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Drupal South - The Lil Engine Experience

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Campbell Tilley

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The biggest Drupal conference for Australia and New Zealand comes to Auckland for the first time on November 16-17.

Drupal South is the largest Drupal camp in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2017, Drupal South was held in Auckland over the 16th and 17th of November. Si Hobbs, Campbell Tilley and Feb Dao, from Lil Engine, were lucky enough to attend this event. The theme of this years conference was “Future is here”, which was a very fitting name given that a large amount of the talks were about the future of Drupal. In this blog I will recap some of the talks given at the conference and the overall social aspect of the event.

Wednesday 15th

The conference began on the 16th, however, there was a code sprint on the 15th - this is fairly standard for Drupal camps. We didn’t attend the code sprint as we arrived that afternoon, but from what I heard it was quite enjoyable! Once we arrived in Auckland, we met up with some fellow Drupalistas for a few drinks and dinner; this was our first taste of being involved with the Drupal community in Auckland.

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Thursday 16th

We arrived at the Q Theatre on Thursday morning. We were blown away by how nice the venue was, we knew this was going to be a Drupal South to remember!

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The conference kicked off with a traditional 'Welcome to Country' introduction followed by a keynote talk from Michael Schmid (a.k.a Schnitzel) called “The Future of Drupal”. I really enjoyed this talk as he looked into the future of websites and how our perception of websites will change. From here, the day only got more exciting with the next talk from Lee Rowlands called “OK Drupal”. Using a Google Home Mini device, Dialogflow and Drupal, Lee created a voice controlled chat bot that was able to interact between an individual and the Drupal South website. We were given a first hand look at how Drupal can be used to converse with users in a whole new way. Si, Feb and myself all enjoyed this talk very much. 

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The day continued with more fantastic talks and social atmosphere during our breaks was astonishing! Never have I been in such a large group filled with nice, talkative people.

We finished off the day at Dr Rudi's Brewery for some nice beers and pizza.

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Friday 17th

The final day of the conference. We began Friday with a keynote talk from Preston So called "Drupal's Next Decade" - again keeping to the theme of the conference. Preston spoke about the way websites will interact with people in the future, showing real demonstrations. One example was a grocery shop website interacting with a user on her phone; the user spoke to a chatbot about what she needed, the chatbot put together a grocery list for her. When the user arrived at the store, the website (via her phone) directed her to the aisle and location where each grocery item was making the overall experience positive and simple. Again, there were many other fantastic talks that I was able to attend. The highlight of this day, though, was a talk given by Simon Hobbs on Styleguide Patterns. 

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We ended our Friday with a few drinks in the Q Theatre followed by dinner with some fellow Drupalistas at Masu - a Japanese restaurant at the bottom of the Sky Tower! 

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Saturday 18th

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We spent our Saturday exploring the streets of Auckland. We were breathtaken by some of the beautiful sites and old streets. It is a very nice city with plenty to do and see! We also ran into many people from the conference who, like us, were exploring and taking in all of the sites.

Overall this was an amazing conference and I consider myself so lucky that I was able to be a part of it. If you are given the opportunity to attend a Drupal South event, don't turn it down! We'll see you at Canberra Drupal South in 2018!! 

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