DrupalCon Sprints and final thoughts and memories of the recent DrupalCon London

16.02.2015 Lowell Montgomery

Last Friday, the 26th of August, was the final day of DrupalCon London. After all the sessions were over on Thursday and we heard the closing plenary in the Fairfield Halls Concert Hall, where representatives of DrupalCon and the Florian Loretan announced that Munich would be the location of next year's European DrupalCon, there was still work to be done. So hundreds of developers, themers, and documentation maintainers gathered to work on "Sprints" for their various projects.

The week was a great balance of education and socializing

Other members of the NodeOne team collaborate in the coders' loungeJohan Falk, of Sweden's NodeOne, works on a screencast in the coders' lounge

Even while the closing party was going on Thursday evening, there were still a few people coding, chatting, gaming, and screencasting in the neighboring "coder lounge". I got to meet a number of the NodeOne team and observe Johan Falk's screencasting workflow as he recorded a couple of short screencasts for their site. 

Friday code and docs team "Sprints"

One end of of one of the three docs team tables at the DrupalCon London Sprint

On Friday many of us gathered for the doc sprints. I got the impression that this was a great success. We had more people than could fit in the primary room, so others were coding at tables in the cafeteria and surrounding rooms. In the main room used for the sprints, shown above, there were tables everywhere and people kept squeezing in more tables and chairs to accommodate new arrivals. I personally joined the docs team; having lurked in their group for some months and read the drupal.org style manual, I felt I was ready to start contributing toward making Drupal more user friendly.

The photo, above, shows only a small portion of the attendees, with a few from one end of one of the three Docs team tables. There has rarely been so much Drupal productivity in one room!

Angela 'Angie' Byron, aka 'Webchick' is "Ready to be committed".

Angie Byron; ready to be committed!

Being at the sprints was a good place to see the community stars. Angela Byron was mingling and meeting with various members of docs and other teams, wearing a funny shirt. I think a lot of the non-native English speakers probably didn't understand the double-meaning (and thus, the humor) of Angie's shirt, which stated "Ready to be committed." (In English, if someone is "committed" it can mean "to a mental hospital".) Of course she is one of few who marks Drupal code "patches" with the designation "Ready to be committed" (to the Git code repository) so that the next releases of Drupal include the improvements and bugfixes.

Other thoughts: power, network, BoFs, and next time…
More power to the community

What it takes to power a room full of MacBooks

It takes a lot of power to charge an auditorium full of Macbooks. Almost everywhere I looked, I saw MacBook Pro notebooks and heavy-duty extension cords with power strips branching off and placed down almost every seating row. It takes a lot to manage that in a building which was built before such power needs existed. In addition to the cables running through the rooms, there were also some tables acting as a "power stations" where you could take devices to charge. I think that this is a key area of infrastructure which could be better (ideally in-built at the chosen venues) at coming DrupalCons, but Fairfield Halls was an ideal venue, apart from the lack of in-built floor-level outlets in all rooms. The team who coordinated the infrastructure for the DrupalCon did admirably in addressing these needs.

Keeping connected, with WiFi everywhere!

The WiFi network worked great for the entire time I was at the DrupalCon, except for a while on Friday morning when I came in to join the doc sprint, when I wasn't able to get connected at all, but that was quickly resolved by the infrastructure gurus on site. With so many people at the conference, I was half-expecting the network to suffer under the load, but the networks set up at Fairfield Halls and also at the nearby Croydon College (where the BoFs were held) always provided reasonably good speed and connectability. I was duly impressed.

Birds of a Feather (BoF) Sessions are a DrupalCon treasure 

Next time I hope we have even more rooms for BoFs and I do plan to attend more. I only attended one BoF this time, on the last day of sessions, and learned that they are a hidden gem of the DrupalCon, which offered an experience like what attending a DrupalCon in 2005 might have been like. There were only 12 of us in a room for an informal presentation about Git, as relates to maintaining local repositories and for maintaining Drupal projects. It's too bad we didn't have more time. And it's too bad I didn't attend more BoFs since the atmosphere was more like a seminar with active participation from all attendees. Since a lot of the value of larger sessions can be gleaned from downloading the slides and/or watching/listening to the recorded presentations, later on, and the BoFs aren't normally recorded, it's the only opportunity to access the content that's shared then. The BoF scheduler was only added late and the schedule took a while to fill, but then there were BoFs running almost constantly in every allocated room. Hopefully at future DrupalCons, we will have venues with more rooms to allow even more simultaneous BoF sessions and, better yet, it won't be a walk away from the main sessions so that it's easier to get from one into the other and back again.

Other memories and images from the week

London's Tower Bridge is not called "London Bridge"

London is a beautiful city with many landmark structures, as well as a surprising amount of "green space". It was good to get out with the Drupal community to see some of the more interesting parts of town. This image of London's "Tower Bridge" was from the Drupal "pub crawl", which about 400 attendees joined on Tuesday evening.

The view from Fairfield Halls, where DrupalCon London was held

The weather wasn't always gray and rainy while we were there. This is a view from one of the upper windows of Fairfield Halls, where DrupalCon London took place.

DrupalCon attendees queued up to fill a fleet of iconic London double-decker buses

We were quite a crowd outside when we gathered to migrate the party to the O2 Arena on Wednesday evening.

Batman Live stage at the 02 Arena

Most of the conference attendees had tickets for a presentation of Batman Live, a high-tech theater piece with projected backdrops and props which made it more like a fusion of theater and cinema. Of course not everyone found it to their tastes, but the after-party was already underway in the exclusive Proud2 club within the O2 Arena complex.

Florian Loretan reveals Munich as the location of next year's DrupalCon Europe

The community in London was clearly happy with the announcement that next year's DrupalCon will be held in Munich. Cocomore's design team had already participated by creating the initial event logos and poster, which Florian is displaying here. We are looking forward to helping host Germany's first DrupalCon in 2012!

, which about 400 attendees joined on Tuesday evening. The weather wasn't always gray and rainy while we were there. This is a view from one of the upper windows of Fairfield Halls, where DrupalCon London took place. We were quite a crowd outside when we gathered to migrate the party to the O2 Arena on Wednesday evening. Most of the conference attendees had tickets for a presentation of Batman Live, a high-tech theater piece with projected backdrops and props which made it more like a fusion of theater and cinema. Of course not everyone found it to their tastes, but the after-party was already underway in the exclusive Proud2 club within the O2 Arena complex. The community in London was clearly happy with the announcement that next year's DrupalCon will be held in Munich. Cocomore's design team had already participated by creating the initial event logos and poster, which Florian is displaying here. We are looking forward to helping host Germany's first DrupalCon in 2012!