Put a Bird on It: DrupalCon Portland 2013

  • 0
731 273 Adrian

Put a bird on it” is perhaps what comes to mind when you think of Portland. Or going shopping without that pesky sales tax. Or maybe a nude bicyclist waving a “Keep Portland Weird” flag. Or Fred Armisen in a Portlandia skit. Or craft beer… hipsters… mustaches…

All true.

This year, however, Portland also became known for hosting the North American DrupalCon from May 20th to the 24th! The weather was cold and rainy – in other words just like Vancouver – but inside the Oregon Convention Center there was lots of friendly conversations, social networking, geek speak, and great presentations.

I flew down Monday morning, and that afternoon I joined Drupal creator Dries Buytaert, some Acquia folks, and the head of NBC Universal’s interactive division for an invite-only meeting on Large Scale Drupal. The LSD initiative (yes, that’s the acronym they chose), is dedicated to collaborating with large organizations to tackle the major issues that they would like solved in Drupal, and then work within the Drupal community to help realize solutions. It was a great couple of hours, as the assembled group brainstormed and learned more about the LSD program.

Monday night I met up with some friends and we hit up Ground Kontrol, a fun little arcade bar with old school games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Gauntlet, and a whole second floor full of pinball machines!

Tuesday was the first day of the main presentations, including the keynote by Dries himself on the current state of Drupal 8. Right before the keynote I watched a great talk by Jared Ponch called “Designing on Purpose: Design Process & Deliverables in the Responsive Age”, where Jared had a great section on responsive wireframing.

Dries’ keynote touched on the amazing work being done around Drupal 8, including putting Views in core, inline AJAX-ified editing following on the work of the Spark initiative, improved configuration management (and thus less reliance on the Features module), and a focus on mobile-first and responsive design. Another big change for D8 is that it will be built upon Symfony 2, an object-oriented PHP framework that should make developing for Drupal a lot easier.

For all you front-end developers out there, you will be interested to know that Drupal 8 is replacing the PHPTemplate theming engine with the Twig framework. Developers say that Twig will make theming safer, faster, and more optimized. I actually had the pleasure of grabbing a beer with one of the Twig core contributors, Alex Burrows (no, not the Vancouver Canuck but rather a nice British lad).

Monday afternoon I caught a talk on using Backbone.js, which is a Javascript MV* framework, along with Drupal to deliver a rich HTML5 experience on the client-side while leveraging Drupal as the back-end data manager. The afternoon was finished up with a talk on Modernizr, and another on CSS best practices by Jonathan Snook.

Tuesday evening is when the party got started. It began at a great place called Rock Bottom where I got the chance to drink some great local beer and geek out on all things Drupal with like minded Drupalites. Then it was off for some nice wine and socializing at Clyde Commons with some people from Acquia.

Wednesday included a great presentation on making Drupal a great REST server for single-page apps, object-oriented SASS using extends and silent placeholders, and the zen of HTML prototyping. I also caught a great Birds of a Feather talk by Todd Nienkerk from Four Kitchens (an Austin Drupal shop) on modifying classic Scrum to work better in a consultancy/agency model.

Wednesday night included dinner and local beer sampling at Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, followed by a fun party hosted by Pantheon at the Jupiter Hotel.

I finished out DrupalCon by catching a few more presentations on Thursday, such as this one on managing responsive design using SASS and breakpoint, using the new Drupal 8 configuration system, and a Behavior Driven Development (BDD) talk on Behat. Then there was just enough time to watch the closing remarks before running off to the airport!

All in all it was a great DrupalCon! New friends were made, new professional connections established, new knowledge gained, and new beers sampled!

Until next time, Portland…! Keep the dream of the 90’s alive!

  • 0


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.

All stories by: Adrian