How a cowboy spends two days in Boston: Drupalcon 2008

by Garrett Serack on March 24, 2008 04:45pm

Howdy ya'll,

I was recently in Boston, and managed to spend a couple of days at Drupalcon, where Port25 was a silver level sponsor for the event.  The herd was over 800 attendees--all focused on Drupal.  Needless to say, I was duly impressed.

What's Drupal?

Drupal, written in PHP, is an open source content management platform. It's equipped with a powerful blend of features, and supports a variety of websites ranging from personal weblogs to large community-driven portals.  Drupal has been rapidly displacing a large number of other PHP based content management systems, and has an active community along with broad vendor support.

Over the last year or so, Microsoft has been working hard to improve PHP's support on Windows.  With the hard work from the SQL Server team, who recently published a new CTP of the native SQL Server PHP driver, the FastCGI work that the IIS team has done, and of course Zend, who we've been coordinating with--PHP is rapidly getting the support and attention it deserves.

So... Drupalcon?

Ah Yes. From the humble beginnings in 2004, where 10 people attended the first Drupalcon, it's grown into a massive bi-annual event (one in North America, and one in Europe) with over 800 attendees, plus sponsors. I was truly stunned at the sheer size of the event--I would have assumed a much larger affair.

Kieran Lal hosted a session early on Monday morning, in which he told how to get the most out of Drupalcon--and really, it was applicable to any conference, and I really enjoyed it. Between that session and the first keynote, I hung out, and got to know a bunch of folks. 

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Drupalcon was really quite special--of all the conferences I've been to, Drupalcon was home to the most friendly folk I've ever seen.  Everybody was really fun to talk to, and they all were excited to hear about Microsoft's effort in making PHP run great on Windows.

I spent about 45 minutes talking to Larry Garfield about expanding support for databases in Drupal.  Larry has done a tremendous amount of work for Drupal 7 on database abstraction--it's going to be pretty cool, trust me.

I managed a few minutes of Kieran Lal's time, which was quite amazing, as he seemed to be doing a million things at once during the conference, and barely had a spare moment to catch his breath.  We talked about the future of Drupal, and how Microsoft could get involved, and I think we're both pretty excited about the future. 

Dries Buytaert gave his traditional "State of Drupal" presentation (video can be found here), which contained a couple real eye openers:

- Drupal 6 had over 100,000 downloads in the first month of release, that's 2x over Drupal 5. Wow. That's
pretty amazing.
- Drupal 7 (and beyond) appears to have one of the most well thought out plans in place--I can't recall another open source project that has such a detailed road map.

Then, I came home...

Aside from the jet-lag and the shortness of the trip, I enjoyed the conference immensely.  We've been playing with Drupal in our lab over the last several months, and it's clear that the time has been well spent--Drupal is not only an emerging phenomenon, but the future looks even brighter.  I reckon you'll be seeing many more posts from me in the future about it.


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