DrupalCon Day 1: Notes and Links from March 4, 2009

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Building APIs that Rock
Jeff Eaton

More than 400 people packed into the Acquia Room to hear Jeff Eaton talk about APIs, a surprising number considering the early 9:00 start. Jeff talked about the importance of designing a module so that other modules could use it through code instead of through the user interface. He gave a number of examples, including how Views is divided into the API and a module that adds a user interface on top of the API. Great stuff. Pay close attention to the deadly sins of APIs towards the end of the attention, where Jeff outlines common errors and how to avoid them.

…and all of it was presented in a lively manner, with frequent interjections from a co-presenting puppet! Check it out.

Keynote: Dries Buytaert talked about the history of Drupal and where it’s going. Highlights: Picture of Dries when he started Drupal, complete with sombrero and chess board.


Totally Rocking Your (Drupal) Development Environment
Sacha Chua

Around three hundred people attended my session on Totally Rocking Your Development Environment, which consisted of a 40-minute whirlwind tour of my favorite Drupal development tips, and a free-for-all session where people shared their awesome tips too. It was lots of fun! People told me that they enjoyed the energy AND they walked away with a couple of tips that could save them hours of effort and frustration. Hooray!

Session description
IRC backchannel log, Stephane Corlosquet
Outline notes, Jeff Schuler (who did an excellent job at capturing audience tips, too!)
Video, Alan Doucette

Totally Rocking Your Development Environment – also covered mostly stuff I knew, but I did learn a few tips (and also learned a little from my next door neighbor. It was a great talk by an incredibly enthusiastic speaker. I can’t believe though, that she suggested using Makefiles for Drupal!

DrupalconDC Report #1, Michelle Murrain

Handling Asynchronous Data with Drupal
Josh Koenig

Josh Koenig gave a quick demo of how to use Drupal.behaviors to contextually modify webpages using Jquery. Using contexts allows you to make it easy to embed behavior (ex: node edit form) within other elements, like a thickbox.

Session description
Presentation and examples

Advanced Theming Techniques
Trevor Twining and Bevan Rudge

This promised to be quite interesting, but it got derailed halfway through. =| I did pick up a few tips about using preprocess functions as much as possible instead of copying and pasting theme code to override things.

Session description

Business Analytics with Views
Frank Febbraro, Irakli Nadareishvili

Frank and Irakli demonstrated upcoming features that make it easy to summarize and graph data using views. You can configure this module to use the FlashCharts, AmCharts, or Google Charts engine. Interesting! =)

Session description

Boosting Our Raw Capacity to Provide Drupal Training
Sean Effel, Allie Micka, Lee Hunter, and Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg

Sean started by emphasizing that different learners have different skill levels, interests, and needs, and that by addressing those specific needs, we can help people not only use Drupal but also get ready to contribute to the community. He talked about his approach at drupaltherapy.com, where he coaches people on Drupal. He shared the core curriculum he’s figured out, but said that as people move beyond that, people have specialized needs.

Barry talked about the lab hours that his company offers to people who have subscribed to the program. It’s a code clinic where the company helps developers and users with their systems. It’s not open to walk-ins from the street; people have an existing relationship with the company, and that allows the company to provide more targeted help. At the beginning of the session, everyone shares what questions they’re working on. They split up to work on the tasks individually or in small groups. At the end of the session, they wrap up by sharing what they learned, what they didn’t learn, and what kind of follow-up they have planned. The company shares post-session wrap-ups on their website.

Alex talked about how his company strongly believes in training both their developers and salespeople to contribute back to the community. Their training is modeled on the Google Summer of Code, and new employees start off by working on some outstanding tasks. They also give their employees 20% time to contribute to Drupal, often on projects that the company selects. They find that community contribution is a great way to vet people both before and after they join the company.

Lee posed two koans: If you document the software, you’re doing it wrong. Also, put the cart before the horse. He meant that a lot of documentation focuses on the features and the interface of the software instead of what the users want to do, and that writing the documentation before developing the system is a surprisingly effective way to work.

Session description
No video recording

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