Notes from Drupal Camp Victoria

Ryan Weal

September 18, 2009

I finally made it out to a real Drupal event! Not just a local meetup... so much more than that.

The two-day educational networking event took place at North Studio - a Victoria web development firm which also does a lot of work in the computer training department. Our schedule started with a focus on the basics: installation of Drupal, SEO techniques, a dash of Information Architecture and more. That was all really valuable stuff, but for me it was a bit redundant. If you've been following my threads for the past year you will probably understand what I mean.

What I Learned

The presentation on Actions, Triggers and Rules by Dave Tarc was insightful. I have worked with Actions and Triggers on Drupal 6 and the Workflow-NG module for Drupal 5. Rules takes over where Workflow-NG left off. Essentially this module just lets you add some rudimentary logic to your Triggers so you can automate things on the site. What could be better than automating things? In my world: not much.

Learning about Panels3 was a valuable experience. I support sites using Panels3 but I haven't had the need to get much further than that. The presenter showed us how to use the mini-panel component with the Tabs Panel Style module to produce a nice AJAX tabbed block, the kind that newspapers and magazines like to use to add contextual content to pages. That has already worked it's way into one of my projects.

The Geo module with OpenLayers presentation blew my mind. Want to map out things in three dimensional space? Geo can get you there. Want to use a map that behaves like Google's Map service but without the branding? Geo can get you there too. There are so many base maps to choose from it is really quite amazing at what can be done with Drupal, a custom MySQL configuration and a little know-how (PS, you may not need the MySQL customization if you rely on WKT - it does not allow you to do as much though). This one will be my next pet project for sure. Just too cool not to find a reason to do it

Giving Back

My take away from Drupal Camp was that people should give back to the community. What that means in practice for me is that I should contribute documentation and code where I can. For a time I thought doing some occasional pro-bono (ie, free) work for people was another route to go... I have since moved on. That often takes an immense amount of time and is not necessarily as valuable as supporting the Drupal community directly.

I have agreement with one of my clients to publish a module I recently upgraded from D5 to D6 and I am hoping to contribute themes in the near future. Hopefully that will assist others with their projects. Be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed if you want to keep up on my Drupal code and documentation efforts. Thanks!