So, we’ve reached day 24, the last day of the calendar.
Today I’m doing something a little bit different.
One of the amazing things about Drupal is the community that surrounds the project. This is supported by issue queues, forums such as Slack and various other channels. However, there is only so far text channels can go.
So while it’s great that people keep in constant contact to keep the project moving forward, it’s really face to face contact that builds the foundation that the Drupal community stands upon. There are many events where this takes place, but the most important is DrupalCon.
There are currently two DrupalCons every year, one in North America and one in Europe. Previously there have also been some in Asia.
I first took part in DrupalCon Europe in 2021, which due to lockdown was a virtual event. It was a good experience, I enjoyed meeting people on video calls, but I’m not sure it gave me much of an idea of what to expect when I went to a DrupalCon in person.
That happened in September 2022, when DrupalCon Prague took place.
That was a real eye opener.
What happens at a DrupalCon? Well, first there are the keynotes and presentations, then there’s the exhibition space, and the BOFs, or “Birds of a Feather”, which are round table discussions, and there’s a contribution space. There are also numerous social activities during the event.
The keynotes and presentation sessions are great, but it’s good to remember they are normally all recorded, so any you miss can be watched later, although it can be useful to have the opportunity to ask questions during the session.
The BOF sessions are really useful, as everyone gets to contribute, and they tend to be more intimate than the main sessions, so you get more chance to interact with some of the main people behind the Drupal project. So if you have to choose between a presentation and a BOF, always go for the BOF.
The exhibition area is also somewhere to spend time. I found it really worth talking to every vendor exhibiting. There were a lot of large and small names in the Drupal world present, and I certainly found some of the most interesting ones were those I least expected.
I would also recommend volunteering to help with the event. It may seem counterintuitive, but I feel that volunteering is the way to get the best out of an event.
The event wasn’t starting until Tuesday, but volunteers were needed on Monday to help set up. I turned up, and got to meet people and help set up various parts of the event. As I didn’t really know anyone, it was a great way to introduce myself to people, and start to figure out what’s going on.
By volunteering, you get to meet the most interesting people. Spending a few hours on activities like staffing the registration desk, monitoring sessions, and monitoring the contribution area is a great way to get the most from the event.
Monitoring sessions is a no brainer, as far as I’m concerned, since you get to go to sessions you would have gone to anyway, and you just have a couple of extra responsibilities such as estimating the number of people in attendance.
There was also a social event for volunteers. At the Prague DrupalCon we were told that drinks would be covered for the first hour. After an hour we were told we hadn’t drunk the budget yet, so they would be covered for another half hour. This happened several more times, and by the time we had drunk the budget, it was time to leave anyway.
Another great event at DrupalCon Europe is the Trivia Night. This is a fun and entertaining team quiz. There was a version of it at the virtual DrupalCon last year, but it couldn’t really capture the experience of being there in person. So the Trivia Night in Prague was at a music venue a metro ride away from the convention centre, and it was a huge amount of fun. The quiz master was very entertaining, and I got to know some new people and have some beer together. We didn’t do particularly well on the quiz, but we didn’t embarrass ourselves.
One part that I would really recommend availing of is the Contribution Day. Unfortunately, I was tempted by a cheap flight home on the Friday morning as staying longer would have cost me quite a bit extra, but in hindsight, I wish I had stayed longer and paid for the more expensive flight. I made some use of the contribution space during the other days, but I really feel I’d have got a lot more out of it if I’d been at the full Contribution Day.
So if you’re looking for a last minute Christmas present for yourself, or the Drupaller in your life, why not get them a ticket to DrupalCon? Or if you employ people and work with Drupal, buy tickets for your employees. They’ll love it!
Of course, there are also events besides DrupalCon, and lots of DrupalCamps are held around the world, which are great opportunities to meet up locally.
That wraps up the first Drupal Advent Calendar. This was something I started on a whim, without really considering what it would entail. I never really considered that it takes quite a lot of effort to produce a blog post every day, especially one with no prior planning. It can easily take a couple of hours per day to produce it. Sometimes considerably more.
Despite that, it’s been a lot of fun to put it together, and I’m quite pleased with the result. I think if you didn’t know better, you might actually think I’d planned it.
There might be a Season 2 Advent Calendar next year, but if there is, there will be more planning and a slightly different format. I guess I have 11 months to think about it.
I’d like to thank a couple of people who helped it to come together. First, to Nic Laflin of Talking Drupal, who gave some helpful advice, and corrected me when I confused some people’s names (it can be tricky sometimes to match peoples’ usernames to real names). And second, to my partner Fionna, who gave invaluable help proofreading and catching my typos and stupid mistakes.
And thank you all for reading the Drupal Advent Calendar. I will be posting more here, about Drupal, Science Fiction, Lego, and maybe other topics that interest me, but it won’t be every day.
I wish you all a wonderful winter holiday season, however and whenever you choose to celebrate.