NED Camp 2018

By Donna Bungard
November 21, 2018

Well, I’m almost caught up on sleep from this year’s New England Drupal (NED) Camp held at Rhode Island College in Providence RI. With this year’s focus on DevOps, why would someone who specializes in Strategy and Project Mangement be interested in this development centric camp? The answer is: it’s all connected! To keep being able to speak to the needs of end users and my team, I need to take in as much as I can. Add to it that two of my team members and many friends were going to be there - how could I have resisted?

Training Day! Critical Skills for the Modern Drupal Project Manager

I was lucky enough to participate in this year's training day with a session taught by Matt O'Bryant, the Director of Strategy at Oomph, Inc. This was a fun, interactive session aimed at recognizing the professionalism each of us brought with us to the class to help us build upon each other's experiences.

We started by defining the different roles and responsibilities of Project Managers, Strategists, and Account Managers. We discussed how, in many agencies, these roles are blended and found ways to navigate this complexity. With multiple companies represented in the room, we learned from the best in each other.

Next, we discussed the various tools we use, talking through some of the strengths and weaknesses they offer. And then came the fun part: role-playing! We acknowledged the challenging conversations we face and worked through them, analyzing what we felt worked and how we could improve.

After lunch, we moved onto a more hands-on technical demonstration. We spun up local development environments to run a website Matt had prepared for the class on our laptops. Quickly, the challenges in this seemingly ‘easy’ task became clear: different operating systems, different dependencies etc, all made more obvious by the scarcity of developers in the room (though the few there stepped up to help!). Over the next hours we worked through many of the issues our dev team deals with regularly. After being out of development for years, I walked away with a renewed sense of empathy for my developers.

Dinner and Singing

That evening many of us descended upon Cassarino's for fine Italian food and better conversation. We spoke of professional experiences, laughed as friends and enjoyed a variety of delicious food. Later there was karaoke with a handful of wonderful people; the highlights included drinking from porcelain cats, singing alongside a teammate and hearing the others give it their all!

Session Day! All the learning!

Intro to Lando

Well, of COURSE, I went to our CTO Mike Pirog’s session “Intro to Lando.” An energetic speaker, Mike filled the room with people who know or are just getting to know more about Lando. I was able to observe not only Mike’s ability to share his knowledge, but was also able to see how the different users in the audience were captivated. Looking around, nearly every laptop was open to review what was on the board, every hand poised to ask a question or tapping notes on a phone. A friend (and amazing developer) on the other side of the room was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. He simply said that it might be time for him to adopt Lando into his workflow.

Team!

Like many remote teams, our group's everyday life is spent communicating in Slack and on video calls. Though I was fortunate enough to see my team members already this fall, I looked forward to spending more time together at NED Camp. We set aside time on Saturday to talk about services and processes, working through questions to formulate actionable next steps. And of course there was talk of hobbies, families, and the other fun that fills our lives outside of work.

Keynote

Though I teased an organizer or two that filling this Project Strategist up with pasta and putting her in a warm comfy room to hear about DevOps wasn’t exactly setting me up for success, I did MORE than manage to stay awake through Jeff Geerling’s keynote. He showed how DevOps, more than anything, is about people. It improves the product, sure. But DevOps improves the product by improving the quality of life of those who perform the tasks. This is something I understand and recognize in how Tandem's DevOps process makes our projects more pleasant for everyone involved.

React

I hung out in that comfy auditorium for Chris Well’s session where he discussed Embedding a React app in a Drupal 8 site. It was interesting to have him show us the code and ask us what game it was for: after a few moments it was obvious he was describing tic tac toe. From that basic groundwork, he built up his presentation to discuss a more complex solution he had developed. He encouraged questions and shared his takeaways from the experience.

The Making of a PodCast

Throughout the afternoon I observed Stephen Cross recording interviews for a podcast. Instead of going to the final session I sat out there, working on a few things for A11yTalks, and listened. I heard people I’ve seen speak for years sit down and talk about their experiences, their companies and where they’re all headed together. Stephen interviewed and conversed with each guest. With a crowded room and my attention divided I only caught part of it, but I look forward to hearing more of these clips from NED Camp.

The After Party

No Drupal camp would be complete without the after party. The college hosted us in a room where we could chat with friends, meet new people, and nosh on a variety of hors-d'oeuvres. As the night progressed some hugged and waved goodbye as they left the camp, while others of us made plans to keep things going a bit longer. We headed to food and then to a speakeasy where the Twitter-renowned picture "The Last Supper of #NEDCamp2018" was taken. Look for it; for the record, I was on the phone giving more people directions to come to join us! We all talked till late in the night. Then final hugs were given, Ubers were called and we all returned to our respective dormitories for the night.

NEDCamp 2018 Takeaways

On the drive home the next morning I had the music up and the sun streaming in through my sunroof. I had a few hours to think through this camp’s experiences.

  • Team: I love spending time with team members - Stephanie and Mike are wonderful people to work and to play with!
  • Community: you’ve heard me go on before but, in short, these faces I only see a handful of times a year have become important faces to me
  • Technology: digital is about people - we make websites and applications FOR people. And well, I learned that DevOps is about people too… it’s about the people who make the resources for the rest of us out there.

Until next year NED Camp! And thank you.