The Importance of a Drupal Community
by Michael Miles
Drupal was created with the old adage in mind, “it takes a village.” As an open source community, there are many opportunities where developers can meet other developers and learn about all-things Drupal. These events vary in length and location, but at all events, you’ll get the chance to learn from the best and share your knowledge of Drupal. Genuine’s Associate Director of PHP, Mike Miles, who has attended many past Drupal events explains what to expect from a Drupal Meet Up, Drupal Camp, and Drupal Conference.
Drupal Meet Ups
The most widespread events that take place at least once a month are Drupal Meet Ups, which are held around the world. Drupal Meet Ups bring together people who share a passion for working with Drupal in low-key, casual settings. This allows developers to really ask specific questions and work on solutions together. Additionally, attendees are able to foster great relationships with local Drupal developers.
A great example of a successful Drupal Meet Up is the Boston Drupal Meet Up Group. The format tends to follow lightning talks, allowing anyone to get up and speak for five to 10 minutes about any Drupal topic. In the past, topics have ranged from showing off a recently completed Drupal website, module, or theme, to asking for advice on how to solve a problem the speaker has been stuck on.
For a longer Drupal learning experience, there are full-day conferences that can be one or two days long, known as Drupal Camps. This year alone, there has been 116 camps planned and will likely increase next year. Similar to Drupal Meet Ups, Drupal Camps provide a connection to your local Drupal community, forging a connection to your region. Following traditional conference structures, Drupal Camps offer attendees speaking sessions on specific topics, as well as more informal group discussions or Birds of a Feather (BOF).
There are many ways to become involved with a Drupal camp from sponsoring, volunteering, and/or submitting your own idea for a speaking session. Attending these camps and sessions can provide more in-depth knowledge on a wide range of topics.
For the ultimate Drupal experience, consider checking out one of the three Drupal Conferences that take place in North America, Europe, or South America. These conferences are organized by the Drupal Association and give attendees a chance to rub elbows and learn from the rock stars of the Drupal community, including its founder, Dries Buytaert. DrupalCons happen over a weeklong period providing full-day trainings, two or three full days of speaking sessions, BOF meetings, coding sprints, hackathons, and many more social activities. Sessions are organized into tracks that range from development and theming to dev-ops and project management. If you want to improve the Drupal work you or your team produce, DrupalCons cannot be missed. The amount of knowledge shared and connections to be made are great! However, if you are unable to financially afford the DrupalCon passes, there are DrupalCon grants and scholarship programs for individuals, reinforcing the adage, “it takes a village,” with Drupal developers supporting its own.
When’s the next event?
To find out when the next event will take place, regularly check the Drupal Groups site that will show when the next meet-up will take place and where.
Next year, the North America’s DrupalCon is slated to take place from June 2-6, 2014 in Austin, Texas; Europe’s DrupalCon, DrupalCon Amsterdam will take place from Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2014, and South America DrupalCon has been renamed as DrupalPicchu, taking place from Jan. 20-24, 2014 in Cusco, Peru.
The goal of attending any Drupal events is to learn and share knowledge on Drupal as a community. And, the results have shown success as these groups are consistently growing year after year.