DrupalCon Pittsburgh Wrap Up

Posted on 06/10/2023 in misc

I was in Pittsburgh 10 years ago for a long weekend with my wife. DrupalCon brought me back this week.

I got into town Sunday around noon. I was originally excited to catch the Sunday afternoon game at PNC Park. However, the Pirates were scheduled as the 11:30 AM game this week, so I did not get to the game. Instead, I checked into the hotel, then had a fabulous taco lunch at Condado Tacos across the street from the hotel. In classic DrupalCon fashion, I ran into Drupal friends at the Airport and the taco place. That would be a recurring theme of the week, reconnecting with friends in the Drupal community.

Speaking of hotels, I stayed at The Westin, one of the official convention hotels. It was fine, your typical big city upscale hotel, but the shower. OMG the shower. It was like being under a perfectly warm waterfall. I don’t know if it was just the shower head, or they can afford to use up 85 gallons of water per shower, but it was glorious and getting out of the shower may be the toughest thing I did all week. (I assume it is the shower head). I’m now on a quest to find that shower head, because showering like that every day would be fabulous.

After lunch, I headed out to explore. I walked to Point State Park, which is on the point where the three rivers in Pittsburgh meet. On the way, I walked through the Pittsburgh Arts Festival, which was 3 city blocks of artists and food vendors. On the way back to the hotel, I heard live music from the arts festival, so I checked it out. The band sounded like they grew up listening to Green Day, but that is impossible, as nobody on the stage was old enough to have grown up listening to Green Day. Sunday night was the annual DrupalCon pub crawl, which is always a good time. We hit 4 pubs, but I was still in bed by 11. That would be a theme for the week. I was in bed before midnight every night. That is a first for me at DrupalCon.

The convention kicked off Monday morning. I spent most of my time on booth duty. Every year I plan to get to a bunch of sessions, and every year I end up watching them on YouTube later. Monday night was a team dinner with my coworkers followed by a couple of drinks with a friend. My coworkers were all Canadian, and we ate at a southern food place. None of them had ever had a hush puppy, or shrimp and grits. I fixed that. I was in bed by 11.

Tuesday and Wed were the usual convention stuff by day and industry parties by night. A common thing for me is that I come home from DrupalCon with only 2 or 3 meals to expense. There is a lot of free food at DrupalCon. A lot of free beer, too.

collage of photos from Drupalcon Pittsburgh

They changed the format this year and did the industry summits on Thursday instead of Monday. I do not like the change. The summits are the most interactive events of the convention. By Thursday, I was interactived out. I got that same sentiment from others I talked to on summit day. Also, for people new to the community, the small group stuff in the summits allows them to met people more naturally, and then have a few folks they know for the rest of the event. Doing it last means those new relationships don’t form, as everyone goes home immediately.

DrupalCon was about 1300 people this year, which is 300 more than last year but only ½ of pre COVID attendance. The vendor hall was maybe a third of pre COVID. I don't know if this is still a pandemic hangover, or if the convention world has changed for good. Also, there were no executives or decision maker level folks there. DrupalCon is not like a lot of trade shows where selling is the primary focus. It’s more of an add-on benefit for the vendor sponsors, as sponsoring there is more about giving back to the community and brand building, than it is about meeting a bunch of hot prospects. But still, this year seemed particularly sparse in that regard. Maybe it makes sense given the attendance. The only ones attending are the more hardcore community folks, who are overwhelmingly developers.

So that is a wrap on Drupal 2023 in Pittsburgh.

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