DRUPALCON 2014 IN AUSTIN, TX

Post by Bill Pirkle

Imagine, if you will, three thousand soldiers in tightly organized formation, shields strapped to their backs, holding glistening swords.  Their muscles ripple under polished battle gear emblazoned with their king’s crest.  They strike fear into the hearts of their enemies, and inspire confidence in those they serve. 

This is a picture of DrupalCon. 

 Well... not quite. 

Replace the shields with backpacks containing laptop computers.  And the swords with freshly poured coffee (maybe one for each hand).  Replace the battle gear with a t-shirt emblazoned with a tech company logo.  And the muscles … not so much.  Our formation wasn’t usually all that tightly organized, but we did stand pretty close together sometimes: 

Photo: Michael Schmid -- CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo: Michael Schmid -- CC BY-SA 2.0

GSATi was happy to attend DrupalCon 2014 held in Austin, Texas.  I don’t think we struck fear into anyone’s heart, and that’s a good thing.  That’s not what we were there for.  But we do hope to inspire confidence in our clients and customers.  That’s a big part of what DrupalCon is all about. 

Every year, thousands of technical people from around the planet gather for a week of training, connecting, collaborating, and planning.  There’s usually even a party or two. Drupal is an open-source CMS, which means that no one actually owns or sells it in the traditional sense.  Drupal’s creator, Dries Buytaert, continues to guide the project, and some very qualified and committed people determine what goes into the core codebase and what doesn’t.  But Drupal is ultimately the work of many contributors, working together to create a system that meets real needs and is available without charge for anyone to download. 

As Drupal professionals, we spend most of our time working in our own circles, focusing on the needs of our clients or employers.  Events like DrupalCon are an opportunity for us to meet, discuss and debate, share our knowledge and experience, connect with potential partners, and improve not only Drupal itself, but ourselves as developers, site builders, project managers, and leaders. This year’s DrupalCon was a smashing success.  Highlights included:

-Dries’ keynote on the assembled web and Drupal’s advantageous position as not only a tool to build sites, but also to integrate them with the various services in the modern Internet

-Too many formal technical training sessions for any one person to possibly attend

-Even more informal sessions where like-minded people collaborate on creative approaches to solve problems

-An enormous “coder’s lounge”, lit by the glow of a hundred laptops, where developers met, shared, mentored, assisted, etc.

-A massive exhibit hall with vendors such as training providers, hosting firms, consulting houses, tool creators, and much more

And of course, Austin is a fun town.  From the wild, loud crowd at the Sixth Street clubs to the more laid back group on Rainey Street, from the bat bridge (it is really a thing, Google it), to the endless Tex-Mex and BBQ restaurants, the city motto “Keep Austin Weird” isn’t just a slogan, it is an apt and well-deserved description.

Getting back to our metaphor, the GSATi team had a great and very productive time assembling with all the other Drupal soldiers at this year’s DrupalCon.  Our generals gave us a vision of the campaign before us.  We met the commanders of other forces, and planned to help each other in battle.  We sharpened our swords and helped others do the same.  And we’re ready to attack any challenge that comes our way.

Nitie Atamenwan