Way to Lille: How TDT Remotely Covered DrupalCon Lille 2023

DrupalCon Lille
DrupalCon Lille

Looking from over 5,000 miles away in a small state in the southern part of India, Lille and DrupalCon Europe seemed like an unfathomable journey. Covering DrupalCon Lille without our team being physically available at the venue presented a substantial challenge. Our initial step at The DropTimes was to devise a plan to address this hurdle.

Primary Connections

Fortunately, Cécilia Levy and Michaela Jurčeková of Kuoni Tumlare came to our aid. Through productive conversations and planning with the Kuoni Tumlare Congress, we set the course for The DropTimes to become a Media Partner at DrupalCon Lille 2023.

In a fruitful conversation headed by our Community Strategist, Tarun Udayaraj, with Baddy Sonja Breidert from 1xINTERNET, she connected us with Imre Gmelig Meijing and Surabhi Gokte from Axelerant. Imre, who heads the Marketing and Outreach Committee and is also a member of the Executive Committee of DrupalCon Lille, answered our team's needs in sourcing content. Surabhi Gokte provided guidance and allocated us two volunteers, the best we could have hoped for. Marine Gandy and Nicolas Loye, President and Treasurer of Drupal France, gave us a proper outlook of Lille, including the locations and exquisite menus to explore while in Lille, our virtual tour guides! Meanwhile, our Community Manager Ben Peter Mathew built a bridge with AmyJune Hineline who later helped us with photos of the mentoring event. 

The DropTimes was determined to promote all the sessions of DrupalCon Lille, especially the must-attend sessions on various Drupal initiatives. Our sub-editor, Alka Elizabeth, rounded up 16 sessions to attend to discover the path ahead for Drupal and your opportunity to shape it.

Volunteers Assigned

Anushri Kumari from OpenSense Lab and Binny Thomas from Axelerant worked tirelessly behind the scenes, dedicating their time and energy to ensure that DrupalCon was captured in all its glory through their words and cameras. 

Stories We Reported

The day before, we received immense support from amazee.io in learning about the ComposableNOW event. The half-day event that preceded DrupalCon Lille occurred at the Lille Grand Palais in France. This technical-focused program featured discussions, demos, and technical talks on the latest advancements in Drupal, decoupled web technology, and composable architectures.

On the first day of DrupalCon Europe, October 17, 2023, our schedule was tightly packed, and our minds were brimming with anticipation. Months of planning, coordination, and effort were finally to be paid off. Our volunteers attending the grand event diligently updated each session unveiled on the stages of Lille Grand Palais. The DropTimes judiciously reported each input at an unprecedented pace. 

The announcement of the Women in Drupal Award and the much-deliberated Driesnote were captured in all their essence. The awards acknowledged standout contributors such as Tiffany Farriss, Marine Gandy, and Lenny Moskalyk for their exceptional projects, reinforcing the community's commitment to diversity and excellence. The Driesnote, guised in a fable, was critically dissected by our Chief Editor, Sebin A. Jacob for our readers to discuss the technological developments in Drupal, championing the Open Web, marketing, and ease of use.

Further, the sessions of DrupalCon Lille portrayed a diverse arena of topics to contemplate and learn from. The four keynote sessions, including that of the Driesnote, remained prominent throughout the four-day event, and TDT was careful enough to emulate the content to our readers. In one of the sessions, Andrea Ostheer from Jägermeister and Arush Kochhar from KitKat discussed how Drupal played a pivotal role in enhancing their digital presence. Andrea Ostheer, in a candid conversation with our Community Manager, Ben Peter Mathew enhanced our articles with direct comments. In a not-so-technical keynote, the former Royal Air Force squadron leader and helicopter pilot Sarah Furness delivered on the leadership theme. The final keynote delved into the Drupal Core lead initiatives.

On its second day, DrupalCon Lille hosted the significant Local Drupal Regions & Associations Round Table, serving as a platform for local Drupal associations and Drupal region leads to meet and exchange impediments, ideas, learnings, and best practices. This initiative, which The DropTimes (TDT) wishes to call an "i18n-l10n" initiative, aims to create a consistent and modern Drupal 9 codebase and theme that can be utilized by various local associations worldwide, ensuring a unified and positive first impression for users evaluating Drupal. The live presence of Anushri Kumari at the roundtable and the conversation of Binny Thomas with Esmeralda Tijhoff transformed into a holistic culmination of visual and verbal content about the session.

Looking back, TDT infers that the discussions at DrupalCon Lille revolved around innovation in Drupal, its current status, and its future direction. The intersection of AI and Drupal piqued the interest of many participants, with discussions on how AI is assisting marketers and content editors and enhancing search capabilities. DrupalCon Lille also stands as a testament to the Drupal community's commitment to fostering a culture of authenticity, diversity, and inclusivity. A handful of sessions dealt with the subjects of inclusivity and diversity, and Elma John, our sub-editor, covered the personal story of Mathieu De Meue, a Drupal Developer coping with Tourette's syndrome. Inspirational stories from individuals like Esmeralda Braad-Tijhoff, who used free, accessible Drupal training to transform her life and career, also added to the splendor.

On the third day of DrupalCon Lille, it held surprises capable of shaping the future of the Drupal Community. The Drupal Association announced the newest elected member, Fei Lauren, along with three additional new members of the Association, namely Imre Gmelig Meijing, Lenny Moskalyk, and Piyush Poddar. The Association bid farewell to three outgoing board members who had significantly contributed to both Drupal and the Drupal community. Mike Herchel, Ryan Szrama, and Board Chair Baddý Sonja Breidert received heartfelt gratitude for their dedicated service during the Public Board Meeting.

Help from Organizations

The DropTimes received generous support from several companies, including SparkFabrik, SearchStax, amazee.io, Valuebound, and QED42, for comprehensive coverage of DrupalCon Lille. A SystemSeed Birds of a Feather (BoF) session was dedicated to enhancing the user-friendliness of Drupal's admin interface, offering insights into the ongoing efforts to improve Drupal's usability. Simon Georges from Makina Corpus shed light on user experience (UX) progress within the Drupal community, while Sameer Maggon from SearchStax comprehensively covered the role of Generative AI in site search.

SparkFabrik delved into Software Security and Developer Onboarding across many sessions, which our sub-editor Kazima Abbaz craftfully curated in collaboration with the company. Suchi Garg from Salsa Digital introduced an innovative approach to Rules as Code (RaC), simplifying access to government benefits and entitlements. RaC, in conjunction with the OpenFisca engine integrated into a Drupal site, offers a solution to navigate the complex world of government regulations. The session, led by Jose Nieves and Christoph Breidert, CEO at 1xINTERNET, unveiled a solution to elevate search functionality with Drupal Search API.

The event was not all business, as it featured community-building activities. The Opening Reception on Day 1, the Belgian Night tradition, and the Trivia Night sponsored by Zoocha rekindled the spirit of connections within the Drupal Community outside of intellectual sessions and workshops. On the final day of DrupalCon Lille, a live core contribution summit took place, where our volunteer, Binny Thomas, personally gained a core credit.

DrupalCon Lille concluded with anticipation as the figurative torch was passed to Barcelona, which will host DrupalCon Europe in 2024.

Breadth of Coverage

As we reflect on this experience, we at The DropTimes have published around 150 articles on DrupalCon Lille throughout all phases of this global event. We were not hesitant to reach out to all the mediums that helped us to make a comprehensive coverage of the event. However, more than 15% of all the content we published was independent features that culminated as the result of diligent planning, timely intervention, and constant networking. 

We acknowledge that there is still much room for improvement. As DrupalCon Portland approaches and DrupalCon Barcelona follows, The DropTimes will burn both ends of the candle to serve our readers with first-hand information about these global events with live reporting.

Hopefully, with more volunteers and possibly not remotely, TDT will cross the threshold of our limitations to equip our arsenal for better journalistic experiences. We eagerly anticipate more exciting partnerships and projects in the days to come, with the involvement of both our devoted readers and the broader Drupal community. We extend our gratitude to all who contributed to making DrupalCon Lille 2023 an unforgettable and extraordinary experience!

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