I'm finally finding some time to reflect briefly on DrupalCon Sydney, which ended a week ago. This was my first DrupalCon, and the first DrupalCon to be held in the southern hemisphere. It was described as a 'floating' DrupalCon (in addition to the two regular northern hemisphere ones); the next big Drupal event in the southern hemisphere will be a return to Wellington, New Zealand, for DrupalSouth. I have fond memories of DrupalSouth Wellington 2010; it's where I gained a lot of encouragement in developing my Drupal skills, and where I started making connections with key contributors to Drupal outside of Australia.
DrupalCon Sydney was encouraging for similar reasons – it coincided with the next big step in my Drupal career, to go freelance full-time, and I was able to make further connections with the international Drupal community. Overall, what encouraged me about DrupalCon Sydney were:
Growing Drupal down under – The Drupal Association is gradually recognising the significant Drupal community in Australia and New Zealand (if not the wider Asia-Pacific region). While we still don't have the same status as North America and Europe, we are being taken a bit more seriously. Kudos especially to Donna Benjamin for being a voice for our region within the Drupal Association.
A welcoming community – I have been involved in a few Linux/open source user groups, and I have stayed with the Drupal community because it is genuinely friendly and welcoming to new developers. (Its shortcomings in welcoming non-developers is a blog post someone else can write.) It's not just that, like some other large open source communities, it has a written code of conduct – my online and offline experience with Drupal meetup groups and contributors is that many of us already share these values and don't need to be taught them from scratch. There are also initiatives to help developers contribute to the core project. xjm and ZenDoodles' talk on patch review and the Saturday code sprint helped me make my first (imperfect) patch to Drupal 8 core.
Women in Drupal – I met Angie Byron, the core maintainer for Drupal 7, at Linux.conf.au and DrupalSouth in Wellington in 2010, along with EmmaJane Hogbin and Liz Henry. It already appeared to me then that Drupal didn't share the boys'-club atmosphere that plagues many open source projects. Since DrupalCon Sydney I have a better appreciation of how many women are involved in technical leadership, including xjm who is now Code and Community Strategist at Acquia. I don't have any illusion that the Drupal project is some kind of geek feminist utopia, but I certainly find it a welcoming and safe place to develop my skills.
Budget permitting, I hope to get to DrupalCon Prague in September for my first European DrupalCon and first ever visit to ('Continental') Europe. If not, next stop Wellington!