City of Drupal: thoughts on DrupalCon Vienna 2017

DrupalCon Vienna group shot 2017

It seems like a long time ago now… Well. It was…. At the time of writing, it’s three weeks since I was at DrupalCon. I could argue I’ve been taking time for reflection, but actually we’ve been super busy and so I’m just getting round to penning my thoughts and memories of my week in Vienna.

This was my second DrupalCon. Last year I wrote a blog about being a non-techie at DrupalCon Dublin. I was relatively new to the Drupal community at the time so had no idea what to expect. This year felt very different. In many ways. Let me highlight why.

Getting acquainted with Acquia’s roadmap

I spent a lot of time with Acquia, finding out about their roadmap. I can safely say that the introduction of their new products will help to change the enterprise landscape for Drupal. Firstly, there’s the much-needed introduction of Digital Asset Management. It looked great, had some awesome features, and it fills a void that’s been very noticeable in Acquia’s offering over the years.

Secondly, there’s a new ‘Journey’ tool to help organisations track and manage how they interact with users, from initial touch points on social, all the way through to acquisition. Again, some really cool features in this. The one that resonated with me was giving the marketer an instant indication of where the bottlenecks are along the acquisition journey.

Thirdly, we saw a new commerce module that can sit over the top of Magento and/or SAP Hybris. Hopefully you’ll agree this is all big news.

For me, the biggest announcement was the introduction of hosting for Node.JS on the Acquia Platform. We’re getting more and more projects that require bespoke application development. This should enable us to integrate these seamlessly with our Drupal Projects.

I also shared a few beverages with the Acquia team and had the pleasure of introducing our very own Jack Holding to Dries at a partner evening. In case last year’s blog was TL;DR, Jack’s Drupal apprenticeship featured in the 2016 #DriesNote, and so both Dries and Jack had reason to be pleased to meet in person.

Drupal 8 is here. Let’s innovate

As for the presentation content at DrupalCon, the 2017 #DriesNote set the scene. I live-tweeted some of the quotes that to me felt like “gamechangers”.

It certainly feels like a turning point. Drupal is becoming an experience platform as opposed to a system to purely manage websites. Almost every talk had a mention or element of innovation, ranging from AR to VR to Beacon and Bot technology. We’ve been playing around with some of these already (including a Manifesto-maintained ChatBot API), but it’s exciting to hear that people are starting to talk about it.

But where are the end-users?

The Drupal community is friendlier and cosier than I’d previously realised. Despite there being 1700 odd people in Vienna, there were plenty of friendly faces and it was great to catch up with the old and new. With this being said I did notice a worrying trend; the distinct lack of the marketer. The end user. The individual in an organisation that says “Let’s use Drupal as our CMS”.

OK, I work in New Business. I’m not constantly on the hunt for that next lead, but ultimately, the success of a product relies on its users. We need to diversify the attendance at these conferences if the Drupal Community is to continue expanding and competing with an ever growing CMS market. I sat in on an excellent talk by Tom Erickson that highlighted just this point. And with the bombshell of no DrupalCon Europe currently planned for next year, maybe now is the time for us (as a community) to review the format of DrupalCon.

The (huge) value of contribution

My interest then shifted to contribution. An interest that’s shared by Jeffrey A. McGuire (he’s known as Jam to those in the Drupal Community and as @HornCologne on Twitter) who gave a talk about encouraging contribution from anyone and everyone. As he said:

This resonated with me. We’re huge advocates of contributing back to this wonderful community and this single quote made me realise that to continue its success we all need to give back (and that’s not just limited to developers). We regularly host Open Source Sprints so, if you’re keen to get involved in the Drupal Community, get in touch.

So there you have it. My week in a nutshell. My fingers and toes are crossed that this isn’t the last DrupalCon Europe I’ll go to. I’m sure it won’t be.

If you’d like to chat to me about any of the stuff I’ve mentioned in any further detail, drop me an email.


Picture credit: Group Photo – DrupalCon Vienna 2017 by Drupal Association on Flickr

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