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DrupalCon Dublin: Keynotes go lear, it’s all about the small sessions

Last month, a colleague and I represented TamTam (part of Dept) at DrupalCon Dublin 2016. DrupalCon is a week-long event that is open to all members of the global Drupal community and the best way to get up-to-date with the latest Drupal developments. And I must say: the experience and location were both fantastic!

In the Driesnote also known as First-Conference-Day-Keynote that was hosted by Dries Buytaert (founder of Drupal), he showed us a very clear mission for the future. He spoke about releasing some key features for the new versions 8.2 and 8.3 like a revamped block placement system, improved menu management and REST API improvements (yay!). The upcoming releases are all about “outside-in experience”, meaning you can click anything on the page, without having to navigate to the back-end, and watch it take effect immediately. The overhaul of the block placement system and menu management hook into this experience providing on-the-fly editing of both entities. Aside from being an obvious benefit to developers (less switching to the back-end when creating platforms), there’s the additional benefit for our users. Instead of looking all over the place on how to edit a specific text, the page itself shows an edit icon if a text is editable, thus avoiding the infamous question “Can I edit this line?”. Combined with the changes to the REST API (reading configuration entities as REST resources, simplified REST configuration, improved response messages), Drupal is growing into an even more amazing platform that can be customised to your exact needs. Want to have a decoupled aka “Going Headless” CMS? Sure! Go ahead. Want to have in-line editing on anything? Be our guest. After sharing these really cool features and much needed overhauls, Dries showed how Drupal has influenced his life.

Almost 16 years ago, he started working on the platform because his study group had a use for it. What started out as a bedroom project evolved into a project affecting thousands of people across the globe. Even to the extent that people escaped poverty because they taught themselves how to develop in Drupal. This message is shared all over the world and everywhere people have similar experiences. This whole community is built to last and it shows the importance of people supporting it.

The Irish phrase go lear literally translates as “to sufficiency”. If there are sufficient enough bananas to build a house with them, you’d say that there are bananas galore.
Source: vocabulary.com

I was kinda let down with the other keynotes. Even though they were sufficient, they weren’t of high quality. The thing that was interesting, were the smaller presentations regarding diverse subjects. I want to briefly talk about three in particular: Ride the whale! Docker for Drupalists, When “good” is good enough: how perfectionism is holding you back and What your database query is really doing.

1. Docker for Drupalists or if you prefer ride the whale!

This session was hosted by @socketwench who shared, with great energy, some insights for Docker. If you’re not familiar with Docker, it’s an open platform for developing, shipping, and running applications. Docker enables you to separate your applications from your infrastructure so you can deliver software quickly. At the moment, I am not accustomed to the Docker workflow nor am I an active user. I am only using it for some personal projects. This presentation though made me realise that this product solves some common use-cases we still encounter today. For example,“production missing packages @DevOps please install” or “Load balancing causes caching issues on acceptation”.

With Docker you can finally finish use-cases like these and educate developers to learn more about their application way beyond code and into server architecture. If we all grow into lead/senior developers one day, shouldn’t we be more aware of what an application needs at junior or medior jobs? It’s the excitement of @socketwench though and how happy she was with telling us all about Docker. How we can apply it together and how easy it is to set an environment up that I am sold. I want this everywhere.

2. Do you belong in a room of recovering perfectionists?

Oh my, Derek’s talk about perfectionism is amazing. Yes, I recognise those feelings and I know they are stupid but how can I solve it? How can I make myself a better person by accepting my surroundings? In 45 minutes, Derek took us through his life. He shared his story of how perfectionism affected him and his work life. The only thing is that he didn’t speak of applicable solutions. When I left the room I felt confused. How can a perfectionist leave me with that many questions? I expected a well-rounded solution to the problem of being a perfectionist but instead I was left with questions like: Why do I feel agitated when colleagues don’t perform to the level I expect them to? Are they the problem or am I for not educating them when they lack knowledge of some matter? This talk made me realise that they are not the problem, I am. Which connects in a brilliant way to Japie Stoppelenburg’s presentation at Dept Festival “The Glass Wall”. Perfectionism is not a bad thing but I should not project my insecurities onto others. My drive to perform better is what makes me feel secure enough to work at a place like TamTam. That doesn’t mean I should feel annoyed when someone doesn’t know a thing that I do know. It means I have to apply my knowledge to help him or her to improve. It works the other way around as well. If I am more comfortable with letting go and helping others, others can help me and I have so much to learn, so that’s a good thing! 😉

3. What your database query is really doing

I am first in the room sitting in the front row for the talk by Dave Stokes. I am a geek, nerd or tech enthusiast and database queries get me excited 😉 This man has been active in the MySQL since the original release and has worked with PHP before it became PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. He shared some basics with us about query optimisers and how they work showing us the raw numbers that MySQL uses to calculate the best query in a matter of milliseconds. If you can’t get excited about n-th element and stuff like that, this talk is not for you. The dedication he has to the subject shows through his words. I left the room with great excitement not only to learn more about databases and how they work but also with a drive to discover more about techniques we use every day without actually knowing what they do. I was completely unaware of the query optimiser and how it decides what to execute query-wise first. Hearing this talk gives you a slight hint of how deep the rabbit hole goes (really… really deep). For us developers it’s quite important to learn about how these techniques work because it increases the quality of your code. Take for example MySQL: it works best with less and larger queries. If you develop an application with a MySQL database, you want to keep this in mind and retrieve a data-set in one go instead of a lot of small queries.

In a nutshell that concludes my experience at DrupalCon. I had a lot of fun and Dublin is an amazing city. Can’t wait to go back there and visit the rest of the city as well.