Jan. 31 2013

SANDCamp 2013: A Noob's Perspective

I am new to the world of Drupal, not just the development and back-end administration of a site, but also the community aspect of open source software.  SANDCamp 2013 at UCSD is right in Achieve’s backyard and I was given the opportunity to experience all the nuances and experiences of such a great event.  Going into the event, I thought this was going to be a typical trade show atmosphere, however, I quickly realized how far off my assumptions were. 

Although it had the look and feel of your run-of-the-mill trade show, a Drupal event is far from that.  There were competing companies set up within five feet of each other yet everyone seemed to know one another and was eager to catch up with old acquaintances.  In essence, every vendor in attendance were “frenemies.”  Each company is doing something new and cutting edge, and had a new toy, product, or site to show off.  For the most part, the talk of the camp was Achieve’s new image and website which made a soft launch not more than 12 hours before the camp doors opened.  But it seemed more like showing off a new bike to a jealous friend than pitching a product to a potential client.

I went to a session on Friday morning and was a bit overwhelmed by the technical aspect of it.  Our Lead Architect Shawn Smiley gave a presentation on puppet script configuration.  Amidst the artificial neon glow of opened Macs and iPads, Shawn informed all the Drupalers attending on the best ways to setup puppet script.  Most of the people in attendance were feverishly typing to keep up with Shawn’s pace. Shawn is an avid student of Drupal who is constantly learning and Shawn has quickly become a master of puppet script configuration in the past few months.  Shawn took a barrage of questions from seemingly confused developers and was able to guide them down the path to setting up a puppet script.  Developers from all SANDCamp participants were present to hear Shawn share his knowledge of such a complex and cutting edge manipulation of Drupal.

There are even applicable sessions for the non-developer noobs such as me. The presentation by Gregg Knaddison was awesome, he referenced some of it in a recent blog post.  He spoke about finding a niche as a development firm and setting up product tests to refine your product through extensive A/B Testing.  Really interesting stuff and pretty cool that right after his session he was walking around the tables and I was able to ask him some questions regarding his insights into A/B testing.

Overall the day was great, super informative, and fun.  I was unable to attend the after party at the local brewery, which was a major bummer, but I am excited about joining the world of Drupal and look forward to my next Drupal event.