My NYC Camp for Drupal Experience

On Friday I attended the NYC Camp for Drupal at NYU presented by the Drupal Association. I returned again Monday to take part in the Business Summit session. Overall it was a first, great experience for me in a public Drupal Community event.

I hadn’t intended to participate beyond Friday, but in speaking to Forest Mars of Elephant Ventures, I learned that the Summit sessions were more about the business of using Drupal instead of back-end how-to and that was of great interest to me, so I came back for a second day (it was day four for those who attended all sessions) and I’m sure glad I did.

So let me back-up and provide some perspective. In December of 2011, I was able to make the internal case to adopt Drupal for the Medical Business of the Olympus Corporation of the Americas. I was the project lead and work in the Marketing Services group of the Medical Systems Group. I was responsible to manage the project forward and work with IT, internal creative, marketing, and vendors.

The US site is currently in RA review and I’m expecting it to go live very soon.

In addition to our internal partners and external vendors, we also contracted with Acquia for support services.

So, while I’ve been engaged in this project for about 18 months and understand Drupal conceptually, I’m not a front-end themer, don’t know PHP, and am definitely not able to set up a server architecture.

Given that, on Thursday at about 5:15 I got a bit nervous that maybe attending NYC Camp was over my head, I might need a local install on my PC, and as a result I called my TAM (technical account manager) at Acquia.

Great guy Scott is (I had rescheduled our Friday meeting and missed three attempts to catch-up earlier that day), he quickly got me what I needed. He directed me to Acquia Dev Desktop and within five minutes I had a local version of Drupal installed and ready to go on my PC.

The next morning I arrived at NYU for the Friday sessions with a colleague, my boss, whom I wanted to learn more about Drupal. There was a beginner track and we camped out in that room all day.

Not once during the day, did I have anything but positive interactions despite the fact that opinions weren’t always the same. I never got a sense of feeling inferior for lack of experience or an inability to code. We had really engaging and valuable sessions.

On Monday, the experience came together for me during several discussions both in the sessions and on the side.

Drupal is about community. The community builds, maintains, advocates, cautions, and develops the platform.

Given my ‘concern’ about not being an expert enough Drupalist, I was surprised not by the fact that I never felt like an outsider, but instead that there were a good number of people at the conference with little to no Drupal experience who were there for the sole reason of learning more about both the platform and the community.

There were also people (not many), who openly admitted they were Drupal skeptics and frankly wanted to come and be able to ask questions.

Over 800 people were registered to take part in the NYC Camp and in speaking with people I found some of the best ways I could contribute back now is to explain why we chose Drupal as a platform, how we plan to build out our installation, and making myself available to those who are considering a switch to Drupal from another platform.

Michael Meyers of Acquia opened Monday’s session addressing his role and how companies are collaborating on Drupal development even if they are in the same industry sector. I asked specifically if there were concerns about companies in the same sector working together on this type of project if they were competitors in sales.

His distinction was that so long as it was not a competitive advantage or in some way proprietary, that couldn’t be shared, then it was in everyone’s best interest to work together, develop, save costs, and raise the level of the platform.

I’ve long been an advocate of openness and collaboration, so his remarks resonated with me. In May I presented a case study on our website project at the Digital Marketing for Medical Devices West and am looking forward to doing more of this moving forward and writing more about it.

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