DrupalCamp Athens 2010: A Review

DrupalCamp Athens 2010, the yearly meeting of the greek Drupal community, took place on December 11-12. Surrounded by a rare spell of snow, more than 100 members of the community gathered in the Greek capital for a chance to witness more than 30 presentations, network and exchange experience and technical expertise.

The event covered a wide range of topics, from introductions to the platform and business and marketing issues all the way to strictly technical matters. Three invited guests from the international community were present, while there were plenty of presentations from local Drupal shops and greek freelancers.

Point Blank was actively involved in organising the event and took the opportunity to prepare several presentation sessions. We are now back in Thessaloniki, quite satisfied with the results of the event, and after the jump we are happy to report on what happened during this December's "Drupal weekend!"

Preparation

The idea to co-organise the DrupalCamp began in August inside of DrupalCon Copenhagen, where we had the chance to meet in person with Nektarios Sylligardakis of Eresus, who had coordinated the organisation of the previous greek meetings. With the enthusiasm from the international meeting still very fresh, we dediced to advance to the organisation of a strong event fro the greek community, in order to exchange knowledge and strengthen the bonds between us.

Around the middle of this autumn a call went out to all the greek community. There was considerable response from several people. Thus, George Papadoggonas from Infoworders, Giannis Doxaras from niobiumlabs, Dimitris Tsiodoulos and Vangelis Mouratidis from yourwebheroes.com, Alexis Panagopoulos, Stefanos Boglou, Spiros Diamantis, George Papageorgiou and Nektarios Sylligardakis from eresus as well as Kostas Kourakis, David Bash, Tasos Koutsofavas, Sotiris Gekas and Stelios Kourakis from Point Blank took on the big task of co-organising the event.

Physical distance was not an issue - we enlisted all tools technology offers us to organise the site, the program, all promotional material, the publicity of the event as well as the sponshorships that allowed us to invite three international speakers.

First Day

Saturday started early, hosting the sessions of general interest as well as the majority of the keynotes of the events. It is worth to briefly go over the main topics of the keynotes:

Christoforos Korakas of the European Commission presented his work using Drupal to reorganise the information management of the immense european institution. In the recent past, the organisation managed its knowledge using a multitude of different unrelated informational systems that did not communicate with each other, complicating an already large bureaucracy. The choice of Drupal as the interconnection platform managed to bridge the different systems, offering a unified, stable and secure infrastructure for knowledge management.

Robert Douglass from Acquia talked about the use of Drupal in Business. He analysed different business models that can be developed around the Drupal platform, distinguishing two main fields: Value Added Resellers as well as Software as a Service business models. He explained how Drupal forms a solid base for business practices in both types of business. His presentation offered lots of concentrated wisdom and was judged as extremely interesting by the majority of the participants.

Amitai Burstein of Gizra.com opened the evening sessions by presenting a series of useful tools for Drupal developers that aim to optimise the Drupal production and theming processes.


From left to right: Christoforos Korakas, Robert Douglass, Amitai Burstein

The rest of the day's presentations covered a wide range of general interest issues, leaving the more technologically-oriented topics for the following day. On our behalf, we took part in two presentations. First, David Bash with Panos Ladas presented Search Engine Optimisation practices, and did a hands-on demonstration on increasing the conference website's page rank. Kostas Kourakis closed Saturday's sessions by presenting the Drupal community translation tools, inviting the participants to collaborate in completing the translation of the new version of the Drupal platform, about to be released shortly.

Second Day

Sunday December 12th hosted the main body of the presentations. Due to the high number of topics we had two tracks running concurrently on each floor of the venue. This day's presentation where more technical and in-depth, going into programming and functionality. We had a chance to see specific case studies of demanding Drupal projects, discuss performance, security and cloud deployment, participate in tech workshops and share practical advice on concrete issues of interest to the community.

The only keynote of the day saw Amitai Burstein again onstage, despite the sore throat he inherited from the freezing cold. He presented the next steps of the Organic Groups Module going into Drupal 7, an amazing tool that makes it easier to develop social and community websites.

On behalf of Point Blank, we presented a series of case studies where we had to bring Drupal beyond what it was built to handle. We explained the way we use Drupal to manage content and power Flash sites, and we also explained our proposals about the tools needed to administer Drupal websites for non-technical users.

It is worth mentioning the open discussion we had near the end of the day, where everyone was given the chance to introduce themselves, explaining their interest on Drupal as well as the goals they had when coming to the event. As was to be expected, many people met others of similar interests that we hope will mark a beginning of long collaborations.


 The presentation of Point Blank's showcase

Conclusions and Future Goals

Though the organisation of the event happened in a very limited amount of time, we consider it to be a highly successful event. The comments of the participants were thoroughly positive, the presentations covering a wide range of issues. Our invited guests noted that the event was at an international level, comparable to events organised by other european meetings where the community there is many times our size.

We hold the success of this event as a base, with the intention to surpass ourselves next year! There are always things we can improve. We highlighted the following issues for consideration:

  • We need a greater amount of presentations in english. The community is quite comfortable with the use of english, and the presence of a big number of english sessions could allow for more international attention and participation of the wider Drupal family.
     
  • The event's promotion demands more time so that it can reach all interested parties.
     
  • There is a need for more presentations that go beyond technical matters and cover issues around business, marketing, design and services. Drupal is much more that a tool to make websites, it is a fully fledged knowledge management system that must be promoted beyond the technical community.

 

To close, we extend our thanks to everyone that participated in the event! We renew our commitment for the coming events of the community:

  • On January 7th we have the Drupal 7 launch party - the new version of the platform will be celebrated across the globe, and we will surely have happenings on our side.
     
  • In the end of January we have DrupalCamp Sofia, the first meetup of the Bulgarian community. We are already in contact with the neighbours' organisational committee, who have extended an open invitation for participation.

 

Finally let us thank all the sponsors of the event (Microsoft, Acquia, ΕΔΕΕ Digital και PC Magazine) for their support, without which the DrupalCamp organisation would have been an altogether different matter.

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