Drupalcamp Colorado 2015 Recap

Tasty Burrito

Some people say it might be the altitude, some the sun, and some the Rocky Mountain Oysters, but I usually enter a certain state of bliss when I arrive in Denver...well after the initial lightheadedness and itchy eyes. But at least I'm a cheap date for the first night or so ;)

I glided into Drupalcamp Colorado on a bike on a gloriously sunny Saturday morning. The King Center wasn't hard to find and was a pretty proper venue IMHO. The best part was having pianos in some of the rooms...I'll get to why in a second. 

I know there were trainings the day before I arrived, so I can't comment on those, but I can say that I thought the sponsors tables were in a very good position. Props to the organizers for that. To get to the main speaking venue, you had to walk the gauntlet or candy store, depending on your persuasion, and it made it easy to mingle with the good-natured sponsors of the camp.

For instance, I snagged some good sunnies from Acquia, and an awesome free developer account from Pantheon

Onto the Sessions...

I wanted to give a tl;dr summary for those who couldn't attend the camp on my key takeaways. I'm only going to cover sessions that I was in attendance and preface my comments to say that the opinions expressed within are solely my own and not necessarily representative of other audience members or even the presenters themselves..it's just like my opinion, man :)

Breaking Into Drupal

Greggles is the man with the plan for security concerns and Drupal sites, so I like to try and catch his sessions so I can scare myself a little more about how poorly my client sites are secured. Since this session was in the morning, that worked out great. I only needed two cups of coffee to get going after pairing my caffeine with SQL injection, CSRF, CORS, and other nasty acronyms. I highly recommend security-related sessions in the morning to help lessen your caffeine intake!

He mentioned using two-factor authentication, which I think is an awesome idea I for some reason never put on client sites. Even though they might be a little annoyed at first, if there aren't that many users or they care about security, I'm sure they'll see the value when the shit hits the fan and two-factor helps you out. I'll be looking into this in the near future.

He also mentioned a cool module for locking down permissions that I was unaware of before. I'm sure everyone can use some help managing that wall of checkboxes. 


Building A New Drupal-based SaaS Product

I've been interested in trying to do some sort of SaaS with Drupal ever since I read 4-hour workweek and dreamed of learning to kickbox and rake in the dough at the same time. It was encouraging to see the presenter jumping into that space with their product Roomify. 

A lot of the VC process and thoughts around that were talked about. To start out, it seemed most people in the room were just interested in creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and working that out with a few investors. 

The subject of whether you would start out on Drupal 8 if you were trying to develop a Saas-based product now came up with mixed opinions. Personally, for me, I'm starting on D8 for whatever I spin up. Also maybe Backdrop, maybe Silex...but I'm sure as hell not starting it on D7.  

Finally, single tenant architecture was briefly brought up. I don't know enough to comment, but I've linked to an article below that explains more...



...haha...at this point after lunch, I decided to have my first #bof. For those not in the acronym know, BOF stands for Birds of a Feather. Drupal is water, so I don't know what the hell birds are doing flying around and shedding feathers, but I wanted to do one on the psychology of development. 

Hey Alex, what exactly does that mean? I don't know man, that's why we're having a #bof, dude. But generally, I wanted to explore how people, teams, companies, etc go about learning to code, and specifically what the differences might be for Drupal devs. 

Well, I got to the room that had been switched from sessions to #bofs, and I found no one...except a friendly piano. Maybe it was the cold medicine or beers I had at lunch, but I took that as an invitation to tweet @drupalcolorado that I was giving free piano lessons in room 101. 

Still...no one comes. So I made this...

An Introduction to Containers

If you haven't tried any local VM-type stuff with containers and Docker, you should. I'm not really a dev-ops guy, so I don't get too into the jam of containers and such, but I do like to use solutions from people who make good jam with this stuff. 

I've linked to two projects you can try with VM stuff. I know Kalabox is using containers, but I think drupal-vm is on Vagrant. Still though...good stuff and you should follow development of the two. 


Designing Is Not About Handing Off, It's About Holding Hands

Since I have done mostly back-end dev work, it's always good for me to join in on a designer-focused session and see what I can learn. I really liked the use of Captain Planet at the beginning of this talk, but I can't for the life of me remember how it was used later on...

Different topics were covered like how to involve both designers and developers at the same time on a project. We all say we do "agile" but if your designers and developers aren't talking, then that assertion isn't really accurate. 

I asked if style tiles were still cool. I don't know the answer, but they always seemed like a good way to hand things off and share resources between developers and designers. 


Teaching Kids How to Code

I really loved this session, maybe even keynote since the time slot. I had come to the camp with a nascent idea to take part in teaching kids how to code in Cleveland. 

Low and behold, but there was a session directly related to my altruistic pursuit! The whole mission of using Scratch, an Hour of Code, and volunteer help to excite kids about coding is just plain awesome. 

Matthew played a video that about made the whole audience cry and got a good round of applause afterward. If we're going to increase diversity as an open source community and stay competitive as a country, we're gonna need people like us to volunteer and help elementary kids learn how to code. 

Who's in? Asian Penguins anyone?


Speeding Up Drupal 8 Development Using Drupal Console

Enzo rollin' with the benzo of presentations on Drupal console. If you haven't tried this tool with your D8 development yet, you really ought to stop reading this and go try it. 

It immediately reminded me of the Rails console and generating scaffolds and migrations. I will definitely probably use this tool every day when I start doing more heavy D8 work. You can generate starter module, test, controller, config, etc. files, and there are even plans (maybe in there already) to help you generate generic front-end forms using this tool. How cool!

I will definitely play around with creating my own commands and automating tasks on my sites. 


Backdrop BOF

I had intended to join a Phonegap #bof the second day of feathering. All was looking well until we showed up to the room, where I had penned my famous diddy the day before, and we realized that our boffing wouldn't be that great with the configuration of chairs in the room. 

Configuration of chairs is super, super important people...so I'm gonna digress a little here. I mean, a square table costs lives in Vietnam, so as organizers, please make sure to think about the configuration of chairs in any session or activity where people are supposed to collaborate. 

Having this chair dilemma, we all just exclaimed, "hijack the coder lounge!" which did have an excellent chair config situation going on. Once in the coder lounge, however, I lost track of the Phonegap guy and joined a Backdrop gathering. 

I had tried out Backdrop before and meant to come back to it. This gathering provided me a perfect opportunity to ask the maintainers more directly what their plans were and what they were struggling with. 

I gathered that the Backdrop community still needs Drupal developers to come in and port modules over as well as try out Backdrop. When D8 is released and D7 is support version of Drupal, people with smaller budgets and clients are going to have to decide what to do. 

Trying Backdrop on Pantheon is a great way to start, or you can use Kalabox to spin up a Backdrop site too...or just do it the old-fashioned way with your own stack. 



Drupalcamp Colorado 2015 was a blast! I thought the event was well organized, and I like having an excuse to come to the Denver area and see friends...and hike and all the other cool Denver shit. See you next year Denver!