Last week Drupal enthusiasts from around the world came together in Denver for DrupalCon. My second time around with this event, I always enjoy the “Birds of a Feature” or BoF sessions that allow for a variety of topics from core development to theming to DrupalChix. The conference overall is a valuable experience with the Drupal community, below is just a sample of the awesome events from the weekend.
To start, a big announcement of the Drupal 8 architecture changes. In the last few years, Dries Buytaert (founder of Drupal) and a number of other core developers saw the underlying system as both a strength and weakness. The strength was its flexibility and ease of extensibility as evidenced by the thousands of modules. The weakness comes from implied knowledge required to extend the system well. Combine those two pieces and you end up with a talent pool that’s way too small.
To address the problem, Drupal 8 will make use of the Symfony Framework’s Components. It addresses two problems nicely. First, it allows the Drupal community to tap into an entire set of well-established and well-tested components that they no longer have to maintain. Second, it combines two talent pools and will make each bigger. A more subtle third benefit are the tools like IDE’s and QA scripts available for framework-based projects.
Twilio + Drupal = Epic Modules
Next up was the conclusion of our extended Drupal and Twilio mashup contest. To kick off the creativity and get people thinking, we encouraged the theme “user interface is more than pixels”. We received an impressive showing of submissions ranging from the intriguing to amazingly ambitious to immediately useful. The finalists demoed their modules for a panel of judges who chose the final three.
Our third place prize was the most ambitious while also the hardest to demo in a loud presentation space. Ed McLaughlin introduced us to his creation Vuzzbox.com. In short, it uses Twilio Client to capture your voice and navigate Drupal in the browser. His demo in our office hours was stunning. He spoke into a headset and the browser moved from page to page. It’s currently a proof of concept, but the potential for web accessibility is huge. He was the winner of a Kindle.
Second prize went to Jeff Linwood of Austin, TX who integrated Drupal, his iPad, and the Ubercart ecommerce module. When an incoming call is received, the phone number is used to look up the order information in Ubercart. Within seconds, the customer’s information – including their most recent order – appears on the iPad. Using our Twilio Client iOS SDK, he even integrated a click to answer. Complete customer service without sitting in front of your browser. Jeff also picked up a Kindle Fire.
First prize went to James McBryan of TheTechScouts.com for an SMS interface for Drupal. By attaching a phone number to your account, you can create nodes, approve comments, and publish/unpublish nodes. It was simple, elegant, and demo’d extremely well. You can explore his a demo of his SMS Twilio Server demo here. He received special appreciation from the judges because when he submitted his entry, he submitted all of the modules for release on Drupal.org. Until they’re approved, you can download the SMS modules from his site.
“Not at DrupalCon” But Still a Winner
Not limiting submissions to those attending DrupalCon we also outlined a special prize for those “not at DrupalCon”. The developer who brought the the heat was Caio Luppi, who implemented Drupal-based conference calling using Twilio Client. You simply install the module and any authenticated user can join any of the active conference calls. In addition, the moderator can mute or unmute any caller. The best part? Since this is using Twilio Client, the entire experience is within Drupal.
Special thanks to our Rockin’ Judges
And finally, a special thanks to our panel of judges who made themselves available and provided extensive feedback for the contest entrants. Their Drupal expertise and industry leadership really topped off the event for the community.
- Leo Burd, PhD, founder and lead developer of the VoIP Drupal module;
- Robert Ristroph, Asterisk expert and Senior Developer from Four Kitchens;
- Frank Febbraro, CTO of Phase2 Technology; and
- Matt Cheney, co-founder of Pantheon.
If you’re interested in other aspects of DrupalCon and/or Twilio & Drupal, you can catch Fabien Potencier’s (Symfony founder) discussion of Dries’ keynote from DrupalCon Denver and videos of all of the regular sessions. I’m already looking forward to the possibilities.