DrupalCon Nashville 2018 Recap
DrupalCon 2018, in Nashville, TN, concluded last week and it was a blast! While it's still fresh in my mind, I thought I'd take to opportunity to recap some of the highlights.
The state of Drupal
Drupal is ever-changing and there are always a ton of new initiatives happening all at once. At DrupalCon, a highlight for most people is the Driesnote, where Dries Buytaert (the founder and creator of Drupal) talks us through the direction Drupal is headed. It's a pretty cool experience being able to see the man who started it all, and it's inspiring to see that he still stands behind Drupal 100%. The future of Drupal is looking good and everyone seems to be excited about the impact it has on our lives and the direction it's going. You can watch Driesnote here.
Keynotes and sessions
Aside from Driesnote, there were 2 additional keynotes and a HUGE number of sessions (~150)! At any given time there were 6-12 sessions happening, so you really needed to pick and choose which topics you were most interested in. The skill level was anywhere from beginner to advanced, and everything in between.
Acro Media had a couple of sessions accepted – How memory works in PHP and its hidden costs (by Shawn McCabe, CTO) and One entry point – Commerce for online and real-world transactions (by Josh Miller and Becky Parisotto). You can click the links to read more about each one and watch the recorded talk. Both talks went over very well and generated quite a bit of discussion afterwards.
Shawn McCabe presenting his session "How Memory Works in PHP and Its Hidden Costs"
A great community
There were thousands of attendees to this year's DrupalCon. I'm not sure exact numbers, but overall there seemed to be a steady parade of Drupalers watching sessions, gathering booth swag ("Get your Drupal Commerce shirt!"), discussion their projects and looking for solutions.
It was a good mix of business owners, networkers, developers, IT professionals, higher education reps, and hardcore Drupal fans. All with a common interest in Drupal, it was easy to engage in conversation and meet new people from all over the world, and it was a blast introducing people to Drupal Commerce at our booth. For those of us that are helping to report issues, provide patches, and frequent the Drupal Slack channels, it's also a very cool experience to be able to meet in person some of the people behind the aliases you come to recognize. Some of Acro Media's staff have attended 4 or more DrupalCons in the past. DrupalCon gives them an opportunity to reconnect with friends from past events. This aspect really brought the community feel home for me.
The last day of the event was dedicated to sprinting. Here we had a couple of tables working on Commerce issues, but the room was full of people furthering all kinds of initiatives. Core, modules, frontend, accessibility, documentation... we had it all. Sprinting was a fun, relaxing way to make some progress while at the same time hanging out with some of the people in the community that we don't normally see (including remote Acro Media employees!)
A fun city
We didn't get to see much of the surrounding sites because of the conference during the day, however, we still managed to have some additional fun afterwards. Some of us went to the Grand Ole Opry (and experienced a first-hand "Trump" chant), others indulged in hot chicken, brisket, BBQ ribs, and pulled pork (who needs a salad, anyway), and a bunch of us were lucky enough to catch the first Predators/Avalanche NHL playoff game with a large crowd outside of the arena, watching on a big screen (we ALL picked Nashville in our playoff pool).
Not going to lie, I'm not really a fan of country music. I thought Nashville was going to be wasted on me this way. Not true! Nashville is a very vibrant city with a lot of people there just to have a good time. There were 3 or 4 other conventions happening at the same time as DrupalCon, so after each day, there were a lot of people from all over heading out for a night on the town. The Broadway Strip in downtown Nashville had amazing nightlife. I'm talking about rows and rows of multi-level bars, where each level has a separate live band playing country, rock, alternative, classics, etc. And this is EVERY NIGHT. There is so much musical talent in that city. No matter where you went, live music was there and you were sure to be around good company.
This was my first DrupalCon and so my favourite part, hands down, was being able to meet the people that I've seen providing support on Slack, patches and discussion on Drupal.org, and reconnecting with remote Acroites that I don't see often. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of aliases that I've come to know over time and getting to actually see and meet some of these people and see the community was great. I have a lot of close seconds, but that one takes the cake.
I asked some of the other Acro Media staff who took part this year what their highlights were. Here's what they said:
"The thank-you cookies from the DrupalCon organization for getting a booth." - Becky Parisotto, Vice President of Marketing and Sales
"Same as Becky, but with another highlight being that MailChimp gave everyone at our booth socks at the end of the event. Those guys are super sweet." - Josh Miller, Acro Media Alumni
"Road tripping with Mike Hubbard in a minivan at 1 am over the mountains in a foggy snowstorm. Also, the fact that more than 5 people showed up to my talk about Memory and PHP." - Shawn McCabe, CTO
Site note: Shawn’s and my flight home was cancelled due to bad weather in Toronto. It ended up taking us 3 flights and a rental car to get home to Kelowna, BC, Canada, totalling 23 hours of travel time.
"After hours networking was great. We had great conversations at the Acquia Summit and Dinner." - Jared Seminoff, Acro Medi Alumni
Looking forward to DrupalCon 2019
Thank you to all of the people in the Drupal Community that made this conference awesome! We're already starting to look forward and plan for DrupalCon 2019, in Seattle, WA. This is an exciting one for us because it's only a 6-hour drive from our head office in Kelowna, BC, Canada. There is still a lot of planning to do, but hopefully, we can get a large Acro Media crew together and take Seattle by storm.