Community, DrupalCon and Damn Quick Drupal

I've recently crossed my six month mark with Acquia and have to say that it is the ride of a lifetime. I was certain when applying that this would be my dream-job and it turns out that I wasn't wrong. Acquia has been a great place to expand my knowledge and experience and to get a deeper connection to the community.

It has been a long time since I've gotten deeply involved in online communities--not since 1996 and the early online chat rooms of MSN (the orignal Microsoft Network). Back then things on the web were a bit slower and you could sit and have a 3+ hour chat with 10 or so like minded people. Today online communication seems to be (IMHO) more about short snips, mentions of other things, and clever remarks. I'm more of a person who likes to sit and listen to someone and try to understand the reasons behind the things they say and think so that I can better understand and accept them--not something that the online world is overly conducive to these days.

So needless to say, that while I spent a lot of time building dozens (well over 100 now) Drupal websites and spent a lot of time checking out modules and posting comments on, I never really got into the community--something that is probably the case with a lot of site-builder types who are usually developing and creating specialized sites where they have a lot of custom code and experience, but creating not a lot that they feel they can contribute back. As a result, in 2010 I went to DrupalCon San Francisco and didn't meet with a single person who I didn't already know (kinda sad, really).

How that has changed. Only three DrupalCons from San Fran, I'll actually be running a session! I was accepted as a presenter at DrupalCon London where I will be giving a presentation on 'Damn Quick Drupal'. It boggles the mind to think that a short 15 months ago I didn't actually know a single person in the community (outside of people I had worked with physically) and now I am slated to present in London. I have to say that I'm extremely excited (and more than a little nervous) about presenting.

Damn Quick Drupal is a name for a distribution I have been working at for a few months, but it is also a strong belief I have. I believe that there is no good reason why any Drupal site can't perform very well and load pages with lightning speed. Drupal and a well tuned LAMP stack are capable getting a request, generating a page, and sending it back out in as few as 9ms for aggressively cached pages for anonymous users and no more than 300-400ms for admins viewing pages with admin menus and admin modules loaded.

Some of the things I'll be covering in the session are:

  • APC: You know you need it, but why, and how do you tweak it?
  • Memcache: Why store transient data in a permanent storage system. Enter key-value memory storage.
  • Boost: Your webserver has an awesome file caching system, use it!
  • Apache Headers, Expire, Cache, Pagespeed: Hot damn there are a lot of these things! Do they help? Absolutely!
  • Redis? Is it better than memcache?
  • MySQL Tuning: At the end of the day, nothing is more important.
  • How does the Drupal Cache really work?
  • Varnish: It's more than just something you put on wood. It will save your life.
  • Bring the 300+ queries it takes to load a page in Drupal down to 30.
  • A boatload of other optimization tips, tricks and considerations.

Drupal can be damn quick, and my goal is to show everyone how simple it can be, and how amazed you will be at how fast, smooth, and performant Drupal can be. If you've ever worried that the Drupal site you're building may not be able to sand up to the load, then this is the session for you.

I should also note that while I am working on a distribution which encapsulates the principles, modules and configuration behind Damn Quick Drupal, it is certainly not necessary to achieve the results I know Drupal can produce. The session will discuss the tools, modules, and configuration you can do in nearly any environment to achieve incredible performance for your site.

DrupalCon Session Page:
Date/Time: Wednesday August 24th @ 12:30PM