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Highlights From BADCamp 2014

From November 6th through the 9th, members of the Mediacurrent team headed to San Francisco for the Bay Area Drupal Camp. Hundreds of Drupal enthusiasts convened at the Palace of Fine Arts to take part in some fantastic sessions, code sprints, and all the San Francisco has to offer. Below is Part 1 of their weekend highlights.

Alex McCabe

I’ve only been to San Francisco once before, and I was much younger, so the entire trip was essentially a new experience for me. San Francisco is a beautiful city, and I’d love to return sometime.

No small part of that charm was thanks to the Palace of the Fine Arts, the venue for BADCamp. Located only a few minutes walk from the waterfront and featuring a fantastic lake and gardens, I couldn’t have asked for a better spot to spend most of my time in San Francisco.

The keynote was a great session, held in the main theater. The original speaker was suddenly ill, so Chris Shattuck of BuildAModule stepped in with his presentation, When Will Drupal Die? It was half inspiring, and half “we’ve got a head start, but we need to get to work implementing some of this stuff if we’re going to stay ahead”. Chris is a great presenter, and it was a really informative presentation.

My second favorite session was Multi-Headed Drupal, presented by Larry Garfield. None of the issues he addressed were problems I hadn’t faced before, but it was still interesting and reassuring hearing all of them dissected and compared so thoroughly.

Another great part of the camp was the upstairs code sprint. Being able to sit down with so many other Drupal people at once for so long was a great experience, and really helped strengthen the already powerful sense of community around the camp. I think I spent as much time coding as I did just talking to people, including some people I chat with on IRC regularly, but I had never met before. Putting faces to names is always an enjoyable part of a Drupal camp.

Overall, BADCamp was pretty great. The sessions were interesting and informative, the people and community spirit were fantastic, and it was all set in a great venue in a beautiful city. I’d happily return next year.

Mario Hernandez

It was my first time attending and I was very impressed by the venue which was the Palace of Fine Arts, a beautiful building by the beach.  In addition, the variety of sessions was great as there was a little for everyone.  Personally I focus on front-end sessions as research and validation for the initiatives we are currently working on with Mediacurrent’s front-end team. It was refreshing to see we are on the right track when it comes to tools and processes used for front-end development. 

A session that was very interesting was “How can men be better allies of women in tech”.  A panel a ladies talked about their struggle to fit in in the community and what we, collectively, can do to work better in an inclusive environment.

My favorite session of all was “Perfecting Menus, Breadcrumbs and Paths” as this has been an area that has always given me problem when building Drupal sites.  The information shared on this talk was very useful and I look forward to using it soon.

The community is by far the best part of these camps.  Everyone is enthusiastic and excited about learning and networking.  It was great to see a lot of people who we normally don’t see on a regular basis and attend after hours parties and other events.

Bob Kepford

BADCamp is my favorite Drupal camp of the year for one reason. The people. But, on top of there are always great sessions to catch. This year I had the opportunity to sit in on some informative and thought provoking talks.

RESTful Garage - Build your own API speedster
Ron Northcutt shared a performance audit of Services, RestWS, and RESTFul. This was a great comparison of the popular approaches to REST in Drupal 7 with great overview of the pros and cons of each.

The Happy Themer now available in Drupal 8
MortonDK is one of my favorite Drupal people and if you haven’t had a chance to meet him or attend one of his sessions you should make it a point to rectify that. He talked about the awesomeness of Drupal 8’s theme layer including Twig. As always Morton did not disappoint delivering an informative and entertaining talk.

Keeping It Simple
Simple and easy do not mean the same things. Sam Boyer’s talk began on a high level but soon became more Drupal specific with examples that real drove home his point that making Drupal easy has lead to increasing it’s complexity. It was a thought provoking talk.

Mark Casias

BADCamp is by far my favorite Drupal event. Granted this was only my second time attending, it is a bit of a homecoming for me. I grew up in San Francisco and more to the point on the Presido, which was right next to The Palace of Fine Arts. We stayed a block away from the very first bar I ever patronized. Not a very good Drupal point, but still made this one of the best events.

It is important to give a huge shout out to Chris Shattuck from Build A Module. He stepped up and took over the keynote when the scheduled speaker stepped down due to health issues. His talk was focused on the sustainability of Drupal. He brought some technologies which developers should become familiar with. It was the first time I had heard the phrase “MEAN Stack” which uses MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and NodeJS. This is in contrast to our beloved LAMP stack. The fact that you only need to know one language, JavaScript, to implement the MEAN Stack well gives it an advantage for the future. However, in his overview of Drupal8, he reiterated the benefits of using OOP, the value of using third party libraries (Packagist, Composer, Twig, etc) and becoming standardized with Semantic Versioning are some of the steps forward that will keep Drupal in the hunt.

My second shout goes to BoF’s. BoF stand for “Birds of a Feather” which are unscheduled, ‘lightning’ sessions that spring up and almost any Drupal event. Though I’ve been to many a Drupal event, I rarely attend these, however, I saw the one that was put on by the developers of PHPStorm and had to attend it. PHPStorm is my IDE of choice and it was great to sit down with one of the developers of the program and vent on some frustrations, only to be shown that I blatantly missed the thing that caused the frustration. If I had a nickle for all the PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard AND Chair) issues that frustrate me. During the BoF, we even converted a staunch VIM and ST3 user. Also during the same BoF, we got a great demonstration of Kalabox2 by one of the developers on that project. Kalabox2 is a virtual environment using the power of Docker and will help developers set up their environments to match the Pantheon service.

I could ramble on for hours about other talks and demonstrations I attended. With all my long distance friends and contemporaries, there were even more discussions outside the arranged time of the conference. Code sprints even were held late into the night at the home offices of Pantheon. Once again, with BADCamp, the Drupal community showed its greatest strength. Community.

Matt Davis

Never having visited San Francisco before, I was really excited to have the opportunity to attend BADCamp this year. I had heard a lot about the city and the camp, so my expectations were high, but they were all surpassed by the reality of what I got to experience there. Excellent sessions, lovely location, perfect weather, great food, and of course a surplus of friendly people.

I arrived in the city Wednesday night, so there was plenty of time Thursday and Friday to see a few sights and get some sprinting done. Much of my sprint time was spent on the Migrate in Core initiative, with the rest going to some impromptu mentoring of a new core contributor. The sprint areas were a perfect opportunity to learn a little and teach a little, which is a huge part of what the Drupal community is all about.

As for the sessions, there was one standout from those that I attended. Intro to Behavior Driven Development with Behat session, presented by George Perry, was a hands-on look at how to write Behat tests and integrate the use of such tests into your regular development cycle. We even got to see some automated tests that his team wrote run on the meetup.com site!

Doing a volunteer shift Saturday afternoon meant that I missed a few sessions I would have liked to see, but it did give me a chance to speak with some of the organizers of the camp, who I must say did an outstanding job. Many kudos to everyone who helped make BADCamp 2014 a success, and I hope to come back next year!

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