Reflections on Drupalcon, D7, and DevSeed
by Barry Jaspan
I'm in my hotel room after the final day of Drupalcon San Francisco 2010. As always, I had a great time at the conference. I've been so busy building Acquia Hosting for the last year that I lost track of most of what went on with Drupal development in 2009 (except for the Field API project, of course), and I really enjoyed the opportunity to catch up.
My personal Drupalcon experience was largely focused around two new developments:
1. The Examiner.com team is doing great things making their upcoming site performant and scalable. Their transition to using MongoDB with the Drupal 7 Field API is a big step forward for the project, and exactly the kind of thing the Field API team designed for and hoped to see happen. It is gratifying to see our two years of effort on Field API paying off like this. At the same time, chx's presentation today about MongoDB reminded me of several questions/concerns I've had about Field API's design from the very beginning; I'll be tossing some grenades into the lobby about that in a separate post. :-)
2. Young Hahn, Jeff Miccolis, and the DevSeed team have made some really amazing strides with their work on Context, Persistent URL, Features, and Spaces. As I watched Young's presentation about The Heart of Open Atrium, I felt that I was seeing large steps towarding truly improving Drupal's administrator and site-builder experience. They've "rotated the problem 90 degrees", organizing admin functionality for objects like content types, blocks, taxonomy, etc. around the site area being built, instead of Drupal's current way of organizing admin functionality around the objects themselves which breaks up site area functionality into a million little pieces all several clicks apart. Then I attended their BOF on Kit and saw (or perhaps interpreted?) that they are trying to turn Features not just into a great site-development workflow but into portable, composable, inter-operable pieces of application functionality, built around Drupal as an application development platform. This is not just a new capability for Drupal; it's an extension of the concept of mashups generally.
We are looking seriously at the best way to use these tools as part of Drupal Commons. I haven't had the time yet to pour over the code and get hands on experience with them, but I'm looking forward to it.
In any case, I am deeply impressed by both of these developments, and by much more I saw at the conference. I love attending Drupalcon and I love working with the Drupal community; it really is what makes this whole career choice worthwhile. Thanks, everyone!