Day 1 - 8 September
The new Karel de Grote college campus was the scene for this two-day DrupalCamp in Antwerp. A brand new college, with all the infrastructure and facilities you could want. I would like to thank the organisation for this event as everything went very smoothly. The only hiccup maybe was the WiFi’s username that changed during the first day. The catering was very well done too. Coffee, water and orange juice throughout the day, not only during lunch or the afternoon break. Lunch was great with a nice selection of rolls with different types of spreads. There was fruit, and even fruit-salad. Afternoon break saw muffins and our typical Belgian “koffiekoeken”. Again, thank you for a great event, I can imagine how much organisation it must’ve taken to get it this good.
Architecture for advanced platforms and not-your-typical e-Commerce solutions
Our own dynamic duo, Pieter & Dieter, did a good job kicking off DrupalCamp with a session about the work Wunderkraut did for Voka (Flemish Chamber of Commerce) and LinnRecords. I believe it was well received. The slide’s graphics were very well done and presented timelines for the Voka project that made things very clear as Dieter highlighted how, during the project, more and more Voka projects came to Wunderkraut. All of which had to be incorporated into an already ongoing project for the new Voka platform.
Pieter then explained our work for LinnRecords by talking about how the solution for a webshop in Drupal 8. When the project started Drupal 8 was still in its infancy and the usual webshop modules/distributions (DrupalCommerce) wasn’t available yet. So the search for a suited commerce-solution began, eventually ending up at SendOwl. SendOwl must’ve been a nice surprise to most in the audience because I don’t think it is very known. It always pays off hearing about a technology or solution that someone else implemented successfully, I believe you gain more from that than hearing once more about the solution everyone’s already using.
Sharing and overriding configuration in a Drupal 8 multisite
One of the more acute problems when developing new Drupal 8 websites is managing configuration. Configuration management has been redone for Drupal 8 so the Drupal 7 ways of sharing and excluding configuration between different environments, such as your local development environment, staging and production, do not apply anymore.
Jan Lemmens of Amplexor did a good job of explaining the “Configuration Split” module with an example of a website they did for ECDC, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. ECDC came to them with the request to create 3 websites. All of which would share a lot of common functionality but also have functionality specific to each website. Configuration Split helped them in splitting off configuration for each of the three websites and keep the common functionality, indeed, common.
Wim Leers needs no introduction. Going to one of his sessions means you’ll hear about the more technical low-level side of Drupal and the different core initiatives that are currently under development. I sure enjoyed it a lot and I believe this was one of the first session that lifted people’s hopes for Drupal’s future. Typically these kind of talks are what I go to DrupalCon for. After spending a year in the Drupal dirt, creating websites, you need a talk like this to feel inspired again. Good job Wim of lifting our spirits. We’re all looking forward to Drupal 8.4 with better REST APIs, a more stable GraphQL, Workflow and hopefully Content Moderation.
Functional testing at VRT
This session held a bit of a surprise for me, and not only because Tom’s demo didn’t work. As the session went on, I realised Tom Rogie and I actually worked at the same company 16 years ago. Back then I was still a student, but he was already into QA at the time, so he’s been at it for a long time already. In the past couple of years he worked for VRT (Flemish Radio & Television) and has helped build out a testing-team and ways to continuously verify the different Drupal websites VRT has. Tom is mostly into Behat testing, which can be thought of as the most complete test you can do on a website. Both the backend functionality and front-end theming need to be finished and work properly for a Behat test to succeed.
After the session we talked for a bit and he felt really bummed about his demo. It’s tempting to do demos but everyone will tell you to not do them live during a presentation. History shows us that demos magically start failing when people other than yourself are around.
A bit later he came to me and told me he figured out why the demo had failed. A button that used to be named “Login” got renamed to “Sign in”. This goes to show how stringent Behat tests really are!
Creating business value with Drupal
A very welcome non-technical session to switch things up a little. Baddy Sonja Breidert is the founder of 1x Internet based out of Reyjkavik, Iceland. This talk was essentially the try-out before taking it to DrupalCon Vienna later this month in September. She welcomed any suggestions for inclusion in the talk and it turned into an open discussion afterwards. I thinks she picked up a couple of good ideas from it.
Basically they approached the city of Reyjkavik to standardise on 1 technology for their three-hundred (300) websites spanning technologies from Drupal over Joomla, Wix, other out of the box solutions and custom CMSes even. Building so many websites means you need experts to manage and maintain each of those websites. Standardising on 1 technology means they’d be cutting a lot of costs as well as speed up development of any new websites they might need. The typical multisite pitch you’d think, but she brought it really well.
How to deal with a lot of simultaneous projects in a Digital Agency with Agile
What I thought of as the best session of the day was the one given by Maarten De Block of EntityOne. He is a born story-teller. He outlined his company’s struggles with SCRUM, how they tried and failed to implement SCRUM 5 to 6 times. Every time clearly pointing out why exactly it failed. Be it due to never being in the office for SCRUM’s daily standup meeting, or by having too many activities other than being the SCRUM master, or by using the SCRUM master of another company for your own projects…
Eventually they got to a system that works for them. This also meant they had to educate the client in how they would do their projects and sticking to the methodology. Maarten said this cost them 3 or 4 clients, but that others did appreciate the transparency this way of working would bring. I’m sure his new clients appreciate it as well.
The biggest takeaway here for me was that they seem to, after each sprint, have a budget-meeting with the client. This way the client is aware of what has chipped away from the budget, and he sees the value that was created. It also eases the client into realising when the project will go over budget as they’ve been closely involved. Every two weeks they get a status update about the budget. It works better than throwing up red flags only after the budget has been spent.
Basic design principles for non designers
A fun session to round-out day 1 of DrupalCamp. Justine Pocock showed how non-designers could quickly optimise the look of a website by adhering to 4 easy design principles.
- Contrast - Put important elements in the spotlight.
- Repetition - Make sure certain elements on the website that have the same function, always look the same.
- Alignment - Your website look more pleasing to the eye if things are aligned properly.
- Proximity - Place elements that belong together, together. For instance the name of the event and the date it will take place.
She showcased it by taking a website that was make by a developer and then, by way of several sped-up screencasts, she showed how, by only touching CSS and template files, she’d make the website much more understandable, easier to scan, and more pleasing to the eye.
Basically: CRAP will make your websites look better.
Day 2 - 9 September
This turned out to be a session for very novice Drupal users. To me it wasn’t very interesting but I do acknowledge the need for these to be there. There should be more of them even because the complexity of Drupal is still higher than that of its competitors. Anything done to help new Drupal developers to overcome this hurdle, is good.