DrupalCon Vienna must be music to the ears of Drupal developers. Every year, Drupal developers flock to DrupalCon to collaborate, network, and learn in a beautiful urban European or North American location, with the objectives of supporting the Drupal community and furthering their Drupal careers. The year 2017 will be no exception. The popular annual European version of the event will be held in Vienna, the grand Austrian capital, September 26-29, 2017. Vardot, a long-time contributor to the Drupal community and sponsor of DrupalCon Vienna will be there.
Why you should attend DrupalCon Vienna
There are many reasons for attending DrupalCon Vienna. If you are new to Drupal 8, you definitely want to come to soak up all things Drupal 8 this year. In fact, Drupal developers have 132 reasons to attend DrupalCon Vienna, one per accepted conference session. The excellent sessions rank high in most developers’ checklist. For the 2017 conference, a whopping total of over 500 session proposals were submitted. Acceptance standards were most rigorous, and only 132 sessions, or 26%, were accepted for DrupalCon Vienna. Attendees will not be disappointed by the quality of the carefully pre-selected sessions.
The accepted sessions together make up 108 hours of quality learning opportunities for attendees. To help you find the sessions that interest you the most, the sessions are classified into 13 tracks, covering the entire spectrum of topics of interest to the Drupal community. The top 4 tracks with the most submitted session proposals in DrupalCon Vienna are: Being Human, Coding and Development, Business, and Site Building.
While 3 of the 4 above-mentioned session tracks are reasonably self-explanatory, the Being Human track perhaps needs some explanation. This track covers the human dynamics in a Drupal project and community. Speakers are encouraged to share personal anecdotes to illustrate principles of maintaining a healthy community and project. Leadership, mentorship, gender gap, work-life balance are all key ideas in the Being Human track.
Specifically, three of the sessions in this track draw my attention. Two are related to promoting diversity in the Drupal workspace, and to a large context, the Drupal community. The Debugging the Gender Gap session addresses the current gender imbalance in the Drupal industry and suggests some solutions to correct the situation. The From a Single Fighter to a Team Player session makes an effort to bridge gaps of a different kind, namely, cultural and language gaps. The speaker relates back to his personal experience as a visible minority in the European tech industry. To paraphrase him, how a job is done is more important than doing a perfect job.
Drupal is different (and better) than a lot of other open-source projects because of its vision and commitment to be an open and inclusive community. These sessions are steps toward fulfilling that vision.
Coding and Development
DrupalCon marks almost 2 years since the release of Drupal 8. So, it is not surprising that DrupalCon Vienna sessions, including the Coding and Development track, are almost exclusively Drupal-8-centric. If you are still in the process of migrating to Drupal 8, it is not too late. Migrate Everything into Drupal 8 and Doctor, Will My Drupal 7 Commerce Site Survive the Upgrade? are 2 sessions that you should not miss.
One huge benefit of attending DrupalCon Vienna is to learn the latest practical development tips and techniques. Drupal developers will pick up valuable debugging knowledge from the Wait, there’s more! - Advanced debugging tactics session. I also like 2 other sessions on testing. Improved development process with better QA approach will frame a good overall mindset on testing while Testing small to medium size client projects with Behat will drill into a specific test tool.
Unless you are a pure Drupal hobbyist, sooner or later, you will have to figure out how to make your Drupal business viable. Pinpointing star sessions in the Business track is difficult because it depends on where you are in the life cycle of a Drupal business.
If you are an entrepreneur about to start a new Drupal venture, I’d recommend Co-operative Drupal: Growth & Sustainability through Worker Ownership. Here, you are challenged to make every employee an owner of the company. The coop ownership model is still very much a novelty in the Drupal industry. However, the speaker will argue for its merits and share personal success stories.
If your objective is to grow your existing Drupal business, then sales and marketing is perhaps your focus in this track. You can weigh whether accessibility is an applicable value that you can sell to your clients, as suggested by the Accessibility as a Business Proposition session. You can also learn valuable lessons on how to build a sales team from the session entitled Is Selling Drupal an Art or a Science?
Last but not least, if you are running a well-established Drupal business and pondering on the next step, then How to go from one to seven companies around the world and how to run them is a must-attend for you. The speakers will present the challenges of diversifying a successful company and how they met the challenges head-on.
Decoupled Drupal (aka headless Drupal) has the potential to effect a paradigm shift in how websites are built. Essentially, the idea is to separate content (the Drupal CMS backend) from the display frontend. The Site Building track in DrupalCon Vienna includes 2 sessions which feature the headless architecture: Decoupled site building: Drupal's next challenge, and
Headless, stateless, DB-less: how Kurier.at is transforming digital production with Drupal, NodeJS and Platform.sh. These sessions not only introduce the possibilities and implications of such an architecture but also point to some working examples. Site builders not familiar with the idea should definitely attend at least 1 of the sessions.
Other tracks (and sprints too)
Kudos to DrupalCon Vienna for the breadth of topics covered. Besides the above 4 tracks, developers will also be attracted to the Core Conversations, DevOps, Front End, Performance and Scaling, PHP, and Symfony tracks. And, if you want to step temporarily away from the programming side of Drupal, you will be stimulated by the Project Management, Drupal Showcase, and Horizons tracks.
While the formal sessions are great, you may want to add some activities that are more participatory in nature. DrupalCon Vienna has planned for that as well. Besides the formal sessions, there are also Birds of a Feather (aka BoF) sessions and Sprints.
BoFs are informal gatherings during DrupalCon Vienna on a specific Drupal topic but without a pre-planned agenda. This allows attendees to collaborate and share their ideas freely and organically on a target topic. BoFs are fun and their outcome often unpredictable. In contrast, Sprints are hands-on sessions to tackle specific focused tasks for the Drupal project. Example activities include bug squashing, specifying a new feature, refactoring a small module, etc. Both BoFs and Sprints are very popular among attendees and can fill up quickly.
DrupalCon Vienna offers more than just sessions. You can sprinkle DrupalCon Vienna with social events in order to network with fellow Drupal community members. And what better backdrop to befriend them than Vienna, a city of music, art, culture, and fine cuisine.
Fellow developers, when you attend DrupalCon Vienna this coming September, drink up on coffee because you are going to need it with so many good activities for your enjoyment and career development. And if you bump into someone from Vardot at the coffee lineup between sessions, don't forget to say hello - we’re always happy to see drupalists around.
And what sessions of DrupalCon Vienna are you planning to attend? Which ones are the most attractive for you and why? Share with us your opinion in the comment section below. See you soon in Austria!