Fun history fact. When Dries Buytaert first built Drupal in 2001, he wanted to host it at the domain dorp.org, dorp being Dutch for “village”. A mistype gave him drop.org, which he liked the sound of. The Dutch word for drop is “druppel”, and an English rendering of the word ended up as Drupal. Yet through those twists and translations Dries original intention remains the same, Drupal is a village. It is built on top of a vast and passionate community, who collaborate to not only improve Drupal, but to also help those who want to use it. As the old saying goes “it takes a village”, and if you want to be successful with Drupal you need to join ours.
One of the easiest ways to get involved with the Drupal community is to attend your local Drupal meetup group. With hundreds of drupal groups around the globe, you should be able to find one in your area. Drupal meetups are a low key gathering of people, who share a passion for working with Drupal. It is important to attend meetups because they help you build connections to people in your local Drupal community. These connections can help you build a better understanding of Drupal and how to work with it, not only by receiving advice from others but by also giving back what you have learned.
At the Boston Drupal meetup group for example, our format tends to follow lightning talks. Anyone is welcome get up and speak for 5-10 minutes on a Drupal topic of their choosing. Talks range from showing off a recently completed drupal website, module or theme, to asking for advice on how to solve a problem the speaker is stuck on.
Drupal camps are organized 1 to 2 day conferences that are focused on sharing knowledge among the community. There have been 114 Drupal camps just this year, and likely there will be even more next year. Just as meetups provide a connection to your local drupal community, camps help you build a connection to your regional drupal community. Drupal camps tend to follow a normal conference structure, offering attendees sessions on specific topics, as well as more informal group discussions, known as BOF’s (Birds Of a Feather).
There are many ways to become involved with a drupal camp from sponsorship, volunteering to submitting your own idea for a session to speak about. Attending camps and sessions can provide you and/or your team with more in-depth knowledge on a wide range of topics. This year the company I work at Genuine Interactive, was happy to be one of the sponsors at the Boston Design 4 Drupal conference, where myself and another co-worker presented a session on responsive web design when building Drupal websites.
There are 2 to 3 big Drupal conferences (known as DrupalCons) each year, one in North America, one in Europe and one in South America and they are your connection to the global Drupal community. Organized by the Drupal Association, Drupalcons are where you have a chance to rub elbows and learn from the rockstars of the Drupal community. Happening over a week long period Drupalcons provide full day trainings, two or three full days of sessions, birds of a feather meetings, coding sprints, hackathons and plenty of social activities. Sessions are organized into tracks that range from development and theming to devops and project management.
With the amount of knowledge shared and connections that can be made, if you want to improve the Drupal work you or your team produce you cannot afford to miss Drupalcon. If you are an individual who could normally not financially afford to attend Drupalcon, in the spirit of a village the Drupal community is there to help. Through the Drupalcon grants and scholarship program, individuals have been given a chance to attend to Drupalcon who might not otherwise been able to.
Drupal meetups, camps and conferences provide you with the opportunity to learn from and give back to your local, regional and global Drupal communities. These communities are important because at it’s core Drupal is still a village. Drupal relies on its community to help it continue to lead the way for the next generation of CMS’s and frameworks.