Being TYPO3 at DrupalCon Pittsburgh

Categories: Event Report Created by Mathias Bolt Lesniak
Male face smiling into camera. Banner with "DrupalCon Pittsburgh 2023" in background.
Attending DrupalCon Pittsburgh was a perfect example of the Meet TYPO3 initiative, enabling TYPO3 to interact and collaborate with another open-source community and share insights across technological, cultural, and national borders. Photo: Mathias Bolt Lesniak (CC-BY)
The four-day event was the largest Drupal event in the USA in 2023. It included talks, workshops, all-day seminars, and ample time for contribution. Conferences like these are a great way to learn about other open source projects, how they organize their events and communities, solve their problems, and celebrate their successes.

Drupal and TYPO3 may take different approaches to content management, but under the hood, our two communities solve web publishing with similar tools and third-party dependencies.

 Mathias Bolt Lesniak attended DrupalCon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 5–7 June 2023, as part of the Meet TYPO3 initiative. Mathias is a TYPO3 Association board member. See upcoming Meet TYPO3 events.

On top of that, my talk about the Big Impact of Open Source was accepted by the organizers. This was an exciting opportunity to talk about open-source collaboration and the things Drupal and TYPO3 have in common. The talk was very well received, and including a long and interesting Q&A session, it went on for almost an hour.

Four Days — Sessions, Contribution, Community

The first two days of the four-day conference were filled with talks. With as many as ten(!) parallel sessions, it was sometimes hard to choose where to go.

The third day was a contribution day, including workshops for first-time contributors and opportunities for mentored contribution. I think the Drupal community does a good job of their contributor onboarding, for example by pre-selecting issue tickets that are easy for beginners to solve. With their recent move to a GitLab-based workflow, the contribution experience is also becoming easier for first-time contributors.

The fourth day was dedicated to workshops and summits, as well as a continuation of the contribution. That means full-day opportunities to learn things like Advanced Drupal Front-end Development or to meet with an industry-specific community circle, such as at the Government Industry Summit.

Sitting in on a Board Meeting

DrupalCon in Pittsburgh also included a Drupal Association Public Board Meeting. I asked if I was allowed to attend, and was warmly encouraged to do so. The session included some information about the Drupal Association, a formal board meeting, and an open question-and-answer session.

The Drupal Association’s board of directors is quite different from the one I’m used to from the TYPO3 Association. Instead of eight seats elected by the members, Drupal’s has twelve, where two seats are elected by the members. The other officers are elected by the board itself, including one reserved seat for the project’s founder, Dries Buytaert.

The procedures are also more formal than what I’m used to, with every motion requiring both a proposer and a second, or endorsement, by another board member.

Until now, the Drupal Association has not been doing Drupal marketing. This is changing, and the association is hiring a person responsible for their marketing efforts. Going forward, they are also putting emphasis on fundraising, having recently hired a director of philanthropy.

Open Web Manifesto

On the agenda for the board meeting was also a vote on the Open Web Manifesto, “a public declaration of [the Drupal Association’s] commitment to the open web and belief in its power as a digital public good.” 

The manifesto is a statement soundly based in open-source values and practice that has much in common with the TYPO3 Project's Vision, Mission, and Purpose, as developed by the TYPO3 Association Board and representatives from the TYPO3 Company and the TYPO3 Core Team.

The difference between the two is that this manifesto is very general. With a custom first paragraph, and a search-and-replace for Drupal, I think the Open Web Manifesto is something many FOSS CMS projects would be happy to sign as well.

Meeting and Learning

For the first two days, the conference included an expo hall with booths promoting numerous Drupal agencies and related service providers. I spent quite a bit of time there, talking with people and learning about what makes Drupal people excited right now.

Social events are, as a rule, the place you really get to meet and talk with people at a conference. However, DrupalCon Pittsburgh didn’t include much of an official social evening program. That was instead provided by some of the sponsors, requiring you to know beforehand, pay attention to the grapevine, or — as I guess is their intention — visiting their booth.

As a relative newbie in the Drupal community, I tagged along with more experienced folks to evening events I would never have known about otherwise. Since the events were often a little distance from the conference center, it was also a good opportunity to get to see Pittsburgh — including an electric scooter ride a few kilometers along a riverside heritage trail.

Shared Networks and Insights

As with many events, all of the talks at DrupalCon Pittsburgh were recorded and published to a YouTube playlist. These are mostly simple screen recordings with the voice of the speaker on top, but still a great source of information if you want a peek at how another CMS is solving problems. Some talks are also about general CMS or community topics that don’t even mention Drupal.

Attending DrupalCon Pittsburgh was a perfect example of the Meet TYPO3 initiative, enabling TYPO3 to interact and collaborate with another open-source community and share insights across technological, cultural, and national borders. 

And out of the blue, a random encounter helped us contact a local African TYPO3 community that we’ve been trying to reach out to for years!

Additional contributors for this article
  • Copy Editor : Felicity Brand