DrupalCamp Brighton 2016 Learns

Group photo of all the 2016 attendees

Organising a Camp is Tough–Without Good Planning and Help

First off, the learns… I don’t think I quite knew how difficult it is to put on a camp until I helped with this one. There are quite a few logistics to organise none of which are particularly difficult, all of which take time. Time is of the essence when organising a camp but with some persistence and planning (something where we struggled) you can pull it off quite easily. Here are some of the learns:

  • Location — We did really well this year by having a very central and easy to get location this year. One thing that needs improvement for next year is the wheelchair accessible facilities and having a sprint room throughout the weekend.
  • Sponsors — Sponsorship was a bit lower than in past years. Had we communicated with potential sponsors earlier and worked on a really good sponsorship pack then I think the take up would have been a lot higher (Also, don’t say you can give more benefits to sponsors than you can unless you want last minute scrambling).
  • Volunteers — We had plenty of volunteers on the day but we needed more throughout the whole process.
  • Food and Coffee — Always room for improvement there…
  • Marketing — We did well at marketing the event but it was a bit too late with too few updates. This year we will need a better content strategy to get the word out to different avenues.
  • Timing — The earlier you start the process the more momentum you can achieve. Set deadlines well in advance of when you actually need something because developers procrastinate!

The Community is Tired

The other thing I found in DCB is that the community is tired and a bit burnt out. A lot time, effort, and money, has gone into making Drupal 8 a reality. I honestly believe it has taken a toll on the Drupal community and has impacted our local Brighton community. Compared with last year, when we were inundated with volunteers, it was really difficult to find local volunteers to help out with various bits and pieces of the camp. It was also more difficult than in years past to obtain sponsors and the majority of our sponsors went for lower level packages. This is where my hypothesis starts to come in. I think that Drupal 8’s lengthly launch has had quite a large impact on work for agencies. From a client’s perspective, it is quite difficult to sign-off on large chunks of Drupal 7 work if you’re worried about whether or not the Drupal 8 is just around the corner. As soon as that happened, which I believe to have started in early 2015, new work dried up and the focus had to change to maintaining existing relationships. This created issues for profitability margins which could have been fed back into the community (paying developers to contribute, sponsoring events, etc.) and get Drupal 8 past the finish line sooner. Fast forward to November 19th, when Drupal 8 was released, and clients start to ask about Drupal 8. But as those of us using Drupal for awhile all know, it takes about a year for contrib to catch up during which period our excitement is steadily dropping. The graph below illustrated where I have perceived the levels of excitement are between devs and clients.

My perceived levels of excitement for Drupal 8

Drupal 8 is Great — Adoption is Low

I present techniques for developing with Drupal 8 in a team environment

It’s Not Doom and Gloom — We Need to Focus on Redefining the Stigma of Drupal

As much as this sounds all doom and gloom, it isn’t. As someone who believes in Drupal and it’s community, I know this a just a blip that we will rebound, learn and improve from. We are already seeing examples of this such as adding a new “Being Human” track to DrupalCon Dublin 2016 and through distros such as Acquia Lightning which improve the “out-of-the-box” usability of Drupal 8. As a community, we need involve ourselves further to improve upon those initiatives and let those those who have spent so much time to get Drupal 8 released have a chance to recharge their batteries. I think we can all agree that usability of Drupal is still a pain point especially when compared to other CMS’. However, with Drupal 8 we now have an architecture to fix a lot of those pain points. As a community, we need to ensure that when we are starting the Drupal 8 journey that we don’t port over a lot of the Drupal-isms and view this as a fresh start. The more we do things in a modern and best practice way, the more we can expand our audience to people and developers who perceive Drupal as having a stigma of a lot of “Drupal-isms” and a high learning curve. The time is now, if you are an agency like miggle, or a developer that is debating whether or not to take the plunge, I recommend that you have a go with the world’s best CMS and I am sure you won’t look back!

Xavier Mirabelli-Montan’s Blog

The personal musings of Xavier Mirabelli-Montan

Xavier Mirabelli-Montan

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Senior Drupal Developer

Xavier Mirabelli-Montan’s Blog

The personal musings of Xavier Mirabelli-Montan