DrupalDrinks Dundee

Rob Carr welcoming everyone

Rob Carr welcoming everyone

As I discussed in “Finding the community” a new addition to Scottish Drupal user group meetings was being organised in Dundee and on Tuesday evening I joined them for their first meeting. With an attendance similar to that of events in Glasgow and Edinburgh the event was successful with interesting and informative presentations and discussions.

Rob Carr kicked off the session with a round-up of the news from Planet Drupal. He touched on DrupalCamp Prague 23rd-27th September, Drupal Global Training Day on 14th June, the Drupal Issue Queue Redesign, Drupal Commerce 2.x Roadmap, Twig in Drupal 8 and running Drupal on Google’s App Engine.

We then tuned into the live feed from DrupalCon Portland to watch and discuss the “State of Drupal” keynote from Dries Buytaert.

Steve Burrows from GFI MAX rounded of the meeting with a short talk on the company and the current Drupal developer opening they have. Some of the group then retired to a local pub to continue discussions in a more relaxed atmosphere.

A repeat is being planned for June and Rob is looking for volunteers for a 15-30 minute presentation and a couple of 5 minute lightning talks. You can reach Rob via his drupal.org contact page.

Thanks to Rob and John Hume for organising. Thanks also to the University of Dundee for providing the venue which was ideal for the meeting.

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Posted in Drupal Scotland

Finding the community

In her recent write up of DrupalCamp Scotland, Shannon Vettes of Commerce Guys posed the question, “… how can organizers find people and convince them that they should meet up at a camp?” With a disparate and geographically remote community this can be a challenge.

In an ideal world all Scottish based Drupal users would be registered on drupal.org and signed up to the Scottish group. However, in a small, but nonetheless expanding, community this is not the case. Newcomers may have downloaded Drupal but not registered, or they may have registered but not found groups.drupal.org. In these early stages of Drupal engagement, attendance of a camp or local meeting is often needed to ensure newcomers understand the importance of the way the community works. This then enables new users to engage fully with drupal.org resources. 

Registration and Attendance numbers for last four years

DrupalCamp Scotland registration and attendance numbers for last four years.


Personal contact, whether business or social, is more prevalent in smaller geographical areas, making it easier to encourage people to attend local meetings.These in turn can be used as the recruiting grounds for attendance to the camps.

With DrupalDrinks having been established in both Edinburgh and Glasgow for several years growing numbers have been introduced to the community. The format of these events has also evolved with formal presentations and discussions taking place as well as informal socialising. Thanks is due to Good Creative and Heehaw Digital who have donated the use of their boardrooms allowing the formal element of DrupalDrinks to flourish. For those interested the Glasgow meetup is organised by Paul Linney and Edinburgh by Bryan Gullan and Joachim Noreiko.

These meetings only cover the central belt of Scotland but thankfully after discussions at DrupalCamp Scotland, John Hume from the University of Dundee and Drupal Scotland’s own Rob Carr are expanding the community north with the inaugral DrupalDrinks Dundee on 21st May. As a good number are already scheduled to attend, Dundee’s DrupalDrinks will hopefully become a permanent feature on the community calendar.

While discussions are ongoing in Inverness, Scotland’s third-biggest city, Aberdeen, is still not represented at this level and if anyone would be interested in filling this gap please contact Drupal Scotland.

Social media and other tech communities

Naturally the promotion of the camps via social media is also important, both at organisational level (@DrupalCampScot@DrupalScotland) and individually. We also reach out to other tech communities such as TechMeetup, Refresh AberdeenEdinburgh and GlasgowHighland Web Group, and the various LUGs and ask them to promote the camp both at their meetings and on social media.

Unfortunately, geographical remoteness is still an issue, with some unable to attend local meetings.

Why attend?

To convince individuals to attend an understanding of the needs of the community is required. With a small and diverse community this is not always easy, for example, trying to ensure a keynote speaker will appeal to the majority. That said, several factors make the task easier. Firstly we are a growing community with a large number of newcomers at various stages of their Drupal journey. Therefore training sessions are always popular with this section of last years DrupalCamp fully booked. There was unfortunately no training this year but the Glasgow community are running training in September. Other sessions covering the basics and emerging aspects of Drupal are also appealing to this section of the community. Secondly, as there are a smaller number of experienced people they generally provide speakers from within their number,who are similarly experienced, to fulfil their needs.

Is it working?

While there is more that can be done to find the community our numbers are increasing (see graph), with this years camp recording our highest attendance levels to date. If you have any thoughts about improving promotion, interested in running a meet up or organising community training then please get in touch.

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Posted in Drupal Scotland

DrupalCamp Scotland 2013

Reflecting on another successful DrupalCamp Scotland and the 4th under my direction I felt it was time to share my thoughts on the event.

A history lesson…

As there has been little written about previous DrupalCamps in Scotland here is some brief background. Buoyed by my attendance at DrupalCon Copenhagen in 2010 I had gone along to my local DrupalDrinks in Edinburgh. This coincided with a visit by Addison Berry and discussion led to thoughts of a DrupalCamp which I somehow agreed to organise. In hindsight a goliath task but in 3 weeks I pulled together a venue, catering, speakers, badges, freebies etc. The camp took place on October 30th with 45 attendees. The website was a single page.

A victim of my own success another camp was requested by attendees and this was held on 21 May 2011, although I did at least have more time to organise the event. It had become apparent that I couldn’t continue alone so following the model of Drupal Ireland, I proposed that we form the Scottish Drupal Association (Drupal Scotland) and coerced six others into forming the committee.

With an enthusiastic team in place it wasn’t long before we started to plan the next camp. It was clear we needed to grow the community and have more businesses adopt Drupal so a large camp was planned with the traditional sessions accompanied by training and a business day. A huge effort went into the camp from the team and along with generous sponsorship a fantastic camp was held on 25th-26th May 2012. Rob Carr did a great write-up at http://groups.drupal.org/node/236693.

And so to the present day…

Full of energy from the 2012 camp, the Drupal Scotland team were already discussing the 2013 camp back in June. We knew our ‘traditional’ May date would have to move due to DrupalCon. We were full of great plans but unfortunately life and the demand for Drupal got in the way. Therefore it wasn’t until February this year that we started planning in earnest. The professional and personal demands still existed and meant we ended up delivering the camp with only 50% of the team.

In January this year I opened an office in Edinburgh for Digital Agency, i-KOS. Part of my role is Community Affairs, and this allowed me to spend time working on DrupalCamp Scotland. This was much appreciated and thanks are due to the company, in conjunction i-KOS has also provided invaluable sponsorship to all four DrupalCamps in Scotland.

Money makes the world go round…

The most significant change this year was that we decided to charge for tickets. There were two related reasons for this. Firstly in 2012 we had a significant non-attendance rate (38%) and it was felt a small charge would make people more committed to attending. This was successful as in 2013 the non-attendance dropped to 5%. Increased running costs also played a role, including venue hire which had previously been provided for free by School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.

There were those in the community who thought the prices were expensive – £15 early bird and £25 standard – but I have to question their lifestyle economics given what they would have received had they attended. For comparison:

  • Coffee/Tea/Biscuits – 2 servings – City centre cafe: £5
  • Lunch – Soup/Sandwich and Coffee/Tea – £7.50
  • Water – was available all day – comparison 2 x 330ml bottles – £1.50
  • Fresh fruit – served at lunch and afternoon coffee – £1.50
  • Beer – a pint – £3.00

Based on refreshments alone the cost if you were out for a day in the city would be around £18.50. Then there is the cost of the venue and the value you place on networking and attending the sessions. I think at the standard price it was value for money and compared to other tech events in Scotland was relatively inexpensive. If you feel the camp should be free or significantly cheaper then I would appreciate your thoughts on how we fund it in an economic climate where sponsors are not able to be as generous.

That said sponsors did see the value in supporting the camp and I would like to thank Click Click Click, Information Services (University of Edinburgh), Hydrant, Commerce Guys, i-KOS, Acquia, Cathcart Associates, Zoocha, The Drum, EdICTmiiCard and made with Custard for their involvement.

My camp experience…

Being responsible for the direction of the camp generally means that on the day you don’t get to see (m)any of the sessions. Maybe I need to delegate more? Thankfully this year as we were at a professional venue a number of the responsibilities were taken care of so I was able to interact more with the camp.

The chatter both on twitter and in breaks showed that the sessions were all well received and that Shannon Vettes from Commerce Guys keynote was a useful, informative and funny session. This was the only session I attended and it was Shannon’s first time as a keynote speaker something which I am sure she will be repeating frequently in the future.

We had our first module launch at a camp. miiCard launched their D7 module and are looking for developers to help review the module and get it listed – see http://drupal.org/node/1974022 for more information.

The inaugural Scottish Drupal Awards were received well by the attendees. Congratulations to the winners Heehaw Digital for Best Design, Creative MW for Best Website and Joachim Noreiko who was awarded Scottish Drupalista of the Year for outstanding contributions to the Drupal Community. This year the awards were decided by jury although online voting is planned for next year.

At previous camps the social aspect has been accomplished by adjourning to a local pub or bringing beer to the venue. This year we decided to do something more formal and we booked the Grand Ballroom of Sloans. I felt this worked well as it kept the attendees together allowing them to mix more informally.

Feedback and the future…

Shortly before the camp I received feedback from a previous attendee who felt the camp didn’t provide them with enough networking opportunities. Some attendees from this years event agreed. How do we address this? Do we run specific networking sessions with icebreakers? One idea which I am giving serious thought to is a smaller focused residential event. The formal post-camp survey is currently out with attendees for completion and this will help us shape future events and better meet the needs of the community.

There have been several blogs published about the camp, miiCard, Curve Agency, Commerce GuysCathcart AssociatesDijkstra-Downie Photography and these give you a further flavour of what other people took away from the day.

On a final note I would like to say thank you to the rest of the organising team as without their efforts the camp would not be possible.

Drupal Scotland Beermats!

Drupal Scotland Beermats – A new addition for 2013!
Photographs courtesy of Dijkstra-Downie Photography

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