DrupalCon Portland 2013: Day 1


The morning started at 6:30am. I gave myself extra time to prepare myself before heading out as I wanted have a more professional appearance on my first day. I knew that my sponsor, Palantir.net, wanted me to attend one of their sessions in which they would introduce all of those that received a DrupalCon ticket. I didn't know to what extent this involved, so I over prepared. I poached eggs for breakfast, used the oven to toast bread, and then walked to the nearest Max station.

The ride to the convention center was brief. There was a crowd of people -- some going to work, some going to school -- and I decided not to bother taking a seat. Once I arrived, I stopped at a coffee stand just outside the building. While I knew coffee was going to be provided inside, I knew it was going to be huge carafes of drip-brew. I prefer espresso, and am willing to pay for the privilege.

The first item of the day wasn't the keynote. This surprised me as it seemed the sensible thing. Perhaps they wanted to give people time to arrive, and put a few unfortunate sessions in front of it. I had debated for a week which session I wanted to attend. The Programming Diversity session held some personal interest, but the technically oriented part of me eventually won, and I attended a session on Rules. It was a good session, but I still feel lost about Rules, even now. It didn't help I was still finishing my coffee, catching up on work emails, and a few other tasks.

The next session was about using Drupal as an Learning Management System (LMS). While not technical, I loved this presentation. It was witty, interesting, and practical. I left wishing my current job would allow me to use Drupal to build our LMS, but decisions were already made there, and I had little ability to change them.

The following was the keynote. I didn't arrive early enough, so I headed to the overflow room and sat down. Since my day job is mostly spent using presentation software, I quickly noticed that they were using Prezi. This isn't a bad thing, but just because it's "not PowerPoint" doesn't make it automatically good. The keynote didn't leverage Prezi as well as it could have. The key to Prezi is not to think in terms of keyframes, but in terms of a giant poster that can have infinite detail. Even so, it was an effective presentation. Drupal 8 has come so very, very far in such a short time. I only wish I could have contributed more to it.

Lunch followed. I decided to avoid the huge line and wonder around the exhibit hall. I talked to a few at the Palantir booth, as well as other vendors. By the end, I had a nice little collection of stickers and T-shirts. Once the lines cleared, I picked up a box and found a table with several others from the Twin Cities. I forget what we chatted about, but it was both wonderful and off to see the people I expect to see once a month near home, half-way across the country around a table at DrupalCon.

The next session was about Dependency Injection in Drupal 8. It's a subject I've followed and each time I finish thinking I understand it, only to come back to the idea feeling like I missed some critical detail. This time was no different. During the session, however, I remembered a vague idea I had back in high school about "context objects" that would encapsulate configurations and state in a way that obliquely reminded me of Dependency Injection Containers. The next session was also about Drupal 8. Only this time it was less a session, and more a panel about Palantir's experiences with Drupal 8. I was nervous for most of the session, as I didn't know what they expected us to do when they introduced all the ticket recipients. Since Palantir had so many speakers attending DrupalCon, they actually had extra tickets. Instead of giving these away internally, they decided that accepting applications from the broader Drupal community would do the most good. When they brought up the slide with the recipients, I found myself curiously at the beginning of the list. The list wasn't alphabetized, so I could only assume I was one of the first to apply. My part was actually very simple, when they read off my name I waved at the crowd around the stage. As the remainder of the names were read, it turned out we all sat next to each other! Even we had no idea how this happened, it just seemed natural.

The last session was a more informal "core conversation" broken into two parts. The first was about the file management initiative for Drupal 8, the second about accessibility.

A reception dinner was held with pizza and fancy cheeses. I met with the Twin Cities Drupal group and discussed sessions for our upcoming Drupalcamp. Once that was complete, I had to decided what to do with the remainder of my evening. Apparently there was a party being hosted by Lullabot. I had an invite, but I wasn't sure if it was to my taste. Eventually, I decided to go. While not far, the bus I waited for didn't arrive at all, and when I took the streetcar, I was diverted three blocks the wrong direction. I gave up on public transport and walked the remainder of the distance. The party was being held in a large barn with a stage at one end. Recorded music pounded out of the speakers. I met Chris Weber from The Nerdery, and he bought me a beer. By now I was pretty exhausted. With no chairs on the main floor, I lumbered upstairs and collapsed. I nursed by beer, but remained exhausted. Eventually, I decided to sneak out and go back to the hotel.

It was a seemingly long walk through empty back streets. I was sure I had missed the tram, but it arrived only a few minutes late. Back in the neighborhood where I rented my room, I stopped at the local Fred Meyer's and bought a lemonade and a protein shake. I drained the first completely, and nearly finished the second before slinking off to my room to rest. And that, was my first day at DrupalCon.