The chief executive of NELEP attended the first DrupalCamp North event, which took place in Sunderland last weekend, appearing as a keynote speaker to discuss the importance of developing local talent and the benefits of apprentices for businesses. Mr Paton hailed the weekend of digital activities a success for the region, but encouraged more businesses to get behind technologies like Drupal to ensure the North East maintains a competitive edge.
Drupal – like other platforms such as WordPress – is an open source web development platform, but it allows the build of more complex websites that can integrate into every aspect of an organisation. The DrupalCamp event was held at the Sunderland Software Centre from July 24 to 26 and attracted almost 100 attendees from across the UK and beyond, including Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and the USA.
Mr Paton, who is also head of Accenture’s North East Delivery Centre, said: “It’s important that companies in the North East know about Drupal and other innovative open source software in order to continue to thrive, and events like DrupalCamp North are helping make that happen.
“The Drupal movement is developing at such a fast pace through its approach of collaborating, contributing and sharing with each other and those values should be celebrated across our region.”
The DrupalCamp event, which saw the North East, North West and Yorkshire user groups join forces for the first time, gave digital experts and agencies the chance to hear about the latest Drupal developments – including the planned release of Drupal 8, the latest version of the platform – as well as about how Drupal can help businesses develop more innovative websites, online databases and mobile applications.
Holly Ross, chief executive of the Drupal Association based in Portland, Oregon USA, was one of the 25 speakers over the course of the event.
She said: “The Drupal community is able to grow globally because of events like DrupalCamp North and having the event in Sunderland is very fitting due to the growth of the technology sector in the area. We hope that this event will be a catalyst for more companies and organisations to get involved in Drupal and embrace the philosophy of collaboration and contributing to the software.”
Across the five days of the event organisers also hosted a sprint, where around 40 developers contributed to the building of the new Drupal 8 as well as working on bug-fixes for the Drupal community, encouraging collaboration and contribution among the experts as well as 20 first-time sprinters who were guided by mentors.
Adam Hill, co-organiser of DrupalCamp North and director of Sunderland Drupal company Consult and Design International, said that he hoped the event would inspire more people to engage in the Drupal community.
He said: “The response to the event has been overwhelming and having the coding sprint this year meant that young and inexperienced developers have had the opportunity to learn new skills, contribute to Drupal and go on to help others.
“We really hope that people will join us at our next events so we can spread the energy and motivation that these experts have brought to the region.”
DrupalCamp events run right around the world, and the UK has hosted them in Scotland as well as London, Manchester and Brighton. The Drupal community includes 33,000 developers with over one million Drupal sites now live.
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Its fantastic for Sunderland to be the host city for an event that really does draw people from around the world. Our flagship Sunderland Software Centre is home to a host of great technology businesses, so is fitting that this was the location for the Drupal community, developers who are very much at the forefront of their industry.”
For more information on Drupal, visit www.drupal.org or to find out more about Sunderland as a place for software businesses, follow @MAKEitSund, visit www.makeitsunderland.com, email email@example.com or call +44 (0)191 561 1194.