Creating Better Drupal Meetups

BeWhy's picture

Thank god Acquia got new offices. Oh wait, I meant Zivtech.

I say thank god because the rumor is they have spaces where they can hold multiple trainings during Drupal Meetups (whilst serving beverages and pizza of course). I couldn't go to the party because I had to get home and go to sleep so that I could rock the Philadelphia Triathlon the next morning (yeah, i'm bragging). So, I've been slightly dis-satisfied with the last few meetups, and it's my own fault. It's my fault because I haven't volunteered to present things. That will now cease.

A System for Proposing Topics
So, I would like to set up a system where we can more formally propose topics -especially in advance, meaning we say what we're going to have a session/BoF about for the next meeting, giving people something to prepare for (both to teach and to come up with effective questions).

How long do I have to listen to this drivel? So we should also set up structured times for these sessions to start/stop, hopefully allowing someone to be exposed to two topics per meetup or one more in depth one. So, that looks like two 45 minute sessions with a pizza break and one concurrent long-haul preso, perhaps.

The more complicated version is for us to set up a COD or something for each meetup (I don't really know how COD is structured (i.e. whether we can create multiple, miniature conferences or not)). It doesn't have to get as far as proposing and voting on sessions, but that would be cool, and it would be cool for people to be able to at least more formally propose miniature talks for the next meetups (i.e. say "i'll facilitate X topic" and that go on the meetup description - name of facilitator and name of topic).

Now, I like to learn as well as teach, and if it's going to be a learning experience for me, I'd rather propose I facilitate sessions on topics that I don't have mastered. I'll start by volunteering to facilitate (not both in the same night):

Requirements gathering for rookies. I went to the session at Drupaldelphia and learned some cool stuff (I'm using it this week and mah boss is impressed already -thanks twenty bucks!) but in no way shape or form would I consider what I learned exhaustive enough to be practical, but the baby step is nice. So I still have to make stuff up as I go along (aka "build the plane in the air") and I'd rather work through this with other semi-experienced people than learn all the mistakes I'll have to unlearn later.

theming for real dummies So, I've learned to hack around themes to where I consider myself competent, but not enough to do template preprocessing and whatnot. I'd volunteer to teach a session called "make this look like that" where we go through some of the decisions about selecting a template, defining and modifying regions and other miscelanesous minutae (like should you put padding or margins on blocks and what affects might that have down the road).

I want someone to help me learn Git and SVN. So what, I don't want to set everything up to be a core contributor, but I do want someone to walk me through setting up Git and/or SVN on my machine and explain the differences as I'm getting to the point in my job that I'm going to need them soon and I'd like to be ahead of the curve, not behind. So, this is more of a request for a 'get you up to speed' sprint-type of request than a 'oh, here is what it is'. I'll pay anyone with Zivtech's free beer to help with this.

Keep 'em coming back for more jawns
I'd also like to propose that people who want to talk about, ask questions about and teach other how to do X, that if there's enough interest that they propose a series of sessions on a topic rather than just have one-off sessions.

I also want to propose Better taxonomies for Drupaldelphia the notions of beginner, intermediate and advanced were way off. I propose that instead we use multiple categories thusly (yes, I wrote "thusly"):
- level - intro, intermediate, advanced
- complexity - mild, medium, hot, jalapeno seeds
- role - client manager, designer, site builder, project manager, developer etc.

Why? I propose these because I went to a 'beginner' session on panels (Penelope, and you can't tell me its spelled any other way) where that was actually an introduction for relatively competent site builders. I would classify that as: intro, medium and site builder. I also went to a 'beginner' session on testing - I would classify that as: intro, hot (because they don't tell you how to install the stuff they go over, they mostly named tools and demonstrated one) & developer. See how this starts to clarify things? And yes, we need to probably choose better words, but I definitely want something called 'jalapeno seeds' so I never go to those, unless Tim Plunkett is teaching it then I'd go just to heckle him.

Thankfully an end
Okay, I think I put just about everything I wanted to say/propose. But let me summarize.

  1. Zivtech rocks. Thanks for being gracious hosts.
  2. I'd like to have meetups more structured too
  3. I want to kind of know what to expect at the meetup before I get there (formal or not)
  4. I'm putting my foot where my mouth is (wait) and volunteering to facilitate a few sessions
  5. I did the Philadelphia Triathlon, hence, I'm a rockstar.
  6. That is all. For now.


Epic post! While I get too

Jody Lynn's picture

Epic post!

While I get too exhausted at work to organize much for later, I fully agree.

I'm thinking cod would be overkill and using gdo wikis would suffice.

It would be great to have one or more people committed to starting a wiki pre each meetup and rounding up topics as needed, starting with your list.

I really enjoyed the

dkinzer's picture

I really enjoyed the code-sprint that Zivtech hosted after this year's drupaldelphia. Maybe that's something that can be done more often in that new space?

Congrats on the Triathlon that's pretty cool.

A lot to consider

mcannon's picture

Well considering I just heard of the meetups 3 days before Drupaldelphia, I'd love any structured way of finding out all info about each meetup. The only info I heard was that they happen at Zivtech and they're based around Drupal of course. I'm at the point where I really want to contrib and easily finding out info about these meetups which will help with that goal would be awesome.

Why not use

sk33lz's picture

I think it would be worthwhile to centralize all Philly Drupal meetups, camps, etc, around It's really only used for one event a year, and could be a great resource all year round for Philly Drupalers.

It's already got the COD setup if we want it, and could easily be used to just setup an events, as Signups looks to have already been used to sign people up for the Zivtech after-party this year.


That site is 3 years old,

tim.plunkett's picture

That site is 3 years old, built on Drupal 6, and ready to die.
Unfortunately, D7 COD isn't quite finished yet, so it's not yet time to build a new one.

Why not continue to use this site until then?

Jody - thanks for the 'epic'

BeWhy's picture

Jody - thanks for the 'epic' moniker.

dkinzer - I think everyone should do a triathlon, and thanks.

zarclin - come on through, you can teach me how to git since you're an expert contributor now.

Sk33lz - It would be nice to have to be a clearinghouse for all things Drupal in the area: news, jobs etc, but someone (cough, you) would have to step up and be responsible for managing and maintaining it for the low price of two thank yous per year, plus bragging rights.

tim.plunkett- thanks for saying that the folks at Zivtech would like more crowd participation. Me teaching is all your fault. Anyhow, it's always time to build a new one, let's put it on D8 just to say we're bleeding edge. The whole notion that it's time to die, i for one, think is foolish, unless there's a compelling reason to upgrade different from 'the new one is out'. So why don't we put it through its paces and let a sk33lz make it not time to die? Please run this by flat-cap-awesome.

Correction: In one of the paragraphs I put "affects" instead of "effects", apologies for the bad grammer, I hate when someone switches those two up!

what you don't know will inspire you

Scrap heap

tim.plunkett's picture

The current site is full of CSS-based hacks, undocumented Context.module config, and is way out of date with module updates.

Even using it to create basic content would be a huge mess.


BeWhy's picture

So it's a big mess. Here's an acquia seminar how to do it rite, eerily a few hours before our meetup:

what you don't know will inspire you

Please ignore

ijf8090's picture

Link was broken in notification mail but works correctly in thread

conference site

no longer here 584522's picture

Thanks BeWhy for the write up. I agree that would be a great place for a meetup site. I'm probably not the most qualified person to take on the responsibility of maintaining as I'm still learning many things but if I could help, I'd be glad to. However, as Tim said the COD D7 release isnt ready yet which would make it much easier to maintain of course. End note, I wish I'd found this group sooner and looking forward to meeting and learning with you all.

Just wanted to voice my

dafeder's picture

Just wanted to voice my support for improved Philly meetups, no matter what the technology ultimately used to plan them. I would be much more motivated to come out each month if I knew there would be a productive, structured space for learning and sharing.

In Boston, we saved pizza and beer for after the structured part was over. I think that might work better than having a pizza break in the middle and then having to cut the conversations short to go to another talk.

I'd suggest that we simply use this groups site to plan meetups for now, as we experiment and perfect the format, and then build a new site in a few months when we're clearer on how it will work and COD is finished. We could even hold a sprint to build the new site.

All the topics BeWhy posted sound great. With git, there's the how do I use this thing in general discussion, and then there's the best practices for using git with Drupal specifically discussion, which is just as important. There's a big difference between knowing how to commit changes to a file and actually having an effective workflow in a (db-heavy) system like Drupal.

Here's another somewhat related topic I'd like to see: packaging options in Drupal 7, that is, navagating the increasingly powerful but confusing options for packaging, distributing and deploying your config and functionality. I'm talking installation profiles, features, makefiles and now apps for your own work, and the ins and outs of using other people's distributions.

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