Open Source, Personal

Day 22: Day 1 of DrupalCon

DrupalCon Day 1

“People struggle to choose the open web.” -Josh Koenig, Pantheon

Man, there is a LOT to digest from one session of DrupalCon, much less a full day or a full con.

I struggle to choose the open web, and I believe in the open web. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with the open web, because you have to build your own capacity (at least for now). The open web is a magical place, but it’s also a place where you have to take care of yourself a little bit more.

On the other hand, you’re able to take care of yourself and don’t have to do the damsel in distress thing.

The DriesNote felt relatively quite friendly to me as a small shop—and thank God for that. The past few years have been alienating, with lots of focus on complex stuff that my clients, frankly, don’t need, and the endless “Drupal 8 is good for enterprise!” cheerleading. The emergence of Backdrop shook my confidence substantially and I was wobbling in the Drupal community.

But I built my first Drupal 8 site a few weeks ago, and just like when Drupal 7 came out, I can’t wait to work more on D8. The improvements are going to shave a lot of time off my builds, even just considering the wysiwyg experience. And to hear Dries talking about the focus on the user and customer experience was a great relief—we have not been completely forgotten! With all the OMG TESLA <3s DRUPAL hype, it feels like the stories of those of us working on a smaller, less corporate scale get lost.

What else? It’s been a gigantic day.

I thought a lot about an article I read recently, which posited that people leave jobs because they can’t see how this job leads to their imagined future. This resonated with me so hard, and today I realized that people leave a platform for the same reason. I love the actual experience of using Drupal (except when I don’t), but that hasn’t stopped all those doubts from crashing in. What if my future wasn’t here? It makes it hard to feel enthusiastic, committed, etc.

I attended a BoF on fundraising with a group of about 10. ThinkShout organized it with, I think, a hope we’d have a more robust conversation—but I think most of us showed up hoping someone else had a functional solution to the whole fundraising/CRM/Drupal puzzle. We talked about how donating to a non-profit is a very specific agreement—you don’t get anything back except the experience of having given….so how do we do better? I got a lot of ideas for my clients & future clients.

We also talked about nonprofit staff turnover and decaying institutional knowledge when it comes to these powerful but sometimes opaque systems. One person suggested that the UX of the documentation matters as much as the UX of the system—which I’ve personally experienced as clients keep asking the same questions that already exist in their documentation. They suggested something called WalkMe as a solution, which I’d like to research.

I attended a session on critical metrics for your Drupal business. A lot of the numbers reflected a much bigger shop than mine, but it was a sobering talk that caused some more of those aforementioned self-doubt tremors. I feel like I’ve spent most of the spring doing math about my rates, my billable hours, etc. but it’s not quite coming together—and the methods they shared seem like they may correct some bad assumptions I’ve been making. I really need to tell that developer of mine to pick up the pace and start billing more; I also need to have my ops team put together a beautiful infographic at the end of the year tracing my metrics. Pretty sure doing that will lead to massive success.

Highlight: “Understand your client’s problem better than they do.”

Next was a philosophical session on DevOps. Let’s be honest: If I could only attend philosophical sessions from now till forever, I’d be happy as can be.

The speaker laid a lot of ground work regarding DevOps as a philosophy rather than a tool. Then he said DevOps was movement, which resonated to me—I’ve always been a little inordinately obsessed with where code resides, how it moves between places, etc., and the choreographer in me felt a big resonant shiver when I heard the metaphor.

Then I took a break to do some math from the business metrics session and talk about hosting problems.

At five, I went to a small Drupal shop BoF, and I’m sorry if I didn’t talk to you there. I was mostly dead at the time.

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