DrupalCamp Austin: Past, Present, and Future

From its inception in 2009, Four Kitchens has been heavily involved in the planning and organizing of DrupalCamp Austin, along with other Austin Drupal leaders like Astonish Design, Volacci, and Entermedia (to name a few).

It seemed like in 2011, we had hit our stride: Angela Byron was keynoting, we produced one of the first responsive DrupalCamp websites, introduced full-day training to the camp, and finally found a cool Druplicon mascot (we love you, hipster Druplicon).

Then in 2012, things came to a halt. Maybe the Mayans meant to predict the end of DrupalCamp Austin and not the end of the world. Okay, maybe not. But 2012 was definitely a turning point in the Austin event landscape with the inaugurating Formula 1 race at Circuit of the Americas. While CoA is great for the Austin economy, it was bad news for us and our camp.

Every hotel in Austin and the metro area was booked solid for the whole month of November, which is when we usually host our camp. We didn’t want to put on a camp that would be inaccessible to folks from out of town, especially our friends in Dallas and Houston; so we decided to cancel the camp as a result. (Although we did have an awesome one-day event aptly called Drupal Day Austin.)

Back with a vengeance

We’re no Die Hard 3, but we are back with a vengeance in 2013! (Sam Jackson may even make an appearance at this year’s camp. Okay, no. Don’t get your hopes up.)

Here’s what’s new this year:

  • 3 days instead of 2: The camp will start on Friday with full-day trainings and a one-day web leadership summit open to anyone who works in the web (and free to attend!).
  • Full-day trainings take place on Friday so you can enjoy 2 days of camp, uninterrupted.
  • Half-day trainings will still be available the Saturday of the camp for those who prefer half-day training, and don’t mind missing half a day of camp talks.
  • Tech trivia Friday! Start off the camp with a fun trivia night and test your overall geeky knowledge.
  • We’re downtown, baby! Our venue this year is the Austin Convention Center, conveniently located right by the metro rail and near watering holes like Easy Tiger and The Gingerman (the unofficial post-meetup spot in Austin).

And now for the fun part!

Register for the camp

Submit a session

Get involved

Volunteer: Email us at volunteer (at) and let us know what you’re interested in.
Sponsor: Email me personally at cecy (at) to talk about sponsorship opportunities.
Train: Get in touch with Diana Dupuis at Astonish Design if you have any ideas or questions about training.

Stay updated

The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow @DrupalATX on Twitter or Facebook.

We hope to see you there!

Photo credit: jenniferconley on Flickr.

Trip report: Shop Talk 2

Shop Talk is best described by the tagline on its website, “a retreat for interactive studio owners and bosspeople”. After attending the 1st incarnation back in Portland in March, Todd had this to say:

Shop Talk was probably the most important event I’ve ever attended as a web designer. The lessons learned in those two days usually take a lifetime to acquire, and the openness, warmth, and willingness to share among the attendees was truly beautiful and cathartic.

Todd and I were honored to be invited to Shop Talk 2, which this time, took place in the beautiful desert city of Palm Springs, California. Many of the same players from the first event also returned — which I had not met — but quickly felt at home since everyone already knew each other. The level of transparency and sharing by our peers in attendance was incredible, and really mirrors the same kind of values we take to heart both at Four Kitchens and the open-source communities we engage with.

It’s also refreshing to take a step back from the technology. While everyone present had companies that designed and developed sites and apps — words like “CMS” and “Javascript” almost never came up. Instead, we talked about the things that happen behind the scenes, that keep our companies successful and competitive — so we can all keep on doing the things we love. I also can’t go without saying that that Happy Cog did an amazing job organizing the event. Everything from the beautiful hotel and round-table format to the swag bags and group dinner. The attention to detail left nothing for us to worry about so that we could instead focus on diving deeply into these important and challenging topics.

The ideas born out of Shop Talk, and subsequent talks with our Web Chefs, have already led to some key improvements for our processes across the board — with more on the way to come. As we reflect on a great year, we’re looking forward to taking a break during these holidays to relax and spend time with our families. We’re even more excited for the things to come in 2013, as well going to Shop Talk 3 (TBD). I hear Antigua is nice in the spring.

If you’re interested in learning more about Shop Talk 2, Cecy put together this great Storify which captures our adventure.

Photo credit: A Million Ideas poster by Hand Drawn Creative

Drupal Day Austin Recap!

The very first Drupal Day Austin took place this past weekend, and it was a great success!

First off, many thanks to everyone that came out for the event! This year, we were unable to have a full-on DrupalCamp Austin, so we had to make do with one day. We appreciate the community for being so understanding and awesome! The speakers were truly all amazing, and their talks generated a great deal of healthy discussion.

The event was hosted by Capital Factory. If you’re not familiar with Capital Factory, you should definitely check them out. Capital Factory is a great resource for the tech community in Austin. They offer office space for startups — a few startups like OtherInbox, Cubeit, and Rockify are housed at Capital Factory. They also offer co-working space for individual folks who want to connect with talent in the Austin community. Overall, Capital Factory is a tremendous asset to our community, which they continually prove by hosting evens such as hours.

The event was kicked off with some BBQ and a talk by Karen Borchert and Erik Summerfield of Phase2 Technology. The talk entitled “So You Want to Build a Drupal Distribution,” which was a version of a talk Karen presented at this year’s NYC Camp.

Up next was Web Chef Mike Minecki talking about how to “Make Content Rock! A Few Modules to Improve the Lives of Editors.” Mike talked about modules like Total Control and Workbench and how they help with content administration.

Following Mike was our much anticipated CMS panel, featuring industry experts in various platforms. We had Devin Price from WP Theming representing WordPress, Travis Swicegood from the Texas Tribune talking about Django, Ryan Irelan from Happy Cog speaking about Expression Engine, and our very own Todd Nienkerk talking about Joomla — I mean, Drupal.

The purpose of the panel was to have an honest look at the good and bad of all the major CMS platforms available to developers, and it seems we generated a lot of great discussion! You can take a look at the tweets on this Storify link.

Next was Michael Caudy, speaking on how Drupal can be used to develop knowledge management systems to help in academic research. You can learn more about this topic by reading Michael Caudy’s blog here.

Lastly, Ben Finklea and Tim Hamilton, of Volacci and Astonish Designs respectively, gave an awesome talk about branding, and how to build a better brand for you and your business. We couldn’t have asked for a better talk to close out the day. The talk was both light-hearted, funny and informative.

You can look at a tweet-by-tweet recap of the entire day on Storify by clicking here. Slidedecks, where available, will also be posted soon, so stay tuned to this blog for updates.

Four Kitchens at DrupalCon Denver

If you went to DrupalCon Denver 2012, you’re probably thinking “oh man, I can’t wait to revisit some of the awesome talks I went to,” or “darn, I missed that talk, where can I find audio or video from it?”

Well, look no further! Videos for Four Kitchens talks are up online, and accompanying decks are also available on Slideshare!

Big Websites for Small Screens: Case Study
Description: ICANN is the organization responsible for coordinating global use of the domain name system (DNS). This session will take you through Four Kitchens’ process of redesigning from static HTML to a responsive Drupal 7 website.
Speakers: Chris Ruppel, Todd Nienkerk, Zach Meyer.

NO RFPs! Why Requests Proposals are Bad Business and How We Can Stop It
Description: Proposals tell you how good a vendor is at writing proposal, not how good their work is. (How many clients are looking to hire professional proposal writers?) In this panel, some of the world’s top Drupal business development professionals will speak to the RFP process and other options. The strengths and weaknesses of RFPs will be identified, and creative alternatives will be discussed.
Speakers: Crystal Williams, Zach Chandler, Brian Skowron, Todd Nienkerk.

UX Design for Every Screen
Description: In this session, we will explore how the recent explosion of devices has disrupted the process of designing a website that we’ve crafted over the past decade.
Speakers: Aaron Stanush

If you attended any of these talks, or are now just listening to a talk, we’d love to hear from you. Continue the conversation with us over yonder on Twitter: @fourkitchens.

UT Austin DrupalCamp

This Friday, May 18th, the University of Texas at Austin will host their first UT Austin DrupalCamp.

We’re excited to announce that our very own David Diers will be presenting two talks at the event!

Drupal Mario Bros: Best Practice Workflows for Developing and Maintaining Drupal Websites
A best practices session for anyone currently working with, or planning to work with, Drupal.

Time: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM at FAC 10
[Click here for more panel info.]

Drupal and .edu
An in-depth look at several .edu Drupal case studies.

Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM at FAC 7
[Click here for more panel info.]

Registration for the event is closed, though there is a waitlist. UT Austin DrupalCamp is open to folks affiliated with the University, including students, faculty and staff.

UT has embraced Drupal for a fair while, and we’re happy to see they continue to educate and contribute to the open-source community.

You can learn more about UT Austin Drupal Camp at

DrupalCamp Stanford

Four Kitchens is sponsoring DrupalCamp Stanford and web chef Diana Montalion Dupuis is in sunny Palo Alto to offer two sessions: Drupal for NonGeeks and Mad Skillz: Be the Best in the World.

  • On Friday, attendees who will never write a line of PHP code but need to understand how Drupal works can find out at the Drupal for NonGeeks session. This session will offer a high-level, conceptual understanding of the Drupal framework. The goal is to enable nonGeeks to make decisions about applying Drupal to their real world challenges and talk to developers (in their language).
  • On Saturday, attendees can join in on The Mad Skillz Self Assessment Experience at the Mad Skillz: Be the Best in the World session. They’ll also hear what top Drupal shops and in-house Drupal team leaders say are the “Most Important Traitz” their best developers possess. (Hint: it isn’t “ninja” anything.) Team builders and Drupal business or project owners will get a master list of skillz to use for team development plans, hiring assessments, and ideas for how to assess that “certain something” that top developers have in common.

If you’re at the Camp, come by a session and say, “Howdy.”

10 things I love about my job

Every morning at 5:00 am, I sit down with a cup of coffee, put my feet up, and write for an hour. I can’t remember when I began keeping a journal — I was very young. And I don’t know why the practice has persisted through all the (sometimes dramatic) changes I’ve experienced since. But unlike going to the gym, eating vegetables at every meal, and studying javascript, my commitment to the practice sticks.

One of my favorite writing prompts is creating lists. Lists can be literary or silly, but they are always enlightening. I can tell myself things in a list I can’t mentally access when looking directly at an issue, challenge, or situation. Lists keep my hand moving. They can even uncover the solution to a technical problem. (Really, try it!) Although my tech life and my introspective writing life don’t usually intersect, this morning they did. And as I pack for DrupalCon Denver, this list seemed worth sharing.

Ten things I love about my job:

  • Writing code, solving technical problems, and strategizing solutions. Thank goodness this is first, because it’s what I do all day.
  • The people. I confess, I mostly don’t like people. But the connections I experience through work are the second most satisfying aspect of my job. Coworkers, developers on other teams, project managers and product owners, stakeholders, previous and potential clients, Drupal community leaders and members… all kinds of people have become who I truly care about, enjoy, and value. It is honestly shocking to be such a natural hermit (I once considered becoming a Buddhist monk) and then, find so much value in relationships.
  • CMS work, specifically. I was drawn to these kinds of web applications. I like PHP, I like web technology, but I love working on technology that enables communication, collaboration, expression, and sharing content. As a writer, it is like building religious artifacts. Or tiny churches.
  • The organizational structure of our team. We are a community of professionals. Each of us manages our work life as both consultants and members of development teams. No one spends their day making sure other people do their jobs. Instead, we focus on empowering each other and the business to accomplish what we have set out to accomplish. I forget, on the tough days, that this is special and rare.
  • The four quiet hours I spend in my home office every morning. I work in my home office until about 9:30 am every morning. Unlike most developers, I am best in the morning and worst late at night. Although I love the time I spend in the office with the team, I wither and die after too much social contact. In solitude, I rejuvenate, focus, and come back to life. Even when I get nothing “productive” done, which sometimes happens.
  • My office work space. I decorated my office. Yes, yes, this sounds very girly. Trust me, if you came into my home, you would not think I cared about decorating. But I love that my work space feels like home. Purple presides. There are gifts from teammates, a sun-moon-mirror art thingy, Thich Nhat Hanh quote calendar (two months behind), a big Tom Brady poster, a small Tony Romo poster, a moon goddess image, and a fancy metal bookshelf with books, teas, snacks, and my collection of badges from events I’ve attended. There are also papers, notes, cups, and other messiness strewn about… just like home.
  • Speaking at events. When I was 18 years old, I was serious about theater. Although I’d given up writing performance pieces, acting, and teaching it before I became a programmer, I missed the work. The idea that public speaking is an extroverted skill is, I think, a misunderstanding of what speaking, training, and performing are — they are a developed skill requiring a lot of introspective practice. And the fear of public speaking is really the fear of fear. The benefit to starting young was — I didn’t know it was scary to be scared. (I made a radio commercial for Stop & Shop when I was seven and thought it was “super fun.”) I experienced the fear as a necessary part of the joy, like riding a roller coaster. Performing is not what I love though. What I love is adding value to people’s lives by sharing experience or creating a structure they can follow into a subject. I love being with the audience, whether I am watching a good presentation or giving one.
  • Doing work that, as a young woman, I was conditioned to think girls didn’t do. The counter culture aspect adds a little spice to my life. Though, frankly, I think what I do is “super cool” regardless of who is doing it. I adore this geek culture that mostly men have created (except the obsession with beer, I don’t like beer) and I would love to see more women follow this path. The gate is wide open.
  • Becoming “worldly” by traveling and working with people from other countries every day. I always found the USA-centric thinking too strong for my taste. Today, I will connect with people from the UK, Hungary, South Africa, Canada, Denmark, and New York (which is kind of another country.)
  • Setting an example of economic self sufficiency for my son. I went from watering the tree of feminism to eating the fruit. I thrive today on economically-empowering partnerships where once the prevailing model was shared, negotiated dependency. But the money and other benefits are not what matter most. The rewards of economic self determination came after I was dedicated to a career that really, truly mattered to me. Not a job. I don’t experience myself as having “a job.” I have a place to invest my best self, every day.

We're speaking at SXSW and throwing an Austin Drupal Bash

SXSW Interactive talk: OMG your RFP is killing me

When: Friday, March 9, from 2–3:00pm
Where: Austin Convention Center, Ballroom BC
Add this session to your SXSW schedule

RFPs are like online dating. The WORST KIND of online dating. Imagine an online dating experience where all users have uniform information provided, one picture (and there’s no telling how old it is…), a host of clinical, antiseptic statistics and data, and from that information, you have to select a date and commit to more than just one rendezvous. You have to commit to 6 months of dating.

There has to be a better way. In this panel, business development professionals will speak to the RFP process and other options. Ways to circumnavigate an RFP will be discussed. Creative alternatives will be outlined and the strengths and weaknesses of RFPs will be analyzed. If you are building an RFP now, this is your intervention. If a project looms on the horizon, learn about your options. If you like a good war story, we’ll be comparing scars like Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws.

Austin Drupal Bash

When: Monday, March 12, from 4–10pm (4–6pm: Ask an Expert session, 6–10pm: Party!)
Where: Valhalla (710 Red River Street)
RSVP on Eventbrite

Join us Monday, March 12, to confer, shake hands, and share enthusiasm with those in the Drupal community. There will be experts. There will be camaraderie. There will be beer.

From 4-6pm, you’ll have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with key players in the Drupal community during the “Ask an Expert” session. Got a burning how-to question? Ask away! Want to pontificate on the open-source philosophy? Talk it up! Want to hear more about how Drupal’s affected these experts’ lives and careers? Go on, pry!

The following Drupallers will be on all from 4-6pm for the Ask an Expert session:

  • Samantha Warren, Design Director at Phase2
  • Karen Borchert, Product Director at Phase2
  • Scott Reynen, Lead Developer at Aten Design Group
  • Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg, Partner/Director at Zivtech
  • Benji Davis, Project Manager at Zivtech
  • Andrew Elster of Astonish Designs
  • Diwant Vaidya of Astonish Designs
  • Matt Heisterman of Astonish Designs
  • Nick Comito of Astonish Designs
  • Steve Williams of Astonish Designs
  • Diana Dupuis, Director of Professional Services at Four Kitchens
  • Ian Carrico, Developer at Four Kitchens
  • Rob Ristroph, Developer and Systems Administrator at Four Kitchens
  • Todd Nienkerk, Partner at Four Kitchens

The party starts after “Ask an Expert” at 6pm, and the fun lasts ‘til they kick us out.

This event is made possible by Astonish Designs, Aten Design Group, LevelTen, Phase2, and Zivtech.

Organized by Four Kitchens and GeekAustin

DrupalCamp Austin registration is open. Register today!

This year’s DrupalCamp will be held November 19-20 (Sat-Sun) at the AT&T Conference Center near the UT campus. We WILL sell out, so please register soon. Registration includes breakfast and parking as well, making this the CHEAPEST DrupalCamp Austin yet!

Only $30 gets you access to:

  • 30+ sessions
  • Amazing speakers from the local and global Drupal communities
  • Free parking and breakfast
  • An exclusive after-party at the Violet Crown Social Club

This year’s speakers include:

  • Angie Byron (webchick), co-maintainer of Drupal 7 and Director of Community Development at Acquia
  • Jeff Robbins, co-founder and CEO of Lullabot
  • Greg Knaddison (greggles), Director of Security Services at Acquia
  • Ben Finklea, CEO of Volacci
  • Dave Reid, senior engineer at Palantir and maintainer of a billion modules
  • Jennifer Lampton, senior developer and trainer at Chapter Three
  • …And many, many more!

Session proposals


We now offer professional Drupal training for all levels! Topics include:


We’d like to thank our amazing sponsors. Without them, this event would not be possible.

DrupalCamp Austin is organized by Four Kitchens with help from Astonish Designs, Matt Vance, and the Austin Drupal Users Group!


Please check out our frequently asked questions or contact us.

See you there!

DrupalCamp Austin 2011
November 19-20

Dallas Drupal Days

Dallas Drupal Days speaker badge

Four Kitchens is headed to the big D for Dallas Drupal Days on July 8–9 and we’re bringing a big batch of presentations with us. Nine to be exact. Four of them are just on design and theming, which we’re especially excited about as we continue our push into the arena of mobile and responsive design.

We’re also proud to be a sponsor, so if you’re attending the event, be sure to stop by our table to chat. You may even walk away with a limited edition Four Kitchens’ Cookbook™ or Pint Glass™.

Our sessions


Big websites
Diana Montalion Dupuis and Robert Ristroph

Case studies

The Economist: Tech Talk
Diana Montalion Dupuis, Aaron Forsander, and Robert Ristroph

Don’t design websites. Design web SYSTEMS!
Todd Nienkerk, Aaron Stanush

Design and theming

Building responsive Drupal websites and apps
Chris Ruppel

Designing future-proof websites
Zach Meyer

Making your Drupal website beautiful with web fonts
Aaron Stanush

Accelerated Grid Theming with NineSixty
Todd Nienkerk


Drush Make - Install Like a Pro
Chris Ruppel

PHP for NonProgrammers
Diana Dupuis