Shoot the Drupalist
by Kenny Silanskas
When I submitted my session for DrupalCon Chicago, I wanted to present something that was of a heightened necessity to the community. Working everyday to support some of the most world-class customers in the Drupal space gives you an incredible insight into what challenges sites face most often. Time and time again, that challenge is speed. Your users expect a fast experience. The narrowing gap of broadband connections even in the most unlikely of areas makes even the smallest websites have to compete with the giants on the performance playing field.
In order to teach the topic in a meaningful way, I had to be visual. If people were going to use this information in their daily workflows, it had to be fused to them in some way. A conditional response. They had to do something.
This got me to thinking about the material. How does one lecture successfully on caching, reverse proxies, or front-end performance and ensure the result is engrained in the viewer? That's when I decided. I wouldn't bore people with talking for 45 straight minutes, cycling through the same old tired slides. Instead, I would involved the audience in the session itself.
This is a call to arms.
I encourage you to smuggle, ship, pack, carry-on, or otherwise procure a Nerf gun which fires this kind of ammunition. (They call the line, Dart Tag). At a particular point during the session, I will ask that all participants fire a hail storm of darts directly at me several times to illustrate the relationship of HTTP requests to Drupal and, in turn, to the external cache. A human load test, if you will. Warning. There may be laughing involved.
Am I crazy? Probably. Will ever single person in the room leave with a firm grasp of Varnish and it's role in the performance of a website? You better believe it.
Over the next few weeks leading up to the session, I'll post additional information about this and other ways to get involved. Feel free to share other interesting ideas you might have about this and the other topics we'll be covering.