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Drupalcon Boston: Day 1

I'm in Boston for the 2008 edition of the Drupal lovefest (U.S. edition), and holy cow what a difference a year makes. I arrived just as Dries was taking the stage for his State of the Drupal keynote, and I was amazed at the size of the crowd. I knew that the conference had sold out (800 attendees), but I was shocked at the sheer visual spectacle of the size of the crowd compared to the 2007 Drupalcon in Sunnyvale, CA. Jusy about everything about Drupalcon Boston is big; the crowd, the venue, the session rooms. The only thing that isn't big: the food court at the convention center. Yikes.

Keynote

As usual, Dries didn't disappoint, fullfulling his role as Drupal visionary, laying out his vision for not only Drupal 7, but for his view of the general direction of Drupal for the forseeable future. He seems to be embracing the Giant Global Graph (GGG) paradigm, encouraging us to start thinking about RDF (common input/export data format), SPARQL (SQL with ability to query more than one data source in a single query via RDF), and the power of the semantic web (metadata for everything). It's an interesting vision, and it's a great goal to point the collective power of the Drupal community in.

His vision for Drupal 7 was laid out in a very methodical way, taking his cues from multiple surveys that he conducted. He found that about 70% of developers wanting to focus on Drupal as a product, with the remaining 30% wanting to focus on Drupal as a framework. With those numbers as his guides, he took the top 7 product related tasks from his survey and combined them with the top 3 framework related tasks. After some consolidation, he arrived at a list of the top 11 (he added "improved usability" on his own) tasks for a killer Drupal 7 release:
  1. Better media handing
  2. More CCK Content types & fields
  3. WYSIWYG
  4. Better performance
  5. Better tools organization tools
  6. Basic views-like module in core
  7. Automatic upgrate
  8. Improve node access
  9. Better internal APIs
  10. Better external APIs (import / export)
  11. Improved Usability

Mapping Business Requirements to Drupal Modules - A Gap-Fit Process

This session was lead by Boris Mann of Raincity Studios. As part of the Site Building track, the goal of this session seemed to be a discussion of the initial stages of a project - how to best match the client's requirements with Drupal modules and functionality. Boris hit a number of things right on the head regarding client/contractor communications in the early stage of a project. His dismissal of RFPs as close to useless verified something I have been struggling with as my time as an independent consultant. He also lead a discussion about how we should "open source" best business practices by sharing documentation and module recipies. He encouraged us to blog and discuss our plans for new modules and patches before we actually go and start coding. Perhaps the most interesting item he touched on was CoCKTaiL - a CCK templating language. Imagine being able to define and implement CCK types not by clicking around the Drupal admin area for a few hours, but just by writing a description document. Cool.

Panels 2 and Nodequeue


This session was lead by Earl Miles (no, he didn't any questions about when the views module for Drupal 6 will be released). Earl covered a demo case study of Panels 2/Nodequeue integration. Panels 2 looks to be a HUGE release - not just from a usability standpoint (drag-and-drop for starters), but also from a functionality standpoint. The addition of "context" will really improve the functionality of the module. Context will allow panes to know about content on the page other than themselves. This will allow the developer to do cool things like related content, and the ability to split up a node's fields among several panes. Nodequeue is a useful module that allows a content administrator additional control over the queuing of content. The administrator can manually reorder items in specific queues, or add/delete items at will. The powerful thing about this module is the fact that a queue can be defined for a subset of nodes based on taxonomy or a CCK field. So, you can have a separate queue for all stories with the "boston" tag without worrying about mucking up the overall story queue. Check out the online demo site. Neat-o.

For the final session of the day, I moved around between the "Drupal and the Knight Foundation", "Design on the Edge of Drupal", and the OpenID session. The Knight Foundation is doing some aggresive marketing of the Drupal community - looking to really engage us in creating and enacting new ideas in digital news - starting with this group. When I walked into the "Design on the Edge of Drupal" session, there was an image of a bikini-clad model on the screen. Five seconds later, there was an image of Charo following by lots of laughter. I figured I had missed the boat on this talk and wandered over to the OpenID session. I got there just in time for the Q&A, while the questions were interesting, I didn't really take much away.

 

Submitted by michael on Mon, 03/03/2008 - 10:34pm
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Thanks for the update

Thanks for keeping us posted... looking forward to seeing you after you get back all "fired up"!