DrupalCon SF: Project management, Drupalchix, and Documentation

DrupalCon SF: Project management, Drupalchix, and Documentation

Golden Gate bridge

Last week, Zoe, Dave, and I made our way down to San Francisco for DrupalCon. It was a fantastic week, and even though I knew how many people were attending, I was still stunned by the actual size of the crowd, especially when we were all gathered together for the keynote sessions.

Sadly, I missed the Core Developer Summit, which I was really looking forward to, after having to delay my trip down for a few extra days to recover a bit more from the flu. From the sounds of it (and the tiny bit I was able to catch on Ustream), it was a fantastic kickoff to the week, and led to some excellent roadmaps for some refactoring and new features that will become the focus of Drupal 8. (Yes, Drupal 8... Drupal 7 is officially in Alpha, which means in a matter of months it will become the official release, and work on Drupal 8 will commence in earnest.)

Knowing that I wouldn't be quite up for full days at the conference, and that all of the sessions were being taped, I focused on attending some BOFs (Birds of a Feather sessions, ie. smaller more focused, less formal sessions) and the main keynote talks. The project management and documentation BOFs I made it to were inspiring; the larger number of attendees led to a much larger than usual interest in these types of sessions (which normally have a smaller attendance).

Sitting in a room full of probably 40 odd project managers isn't something that happens every day, and it's fascinating to me what a broad range of styles and methods are applied to managing Drupal projects. Project managers tend to come from a very mixed bag of backgrounds and technical skill levels, which naturally affect their roles as part of a Drupal development team. From varied methods of time tracking, to agile vs. waterfall, to different development backgrounds ie. some who are relatively unfamiliar with Drupal's inner workings vs. others who are skilled developers. All were represented.

This led to some great discussions with some of my fellow project managers from south of the border, regarding how to cultivate effective project managers for Drupal shops. Effective project managers seem to be a hot commodity currently, and it's become evident that the community needs more of us. There was a panel session on just this, you can listen to the audio of it here.

The Drupalchix BOF was a major highlight for me. We estimated a turnout of over 100 members, which was about double what we'd expected. We asked a lot of questions to get to know who everyone was (what they do, their backgrounds, etc.) and also talked about some of the challenges people had faced as part of a gender-based minority in the world of web development and Drupal.

Drupal actually has a lot more women than other open source projects (approximately 10% in Drupal vs. 1.5% in the greater Open Source community), but we still have a ways to go.

Kent Bye from Lullabot came up to me at the end of the session and asked me to do a "Drupal Voices" interview on the Drupalchix group for their podcast. I did my best to croak my way through the interview and explain a bit about what the Drupalchix group's purpose is, what sorts of things we talk about, and how gender plays into being a member of the Drupal community. I'm excited to hear it when it comes out (apparently he recorded 80 Drupal Voices over the course of the week, so it could be a while), thanks for including me Kent!

Finally, in terms of documentation, the post-conference sprint day was the most productive day for me. I migrated and reorganized the draft of the Drupal 7 install guide back into the existing Drupal 6 install guide. It can definitely use a few more reviews and some cross-platform testing, so if you want to help out with Drupal Docs and get to know Drupal 7 a little more, test the install guide! (And if you find things that need fixing, either hit the edit tab and fix it, or file an issue in the Docs queue, thanks!)

All in all, a great week, and as always so great catching up with everyone. Now to watch all those session videos!

(Thanks to Steve Krueger for the use of his lovely Golden Gate Bridge photo on the homepage.)