DrupalCon Prague Recap

By mherchel, 23 September, 2022
Panorama of Prague

I attended DrupalCon Prague over the last week. It was wonderful to see old friends and meet new friends in such a beautiful location. This was my 14th in-person DrupalCon, but only my second European DrupalCon (with the previous being in Dublin). While I was super excited to be back in Europe and visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I was also really nervous about three sessions that I had to give (two at DrupalCon and one remotely for the ID24 conference).

View of the charles bridge from the riverside on a beautiful day

Saturday and Sunday: Drupal Association Board of Directors Meetings

After a horrible day of traveling, Robin (my girlfriend) and I arrived on Friday because the Drupal Association board was meeting over the weekend. I had only met the board in-person once before (at DrupalCon Portland), and I was really excited to see everyone in person again.

On Saturday, Baddy (the chair of the board) gave updates on the new Drupal Association CEO search, including the processes, candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, etc. We also received updates from the Drupal Association staff including financial, staffing, engineering, etc.

Saturday evening, we met up with the DA board to do some sight-seeing in the Old Town district of Prague. We saw a lot of famous landmarks including the Astronomy Clock, various cathedrals, etc. We ended up having an entertaining dinner together at a traditional Czech restaurant.

Photo of the DA board of directors in downtown Prague in front of the astronomy clock and some castle
Baddy, Imre, Nick, Mike, Dries, Vanessa, Ryan, Tiffany, Nikhil, and Owen in front of the famous Astronomy Clock in Old Town, Prague.

Sunday full of meetings. We talked more about candidates, but with a heavy emphasis on Drupal Association strategy, and how we want to define success. We also talked about measuring success and setting goals for the new CEO. There’s not too much I can say about this right now, but I’m personally really excited. In addition, the board seems to be in alignment on these.

That all being said, talking is easy. What’s really going to matter is the ability for the new CEO, staff, and board to execute on the strategies. From my point of view, it feels that the DA has been in a “holding pattern” for a while with COVID, and the previous CEO leaving. I’m hopeful that the community will see some meaningful changes coming in the next year!

Monday: Finally, some sightseeing!

The day before the conference finally provided an opportunity for sightseeing in Prague. Robin and I rode rental scooters into Old Town and then up into Prague Castle. This castle is on a hill overlooking the city and looks like a fairy tale. We walked up and went into St. Vitus Cathedral and St George’s Basilica, which is an 8th century church on the grounds.

Looking up at St Vites cathedral with a blue sky as a background
If I were a vampire, I would surely consider habitating St Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

We then went into the “Golden Lane”, which reminds me of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter book series. We had lunch at a small café at one end of it and slowly made our way down through the various stores, corridors, and nooks. We saw so many amazing items including old weapons like maces, swords, and crossbows. There were also suits of armor dating from the 1200s! It’s pretty wild that people actually wore these and fought each other.

Looking down a hallway in the golden lane with medieval weapons on both sides
Really cool medieval weapons all down this hallway! This used to house the kings guard.

We finished off the castle tour with Lobkowicz Palace. This was filled with a lot of old portraits and paintings (among other things). We listened to an audio tour of the various items, and it was fascinating hearing about the people in the portraits, what they did, and wondering what they were like in real life. I also liked it when they had their dogs painted into their portraits (I was definitely missing my pups by then).

Montage of various old-timey dogs in portraits
Some 15th and 16th century puppers. It made me miss mine even more.

Later that evening, I met up with the rest of the board, some DA staff, and Drupal community members to meet with the team from Kuoni (who organizes DrupalCon Europe). Kuoni has been doing a great job, and we thanked them for doing so. I also managed to get a list of recommended restaurants for the week ahead.

Group of 8ish people sitting a table smiling and looking at the camera
Dinner at a really good asian fusion place in Prague. From left: Zequi, Andy, Neil, Radim, Pauline, Mike, Robin, and Dan.

Tuesday and Wednesday: DrupalCon!

On Tuesday morning Robin and I did some sightseeing of Old Town and the surrounding areas. DrupalCon started mid-day, and I showed up soon after. It was exciting seeing so many people at the conference (it was at or above pre-covid attendance), and the energy level was sky-high.

The busy and packed trade show floor of DrupalCon
The trade-show floor of DrupalCon was packed and full of energy.

I went to the opening reception for just a bit before heading back to the hotel to meet up with a large group of people for dinner at a fantastic vegetarian restaurant that Sally Young picked out.

Considering I had two sessions the next day, I slept well on Tuesday night. The next morning, I arrived at the conference in the midst of the Driesnote, which is Dries’ twice-yearly DrupalCon keynote.

I spent most of Wednesday in the contribution room working with Lauri, Cristina, Andy, Alex Pott, Zequi Vázquez (who went to go get chocolate!) and more.

View of the contribution room with people sitting around various tables working
Contribution room happenings on Wednesday.

I also had the opportunity to talk with John Albin Wilkins, who I’ve only met once or twice. Lauri floated the idea of making me a maintainer of Drupal Core’s CSS subsystem (which John already is), and John agreed. Lauri created an issue to do this, with me creating the patch, and John setting it to RTBC! This is really exciting for me, because I’ve been on a crusade to get Drupal Core’s CSS into shape, and created an informal CSS Modernization Initiative.

My first session of the day was with Andy Blum, and it was All the cool things you can do when you don’t support IE11 (and how we can use these in Drupal core). It went well – Andy is a former science teacher and is good at explaining tough concepts.

Zoomed in pic of a packed room showing Mike and Andy in front of a large screen talking
Me and Andy explaining tons of cool CSS, including the new :is() selector.

Thirty minutes after my first session, I presented with Lauri on How Drupal 10 will make you fall in love with Drupal theming. I was especially excited about this presentation. We had plenty of funny memes and live demos that kept the audience engaged, laughing, and even clapping!

Selfie of Mike and Lauri in front of a lectern in front of a packed room
I interrupted Lauri to take a selfie mid-session!

After the conference, I went back to the hotel to face-plant in the bed for a bit before going back down to Old Town with Robin and then to get drinks with a group of Drupal friends. I couldn’t stay up late though because the next morning, I had another session at another conference (this one given remotely over Zoom).

Thursday: ID24 and Lesser Town

Wednesday night, I slept horribly despite going to bed at a reasonable time and purposefully not overdoing it at the previous night’s bar. I had nightmares that I missed my talk for Inclusive Design 24, and nothing was working right.

However, my alarm went off as planned at 8:30am CEST (2:30am ET), and my talk went off without a hitch. I was excited that the host who was moderating my session was Eric Bailey, who knew more than just a bit on my session topic of Practical Styling in Forced Colors Mode!

That afternoon, Robin and I crossed the Charles Bridge, which connects Old Town to Lesser Town in the heart of Prague. We walked through and explored a lot of streets, cafes, buildings, and stores, and purchased a number of gifts for our families. I personally liked Lesser Town better than Old Town.

Prague castle as seen from lesser town
The castle imposes itself over Lesser Town in Prague.

That evening we took part in the great tradition that is Drupal Trivia night. Our team name was the "Czech Mates" and was with me, Robin, Cristina Chumillas, Gergely Csonka, and Penyaskito. I had previously submitted questions for the trivia night, and this paid off because they used at least two of my questions! I also got to flex my 8th grade geography bee champion muscles with the question to count and name all the countries that border Czech. According to this tweet by @annam_ravin, we got 6th place 🥳

Groups of people around many tables at a music venue with low light and a banner that says "DrupalCon Trivia"
Trivia night was an absolute blast! Our team would have totally won if Robin and I hadn't had to dip out early.

Friday: Going back home

Robin and I met up with Pauline Judge 4am Friday morning for a ride to the airport. The queue for the Air France flights was over an hour long, but we made our initial flight into Paris, and from there, our connecting flight into Atlanta. I’m currently on that flight now, so hopefully the leg into Gainesville will be smooth so I can see my family and dogs later tonight.

PS. Robin says hi 👋!

Hey you! Leave a comment!6

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Digby (not verified)

1 year ago

Good job Mike, you definitely packed a lot into that trip!

It's also great that you've met with John Albin Watkins and become a maintainer of Drupal Core’s CSS subsystem.

P.S. Nice photos!

Imre Gmelig Meijling (not verified)

1 year ago

It was so nice to hang out with you, Robin and the others! 😎

Same with you! Hopefully you can make it to DrupalCon Pittsburgh, or (even better) Florida DrupalCamp!

penyaskito (not verified)

12 months ago

We cried and got 5 extra points for you both leaving us, so wasn't that bad after all! We definitely were better at bribing than at answering questions :-)