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A Drupalcon SF wrapup

Now that Drupalcon San Fransisco has wrapped up, I'm left with an interesting feeling about the direction that the Drupal community is moving in. First of all, I'm every impressed with the range of sessions that took place, there was a much stronger emphasis on non-coders then in the past. For me though, even more exciting is the continued push towards making Drupal a more robust enterprise solution.

One of the best things about any Drupalcon is meeting the people - the people who have created the modules that you use, people who use the modules that you've contributed to, people behind some very visible websites and also people new to Drupal who have lots of fresh ideas. This year there was a surprising number of people who were at the Con for the first time, a great sign of the continued growth the community is experiencing. If you are interested in the project but haven't yet made it to one of the conferences, I can emphatically say that you should go. But even if you can't you can still see recordings of all the sessions online at the drupalcon.org web site.

I didn't expect such a strong interest in themeing, which has been a neglected area in the past. Even at a quick glance, its obvious that Drupal's theming layer, while incredibly powerful, was made by developers. However, there has been a lot of progress to make this powerful tool more accessible. Top Notch Themes presented about theming with fusion, a new theme concept that lets you do extensive configuration directly from the UI, making it easier for people new to the system to create pretty sites. Samantha Warren had a great presentation about web typography, an often overlooked aspect of site design.

But it was the presentations about making and managing enterprise class web sites that I found the most interesting. Seeing how Drupal has grown up from its start as a way to organize the activities of a group of university kids into a system able to manage complex sites like The Whitehouse or the Economist magazine is really impressive. Some of the more interesting presentations about this were Zero touch production environments, Scaling Whitehouse.gov, and also running Drupal on cloud services.

If you have the time to watch only one video, check out Tim O'Reilly's keynote presentation. Always a visionary, Tim asks us to carefully consider what really is at the heart of cloud computing and how this is changing how we interact with information. His current focus is on how these changes can be applied to government. The O'Reilly Radar blog is the best place to find out more.

The best thing about the conference though was meeting new people and old friends. I'm really happy to see the growing number of developers and companies that are involved with Drupal. That one of the main sponsors was Microsoft I think speaks to the fact that the project is definitely a mature one now. Expect exciting changes over then next six months leading up to the Copenhagen Con, especially with Drupal 7 coming out. See you in Denmark!

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