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Drupal Downunder 2011 Wrap up

Posted at 21:32 on Wed, 2nd February 2011 in drupal, travel.

My notes taken away from Drupaldownunder in Brisbane, 22nd - 23rd january 2011.

As you may know, the first Drupal Down Under conference went down a few weekends ago (22nd & 23rd January 2011) in Brisbane, and thanks to my employer itomic, I was able to attend.

So below are a few bits and pieces I took away from some of the more techy/dev focused sessions.

1. Exportables by Simon Hobbs
Simon talked about the Features module, and how to expose your custom module configurations to Features for exporting, via the various CTools hooks. You can check out the example module that implements all this over on Simon's github profile. It was pretty neat, but I'm gonna need to play around with this a bit first before it can be useful. I didn't get a chance to talk to Simon too much, but he's an awesome/well known Australian Drupal contributor who I joked with, that he looks like a younger version of Richard Stallman!

2. Pantheon: Best Practice Development, Testing and High-Performance Deployment by JoshK
Pantheon
is a hosted Drupal service designed for development, testing, and performance. It uses Pressflow, a high performance distribution of Drupal + Varnish, a very neat reverse proxy + various object memory caching tools + Pantheon 'magic' - as Joshk calls it. It also includes git deployment workflow, Apache Solr Search, automatic updates, backups, and more. It all sounds awesome, but currently they're in Beta, and you need to be a lucky person with a Key from them to use the service. If you're interested, submit a request for a key over on getpantheon.com.

3. Fields in Core, Drupal 7 by Ivan Zugec
Ivan covered Drupal 7's new fields API, and entities. Entities are just about every drupal based data structure, like content types, user profiles, vocabularies and so on. Ivan demonstrated how easy it is to create a custom field type for use by your entities - you need only define the field itself, the schema - how its stored in the database, a formatter - how its rendered to the end user, and a widget - how its displayed as a form field to the data entry dude. Anyway, for more information, check out api.drupal.org and the examples module. Ivan has also recently shared the code from his presentation over on his github account too.

4. Drush Intro & Advanced by matt & boztek
Matthew covered the basics, and then Boris (boztek) covered the more helpful (to me anyway) stuff, which was site alias's, sql-sync, drush's rsync, remotely controlling drupal sites via drush, etc. I won't repeat what they went through, but the same thing is basically discussed in these two articles: Drush 3.0: More Powerful, Flexible, and Magical and Drush aliases primer for Live->Dev syncing.

There were lots of other great sessions covered, but the ones above resonated with me the most. The Keynotes from Dries and others were also really good - some of them were recorded and published over on drupaldownunder.org, so check them out!

Overall, this conference was fantastic. It was the first Drupal specific conference I had been to, and the presenters were great, the topics were so valuable, the venue was perfect, the catering was even better, and the attendee fee was substantially lower then any other conference I had ever heard of. So, well done to the organisers: Jeff and Sheree!

Surprisingly, the conference was one week after the devastating Queensland floods, and still the conference prevailed. When I first arrived in Brisbane, there were no real signs of the flooding either. This was either because a) the locals had cleared things up pretty quickly, or b) the media just focused on the bad parts of the states flooding and made a big fuss out of it for ratings.There were obviously some very badly affected areas of the state, but it just goes to show, that the Media like to blow things out of proportion - I almost didn't go because of what I was seeing on the free to air channels.

It was my first visit to Queensland, and Brisbane seemed like a pretty relaxed city (somewhat like Melbourne) but with still lots to do and see (unlike, say, Perth). I'm definitely going to have to take a visit back there one day, and check more of the city and state out!