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High Performance Drupal - Speaking at DrupalCamp STL.15

I'll be speaking at DrupalCamp St. Louis 2015 at SLU LAW this weekend. My session, High Performance Drupal, will cover many quick performance wins for Drupal sites, and will fix an example site that simulates many performance problems seen on real-world Drupal sites.

Sorry it's been so long since posting here—I'm still working on my book, I've read through about 5 other books, and as always, I'm tinkering with a bunch of Raspberry Pis!

Sessions are Live for DrupalCamp STL.15!

The organizers of DrupalCamp St. Louis 2015 are excited to announce that the schedule is set for DrupalCamp STL.15; we will have sessions from a variety of presenters on a variety of topics—for both beginners and seasoned veterans alike!

DrupalCamp 2015 St. Louis - SLU LAW

Some of the great sessions lined up include a session on Git basics, the status of Migrate in Drupal 8, content strategy, securing Drupal, improving performance, improving search, Twig, and more! To kick it off, we'll have an awesome keynote from Alina Mackenzie (alimac) about getting involved in the Drupal Community.

Check out the sessions: DrupalCamp St. Louis 2015 Session Schedule.

Register for DrupalCamp STL.15 today, and build your schedule on the site—besides these excellent sessions, you'll get a tasty catered lunch, a comfy t-shirt, and some great memories and networking opportunities on both days of the Camp!

DrupalCamp St. Louis 2015 - register now, come help at our first-ever sprint day!

DrupalCamp STL.15 (June 20-21, in St. Louis, MO) will be the first DrupalCamp in St. Louis with a day dedicated to sprints to help the Drupal community. We're expecting a great turnout, and there are already a number of proposed sessions (many of which will be selected and announced on June 5!), and it's not yet too late to propose a session of your own!

DrupalCamp 2015 St. Louis - SLU LAW

This year's keynote, by Alina Mackenzie, will focus on the Drupal Community—what it is, why it rocks, and how you can get involved in the community. After the keynote, some great sessions, a tasty lunch, happy hour, and a good night's rest, we'll spend sprint day (Sunday June 21) making Drupal better, and maybe even pushing Drupal 8 a little closer to an 8.0.0 rc1 release!

Registration is now open, so go reserve your spot at DrupalCamp St. Louis 2015; I'll see you there, hopefully at one of the sessions I proposed, either on High Performance Drupal, or Local Development Environments and Drupal VM!

DrupalCamp St. Louis 2015 - Keynote Speaker and Session Submission Deadline

DrupalCamp 2015 St. Louis - SLU LAW

DrupalCamp St. Louis is scheduled for June 20-21, 2015, and will be held at SLU LAW in downtown St. Louis, MO. Less than a month away, there are a few important bits of news:

DrupalCamp STL.15 Keynote Speaker: Alina Mackenzie (alimac)

Alina Mackenzie is a developer and system administrator based in Chicago. In the Drupal community she is a camp organizer, speaker and communications lead for DrupalCon mentored sprints. She is passionate about learning organizations, automation, and making open source friendly for beginners.

Alina's keynote will focus on "Finding the entrance: Why and how to get involved with the Drupal community".

Alina's Drupal.org profile is https://www.drupal.org/u/alimac

Session Submission Deadline: May 29

Please submit your session proposals by Friday, May 29—just over a week from today! We'll notify speakers on June 5th whether a session was accepted or not.

We hope to see you at DrupalCamp St. Louis 2015! Registration will open next Monday, and sessions will be announced on June 5th.

Ansible for Drupal infrastructure and deployments - DrupalCon LA 2015 BoF

We had a great discussion about how different companies and individuals are using Ansible for Drupal infrastructure management and deployments at DrupalCon LA, and I wanted to post some slides from my (short) intro to Ansible presentation here, as well as a few notes from the presentation.

The slides are below:

And video/audio from the BoF:

Notes from the BoF

If first gave an overview of the basics of Ansible, demonstrating some Ad-Hoc commands on my Raspberry Pi Dramble (a cluster of six Raspberry Pi 2 computers running Drupal 8), then we dove headfirst into a great conversation about Ansible and Drupal.

Thoughts on the Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder Exam

After taking the trifecta of Acquia Developer Certification (General, Back-end, Front-end) exams and earned a new black 'Grand Master' sticker, I decided to complete the gauntlet and take the Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder Exam at DrupalCon LA.

Acquia Certified Drupal Site Builder - 2015

Taking the test in Acquia's testing center was a welcome reprieve from taking the exams online. There's much less of a 'big brother' feel when you don't have a 'sentinel' application running on your computer and a camera focusing on your face the entire time. Also, the exam room is nice and quiet, and has a good 'library' vibe to it.

Developing for Drupal with Vagrant and VMs

Many blog posts have outlined the benefits of using VMs (Virtual Machines) for local Drupal development instead of either using native PHP and Apache, or a bundled environment like MAMP, XAMPP, or Acquia Dev Desktop. The advantages of using virtualization (usually managed by Vagrant) are numerous, but in certain cases, you can make a good argument for sticking with the traditional solutions.

If you'd like to take the dive and start using virtualized development environments, or if you're already using Vagrant and VirtualBox or some other VM environment (e.g. VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop), how do you optimize local development, and which pre-bundled Drupal development VM will be best for you and your team?

Criteria for the Perfect Local Development Environment

These are the criteria I use when judging solutions for local Drupal development (whether virtualized or traditional):

  • Should be simple and easy to set up
  • Should be fast by default
  • Should be flexible:
    • Should work with multiple providers; VirtualBox is free, but VMWare can be much faster!
    • Should allow configuration of the PHP version.
    • Should work with your preferred development workflow (e.g. drush, makefiles, manual database sync, etc.)
    • Should prevent filesystem friction (e.g. permissions issues, slow file access speeds, etc.)
    • Shouldn't have hardcoded defaults
  • Should be complete:
    • Should work without requiring a bunch of extra plugins or 3rd party tools
    • No extra languages or libraries should be required (why install Ruby gems, npm modules, etc. unless you need them for your particular project?)
  • Should be Free and Open Source
  • Should include all the tools you need, but allow you to disable whatever you don't need (e.g. XHProf, Apache Solr, etc.)
  • Should work on Windows, Mac, and Linux with minimal or no adjustment
  • Should be deployable to production (so your local dev environment matches prod exactly)

A lot of these points may have more or less importance to a particular team or individual developer. If you're a die-hard Mac user and don't ever work with any developers on Windows or Linux, you don't need to worry about Windows support. But some of these points apply to everyone, like being fast, simple, and flexible.

Honeypot for Drupal 8, 3 years in the making

Almost three years ago, on Feb 19, 2013, I opened the 8.x-dev branch of the Honeypot module (which helps prevent form spam on thousands of Drupal sites). These were heady times in the lifetime of the then-Drupal 8.x branch; 8.0-alpha1 wasn't released until three months later, on May 19. I made the #D8CX pledge—when Drupal 8 was released, I'd make sure there was a full, stable Honeypot release ready to go.

Little did I know it would be more than 2.5 years—and counting—before I could see that promise through to fruition!

As months turned into years, I've kept to the pledge, and eventually decided to also port a couple other modules that I use on many of my own Drupal sites, like Wysiwyg Linebreaks and Simple Mail.

Thoughts on the Acquia Certified Developer - Front End Specialist Exam

Previously, I posted my thoughts on the Acquia Certified Developer - Back End Specialist exam as well as my thoughts on the Certified Developer exam. To round out the trifecta of developer-oriented exams, I took the Front End Specialist exam this morning, and am posting some observations for those interested in taking the exam.

Acquia Certified Developer - Front End Specialist badge

My Theming Background

I started my Drupal journey working on design/theme-related work, and the first few Drupal themes I built were in the Drupal 5 days (I inherited some 4.7 sites, but I only really started learning how Drupal's front end worked in Drupal 5+). Luckily for me, a lot of the basics have remained the same (or at least similar) from 5-7.

For the past couple years, though, I have shied away from front end work, only doing as much as I need to keep building out features on sites like Hosted Apache Solr and Server Check.in, and making all my older Drupal sites responsive (and sometimes, mobile-first) to avoid penalization in Google's search rankings... and to build a more usable web :)

Thoughts on the Acquia Certified Developer - Back End Specialist Exam

A little under a year ago, I took the Acquia Certified Developer exam at DrupalCon Austin, and posted Thoughts on the Acquia Drupal Developer Certification Exam. My overall thoughts on the idea of certifications for OSS like Drupal remain unchanged, so go read that previous post to hear them.

I wanted to post a little more about the additional certifications Acquia is now offering; in addition to the initial, more generalist-oriented Acquia Certified Developer Exam, Acquia now offers:

Earlier today, I took the Back End Specialist Exam, which focuses more specifically on things like Drupal's core API, general PHP syntax and style, secure code, content caching, debugging, and interacting with the Drupal community.

Acquia Certified Developer - Back End Specialist badge

Like the other certification exams, you get 90 minutes to complete the exam (60 questions total), and you have to take the exam either online or in a testing center with an active proctor. This time, I elected to take the exam on my own computer, which was a little more annoying than taking the exam in-person at a test center (as I did at DrupalCon last year).

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