In two weeks, 500 Drupalistas will come together in Szeged Hungary for this year's European DrupalCon. It will be the first Drupal conference in Central Europe. While that is a bit of an experiment, I'm excited by it as we get to preach and listen to new and different users. What is not to like about that?
Even if you can't attend or if you are not doing business in Central Europe, you should still sponsor. Why?
There is no denying that many Open Source conferences work by a different set of rules than traditional conferences. DrupalCon is one of them. Your sponsorship makes it possible for 500 people to get together, to get aligned, to plan, and to get actual work done. It directly enables them to add to Drupal's success. Furthermore, by setting them up for success, you're indirectly enabling tens of thousands of people world-wide. Everyone, including you, will benefit from the network effects. It would be short-sighted to only think of sponsoring DrupalCon as a means to generate direct sales leads for your business, wouldn't it? You should sponsor because you want to invest in Drupal's continued international growth and success, regardless of where you have setup shop.
Good news! The next Drupal conference (DrupalCon) will take place in Szeged, Hungary from August 27-30. If you want to learn more about Drupal, or if you want to capture and absorb the passion and enthusiasm behind the Drupal project, this is the place to be.
DrupalCon Szeged will bring together hundreds of Drupal users and developers from all around the world. Whether you are a Drupal professional or an enthusiastic user coming to find out more, you're invited to join us in Szeged. Mark your calendars!
This will be the first Drupal conference in Central Europe, and I'm excited by that. There are a lot of Drupal people in Central Europe, probably more so than in Western Europe, and this is a great way to reach out them. Plus, I've been to Hungary twice and liked it very much.
Last week at DrupalCon Boston I gave my traditional state of Drupal presentation in front of 850 Drupalistas. The video of the presentation is provided below, and you can download a copy of my slides (PDF, 15 MB) as well. The video is available in alternative encoding formats from archive.org.
Topics I talked about: the Drupal 6 release, the state of our union, the need for a drupal.org redesign, the Drupal 7 killer release, the Drupal 7 development cycle, usability, test-driven development, the future of Drupal and the semantic web, etc. There is a lot of material in this presentation and during the course of the next few weeks, I plan to decompose this presentation in a number of extended blog posts. Stay tuned!
When I predicted that there would be a big and concentrated effort to further improve Drupal's ease of use in 2008, I was cheating a bit ... The past months we've been preparing some formal usability testing for Drupal that will be conducted at the University of Minnesota Office for Information Technology's usability lab. The university has a professional usability lab that will allow us to record eye-tracking data and video which will be provided to the Drupal community. Très cool!
Chad Fennel and Cody Hanson of the University of Minnesota Libraries have taken an incredible lead in this; they secured the lab, they prepared test scenarios, they recruited test users, they are coaching us how to do usability research, and last but not least, they are footing part of the bills. Needless to say, this is a significant contribution to the Drupal project -- and hopefully one that will have big impact on Drupal 7.
Needless to say, formal usability testing is only one way to make Drupal easier of use. There are a lot of usability findings out there already (example 1, example 2), and many of us know first-hand which changes need to occur to improve Drupal's usability. All it takes is a knack for usability, some development skills and a lot of time and effort. Ultimately, everyone can help -- with or without a professional usability lab.
The past years, I've pushed hard to make usability reviews part of the development and patch review process. I strongly believe that usability reviews should be tightly integrated with the software development process; rapid usability feedback and incremental usability improvements allows us to build better software faster. And it is working -- every major Drupal release has become significantly easier to use.
Nonetheless, there is a lot of work left to be done. I hope that the formal usability testing at the University of Minnesota Libraries will provide us with a fresh perspective and that it helps train the Drupal community's eye for usability. Because more than anything else, I want to us to flatten the Drupal learning curve.
More information about the usability testing will be made available shortly. The goal is to share some first results at DrupalCon Boston next month.