Drupal in China: Impressions after a Hackathon and a DrupalCamp

In the Open Source community, the best way to get involved, and learn, is to dive in, head-first, at the deep end.

This is exactly the reason why we run hackathons: to introduce new concepts to developers in an environment where they can be nurtured. By combining a hackathon with a DrupalCamp, developers get enveloped in a blanket of Drupal and Open Source for a few days, essential for rapid development of skills in new technology.

Recently I was invited by CI&T to Ningbo, China to run a Drupal 8 hackathon. My job was to ensure that not only were all developers fluent in Drupal 8, but also that the community benefited from the porting of modules to expand the available feature set.

We took some time at the beginning of the hackathon to go over how Drupal 8 differs from Drupal 7, and how to write modules in an object-oriented manner. We also discussed dependency injection, other open source components Drupal 8 uses, and which Drupal 7 modules would provide the most impact with a port to Drupal 8.

After splitting into four teams, we assigned both modules and themes for the teams to port. This was the first time in an Acquia/CI&T hackathon that a team had selected a theme to port. This allowed us to stretch our Twig muscles and dive into the new Drupal 8 template system.

Our teams decided to port the following modules:

  • Telephone SMS Verify (https://www.drupal.org/sandbox/techlivezheng/2527050)
  • Login One Time (https://www.drupal.org/project/login_one_time)
  • Move User (https://www.drupal.org/project/move_user)
  • Baidu Analytics (https://www.drupal.org/project/baidu_analytics)
  • Corporate Clean (https://www.drupal.org/project/corporateclean)
  • Email Verify (https://www.drupal.org/project/email_verify)

The astute reader will notice that even though only four teams participated, they committed to porting five modules and a theme — and they succeeded!

The CI&T teams and myself are currently steering these modules through the drupal.org patch approval process. We’ll be seeing a bunch of new functionality ready for Drupal 8 sites soon!

Straight after completing the hackathon, the team and I travelled by train from Ningbo back into Shanghai for DrupalCamp China 2016.

With tracks catering to Drupal, design, and open source in general, this camp was an opportunity to further evangelise about the great work being done in the community, and to learn from others.

Looking around at the DrupalCamp, it was clear to me how much both the general perception of Drupal and the Shanghai developer pool has grown since I last visited almost a year ago to the day.

Every single person I spoke to at the event, even those not embedded in the community, was acutely aware of how Drupal was being used around the world. Most had their own ideas about how to cultivate further growth in China.

Last year, much of the focus was around learning what Drupal is; this year I was asked more questions around how to demonstrate and sell Drupal into the enterprise -- hugely encouraging to witness!

The high level of vendor support at the camp also provided me with a chance to discuss how different organisations can overcome the technical and business challenges to platforming Drupal within China -- something I have my own opinions on.

My overall feeling after these Chinese events -- the hackathon and the DrupalCamp -- was that given enough momentum for change, and with the Chinese government starting to open access through the GFW (Great Firewall) in some situations, it’s only a matter of time before the Chinese intranet and the wider internet truly share the same network, allowing us to bring fast, modern digital experiences to China.