"Taking Drupal Back!" by Jen Lampton: Keynote at Drupal Camp Twin Cities 2011

My time at Drupal Camp Twin Cities 2011 came to a close with the keynote from Jen Lampton, “Taking Drupal Back!” Jen is the director of training for Chapter Three in San Francisco and maintains several modules on drupal.org.

My notes follow after the break.

Jen really loves Drupall! Here is why:

Why to love Drupal

She thinks it’s really fun. If you like Legos, you will like Drupal, because you get to put together a bunch of building blocks.
Drupal is empowering. It puts real power in the hands of small organizations. Organizations can update their own sites using Drupal.
You can do almost anything in Drupal.
Fast to develop
We can stay on the cutting edge but don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.
The way we all work together is huge. Lots of amazing people who like to share.


What are the troubles that lie ahead for Drupal?
Size of community
The Drupal community doubles in size with each release. However, the ways we work together do not necessarily scale in that way, such as IRC chats.
Learning curve
Learning curve is steep at the beginning, then it levels off and seems easy. Then you realize you were doing everything wrong, and it gets very steep again. How do we reduce that learning curve?
Hard to use
The more features we add to Drupal, the harder it is to use.
Hard to understand the code
Scary to look at all the code for new users
Lots of money is coming into Drupal. Lots of jobs. Lot of people are starting to work with Drupal, but many are doing things wrong and competing in unhealthy ways. What if a big-player comes in and hires a bunch of people to steer Drupal in a particular way? Particularly since Drupal grew out of the little guys.
Quality decreasing?
There are a lot of really poorly created Drupal sites out there. When people see these and have a bad experience, they get turned off from Drupal.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Drupal.org redesign
Looks prettier for sure. May be more difficult for developers to use: hopefully that will imrpove.
Migrating Drupal to Git gives us a lot more flexibility in how we work together.
Community building tools
The conference organizing distribution is one example of putting great tools in the hand of community.
Developer tools
Pantheon created developer tools so you don’t have to be a system administrator to work with Drupal, because they built a user interface to help make tasks easy.
Usability studies
We are working ot understand what is difficult with Drupal, and how we can make it easier.
Training improves our quality level.
Making noise
Jen is working to try to make code easier to understand. Developers might not like this, but this will lower the barrier of entry to Drupal.

What can we do?

Contributing does not necessarily mean writing code! Lots of ways to help.
Join the community
Make friends.
Tell people how awesome Drupal is and that you are using Drupal.
Drupal belongs to us
There is no they. There is just us. When you get frustrated at something, remember that you can help make it better!

Idea session

Need a middle ground between modules and distributions. Distributions are great for sites with a singular focus that matches a distribution. But what about sites that have multiple functions handled by multiple distributions? Features can fill that gap, but they are not easy to find.
Podcasts are a good way to get involved with the community. Lullabot and Mustard Seed Media are good Drupal podcasts.
Support at drupal.org
Do we need forum usage more than IRC? How do we capture the knowledge that is passed on through IRC? Even if it is logged, how can people possibly find the logs about a particular issue?
Drupal modules
Difficult to understand which modules to use. People turn to DrupalModules.com which has ratings that are not available on drupal.org, but the advice and ratings are not always good. How do we give more information on drupal.org about modules so people can decide whether or not to use them? Would also be good if people could somehow register what modules are turned in on their sites
Initiatives listing
Challenging to find intiatives that are being worked on in Drupal and how to get involved.
Webinars at conferences
How do we find them?
Making it easier to contribute
Give people tools so they can get involved in contributing
Sharing info
How can people know that new content is available, for example if new tutorials are added to drupal.org
Hard to figure out which theme to use. Tag with terms in multiple vocabularies that can be searched on to filter down themes? Could we do that with modules?
A lot of people search for modules, but get forum posts about modules before the modules themselves in the search results. Better ways to prioritize results.
How do we give kudos to people for doing documentation? Raise the status so that it honored as developing is.
Gamification and ratings
Give out badges for participation to get people involved in contributing. Have to be smart about how you give out achivements so people do useful things not just junk activity. Can you use something like this to build reputation? Does this discourage somebody new from getting their ideas heard? Are people less likely to challenge the ideas of somebody who is ranked as a pro? Should we allow rating up or down for proposed solutions, so that the good floats to the top? Other sites out there have solved issues like rating products, Amazon, or sellers, Ebay.
Was this page useful?
Add a simple yes-no/was this page useful rating to pages in Drupal so we can figure out what needs to be improved.
Chat room eavesdropping
Put a chat room out there where some experts can talk about a particular subject and why it is good. People can listen in and get excited and educated. Might not be scalable. Need to be careful about who is selected.

My take

The first part of the talk was a very inspiring look at what is great about Drupal, what are some challenges Drupal faces and how are some ways we can tackle them.

In the second part, we all shared ideas about how to how to make Drupal better.

Both were pretty empowering. A great way to finish DrupalCamp!