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Drupal Camp North West 2012

26th November, 2012

Our Drupal development team's trip over to Manchester's 2012 Drupal Camp at Salford University.

This weekend Curve took the team away for another Drupal community event over in sunny Manchester.

It was a fantastic opportunity for us all to get more involved in the community and give back some Drupal and front-end knowledge at Drupal Camp North West (DCNW). The event was mainly held at Salford University within Media City, Manchester.

We had lots of opportunities to talk to key players in the Drupal Community and discuss our thoughts and ideas around Drupal. It’s often great to literally see people thinking about Drupal related issues in the same way as us.

Some of the talks we attended including the following:

Keynote: Angry Themer

Speaker: Morten DK

Morten is a front-end themer (and the creator of the Mothership theme) who like most of the Curve team, is often frustrated with the amount of errand markup a developer generally has to deal with on a Drupal site.

During his keynote talk he talked about initiatives currently in the development pipeline (including Twig: that aim to offer an alternative to the way the front-end work is currently carried out. All in all, the talk generally left us feeling positive about the changes to come in Drupal 8 and beyond.

Stop Designing Pages!

Speaker: Tom Bamford

Tom’s talk centered around the interaction (or lack thereof) that usually takes place between a designer, developer and how this can often affect the end product: If a developer is presented with a static design file how much information is usually missing from that (hover states, animation, responsive changes, etc).

Tom went on to talk about the use of ‘Style Tiles’, which are chunks of design that give a developer an overall sense of how a design would work and also functional code examples to illustrate intended interactvity to a client (such as Twitter’s Bootstrap). At Curve We’re currently working on a functional wireframe template, which effectively does what Tom proposed and it was great to see the parity between the two of us.

Wax on, wax off! Improve your coding skills

... at the DrupalCampNW Coding Kata!  Speaker: Chris Maiden, Mark West

Prior to the talk that Chris and Mark gave, we’d never heard of Coking Kata’s. Essentially a coding kata is a way of improving a developers coding skills through repetition and practice. We found it interesting how many of the methodologies highlighted in the talk aligned so much with our own workflows (red, green, refactor).

Chris and Mark did a live demonstration of coding kata methods by calling two people up to write a simple piece of logic that was shown to everyone on the projector. Initially, they wrote a piece of code they knew would fail and then (to demonstrate a live failure). Chris and Mark asked the two chaps called up to alter the code in the most simple way they knew how to get it to pass the test.

Agile PM - it’s not *just* timeboxes and sprints...

Speaker: Rachel Lawson

Rachel’s talk around Agile was fascinating. She discussed various different facets of Agile development with slides and video used throughout and it really helped dispel some of the myths we’d heard surrounding Agile development.

The hope that Rachel discussed at the start was that at the end of the talk everyone in the room would have a discussion (less of a Q&A, more of an sharing of ideas) about Agile and hearing other peoples thoughts on the way their teams deal with project management.

Launch in 3 Days: Rapid prototyping with Drupal

Speaker: Liang Shen

Liang discussed how he took several off the shelf Drupal modules and tied them together with the use of custom modules to produce a website that would search twitter (using Geo Data) for tweets within a specific location containing pre-chosen keywords.

We found the talk interesting as we often find ourselves in a situation where we need to make modules communicate, or a module does something (but not everything) that we want and hearing someone elses perspective on this was good.

Photos, Geoconferencing and Drupal

Speaker: Stefan van Hooft

Most modern phones tag images with geolocation data and Stefan did a talk and live demonstration on how how he built a website (along with a gallery) that correlated all this data and created a map with pins on that shows the location of photo’s within the gallery.

Stefan also talked briefly about Drupad which we’d never heard of before. Drupad is essentially an iPhone app (with an associated Drupal module) that allows site administrators to log onto a Drupal site through their phone and do general maintenence, content creation, etc. In the demonstration, Stefan said he used this to upload images straight from his phone.

We downloaded Drupad during the talk and couldn’t get it working, so we went up to Stefan at the end and asked if he’d found it a straightforward process to set Drupad up. He was also unable to get it working throughout the day. We got it working in the end by modifying the .htaccess file and got it working fine.

Keynote: Drupal’s Destiny

Speaker: Josh Koneig

Josh did the final talk in the main lecture theatre over satellite. It was clear from the talk that he has a real passion for Drupal and that he’s very happy about the direction in which Drupal is headed (he mentioned it being one of the top 3 CMS’s in the world). His talk was informative although Skype being Skype it did crackle somewhat towards the end, but other than that we found it really engaging and an interesting talk.

After the event, we went to the after-party and continued discussions with people we’d met earlier in the day (we had an opportunity to talk directly to Morten (@mortendk) and air our frustrations with the current state of Drupal's front-end, from a development perspective), and also talked to a few other module developers, which was great especially for beginners in the module development community, as they are then able to pick all the experts' brains about best practices and whatnot.

Additional images

The main atrium in Salford University

One of the team being interviewed by the video crew

The party continues @ Knott bar


Drupal and UX Design Agency

UK Drupal Agency and UX Design Team with our very own usability testing lab in Leeds. We work with national charities, NGOs and private sector clients.