Y’know, that was our best Drupaldelphia so far! From the perfect venue at Temple and the sessions, to the keynote and the attendees, it all came together really well.
I don’t know if this is why it worked so well, but I wasn’t as involved in the planning this year. Leading up to last Friday, I was very much in my own world, dealing with work and deadlines, and starting to stress over the two sessions I was involved in. It may have been late, but my panelmates and I sussed out our plan for the Themer’s Roundtable session, and shortly thereafter, I polished my Design in the Browser session as much as I could. Getting those pieces in place gave me enough mental space to see how well this event was going. We had a great mix of Drupal pros and newbies, and I’m happy to report that I saw both types in my sessions.
with: Meg Frisch, Larry Miller, Theresa Summa, & Mason Wendell
I was initially nervous about combining my original Themer’s Roundtable session with the Theming 101 session. I had conceived the roundtable session to be a discussion of the job, of the themer’s role in projects, and at different kinds of companies. I think that once we put the two sessions together, having spent a little time on that topic, we put the technical intro to theming presentation in a really interesting context. Instead of having one person tell you “how it’s done” we had four accomplished themers talk about the range of right ways to do this work. We tried not to confuse the issue, and I hope we didn’t. I think that this was an energized room and I love that we were able to establish a real back and forth with the audience throughout the session.
with: Mason Wendell
I’ve been designing in the browser using html and css as my primary design tools for a few months now (and thinking about it for much longer) but I still surprised myself when I decided that this was what I wanted to speak about this year. I thought that at first I’d rework my presentation from last year, but then I realized that my thinking had moved on pretty far since my previous presentation. My second notion was to do a big demo of Sass. However, as much as I love that, I realized I had more to say about designing in the browser, and that the talk would touch on all of the other things that I had been considering. I’ll hopefully find time to write a proper post on the topic soon, but it boils down to a couple of key points: 1. Designing in photoshop, and then translating that design into markup and css is extra work, and 2. If you fail to test and present in real browsers as early as possible, you’re lying to yourself and your clients. There’s just too much variance in how we all view and use web sites to think they can be represented in a few flat graphic files.
I knew that I’d get push back from the audience. This is a new topic, and very few designers are really working this way right now. But, I’m not the only one writing and talking about this. We’ve had some real success doing this at Canary and I feel confident that any designer who can already translate their design to css can easily switch gears to begin thinking creatively with css. I also got a lot of great questions from the audience. Most of the questions were pretty probing and caused me to think a little deeper on the subject, while on my feet. That experience really helped me clarify my thinking even more and I think I made a few converts. I really hope that everyone who was there at least does some experimenting with designing in the browser, and starts to think about how to work it into their job.
The Rest of the Day
After my sessions, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted and I was much more relaxed for the rest of the day. Matt Cheney’s keynote was the main standout event of the day. Instead of just talking about how great Drupal and his company were doing, he quite accurately and honestly laid a case for Drupal’s largest weaknesses. This is important because we can get so caught up in our successes that it can be easy to ignore the notion that this could all go south if we’re not careful.
In the afternoon and evening a met a lot of great people and caught a great session about writing my own Drush code. You better believe I’ll be playing around with that! Drush can do a lot more than just make me a sandwich.