DrupalCamp: Bristol 2017

Over the weekend, me, Michelle and the two other Leeds Apprentices had the chance to attend Drupal Camp: Bristol. With the idea of developing our knowledge of Drupal, Improving our Connections and Meeting all the other Apprentices from Happy Computers, based in different cities around England.

Throughout the day there was various talks in various Lecture Rooms, so I was unable to attend every talk throughout the day. Therefore, I attempted to attend a variety of talks touching different areas of Web Development.


Session One – Keynote: Self-Care and Supporting Others

The Event began Saturday morning with a Keynote by Emma Karayiannis – a Front-End Developer from Brighton. This talk involved Supporting Others, Taking care of Yourself and the Best Practices when Posting Online. She said: “Humans are not designed to work tirelessly and endlessly. At times we have to stop to look after ourselves. Taking a break might not be the easiest or most obvious thing to do. Many of us have responsibilities within the community and a lot of pressure sitting on our shoulders. It’s okay to stop and look after yourself.

She explained: It’s OK to say ‘no’! Which means not to take on too much work and you have to help yourself before you can help others. Something called ‘Imposter Syndrome’ was also mentioned in Emma’s talk. This is where you feel overwhelmed or unheard. Emma showed us how tackle this head on.

I found this talk really beneficial, and easy to understand as she gave real life scenario’s and own experiences. Most Developers don’t consider self-care much, the main focus is getting the current project completed and then moving on to the next. The topics from this Keynote were also mentioned in other talks, which definitely shows you it’s something to think about.



Session Two – Is what you’ve coded what you mean?

The second session from Dave Liddament, outlined why it’s important to catch Bugs early and the effects it can have to your site if not. He said: “Consider three parts: what the code should do, what the code actually does and what the developers think the code does. The greater the overlap the more successful and bug free your software is likely to be.”

I found this talk really beneficial and it helped me understand the importance of testing and checking code for bugs early in the Development Process.


Session Three – Pattern Libraries: How to make your Backend love your Frontend

The third session was from Keir Moffatt – who is currently a Freelancer Web Developer based in Bristol. In his talk, Keir spoke about how he uses Pattern Libraries on his projects, and how this can make the Development process easier. He also explained the process he follows when creating his site, which involves sticking all of his designs on the wall (like a CSI Miami Crime Board), Using sites like Trello and Jira to track his progress and how he uses Naming Conventions for all his Filenames, Classes and Modules to avoid Confusion.

A quote he said in his talk several times was “Simple rarely breaks – but if it does, simple is easy to fix”. This quote was drilled into my head and made me realise if your code is simple, problems will be easier to diagnose and the code will be easier to test. Also by using a naming convention such as BEM, there will be no confusion or conflicts in the code.


Session Four – Website Insecurity: How your CMS Site will get hacked and how to prevent it

This talk by George Boobyer outlined how sites can get hacked, and how to prevent the same thing happening to a site of your own. This was a really good and interesting talk and I liked the way he began his presentation. He showed the red screen that was displayed when the NHS was hacked, and made it out that it had just happened to him.

I got quite a lot from this talk especially when he explained how to not be a victim of hacking yourself, by saying; Update, Backup and Test Backups. By Updating your PC whenever possible, you can stay covered from the latest Hackers and Bugs which is vital to stay protected. By regularly backing up and regularly checking those backups, if the worst was to happen and your PC was inaccessible, you will not lose any files.


Session Five: Develop Developing Developers / Freelancers: Tips and Tricks I picked up along the way

The Fifth Session, was split between 2 people. The first half was by Johan Gant – a Web Developer from Torchbox. Johan gave his understanding of what qualities, priorities and behaviours really make a difference for developers of all skill levels and how to apply them to deliver value into any project or organisation you happen to be in. Johan also recovered ‘Imposter Syndrome’ which had been spoken about in the Keynote earlier on in the day.

This talk benefited me, and taught me how to be a good developer in my workplace. Especially how he pushed the fact that you should ask anything, doesn’t matter how big or small.

The second half of this talk was from Ana Hassel – a Freelance Designer and Developer. She spoke about what it is like to be a Freelancer, the tools she uses to help her work more effeciently and where she sees herself in the future. This was a really good talk and I have definately taken some things away from this.


Session Six – Why I’m a Maker

The final session of the day was from Ben Everard – a developer from The Idea Bureau. This was one of my favourite talks and was so relateable! Ben explained the similarity in Building Things in his Garage in his spare time, and Building Sites at work.

This talk taught me, you can be more creative than just making websites. You can bring the thought process of being a Developer to your every day life. Just like Ben Plans/Designs/Builds things in his Garage.


Evening Social

The Evening Social was a great time for everyone to Kick Back, Relax and take in what had been said throughout the day. It was held at ZeroDegrees in Bristol City Centre, not far from the Uni.

This is where I had the chance to meet with various Developers and get to know the other Apprentices from Happy Computers.