BADCamp 2012 Trip Report

I recently attended BADCamp 2012 in Berkeley, California. This was my first Drupal camp experience and I’ve had some time to put together my thoughts from the experience:

Four Kitchens’ PHP for Non-Programmers training

This was my first time being a proctor for a training event. There were 28 or so attendees, 5 of which were walk-ups. We were scheduled to have 45 and I’m happy the class size didn’t reach that number. Diana, David, and Ian did a rockstar job teaching the course material — as most of the attendees I assisted were able to grasp the programming concepts discussed. The majority of the problems attendees had were related to PHP syntax errors, attempting to execute PHP code without using their assigned development environment, and/or various file transferring issues. That aside, it was a lot of fun seeing the reaction from the attendees as they experimented with the coding exercises. I would definitely like to volunteer with training again — perhaps with a more advanced class next time.

Product Summit

I decided to attend the Product Summit purely out of curiosity. It was lead by Matt Cheney and ended up mostly being an open discussion among various Drupal leaders in the community — Jay Batson, Jeff Walpole, Ezra Gildesgame, Drew Gorton, Ben Finklea, and many others. Karen Borchert gave her presentation (massive flowchart) on Drupal distribution decision making and Drew Gorton showcased their latest backup management SaaS side-project called Node Squirrel. Jay Batson was called on regularly to speak his mind (he’s a popular guy). He did stress that the cost of having a robust devops team/infrastructure for SaaS products is quite high in an organization such as Acquia. Throughout the conversation, I came to the realization that there are many markets that have yet to be tapped into that Drupal-centered SaaS and distributions could be used for.

Drupal 8 sessions

I went to several sessions centered around Drupal 8 (Twig, configuration, feature roadmap details). It sounds very promising. Of the sessions, the most interesting one was about the configuration system in Drupal 8. When you make configuration changes in Drupal 8, they go directly to file (as well as the DB)! This will make version control and site portability so much easier. Speaking of making things easier, the new theme layer/engine Twig is going to greatly simplify the templating process. I saw some side-by-side template code comparisons between Drupal 7 and 8 — Twig is a lot more intuitive.

Angie Byron’s talk about the Drupal 8 feature roadmap was interesting. Drupal 8 is slated to be released about a year from now. Feature freeze was expected to be at the end of this year (as of this writing, now February 18, 2013). She talked about the milestone of getting Views rolled into core. The major benefit is that developers will adopt Drupal 8 sooner since the vital module will be ready (in theory) upon release.

Niche sessions

A couple of ‘niche’ sessions I attended were really enjoyable. One of which was a session about various mapping modules available for Drupal 7. Brandon Morrison from Phase II demonstrated the capabilities of Geofield, Geocoder, and Views GeoJSON. These are definitely something we should keep in mind if we ever need to do any maps related work for our clients. Another interesting session I attended was Jay Batson’s talk about using or creating incubators (i.e. Tech Stars, his latest venture) to accelerate business ideas centered around using Drupal. Jay also talked a little bit about professional services vs. product development companies. One big take-away from his discussion was his observation (of various startups) that the majority of professional services companies that attempt to make products without a completely dedicated team will almost always fail.

I’d really like to participate in more business-oriented sessions at future Drupal Camps/Cons.

Drupal community

Throughout the Camp I recognized several faces from DrupalCon Denver. I got to finally put a face to several of the prominent Drupal usernames that we frequently discuss around the office. It was also fun meeting a lot of fun new folks over drinks/dinner and at the official party. Casey Cobb invited us out to his place in Concord to hangout by the fire and meet more folks on the Ricochet team. They are a fun bunch.

My big takeaways

  • Within the Drupal community, we’ve barely scratched the surface with various types of products and distributions for a variety of markets
  • Drupal 8 is going to scare a lot of people away, but, attract a lot of new folks with the switch to OOP (with a positive net result)
  • Drupal 8 will be a lot more developer friendly with the new configuration system, Twig, and OOP
  • More niche topic sessions are a good thing (i.e. session exclusively about mapping modules for Drupal)
  • More business-focused sessions are also welcome. One of the best sessions I went to was Jay Batson’s talk about startups, incubators, product development vs. professional services, etc.

I hope you found my thoughts on BADCamp 2012 useful. What are your big takeaways from the camp?

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Drupal 8 is being built upon Symfony! Symfony is an open source PHP framework that will replace some of Drupal’s low level code with stable, optimized code and allow for better and faster Drupal development.