This past weekend I was in Ireland for DrupalCamp Galway. The organizers pulled off a great camp and they deserve a ton of kudos for getting things started, keeping things smooth, and pulling off a really fun event. Stephane Corlosquet (scor), Stella Power (stella), Heather James (heather), and Alan Burke (alanburke) did some really great things for this camp. Aside from a great venue with several rooms, at DERI, and a good lineup of great Drupal info, they also ran a site-building challenge to build websites for two charities in Ireland. They also provided space for an all-day documentation sprint. Then there were the little extras that make events more betterer, like having lots of tea, coffee and cookies (yeah, I know, OK, "biscuits") and arranging reservations for group dinners in the evenings where we could all chat more and get to know each other. Whew.
Over 60 people showed up and many of them were newbies. They got the big room to explore Drupal from the ground up and the more advanced folks moved down the hall to do more talkin' shop. The newbie room was led off by someone who is fairly new to Drupal himself, Leon Butler (star_nixon). He has just recently built a site with no coding and just some HTML knowledge. He walked folks around the site to show the things he could do and give people a feel for a Drupal site. That was followed on by presentations that gave an overview of Drupal, installing it, and building a live site (for the third charity, Shadowbox).
In the advanced room, we had a ton of topics. We ended up covering things like testing, security, Drupal 7 changes, and work on semantic web. I hopped up to talk about usability, both in Drupal 7 and how to approach looking at usability issues on a per site/per client basis. Later in the day I did two different presentations on documentation. They used the same slides but I was talking to very different groups, one in the starter room and the other in the advanced. My main emphasis for the newbies was that everyone can help and that being new to Drupal is an asset when it comes to documentation, not a hindrance. For the mainly dev room, I focused more on the "non-writing" ways to help documentation. The basic idea was to let people see that there are lots of things that can be done, many benefits (other than just warm fuzzies) and that they could all get started the following day at the doc sprint. ;-)
While most people attending on Sunday took part in the challenge of building the charity sites, we had a small core group of folks hanging out in the documentation room with several people popping in throughout the day to touch base and see where they could help out. We had an ideal group, in that everyone there was new to Drupal, so they tackled a walk through the Getting Started handbook and the Drupal Cookbook, taking notes about confusion or annoyances, editing the pages to fix grammar or add clarity, and having discussions about a newbie's take on the experience of it all. It was a ton of great feedback and I hope to see them all around the Drupal project even more because they are already awesome contributors. I also hope that maybe there will be a few informal doc sprints around Ireland. ;-)
Sunday wrapped up with choosing a challenge winner and awarding prizes. I was asked to be one of five judges, along with Stephane, Diliny Corlosquet, John Breslin and Ronan Joyce. It was a really hard decision because basically both sites were awesome and both charities were ecstatic with the result. In the end when we tallied up the judges' votes it was only a 2-point difference out of 100, for the Zikomo site. Both teams got prizes though and it really felt like a great day for everyone. Win, win, win all around. Thank you Ireland Drupalers, what a blast!