Drupal Camp Dubai October 26, 2013-- A Recap
Drupalizing the Great Desert..Drupal Echoed in Dubai during The First Ever Drupal Camp in the Region
No one can now say that never a Drupal Camp has been organized in Gulf/UAE because Drupal Camps made its debut in UAE on 26th October 2013. The first ever Drupal Camp was arranged by many active Drupalers over here, Drupak, our sponsors and The Drupal Association funded the event with The Community Cultivation Grant.
When one looks at the beauty of the city, the home to the World’s tallest building and many more, and being someone who knows a little about how great Drupal is, it was so astonishing for me that Drupal was not much a known word here during my search for the venue. Such was the response from the community here in Dubai initially regarding Drupal that I was stunned. I went to one of the leading IT Training Centers in search for the venue, the Head replied, huh Drupal? I have never heard of it.
We had just some days left and Venue was a bottleneck. Literally speaking, We were really worried regarding the venue though we had plans of shifting to some paid venue .Travelling expenses here in this Great City are very high but we still were madly searching for venues. Murray Crowe, the Lovely and the most active Drupaler in UAE was helping us out with the venue search but to no avail until we went to SZABIST University, Academic City Dubai, and they agreed to provide us the venue. That was a huge relief and we along with the whole Drupal community here are thankful to them for the venue.
Once we had the venue, we were proudly advertising the event at different places with the brochures in our hands and as I said, the city’s sun had its impact on us but our ambitions remained intact.
Muhammad Shakeeb Khan, Co-founder THE VISIONSPARK ( One of the sponsors) was also with us making efforts to spread the event. He also had agreed to be the KEY NOTE SPEAKER , with experience in Drupal since Drupal 5, and the Creator of PAKISTAN group on Drupal.org.
The Camp Day arrived. Couldn’t sleep well all night because of the huge amount of Pressure I had for the event to be successful. We had visited our venue a day prior to the event and installed all our banners and Drupal Logos in classrooms allotted to us.
The room started getting filled and in no time , the room was fill enough for Shakeeb to start with his keynote speech. I wish that speech never could end because of the peculiar charm in it. Shakeeb had so much to say regarding Drupal and his Past experiences. There was pin drop silence while he was delivering his lecture. Shakeeb had arranged a Drupal Camp in Karachi in 2009, and his story of that camp was very interesting as well, he said when the camp started, there were just he and a friend of him in the room until the next 30 minutes when the whole room was full.
Shakeeb discussed all the very angles of Drupal and as to how it can be great for all the stakeholders. There were guys in the audience from other platforms specially .Net and Wordpress. They went on asking a lot of questions of Shakeeb, primarily on the differences between Drupal and the Platforms they were using. Shakeeb had answers for all of them keeping the audience really interested to stay. Shakeeb stressed upon Learning Drupal from the Ground up level and termed it a Career oriented platform.
His speech also included all the success stories of his Drupal Career and provided practical demos of the premiere websites he had built in Drupal. I will love to have Shakeeb’s like Keynote Speakers the next time we arrange some Drupal Camp. Shakeeb’s speech ended but not without some real applause from the audience.
Then started the most awaited Hello Drupal Session conducted by me. Hello Drupal followed almost all the curriculum of Hello Drupal Sessions by Acquia. I went through all the Drupal Details explaining them the raw Drupal concepts and the Drupal Speak. It was a marathon session lasting for Three Hours. I went into in Depth details of how the content is stored in Drupal, explained Entities, Nodes, bundles, taxonomy ,users, comments, blocks, regions, view modes, Drupal’s user management, configurations, image management/image styles, theme installation, module installations literally all core subjects of Drupal were taught , something like the Drupal in a Day curriculums. Views was just explained to them but the whole session on Views THE VIEWS TIPS AND TRICKS was to follow.
The audience had some developers present. During the views Tips and Tricks session they had their eyes bulged out seeing the power of VIEWS. Shahid Khan, Wordpress Developer at Smith and Ken said after the session “I have been egoist enough to switch to Drupal as I had heard a lot about it, but literally speaking ,I had never thought of Drupal being so amazing and powerful. “
The Views Tips and Tricks session was followed by the Panels Sessions. During our earlier sessions, there were questions asked frequently about the making changes in theme of Drupal, and I would answer each time that they had to wait for the Panels session. If their eyes were not properly bulged out during the views session, Panels did it for them. There were appreciations coming from the audience for what they were seeing and I was just loving it, for the Love I have got for this platform
Shakeeb was busy in ROOM 667 with more advanced users of Drupal. They were discussing all the great things in Drupal specially the new Entites system in Drupal 7 and Entity Based modules. Drupal commerce was discussed at a higher level which is based upon entities as well.
Many Students of the University also had come for some of the sessions though they had exam that evening.
As many of the audience in Room 606 were absolute newbies to Drupal, after the panels session, the room turned into an hour long Q&A session. I was asked many things about how they would do something in Drupal and I would guide them. But questions were a bit too more, so I asked audience about how they would go about creating a Task Assignment System in Custom php, or .Net or Wordpress. All had their answers until I demonstrated them how to create a basic Task Management system in a Company so that the boss knows to whom he has assigned a task and when. Entity Reference module was used in the demo and they had a system in front of them just within 10 Minutes. That demo really brought some real smiles on faces as if they would only USE Drupal from here. Reem Othman, a participant in the camp, natively from Syria told me about all the regrets going through her mind during these sessions regarding why hasn’t she known about Drupal until then. She is a custom PHP developer working in Dubai.
Conversation then turned into how to go about Learning Drupal. As we already had a session on Drupal Learning Resources, I went through a detailed list of Learning Resources for Drupal. They included not only free resources but also some of the commercial ones as well.
We had promised of a session in the last regarding Creating a real word website in Drupal and making it live for the world to see but it was already past 5 pm and university was having exams in the room so we had to conclude our camp.
Dubai is multicultural city. You will find expatriates from many countries here. Our camp had guys and gals from India, Pakistan, Syria, South Africa, UAE and Philippines proving the Drupal Community as one big nation.
Summing things up, we are really pleased that after our event there will be people who will go for adopting Drupal because even there were promises made with me that the first thing they will do when they are back to their homes will be installing and exploring Drupal. We hope we will help community in UAE explore Drupal in depth by arranging such events again. We are soon going to put a request form on our website for when to organize such events in future as well as session requests so that we are always upto mark with the Community Requirements. Our website www.drupalcamps.ae will provide them a mean to commingle with the community and adopt and embrace Drupal.