Drupal Ireland Meetup – 2008

On Saturday 15th November I, along with Andrea, Ruadhan and over 70 (yes you read that right, over SEVENTY) other Irish Drupalers rolled over to DIT Kevins Street for a spot of Drupal-centric discussion and joviality.

The event itself was organised and run by Stella and Heather, and was generously supported by DIT. With a turnout of nearly 50% more than they had hoped for, Stella and Heather were no doubt under pressure from the start, but they managed to pull off an enjoyable and informative day in all.

I believe it was their first attempt at doing something on such a scale, and for that reason alone I applaud them. However, they’ve no doubt learned a number of things for the next one that they will inevitably be involved in :)

The day started out with some relatively high level Drupal stuff being discussed which, I would imagine, went straight over the heads of the 33% of the crowd that were newcomers to Drupal – most of whom had never actually installed it themselves! I especially felt this as I myself gave a presentation on the recently released TA-DA, which was most certainly aimed at users with a relatively high understanding of both HTML and Drupal (I’ve attached my presentation in PDF form at the bottom of this post)
While this in itself isn’t too much of a problem, so long as the material is well presented and discussed, I can’t shake the feeling that if the beginner tutorials and sessions were run at the start of the day, then the more advanced content would have made much more sense to the babies of the group.

As the morning session ended, it became obvious that the time restrictions in place were becoming a little too tight to fit in all of the (inevitable) questions and answers that started to pop out at the (fairly well capable) presenters.
The format was changed for the evening session, where 2 streams were setup, 1 for beginners (with a hands-on) and 1 for advanced users.

I wish I could have sat in on the beginners session, if only to see if there were any little bits of helpful tips that I could have picked up to further enhance my Drupal skills, but I found myself being drawn inexorably towards the advanced stream, where there was a very interesting discussion on the semantic web, workflow and a brief touch on Ubercart.

What I feel I missed out most on during the day was a discussion on the various methods for maintaining database consistency across multiple servers. We’ve all (as Drupal developers, at least) experienced issues when developing against a different schema, deploying it to a UAT, staging or remote development box, only to finally panic when it comes to the final “Live Deployment”. Drupal’s amazingly useful “update.php” is very helpful in this regard, but when it comes to managing the transfer of primary, auto incrementing, ids of critical entries in the Taxonomy or Node tables, from UAT to Live, Drupal comes crashing to a halt.

There are of course ways around this, but I would have loved a detailed discussion about it. Obviously, I should have made my views known about this while the schedule was being drawn up, but it never crossed my mind until some questions were raised during the workflow presentation.

Anyway, some timing issues aside I really believe the event was a success. It wasn’t aimed very high (from a technical point of view), but I believe that this actually turned out in the event’s favour, given that there was such a high percentage of complete newcomers to Drupal there.

If anyone out there is in Ireland (or Northern Ireland), and would like to hear more about this event, sign up on Groups.Drupal.Org and say hi.
Of course, if you’re reading this and wondering what on earth Drupal is, you can pop on over to Drupal.Org and see what all the fuss is about – and a sidenote on that is that this site runs on Drupal!

Finally (while I’m here…), there’s another tech event on tonight called Mobile Monday which I’ll be attending and doing a bit of a write-up for. You’ve to sign up at the MoMoDublin site if you want to attend (but its free), and it’ll have speakers from Locle, JustRoutes, RateMyArea and Wubud, and it promises to be a cracker of a night.

Daniel

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