Time to prepare for Drupalcon Paris!

Unfortunately I've arrived late enough in Washington DC for Drupalcon to not be able to go to the Presenting You! Workshop by Emma Jane Hogbin. While I've been on stage in the past 20 years from presenting poems through singing in musicals to doing actual tech presentations, I feel I have some ways to go to improve my stage skills in terms of presentations: both slides and delivery. To that effect, I did manage to go to her presentation with the same title which was put on sometime mid-Drupalcon. One of her points which warranted this blog post was: start now to prepare for the next Drupalcon!

She recalled being singled out for sending in the first proposals for Drupalcon DC and therefore "cheating" on the voting system to get the longest time under voting. However, she points out that the underlying mechanics of Drupalcons are well known. We know a Drupalcon is always coming up (this time in Paris early September). You might have presentation ideas already. So why not start mapping out your message, building your outline and proposal already? As soon as the call for papers will be out, you can post your session and enjoy your well prepared presenter experience.

What happens, if the exact time for Paris turns out to be unsuitable for you? What if the plane ticket prices will go over the roof? Well, you will still be able to find local Drupalcamps and other types of small conferences where you can spread your message. You can even target both presenting at your local events first and then go to show your content off at Drupalcon with even greater confidence. So getting your act together sooner then later might get you even more fame.

Presentation Zen book coverNeed advice for planning and laying out your slides? I've had the chance to actually sample in real life and consequently buy the Presentation Zen book from Garr Reynolds back when I was in Cambridge MA to work on the Drupal.org upgrade. After reading it, I decided to make the jump and try this "simplified" slide style, and refrain from overwhelming my audience with too much information. Overloading my slides with information was a mistake I believe I made many times before.

Eventually I've driven the Module development kickstart presentation we prepared and delivered with Peter Wolanin and my portion of the Multilingual Drupal panel with the zen approach in mind for Drupalcon Washington DC. With the development slides, there were lots of source code examples to show, so it was hard to apply these principles, however, with my intro to Drupal core multilanguage, I could quickly skim through a huge amount of knowledge with just summarizing the most important details with impressive slides.

Comparing that to the Do It With Drupal slides I had on the same topic (albeit with a significantly bigger scope), my newer slides have a lot less in themselves, but in turn direct the audience to what I have to tell. As Garr points out, a good slideshow should leave the audience with a desire to learn more. The best strategy to achieve that seems to show off the cool stuff and leave off the details for further exploration. While this might sound unfair at first, realistically, telling everything possible to your audience is not gonna work anyway. The reason you have a presentation is to fire up people and not to educate them with all the details you have under your sleeves.

Garr makes the point that if your slides include all the information you are gonna tell (and you gonna tell a lot), then why would you be there at all? If you treat your slides as if they are the handouts for the conference then you are not required in person. People can just read the printout and move on. To have a great presentation you need to engage your audience, you need to make them focus on you and your message. (And after the event, you can still publish your slides with presenter notes included, so people joining in later can still understand some or all of your points).

These are all just tiny samples of what Garr has to tell, and even these points he presents better, so I'd suggest making the jump, getting the book now and starting to prepare for your next presentation focusing more on your audience instead of your topic. See you in Paris!

Only two weeks to go in the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 logo contest

It was two weeks ago, that we announced the logo contest for the next Drupalcon, which is going to be in Szeged, Hungary at the end of August. We are glad that we managed to energize the Hungarian and a bit of the international community to come out with ideas. We are at ten logo ideas, and it is only two weeks left (until next week's Friday) to submit your logo suggestions! Keep those coming!

Ivan Raszl opens the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 logo contest

This beautiful Monday morning, a few little presents arrived to the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 website. First entry to the Drupalcon Logo Contest from Ivan Raszl, who based his design on the floral patterns of traditional Hungarian embroidery, porcelain and furniture design. He even went ahead and created some renderings of the logo on several swag and even outdoor advertising. Not that we would be there already to do that for Drupalcons.

And while I was working down my email queue, mag3ee also submitted another entry based on our national colors and the Szeged paprika. Keep these coming or just watch as entries pop up in the list! Note that voting will open when submissions are closed.

In other good news, people from as far as India and Australia are planning to come. Caitlin Johnstone is looking to discuss child care in her forum topic Anyone else looking for childcare? As she explains:

Are there any other Drupal families out there going to Hungary? We thought it would be a good one to bring the kids to since it'll be a bit more intimate than usual, but we need to organise some childcare on the conference days.

Bar bringing someone, I was wondering if we could hire a nanny over there, or perhaps even organise some kid-happy programs if there were enough other families planning to bring their little ones.

Let's see who else is interested in nannies, so that we can suggest and/or help you find suitable service. Reply in the forums.

A peak into the Drupalcon Szeged organization website

If you look at the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 website's tracker, you'll see that most announcement posts are attributed to me. This is all too misleading, because in many cases, I am merely channelling information collected and discussed by various organizers to the public website.

This is the first Drupalcon for which the organizers have set up a management website, with the sole purpose to serve the organization team as good as possible, and while it is certainly not perfect, it works well so far. The "Do Drupaltown" website uses the core profile module, the organic groups and casetracker modules, as well as some small helpers like comment upload, upload preview, markdown with smartypants, diff and of course OpenID. Nothing earth-shatteringly special, just trying to work out easy ways to collaborate.

The two basic requirements were to have work groups for specific tasks, in the name of limiting scope and handing out responsibility. An event organized with a thousand attendees expected has so many aspects it is very hard to have a good overview of each aspect. So we have an organic groups setup with some top level groups and several focus groups for tasks like producing (valuable) materials for the registration packages, discussing and solving venue tasks, and so on. Because in numerous cases, we need responsibles to hand out tasks to, organic groups nicely fits with its concept of group ownership and memberships. It also supports mailing updates when new content is published, which is good to drive idle volunteers to the site when things are happening.

Since we are tracking tasks, these also need to have responsibles, an importance level, and a completion status. This allows us to have a running list of important tasks to complete, which helps us focus, know about the status of different jobs and get a distributed team to do that. Case tracker helps us there, it does integration with organic groups, so we can relate tasks to groups, email updates to tasks are mailed and severity and status flags are supported. We also have a patch pending for the views integration to be able to order by task priority, which was a trivial thing we needed to produce lists of tasks from most important down to less important.

Picture of the organizer overviewGiven how distributed our team is (only some people onsite in Szeged, lots of others are around the country elsewhere, while some volunteers from as far as Prague or Belgium), we need a way to reach any given member of the team when we are in a pressing need. We use the core profile module, which provides enough features for us to collect skype names, phone numbers, living locations, and so on, and it builds up a volunteer overview page, which gives us instant access to the contact information of anybody in our team. The only little glitch with profile module is that the number of volunteers grew above 20, so it does not fit on one page by default. Talk about sweet problems...

All-in all, our volunteers are happily working towards completing our goals, and we are marching on to come out with new exciting things for you regularly. Now that the public website of Drupalcon Szeged 2008 is building out, you will notice the volunteers themselves more there too, not just through my filtering.

DrupalCon Boston session and BoFs

It looks like the list of sessions for DrupalCon Boston is finalized, so I am happy to announce, that we are going to have a Multilanguage Drupal: a status report and a discussion session, which is going to cover the current state of Drupal 6 and a short overview of contributed modules, and should end up in a vibrant discussion on where Drupal 7 is headed as far as language support goes. There is a huge interest in multilingual support with around 20 modules hosted on drupal.org already. Come and discuss where Drupal is heading, Drupal 7 is in need of hands to advance in this area.

While most of what Drupal core lacks is user entered content translation and localization, and the above session will focus on this, I also added a BoF suggestion which deals with (built-in) interface localization exclusively. Localization tools for Drupal teams and users is expected to focus on tools like l10n_client and l10n_server and related technologies.

In my working hours, I am busy with better support for WYSIWYG editors in Drupal 7 these days, so I am co-hosting a working group BoF with Doug Green titled WYSIWYG Working Group for 7.x core which should be a discussion of proposals on fixing current WYSIWYG integration problems and weaknesses.

At last but not least, Kristof Van Tomme is proposing Szeged, Hungary for DrupalCon Europe 2008, and he intends to hold a discussion BoF on this. The Drupal Association also intends to have a discussion meeting (not open for the public) on the next DrupalCon, so whether this BoF happens is still to be seen. In any case, I am one of the firm supporters of a DrupalCon in Szeged, and I am confident Kristof would be able to lead effectively to get it done in good quality. The easily digestable version of the proposal is up at Proposing Szeged, Hungary for Drupalcon Europe 2008 (look for the attached PDF).

And, well, honestly this is all just peanuts to what all DrupalCon Boston has to offer. So if you are still wondering, whether to go or not to go, make sure you reserve your place! It's a must.