Design For Drupal 2014: A Recap

stata center

Home base was this magical Ghery building, the Stata Center, on the MIT campus.

My new (awesome!) coworker Sarah recapped her experiences at DrupalCampWI the other day, so I’m following suit with my thoughts from my new favorite tech camp, Design4Drupal, held in Boston last weekend. This camp is an intimate gathering for front-end developer and designers all experiencing the same pain points working with Drupal and on websites in general. On the surface, that meant things were a little less geeky and a lot more stylish, and digging deeper, there were many substantial, tangible lessons to take home

The organizers of D4D made a conscious effort to gear the first day more toward business, and I relished the opportunity to think more about client communication. 
I attended a great session on getting better client feedback, and you can read my favorite client communication tips here.
Another gem of the day was a detailed explanation of copyright and creative commons and a bonus robust list of places to get open source fonts and stock imagery.
cuchi cuchi

Capped off Friday by dinner & drinks with the lovely women of DevCollab and Pixels&Pulp. Above is Cuchi Cuchi. This is without a doubt how I would decorate my house if I lived alone.

I started Day Two a little bleary-eyed, but we jumped right into all the discussions I’d been itching to have, particularly about workflow.
The workflow for front-end development has skyrocketed in complexity over the last few years, and we front-end devs are welcoming anything we can do to improve the hand off from design to development and to streamline our work. You can read more about taking some of the headaches out of front-end work here
The Responsive Javascript session was a good reminder to pause every time you think about jumping into writing some responsive Javascript. First, stop and ask if it can be done better with CSS. Most likely, CSS will trump Javascript every time in terms of performance, accessibility, and potential QA rabbit-holes. 

And check out window.matchMedia() — it’s a simple way to check if you have hit different breakpoints. (Be sure to grab the polyfill for IE9 and below.)
Last, but not least, was the discussion on streamlining development and testing. We got an overview of Google’s Web Starter Kit and all of it’s goodies, like live reloading, synchronized browser testing, and a built-in, living style guide. And there was an audible gasp (from me) when they showed what could do; all devices on the network could look at the same local site, and when you scrolled down on one device THEY WOULD ALL SCROLL DOWN. Stunning.
The presentation was interesting, and the dev environment really parallels the dev environment we have home-brewed for ourselves here at Advomatic with a combination of Compass/Sass, Grunt, LiveReload,, and KSS. I quickly learned that there aren’t many other shops doing this yet, so we couldn’t talk the nitty gritty details (like gnarly compile times). So that conversation is to be continued.
I can’t wait to hear next year how others are using these tools to improve their workflow.
baraka cafe lemonade

I ended my weekend drinking the best lemonade I will probably ever have at Baraka Cafe just down the street from where I was staying. Photo credit: Nathan Cooke