DrupalSouth 2019 – Hobart

Well, now that I’m finally back from DrupalSouth, I thought I would write down a bit of a post-mortem of the conference.

And most importantly, I’m proud to say that my previous blog post about Conference Stereotypes is still as accurate as ever. I ran into every single one during my time in Hobart.

The first day of the conference started with a talk that was given at the last GovCMS mega meetup, which I had missed due to not being in country at the time.  Margery Tongway gave an in-depth look at how she and her team consolidated 14 sites into a single Industry.gov.au website on the GovCMS SaaS platform.

It was amazing to hear how the multi-year project was delivered on time and on budget, just in time to have to redevelop it into Drupal 8 for the upcoming switch over to Drupal 9.

Up next was a talk on ‘Deploying Drupal on Kubernetes’.  Kubernetes seems to be here to stay as a server platform, and Nick Schuch gave a presentation on the many API’s that Kubernetes has.  There was supposed to be a demonstration, but I think due to running time it was pushed back into a BoF talk that I didn’t attend. 

It was interesting to learn about the many different levels of API’s, and how they all interact with each other.

And then before lunch it was time to brush up on Accessibility and WCAG 2.1 in relation to Drupal 8.  While it wasn’t a technical talk, it was great to learn some new tips and tricks to help make an accessible website.

Morgan Strong talked about the underused ARIA roles, as well as some tools to help troubleshoot issues.  But most importantly, how developers should start with an ‘accessible mindset’ because as we all know, it’s easier to make something accessible from the start then to try and shoehorn it in later.

I asked Morgan what was one modern design feature that he would love to ban from all future websites, and his suggestion was fixed backgrounds.  And how fixed (or even parallax) images can cause motion sickness, when multiple elements are moving at different speeds.  I had never thought about that before… I was really hoping he would say carousels… I hate carousels… 

After lunch I caught a talk by a previous co-worker of mine, Melissa Stubbings, along with Joshua Graham from the War Memorial.

They discussed their implementation of the React360 library into Drupal in order to deliver rich and interesting content to their visitors.

I was blown away with the fact that they had standard content editors able to embed points of interest into the 3d space using the Drupal interface.  This approach of extremely complex content being able to be managed by a low-technical-level content editor is amazing and goes to show how clever development with an eye towards the end user can deliver amazing results.

I can’t wait until they open source their work next year… just need to find a client it will fit with…

Ivan Zugec gave a really interesting presentation about writing blog posts, and how you don’t need to write code to contribute to an open source project.  By writing blog posts and posting tutorials you help not help educate other users, but you’re also raising the profile and building the community.  

As someone who doesn’t think their coding level is up to the level of submitting patches, it was a great feeling to have when Ivan pointed out that writing blogs and tutorials is just as important as patching a bug.  After all, what do you call an open source project with no community… abandoned.

On Friday I went to see Dane Cavanagh talk about the CCAMLR (pronounced Camilla) website, which is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.  A multi-national organisation, managed from an office in Tasmania, who has four official languages. 

Meaning that the entire website needs to be available in English, French, Russian and Spanish.

And this isn’t just a case of running the site through Google Translate.  Each node has 4 body fields, one for each language, which is translated by a team of full time translators, two for each language, and they built their own workflow to ensure they could track which languages had been completed, and which were still in progress.

It was interesting to learn how they didn’t leverage any automatic translation systems, and how everything is manually translated to ensure everything makes sense in context and isn’t just a word by word replacement.

Bevan Wishart ran a panel called Drupal Confessions, which was very cool as it allowed the audience to ask anonymous questions and have the panel respond.  It was very heartening to hear that even long time top level developers still Google ‘simple’ problems.

I really wish this talk could have gone on for at least another three or four hours.

After that I decided to check out the DrupalSouth Steering Committee panel presented by Chris Skene on behalf of the entire committee.  It was interesting to see what it is they do, and their plans going forward.  I plan on providing them some feedback on the event and some thoughts on the future.

Lastly was the keynote presentation by Jess of the Core release management team for Drupal.

I never knew how complicated it was to coordinate a security release, and gained some insights into some of the previous releases that have made me go “wtf, why are they making us do that!”

It also felt good to know I’m not the only one who thinks “why do we have 15,000 dependencies!!!!”

All in all, it was a good conference.  The food was amazing, the location was great, and the running of the sessions and the organisation itself was top notch.  Congratulations to the entire organisation crew and volunteers, you all did a fantastic job.

If only you guys were organising QANTAS, maybe people could have gotten home :)


For the full list of videos from the Conference, check them out on YouTube.

Date posted:
02 December 2019
Authored by :
Toby Wild