The city of Barcelona from afar. The prominent and recognisable landmark La Sagrada Familia towers above the city.

We went to DrupalCon 2015 in Barcelona

2 Oct 2015

Darren Fisher - Developer and Consultant

Written by
Darren Fisher
Developer and Consultant

Once again this year the Drupal community met at the European convention which was held in Barcelona, Spain. We were all excited to experience this legendary Catalonian city, and to see what progress had been made in Drupal 8!

Barcelona from a distant height, showing the city in all its glory.

The trip

This year, three members of our team (myself, Barry and Julia) flew out to Barcelona on the Sunday before the conference started, in order to be able to soak up some of the culture and sights before the conference got in to full swing on the Tuesday.

The trip was something of a celebration for us - being that we'd just launched our new website and re-brand and so Barry treated us to some VIP lounge action at Gatwick airport. After a glass of champagne and doing our best to eat everything on offer from the buffet we boarded the short flight to Barcelona airport, ready to immerse ourselves in the latest our community had to offer.

Upon landing in Barcelona we were chuffed to discover the sun was shining and the night was young, and our taxi driver was an extremely friendly and upbeat chap.

The Moritz restaurant and brewery situated in the heart of Barcelona.

The city

Barcelona was every bit as magical as we'd imagined; a fascinating clash of gothic and modern architecture penetrated the glorious blue sky and the light breeze carried the mouth-watering smells of fresh sea-food. We wasted no time heading out in to the back streets to locate a tapas bar where we indulged in Pimientos Padrón (Roasted Peppers), Chocos Fritos (Fried Cuttlefish), Patatas Bravas (spicy potatoes), Boquerones en Vinagre (Anchovies in Vinegar) and of course Pan y Ali Oli (Bread and Garlic Sauce). And of course what tapas evening would be complete without some gigantic glasses of Estrella Damm to wash it all down!

Barcelona is a city you just have to experience by walking around it for hours on end. And if we can offer one piece of advice to any traveler who might be thinking about heading to Barcelona it would be this: speak to the taxi drivers. We were very fortunate to be recommended to eat at Moritz Restaurant by our taxi driver, which turned in to one of the greatest evenings any of us had ever enjoyed. What initially appeared to be a cool roadside diner quickly unraveled as we entered the expansive restaurant with food that should be winning Michelin stars!! Downstairs is the brewery which is churning out some of the best beer I've ever tasted. The bar was so artistic and unnecessarily cool it would have London hipsters falling over themselves to get a seat and there was a gift shop that was jam packed full of stuff we'd never seen before, never heard of, and again was just do ridiculously random we couldn't help ourselves but empty our pockets down to the last few Euros!!!

In short, if you get the opportunity to visit Barcelona - make sure you visit Moritz!

Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona (CCIB) - the Barcelona conference centre.

The conference

The conference was held at the CCIB - Centre Convencions Internacional de Barcelona - a modern, expansive and well designed space that had plenty of seating in each of the session rooms which was a drastic improvement on last year where - on many occasions - I found myself sitting on a floor to catch a popular session. The facilities were fantastic and the organisation was head and shoulders above our experience last year in Amsterdam. There were some truly inspiration talks this year, and there were many highlights. Morten.dk delivered yet another hilarious and insightful talk on Drupal 8 Theming, Robert Caracaus made a strong case for using Design Style Guides and non-Drupal generated classes when theming, Maxime Topolov delivered a fantastic business case study on how his company developed a platform using Drupal to print 200,000 Magazines Weekly, and Have Them Published on the Web and Mobile and I was personally honoured to meet David Corbacho Román who delivered a well researched discussion on SVG Graphics. I'd met David the night before his talk, and we chewed over some different ideas and our experiences using SVG graphics within the Drupal framework and he was kind enough to throw in some of our discussion to his session and gave us a shout out too as an example site making great use of SVGs!

Every year at DrupalCon, each day is kicked off with a KeyNote which usually offers everyone some fascinating or insightful thoughts on generally wider topics than just Drupal. The standout keynote of the week was without a doubt Thursday morning's session: Community Keynotes which was presented by two speakers - a good acquaintance of ours David Rozas - a PHP Candidate at the University of Surrey in Guildford and CTI Digital's Mike Bell. David presented a fascinating insight in to open source communities paying particular attention to the Drupal community, and how the behaviour of self-organising societies can influence big business, government and other organisations outside of technology. But nothing could prepare us for the power of Mike Bell's keynote which focused on mental health within the Drupal community, and why it is so important to talk about despite it being a difficult subject. Mike Bell's presentation was so raw, personal, brave and touching that he received a well deserved standing ovation which he later passed comment on via his Twitter. We all came away astounded by the impact of his insights and it was without a doubt one of the biggest talking points of the entire conference.

Attendance for DrupalCon was down on last years figures but a strong number of 2,039 candidates turned out for the event. In usual DrupalCon tradition, Dries presented the first KeyNote or 'DriesNote' as it has come to be known and focused particularly on some of the difficulties that have faced the community since the development of Drupal 8 began, and why the number of users seems to be in decline. He projected, with evidence of past release user trends, that with the release candidate of Drupal 8 (which is due this month) the number of Drupal users will soar once again, and higher than any previous version. It will certainly be interesting to see if we reach record attendance at DrupalCon next year.

A busy street in Dublin, Ireland.

Next year

And speaking of next year, as is traditional on the final day of DrupalCon, the location of next year's conference was announced.

Everyone was elated to discover that next year's conference is to be hosted in Dublin, Ireland on the centenary of the Easter Rising and thus promises to be a loud and lively affair! Ireland as a whole have long been a significant nation within the Drupal community and it will be the first time that they will host the event since its inception.

So to all our friends and Drupal family, we will see you next year for some proper Guinness in a proper pub with some proper music and some proper people!!

See you next year!

Darren Fisher - Designer & Developer

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