As my first-ever DrupalCon, I was excited to find out what the event had in store for me. As a typical project manager, I had downloaded the app, decided which talks to attend, and was ready to go.
Luckily for me, Amsterdam is only a short hop skip and a jump from my hometown, Nuremberg, which meant I didn’t have to endure the more gruelling transatlantic flights that my colleagues had.
With my bags packed, I headed to the airport, drank the obligatory coffee and boarded the flight for a comfortable one-hour to Amsterdam. As a Brit travelling between European countries, I always find it strangely unnerving to never have to show my passport.
Embarrassingly, I seem to have my passport open and in my hand ready to prove who I am at every step of the journey. Even as I flapped my open passport at the airport staff at the gate, they looked at me as if to say, ‘unnecessary madam!’
The prospect of meeting Amazees with whom I normally only chat via video calls was exciting. Luckily a few of us had the same arrival time at Schipol Airport, so we met up there and headed to the hotel to unload the luggage before heading to RAI Conference Centre.
Arrival at Drupalcon
Firstly, the essential historical background. This year DrupalCon is being held at the RAI Conference Centre which is a lot older than I expected. Built in 1961, it sees over 2 million visitors through its doors per year and holds approximately 50 international conferences.
We arrived around 3 pm and promptly collected our badges. Then the first choice of the day was upon me, would I like a white lanyard or an orange lanyard? White would mean I didn’t mind being in photos, whereas the orange means that I did. As someone who notoriously takes a terrible photo (this is no exaggeration, it is a running family joke!) I sensed it would be better for DrupalCon if I took an orange lanyard, but I was living dangerously and opted for white.
The next stop was checking out the booth and lounge areas for amazee.io and Amazee Labs. The booth for amazee.io is situated near the main entrance and looks great! As an open-source container-based hosting company, the ‘container’ theme was strong on the booth, even the pens are held in a little blue container.
Amazee Labs has a lounge in the Exhibit Hall which looks very welcoming, relaxed and is handing out blue rubber ducks!? Yes, you read correctly, blue rubber ducks! I had so many questions, why ducks? Why blue? Happily, a kind developer was on hand to explain the ‘joke’.
In the development world, there is a Rubber Duck Debugging theory. The theory comes from the book The Pragmatic Programmer and refers to how the software engineer would carry around a rubber duck and debug code by having to explain the debugging to the duck - genius! I was learning so much already.
On a personal note, it was great to see Amazee faces in person and as always, the line ‘you are so much taller in real life’ followed. As we only really see each other from the shoulders up on video calls, we are genuinely surprised at the height of our colleagues.
As I only arrived at 3 pm, I, unfortunately, missed the earlier events of the day, but to act as an introduction, the daily schedule looks quite similar throughout the week. The day starts with a Keynote talk and broaches a wide range of topics across the Drupal community.
The talks are divided into different categories: Business-marketing, DevOps-infrastructure, Drupal-backend, Drupal, frontend, Drupal community, Industry, and BOF’s. BOF stands for “Birds of a Feather” and is more of an informal gathering where like-minded individuals can dive deeper into certain topics of interest.
In the afternoon I attended a session by one of our own: Felix Morgan’s ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Data: Marketing Strategies for Open Source Companies’.
As my background is in digital marketing, I find the topic of content marketing incredibly interesting, especially how many companies struggle with where to start when creating content.
Felix’s presentation was a perfect introduction to content marketing for open-source companies and acted as a guide on how to bite the proverbial bullet and start creating content.
Content creation is often considered time-consuming and smaller companies find it difficult to allocate necessary resources to this area of marketing. One main point I took away from the talk was the rule of three. If you need to answer a question three times, then you probably need content on that area. Also, content comes in all shapes and forms, such as documentation or conference talks. The Q&A session that followed was informative and particularly highlighted how employees from every job role can be involved in content creation.
Winding down for the evening
Following the close of the conference for the day, the Amazees headed off for a very educational tour at a local brewery, Bierwinkel. The friendly guide explained the brewing and fermentation process and then we all settled down for quite a few beverages and, in particular, a pinkish beer which seemed to be the most popular.
To soak up the pink beer, we enjoyed great conversation and tasty burgers before heading back to the hotel. I can’t express enough, the energy and warmth that Amazees share when we all come together. It has the atmosphere of a school reunion rather than a business conference.
Day one of Drupalcon completed and all I have left to say is, that I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the week.