DrupalCamp London 2017 - Saturday

This weekend I’ve been at the fifth DrupalCamp London - a gathering of 500 or so designers, developers and business owners using Drupal.

Friday was the CxO day, which I blogged about earlier. Saturday and Sunday are more technically focussed.

The day kicked off with a keynote by Matt Glaman - a US based developer working on the Drupal Commerce project. Matt spoke on open source, what it is, and the impact it’s had on his life and career.

Matt’s Drupal journey began while working in a bar, using Drupal as a hobbyist by night. With no formal education in programming, Matt taught himself to program using open source, via the mentors he was able to find through the Drupal community.

Community is vital to any open source project. We all have things to contribute, not just code but support, inspiration and mentoring. Open source creates a demand for skills, and creates opportunities for people to learn and teach each other.

After coffee, the rest of the day was broken down into parallel talks.

Phil Wolstenholme spoke about accessibility, and demonstrated some of the improvements that had gone into Drupal 8. I really liked the new announce feature, used to audibly announce new content that appears outside of a full page request. Phil showed it working in conjunction with an autocomplete field, where a list of suggested results appears as you type the first few letters.

In web development you can inadvertently make something that’s difficult or impossible to use by those people who have some form of disability or impairment. I asked Phil what resources he’d advise people to look at to learn more about how to avoid this. WebAIM is a great place to start, but also learn how to use a screenreader like VoiceOver, which gives you a totally different perspective on your site.

Next, I gave my offline first talk. I’ve enjoyed doing this talk at various events over the last year. The audience asked a lot of questions which I’ll take as a good sign! There’s obviously an interest in this topic and I’m keen to see how we can use it with Drupal in the near future.

For anyone contemplating speaking at an event like this, I’d recommend it. I wrote some thoughts on this recently.

After lunch, Justine Pocock shared some basic design principles for developers. This was really helpful for me, although I don’t do a lot of design work, I still want to be able to make things that look presentable and it’s useful to have some constraints to work within. Justine took the DrupalCamp website apart and showed how just a few hours work (speeded up to a few minutes) made a huge improvement, using:

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist

—Pablo Picasso

I followed that with a meaty technical talk on microservices by Ronald Ashri. Ronald explained how, rather than being about size, microservices are individual components each with a clear, well-defined scope and purpose.

With microservices, every part of the system does one thing well, with a defined, bounded context in which it operates. Different components can then be composed together to create a larger system. The goal is to make a system that makes change easy, safely and at scale.

OO has traditionally focused on objects, but the messages between them are arguably more important. Roland advised not to start by designing a data model, rather focus on business capabilities.

I finished the day with a BoF for freelancers. A BoF is a “birds of a feather” session - often arranged on the spur of the moment with no set agenda, by like-minded people who “flock together”. It was great to chat to others and get perspectives from those contracting as well as companies that employ freelancers. Thanks to Farez for organising!

At the end of the day we retired to the Blacksmith & Toffeemaker pub round the corner to continue the great conversations over a well earned pint.

Looking forward to tomorrow!