Drupal Dev Days, a retrospective

Last week we held the “Drupal Dev Days" at the HQ of dop.nu. This post reflects some thoughts on why we organised this camp, what we did and what we learned.

We started the smaller unconference Dev camp because we want to facilitate smaller groups to come together and work on targeted items. In the Netherlands we also have the DrupalJam’s. The last Jam had nearly 300 attendees and with the growing demand of Drupal services, this conference will grow for some time, 400 attendees in half a year is realistic.

Robert Douglass’ keynote during last DrupalJam, (c) Wessel Zwiers

To put this in perspective, a DrupalJam now is as big as a European DrupalCon only 4 years ago. And while having a big local conference is a good thing for networking and promotion, there is a growing need to get smaller more focussed “unofficial" camps to get better communication and more interaction. So DOP decided to facilitate a smaller camp with only developers, laptops, wifi, a nice location, tents, a BBQ, some beer and water-pistols. All the ingredients for having a good Drupal camp!

360 panorama of the place where DDD was held

And we did have a good time, the weather was very nice, lots of people brought local beer and while there was no program, we actually did a lot. That is, some just wanted to site and discuss, other wanted to learn and share and some just wanted to code.

For an impression of the camp, see this collection.

So what did we do during these three days apart from throwing buckets of water?

  • Marc van Gend and Erik Stielstra started a module codenamed “turn me on" that enables the current site of a state to be saved. The idea is to have multiple states of a site for staging and production so one can easy turn on and off modules or settings that you want in a preproduction environment but not on a production site. This module will be released once completed.

  • 10 people discussed on how to get a better User Interface for Hansel “breadcrumbs done right!" by co-worker Maurits Lawende. Hansel is a very powerful way of providing very flexible breadcrumbs on all pages and views yet with this power is currently hidden in a sub optimal interface. Hansel will never be as popular as the direct “competitors" (such as custom breadcrumbs) since you need to understand arguments and rules, yet we cam up with an easier interface that will hit d.o in the next release.

  • Coworkers Maarten Verbaarschot and Sietse de ruiter did some work on the base theme Ink Ribbon

  • Karten Frohwein gave a good presentation on simpletest

  • The best part IMHO was kicked of by Clemens Tolboom, a session about helping develops -and users- to clean up their issue queue by using a system called Triage. Triage is a way to of prioritising patients based on the severity of their condition by relatively unskilled personal. This so professionals (doctors, maintainers) have a better queue where they can focus on musts and shoulds and users are forced to give better input to them. This system is in use at Gnome and seems to work fine there. For example, bigger modules like views have more then 1000 issues open, unworkable for those wanting to help out and the maintainer(s). If we would have a system where anyone could help by classifying bugs and by asking for more information or closing old bugs related to 4.x version, all benefit. If you want to help out in this prococes, please read 838682 and work from there.

  • Maurits also worked on the Rate module. A module build on voting API that has a broader range then for example 5star with more value types. See a screenshot below:

  • and

  • Morten -lead organiser of the upcoming DrupalCon in Copenhagen, skyped in to promote in his special way this event and was shown on the beamer. Nearly all of the attendees were already planning on visiting the DrupalCon Copenhagen, yet spreading the word always helps!

So what did we learn? The number of no shows is always high on these events. Sending out mails to the attendees on a regular basis is a good way to get feedback and ask if people are really coming. It is also a good thing to have some kind of program as a backup even if it is an unconference.

It was fun co-organising this with Rolf van de Krol and we will be doing this again next year!

Drupal data visualisation

Via PBS.org I found dataviz.org A website funded by Knight with a data visualization toolkit called VIDI.

I love good visualisations of data. And while most of the modules that are available are not that shocking, but the fact that one can use this as SAAS or download the modules and drop them on your own site, gives the power of data visualization to the masses.

Great work and I expect to see a lot more data and presentation of data on the web. Many small eyes for a better vision :-)

ooh, and please put these modules on d.o

This is Drupal's next version!

You are looking at Drupal's next release, with the internal name D7A4. It was found lost in a bar in Antwerp, Belgium. Camouflaged to look like an ordinary Drupal 6 on an USB stick. We got it. We disassembled it. It's the real thing, and here are all the details.

While Drupal may tinker with the final packaging and design of the award winning CMS, it's clear that the features in this lost-and-found next-generation Drupal version is drastically new and drastically different from what came before. Here's the detailed list of our findings:
What's new

  • Better security
  • Usability enhancements
  • database abstraction layer
  • Better Documentation in core
  • Several Performance Improvements Implemented
  • Beter themes
  • Better file handeling
  • Better image handling
  • Custom fields

What's changed

  • Color module now usable by themes other than Garland.
  • Usability improvements including re-weightable roles and saner Forum module defaults.
  • A variety of optimizations made to data import-related functions to make migrations faster.
  • Lots of previously missing documentation for hooks has now been documented. Hooray!
  • Increased test coverage, particularly core Tokens.
  • Lots of smaller bug fixes, security patches, and improvements.

How it was lost

Dries on Facebook
Dries Buytaert—a PhD in Computer Science and Engineering graduate of the University of Ghent and talented amateur photographer—is a Drupal Software Engineer working on the core Drupal Software, the little program that enables communities to florish. A dream job for a talented engineer like Buytaert, a PHP fan who always wanted to meet Rasmus Lerdorf.
On the night of April 27, he was enjoying the fine local ales at a pub, a nice Belgian beer garden, in Antwerp. He was happy. The place was great. The beer was excellent. "I underestimated how good Belgian beer is," he blogged on his next-generation CMS he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised. It was his last blog post update on the secret Drupal version. It was the last time he ever saw the USB stick, right before he abandoned it on bar stool, leaving to go home.

The Aftermath

Weeks later, Boerland.com got it for $5,000 in cash. At the time, we didn't know if it was the real thing or not. It didn't even get past the Druplicon installer screen. Once we saw it inside and out, however, there was no doubt about it. It was the real thing, so we started to work on documenting it before returning it to Buytaert. We had the software, but we didn't know the owner. Later, we learnt about this story, but we didn't know for sure it was Buytaert's USB stick until today, when we contacted him via his phone.

Dries Buytaert: Hello?
Bert Boerland: Is this Dries?
Dries Buytaert: Yeah.
B: Hi, this is Bert Boerland from boerland.com.
D: Hey!
B: You work at Drupal software, right?
D: Um, I mean I can't really talk too much right now.
B: I understand. We have a device, and we think that maybe you misplaced it at a bar, and we would like to give it back.
D: Yeah, I forwarded your email [asking him if it was his USB stick], someone should be contacting you.
B: OK.
D: Can I send this phone number along?
B: [Contact information]

He sounded tired and broken. But at least he's alive, and apparently may still be working with Drupal software—as he should be. After all, it's just a stupid USB stick and mistakes can happen to everyone. The only real mistake would be to fire Dries in the name of Drupal's legendary impenetrable security, breached by the power of Belgian beer and one single human error.

What does it mean for you

After consulting our lawyers, we decided to test the next version o this Drupal CMS and to offer a free download link so you can enjoy the works of this Drupal engineer as well. This so you can get familiar with the new slick industrial interface and the new API's. We higly encourage you to download the software and help test drive it.

And for those not getting satire, please read this bad checkbook journalism

Drup dot al

My very own Hansel and Gretel
Every day or so I try to browse so modules that might be of use for customers. Not that my team is afraid of building own modules. Not at all as the Hansel module for example shows. A rather cool module for developers to make better breadcrumbs that we build for the NCRV.nl and was donated by them. Not afraid to make own modules that make "awesomeness happen". But using Open Source means building on the shoulders of giants and no matter how tall you are, there is always someone taller then you. So despite being 2 meters tall, I always look for smarter people writing interesting code/functionality.

So the other day I came across the Drupal anywhere module that uses twitters anywhere service. Anyway, clicking the demo link brought me to... drup.al!

And this is what I wrote about that domain-name back in 2006:

If Drupal would have started in 2005 and Albania would have had a real NIC, we wouldnt have claimed drupal.org but drup.al.

But we arent followers, not here to be hip and we were twodotooo before Tim could spell it out. So we are Drupal.org, rocking without being Beta Two Dot Oooh!


And I still think it is true today. Even if Time gave an excellent keynote at DrupalCon SF. Drup.al is a funny domain-name. Demoing a nice module, that is all it is. And when the Albanian NIC was any more open back in 2001 when I registered drupal.org I am sure I would have looked at drup.al as well. Nice domain name, but search engines are the new DNS, Google is the new Bind. Funny name, drup.al. But most outsiders already think that the name Drupal by itself is funny enough.

DrupalJam 6 in Amsterdam

1st Drupaljam 2007 - Hilversum NLFriday March 19 (9:00-18:00 CET) the Dutch Drupal community will organise the 6th "DrupalJam".

A DrupalJam is a place where anyone interested in Drupal can get together to discuss about one of the best Open Source CMS-es out there. A friendly palce where users, coders, business people as well as people interested in web technologies. This time the Jam will be helded at the StayOkay hotel in Amsterdam, Timorplein 21. More information about the StayOkay location can be found on Maps as well. We expect over 200 people (up to 300!) visiting the DrupalJam and we will have attendees form over four countries.


It only seemed like yesterday.. The first DrupalJam I co-organised was in a basement with 50 or so people (top left). Not unlike the second DrupalCon, held in Amsterdam (right).

And now, 6 editions later we have reached the scale of the third DrupalCon in Brussels as can be seen on Dries' site. And this is a global trends. While DrupalCons get bigger and bigger, there is also a trend to localise DrupalCon's that are reaching the same scale as DrupalCon's were only a a few editions ago. And with that the global DrupalCon problems get local as wel, continuity, professionalism en sponsors.

I am proud to say -not meant to toot my own horn- that the organisers of the DrupalJam so far did an excellent job. The very healthy ecoshere around Drupal in the Netherlands made that we have the following premium sponsors; Microsoft, Radio Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Dutch Open Projects, Internet Unlimited, KPN, NCRV, OneShoe and Sogeti. Other sponsors include VLC (gold), Lucius, Acquia, Synetic, Wizzlern (silver) and Merge (bronze). Looking at this list there are at least two key things to note. The first one is a classic one, the distribution is skewed to the left meaning we made the premium sponsorship to cheap.

The second one is more important. The ecoshere around Drupal grew and outgrew the standard Drupal implementers. KPN (fortune 500, telephone, mobile, ADSL, high end webhosting), NCRV (public broadcaster using Drupal a lot), Radio Netherlands Worldwide (public broadcaster using Drupal, see Dries' site) and Microsoft are not the "standard" sponsors of an Open Source project. It shows that the market around Drupal is maturing and that parties that have an indirect stake are willing to invest and give back. And we do thank them for that, as well as thank our other sponsors!

Brecht RockstarDries once told me he wanted to have local DrupalCamps in every city around the world. We are not there yet. But I do think there is a (bi-)yearly DrupalCamp in every free country around the world right now. And when these will become too big, there will be a DrupaCamp in every major city around the world by 2015 for sure.

Drupal is coming home in 2015, your home! But if you can not wait that long, sign up for the DrupalJam in Amsterdam, look the sessions and propose a session (login required). Please do contact me or Bart Feenstra if you have any questions. DrupalJam will rock!

XML feed