In only its second year, Drupal Down Under is fast becoming the premier Drupal conference in the South East Asia and Pacific region. Held in Melbourne this year, the weather was cold and miserable on the day before, confirming the common conception that Melbourne is indeed the city where all four seasons occure in the one day. Thankfully the sun came out to play on the days that counted.
Dries spoke in length about the status of Drupal 7, specifically its positioning in the CMS market and the explosion in adoption since its release. His talk was very informative and confirmed our thoughts that Drupal is very well suited for small to large business solutions. Version 8 is currently in development and will have a very strong focus on mobile and useability and Dries hopes that Drupal’s market position will expand further into both small business and enterprise segments.
Dmitri spoke about his experiences growing up as a kid in the Drupal community. He first dived into Drupal when he was at the tender young age of 8, and since then has written numerous modules and contributed extensively to the Drupal community. Most young boys grow up playing video games, climbing trees and generally get up to all sorts of mischief, but Dmitri preferred to program and hang around the Drupal forums. Quite amazing really.
The final keynote was from Gian Wild, an international authority on online accessibility. Her talk was a strong reminder on the importance (and legal requirements) of making websites accessible to those who are not only vision impaired, but also with other disabilities like dyslexia and physical impairments. I think she scared just about everyone in the room, but not me of course!
There were some interesting case studies presented during the conference, one particularly by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. They spoke about their frustrations about using SharePoint for their public facing website and how well Drupal has performed for them in comparison. Development time and costs drastically decreased whilst accessibility was now easily achieved. A great win for Drupal!
I won’t bore you with the more technical sessions, but I walked away with a mountain of new found knowledge that will help make our Drupal projects bigger, better, faster and stronger. I’m looking forward to the year that lies ahead as these are exciting times for Drupal and the web in general. Hopefully we'll get more projects where we can implement all the cool stuff that's happening right now like mobile sites, responsive design, HTML5 and CSS3. Bring it on I say!