By Anthony Mangini

Key Takeaways From DrupalCon.

banner image with the skyline of Pittsburgh in the background

Learn more from the ground about DrupalCon from our Director of Development Operations.

DrupalCon is an annual conference that unites developers, users, and designers of the Drupal content management software. It showcases curated sessions, panels, and keynotes led by influential figures within the community. DrupalCon offers attendees the opportunity to enhance their Drupal capabilities and stay informed about emerging web technologies through a variety of onsite training and community-centric events.

Pittsburgh, “The Steel City”

Those who follow the NFL know exactly what I mean when I say, “I bleed Raven purple.” So, the thought of going to Pittsburgh, home of the Steelers and thus rival territory, was not something I was initially looking forward to. When asked where I was from, I would shutter and reluctantly say, “Baltimore.” But I must say, I found Pittsburgh to be a beautiful city that was rich in culture, full of friendly people (despite their unfortunate allegiance to the wrong team), with great bars and restaurants, and with a beautiful view of the skyline from the Duquesne Incline. If you haven’t been before, conference or not, I would highly recommend visiting.

Dries Buytaert’s Keynote

If you’re looking for inspiration about Drupal and its future, look no further than founder and lead developer Dries Buytaert. He gave a keynote, which the agenda cleverly referred to as the “DriesNote,” that was both energizing and allowed for active participation with the audience by allowing us to vote on the next big Drupal-funded initiatives. Dries did an exceptional job in this speaking engagement, and I was especially interested in his explanation of jumping the S-curve, which was clear and thought-provoking. This was an excellent way to kick off the conference and got the attendees, myself included, energized, and excited for the sessions to come.

Sessions and Drupal Modules

Attendees were able to build their own schedules based on sessions and speakers they were interested in. There were so many good sessions slated during the conference; a smart strategy would be attending with a partner so that you could divide and conquer as so many sessions happen simultaneously, though most are recorded and made available online after. I left the conference with my eye on a couple of new contributed modules:

  1. Smart Content – The Intent-Based Personalization in Drupal session made me aware of a helpful module called Smart Content, which allows you to serve content based on a set of conditions. Pairing this with powerful personalization tools can really help target content for a specific segment. This module will greatly assist Tactis with our persona targeting and digital personalization efforts.
  2. Test Helpers – As a developer, writing a unit test is a complex undertaking, and in most cases takes longer to write than the actual code you’re testing, The Test Helpers contributed module removes a lot of the headache surrounding this practice, and makes it easier to write these unit tests. Utilizing this tool will allow us to speed up production and ensure we deliver bug-free solutions.
  3. OpenAI – I originally looked at this module several months ago, and it has grown exponentially since then. The ability to summarize content on the backend of Drupal using ChatGPT is powerful. Dries spoke to this in his keynote, and there are plenty of short videos streaming on the modules project page. This will help us with our growing digital self-service offerings and enhance our ability to leverage AI.

Since most recorded sessions are now available online, I encourage those who couldn’t attend, or even those who were and missed out on certain engagements, to visit the Drupal Association’s YouTube page. Many resources from the event have been made available and pulled into a curated playlist for the Pittsburgh conference.

The Drupal Community

Drupal is marked by its amazing community of contributors, a collaborative effort by software developers to optimize the content management system for all. Feeling the support of this community and getting to meet so many people in person for the first time was a major highlight. Connecting with our partners, chatting about our takeaways from the conference, and sharing ideas on how we can best work together in the future was a great way to wrap up the conference. It’s always a great time to meet new colleagues, and even better to be in a community where you can geek out about Star Trek over an ice-cold beer. I encourage folks to reach out and share what they learned at the conference, and what their major takeaways were. Looking forward to the next conference and all the technological advancements and innovations that are certain to occur in the meantime.

About Tactis

As a full lifecycle customer experience agency working for organizations across all points of communication, combining human touch with digital expertise to create outcomes that matter, Tactis delivers high-touch solutions that span marketing, technology, and human interactions. Through leveraging data and embracing technology, Tactis generates transformational customer experiences that ensure that both federal government and commercial entities own the high-expectation, high-attention moments from which truly human experiences can emerge.