Notes from DrupalCamp Gothenburg, Sweden
The Drupal Association contacted me when I was working on DrupalCamp Gothenburg 2013 and asked me to write a blog entry about the camp. This is the result, posted at The Drupal Association website in June of 2013.
After visiting a DrupalCamp in 2011, I set off with a mission - to arrange a DrupalCamp in my hometown of Gothenburg. This became a reality only 5 months later and with the experience from that said camp of 2012 we set off to make the next one even better.
And at the time when drupalers from all over the world started their journey back home from DrupalCon Portland, or stayed for the sprint weekend, a similar, but much much smaller event took place some 7700 kilometers away. That event was DrupalCamp Gothenburg 2013.
I took the role of project manager again and together with 12 others, we arranged a great DrupalCamp - or should I say, a Drupal Weekend!
A Drupal weekend in Gothenburg
We turned our DrupalCamp into a real Drupal weekend, starting with a kickoff at a local pub. There, a number of us started (and ended) Friday night with discussions covering Drupal, PHP, Symfony and Swedish things like surströmming and, of course, the sunny weather. As a Swede, you always discuss the weather.
Friday turned into Saturday and in the morning we opened the doors of our venue of this year’s DrupalCamp Gothenburg, Folkets Hus - the House of the People, a community area with many rooms, perfect to hold sessions in.
This year, we were glad to present a full schedule, 15 sessions, that covered the whole day. The keynote was held by Tobias Sjösten, a well-known voice in both the Drupal and Symfony community in Sweden, and covered the symbiosis of Drupal and Symfony.
The sessions consisted of very diverse things, from web accessibility to Drush, via Git and Drupal 8. A whole session was dedicated to inform about Drupal Association and community-based work in Gothenburg.
After the sessions (and a lot of coffee) we headed upstairs to the restaurant in the same building where we dug into a buffet provided by the restaurant at the venue. With a beer in our hands we continued the evening with mingling, networking and enjoying ourselves. The sunny weather invited us to sit outside and when the place closed later that night, some of the attendees headed off to a club downtown.
Sunday came around and whilst we who arranged the DrupalCamp gathered for a well-deserved lunch together, others gathered at the office of Kodamera where there was a code sprint to help get rid of more bugs from Drupal 8.
From start to end, a 48 hour ride with Drupal as the common denominator, that was the final of some six months planning and work.
Tips and tricks for organizing a camp
When we arranged our first DrupalCamp in 2012 we ended up with a long list of things to improve. This year, all of the things on the list was improved, and we ended up with another list of things to improve for future DrupalCamps. With these kind of iterations, we learn and make better DrupalCamps in the future.
So what did we improve this year? What advice can I give to all you out there planning or arranging DrupalCamps all over the world?
The most important is to listen. Listen to your visitors, sponsors and session speakers. Ask them about their ideas and their feedback about your camp. Use that information to plan and improve your camp next time. If you’re a first time camp-organizer, then seek this kind of information from your local Drupal community, or post a thread in groups.drupal.org
When the camp is over, send out a survey to get feedback from all of those that you didn’t have time to talk to.
Second most important is to have fun. Make place for fun. Our camp is 100% community-driven so besides the experience, fun is an important ingredient to make all this work.
Look in the calendar and see what’s going on. Choose a date when your camp doesn’t have to compete with other major Drupal events. In our case, we ended up very close to another camp in Sweden, and of course, DrupalCon Portland. Date-wise, we didn’t really have a choice when to have our DrupalCamp before the summer would be here, and we ended up paying for it with less visitors.
Another thing is to launch a website early, and try to set a schedule with sessions early. That attracts both visitors and sponsors.
My last tip for all you out there: Avoid growing pains by growing slowly. Start off with a one-day event, then add a code sprint next time, after that perhaps a kickoff the following and then start experimenting with business days connected to your DrupalCamp. For us, we are somewhere in the middle, we have a great camp, and in the future we’ll explore the many possibilities a DrupalCamp can offer.