DrupalCamp Scotland 2012 - A Retrospective

arrrgh's picture

Nearly 12 months in the making with lots of support from the community and local sponsors it's worth a quick write-up on how DrupalCamp Scotland 2012 went, what effort was involved and what the future holds.


The 'Scottish Drupal Association' (globally referred to as 'Drupal Scotland') was established in June 2011, primarily to take the load off Duncan Davidson who had single-handedly organised the 2010 and 2011 Edinburgh Drupalcamps. With a committee of 7 (including a Chair, Secretary and Treasurer) we wanted to start thinking a little more strategically about growing the Drupal community in Scotland and raising awareness of Drupal to business, government, education and the web industry.

We have active DUGs in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but currently no tangible activity outside the Scottish central belt. So we put together a [subsequently successful] community grant application last year through the Drupal Association (DA), to give us a head of cash to organise a higher profile Drupalcamp 2012.


It took a few months to establish the bank account, and the 7 members of the Drupal Scotland committee started meeting monthly from September 2011 - usually via Skype. We also set up a Basecamp account to track tasks and delegate activity between us.

We also engaged a PR professional in January to feed releases to media and Scottish web- and software-related groups.

Once the venue (the Informatics Forum) had been booked, the priority shifted to designing and launching the camp.drupalscotland.org website. Roobarb Media offered to build a custom theme and develop a skeleton site; supplementary graphic elements were donated by Ian Findlay Design. By March 2012, the site was launched, registration available and sessions submissions opened. The committee were also meeting (via Skype) every 2 weeks from Easter onwards to ensure tasks were being actioned.


Although there are merits in charging [even a small amount] for the camp, we wanted to make all events free - as is Drupal. We applied for a Community Cultivation Grant from the Drupal Association in October 2011, and were lucky to receive a $1500 grant. This was invaluable in the early event costs (venue hire and engaging the PR consultant); it also gave us the confidence to promote a larger event. We received financial sponsorship from Information Services (University of Edinburgh), Hydrant, i-Kos, Microsoft UK, ClickClickClick, Acquia Dev Cloud, Informatics Ventures, Zoocha, Digital Nomad, DrupalCONCEPT, Pantheon, Cathcart Associates and Williams Bros Brewing Co. Support from these companies was invaluable for the 'Drupal for Business' event.


Support from the DA, sponsorship and a tight organisational control meant we have a surplus from the Camp that we can plough back into future community events, as well as use as a financial head for DrupalCamp 2013. A full financial statement will be published on drupalscotland.org later in summer 2012, but, in summary:

Income (£7924):

  • DA Community Grant - £914
  • Sponsorship - £7010

Expenditure (£5096):

  • PR - £840
  • Event material - £985
  • Speakers' Expenses - £424
  • Venue costs (security, wifi) - £270
  • Catering - £2577

The Event

A series of events was held at the Informatics Forum in the University of Edinburgh 25-26 May (a Friday and Saturday). We had 5 distinct features within the Camp:

  • Drupal for Business. Fundamentally, this was a 'What Drupal Can Do For You' all-day event (on Friday) aimed at project managers, business owners, start-ups and web professionals. We had presenters from Acquia, i-Kos, Microsoft, Zoocha, Blue Droplet Media, Hot Tin Roof and Oxfam International, with 60 attendees throughout the day.
  • Drupal Training. This was an all-day event using the buildamodule.com video material, with 6 mentors to assist the trainees in building websites, writing modules or developing themes. 28 people attended this event.
  • Drupal CRM Code Sprint. This was an all day event (on Friday) with about 10 participants working on developing the Party module, which will form the core of a Drupal-native CRM system.
  • Welcome to Drupal. This was an afternoon event (on Friday) using the 'Hello Drupal' material to introduce beginners to Drupal. 12 people attended this session, and one member of the Drupal Scotland Committee attended so that we can deliver similar sessions later in the year.
  • Drupal Camp. The main event was held all-day on the Saturday. There were 3 tracks available, and included a keynote from Nick Burch (Apache Software Foundation) and a 'Roast the Hosts' panel session featuring Acquia, Pantheon and DrupalCONCEPT. The day ended with free beer (yes, it can happen) courtesy of Scottish traditional ale brewers, Williams Bros. Around 100 people attended Saturday's event.


Did we achieve our aims? Absolutely.

We had a major increase in attendees, partly as a result of spreading events over 2 days. Overall, we had almost 200 people register, with 140 individual attendees (we put the no-shows down to the stunningly good weather that weekend).

By dedicating training to specific (and separate) events, it allowed the main Camp to focus on more technical presentations and gave the community a chance to talk. It also meant that many beginners were not, in fact, beginners by the time the main Camp started. The venue also facilited a break-out group of developers to give back to Drupal with a code sprint.

We also enlightened two significant groups of people, that we can now welcome into the Drupal community:

  1. Those wanting to build websites with Drupal, but had never really used it before.
  2. Businesses and organisations that had heard of Drupal, but now know what it can do.

Preparing material for the camp means we now have a PR-armoury legacy, consisting of a roll-up banner, some presentations and a box of 'Drupal Facts' postcards.

The Future

In addition to DrupalCamp Scotland 2013 (mid-late April), we intend to support the following events later in 2012 (or early 2013):

  • Scots/Gaelic Drupal Translation Sprint.
  • Drupal 8 Core Issue Sprint (including training in Drupal issue queues and Git).
  • Potential DEV weekend (which could include the D8 Core Sprint and a COD sprint).

We also experienced a raised profile and a modest growth in the Scottish Drupal community in Glasgow and Edinburgh; there is now the potential for user groups in 2 more Scottish cities. Most significantly, DrupalCon Scotland 2015 is now a real possibility.

Lessons Learned

Our 'top tips' for future camps would be:

  • Priorities:
    1. Find venue.
    2. Publicise date.
    3. Launch website.
  • Meet regularly to stay on top of tasks. Keep the committee active and plan ahead.
  • Have an in-person sprint with all of the committee to build the camp website with COD. Not only is this an efficient use of time, it allows the committee members to work collaboratively at an early stage of planning, within a highly focussed, brief period. It also generates a mutual understanding of each others' abilities, wants and needs.
  • Publicity - the more the better.
  • Sponsors - the more the better.

Things we're going to do next year:

  • Offer a lightweight Drupal roadshow in the run up to next year's Camp: 5 or 30 minute introductory sessions at universities, organisations, businesses and user groups to tell the world about Drupal.
  • An install-fest each the morning of the Camp - an hour to help beginners install Drupal on their own machines and answer basic questions.
  • Make it bigger!

Please feel free to add suggestions for future camps, tell us how much you liked it or just feedback anything constructive in the comments. Also tweet with #drupalcampscot hashtag.

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