Drupal Arad: Late review

Professional Article
November 26, 2012

Finally, I had a trip I really needed, a trip to the west: Romania. I didn't visit our neighboring country for years, and seeing that a DrupalCamp will be held in Arad really brought a smile on my face.

Our comany (Propeople, btw they also have a blog article about this trip) has sponsored our trip - so that was the 2nd part that brought a smile on my face. We were 3 guys: me, Alex and Stefan. I had to hold 2 sessions: Drupal Migration and Drupal Services & Backbone.js (the one I held at Kiev DrupalCamp) and Alex had to talk about Speeding up Drupal

The trip

The trip was awesome, it took us 15 hours to get to Arad. Lots of streets in Romania were rebuilt and mixing that with intense fog resulted in an interesting driving experience.

Arad is a small cute city, first night we walked around the city and got a glimpse of what it does really represent. We got to Downtown, had a beer and went back to our Hotel.

Next day was the start of the Drupalcamp itself. Around 100 people showed up, from 7 countries: Romania, Belgium, Finland, Moldova (yeay), Netherlands, Serbia and Turkey. 

As I didn't prepare for my 2nd session (which turned out to be my 1st in the schedule) so I wasn't really focused on others' sessions (I was getting mine ready), but anyway from time to time I would switch back and try to catch-up.

My session reviews

 

  • Drupal 7 as a framework - An overview of available APIs - [Valentin Bora] - This guy covered most of the available APIs in Drupal 7. A nice presentation but it wasn't quite intersting for me. I'd still recommand it for most of junior-middle drupal developers. Slides.
  • Ease your way - Drupal Distributions [Nyiro Zoltan-Csaba] - I probably was present at this session for 10%, I wrote done some notes regarding some distributions the guy was talking about (like OpenScholar). All-in-all it was a good session but like I said a missed most parts of it. Here are the slides.
  • Entities in Drupal 7 - [Tasnadi Zsolt] - I also missed most of this session, but I knew most of the things he was talking about. The guy is working on a project where they have implement more than 20 different entities (for translation purposes as I remember). He had some geeky (coding) examples of entity declarations, db_select vs entity field query, entity metadata wrappers and entity controllers. I'd love to hear this topic a couple of months ago, before I dived on my own in entities but for others it probably was very interesting. Here are his slides
  • Using Drupal to create high scale websites with multiple instances. Case study: FishHub - (long name, huh?) - There were two guys talking about a fish-service website that had a high scalability with multiple instances and stuff. I was really focused on my Migration Demo so I missed most of the presentation. Sorry guys ;(
  • Case Study: The Spiral. European transmedia project powered by Drupal, Node.js and MongoDB - [Koen Van Isterdael] - Ok now these guys rocked. I even stop doing my Migration Demo)) Basically they were talking about a TV series called The Spiral which was blended with a real-life website built on Drupal + Node.js + MangoDB which resulted in an interesting experience. They tried to blur the line between the TV Series and the reality via this website at it's core. They said they've built the game (Node.js + MangoDB) + the community (Drupal) in around 3 weeks, which makes it even more impressive. ThumbsUp guys. About the session.
  • Cloud to the rescue? How I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud - [Alexandru Badiu] - They changed the schedule a little bit so I missed most of this session. I was kind of bored in the beginning, but at the end I understood that I missed some really interesting things he talked about. I (and you) should definitely go through his slides - they are a really good reference. This guy tried to cover all available alternatives and options so this makes his presentation a really good reference for further projects. Thanks dude!
  • Dig into the noise - [Cornel Alexa] - This guy talked about Speeding up / Optimizing Drupal Projects. It was a looong session. I'm not really into performance optimization (except for some basic knowledge) but this guy went through every little detail. Alex seemed to be really interested in this session. It had a couple of minuses: Cornel talked all the session with the same intonation which made it look boring and also the slides were very detailed (I couldn't see anything at all). But I'm sure that he shared a LOT of awesome knowledge there. If you're into performance, here are the Slides.
  • Drupal Migration - [me] - Well the session started awefully as my Ubuntu was hidding the "apply" screen on other desktop and I couldn't get my screens mirrored :)) But overall it went smooth. I did my demo of migrationg a local website by using Feeds and dived a bit into the Migrate module by having Stanford GSB migration as an example. I had some positive feedback after the session from participants, hope I helped them out or inspired them to migrate. Here are the slides (just uploaded, open office presentation format, sry windows users).
  • THE PARTY - Hell yeah, this was a great party. I've never been to karaoke before, but this one was awesome. It was a live karaoke, there was a band which played live all gender of music, from Robie Wiliams to Metallica, AC/DC and Nirvana. This was awesome. We've stayed up until 3 o'clock. Ended-up in an interesting discussion within a burger-circle in front of McDonalds (as it usually happens).
  • Talking to Drupal from Javascript, iOS and Android - [Alexandru Badiu] - this session took my by surprise. It partially covered RESTful Services and the Services module. Luckly for me most of the session was about Android and iOS development and what issues did Alexandru encounter in his journey in mobile development. It was interesting. More here.
  • Drupal Services & Backbone.js - [me] - I tried to cover everything about Services, starting why do we need them, what types of web services are out there, how do those live within Drupal and so on. Also did a small demo by using Poster extension (Firefox) and posting random stuff to a RESTful Services' Endpoint. Covered really fast Backbone.js as an example of what can be built on top of Services. People seemed to be pretty bored thou', maybe it's because of the party, either they weren't really interested in Servies. Anyway here are the slides (most explanations were made live and demo-ed).
  • Speed up Drupal - [Alex Scutaru] - Alex tried to talk about all of the aspects of optimizing a Drupal Instance: file system, database layer, caching strategy, front-end, etc. From the basic configuration, to module setup, Varnish, Memcache, APC, etc. I'd say that's another hot session for performance guys. I'll ask him to upload his slides in the following days. Some guys seemed to be very interested in his sessions.
  • Drupal 8. What's cooking? - [Claudiu Cristea] - Claudiu tried to cover all of the new things that we'll end-up having in Drupal 8. He used webchicks' slides from Drupalcon Munich which resulted in an interesting presentation. He reviewed all of the initiatives, a couple of things were new for me as I'm not one of the ones who have time for D8.
  • What if you could reliably do autotagging? Drupal and Apache Stanbol semantic stack - [Gabriel Dragomir] - This session blew me away to be honest. It's about Apache Stanbol - a Web 3.0 Searching tool (as I got it), which incorporates lots of other technologies such as Apache Solr. It's semantic which makes it so awesome. I've even tweeted about the project, you can right now go and check it out here. More details about this session.
  • Web application development with Drupal 7 (case study) - [Valentin Bora] - these guys presented in an awesome form their case study. It's about a start-up they've build on top of Drupal. But the interesting thing is that it's not only Drupal, it's mixed with Python which was used for heavy-lifting. The project seemed to be super-maintained: they are using a bunch of different tools to stay efficient: SupervisorD (tool for managing worker processes), Sentry (exception tracking tool - never knew those exited), Jenkins (used for CI - continuous integration), campfire (instead of basecamp or with basecamp, I don't remember) and other. The guy has nice charisma and can peform really good. I think that was one of the cleanest and engaging presentations. Slides & Video.
  • Using Drupal without loading Drupal - [Sorin Sarca] - I've missed 90% of the presentation but as I understood it was a hard-to-follow one. In any case, this guy built something really interesting. He ran a Daemon process which sucked up all the Drupal code inside and held Drupal "digested" in the memory. It was bootstrapped only once and then it would handle all of the requests by having drupal already bootstrapped in that Daemon. Hard to explain but he got his Drupal to reply within 6ms - which is impressive. Session details here, but no slides so far.
  • The Drupal Community. Our Community - [Claudiu Cristea] - this was the last session, we've talked about Drupal Community, Association "Drupal Romania" and other things such as membership, etc. Was a useful thing to talk about in my personal aspect.

Trip back home

On our trip back home, we've passed through Sibiu - which was European Cultural Capital a while ago. This city is amazing! It's fully renovated, it's like a fairytail. But overall we had a long-foggy trip back home.

Conclusion

Overall it was a wonderful experience and a break I needed for a long time. I've met awesome people and got some heads-up for my future plans.It felt good to drive through Romania and see that it's being actively rebuilt. Beautiful landscapes and nice cities.

If you reached this line, thanks for reading.

Comments:

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