DrupalCon Dublin – I wasn’t just there for the craic
I attended DrupalCon Dublin 2016 at the end of September, where I had the chance to learn from a variety of technical talks and even participate in the code sprint on the last day.
DrupalCon Europe is a yearly event that brings together Drupal developers from around the world for a week of technical presentations, workshops and code sprints.
This year the event was held at the Dublin International Conference Centre, with 1,800 people, mainly developers, attending. There are several tracks on offer for conference-goers to attend, and I mainly focused on best practice Drupal 7 and all the latest news from Drupal 8.
Keynote from Dries
Dries Buytaert, Drupal founder, gave the opening keynote address of the conference. Dries spoke about the impending release of Drupal 8.2 and the biggest changes in this version. The biggest new feature is the introduction of a flyout tray when editing content and in-page editing for menus and blocks.
This is part of the new focus on Outside-In editing which allows editors to edit content in place instead of the old fashion Edit button. After this, he went on to talk about his memorable moments in Drupal history which included videos from developers around the world telling us how Drupal changed their life.
Riding the whale – Tess Flynn
Tess Flynn, who is a highly experienced member of the Drupal core team, gave an excellent talk on how to set up your development environment using Docker.
Docker is software that runs on your local machine, which allows you to set up any development environment required for your project, including Linux, Drupal, WordPress and any other coding language. It integrates with git which makes it an excellent “throw away” development tool of choice. As we are considering this for EdWeb development within the university, it was extremely helpful to hear how to do set it up properly for Drupal.
Debugging effectively – Colin O’dell
Colin O’Dell is a PHP Developer and is also Symphony certified. His talk focused on how to develop code from a logical debugging perspective to save time when building and bug-fixing software applications.
He walked us through the systematic approach he takes when trying to get to the root of an issue. This included information gathering, replicating the problem, debugging line-by-line (including useful tools) and how to mitigate future occurrences of the problem. We are currently developing our own developer framework and Colin’s methods and recommended tools gave me lots to think about.
4X High Performance for Drupal – Fabian Franz
Fabian is a Senior Performance Engineer and Technical Lead at Tag1 Consulting. Drupal websites can be slow to deliver content and I was keen to hear from an industry expert how to speed up Drupal 7 websites.
Fabian’s presentation was quite different as he told a story about the four main areas of performance being in a family and how to keep them happy through a secret mission. It was very engaging and he covered many modules, PHP settings and MySQL tweaks to get more from Drupal. The biggest take away is that running Drupal in PHP 7 can increase site performance by 60% over running it in PHP 5.6.
Advanced web services with JSON API – Mateu Aguiló Bosch
Mateu is a Developer at Lullabot who has many years’ experience working with APIs. The university is driving towards getting all systems to exchange data and I was keen to here how to do it properly in Drupal.
His talk covered the many features of the Drupal JSON API module and showed how easy it was to pull data through to a web application. The biggest benefit is that all the hard work is done for you through the module, leaving you to get on with building the website.
Cracking Drupal – Peter Wolanin / Moshe Weitzman
Peter Wolanin and Moshe Weitzman are part of the Drupal Security Team who are dedicated to keeping Drupal secure. They resolve reported security issues and write best practice for creating Secure Code for your website.
His talk was very interesting and at times a little scary. He ran through the Top Ten security risks for web applications and discussed how these could be prevented in Drupal. Some of the techniques were common sense but others will be very useful.
React front-end for your Drupal 8 back-end – Bassam Ismail / Ali Yakhan
Bassam Ismail is Senior Front-end Developer at Acquia and Ali Yakhan is a Front End Developer at Axelerant. They have done a lot of work with websites that use Drupal as a back-end CMS and other software as the front end. This is called Decoupled Drupal, and it is gaining a lot of interest with Drupal Developers, which includes Dries talking about it in his opening keynote.
This talk followed a working example of how to set up Drupal and display data through React which looked identical to the Drupal.org website. The talk was very technical, but it was good to see how quickly a website can be set up using this method.
Mentored Code sprint
The highlight of the week was definitely getting a chance to work on Drupal core with developers form around the world. I was a little apprehensive when I arrived to find a room full of so many developers. I was asked what I wanted to work on then I got assigned to a mentor called Dmytro Danylevskyi.
We started looking at Drupal 7 issues and he decided that as I was so new to Drupal code sprinting, I should start rerolling Drupal 8 patches. This involved cloning Drupal 8 core and applying patches to make sure that they still work with the latest release. I then submitted the new patch to the Drupal site ready for automated testing. There were five other developers at the table who were all doing a similar thing.
Later in the afternoon, the Drupal core team called us all into a room and thanked people who had contributed. While I was there, a completed task was committed live on stage. I learned a lot from that day and look forward to implementing them in the next EdWeb code sprint
Next year’s DrupalCon will be held in Vienna, and I very much look forward to attending. If you have any questions about this year’s DrupalCon, please get in touch.
You may also be interested in our Tech Peer Group, a community group of School representatives interested in sharing best practice across all University websites.