ThinkShout: My First BADCamp

Planet Drupal - 6. November 2017 - 14:30

We’re fresh off of BADCamp (Bay Area Drupal Camp), and we’re eager to share our experience with you! If you’ve ever thought about going to one of the local Drupal Camps in your area, or attending BADCamp yourself, we hope our takeaways persuade you to seek this out as a professional development opportunity.

BADCamp is essentially three days of intense workshops and sessions for Drupal users to hone their skills, meet other open source contributors, and make valuable connections in the community. Amongst the ThinkShout team, two had never attended BADCamp before. We were eager to hear their perspective on the conference and their key takeaways.

Sessions they attended ranged from learning about component-based theming tools, object oriented php, module development, debugging JavaScript; to Drupal 9 and backward compatibility and the importance of upgrading to D8 now.

Let’s hear from Mario and Lui–I mean Amy and Jules, on what their first BADCamp experience was like!

Amy and Jules on Halloween. Costumes are not required at BADCamp.

What did you learn at BADCamp?

Amy: Component-based theming is a hot topic these days for those building sites due to a number of reasons. Here are a couple of them:

  • It encourages a DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) and more organized theming code base.
  • It decouples site building in such a way that backend and frontend developers can work on the site at the same time, rather than the backend code needing to be built first before the frontend developer can do their work.
  • It provides clients with an interactive experience of their site (including responsiveness) before the database and backend elements are hooked up to it. This allows the client more time to provide feedback in case they want to change behaviors before they’re completely built.

I also attended a session called: React, GraphQL, and Drupal. This talk was largely about an opportunity to create multiple suites using the same API. The team used “headless Drupal” (to serve as the API), React.js to build the sites, and GraphQL to explore data coming from the API in a much more direct and clear way. It seemed like a great solution for a tricky problem, in addition to giving this team the opportunity to learn and use cutting edge technologies - so much fun!

Jules: I learned a lot about the Drupal Community. This was my first BADCamp, and also my first Drupal conference. I was excited about how generous the community is with knowledge and tools, working together so we can succeed together.

I learned about some of the changes to Drupal releases from @Webchick’s talk (Drupal 9 and Backward Compatibility: Why Now is the Time to Upgrade to Drupal 8). If I keep up with the incremental point releases (ie: 8.x), upgrading to 9 should be pretty painless, which is a relief. Knowing the incremental releases will be coming out with a regular six month-ish cadence will make planning easier. I’m also excited about the new features in the works; including Layouts, Work Spaces, a better out of the box experience on first install, a better UI admin experience (possibly with React?).

What would you tell someone who is planing to attend BADCamp next year?

Amy: Definitely invest in attending the full-day sessions if they interest you. The information I took away from my Pattern Lab day was priceless, and I came back to ThinkShout excited and empowered to figure out a way to make component based theming part of our usual practice.

Jules: The full day sessions were a great way to dive into deeper concepts. It’s hard to fully cover a subject in a shorter session. It also helps to show up with an open mind. It’s impossible to know everything about Drupal, and there are so many tools available. It was valuable just meeting people and talking to them about their workflows, challenges, and favorite new tools.

Do you consider BADCamp to be better for networking, professional development, or both?

Amy: My big focus was on professional development. There were so many good training days and sessions happening that those filled my schedule almost entirely. Of course, attending sessions (and being a session speaker!) is a great way to network with like-minded people too.

Jules: My goal was to immerse myself in the Drupal community. Since I’m new to Drupal, the sessions were really valuable for me. Returning with more experience, that might not be the case. It was valuable to see new ideas being presented, challenged, discussed, and explored with mutual respect and support. We’re all in this together. Some talks were stronger than others, but every speaker had a nugget of gold I could take with me. It was encouraging to meet peers and to see all of the great work people are doing out in the world. It also served as a reminder that great strides can come from many small steps (or pushes)!

Make time to learn

It can be difficult to take time away from project work and dedicate yourself to two or three days of conferencing. But when you disconnect and dive into several days of leaning, it makes your contributions back at the office invaluable. As Jules commented to me after her first day of sessions, “it was like php church!”

Getting out of your usual environment and talking to other people opens your mind up to other ways of problem solving, and helps you arrive at solutions you otherwise wouldn’t get through sitting in your cubicle. We hope you’re inspired to go to a local Drupal Meetup or Camp – or even better, meet us at DrupalCon or NTC’s Drupal Day!

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heise online Newsticker - 6. November 2017 - 12:00
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heise online Newsticker - 6. November 2017 - 7:00
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