DrupalCon Portland: Mobile Roundup

DrupalCon is coming! In just a little over a month, our Drupal community will meet in Portland to learn what’s new in the web and Drupal. I have already begun checking out the schedule to find some of the best frontend talks.


Sam Richard (@snugug) and Mason Wendell (@codingdesigner) are giving a talk on how to develop a responsive site with Sass and Breakpoint. I have had the pleasure of working with both of these guys with the work for Team Sass, and look forward to their session about the changes with Breakpoint.

Josh Riggs (@joshriggs) will be showing the Zen of HTML Prototyping and Designing in the Browser. This is especially important for ensuring the proper mobile design is ready for the client. We have been designing within the browser over the past year at Four Kitchens and are excited to see what other companies have been doing with it.

Vadim Mirgorod (@dealancer) has a session to Integrate Backbone.js into Drupal 7 and 8. We have already begun to use Backbone.js to create some awesome mobile and responsive apps at Four Kitchens, and I am exited to learn new ways to integrate it into a Drupal site.

Jared Ponchot (@jponch) of Lullabot will have a session about Designing for the responsive age we live in. I look forward to seeing some tips and tricks I can apply to our design process here at Four Kitchens, and possibly better ways of thinking of responsive design.


Want to start DrupalCon off running, and get a full-day responsive training? Chris Ruppel, Sam Richard and I are offering Advanced Responsive Web Design with Sass + Compass on May 20th. This shouldn’t be missed for anybody who wants to learn about how to properly implement a responsive design, and the tools to use to make your life easier.

DrupalCon Portland Proposals Galore

I hope you’re ready to put a bird on it and pickle that, because DrupalCon Portland is coming!

We submitted a whole lot of sessions this year on a huge variety of topics, from frontend to backend. Here are the Web Chef proposed sessions for DrupalCon Portland. If any of these strikes your fancy, please feel free to leave a comment and make your voice heard.


Coding + Development

Government, Nonprofit, and Education

Business and Strategy

Photo credit: Mr. Thomas on Flickr.

Four Kitchens at DrupalCon Munich!

Hot off the press! You can now listen to (and watch) talks by Chris Ruppel and Rob Ristroph at DrupalCon Munich. Take a look below for links to both videos and slides:

High performance theming
Chris Ruppel
Click here for video || Click here for slides

Debugging techniques for Drupal
Rob Ristroph
Click here for video || Click here for slides

Please note: Through no fault of our own, the sound on Rob’s talk is somehow interlaced with someone else’s talk. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed. If not, you can at least take a look at the slides :)

DrupalCon Munich: Responsive Roundup

Even though we have six weeks until DrupalCon Munich, I’ve already started scouring the schedule for interesting frontend talks. As you might know, one of my favorite topics is mobile web development and there’s plenty of interesting stuff this time around.


Having worked alongside Sam “Snugug” Richard on the drupal.org D7 upgrade efforts, I’m very excited to see his talk on Responsive Design with Sass+Compass. Not limited to Drupal, Sam is an active contributor to the Sass community, producing a number of awesome tools that make constructing responsive layouts a snap. This one is a must-see!

Ken Woodworth, one of the creators of the beautiful (and responsive) DrupalCon Denver site, has a session on designing and implementing flexible interfaces. Responsive interfaces are a lot more than a few lines of CSS, and insight into the responsive design process is !important.

Angie “webchick” Byron will be giving a state of the union on Drupal 8. While it’s not specifically about RWD, Drupal 8 will be responsive out of the box. Best to get the scoop now.

Core conversations

For those not content with the general update from webchick, there are a number of Core Conversations that go in depth, covering the various efforts for core Drupal 8 development. And yes, several of these deal with making the next Drupal responsive.

John Albin, Drupal 8 mobile initiative lead, will give an update on the direction of D8’s responsive core themes, the mobile admin UX, and frontend performance. We will be sprinting the final day of sessions and possibly the day after. If you want to get involved, stop by #drupal-mobile on irc.freenode.net and say hi.

Join the discussion around Spark, Acquia’s distribution created to explore new authoring experiences designed from the ground up with responsive websites in mind.

Though it isn’t specifically about RWD, I couldn’t help but mention Théodore “nod_” Biadala’s discussion around the effort he is spearheading for better JavaScript in Drupal core. This talk will reveal how much more appealing Drupal 8 is going to be for frontend developers. Better tools FTW!


Last but not least, if you’re interested in hands-on training during DrupalCon Munich, Four Kitchens is offering a full-day responsive web design training August 20th, the day before sessions start. Visit our training page for a full topic listing. Space is limited, so register before it sells out!

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.

Train with Four Kitchens at DrupalCon Munich 2012!

Did you know that Four Kitchens presented one of the first talks on Responsive Web Design at a major tech conference? We’ve learned a lot from our ventures into responsive web design and development, both from our client work and our community contributions. We have offered full-day, sold-out responsive training and popular responsive sessions at DrupalCon Denver, BADCamp and DrupalCamp Austin.

Four Kitchens experts will be sharing their knowledge on Responsive Web Design this year at DrupalCon Munich via a special training session. If you are interested in learning how to:

  • Design for all devices from day one
  • Create a responsive layout
  • Plan for content delivery
  • Implement your plan in the Drupal theme layer

What you will learn by the end:

  • Plan and implement a mobile first design
  • Lay out a fluid design structure
  • Implement CSS3 media queries
  • Handle images and rich content in multiple devices
  • Create a responsive Drupal 7 theme
  • Use JavaScript to make your site more responsive
  • Optimize the front end so that it loads as fast as possible

You can register for our Responsive Web Design training in Munich by following this link.

In addition to our training track, Chris Ruppel and Robert Ristroph will head a session on the following topics:

DrupalCon Denver, here we come

Is it March already? 2012 has been a wild year for us so far. In January, we added five new people to our elite team of web chefs. In February, we launched the re-designed and responsive ICANN.org (don’t miss our case study talk, details below). And now it’s March, so that means it’s time for our favorite event of the year – DrupalCon Denver. Continuing our tradition of supporting the Drupal community, we’re proud to be a Platinum sponsor of this year’s event!

Say hello to the web chefs

We brought eleven of our web chefs to Denver, so stop by our booth and say hi to the familiar faces and meet some of the new ones. Come learn about the projects and technologies we’ve been working with recently. We’ll also have a variety of phones and tablets to show you some of things we’re doing with mobile. Or, if you just feel like kicking back, you can play a traditional Texas game with the chefs.

Listen and learn at our sessions

We’ve got three great talks this year, including a case study, a session on mobile UX process, and a panel which proposes to #occupyRFPs.

Big websites for small screens: ICANN.org case study
ICANN is the organization responsible for coordinating global use of the domain name system (DNS). Due to the massive scale of their operations they serve users of all types, from feature phone users in Africa to iPad users in LA. This session will take you through Four Kitchens’ process of redesigning ICANN.org from static HTML to a responsive Drupal 7 website.

UX design for every screen
With responsive design on the scene, the tried and true processes of planning and building websites over the past decade are being turned on it’s head. When designing a website that needs to provide a pleasant experience on every device, we need to re-think our notions UX artifacts as well as the relationship between designers and developers.

No RFPs! Why requests for proposals are bad for business (and how we can stop them)
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. If you are writing an RFP, this is your wake-up call. If you are bidding, come learn about your options.

Experience the Drupal Game Show

On Wednesday, March 21st from 2:15–3:15pm at the Exhibit Hall Day Stage we will be presenting the Drupal Game Show. Watch as we test the Drupal know-how of our celebrity contestants MortenDK, Crystal Wiliams, and Matt Cheney. This is definitely an event you don’t want to miss!

Stay tuned

We’ve been working on a secret project that we’ll be debuting during DrupalCon Denver. It’s a lot of fun to use and we think you’ll be “attracted” to share it with other. We’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing your “positive” and “negative” feedback.

Photo by Matt Santomarco on Flickr

DrupalCon Denver sessions: Web Chef edition

It’s about that time again! Although it’s six months away DrupalCon Denver is ramping up, and session submissions are ready to be voted on by the wonderful Drupal community members. There are almost 600 submissions this year covering every aspect of design, development, mobile, and business strategy. Read on for the informational feasts prepared by the Web Chefs for Denver 2012:


Big Websites for Small Screens: ICANN.org Case Study

Zach Meyer (zachattack), Todd Nienkerk, Chris Ruppel (rupl)

ICANN is the organization responsible for coordinating global use of the domain name system (DNS). Due to the massive scale of their operations they serve users of all types, from feature phone users in Africa to iPad users in LA. This session will take you through Four Kitchens’ process of redesigning ICANN.org from static HTML to a responsive Drupal 7 website.

Lean, Mean, Responsive Machines

Chris Ruppel (rupl)

You’ve heard about responsive, mobile-first websites, and have probably built a few at this point. Mobile users have a short attention span, and they stay happy when sites load FAST. Heavy files, extra assets, and other inefficiencies can cause page loads to drag. Come to this session and learn how to keep your mobile users active without sacrificing the richness that desktop users expect.

Why you don’t need a responsive framework for mobile

Zach Meyer (zachattack)

Frameworks can help you rapidly prototype websites in mobile but they are also a crutch. To make a website responsive or have a fluid layout, flexible images and videos you don’t need a framework and sometimes it can be faster to produce without if you know what you are aiming for. Trying to understand what all the features are in a framework and which ones you really need to use for your project can be hard. Is the framework really meeting your needs or is it a swiss-army knife when all you need is a toothpick?

Wireframing for Every Screen

Aaron Stanush

In this session, we will explore the how the mobile era is changing the previously straightforward task of wireframing a website. When designers only have one instance of website (desktop) to wireframe, the layout is uniform. The header, content area, sidebar, and footer all remain static. But if you are designing a responsive website — one whose look and feel adapts depending whether you’re using a phone, laptop, or tablet — then these elements and especially the layout begin to diverge.

Coding and Development

Automated Performance Testing

Rob Ristroph (rgristroph)

Continuous Integration has become a standard part of the DevOps of many teams, and one component of that is usually automated testing of the code at a “stage” or “testing” point before it is released. Less common is automated performance testing, which is launching a load test at some point in the continuous integration process. While it is more common to monitor performance of the live site, it is rare to test it prior to making changes live.

PHP for NonProgrammers

Diana Dupuis (dianadupuis)

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, and functions. You’ll write some code, speak some geek, and start down the addictive path of programming logic. There’s also a geek quiz — in case you don’t know your Picards from your Kirks.

Feature Detection and Future-friendly Development

Chris Ruppel (rupl)

In an ever-increasing world of web browsers and mobile devices, how can we possibly keep track of all the front-end functionality on a website? It’s not enough to degrade gracefully; we must be future-friendly. Come to this session to learn about feature detection. It’s the only way to cut through this confusion and maintain a sane developer experience while actually improving user experience.

How Low Can You Go: Reducing Drupal’s Memory Footprint

Rob Ristroph (rgristroph)

Drupal 7 takes more memory per server thread than Drupal 6, reducing the number of threads that can be run on a given server, and raising the minimum requirements for a VPS. This impacts not only bottom-scraping hosting, but also “real” infrastructures, where process size is sometimes viewed as a necessary evil solved by buying RAM. Rob will offer comparisons of D6 versus D7 memory usage in various configurations, and a few simple attempts to reduce it, and benchmark results.

Zero-Downtime Releases For Big Websites: ICANN.org Case Study

Mark Theunissen

Big websites need big uptime. Do you need to keep a site up, even during code rollout and big database schema changes? If you’ve got the infrastructure, we have the method for you. We can show you techniques that maximize uptime with minimum disruption to your site. In addition, we will show how testing your switchover process regularly prepares you for real catastrophic events that may affect your datacenter.

A tale of two scrums: Agile from a developers perspective

Michal Minecki (mirzu)

Scrum and Agile are buzzwords that you seemingly can’t get away from. As a developer, if you haven’t run into them one way or another, you will. After working on two large scrum projects — SDG&E’s new website and The Economist — Mike has seen the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly. In this panel members of both teams will discuss their experiences and review what they loved, and what they hated. We’ll attempt to separate the fact from the sales pitch, the process from the ritual, and give you a view from the trenches.

Debugging Techniques for Drupal and LAMP

Rob Ristroph (rgristroph)

A general but scientific approach to debugging Drupal problems will be presented, followed by an overview of a variety of tools such as the Devel suite, krumo, xdebug, client side debugging such as Firebug and LiveHTTPHeaders.

DevOps in a multi-server environment

Elliott Foster (elliotttf)

Want to learn how to take the hassle out of managing a large Drupal deployment and an even bigger development team? Want to know how we do it at Four Kitchens? We’ll cover tools and best practices for setting up an infrastructure to manage large Drupal sites in multi-server environments.

Migrating Big, Multilingual Websites From Static HTML: ICANN.org Case Study

Mark Theunissen

Do you need to move a huge amount of inconsistent, legacy HTML files and associated documents into Drupal? Is the content in 14 different languages? We’ve done it, and we can show you how recent improvements to the fantastic Migrate module can process your old site with ease. This technique is not only useful for Migrations, but also for moving any static content into Drupal at any stage of a site’s lifetime.

Simple DevOps Using Jenkins

Rob Ristroph (rgristroph)

This presentation will cover a simple setup of a Jenkins (it can even run on your laptop), and a set of scripts will be demonstrated that enable a solid workflow. This will done live as much as possible; slides and screenshots will be a fallback. Electronic copy of the scripts and other files will be provided, so that attendees can modify and use them.

Poor Man’s Devops, Small Scale Continuous Integration

Michal Minecki (mirzu)

In this session we’ll show you how you can use some of the same tools we use to deploy to 30 servers to more reliably deploy your next little project. We’ll go over the high level ideas that make Continuous Integration work in big software development projects and see how these practices and tools scale down to small projects.

Nonprofit, Government & Education

Drupal Can Save Higher Ed Web Publishing

Dave Diers (thebruce)

Higher Education web publishing has big challenges: a diversity of technical needs and expertise; decentralized power and decision-making structures that exist in cooperation with (and sometimes in opposition to) governance committees; complicated institutionalized approval chains; regulatory and privacy issues; intellectual property concerns; and, increasingly, funding issues that impact IT staffing and support. In this session we’ll share experiences with Drupal at several large world-class educational institutions and dive into the benefits of multi-site Drupal web publishing for .edu organizations.

Drupal community

Mad Skillz: Be the Best in the World

Diana Dupuis (dianadupuis)

Are you a developer (themer, designer, site builder, sys admin) who wants to work on bigger, more complicated projects? Do you want to send your resume to top Drupal shops and get hired? Do you want to assess and approve your skills? If so, come to this session and take the Mad Skillz Quiz. You’ll also find out what top Drupal shops and in-house Drupal team leaders say are the “Most Important Skillz” their best developers possess. The answers will surprise you!

Business and strategy

Building a Dynamic Team

Diana Dupuis (dianadupuis)

A Drupal website is as effective, performant, and reliable as the team who builds it. Whether you need one developer or twenty, finding the right people is essential to a site’s success. What are the traits and skills to look for when hiring a Drupal developer? What can we learn from Drupal shops with years of experience building successful, and sometimes unsuccessful, Drupal development teams?

No RFPs! Why requests for proposal are bad for business (and how we can stop them)

Todd Nienkerk

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. If you are writing an RFP, this is your wake-up call. If you are bidding, come learn about your options.

Mad Skillz Self-Assessment Experience

mad skillz sheet

Want to find out how mad your skillz are? Attendees of the DrupalCon London session, Mad Skillz: Become the Best in the World, will be rating their skillz in eighteen Drupal development categories. Points are also given for essential traits, like good communication skills.

Here is the Mad Skillz self-assessment experience: the home version. Use this list to plan professional development, organize team training, create a hiring strategy, or just for fun.