2012 Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit

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1024 288 Adrian

On October 20th and 21st I journeyed down to Seattle for the 2012 Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit. The conference took place at the beautiful Washington University, and was two days of learning, idea sharing, debate, discussion, networking and socializing. Most of the attendees were from the greater Seattle area, Vancouver and Victoria. A few came from even farther away, travelling to the Pacific Northwest to get their Drupal on.

Go Responsive

The presentations were all excellent, from Drupal Commerce to Panels to Fields, but one of the major themes of the weekend was certainly responsive design. There were three sessions devoted to responsive development and design:

1. One Site to Rule Them All – Responsive Mobile-First Development and Best Practices
2. Responsive Web Design (and Drupal)
3. Responsive Designs that Work: Lessons from the Trenches

Each session was quite good, touching on everything from strategy to technical considerations to techniques. One interesting take-away is the truth about responsive design still being in its infancy and people keep trying to figure out the best way to do it. In other words, there’s still a lot of discussion with no real set way of doing things. Just when developers think they have a good strategy some new tech appears on the horizon; Apple releases the retina display or the iPad mini with whole new screen sizes, DPIs and resolutions, and everything’s thrown up in the air again.

The videos for each of the talks are on the Summit website, so I won’t go into too much detail here about what was discussed in each presentation – I encourage you to watch the videos if responsive design is something that applies or interests you – but I would like to highlight some points of interest.

Two of the sessions discussed the Omega theme, which is a Drupal 7 base theme based on the 960 grid, it uses a responsive and mobile-first strategy with push/pull classes. According to its project page, there are a number of high profile sites already using Omega, including Maxim Magazine, Fox News Magazine, Drupal Commerce, Acquia, and Mac|Life. Zen is another popular responsive theme which is also worthy of investigation.

During the summit, my co-worker Erico and I hung out with a few developers from Raised Eyebrow, a fellow web dev shop here in Vancouver. They are currently working on a responsive theme called Cogito which shows some strong promise. It’s based on Foundation by ZURB, a great and powerful front-end framework.

Go Mobile

Another popular theme at the summit was developing mobile apps using an HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript framework along with using Drupal as a back-end for data management. The sessions were:

1. Webapps with Drupal
2. Rapid native mobile app development with Drupal and Titanium / PhoneGap

And here are some of the frameworks people are talking about:

1. SproutCore: A JavaScript MVC framework.
2. Ember.js: Ember actually developed out of the SproutCore project.
3. AngularJS: AngularJS comes out of Google labs, so I’m assuming it has some smart people behind it.
4. Backbone.js: A very good, minimalist starting framework.

The new kid on the block is Meteor. Unlike the frameworks listed above, Meteor is a full stack application framework, meaning that with it you write JavaScript that runs on the client, in the Cloud, or on the web server. Apparently they just got many millions in VC funding, so I’m interested in following them to see what kind of splash they can make.

Go Party

Besides all the learning, there was of course a fun party on the Saturday night at The Garage in Seattle. The Summit had booked the entire downstairs area and there was plenty of bowling, drinking and new friend making.

So I would say that it was a very successful Drupal Summit. Hope to see you at the DrupalCon Portland next May!

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Adrian, or AJ, is the founder and Director of Technology of Pop Digital. He has spoken at tech conferences around the world, and published numerous articles about Agile methodologies, UX design, Information Architecture, and Web Development.

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