DrupalCamp London 2019

DrupalCamp LondonOn the weekend of 2nd and 3rd March I went down to London to attend DrupalCamp London 2019. This weekend I went with 9 other colleagues from Access, which is almost certainly our biggest company outing to a camp.


Saturday began with Rowan Merewood (@rowan_m) who gave the opening keynote. He went into how building stuff for the internet is hard and showed an example of the first thing he built for the internet in the early 2000s. This was a perl script that saved the output of a form to an address book, but was built in such a naive way that anyone could post whatever they wanted into the page and it would save. He's obviously come a long way since then.

Rowan then showed a project called httparchive.org, which showed statistics of the top 10 million sites on the internet. Out of this there were about 95,000 Drupal sites so Rowan showed the difference between the average site and the average Drupal site (all versions). Drupal was either either on par or slightly worse than the rest of the sites, but it was fun to try and guess. Some of the statistics mentioned were part of Chrome Lighthouse, which we had a quick introduction to. He finished off by saying that apps and websites are dead, and looked at the usefulness of progressive web apps and how they improve the user experience of mobile internet.

I've seen Rowan talk for years at PHP conferences (mainly PHPNW) so seeing him talk again was a real pleasure. I was also able to catch up with him once or twice during the day.

After a quick coffee I went to see Robert Castelo (@robertcastelo) with his imaginatively titled talk Cache Me If You Can! This was a top down look at all levels of cache that can be applied to a Drupal site. I had been looking into cache tags and cache contexts just the week before and it was good to get a better understanding of that part of Drupal. 

Next up was Tatár Balázs János (@tatarbj) with Let’s write secure Drupal code! As I walked into the room I saw that red and green paper had been placed on every table. The talk itself was interesting, but perhaps the best thing was that Tatár showed some code examples and we had to vote on if we thought they were secure or insecure. The examples consisted of access bypass, SQL injections and JavaScript injection attacks. More importantly, each example was broken down into why that was a problem and how to solve it. A brilliant idea and very well executed.

After lunch I went to my won session called Getting Into Drupal 8 Configuration. By all accounts the session was very well received and I had some very encouraging responses.

At this point there was a bit of a mix up in the schedule. One of the sessions I wanted to attend was unfortunately cancelled due to the speaker not turning up. So I went along to another sessions, which was also cancelled. So instead of going to a session I went to find a cup of coffee and chat to some of the other delegates.

Finally on the Saturday was Nicolas Borda (@ipwa) with Visual Regression Testing on Patterns. This was a look at what Patterns are and how to go about testing them. The main took in use here was BackstopJS and Nicolas showed how this could be used to show when things were different. The differences between CSS in patterns were seen as failures, which seems strange, but makes sense when you realise that it is trying to test for regressions and not conformance to a design.


For the social we went down the road to the Blacksmith And The Toffeemaker. This has been the conference social venue for a few years now, and it's a really nice place. Not the biggest pub in the world (especially when hundreds of attendees head over there all at once), but the beer is great and the company is even better.


Sunday started out with Preston So (@prestonso), who talked about Decontextualise Your Content. This was a very well thought out analysis of how content can change it's context when displayed in different situations. For example, when a page of content is shown on Drupal it will have page titles, blocks, menus and breadcrumbs. What that page is fetched via an API all those page decoration elements might be missing, so it's important to think about how the context might change. This talk made a lot of sense, and plugged into something I have been planning with a client recently. Really good analysis of the subject. 

Next up was Low Hanging Fruit: Identifying and Fixing Front-end Performance Issues, with Mike Herchel (@mikeherchel). Mike took us through a look at a couple of real world sites using the audit tool in Google Chrome to inspect their performance. He showed some common problems and how to go about solving those issues. A really good talk, if only judging by the fact that I wrote nearly 3 pages of notes.

After another quick coffee (I drank a LOT of coffee this weekend) I went to see Heather Burns (@WebDevLaw) and Jamie Abrahams (@Yautja_Cetanu) with their talk Better Together, The Open Web Privacy Working Group. This was an introduction to what the group is doing and what their overall goals are. We were also taken through what is being done in Drupal and how things might progress in the future. It was really interesting to see how different platforms (WordPress, Joomla etc) are approaching this issue and how Drupal compares to them. It can be really hard to get dual speaking right, but Heather and Jamie really did a good job here.

The final keynote of the weekend was with Sally Young (@justafish), who took us through the Drupal administration UI and the JavaScript modernisation initiative. We had Sally as a speaker a few months ago at one of the NWDUG meetups so it was good see the progress made and thoughts made behind the scenes. I think I need to get more into React as it is clearly getting more and more prevalent in the Drupal world.

Overall, the camp was a lot of fun. It's always good to go to the DrupalCamp London to see the amazing selection of talks, but I also made an effort this year to introduce myself to more people and to say 'hi' to anyone that I recognised or who looked like they were alone. As a consequence I met some really cool people and had some really interesting conversations.

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