This month, a team from iFactory attended DrupalCon 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. This convention brings together experts in Drupal, the open-source content management system (CMS) platform, which we use for many of our projects, including the award-winning sites for Bennington College and Rutgers University Undergraduate Admissions.

Since Drupal is open-source, it relies on the efforts of a community of developers, who put in the time to trade tips and make the CMS the best it can possibly be. With such an enthusiastic community in attendance, this year’s DrupalCon was intellectually stimulating and entertaining. The conference’s location in Nashville didn’t hurt, either, as all the web professionals who were present turned the town into a nexus of brilliant minds, catchy music, neon lights, and hot chicken. What follows is a summary of what we learned and all the fun we had on each day of DrupalCon 2018.

Day 1: Higher Ed Summit

Despite taking advantage of beer coupons at Drifter’s, one of East Nashville’s finer dining establishments the night before, we awoke rested and ready for DrupalCon’s Higher Ed Summit. The morning featured a panel on Accessibility, a topic near and dear to our heart. The panelists, all of whom represented departments at higher ed institutions, spoke of their experiences with OCR Complaints and how they work with instructors to improve the accessibility of their content.

The afternoon included multiple breakout sessions, many of which covered accessibility, web governance, and moving from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. After a long day, we treated ourselves to a game of Trivial Pursuit, which would help us get ready for the Drupal trivia night scheduled for Thursday.

Day 2: Presentations and a Hidden Red Sox Bar

Technically, Day 2 was the official start of DrupalCon, complete with a keynote speech from founder Dries Buytaert. Afterward, developers took selfies in front of the Drupal droplet perched outside the exhibit hall, one of which featured a photo of Eric and Ian in the wild. 

We began sitting in on presentations, which you can read about in our “Top 10 DrupalConNA Sessions.” Once our brains were full of Drupal knowledge, we visited Broadway, the central point for Nashville’s honky-tonk establishments and the reason the city has earned the nicknames “NashVegas” and “Little Vegas.” We indulged in sightseeing but felt drawn to East Nashville — and for good reason. We discovered the pub Battered and Fried, which turned out to be a stealth sports bar for Red Sox fans who found themselves in Nashville.

Day 3: Presentations and Content Wrangling

One thing is for certain: The pace of DrupalCon is anything but slow. On Wednesday, we bounced from session to session,sneaking in a trip to Hatch Show Print for souvenirs. Then, in the afternoon, I gave my presentation “Why Drupal Is Not a Word Processor.” Eric, Ian, and Larry sat in the front row to represent Team iFactory, and their support contributed to the success of my talk. The Q&A at the end was especially fun because we traded tips with other content managers and strategists on how they train stakeholders to submit higher quality copy, images, and downloads.

By that point, all of us needed naps, so we headed back to our Airbnb and recharged for the last few days in Nashville.

Day 4: Presentations and Trivia

Since the fourth day was my last day in Nashville, I wanted to make the most of it. After coffee at Crema and breakfast at Little Mosko’s, we walked along the river and back up Broadway for some excellent photo ops.

The afternoon involved more seminars on the authoring experience — which was a frequent topic for the year — and SEO. I flew out that afternoon, but everyone else attended Drupal trivia and took in views of the “Batman Building.” Last, but certainly not least, Ian sampled the facemelting hot chicken for which Nashville is famous.

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Day 5: Sprints and Reflection

Even though DrupalCon’s last day didn’t reflect the hard-charging pace for the rest of the week, it was nice to have some time to reflect. DrupalCon made that easy by providing links to all of the presentations on Drupal’s YouTube channel. Whether you are a developer or not, I recommend DrupalCon because of its commitment to improving all facets of web development, from team-building to design to code.