Drupalcon Barcelona 2016 - Day 1

Drupal Developer, Drupal Evangelist, Co-operative Champion
Drupalcon Barcelona Group Photo

Drupalcon Barcelona - Day 1

After a few days at Drupalcon Barcelona I am only now finally getting down to posting my notes and thoughts on day 1. What a rollercoaster ride it has been so far! Many familiar faces, and many new ones. I’ll kick off with my notes from Tuesday and follow up with Wednesday and Thursday in due course.

Monday was spent at the Community Kickoff event, engaging with other people who organise local meetups, Drupalcamps and other events and people who want to set up meetups and camps but need advice on how to do so. It was good to be able to share my experiences with Oxford Drupal User Groups and the Oxford Drupalcamp with other community organisers. You can see the notes for one of the meetings here.

So Tuesday was the first day of conference sessions, kicking off with a keynote from the creator of Drupal, Dries Buyteart, affectionately known as the "Driesnote".


Dries’s keynote was typically mild mannered, and intelligent posing some difficult questions of the Drupal community and assessing what challenges lay ahead.

He talked about work life balance, pointing out that it is important to discuss these things with those close to you. He asks if Drupal is losing momentum, to which he answers categorically “Yes” because people are still waiting for Drupal 8 to come out, after nearly 5 years. Citing the Osbourne effect he predicts that there will be a huge spike in Drupal usage when we do get Drupal 8 out of the door, so we need to get it out soon to avoid a fate similar to that of the Osbourne Computer Corporation in 1985. He wraped up this part of the talk by stating that the remaining critical split issues have been split into multiple smaller issues to help tackle theses faster. and finally announces Drupal 8 release candidate for Wednesday 7th October.

Market position

Comparing market share of top CMSs Dries talked about the the Wordpress elephant (in the room), highlighting the common perception that Wordpress has the largest market share. He points out that this perception is true if you look at all sites in the world, but that the reality is different if you look at the top 100K or top 10K sites. The summary of this is that Drupal is in a great position in terms of market share for the largest and most popular sites in the world, placing Drupal quite firmly ahead for complex and high traffic sites.

Technical Relevance

In this section Dries argued that Drupal 8 will be way ahead of the competition in terms of technical relevance. For example, the RESTful power of Drupal will allow Drupal to power all sorts of apps, from web apps to mobile apps. He also talked about Graphql  https://github.com/graphql/graphiql which I didn’t fully understand, but looked like a great way to query Drupal’s REST apis.

Key take aways:

  1. Drupal 8 RC1 scheduled for 7th October

  2. Drupal is doing well for larger and high traffic sites.

  3. Drupal 8 will place Drupal way ahead of the immediate competition technically.




One of the most exciting Drupal 8 initiatives for me is configuration management. While this is perhaps not that exciting for our clients, for developing and supporting a Drupal site this is magic. We have long used the features module to deploy some aspects of configuration in code from the development site, to the staging site for testing, to the production site, but anyone who has ever used features for this knows the pain that this can cause (features was never really intended for this but was developed for Open Atrium to allow different functionality to be enabled in different group contexts on the site).

Configuration management now supports exporting all configuration as yaml files, commit these to your git repository and import the configuration on staging to test and production.

This still poses some questions. The general workflow being that configuration is deployed from dev to staging to live, and content coming the other direction, created on production, and pulled down to staging or dev for testing and further work. In this new world order, how to deal with config changing on live and on dev?

Option 1:

Option 2

  • sync live database to dev, export the config, commit and push back up through the standard workflow.

  • this is probable the most common way

Also, when removing configuration objects, all dependencies will be removed. For example, if we remove a content type, all fields that only depend on that content type will be removed. This is wonderful news, and something which features module could never do well.

Key take aways:

  1. Configuration management in code is great!

  2. There is a growing number of contrib modules that extend configuration management functionality.

  3. Configuration management will deal with dependencies in a logical way.


Docker powered team and deployment

An introduction to Docker from Dave Numan, with a focus on bowline, a tool he has developed to help Drupal development with Docker. We currently use Vagrant and puppet scripts to provide our development team with consistent local development environments, so it is interesting to learn how Docker might help with this in the future.

One point he did make was this: “When choosing what tools to supply to your team, decide how you are going to support it”. As our team grows, this is incredibly important, so consistency, testing and documentation is important. The front end dev stack is one area that is moving so fast that we have had issues ensuring consistency across projects and developers, so whatever we are using this needs to be managed well.

One exciting point about Docker is that it can be used to manage your local development stack, your dev server, and your production server, further ensuring consistency between all environments.

Key take aways:

  1. Docker might be a good way to impove consistency on local dev environments as well as servers.

  2. Whatever solution a team uses, it needs to be supported with documentation and people who understand it.


Self-Managing Organizations: Teal is the new Orange

LIIP https://www.liip.ch/en

Presented by Lukas  and Tonio - both partners.

Goals of the talk  

  • self organisation is possible

  • pros and cons of self organisation

  • real world example

Liip sounds like an amazing organisation. They are based in Switzerland and the company is fully owned by 113 ‘Lispers’ (84 full time equiv). 100% of the shares are owned within employees. There is a 6 person management and a 1 level hierarchy.

This is obviously of interest to me as it has strong parallels with our worker co-operative governance and ethos, also fully owned by the workers. Further to this, Liip is has four clear dedications:

  1. open source

  2. agile

  3. people centric

  4. care for environment, socially, ecology

This sounds very familiar! For example, the company will not fund air travel, but will fund train travel, which is the same at Agile Collective.


  • market growing and changing fast

  • finding new people

  • finding clients that are a good fit.

They went on to discuss the book that has inspired some of their decisions:


Interestingly, Liip has no:

  • centralized steering

  • 5 year plan

  • growth planning

  • business plan

just rough annual budgeting! I'm not sure if we would want to go that far, but I like the idea of allowing growth to emerge rather than be planned. 


The way that they manage over 100 people to self organise at Liip is interesting. They have autonomous teams of 10 - 15 people.

  • every person can define their own goals and strategies

  • agile++

  • use all the skills

Teams :

  • fixed (teams don’t change)

  • self organised

  • multidisciplinary

So each team can:

  • win new business

  • produce new work

  • maintain projects

  • hire people

  • innovate

People, it is all about the people!

The lispers:

  • ability to accept change and to trust people

  • roles are not fixed

  • rewarded with empowerment - additional salaries for everyone (14 per year?) everyone gets an extra 14th salary, or no one

  • structured salary system, based on points and annual reviews

So these guys are pretty revolutionary in standard business terms, but draw many parallels with our worker co-operative. I was interested to find out why they were not a worker co-operative. After speaking with the Liip guys, it appears that this has all been emergent rather than planned, which is perhaps even better than planning to be a co-op from the start.

If I had only attended this one session at Drupalcon, I would have been delighted, it was quite inspirational - and not even Drupal specific!