DrupalCon DC: Wrapup

Published March 9, 2009

After a decompression-Sunday with some friends in the DC area, I made my way back to sunny Florida today ready to start taking advantage of some of my new-found Drupal knowledge. Once I dug out of my piled-up mail and dirty laundry, I decided to summarize the rest of the 'Con. So, here goes...

Jeff Eaton's Promiscuous Drupal: Building Your Site With Web APIs was a tour-de-force of Drupal's various abilities to interact with other web sites via APIs. Jeff really hammered home the point that Drupal doesn't need to do everything - if there's a service out there that your users enjoy, don't try to copy it, just implement their API. He even mentioned one example where a site's users wanted blogging capabilities, but instead of using Drupal's built-in blog module, they instead opted to write the blogs in WordPress (something the users were accostomed to) and simply import the feeds into the Drupal site. One web API he mentioned that I'm currently evaluating is MailChimp and the associated Drupal module, a email newsletter sending service.

The Advanced Ubercart session with Ryan Szrama, the project lead, was only a 30 minute session, and it was about 30 minutes too short. Ryan covered the UC Node Access module as well as the UC Node Checkout module - both impressive add-ons to Ubercart. The UC Node Access module allows you to sell access to particular nodes on your site - the example that he showed was a training site that sold access to online materials. The UC Node Checkout module was used for the Do It With Drupal conference to have users fill out a node form as part of their registration. This allows their user registration information to be used on other parts of the site via standard Views and CCK methods. It is really too bad that there wasn't more time, as I would have really enjoyed seeing some of the other add-on modules for Ubercart.

The Business Analytics in Drupal with Views session with Irakli Nadareishvili was a nice surprise - Irakli demoed the Views Charts and Views Group By modules to create sweet-looking charts and graphs. The Views Charts module requires the Charts and Graphs module with creates graphs using a Flash "template" (I forgot exactly what Irakli called it). Designers can create and implement additional Flash templates to customize the look of the charts and graphs. The Views Group By module is an add-on module for Views that adds the tricky SQL "Group By" functionality. Irakli noted that he hoped it would eventually make it into core Views, but it is still pretty early on in the life of the module.

In addition to the sessions, I also attended numerous BOFs (birds of a feather meetups) including "Drupal and libraries" and "Geospatial in Drupal". There seems to be a real movement in the library community to move towards Drupal - there are a bunch of library-related modules that help Drupal interact with various library catalog systems. There seems to be considerable interest in a new, yet unreleased module called SOPAC that takes this integration to a new level.

On Saturday, I attended the documentation sprint. While I wasn't working on Drupal core documentation (I had previously volunteered to help a module developer with some documentation), the big room full of volunteers was quite impressive. Kudos to Addy Berry and the rest of the documentation leads for keeping all the cats herded - check out this d.o. post for all the details.


You're right about the Advanced Ubercart session being to short. In hindsight Ryan probably should have asked to move the Ubercart on Drupal 6 session to the 30 minute slot and the Advanced Ubercart session to the 1 hour slot, but Ryan tried to do the best with the time slots assigned. It's hard to schedule so many great drupalcon sessions is such a small time.

Thanks, guys. Yeah, I totally should have switched them. I was nervous ahead of the Adv. UC Usage session because I know how awful tech demos can be, especially when bugs take down a demo site. I felt really good about it when I was done, though, and I appreciate the positive feedback and encouragement. Now if I can just figure out this screencast software... ; )

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