DrupalCon Takeaways, Food For Thought

An Interview with Eric Scott Sembrat; Web Developer, Graduate Student | Atlanta, GA


Oh! Hey there, my name is Piyush Jain and as a new staff member at the Drupal Association I wanted to learn what the community likes so much about DrupalCon. Community is what cements Drupal as a leading technology world over, and many community members meet at DrupalCon year after year to learn, share experiences, and bond. So I reached out to a few community members to find out about their experiences. This is the first conversation in my series. If you haven’t been to a DrupalCon, here is a little more about our events

To start things off, I spoke with Eric Scott Sembrat (webbeh), a web developer and graduate student in Atlanta, GA. Eric has been part of the Drupal community since 2011, and attended 5 DrupalCons. :

Piyush: So Eric, tell me about your first DrupalCon.

Eric: My first DrupalCon was DrupalCon Denver. I was fresh into my first Drupal job after transitioning from Moodle/LMS development, and DrupalCon was an eye-opening experience for me. In all directions and in all rooms were experts, maintainers, developers, themers, managers, coders, and somehow I was eventually going to slide into one of those roles.

All I could do was to go to as many sessions as I could and learn from my peers and presenters on what awesome things you can do with Drupal.


Piyush: What do you see yourself gaining out of DrupalCon?

Eric: DrupalCon allows me to keep up-to-date on the latest and future iterations and shifts in Drupal, and keep my tools and development up-to-date. It’s also a great way to reach out to people at BoFs* and sessions to see what folks are doing with Drupal.


Piyush: How has DrupalCon given you an edge at work?

Eric: Attending DrupalCon has given me a leg-up on the ‘competition’ at work by being ahead of the curve and looking towards the horizon on new features, especially on the front end.

As I work in higher education, we tend to move slowly compared to other industries. DrupalCon has allowed my organization to have a roadmap and know what we want to go toward, even if we can’t get there as fast as other industries.


Piyush: How have you been able to use the learnings from DrupalCon?

Eric: I incorporate a lot of my development strategies for coding and development from DrupalCon. I bring all of this information back and share it to my team and developers across my campus and give them as much support from my end as I can.

Folks who aren’t as fortunate to attend should still be able to reap the benefits of attending a conference like DrupalCon, and it’s my role as an attendee to make that as easy as possible.


Piyush: Why do you think DrupalCon is important for the Drupal community?

Eric: DrupalCon serves as a way to interact with the community as a whole, from the companies to the contractors and everyone in-between. It’s a great way to keep in touch, have thoughtful and beneficial face-to-face discussions, and advance Drupal further.


Piyush: What is your most memorable experience from your first DrupalCon

Eric: DrupalCon, of all places, is where I discovered the incredible Drupal-centric module that is Paragraphs. Struggling with Panels, CKEditor presets, entity references - all become moot when I realized I could build rich content using Paragraphs.

I learned, in this one moment, the power of Drupal’s modules and contrib - that a developer or group can develop a product for a Drupal-case (rich entity types embedded in an entity) that fits the need of users across the scale of the community.


Piyush: And because food is always important, what was your favorite food this DrupalCon?

Eric: It'd have to be the desserts. There was a cheesecake - yum!


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*Birds of a Feather sessions (or BoFs) are informal gatherings of like-minded individuals who wish to discuss a certain topic without a pre-planned agenda. BOFs allow groups to meet and discuss issues relating to regular conference sessions and talk out common problems facing the community.