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Drupal Camp Austin 2010 - Day 1

I am attending Drupal Camp Austin 2011 this weekend and writing about the sessions and updating throughout the weekend.

9:00am - I've just arrived and am getting settled at Drupal Camp Austin. We're waiting for the welcoming address to start. I plan on following most of the Developer schedule for the day with one or two alterations. Here's the plan:

More as the day progresses...

Mobile Web Development with Drupal

10:50am - Maksim Pecherskiy for AllPlayers.com talked about some best practices and tools to use while developing with Drupal for a mobile environment. Some of the main points he talked about:

  • Speed and simplicity is key for mobile users
  • Searching should always be available
  • Understand your users and the site admin: who they are, what they are doing with the site, how they plan on using the site, etc.
  • Understand the devices that will be used to access your site: what class of phones will be accessing you site and drawing the line when choosing which devices to support
  • Don't send useless data
  • Create a product, don't re-imagine one on a smaller screen. Great mobile projects are created, never ported.

To the grave and back: Practical performance tuning and benchmarking

11:50am - Nick Lewis from Chapter Three went over some tips and tricks for optimizing your Drupal site through the use of query optimization and some server tricks. In his example, Nick was able to to bring a site which was experiencing 2-3 second page loads during a peak concurrency of 15 hits per second down to 0.5 second page load times with a peak concurrency of 35 hits per second. And all without using database caching! Amazing. Some his main points:

  • Performance tuning is not a science
  • Diagnose the problem before you try to treat it
  • Optimize your slow queries first, everything else Drupal does will be waiting on the slow queries to execute.
  • Bad performance is usually due to bad practice
  • Siege, XHProf, APC, Memcache
  • The last thing to do is try caching either through Drupal's native capabilities or by writing your own caching functions.

The Keynote - The Drupal Community: Where are we going and how to get involved?

1pm - Angie "Webchick" Byron of Acquia and Drupal 7 core fame gave a great talk on the where Drupal is headed with the work on D8 and how members of the Drupal community could get involved. I found out I was one of the 0.05%: characterized as someone who not only has downloaded Drupal but has registered an account and actually done something with that account whether it is support, issue-queue farming, porting a module to Drupal 7 or whatever. It is actually kind of depressing that only 0.05% of the Drupal community has made a contribution back to the project. Webchick made some great points in support of how easy it is to contribute and how you can be effective at contributing back to the community:

  • Find places to jump in; there are many initiatives already underway
  • Novice Issue: never patched before? This is the perfect place to start.
  • Seek out the do-ers: Drupal is a Do-ocracy
  • Where no one is doing, step up and do it your-self: If there is something that really frustrates you and is not getting changed, jump on it.
  • Get on IRC and answer some questions: #drupal, #drupal-contribute, #drupal-support
  • Attend the Drupal "office hours:" Tues from 11pm to midnight and Weds from 11am to 1pm.

As far as where Drupal is going:

  • Work is continuing on the main Drupal initiatives
  • Trying to reduce the complexity of core
  • The Drupal Association has a new board which will be setting up committees to address specific issues with Drupal
  • The Web Services initiative aims to make Drupal more object-oriented
  • Drupal 8 is expected to meet all WCAG 2.0 level AA standards for web accessibility
  • Drupal should never be more than 15 critical issues away from a full release. See stories about the D7 release to find out why.

Building Mobile Applications with Drupal

3pm - Jeff Linwood discussed some of the steps it takes to turn your Drupal 6 or 7 site into a mobile application using PhoneGap. He definitely made it look easy to do during the demo portion of his presentation. Some of the benefits of using PhoneGap and Drupal for your mobile application:

  • Mobile web applications get access to smart phone features
  • You can extend your mobile web apps with native functionality
  • You can sell PhoneGap apps in app stores

Jeff even had some source that you can download with an example application he did using Drupal and PhoneGap on his Github site: jefflinwood

Building Javascript API libraries for Drupal

4:45pm - Travis Tidwell from AllPlayers.com gave a great presentation on building your own API libraries for Drupal using Javascript. He covered Drupal as a web application framework, Drupal Services, a recipe for a client API library, continuous integration and testing, and went through some code examples to show an example javascript library that he put together as a demo. Fatastic stuff. Way too much to go over here. I promise to create a tutorial covering what Travis did as it is something all Drupal developers will want to use.

Drupal and jQuery Mobile

6:00pm - Just leaving the final session for the day which was given by Jason Savino of Blue Drop. He demonstrated how he has integrated jQuery Mobile with Drupal in both the Mobile jQuery theme and the jQuery Mobile UI module. Jason put quite a bit of work into integrating jQuery Mobile as he needed to override almost all core templates, processes, and pre-processes before he was finished. Definitely some cool stuff between the ajax integration and the javascript modifications to the theme which can be made through the UI.

After Thoughts

Some great stuff today. My favorite session of the day was definitely Travis Tidwell's "Building Javascript API libraries for Drupal." The session I most wanted to see but had to miss because it was at the same time as Mr. Tidwell's session would have been Arturo Kontreras' "Building a services-oriented architecture with the Services module" with Matthew Connerton's "Rapid Drupal development using the Features module" coming in a close second. So much good info there's not enough time in the day.

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