp which we hope will take place in Davos, sometime in 2022. We ended the day with a few social drinks.
Day 4: The Community
The final day of DrupalCon began with the final talks, ranging from “Drupal for Universities: current state and perspectives” by Andrea Pescetti, to “a deep dive of the possibilities of layout builder for the site-builder & content editor” by Wesley de Vrient and Frederik Wouters. I attended “The Sorceress’ Spellbook - Pandemic edition” by Fatima Sarah Khalid. Fatima always delivers talks in a bubbly energetic way, which is always great fun to watch. Fatima presented neat CLI tricks and a wide range of useful tools to make working from home easier for all of us.
Finally, we ended the conference with the keynote from the Drupal Core Initiative Leads, hosted by Gábor Hojtsy. We were given an overview of the current state of the Project Browser by Christopher Wells. Then Emilie Nouveau and Cristina Chumillas gave some insight into where we are with the easy-out-of-the-box initiative. Tearyne D. Almendariz talked about the importance of Drupal Diversity & Inclusion. Tim Lehnen showed us a few updates to Drupal.org to improve recognition for contribution. Pierina Wetto explained the Promote Drupal initiative and how people can get involved. Kaleem Klarkson gave a rundown on organising events with an overview of all the upcoming events for the next year. Then Lee Rowlands and Griffyn Heels showed us the “Bugs Smash” initiative with an update on how many bugs were fixed since the initiative began, along with ways to help automatically test and detect bugs.
Overall, the conference was a very well organised event largely thanks to Kuoni and the volunteer team. All sessions were recorded and should be released to the public in the next month. The recordings are already available to everyone with a DrupalCon ticket on the Hopin platform.