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Florida Drupal Camp

February 13, 2011

Yesterday, I attended Florida Drupal Camp at Rollins College. I started working with Drupal in July while at Rise Creative Group and continue to use it in my current role as a front end developer (themer) at Bonnier Corporation.

I have wanted to dive in and learn more formally about Drupal but like a lot of things, it gets pushed to the side just trying to do the day-to-day things. My current role is theming sites so I mostly work with CSS and occasionally touch Drupal template files. I do not really need to know much more than that to get my work done each day.

But I have wanted to learn. I have used WordPress for the last six years and have become pretty adept at building Websites powered by WordPress. My interest in learning Drupal was piqued recently after listening to 2 5by5 podcasts. I found out about Drupal Camp from my Veredus recruiter. They were co-sponsored the event and Chris hooked my up with a free ticket.

My Concerns Going into the Day

Last year I atttended the first WordCamp Orlando, which was also held at Rollins. One of my disappointments with that event is that there was not really a track for a designer/developer like myself. There were tracks for publishers and for developers. At times, I was either bored or things were a bit over my head as I bounced between the two tracks. (Disclaimer: The WordCamp experience was still valuable. I met some great people and did learn things about WordPress I did not know.)

So I had some concerns going into Drupal Camp. Drupal is very much a developer driven community. I decided to do the Beginner’s track but was concerned that some of the first sessions might bore me because I have worked some with Drupal. I am so glad that I was wrong.

The first session gave me a great overview of the terminology of Drupal. Ryan Price did a great job of explaining things in layman terms. I got a better hold of some the terms that I had heard thrown around at Rise and Bonnier. I had some understanding of those things but have a much better grasp after attending Drupal Camp.

I liked the setup of the Beginner’s track. It was a hands on learning experience, although I chose to leave the laptop at home. I still got a lot out of it as I watched them install Drupal, got some great advice on modules to use, and saw the beginnings of a site be created through about 4 or 5 sessions.

The part I was most excited about was Views. Views help you create a lot dynamic functionality on your site and is a tool that I see heavily utilizing in the future. I got a taste and now I want to dig in and really learn how to use Views. Tonight I did a local install of Drupal and began to play around with it.

One other thing I enjoyed about the day was getting familiar with Drupal 7. I have yet to work on a Drupal 7 site and I am excited about many of the changes they have made. The user interface is much better. I believe that Mark Boulton had a lot to do with that. I had heard him talk about the Drupal project on a podcast earlier last year. The admin interface is a much better experience than I have had using Drupal 6.

I am so glad that I attended Florida Drupal Camp. The Beginner’s track was very well done. I learned a lot and came away ready to learn more.

Parting Thoughts

Another thing I enjoyed about the day was connecting to others in the Orlando Tech community. I saw several people that I have met over the past year as I have gotten out to events like this. It was fun to see people face-to-face that I follow on Twitter. I also enjoyed seeing Frank Candamil and Stephan Barrett from Rise Creative Group and catching up with what is going on with them.

I believe the greatest value of events like Drupal Camp is the people that you meet and the relationships you start. Just a couple of weeks ago, I Skyped with Steve in Wyoming who I met at a conference in 2006. Conferences and one day events like Drupal Camp are a great place to network both in meeting new people and furthering existing relationships with people you don’t get to see in person as often. I definitely would encourage anyone to take advantage of any opportunity to connect with others in the community. Sometimes the best places to do that is smaller, local events. And the advantage of local events is that you meet people that live in the same city.

Florida Drupal Camp 2011 gets a big thumbs up from me. Thanks Veredus for the ticket. Thanks to Ryan Price, Gaelen Adams, and Joe Moraca, who taught the Beginner’s sessions that I got a lot out of. And thanks to all those wearing red shirts that helped to put on the event. Bravo.

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