SystemSeed’s top picks from DrupalCon Europe 2022 in Prague
Our team member’s most memorable conference sessions, and why they liked them
DrupalCon is always a great place to learn, and this year’s European one in Prague was no exception. The SystemSeed team thoroughly enjoyed learning, connecting, and sharing our expertise at our speaking and birds-of-a-feather (BoF) sessions too. You can find our page of resources at www.systemseed.com/drupalcon2022.
With several SystemSeeders attending their first DrupalCon, we asked everyone what their favourite sessions were, and what really stuck with them about each one:
Branimir - Full Stack Developer
The three sessions I enjoyed the most were:
Best Practices for the Long-term Management of Drupal Sites
It is nice to see that we already do most of the best practices mentioned, such as naming of fields and entities, documentation etc. However, it’s always good to be reminded to keep doing them, and to make sure that you are carrying them all out properly.
Pushing Drupal development limits with 22 million products, 1 million product updates per day and 3 sites on a shared codebase
I found it interesting to see this approach to scaling a big project with many products, understand the problems they had because of the big database size, and how they resolve them.
I found it interesting that he talked about a lady with dog-grooming salon. He said that she is doing DevOps, updating modules, Drupal core and everything else. So I found it kind of funny, because either her business is not doing so well if she has so much time for Drupal stuff or she is super human. Also if she switched from dog hair cutting to Drupal DevOps she would be making more much money! I found it odd - so odd that it’s worth mentioning it. Does Dries find Drupal so easy that everyone can use it like this??
What I learned?
From all the presentations and hang outs together with the SystemSeed team, the thing that I learned the most is that people are social beings. We all need real-life touch, to get know each other and to feel like we belong. Yes, we can work effectively remotely, but now we know each other better I think we are more connected and whole as a team and we will work together even better. Also it is nice to see that all the people in our team are willing to help each other, and want present the company in best way they can - and also want to help make SystemSeed even better!
Alejandra - Designer
This was my first time at DrupalCon. I really liked being in person with my team and meeting other agencies. I loved all the talks I attended and it has been a challenge to pick the highlights:
What are the next big things for Digital Societies?
by Taavi Kotka, 1st CIO for the Government of Estonia
Growing your business
by Pavlína LouŽenská, Designer of Change
Diversity is a digital superpower
by Danny Bluestone Cyber-Duck
Design for design - How co-designing your admin interface with editors paves the way for better content design and winning user experiences
by Emma Horrell, University of Edinburgh
Kate - Tech Lead
I was very busy the whole week meeting old friends, participating in BoFs (Birds Of A Feather meetings) and of course attending a dozen of interesting sessions. Below are a few highlights:
Decoupled Drupal has been around for awhile, but it remains a hot topic at any Drupal conference. The decoupled Drupal ecosystem offers a wide range of tools and modules, not to mention numerous custom solutions built by different teams to achieve essentially the same goal.
Great new features of Drupal Gutenberg editor - and proper snacks for developers
At this DrupalCon, I was actively looking for any ideas to improve the Drupal editorial experience. Many teams, it turned out, go with a Paragraphs approach and enhance the UI with complementary modules such as Paragraphs Browser or Paragraphs Features.
The Drupal Gutenberg editor takes a radically different approach - let's reuse all the best from a WordPress editor, which is known for its user-friendliness. I was excited to see a live demo of Gutenberg editor in Drupal presented by Marco Fernandes and Thor Andre Gretland. All of us in the session room wanted to give Gutemberg a try immediately, but many of us were concerned about implications on data structure. Storing everything in one big field is not as flexible and granular as with a Paragraphs approach. Gutenberg maintainers are aware of the issue and offer a few ways to overcome this limitation: field mapping, using a data parser for decoupled architectures and JSON:API support (coming).
One does not simply walk into a management position - what I learned during my journey from dev to CTO
DrupalCon is a great opportunity to get an intro into non-Drupal topics too. This session from Ela Meier is one of my favourites from the non-technical track. Ela tells the story of her growth from a developer to CTO without hiding the uncomfortable topics such as introversion, imposter syndrome, and being a woman in tech.
I found her story both inspirational and practical regardless of your current role.
Andrey Yurtaev - Senior full-stack engineer
I wasn't able to attend DrupalCon in person this time but attending online is also a good option. The website for online attendees wasn't stable for me at the beginning but starting from the second day it worked quite well, so it was a positive experience.
Here are a couple of sessions that really impressed me:
CKEditor 5 in Drupal 10: what is there to be excited about?
CKEditor is an important part of almost every project and I was wondering what new things are coming. CKEditor 5 was rewritten from scratch, so it is not a regular major update. The new architecture allows us to introduce of a lot of new features that increase UX, such as pagination, grammar checking, and additional widgets for some pieces of content. But the most exciting features were paid plugins. It is really rule-breaking plugins like granular revisioning, commenting systems, and collaborative editing, like in Google Docs. Also, there is a plugin to export content to PDF or Word documents.
How Drupal 10 will make you fall in love with Drupal theming
For me, as a developer that comes from the front end, it was really important to be up to date with all the modern features and techniques of Drupal theming. Twig is my favorite feature since Drupal 8 was released and now it is even handier and more powerful.
The amazing Twig debugging tool now in Drupal core. Previously I used it with the Twig Tweak contrib module but now it is available out of the box. One more important bit was information about default themes in Drupal 10: Default themes from Drupal 9 that became deprecated (excluded from the Core and became contrib modules), ways of resolving dependencies on these themes for custom themes, and the functionality of "sub-theming" in general. After the session, it became much more clear why these decisions had been made. The last (but not least) improvement that I loved was the new Twig filter "value", which makes it easy to get raw field values if you need them. Before this would require a really large amount of code for what is should be a simple task.
Tamsin - Head of Growth
I didn’t get to attend as many sessions as I would have liked to as I was mostly on our exhibition stand, but I enjoyed the ones I attended. In particular:
A Communications Playbook to Grow Your Agency
This session was engaging and insightful. Jam and Tracy explained some recent changes in how clients want to access information about agencies, and how presenting that info in the right way on your website can help them to self-qualify.
At SystemSeed we do a lot of the things they mentioned already, and I now have a clear idea of where to add to this and improve even more.
I tweeted a thread of the key points here: https://twitter.com/tamsinfd/status/1572867343151239168
Wildlife Conservation, Powered by Drupal
This was a very interesting session because it focused on a specific use case for Drupal, shared through several client examples. This use case is mapping data around animals and their movements, which I hadn’t seen Drupal being used for previously. Filip, the presenter, addressed where and when Drupal works for these types of sites - and it’s around organising lots of data points.
As someone with a strong interest in conservation, I found the session engaging and shared highlights in this Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/tamsinfd/status/1572937582849429509
Evgeniy - CTO
Growing and sustaining an Open Source Drupal Distribution
This session from Finn Lewis used the LocalGov Drupal distribution as the example. It was interesting from the point of view of how to run an engaging open source project. Although we’ve done a lot of contributions in past at SystemSeed, we’ve only created a couple of distributions. With our ANU LMS distribution getting such a good reception at DrupalCon, we’ll be able to apply some of Finn’s tips right away.
All the cool things you can do when you don’t support IE11 (and how we can use these in Drupal core)
Does anyone still actually like Internet Explorer?? Drupal soon won’t support it anymore (woohoo!), so this session was very interesting. I saw some new cool kids CSS tricks I’ve not seen before.
Alexey - Senior Full Stack Developer
I attended several interesting sessions at DrupalCon Prague. My favourite non-technical talk was, of course, How to Make 4-day Work Weeks a Practical Reality presented by SystemSeed. I joined the team when the 4-day week policy was already in place, and it was interesting for me to learn more about this change and how it affected the company.
Apart from that presentation, I’d like to highlight a couple of really good technical sessions I enjoyed:
Drupal 10 from the pov of a Symfony 6 core-contributor
Nicolas Grekas, Symfony core-contributor, explained how Symfony team develops and maintains the framework and gave an overview of new features such as service auto-wiring, improved HttpKernel, better support for strings, and more.
Best Practices for Long-term Management of Drupal Sites
Developing a new feature is one thing, but maintaining it for many year is completely another challenge. Aram Boyajyan gives obvious but important set of recommendations for maintaining long-term projects: data architecture, naming, security, permissions, logging and many more.
Pavel - Senior Full Stack Developer
It was my first DrupalCon and I absolutely loved it! It was a great opportunity to meet with my SystemSeed teammates and with other developers from Drupal community. Of course, not every session was useful for me personally, but I really enjoyed these two:
Pushing Drupal development limits with 22 million products, 1 million product updates per day and 3 sites on a shared codebase.
This session was a gem for everyone who is interested in running Drupal at scale.
Eirik Morland shares a case study of one of the biggest Drupal Commerce installations in the history of Drupal. The session highlights interesting problems that only large projects face: performance, SEO, development workflow, rolling updates, and many more.
Drupal 10 from the point of view of a Symfony 6 core-contributor
Drupal 10 will use the latest Symfony version so far - Symfony 6. In this session a Symfony core-contributor gave a good overview of Symfony 6 and how it can benefit Drupal developers.
Did you catch our sessions?
So that's our roundup of the other sessions that we saw. We had two of our own too, and we'd love to know what you thought of those. If you had a DrupalCon ticket, you'll be able to see them online now, but they'll also be shared more widely in the future.
How to make 4-day weeks a practical reality in a small agency. Lessons from a year-long experiment.
A case study of WHO EQUIP - A multilingual platform for scaling quality mental health support in low-income settings, currently used in 20+ countries.
You can also pick up the slides from both of our sessions on our DrupalCon resources page.