DrupalSouth Hobart 2019 reflections

I attended the DrupalSouth Hobart 2019 conference for three days of talks, workshops, code sprints, social shindigs and intense learning about Drupal – the major open-source Content Management System. I was lucky enough to have my talk accepted and filmed ( you can view it in my recent post).

Anyway, when I arrived, I had feared that the location – down in Hobart – may have detracted for attendance, but that was not the case. While the code sprint on the first day was a little quiet (they normally are), a few hundred of the faithful descended by Thursday morning ready for the full conference.

People gathering ready for DrupalSouth to kick off Getting ready for Day 1 of talks

The conference location was pretty damn good, with some amazing views of the Derwent River and harbour from most of the rooms. A perfect spot for two days of Drupal and all related things. There were four simultaneous ‘tracks’ running, plus a birds-of-a-feather room and workshops, so always plenty to choose from, but I was happy with what I ended up seeing.

The view from the conference room showing the Derwent River and harbourThe view from one of the conference rooms

Things got started on Day 1 with Margery Longman talking about migrating 14 Dept of Finance websites into GovCMS SaaS and the data migration challenges with that … and importantly, dealing with usual considerations that come with Government projects. Next up was the totally excellent Nick Schuch, who explained how Kubernetes could be used for Drupal hosting better than anyone I’ve heard speak on the topic before. He also went through a lot of gotchas and talked about Skpr, a management tool that can better manage SysOps.

Nick Schuch explains how Kubernetes can be used for Drupal hostingNick Schuch explains how he uses Kubernetes in Drupal hosting

Next, is, well, me. I decided to ignore my track chair Janna Malikova’s kind offer to take a good photo and took a selfie with poor focus to mark the occasion 😉 .

Morgan decided to take a poorly focused selfie just before speakingLooking cool and calm before my talk

Despite the poor photo, my talk went really well. Great audience, great questions, and I was really happy with the presentation. I had to cull half the content of my talk after I timed it in practice, but I left in all the theory and considerations. Everyone loves theory!

After the morning and lunch, we had our first keynote Mish Manners, GitHub Community Manager – an accomplished public speaker – who talked about Open Source more generally and what GitHub has available to facilitate the wider Open Source community. As Drupal is firmly partnered with GitLab, it was great to hear from other providers about what’s shaking in that major platform and how GitHub is working in the wider community.

Michelle from GitHub gets ready to give her talk on Open Source softwareMichelle from GitHub delivers the first keynote

Then came Josh Waihi from Acquia who gave one of my favourite talks of the conference, and something super topical in the community – when to decouple and when to stay with the older style server-generated theme pages. It’s something we as a community have talked about a lot and Josh reminded us all that just because ‘decoupled’ (like a React front-end over JSON API talking to Drupal) is a newer approach, doesn’t always mean it’s best. He talked about some great ways to determine when to go server-generated, when to go fully decoupled, and when to go partially decoupled.

Acquia's Josh Waihi talks about when to go decoupled in DrupalJosh Waihi talks about when it’s time to decouple

Next was another favourite of mine, ‘the 45-minute site audit’ with Scott Anderson. This showed us how to spend 45 minutes strategically and thoroughly auditing a project, so that you know what you are taking on when you inherit a project or program of work. Some great advice right there …

Scott Anderson talks about the 45 minute site auditScott Anderson introduces the ’45 minute site audit’

At this point in the blog, it’s important to remember the stunning natural setting in which Hobart is situated. It’s pretty special – this is a nice little snap I took on the walk to the conference on the second day:

The impressive view of the Hobart skyline for Day 2 of the conferenceThe views in Hobart… what else can be said

Day 2 continued the trend of great talks. This kicked off with Toby Bellwood talking about GovCMS tooling, and later in the morning I ran a workshop to ‘how to run a site accessibility audit’.

We then received our second keynote from Neil Drumm who spoke about how Drupal.org is run. Some big numbers on that site … like 140 million pages and 2 million unique page visits per month. It was really interesting to hear how they keep the whole thing together and some of the innovations they have developed to deliver to the community and keep the site responsive.

After the keynote I attended Karl Hepworth’s talk on Automated Auditing, with a focus on GovCMS PaaS and using the Drunity tools for auditing in federal government PaaS sites.

Karl Hepworth talks about automated auditing in GovCMSKarl Hepworth presents Automated Auditing on the GovCMS platform

And lastly, Jess XJM gave the final keynote and the highlight of the conference, explaining the coordination of security releases, dependency management and the release path for the future.

Her talk showed how difficult it is to manage big Open Source projects that ‘swim’ in a sea of dependencies but also need to support large codebases, upstream users with different release cycles, the need to support versions (e.g. PHP or jQuery versions) much longer than other packages, and so on. I do not envy her job to keep all that together (but am extremely grateful she does it so well!).

Overall, an amazing conference. Great talks, great new innovations and really happy that I could part of this meeting of like-minded people.

Feel free to drop me a line to ask about Drupal, accessibility or anything related, or start a conversation with us on social media via FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.


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