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DrupalCon 2015: An Appnovator’s POV - First Blood Part 2

By abrown
Jun. 2, 2015

Like my colleague Kevin Moll stated in part 1 - what a great week! Not only were the sessions and BoF’s interesting and profound, but it was a great opportunity to meet people on the Appnovation team from around the world who are like minded and enjoy geeking out over everyone’s favourite CMS.

While it wasn’t my very first Drupalcon (I went to DrupalCon San Fran in 2009), it has been long enough for me to come at it from a fresh perspective. My approach to the convention was to go to as many BoFs as possible that I felt would benefit the company in the areas of design and front end development, while also attending sessions that were outside of my comfort zone in order to attain a greater understanding of web development / IT services as a whole. I’ve broken my findings down into three sections, style guide driven development, content administration, and Ansible.

Style guide driven development

The design phase is finally catching up with modern development processes in our ever changing Agile world, so it was great to hear how everyone out there is still trying to figure out a solid process. For the most part, it seemed that designers are moving more and more towards prototyping in HTML, with a supporting style guide. Where it gets interesting is that there is still a lot of discussion around what the best prototyping and style guide tools are out there in the wilderness. There does not seem to be a stand out winner in either category (especially for prototyping) but for style guide development, Knyle Style Sheets, Pattern Lab, and the Style Guide module (Drupal) seem to be putting their hand up as the best options. It seems imperative to me that we nail down a process here that works for us, as the feeling I got after leaving most of these talks was “use the right tool, for the right job”.

Related sessions to check out:
The Why and How of Front End Architecture
Style Guide Driven Development: All hail the robot overlords!
Front-End Efficiency with BEM Syntax and Atomic Design
To the Pattern Lab! Collaboration Using Modular Design Principles
Advanced layouts with Flexbox

Content administration

Over the past couple of years, there seems to have been a bit of a revolution on how we present the Drupal back end to content administrators. From the actual creation of content (entities, nodes etc) to simply using the WYSIWYG editor, there are some fantastic tools out there such as the Paragraphs module which is a welcome shift of strategizing and executing content administration. On the WYSIWYG side there are some fantastic plugins which finally make the editor an intuitive tool, rather than the awful, headache inducing burden that it has been for some time now. This is definitely a topic that has gone by the wayside for too long, and I believe a company wide talk about how we approach this is in desperate need.

Related sessions to check out:
The Battle for the Body Field
Better tools for content creators: Paragraphs, Parallax, Skrollr and friends

Ansible

While I did attend many sessions directly related to my role, it was important to me to broaden my knowledge outside of my every day workflow and try something new. Ansible seemed like a very modern approach to environment configuration and automation that could very well be the future of Appnovation's process (if Kevin Moll has his way). There was a fantastic BoF hosted by Jeff Geerling, who used a stack of raspberry Pi’s to give a physical example of how he was using Ansible to interact with and configure a set of servers. If you’re interested in more, googling all of the names in this paragraph along with the word Ansible is your best bet - but it is certainly worth checking out no matter who you are or what your role is.

Related sessions to check out:
** this was just a BoF, sorry! **

Stay tuned for Part 3 where half-man-half-beast Af shares his experiences!

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