Last weekend, I attended DrupalCamp Florida in Orlando. This camp has become a regular on my annual list of camps, and it’s usually the first one on the calendar for the year. The camp, as are most Drupal Camps, is organized entirely by volunteers, most of them members of the Orlando and surrounding area Drupal User Groups. The camp is held at the Florida Technical College campus in Orlando, who graciously provides the use of their facilities at no cost, which (along with the generosity of the sponsors) helps to keep the cost to attendees down. This is just an extremely well run camp, and it sets the bar for the remainder of the year for other Drupal Camps.
On the sessions agenda the year was, no surprise, several sessions that focused on Drupal 8, and ran the gamut:
- Drupal 8 for beginners
- Module Development
- Site Building
- Drupal 8 tools
There were also several non-Drupal specific sessions covering such topics as:
- Responsive Images
- Scrum and Agile
- Debugging and Profiling
- Front End Workflow Automation
- Behat Testing
- Deployment Tools
- Visual Regression Testing (presented by yours truly)
Visual Regression Testing
I presented a session on Visual Regression Testing with Webdriver.io which was well attended, and I received a lot of positive feedback on the session from attendees. Most of the attendees had no experience with visual regression testing and did not know that such testing capabilities existed, so there was a great deal of fruitful discussion during the session. Several attendees came up afterwards, and expressed excitement about the potential uses of visual regression testing in their daily workflow. This mirrored my own excitement about visual regression testing when I was first exposed to it nearly two years ago.
I attended a dual-length session on Drupal Console presented by Jesus Manuel Olivas, Drupal 8 Solutions Engineer for FFW and lead contributor to the Drupal Console project. For those of you that are not familiar with Drupal Console, it’s a command line tool built specifically for Drupal 8 that generates boilerplate code for Drupal 8 modules, forms, and plugins, and provides some useful debugging tools for Drupal 8 sites. If you are doing any Drupal 8 development whatsoever, this is a definite must for your toolset. Spend some time looking at the boilerplate code that is generated by Drupal Console, but this is the single best timesaver from a development point that you can utilize on a Drupal 8 project. Every time I pull an update this toolset just keeps getting better and better. Kudos to the Drupal Console team on a job well done!
Drupal 8 Theming
I also attended a session on the Drupal 8 theming layer presented by by Darryl Norris, Drupal Engineer for Hewlett Packard. In this session Darryl compared and contrasted the Drupal 8 theming layer using Twig with the Drupal 7 theming layer using phptemplate. He also covered basic twig syntax, how to include variables in your twig templates and how to best utilize the theming layer to customize your layout and apply filters in Twig syntax.
Prototyping with Kalistatic
I slipped in on part of the session presented by Derek Deraps, Senior Architect at Kalamuna, on prototyping with Kalistatic. This is a rather interesting prototyping tool developed by Kalamuna that provides a nice intuitive toolset for developing style guides an static prototypes for websites. The static templates can be easily exported and incorporated into your Drupal theme without a tremendous deal of rework to apply the static templates as part of the theme on a Drupal site. For simpler sites, this is a great toolset for prototyping and providing a final static site for those sites that don’t need the full weight of a Drupal based site.
Writing a Custom Field Formatter in Drupal 8
The fourth session I attended was presented by Mike Anello of Drupal Easy (also one of the organizers of the camp) on writing a field formatter in Drupal 8. He demonstrated how easy it is to write a custom module to apply a custom formatter to a link field using Drupal Console, Twig templates and a little custom code. The full tutorial, along with a number of others related to Drupal 8 development are available at DrupalEasy. These tutorials are rather well done, so if you are new to Drupal 8 development, I highly recommend checking them out.
Designing for the End User
The final session I attended was presented by David Laietta, Chief Technology Officer for Dinosaur Iceberg, on designing for the end user. David’s expertise lies with Wordpress, but many of the issues and tips that he covered are platform agnostic. Much of what David covered is common sense if you stop and think about it, but we as developer immersed in the web development world on a daily basis tend to unconsciously apply filters to our view of the web, and this was a reminder that when approaching projects we need to consciously attempt to remove our filters to get better insight into the design and user experience from the end user standpoint.
The after party, sponsored by Pantheon, was excellent as always! Many thanks to Pantheon and Ben Stoffel-Rosales, Partner Manager at Pantheon, for their graciousness and sponsorship of the camp and the after party.
On the drive home from Orlando, I reflected on the material covered at the camp and the vast changes that have arrived on the Drupal landscape, many of which have been eagerly anticipated for 3+ years and have finally come to fruition. I, for one, am excited about the changes that Drupal 8 brings to Drupal development, and can’t wait to get started applying what is frequently referred to as a “new paradigm” for Drupal in the development of client web applications.
Drupalers, welcome to a brand new day!