DrupalGlamp Sydney 2015 Wrapup

Each year the Sydney Drupal Community puts on a two day "DrupalCamp", generally held over a weekend at a location where attendees can get away from it all and get down to some serious Drupal talk. This year we held DrupalGlamp Sydney on Cockatoo Island, located in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

DrupalGlamp Sydney 2015 was held last weekend and it went off pretty well. We had all the important things covered: the venue, the programme, internet, a bar, cafe and people! The weather even managed to hold out for us.

Overall we had:

  • 50 attendees,
  • 11 speakers,
  • 2 Drupal 8 training sessions,
  • 5 lightning talks,
  • 2 BOFs,
  • 2 gold sponsors (PNX, Catalyst),
  • 6 silver sponsors (Morpht, Acquia, Linux Australia, Infinity, Demonz, This Little Duck),
  • 2 supporting partners (Drupal Association, Xyber Data Recovery),
  • 10 people camping,
  • 1 bicycle.

Highlights

From my perspective there were a few highlights of the event which are worth mentioning:

We try hard to come up with an interesting venue. This year was no different and thanks to a suggestion from Chloe, we were very happy to find the venue at Cockatoo Island. I think that everyone enjoyed the ferry ride over to the island and getting away from it for a little while. We had a good number of people who were prepared to "rough it" and camp out on the Saturday night. A couple even made it for two. On the Saturday night the firepit was lit up and about 15 of us enjoyed a few roasted marshmallows around the fire. The fire may not have been as big as Ivan expected (sorry about that mate) but it did the trick. This was Sydney at its best

We got a good range of sessions this time around with frontenders representing more than usual. We had talks on styleguide driven development, require JS, CSS units, and beautiful accessible CSS. Who says that all camps are backend focussed? :)

The Drupal 8 training provided by Kim and Magda was very well received and these sessions were very well attended, packing out the training rooms we had booked. This goes to show that there is a lot of interest for Drupal 8 knowledge and that people are receptive to training materials at a Camp, especially when it is free :) I think that this could serve as a blueprint for future Camps we put on.

Some reflections

This was the third Camp the Sydney community has put on in the last 15 months - all have been around the same size of 40 to 50 people, which seems to be the long term size of the community. Interestingly, there are many new faces coming along to the events these days, indicating that the community is being renewed as time goes by. There is perhaps a slight increase in momentum as we continue to put on events which have a good programme and are well attended. We hope to continue this momentum with the monthly meetups and socials which are held. If you haven't come along to a Sydney meetup yet, we'd love to see you there.

This time around we decided to go with the Drupal Association for the backer of the event. The DA provided us with a bank account and insurance to cover the venue hire. One important feature of the offering from the DA was the ability to retain any leftover "profits" in the account for future use by the community, after the deduction of a small 10% fee. Whilst we did not have the intention of making money from the event, the contributions from sponsors meant that we did have some left over funds. This money can now be used to back future events, making it much easier to commit to securing a venue next time. This does help the stability of the community and will hopefully allow us to put on more ambitious events over time.

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of sponsors the event managed to attract. Our two gold sponsors (PNX, Catalyst) were quick to sign up at the $1500 level. This was very important for securing the venue and giving us the confidence to proceed. The pricepoint of $1000 proved too high for the silver sponsors and we decided to reduce it to $500. Dropping the price was a big hit with 6 sponsors coming on board pretty quickly at this level. This was a good lesson in how to plan out future sponsorsip levels. Its good to know that there is good support there at the grassroots level, with many smaller to medium agencies prepared to help out.

As usual, attendees are quite slow to sign up to events. We tried to minimise this effect through the use of an early bird scheme which had a 20% saving on the tickets. This worked somewhat, but it seems that there is no avoiding the last minute rush on tickets. In the end we were very happy with the numbers we got, filling the venue whilst avoiding overcrowding. 

It's my belief that attendees are swayed by the speaker list. They want to know what they can expect from the event. Other Camps, such as Melbourne take an unconference approach where the programme is decided on the day. We have some aspects of this, with BOFs and lightning talks, however, we do have a set programme of presentations. It appears that attendees to start to sign up a lot more readily when they can see some of the programme taking shape. I would say that sorting the venue and then a few speakers early is one way to get things moving.

We do try to keep things interesting by having a variety of spaces where people can interact. The venue was pretty good for this with a main presentation area, a coding and training room, a breakout area and a cafe just outside. This had all the bases covered and I would say that any future events we held should have a similar mix.

What is the effort in putting on a Camp? For DrupalCamp Katoomba 2014 I tracked around 40 hours of time to organise it. This time around it was a little more involved. Magda (sponsors, speakers, accounts, misc) and I (speakers, venue, wifi, food, bar, insurance, misc) would have put in around 70 hours into the leadup to the event. This is a fair amount of work but it's well worth it when we get a good number of people coming along.

Massive thanks to Colin (for the logo), Chloe (for the site), Plamen (for the wifi), Ivan (for all round help) and Ian (for working the door). Big shout out to all of the speakers and trainers who took the time to prepare and presents such great material.

We will no doubt be looking to put on a similar event next year. We would love for some new people to step up and bring their own energy and ideas into the mix, so if you feel up to it, please get in touch with any of the Sydney Organisers and let them know that you would like to be involved. Its not so hard putting one of these things on and there are lots of people around who can help out and give advice.

Thanks to everyone who came along - I'm sure we all had a great time and learnt a thing or two as well.

Some pics

The full photo gallery on the Meetup page for the event has a stack of photos of the event - with 65 pics and counting. Here are a few selected images copied from the gallery with the permission of the photographers involved.