The problem faced by anyone attempting to wrap up the whole of an event as momentous as Drupal Europe is that you have two options. On the one hand, you can give a fairly anemic bullet-point summary of what happened and when. The advantage of approaching a summary like this is that everyone who was at Drupal Europe 2018 can look at the list and agree that, “yes, this is indeed what happened”.
Fair enough. Maybe that would be a better blog?
But that’s not quite what I’m going to be doing since (as you’ll find in the links below) my colleagues have done a stellar job of actually covering each day of Drupal Europe in their own blogs. What I’m going to do, rather, is tell you about my Drupal Europe. And my Drupal Europe was far less about talks and BOFs (and coffee and cake) than it was about the people in the Amazee Group and the Drupal community in general.
Reasons to get off the Island
For background, I live in a smallish town (we have a mall and everything) down here on the South of the North Island in New Zealand. Getting myself to Darmstadt involved nearly 30 hours in those metal torture tubes we commonly call “airplanes”. Under most circumstances I’d avoid this kind of travel, but Drupal Europe was an exception because it presented me with the one opportunity I had this year to spend time with and around my teammates in Amazee Labs Global Maintenance specifically, and the rest of the Amazees at the conference in general.
I came to Drupal Europe in order to have the kind of high-bandwidth conversations that (very) remote work almost never allows. It allowed me to meet some of my colleagues in person for the first time, in some cases people who I’ve been speaking and interacting with online for more than a year. Outside of the hours of strategic meetings we all had, it was a joy spending time sharing screens IRL and looking at code, eating kebab (so much kebab), and (wherever we could) doing a bit of real work in-between.
And while my reason to get off my island was really my colleagues at Amazee -- being present, alongside, and with them -- the importance of the wider Drupal community is not lost on me and attending Drupal Europe highlighted to me, once again, just how special that community is.
We’re hiring, by the way.
In her deeply moving talk about her journey from being a freelancer to being the Head of Operations for ALGM, Inky mentioned the principle of Ubuntu. This ethical and metaphysical principle is often rendered in English as “I am because we are”. In one interpretation, at least, it suggests that our existence as individuals is inextricably intertwined with the existence of others. I think that something like Ubuntu is true of both Amazee and the wider Drupal community.
What makes Amazee special is the remarkable individuals that comprise it, indeed, I doubt I would’ve been as enthusiastic as I was to travel so far if they weren’t remarkable individuals. But I have to wonder whether those individuals would shine quite as brightly in any other company? Amazee gives us the space to be the best we can be and whatever shine we have as individuals makes Amazee glow that much brighter.
Zooming out a little, Amazee, as an organization, would not exist as it does without the wider Drupal community. And the Drupal community would be poorer, at least in my opinion, without the work that Amazee does.
It’s circles within circles within circles, each strengthening the other.
Showing your work.
This was a theme in the Amazee talks at Drupal Europe. Stew and Fran, in their discussion of Handy modules for building and maintaining sites ended things off with a note encouraging everyone who manages to solve a Drupal problem to consider how they might contribute it to the wider community. Indeed, Basti made this the theme of his entire talk, discussing the benefits of open sourcing your work and the material advantages the IO team has experienced by open sourcing their platform, Lagoon. And in terms of open sourcing code, Stew’s talk on Paragraphs has already lead to the creation of a brand new Drupal.org module from an internal Amazee project. Is this an example of upcycling, hmm, Josef?
We’re off the Island now, time to go farther.
Speaking of circles, in some respects, the move in the Drupal community in the past few years has been to expand our circles even further into the wider programming communities. Drupal 8 adopted much “external” code from the supporting PHP communities. But to some extent, we’re moving even further away from the Drupal island than simply playing-nicely with the PHP community.
Decoupling Drupal, a major research topic right now, is at least in part about getting Drupal to be less monolithic, for it to serve content to systems and in contexts that aren’t necessarily Drupal-specific. It’s no exaggeration to say that Amazee is ahead on the curve on this, as was evidenced by Michael and Philipps' talks. Michael discussed the “implications, risks, and changes” that come from adopting a decoupled approach, while Philipp simply dazzled a packed room with his demonstration of staged decoupling with GraphQL integration into Twig.
This was Drupal Europe.
This was Drupal Europe. Not just talks, or coffee, or BOFs, or the (delicious) lunches. Rather, it was the opportunity to really dive in, experience, and behold the interlocking circles of individuals, friends, companies, and community that holds this sprawling structure we call the Drupal ecosystem in place. To get a sense where we are and where we’re going.