DrupalCon Portland

Moving on from Florida Drupal Camp

Since it’s inception in 2009, I’ve been a faithful Florida Drupal Camp attendee1. Each year, I’ve met some amazing people and promised them that I’d get more involved in the Drupal community. Unfortunately, the demands of my current position never really allowed me to do that. I’ve learned a lot every year I’ve attended up until this year. This is not a criticism of FLDC or the wonderful hosts. It’s far more a reflection on where I’m at in terms of Drupal ability. I feel confident that I’m knowledgeable enough to start giving presentations.2 It was all of this plus the lack of vacation since August 2011, that I decided to make the leap and go to the next North American DrupalCon.

Travel and Accommodations

I was not alone on my journey to Portland, Oregon. My mom decided to hitch along for the ride and explore the city while I attended the convention.3 Due to some careful planning, I was already in Orlando for the weekend prior to DrupalCon. My mom met me there and we left her car with a good friend of mine and flew out to Portland where we landed around midnight local time. It took a bit longer on the first leg to Denver because of the storms over Oklahoma but we were able to connect without much trouble. Even though we were a bit more tired than expected this helped us adjust to the time change pretty well. We stayed at the Marriott near Lloyd Center. It was close to a lot of eating places and a light rail station along with a couple of movie theaters and a shopping mall. The rail station was important because it let both of us travel across the city with ease. I really wish more cities had good light rail systems. The return journey to Orlando was far less eventful, we got back in around 8pm and made it to Gainesville by 11pm. Fortunately, Monday was Memorial Day and gave us a day to recover.

Portland

The weather was rainy for most of the week but Saturday was a beautiful day. I personally didn’t get as much time to explore Portland as I had hoped but it was entirely my own fault. Conventions are exhausting and I had to do a fair amount of remote work while away. I walked a lot to and from the convention center and I did at least get to Powell’s Bookstore and found sometime to walk around downtown. On Saturday, we went to the Market and hit up some of the food trucks.4 The appeal of Portland is easy to see and it was definitely added to my list of relocation options.

The Convention

DrupalCon Portland on a whole was a bit overwhelming. I knew only one other person that was attending, and we did meet up for lunch, but it was daunting being basically alone in a convention of nearly 4,000 people. I very much felt like a face in the crowd but I understand that’s just a part of hosting such a large convention. Even at Florida Drupal Camp these days it’s hard to know a large portion of people. I think getting involved at the local community and also in the core development queues, I’ll be able to get to know more people in the community better.

Core Conversations

On to the actual convention, I spent most of my session time in the Core Conversations track. While I barely qualify as a core contributor, I am trying to position myself to be one in the near future. In the past, I’ve created minor patches to fix documentation and spelling issues. By going to the core conversation sessions, I hoped to gain insight in how to contribute more and learn about the directions the current core developers envision for Drupal. Also, there was much to learn about the tools that the Drupal community uses and how well the core initiatives worked. Finally, while I didn’t necessarily meet any of the names I’m readily familiar with from their work in Drupal, I at least got to see who they were and heard what they had to say about the current state of core development.

Sprinting

The final day of the convention was spent participating in the core sprints. At first, I wasn’t sure what team to work on but I ended up with the Views in Core tables which turned out to be a great opportunity. To get started, I rolled up the initial patches for a few of the function renaming patches. Then I started work on re-rolling the watchdog/views integration patch. Finally, I wrapped up the day working on converting the ‘Recent log entries’ administration page into a view. The people I was working with were helpful but gave me the space to learn.

Taking the Next Step

I feel that going to DrupalCon Portland was an important step for myself. I’ve been using Drupal to build small community websites for friends and associated organizations since 2005. But I never really ventured much further than that. The experiences of Florida DrupalCamp and DrupalCon Portland made me confident that I can take the next step and become a real participant in the larger Drupal community. My plan is to first use everything I learned to make this website the best that I can. Once that is finished (and partly during that time), my hope is to help move one Drupal issue forward each week. It might take some time to get up to the pace and then it’ll probably take longer to make the next jump but I feel these are achievable goals that will help not only me but Drupal as a whole.


  1. I missed the 2010 camp because of prior commitments to another convention being hosted in Gainesville. 
  2. Indeed I’m starting to make preparations to present at the local user group. 
  3. Quite a reversal from my childhood where my parents (both special ed educators) constantly took my brother and myself across the country every year for their convention. 
  4. Though I’m not entirely convinced these were the same food trucks Portland is famous for.