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The Second Time Around: DrupalCon Baltimore 2017

Flying home to the USA is always a great feeling, but for this trip to DrupalCon Baltimore, for the first time, there was also that exciting but slightly nervous feeling of knowing that my presentation time was almost here. I have found that, although it is important to rehearse your presentation, it never comes out the same way twice.

The tips that I can give to fellow-presenters are just to frequently review your slides and know what you have planned to say during each slide. Also, remember to have fun. It amazes me that there are people who are so clever at presenting that they can even make something like issue queues sound funny, and the points they make really stick. As a presenter, this is intimidating, but I just try to watch and learn.

The Baltimore Conference Center is not as new as the one in DrupalCon Dublin 2016, but it has a lot of space and several huge exhibit halls. The Monday morning registration went quickly and easily, followed by the opening speeches, keynote address, other speeches, and then the presentations began. The food was great, the coffee kept flowing along with a never-ending supply of chocolate cookies and lemon pound cake.

Diving into DrupalCon

Tuesday was spent preparing for my talk on Wednesday, with some DevOps talks that focus on Development and integrations. Although I did get a party invitation from a Baltimore company that helped with my presentation, I thought it would be a better idea to continue going through my slides in preparation for the next day’s presentation.

Wednesday morning was spent in nervous expectation. One thing that helps calm the nerves is the mellow and polite nature of the DrupalCon crowd. From all the presentations I have seen, there has never been any kind of big disagreement between speaker and audience, a fact I like to attribute to the extremely practical nature of what Drupal is and does: there is no room for theory here, your idea either works or does not. In the evening I did a lot of mingling at the Sponsor VIP event at the Convention Center after the presentations were finished for the day.

Fighting the Demo Effect at Presentation Time

A huge and potentially incredibly embarrassing demo effect problem occurred when neither I, the following speaker, nor the Drupal Association guy in charge of the room could figure out how to get the slides to appear on the screen in the presentation room. A few minutes before I was supposed to speak, a Convention Center worker came and notice that a certain plug in a long strip underneath a table had come out, so that avoided having to try and do a presentation without any visuals. I suppose it is possible, but the slides record your main points.

The room started to get more and more crowded, to my huge surprise, with all the seats taken and people sitting on the floor. At some point, you have to just start talking and try to turn the session into a big conversation.

The Last Days of DrupalCon Baltimore

I spent Thursday watching the remainder of the DevOps presenters as well as a PHPUnit presentation that concentrated on the basics of PHPUnit. It was a relaxing day since I already presented, so I could just relax and watch others present. In the afternoon it really hit me that DrupalCon Baltimore was almost over and I needed to fly back soon, but the good part was knowing that this was another nice Drupal-oriented conference done.

Friday morning was spent in first-time sprints and learning how and what to contribute, and where the greatest need for contribution is for the present. The answer is documentation! The sprint person I talked to stated that general documentation was one of the biggest weaknesses in Drupal, and that everyone associated with Drupal can contribute and improve.

New Topics and Destinations

The closing presentations showed how many people attended, around 3,200 and how much coffee was served, WiFi consumed, food eaten, and other numbers. They also had a great presentation looking forward to the next DrupalCon in Vienna later this fall. They also announced that the DrupalCon after that will be in Nashville. Both are big music cities, different genres of course, maybe even at the opposite ends of the music spectrum, but I think the spirit is the same.

Time to start thinking about new presentation topics.

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