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OSCON and DrupalCon London

Submitted by donna on 18 September, 2011 - 12:31

Creative Contingencies went on a 7 week round the world odyssey over winter. Whilst we're now back into the swing of things, here's a brief travelogue of what we got up to.

Our journey began with an 8 hour transit in Hong Kong airport. Sadly our Qantas Club memberships were not acceptable to get access to Cathay Pacific's lounge, despite being booked with Qantas on a round the world ticket. On the other hand, that meant we had ample time to experience the vibrant world of HK airport. I was interested to note the number of people using a digital device of one kind or another. Laptops, netbooks, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, video cameras. They were ubiquitous. I took these pics with my smartphone, uploaded them to google+. And yet the usefulness of these devices in education is still being debated.

Digital Devices in Hong King Airport

A couple of days in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada gave us the opportunity to acclimatise to the North American West Coast time zone before heading to Portland, Oregon, USA for OSCON.  Vancouver was lovely. Quite easy to see why it vies with Melbourne for World's most livable city.  I would love to return and spend more time there. Great coffee was found at Kafka's coffee and tea, which we enjoyed while meeting with the Drupal 7 release manager, and now maintainer, Angela Byron. It was great to catch up with her away from the hubub of a conference. Hear her thoughts on the project and life in general.

OSCON - really is huge.  Sadly my photos of the trade floor were lost when my smartphone died. But it was great to see the vibrant commercial reality of Open Source in the USA. Companies large and small stood side by side with FOSS projects showing just how significant this "software distribution method" has become. My Inkscape workshop was poorly attended but well received and I had a great time delivering it. Recent workshops I planned to deliver for ICTEV were also cancelled, which leaves me wondering about why there's so little demand for Inkscape training. Perhaps it's easy enough to use without formal training? Perhaps the quantity of learning materials online is sufficient. Who knows. More research needed.

Week Two was spent in New Hampshire.  We were fortunate to spend time with Bryant Patten of the National Center for Open Source in Education, and visited a local elementary school. It's interesting to compare our education systems,  and despite the differences, many of the challenges around technology are very very similar.

The next couple of weeks were largely spent in the Netherlands visiting friends and family, but we squeezed in a little productivity helping a small Dutch biz, redevelop their website in Drupal.

Speaking of which, this leads nicely into Week 6 at DrupalCon London. 1750 people crammed into Fairfield Halls in Croydon. It was overcrowded at times, but fantastic.  Great sessions, great people, great project. There's some fundamental questions simmering not too far below the surface for Drupal at the moment so it will be interesting to see how these debates play out over the development cycle of Drupal 8.  Drupal 7 adoption is now definately on the rise whilst the number of new Drupal 6 sites appearing is levelling off.  Dries Buytaert's "State of Drupal" keynote is a must watch for anyone tracking where things are at in the world of Drupal.  Also a highlight from a different perspective - Diana Dupuis' session on MadSkillz. What are the skills required of a competant Drupal professional? Diana's list is pretty comprehensive. An interesting end to the week, given I started out at the Drupal and Education Open Space session.

On the final day of DrupalCon, during the code sprints, I made a start on cleaning up my Drupal SVG  UI widgets created with Inkscape, and got that to a point where I've now created a sandbox project. Really, this is just bringing together my passion for Drupal and Inkscape in a single project. I hope others will find it useful too, and perhaps help build a library of common elements for designing mockups for Drupal sites, using this great open source tool.