The Montreal Drupal community came out in full force earlier this week for our first meetup of the year. In addition to the familiar faces from Whisky Echo Bravo, McGill University, Espeo and other companies, were some newer members like Ryan Weal and Geoff Brown. On the agenda was Drupal7 and other projects that people had worked on since our last meeting. We had five excellent presentations about topics from Google Site Optimizer to the Open Data movement in Montreal.
Drupal.org Migration to Git
Logan Smyth started off the evening talking about the migration from CVS to Git on Drupal.org and what that means for module maintainers and Drupal users. The git demo site was closed to the public on Monday, but Logan talked us through the process of setting up a Git account. The benefit of Drupal projects being in Git is that new projects can start off in a sandbox on Drupal.org instead of being hosted at github, and then moved to Drupal.org's CVS repository once the first release is ready. The first phase of the migration to Git will be done as of February 17th. Logan also mentioned that there will be a second phase of improvements to Drupal.org's Git integration, which will make it easier for users to submit and apply patches for core and contrib modules.
Upgrading Your Site from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7
Following Logan, Suzanne Kennedy talked about upgrading evolvingweb.ca to Drupal7. She wrote a brief blog post about the subject a couple weeks ago. Her words of advice included keeping a list of modules being used for reference and maintaining a copy of the old site during migration. The discussion quickly turned to internationalization features for Drupal 7 and whether or not the upgraded i18n module is ready. An alpha version of the i18n module is now available on Drupal.org, but the conclusion was that it's not quite ready for production.
Open Data in Montreal
Moving on from Drupal7, we had a brief discussion on Open Data and the lead that Montreal is taking in this field in the country. Jeff Wallace introduced us to the Open Data movement in Montreal, which has been picking up steam recently. He showed us a few recent projects, including his own Resto-Net website, which publishes all infractions slapped against local restaurants. While this information is publicly available, accessing it is not always easy, hence the benefit of sites like Resto-net. Jeff talked about other open data projects in the city and about the push within government for more transparent data accessibility. With the U.S. hosting sites like data.gov, its about time that the Canadian governments opened up their own data to the public. He also encouraged Drupal developers to come out to future open data hackathons and develop Drupal-based projects using open data.
Alex Dergachev jumped on the creative bandwagon with a presentation of his bookmark module, ‘scrapist’ (he’s currently working on a better name!). Inspired by zillow.com, ‘scrapist’ allows the user to track data spatially, for instance by plotting Craigslist postings in a search page on a Google Map. This is just one of the features of ‘scrapist’ that Alex is working on.
Google Website Optimizer
Geoff Brown from Pinnacle presented on A/B split and multivariate testing with Drupal. He introduced us to the concept behind GWO (Google Website Optimizer) and the variations in page content and layout that it's meant to test. Geoff is working on a GWO module for Drupal7, so he explained some of the basics of A/B vs. Multivariate testing, and relayed many benefits of using GWO on a site. He also discussed some of the challenges with testing transactional workflows and content that requires user authentication.
It’s really encouraging to see the enthusiasm that our community has in Montreal. If starting the year off with a full-house is anything to go by, 2011 is sure to have many more interesting meetups and code sprints in this city. We hope to have another presentation-style meet-up in March as well as a code sprint in the near future. Please let us know if you have any ideas or suggestions for future Drupal meet-ups. See you at the next meet-up!