DrupalCamp Wroclaw Recap
When Marcin Padjdzik suggested that we fly to Poland to give a talk at a DrupalCamp, I jumped at the chance. He later mentioned how surprised he was not to have to convince me! Especially considering neither of us had spoken at a conference before. The logic was simple: flying to a place where we knew that the audience would be strangers would make our first talk a whole lot easier. Luckily that theory proved to be correct!
I had a great time in Wroclaw. It is a lovely town and very scenic and the people seemed really friendly and relaxed. I spent every evening socialising with locals who were very welcoming. It was great to to spend the evenings that way rather than eating out at touristy restaurants.
Thanks go to the organisers for setting up and running this camp. The Drupal community is fairly small in Poland, so hats off to them for making this a success. They have been trying to attract English speakers to make it altogether more of an international affair. I think that is a great move and I can see it increasing in popularity over the next few years.
Photo credit: Grzegorz Bartman
There were two tracks - English and Polish. There was a healthy mix of technical and business talks. In fact, most of the talks in the English track were business related. I prefer business related talks at conferences anyway (I prefer getting technical info from blog posts, books etc), so that was good for me.
Here is a quick recap of the talks that I attended:
Selling the Benefits of Drupal, Not the *** Features - Jeffrey "Jam" Mcguire
Saturday started off with Jeffrey "Jam" Mcguire's talk called Selling the Benefits of Drupal, Not the *** Features. Jeffrey is a natural born presenter and the talk was both interesting and engaging. Jeffrey talked about the fact that client’s don’t care about Drupal’s features (features include: WYSIWYG, responsiveness, twig, Symfony components), they only care about the benefits. Drupal has some huge benefits for businesses, including: Free and Open source software; proven scale & security; adoption, global reach, critical mass of community; huge number of developers worldwide; reduced risk; speed of innovation.
Results only web investments - Jakob Persson
Following Jeffrey was Jakob Persson with Results only web investments. The general premise is that we (we being freelancers and Drupal shops) should be solving business problems rather than providing purely technical solutions that match feature requirements.
A great quote mentioned in the talk:
“Nobody wants a 1/4 inch drill - what they want is a 1/4 inch hole” - Theodore Levitt, marketing professor at Harvard.
You don’t ask for the detailed specifications for a drill. You tell the sales person that you are building a shelf in the bathroom and the sales person will ask you the relevant questions in order to establish which drill you need. We still sell websites on the detailed specifications, not on what the client really needs to solve their business problems.
Jakob also introduced the concept of Impact Mapping, which looks like a great tool to help with the process. Impact Mapping is a way to link business goals to what you build. It helps answer these questions: Why are we doing it, who are we doing it for, how do we do it for them, what do they need in order to achieve what we are trying to do.
Is Drupal fast enough for big commerce? - Piotr Knapik
Next up was Piotr Knapik to give his talk called - Is Drupal fast enough for big commerce? He went through the challenges of using Drupal for a specific high traffic project and solutions to make it faster.
From Drupal consultant to product company: the scenic route to freedom - Kristof Van Tomme
Kristof Van Tomme’s talk gave a talk called From Drupal consultant to product company: the scenic route to freedom. It was a great talk on how Kristof is growing his company Pronovix by making it a product company. He showed us a behind the scenes look at his product, WalkHub. WalkHub is a product that makes it easy to record tutorials in the form of video walkthroughs. Kristof has a big vision for WalkHub - for it to provide user guides for all of the Internet.
Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) with Drupal - bridging the gap between business and technology - Marcin Pajdzik
After Kristof, Marcin Pajdzik gave his talk which was called Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) with Drupal - bridging the gap between business and technology. I have been to Behat talks before. Marcin's talk was different. Rather than jumping right into the details of HOW you use Behat, he explained WHY you need to use it in the first place. This was very refreshing. He started off talking about one of the biggest failures in the IT industry, which is a NHS project that took 9 years and ultimately failed and cost the UK taxpayer £12 billion (enough to pay for 60,000 nurses for 10 years). Marcin explained that one of the reasons for the failure was a breakdown in communication between the business and technical sides.
BDD is different to TDD (Test Driven Development) in that it is not only about testing. It helps prevent communication gaps and allow both sides to communicate with a common language. The business people know where the value is. Developers won’t always know this. Therefore, it would be good for business owners and developers to collaborate with tests.
From Developer to Author - Blair Wadman
The last session of the day was my talk, From Developer to Author. My talk outlined why a developer would want to write a book and how to go about putting that into action. I talked a lot about how you can market your book, pricing structures and self publishing.
It was nerve racking doing the talk - especially waiting all day for my turn! But weirdly, once I took to the “stage”, the nerves dissipated and I really enjoyed the experience. As well as great questions, I got some fantastic feedback from the engaged audience. After the talk, Jeffrey, Kristoff and Jakob approached me with more great feedback and marketing tips.
Applied agile for Drupal projects - Vesa Palmu
All of the talks on the Sunday were in Polish, except for Vesa Palmu's talk on Applied agile for Drupal projects. Vesa talked about why projects fail and how a proper Agile approach can eliminate project failure.
Retrospective of my talk
Overall, I was pretty happy with my first talk at a conference/camp. I put a lot of effort into planning the content and the slides themselves. What would I do differently next time? More practice runs before hand. Learn to channel the nerves into positive energy. Remember to stay in the right position for the camera (I walked out of the camera zone more than a few times)!
Will I talk again? Absolutely! I really enjoyed given the talk, sharing knowledge and interacting with the audience.
Get the slides and case studies
In preparation for the talk, I asked three developers turned authors, Brennan Dunn, Noah Gibbs and Josh Earl, questions on their experience on becoming a self-published author. Their answers provide some valuable insights!
If you are interested in writing and self-publishing your own book, I'll send you Brennan, Noah and Josh's full answers, the presentation slides and ongoing tips.