Changes to the venue, format, and topics of future NOVA meet-ups

jwalpole's picture

Hi All, I wanted to share the results of the feedback we've received from the group about changes to the venue, format, and topics of future NOVA meet-ups.

After collecting a lot of feedback and having several discussions with our friends at WorthPoint, who organized our first meet-ups and have provided us with most of our topics and leadership to date, we have decided to try some new things. Going forward, we are entertaining the creation of two co-operating groups:

1) This group becomes more of traditional Drupal Meet-up format that focuses heavily on Drupal related technology and implementation topics.

2) A soon to be formed forum that will address "How Drupal meets the needs of companies from start up to Fortune 50". More on this second exciting development will be announced later this week by Marc and Andy.

Here are the proposed ideas. Please give us your feedback!


We have received a lot of feedback that the TeqCorner , while very amenable to a large formal presentation format, does not provide a fully accessible location for the current (or potential) membership of this group. Also, several people have advocated a more casual location that offers food/drink for sale on-site. We would like to make the following recommendations culled from group sentiment and now ask for more feedback:

* Suggest that meetings be held at a metro accessible location.
* Suggest that meetings happen in a more central location such as Arlington, which is central to DC & NOVA (i.e. Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, Tysons)
* Suggest that meetings be held at a public location with food/drink.
* Suggest that meetings be held the first Wednesday of every month (to accommodate conflicts already identified).

A series of venues are being explored and contacted now along Wilson/Clarendon blvds on metro stops (i.e. Rosslyn Courthouse, Clarendon, and Ballston) We would like the next meeting to be held Wednesday, October 1st so this really should be nailed down soon!


Format is critical to having a good meet up and our group clearly wants a balance between one large topic that lasts 1-2 hours and micro topics (of 5 minutes). Both formats have pros and cons, but we want to try something that balances the two for this particular group. There has been a lot of debate about the pressures of coming up with a single topic that can draw and hold the attention of a diverse group. Also, the pressure to make sure there always is a strong, well prepared topic changes the dynamic a bit and does hurt sustainability and group participation. The DC meet-ups have always countered these issues with lots of informal, very short topics usually of a very technical nature. We were hearing interest in something in between for the future. So here is an idea...

* Try to gather volunteer speakers in advance to cover 2 - 3 topics per event @ roughly 15-20 minutes per topic
* Each topic includes a short presentation (roughly 15 minutes) followed by Q&A (strongly encouraged)
* We rotate topics b/w ones that appeal to different audiences so no one sits through something that is too long and also not applicable (more on that below). 


Again, we are seeking a balance that helps to grow this group (hopefully to several hundred this year) and to speak to the diversity of our group. We want to have a range of topics that will attract Current Drupal Users, Potential Drupal Adopters, Drupal Developers/Implementers, etc. This should be a place where these groups feel they can co-exist, collaborate, and learn from one another.

We got an idea from the way conferences are planned to try "tracks". Here is a proposal for those...

Track#1 - Use Case Topics

This track satisfies the users and potential adopters of the Drupal platform. They want to know what can be done with Drupal, what others have done, and have learned about best practices in implementation. Example topics of interest to this group might include ways to do things with Drupal such as:

* Using Drupal for Multi-site CMS's
* Using Drupal to Build Blogs    
* Comparing Drupal to other alternative CMS's (Joomla, Plone, WordPress , etc.) 
* Using Drupal to Build Social Collaborative Apps
* How non-tech users can be taught to easily use a CMS
* Syndication 101
* Successful ways to create community building around sites

Track #2 - Tech Topics

This track satisfies the developers on the Drupal platform. They want to know what can be done (technically) with Drupal, what others have developed, what modules to use, and how to make things work.

* Hot Modules - what we like to install and users love to use
* Searching in Drupal using Apache SOLR
* Web statistics and analysis for Drupal
* Tuning Drupal/LAMP for performance and scalability
* CiviCRM  what is it and what can you do with it?
* Unit testing in PHP
* OO practices for PHP
* Javascript Tools & Scripts 

Track #3 - Dev Process Topics

This track satisfies the professional implementers of the Drupal platform. They have concerns about how to make Drupal an efficient, scalable, secure, enterprise CMS platform that can be developed according to a professional methodology. They might be in the business of implementing sites using Drupal for other organizations or the CTO, CIO of a large organization relying on Drupal. Example topics of interest to this group might include:

* Iterative builds and development with Drupal
* Doing great site documentation for Drupal
* Content Conversion: Moving legacy data to Drupal 
* Project management best practices
* Creating UI for Drupal using wire framing
* Lessons learned from recent projects
* Testing and quality assurance processes
* High-level architecture modeling

Again, we are eager hear your thoughts and ideas and really want to improve our membership through the best possible topics/participants we can attract.