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Lessons from DrupalCon: Come for the Product, Stay for the Community

It’s been a couple of weeks since I came back from my first DrupalCon. It was a whirlwind event full of sessions, customer meetings, and yes – a few parties. There were over 3,300 attendees at DrupalCon, and we had over 700 of them at our Acquia Customer Love party. It truly was an awesome event, and I met lots of great people. Most of them Drupal developers.

Here’s a secret: I used to be a developer. I learned BASIC when I was 10 on my trusty TI-994/A. I wanted a computer to play games, but my parents wouldn’t buy them for me. So I did what any self-respecting nerd would do, I built them myself. My crowning achievement was building a text-based version of Monopoly, which I fit nicely into 16k of RAM. Later, I went to school for computer science, and used to stay up for nights coding MUDs in C++ (think World of Warcraft, without graphics) on a Sun Sparcstation.

It turns out I wasn’t a very good developer, and I changed careers quickly after leaving college. But I’ve never lost my love for programming, and respect for developers.

At DrupalCon I felt a different kind of energy. Drupal developers are bonded in a way I’ve never seen before. They work together for the greater good of Drupal, and for often for the greater good of humanity. I witnessed this first hand during the 24 hour hackathon at DrupalCon, where a group of developers built and launched a site to help victims of the Oklahoma tornados.

As Dries puts it, Drupal developers “Come for the software, stay for the community”.

When I was a developer, I feared that my career would consist of endless lonely hours writing code for boring corporate systems. I’m sure that’s still the case for many developers today, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Being a part of the Drupal Community gives developers a place where they can be a part of something big, where their contributions matter.

What a great time to be a developer.

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