A WordPress Veteran’s Take on DrupalCon LA

Mendel KurlandThis post was contributed by guest author Mendel Kurland. Kurland is GoDaddy’s evangelist who travels to WordCamps and is the interface between various open source communities and GoDaddy.

In the following post, Kurland shares his experience attending DrupalCon Los Angeles, a large conference devoted to Drupal.


As I flew from DrupalCon Los Angeles, CA to WordCamp Maine, I thought a lot about what the Drupal and WordPress communities could learn from each other. WordPress and Drupal are two community-built platforms and each community is powerful. We stand to learn a lot from each other, because all open source projects matter.

With an eye toward looking for the similarities, rather than the differences, both WordPress and Drupal are working to overcome similar obstacles including, brand recognition, threat mitigation, adoption, onboarding, contribution, the list goes on. So why did I go to DrupalCon LA? To learn and give back to another community that’s steeped in collaborative culture.

The Experience

Thousands of people attended DrupalCon in Los Angeles this year. It’s massive and the layout is similar to a large developer conference. There are sessions centered on technical, as well as business topics, and usually lively question and answer opportunities after each session. There’s a coder lounge, a contribution room, and a huge emphasis on contributing to coding sprints for the next release of Drupal, Drupal 8.

DrupalCon LA
Photo via Mendel

Leveling and Onboarding

Prior to the conference, DrupalCon had summits to help gather community members around a particular vertical or topic such as, higher education, community, business, and training sessions to help level-up skills based on experience.

The theme of organizing around common interests is strong throughout the entire conference with birds of a feather sessions and topical social gatherings with topics like, women in Drupal and first time attendees. When it comes to mobilizing around interest groups, Drupal does a brilliant job.

Comparing WordPress and Drupal

I’ve met a higher proportion of people who work on enterprise sites at DrupalCons and a higher proportion of people who work on small business sites at DrupalCamps, local conferences similar to WordCamps. There are some important lessons, however, that I took away from the Drupal community.

Lessons and Questions from DrupalCon

  • Onboarding starts with education. The Drupal community puts an emphasis on training at just about every event while only a handful of WordCamps offer a Foundation Friday or some other local onboarding event.
  • Building community means valuing the same things and aligning along common interests. BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions are a part of Drupal and other technical community conferences. There are certainly people with specific interests related to performance, security, women in WordPress, WP-CLI, etc. Should the WordPress community offer BoF sessions at WordCamps? Or are the existing tracks that many WordCamps offer enough?
  • Networking with those who work in a similar vertical is important. Just as Drupal holds summits for particular verticals, the WordPress community is beginning to do the same with things like, BuddyCamp at WordCamp Miami, WooConf (e-commerce), Pressnomics (business), Prestige (business), LoopConf (developer). Can more be done at WordCamps?

It’s OK to Love Drupal Too

If you’re reading this article on the Tavern, you’re likely a WordPress loyalist. I love WordPress, and it’s also ok to love Drupal. They are both tools in an open source toolbox that we all share. The beauty of our opportunity as developers, designers, and creative professionals is our ability to create awesome things in a million different ways.

In going to DrupalCon, it was refreshing for me to take a second to see the web development industry from another perspective. I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments and on Twitter.

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