Drupal Camp

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?

Bad to the Bone: Our BADCamp session submissions

The Web Chefs are going to BADCamp. In addition to being a Contributing Sponsor (we’re doing fun things with our booth. Stay tuned!) and providing some awesome training sessions on PHP and Node.js, we have also submitted a few talks.

Our two training sessions are full, but you can take a look at our proposed sessions below. If you feel like taking a look and voting for your favorite ones, we’d love your support. Also, feel free to leave feedback on our proposed sessions in the comments. We do love hearing feedback on session submissions.

Illustration by David Needham (BADCamp 2011)

Announcing Drupal Day Austin!

We are proud to announce Drupal Day Austin!

In lieu of a DrupalCamp Austin in 2012, we are bringing you Drupal Day Austin. Think of it as a DrupalCamp jam-packed all into one day of lightning talks, mini BoFs and BBQ! Yes, BBQ. We like to call it “mini camp.”

I know that you may be wondering why we’re not having a full-on DrupalCamp in Austin this year. Well, you might have heard Austin is now home to a Formula 1 racetrack. While at first, a DrupalCamp might not seem to interfere too much with a Formula 1 race, the problem was not the event itself, but the fact that every hotel around the Austin metro area is fully booked for our usual DrupalCamp Austin date due to the Formula 1 race. We want our DrupalCamp to be accessible for out of town guests, therefore, keeping our usual date was not an option.

Our only option seemed to cancel the event altogether. November had been a good time for us because it’s not too hot here in Austin, it’s right before the holidays, and after major Austin events like college Football kick-off season and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Instead of canceling the event altogether, we decided to move the event so that it would not interfere with Formula 1 or ACL (however, we do believe there is a UT game that day, but our event should be over by kick-off). And that’s how Drupal Day Austin was born.

Will there be a DrupalCamp Austin in 2013? Absolutely. We are taking this time to regroup, rethink, and plan to make DrupalCamp Austin in 2013 well worth the wait. While we do not have a solid date for DrupalCamp Austin in 2013, all we can say is that it will definitely be early in the year, as to not conflict with Fall events. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your feedback regarding how we can make the next DrupalCamp Austin better. @DrupalATX on Twitter is probably the best way to give us your feedback. You can also leave a comment in this blog post below, or contact me directly at cecy (at) fourkitchens (dot) com.

You can find out more about Drupal Day Austin and RSVP here: http://drupaldayaustin.org

Lightning talks and speakers will be announced soon!

Photo credit: “Dewdrops” by hetitsgarrett on Flickr.

Training the Web Chef Way

When the Four Kitchens’ team of web chefs develop a new training course, our guiding principle is: Provide a strong return on investment. You invest the time traveling to the training, attending, and afterwards, practicing the skills acquired. You also invest the energy and effort necessary to develop new skills. You place your trust in the trainers to guide you from where you are now to where you need to be. In return, we invest our time, energy, and best effort in creating training experiences that give you a stronger, more relevant, skillset and the confidence you need to apply it.

We also want you and the training to be the right match, building on your current skillset. Before the event, we send a very specific list of required skills, so that you can be certain that the training you purchased is right for you.

To ensure a valuable return on your investment, we develop our trainings with four essentials in mind.

  1. You leave with skills you need. We are interested in many things. The web chefs’ IRC chat room is a steady stream of links and memes. But when it comes to training, we make sure that the skills we teach are the ones you must have as a web professional. We want the skills you develop to increase your value in the marketplace.
  2. Hands-on experience, in class. Seeing is not doing. We know that the only way to develop a skill is to jump in and do it. We provide a safety net. We approach training as an obstacle course designed to build confidence. Instructions are given and then, you tackle the obstacle. We put the smaller obstacles first so that by the end, you are scaling big walls without breaking a sweat.
  3. Subject matter expertise AND training expertise. Many technical training courses fail because the trainers are not subject matter experts or the subject matter experts are not trainers. We develop trainings as a team, combining expertise in the subject with expertise in the art of training. The finished product is an intellectually satisfying, fun, and valuable day with the web chefs.
  4. Enjoyable, cooperative, encouraging. Training is a community experience. We create an environment where trainees can help each other, receive help from us, and participate in every discussion so that the group builds their skills in a cohesive, connected way. We also have a lot of fun.

Our next training is at DrupalCon Munich. Join us for Responsive Websites: Design and Build for All Devices. Also, keep an eye out for more trainings at BadCamp and DrupalCamp Austin.

Do you need personalized training for your team? Contact us for more information about we help teams become Drupal Experts.

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.utexas.org

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.”

DrupalCamp Austin goes mobile

With DrupalCamp Austin coming up this weekend, the web chefs have been working overtime to make things a bit easier on everyone at the camp. We’ve relaunched the website so that it works on everyone’s mobile devices while they hustle about between sessions. Instead of building a separate app, we’ve baked this mobile friendliness straight into the website using responsive web design.

Double website, all the way

Talk of responsive design has been all over the web lately because it allows us to deliver really diverse user experiences within one package. This is especially handy for DrupalCamp sites because there are two main audiences: desktop users who want to learn about the event or register, and mobile camp attendees needing easy access to timely information, especially the schedule.

I expect more and more DrupalCamp sites to start building responsive themes to improve their camp-goers’ experiences. If camps aren’t big enough to convince you, look no further than DrupalCon Denver to see a well-designed responsive conference site.

Where can I learn more?!?

I’m so glad you asked! DrupalCamp Austin is offering many training sessions this year, including a Responsive Drupal theming and design training on Sunday by myself and Todd. On Saturday we’ll have some fantastic mobile-oriented sessions:

Mobile sprint before the camp

We’re also hosting a Drupal Mobile sprint on before the camp at the Four Kitchens office. I’ll be there working on D7 mobile modules and anyone is welcome to come! Grab more details on groups.drupal.org

DrupalCamp Austin Training: Immerse Yourself in Drupal Expertise!

This year’s DrupalCamp Austin includes a dedicated training track, so you can immerse yourself in an weekend-long educational experience! Trainings will be given by world-class Drupalers on a variety of essential topics. Attendees add training sessions à la carte to their camp registration ticket, combining camp-style sessions with hands-on, dive-deeper training in subjects like site building, security, and responsive design.

Have you bought your ticket yet? Hurry! DrupalCamp Austin is only 18 days away and it will sell out. Register for the camp and then add a training (or two or three). Already registered? No worries, you can still add a training.

Register for DrupalCamp Austin (only $30!)
Enroll in Drupal training

Choose from:

Site Building with Drupal 7

This introductory one-day workshop touches on nearly every aspect of the core Drupal framework and covers many must-have modules. You’ll learn best practices from industry professionals and create a sustainable framework for managing your content. By the end of the day, you’ll have created a Drupal site that looks and functions much like any you’ll see on the web today.
Cost: $150.00
When: Full-day (8:30am–5:00pm)
Trainer(s): Jennifer Lampton

Introduction to Drupal Security for Coders

The training begins with a review of the most common kinds of vulnerabilities found in Drupal sites. We’ll then break them down and focus on the specific ways to address those problems in both site
configuration and code.
Cost: $75.00
When: Half-day, morning (8:30am–12:00pm)
Trainer(s): Greg Knaddison

PHP for Non-Programmers

This is a friendly programming introduction for people new to coding. We’ll take a “Physics for Poets” approach to basic PHP concepts like variables, if/else statements, Boolean logic, functions, and hooks. Participants will write code, read code, and have a clear understanding of how to continue practicing.
Cost: $75.00
When: Half-day, afternoon (1:30pm-5:00pm)
Trainer(s): Diana Montalion Dupuis

Responsive Drupal Theming and Design

Do your Drupal themes work on all devices, regardless of size or browser complexity? This hands-on, “You can do it” training session will teach you how to create and theme a responsive design in Drupal.
Cost: $150.00
When: Full-day (8:30am–5:00pm)
Trainer(s): Todd Nienkerk, Chris Ruppel

Site Building with Power Tools: Views and Panels

During our 1/2 day session, we’ll take Drupal 7 beyond the “out of the box” experience and dive into two of the most popular modules - Views and Panels. You’ll learn how to replace your homepage with a custom built page that grabs content from different areas of your site and then we’ll work together to build a site similar to IMDB.com without any coding! We’ll provide a workbook so you can practice this on your own after class. as well.
Cost: $75.00
When: Half-day, morning (8:30am–12:00pm)
Trainer(s): Rob Martin

Drupal 6 Search Engine Optimization

The earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. Join Erik Wagner, Internet Marketing Manager at Volacci, as he provides a practical walk through showing you which modules to install, which settings to use, and dozens of the most closely guarded “tricks of the trade” to get your web site optimized, higher in the search engines, and more profitable. Volacci’s founder, Ben Finklea, is the author of Drupal 6 Search Engine Optimization.
Cost: $75.00
When: Half-day, afternoon (1:30pm-5:00pm)
Trainer(s): Erik Wagner

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

Simple DevOps Using Jenkins - Presentation at DrupalCamp Asheville

I had a really great time attending Drupal Camp Asheville and giving presentations there, a my “Debugging Techniques for Drupal and LAMP” (I have presented versions of that before, most recently at DrupalCamp Colorado) and a new presentation, “Simple DevOps Using Jenkins.”

“Simple DevOps” is oriented towards smaller teams and independent freelancers; the goal is to demonstrate that the benefits of continuous integration and other automation need not be limited to larger teams that can afford more overhead. Freelancers and small operations may be cautious about the “DevOps” and “continuous integration” buzzwords because they perceive them as bureaucracy that interferes with writing code fast and making websites quickly. I would like to convince people that a minimal setup does not interfere with their workflow, but instead makes it faster and more efficient, and professionalizes your service at the same time.

I cover the basic goals in a few slides, and then I installed Jenkins and walked through setting it up live, on my laptop. We then walked through various Jenkins jobs used internally at Four Kitchens to run Drupal cron, do backups, and promote code to staging and production servers. There was great audience participation, with good questions and several people volunteering there own experiences with Jenkins. Here is a zip file of those jobs – it is has the config.xml’s of the jobs in it, and I’ve scrubbed all passwords and other information out of it, and it also has a few text files of notes. It may be useful to someone setting up their own simple Jenkins. The main take-away from looking at those jobs should be that they are simple, 2 to 4 lines of shell commands is at the heart of each one.

The Asheville Drupal Camp was very impressive - it was smaller than some camps, with only about 80 attendees, but the quality of the presentations, Q & A sessions, and hallway conversations was great. For a smaller community, Asheville has a lot of high-quality Drupal expertise. Examples of great presentations by Asheville people include Zach Seifts’ talk on using Aegir to manage lots of sites for Appalachian State University, and Matt Davis’s talk on migrating large sets of data with batch processing. Matt’s talk was essentially a code review, he put up custom migration code he had written, and walked the audience through it - well done and pretty technical, and a lot of good input from the audience. It can be intimidating to just throw your code open to the review of an audience like that, but I think Drupal Camps would benefit from more code oriented presentations.

The keynote by Addison Berry was great, as her talks always are, and there was awesome talk by James Sansbury (you know them as q0rban and add1sun on IRC - both are Lullabots from out of town) on the Drupal 7 Database API. The final panel session on Drupal 7 was also awesome, with a lot of discussion on migration problems, what problems might still best be solved by D6, and other issues.

There was great post-camp conversation and awesome beer afterwards at The Wedge brewery. Asheville seems to be a pretty good town for beer connoisseurs, and the brews at Wedge were awesome. I returned there after hiking the next day to try to sample all of them.

The next two days I drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked in Pisgah forest. I saw the waterfalls at Graveyard Fields:

I picked a spot on the Parkway and walked off onto an old logging road, not too crowded - I saw a person every 20 minutes or so. There was what must have been cabin of people kicked out when they made the National Forest, or an old logger’s bunker, with a pipe cemented into a spring leading water into a now-broken cistern, old stairs and bits of iron laying about:

I cut off the traveled trail up an even older logging trail cut into the mountain, basically a flatter place with smaller trees in it. I walked up in silence and seeing no one for a couple of miles, until I got to bigger tree trunks that must have been an older growth forest. The road eventually ended in a mound of dirt, with a few ancient steel pop-top beer cans on the top, perhaps the bulldozer operator’s celebration. I walked a bit further and saw old stumps 5 or 6 feet in diameter. In the undergrowth I saw a suspicious large mass, and took a picture:

and the internet confirmed it.

It was a great experience, and I will definitely be back at Asheville Drupal Camp next year.