SANDCamp 2011 Conference Report

They say better late than never, and, since it isn’t never yet, here is my report on the very exciting SANDCamp 2011.

Where to begin? Perhaps a day-by-day breakdown of the action-packed weekend would work best.

Saturday

I walked in around 9:10 AM to Mike Dorrell from Digitaria’s presentation on Controlling the Chaos. He was showing some code related to CTools exportables. Being a big Features user (in fact, I help maintain Features Extra), I was no stranger to exportables. Mike’s presentation really cleared things up a lot, though about many aspects of CTools and made it look much more feasible to use its APIs for custom development. Besides that, SANDCamp was my first major Drupal event. I really felt like I was in a developer session in this one. It was a cool feeling.

After that, I took five and hung around the Drupal Doctor area for the next hour. I talked to Dave Terry from Mediacurrent a bit while doing so.

Following this break, I (and probably everyone else in the camp) went to listen to the keynote by Kieran Lal. It was interesting to hear about the “state of Drupal,” its future, negative unemployment (and subsequent need for training), and the development process for Drupal 8, including the potential of iterative releases. That sounded cool. And I’ve defnitely seen the need for training even locally. A couple clients have commented on the difficulty of finding good, local Drupal help. I wasn’t even really aware until I was made aware.

Besides that, I attended a few other sessions. I’ll add links for these when I’ve got more time.

  • Deployment Management by Shawn Smiley, Achieve Internet
  • Building Web Leaders with Drupal by Tom McCracken, LevelTen Interactive
  • Debugging Techniques for Drupal by Robert Ristroph, Four Kitchens

Sunday

Sunday was, of course, the continuation. I started off the day with Steven Rifkin’s presentation, famous for trying to get people to do 25 jumping jacks in the morning. I walked in after the jumping jacks, so I just got the presentation. It was great. I learned about Module Builder, which I’ve used a couple times to great effect. His presentation was call Heavy Lifting with the Form API. I later saw it in the Westside LA Drupal meetup. There, he did manage to get people to do 10 jumping jacks, me included.

As with Saturday, following the talk, I went to the Drupal Doctor station. I had a couple conversations there; it was an interesting place to hang.

At 11:15 AM, I went to Brandon Lyon’s Performance & Scalability, Where to Begin. This was cool. It got me more interested in, well, performance and scalability, particularly in benchmarking with ab and code performance analysis with Xdebug Profiler and KCacheGrind.

Lunch followed, and then I topped off my weekend by doing what anyone calling themselves a developer should do: I attended the code sprint! During the code sprint, we worked on some functionality to be used on Balboa Park organization Web sites. I learned about and worked on Facebook integration – retrieving data, in this case. I also wrote the programmatic node creation function that wound up being used by all the other integration modules. I didn’t know that the .module file in Features-based modules could be used to write custom module code until then!

It was a truly awesome event. I’ll be going back next year.