April 2017

MidCamp 2017

Greetings Drupalers,

 Once again is has been a while (OUCH! It’s been 7 months) since I last made a post here.  That is because, unfortunately, I have been divorced from Drupal for the last 6 months.  It was not of my doing, but there are those times that the real world steps in and dictates one’s priorities, and taking a contract position to do phone support in the Networking field does pull one away. 

As of now I might be done with this project which will mean I can devote more effort back to Drupal.  Luckily this has coincided with Drupal MidCamp which was held at DePaul University from March 30 to April 2.  Because it started on Thursday I was unable to attend any of the all-day training sessions but because I have Fridays off I was able to attend the regular sessions on Friday and Saturday, as well as a Sprint session on Sunday.

This last year was a lean year for me as far as attending Drupal events (the previous year I was able to attend a couple more local camps and Meetups which was good for me).  Initially I was feeling like a fish out of water because a Drupal Camp is quite different from other meeting I have attended. But after having been involved with Drupal for 3 ½ years and being involved in the community for a couple of them, I found myself  starting to recognize faces and people (in spite of my somewhat mild case of Face Blindness, thanks 60 Minutes). 

The Keynote I found especially interesting because just before getting de-railed by my latest contract position I began having conversation with some of the older community members about how difficult it had become to make that next step.  Going from one who is well familiar with spinning up a Drupal site, making basic customizations to it but lacking the experience and exposure to how “Drupal Business” is carried out.  Being exposed to the ins & outs to help one feel confident enough to take that next step up the ladder.

From my own perspective, I am very weary of jumping into something without being confident in my abilities.  To me it is that confidence that is more important than the amount of knowledge one possesses.  It is that confidence that tell you that you WILL find the solution no matter how deep or difficult a problem you are facing and that confidence comes from knowing and understanding the basics, and, for me, feeling that I fit into the situation I am in.  This is the part that has been the most difficult for me.

Many in the community have been in it for many more years than I have been.  As will any discipline there is a language to be learned, and Drupal has.  The difficulty with being new and inexperienced is the lack of introduction to what all the terms are, what they mean, and where they fit in the scheme of things.

I do realize we can look all these terms up on our own, but if you think back there is a frozen moment in being new where you are like a deer in headlights, you see the car coming but you can’t move until it’s too late.  So let me get back to the keynote.

The keynote was given by Emma Karayiannis who spoke great lengths how the community needs to get better at nurturing and encouraging those who are new to the community. How we need to increase mentoring and bring people along to encourage more people contributing to the Community.  You can listen to the keynote here.

I found myself not real invested in the presentations, probably because I have been away for so long, but one presentation did stick with me and that presentation was not so much about Drupal, but was more about the Drupal/Tech Community and Society at large.  Unfortunately the session was only 45 minute so the presented only had enough time to scratch the issue but this issue is so important a full weekend seminar could be devoted to this subject and it would only be a start.  The session was presented by Chris Rooney and it was titled “Whitewashed – Drupal’s Diversity Problem and How to Solve It”

All in all it was a worthwhile presentation but there was not enough time to do it justice.  There was one thing I did not agree with in his presentation.  He went through a slide where he asks “Whose Problem Is This Anyway”, the context of this had to do with how to increase diversity.  The slide asks:

Whose Problem Is This Anyway?

  • Human Resources?
  • Staffing Agency?
  • Business Development?
  • EVERYONE

In my opinion it should have been YOU instead of EVERYONE.  I feel that by saying it’s up to everyone we have a tendency to not take action, to leave it to others, but by pointing out that it is your problem it makes for the message that we have to own it individually and let’s face it, problems having to do with race and diversity is best combated on an individual basis.  By people taking on the cause themselves rather than waiting to let some unknown entity to try to fix it for us.

Now to move forward to Sunday which was MidCamp’s Sprint Day.  Sprinting is where members of the Community get together to work on issues having to do with Drupal that can range from correcting Documents to working on software patches to correct issues with the code.  I have has a Hate-Hate relationship with Sprinting over the years.  I have ALWAYS felt like a fish out of water when it comes to “sprinting”, mostly because I feel TOTALLY inadequate to contribute. 

This feeling of inadequacy is pretty normal, after all, for a Software/Webdesigner/never-did-anything-like-this-before-ever-in-my-lfe person, I might as well be in outer-Mongolia looking for a hood ornament for a Tesla. I just have this feeling of futility.  So after going through the Sprint Orientation (which was very helpful but still did not leave me with a warm-fuzzy about Sprinting) I went into the main room where the “experienced” Sprinters were. There were several tables setup for various disiplines, Core, Commerce, & Documentation.  I sat down at the Commerce table because I do host a Commerce Site and I figured I might be able to get a feel for how well Commerce is coming along in Drupal 8 (it is in beta and according to Matt there are 6-8 production sites on it).  I ended up sitting next to Matt Glaman who is a developer at CommerceGuys. I’m indebted to Matt as he made that Sprint the best one I had ever experienced.  I told him I was new and he showed me a lot of patience and he also engaged several others at the table to help me get my setup to work. (At previous sprints I ended up spending most of my time trying to get my laptop working which takes all the fun out of it).

Ahead of time (I was up until 1am messing with Drupal VM trying to figure out how it works and on Friday I got Acquia Dev Desktop working on my laptop in anticipation for Sprinting on Sunday) I installed the environments I thought I would need and when I sat down with everyone found that they had other setups but I did get working in record time (for me).  Matt sensed my panic but had just the job for me.  He had me go through the Drupal Commerce Docs to check it against an actual setup, mine.  I was pleased with myself and felt productive when I found several things that needed rewording and one place where the logic did not flow right.  

This was a new experience for me and the act fd “sprinting”.  So now I have 3 edits credited to me on GitHub. I guess this now means I’m “OFFICIALLY” a Drupaler now that there are edits contributed in my name.

How do I feel about Sprinting now?  Well, I did vow to try to get more involved in the community, and other than Meetups, another was is to become more active in doing sprints.  I suspect even after this breakthrough it will be difficult for me but then again without pain there is no gain.

See you at the Sprints!