The Need for Knowledge-Level Labeling for DrupalCon Sessions and Other Stuff

A Recap of DrupalCon Prague 2022
A slide presentation from the session on LocalGov Drupal and DrupalCon Prague 2022

Everybody was super hyped for the first in-person DrupalCon in Europe since DrupalCon Amsterdam in 2019. Did DrupalCon Prague 2022 meet the expectations? 

The Attendees

DrupalCon attracts visitors with a broad range of backgrounds: from junior to senior developers, code contributors, UX people, marketing people, CTO’s and company owners… People from all over the world attended. A considerable amount of attendees came from Germany and the US. The diversity was noticeable on the floor and in the program.

This year witnessed the first ever ‘Women in Drupal Award’ ceremony at DrupalCon. We are excited to report that the rewards will stay and become a yearly event.

Twitter- Tiffany Farriss @farriss

The organization made sure to have exciting sessions for everyone by creating tracks: Agency & Business, Clients & Industry Experiences, Makers & Builders, Open Web & Community, Users & Editors. Other categories included Contribution Topics, Sponsored Talks, and Birds of a Feature (BoF) sessions. 

It would have been helpful if the sessions were parallelly labeled based on the knowledge level, such as junior, intermediate, and senior. Unfortunately, it was not the case. Thus I ended up attending some sessions that just repeated basic stuff. Some other sessions assumed that all the attendees possessed a higher knowledge level and were packed with unfamiliar technical terms that were utterly foreign to me. While submitting sessions for a conference, it would be nice for the presenters to provide some prerequisites—such as a reading list—so the attendees won’t be unprepared.

All the people I spoke to agreed on the high level of fresh food available. The lunch was mostly vegetarian and could be extended with an option for fish. Food and drinks were available throughout the day to keep everybody energized.

Accessible

Special wristbands were available to show others if you were interested in new contacts or preferred to keep to yourself. The organization provided FFP2 masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Lifts and accessible toilets were available at the venue at each level.

A nursery room was unavailable at the venue itself, but the organizations did include directions to use a ‘Mom’s Room’ at a nearby shopping mall for those who needed to pump milk. Unfortunately, translators or sign language were not available.

As someone with sensory issues, I would like to ask the organization to adjust the keynotes slightly.

At the UX sessions, I heard the familiar talk about not using flickering images and unstoppable videos or sound. Only to be presented with just that during the keynote talks!

So stop with all the flashing fast-speed videos and lower the volume of the music and the promotional videos that are shown. I don’t want to have to stick my fingers in my ears at DrupalCon.

The Program

As mentioned before, different tracks were available, making it easier to find sessions of your interests. Multiple sessions talked about the new features that come with Drupal 10. We discussed these features in articles published on DropTimes, like the Gitlab acceleration initiativeAutomatic Updates, Project Browser, and CKEditor 5 (Part 1 & Part 2).

I want to briefly touch upon three other sessions: ‘More than Words – Localizing the User Experience’ by Chris Wu and Michael Cooper, ‘Growing and sustaining an Open Source Drupal Distribution’ by Finn Lewis, and the roundtable of local Drupal Associations and regions.

More than Words – Localizing the User Experience’ by Chris Wu and Michael Cooper

More than Words – Localizing the User Experience

In a region like Europe or a country like India, building a web application often means making a multi-language application. Multiple language applications come with very specific concerns. They should work beyond simply offering a translation of existing content. There are more factors in play that should be considered when building and maintaining a multi-language website.

Sorting Japanese text

The simple fact that languages use a different number of words when communicating the same message or use an alphabet that has characters with more width, means your design can break after translation. Your fields must be calculated for width requirements based on the languages used.

Translation ratio of word length between languages

Chris Wu also talked in depth about the use of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese languages. CJK languages can be context-specific, meaning the same character can have different meanings and pronunciations. How to sort these? And what about automatic suggestions? It makes far more sense not to offer recommendations after three additional characters, as is common in European languages, but wait till after the first use of white space.

LocalGov Drupal: Growing and Sustaining an Open Source Drupal Distribution

More and more governments are using Drupal. The use of open source is in line with the call for a transparent government. Drupal is the logical choice because it offers a safe, flexible, scalable, and robust framework with a friendly user interface for editors.

LocalGov Drupal distribution: Code on GitHub

Drupal developers and government employees have started to work together to build distributions that meet the specific needs of local governments. Distributions cost far less tax money for developing and maintaining applications and signify a steep decrease in time-to-market. One example of a successful distribution is LocalGov Drupal.

Finn Lewis talked about the process of organizing and developing LocalGov Drupal. This modular distribution is used to build websites for UK councils. It comes with in-depth documentation and dedicated communication channels. The number of people working with LocalGov Drupal forms a sub-community within the Drupal community. Lewis talked about ways to build and finance such a community and offered valuable insights for other people who want to start specific distribution and a community around it.

Roundtable of Local Drupal Associations and Regions

DrupalCon in Europe is a wonderful change for local associations to meet and discuss common challenges they face at home. The regional context varies significantly between the seven continents. European associations face vastly different political, cultural, and economic contexts.

It’s not just language barriers that make local Drupal developers and marketers struggle. The various political and cultural contexts mean they need different strategies for legal structures, getting funds, recruiting new volunteers, and promoting Drupal. The exchange of experiences and transnational help is critical to sustaining local initiatives.

There is no structural infrastructure yet for these local associations to work together, but who knows? Maybe the steps to collaborate can be extended and sustained.

Conclusion

All in all, this DrupalCon can be safely declared a big success. Next year, DrupalCon will be held in Lille, France. So please, all Drupal developers and users in France, contact the French Drupal Association to make the next DrupalCon just as great!

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This article is contributed by Esmeralda Braad-Tijhoff, a developer at DICTU where she contributes to Drupal websites for the Dutch government. She keeps a special eye out for accessibility issues and stresses the importance of inclusive designs and content to clients and colleagues.

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