DrupalCon Los Angeles and Where DrupalCons are Headed

| Drupal

DrupalCon Los Angeles took place from May 11 to 15 and three of our team were there.

Three of our team joined over 3100 people who crowded into downtown L.A.

We'll recap our favorite sessions in another blog post, but here are some thoughts on DrupalCon L.A. and where DrupalCons are headed.

Thoughts on Los Angeles as a venue

The L.A. Convention Center was a great choice. Some recent DrupalCons have been inside huge venues where 3000 people can seem like a small group.

L.A. had the perfect size of venue for 3000 people. The auditoriums, sessions halls, bird of a feather and exhibitor rooms were right next to each other so getting around was easy.

In fact, the whole location was great. The convention center is right next to the Staples Center where the LA Lakers and LA Clippers play. There was NBA playoff basketball going on for 2 nights we were there which added to the excitement around the venue. The local area was full of hotels, restaurants and things to do.

Because it was L.A., there were parties in wonderfully ornate and interesting hotels. Pantheon hosted an enormous party right that took up a whole block in the heart of L.A.:

pantheon-party-la

(thanks to Kim Pepper for the photo)

Thoughts on DrupalCon as an event

If you've only been to PHP, WordPress, Joomla or other open source events, you really should make the effort to attend a DrupalCon. Everything is larger and more professional than you're accustomed to. The Drupal Association really knows how to do a conference well. The whole event flowed smoothly. Even the wi-fi ran without a hitch all week.

However, there was a definite drop in the size of the event compared to Austin. Here are the last 6 North American DrupalCons:

  • San Francisco, 2010: 3,000
  • Chicago, 2011: 2,881
  • Denver, 2012: 3,127
  • Portland, 2013: 3,000
  • Austin, 2014: 3,500
  • Los Angeles, 2015: 3,186

So attendance was about average for the last 6 years, but a drop of around 10% compared to Austin. There was also a decline in the number of sponsor booths. Why was there a drop?

  • Perhaps it was cost. DrupalCon tickets have risen from $200 in 2010 to over $500 this year.
  • Perhaps L.A. was not exciting enough as a destination. Certainly the choice of New Orleans next year should fix that.
  • Perhaps the decision to offer many different sponsorship levels this year meant that not everyone needed a booth.

DrupalCon does seem to have hit a growth plateau growth since 2010, but nevertheless, 3000 attendees is enough for a great event:

drupalcon-la-group-picture

(thanks to Amazee Labs for the photo)

Thoughts on the professionalism of DrupalCon

We had one member of our team in L.A. who was new to DrupalCon and in fact to Drupal as a whole. He was really impressed by professionalism of the event and particularly by the Acquia employees and Acquia Partners. The fact that these companies are competing successfully and building enterprise-level sites for Fortune 100 companies was something he hadn't expected would happen with an open source CMS.

The biggest sponsor splash at the event was made by the new FFW.co, which formed after the merger of Blink Reaction and Pro People. With over 400 employees they claim to be the biggest Drupal agency in the world. They had an enormous booth and FFW people were everywhere at the event.

drupalcon-la-ffw

(Thanks to FFW for the photo)

Overall thoughts

DrupalCon seemed like an interregnum conference. Drupal 7 is still the king, but Drupal 8 is tantalizingly close yet not ready for use. DrupalCon itself is still a high-class event, but it's not growing in North America.

It will be fascinating to see what happens next year in New Orleans. Will Drupal 8 kickstart another era of expansion or was Austin 2014 the high watermark for DrupalCon North America?

Maybe DrupalCon's expansion will be overseas. The conference closed by handing over to DrupalCon Barcelona (the European events continue to grow) and to DrupalCon Asia in Mumbai where growth has only just started. Here are the last 6 European DrupalCons:

  • Paris, 2009: 850
  • Copenhagen, 2010: 1,200
  • London, 2011: 1,751
  • Munich, 2012: 1,700
  • Prague, 2013: 1,830
  • Amsterdam, 2014: 2,300

About the author

Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.