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Another year, another fantastic Drupal Camp! Our resident Drupal-ers descended on London with one mission, one purpose - to gain some useful insights into Drupal and its community. Drupal Camps are THE place to learn about new updates and what the future might hold.
Image courtesy of @DrupalCampLDN 

Drupal Camp began on Friday with a training day. So straight in at the deep end we started discussing theming in Drupal, this included the panels and display suite modules (amongst others). We went into some depth about how important it is to consider the content structure of a website before design. This was particularly interesting as it’s quite instinctual to get to the design as fast as possible, but I can now see that ideally the content structure should influence the design, not the other way around! We also looked at how to look through other team member’s perspectives in particular:

  • Designer
  • IA
  • Front-end Developer
  • Site Builder
  • Developer
  • Themer
  • Tester

This was very insightful and will help in the future when we are working on Drupal projects to look from all angles to provide the best service considering all aspects of the process.

The opening keynote speaker on Saturday was Sue Black. Sue is well known for her success online and offline in campaigning for digital social inclusion. Sue talked about the campaign ‘Techmums’ which is all about giving mums the chance to take part in the digital revolution.

Sue’s work with Techmums turned out to be a really intriguing seminar; it opened up a new way of looking at the digital community. The campaign encourages people who have never thought or been able to work in digital by providing free workshops and classes. Techmums is really opening doors for people interested in a new and exciting career.

The next seminar was entitled ‘How to be a better developer by ignoring the code or consultancy skill 101’.  This was particularly useful as it detailed how to manage projects in an agile way. It covered managing client projects and requests while bringing them in on budget.

Later in the day there were lots of talks discussing the new release of Drupal 8, which is due (hopefully!) towards the end of this year. Drupal 8 seems like a massive step up from Drupal 7, it’s a totally mobile first platform, featuring a massively improved API, sensical theming, improved accessibility and multilingual capabilities, and a responsive and clean default administration theme.

Going back to theming, Drupal 8 includes an intuitive and fast template engine for PHP called Twig. This brings greater simplicity as templates are written in an easy to learn syntax, which is also secure. With this Drupal 8 makes designing highly functional websites far simpler.

Another great talk was from Mike Bell on Mental Health and Open Source. This focused on a topic that has been in the media lately, and is something that any worker needs to be aware of. A particularly important element of focus was that of catharsis, talking even blogging, were all suggested as good ways of managing stress, and not just at work.

After two full days of nothing but Drupal we were totally exhausted and happy to get on the train back to good old Cambridge. We will definitely be bringing some of the ideas and techniques back to work in the studio.