The Highlights of DrupalCon Vienna

by Kayla Toh 

Last week, the Austrian city of Vienna was awash with members of the Drupal community, as over 1,700 people took to the Messe Wien Exhibition and Congress Centre for coding, community and collaboration at DrupalCon Vienna 2017.


Now that everyone has returned to the calm of their office desks and they’ve taken the time to process the magical madness of DrupalCon Vienna, we are able to share the BrightLemon team’s favourite moments from this years European DrupalCon.


For the members of our team who were experiencing their first ever DrupalCon, the event felt like it had its own culture. And watching Dries Buytaert’s keynote speech (Driesnote) felt like taking part in a traditional, historical activity within that culture. It was a great moment.


From the Driesnote we learnt that Drupal is growing and the market around it is changing as well. Whilst this product transformation is occurring, a lot of Drupal users feel like they’re being left behind. Many now think that Drupal is becoming a tool that can only be used by enterprise organisations.

But Dries highlighted how important it is to start focusing on how to make Drupal inclusive for everyone. He suggested that we focus on the following two things to meet everyone’s needs:

  • More powerful site building tools
  • Easier updates and maintenance


When we strode into the exhibition hall on the first day and saw that one agency had created an adult-friendly ball pit as part of their exhibition, we knew it was going to be a very good DrupalCon.

With no hesitation, we embraced our inner child and jumped head first into the Digitalist ball pit in search of a Digitalist branded t-shirt. What an inventive, original and memorable way to get people engaged with your company.

It was great to see that other Drupalists were keen to get involved too. It made the DrupalCon environment feel like a place where we could have fun without being judged, whilst also doing some productive networking in the process.



Another Drupal agency that won top points for marketing creativity is SixEleven, with their makeshift tattoo parlour. DrupalCon attendees could choose from a selection of temporary Drupal-related tattoos.

The slogans and quotes on the tattoos changed on a daily basis, meaning you could keep going back for a brand new imprint everyday of the event.

SixEleven really did make a lasting impression on us. And we meant it when we say “lasting impression”. Those temporary tattoos didn’t wash off for several days!



Our Drupal developer’s favourite coding and development session that took place was by Pieter Frenssen.

He explained that automated testing has a lot of benefits, can reduce maintenance costs, improves software quality, speeds up time to market and prevents embarrassing regressions.

This presentation showed us how to use Behat, Drupal Extension and Travis CI to provide cheap and effective testing for any project.


On Wednesday morning, Monique Morrow shone an important ethical light on Drupal with her humanitarian speech. It was more of a wake up call than our coffee.

She posed the important questions: “Are you in control? Are you in control of your identity? Are you in control of your privacy?”

Monique envisions a ‘humanized internet’, which has “Freedom-As-A-Service” at the heart of it. Essentially meaning that people can take control of their destiny online and regain power over their identity and privacy online.

Her proposition for a new set of values to be put into place shows how a Humanized Internet could lead to a more inclusive, sustainable, and safe online world.

Drupal can help to contribute towards that by bearing in mind: “think about how inclusive you are in your communities and think about intentionality of what it is you do”



Our marketing team member’s favourite business session was lead by Michel Van Velde, the CEO of OneShoe. He uncovered the skills and psychology behind selling Drupal.

It was interesting to hear all of the different elements that need to be taken into consideration to drive a sale;

  • Different types of selling skills
  • Different negotiation phases
  • Sales funnel management/customer related management systems
  • Sales strategies

He emphasised the power of influence behind selling and explained how it’s essential; “Information alone is not enough. It’s how it’s presented”.



Going from the DrupalCon environment, which is predominantly male, it was refreshing to be completely surrounded by women at the Women in Drupal event.


BrightLemon were proud to sponsor such a movement that’s not just extremely important within Drupal, but also within the tech realm in general.

The turnout was great, with the venue reaching maximum capacity at the peak point. It was nice to see so many inspiring, intelligent women all in one place and men showing their support for the women in Drupal.



Meeting Dries Buytaert had to be the best moment for our team during our time at DrupalCon Vienna.

We discovered that not only is the guy a genius and an inspiration, but he’s also a very down-to-earth and friendly person who can hold a good conversation.

Dries politely took the time to chat with us, but also praised the Director of BrightLemon and kept in touch via email after the event. This experience made us feel proud to part of Drupal and the Drupal community.



Without a doubt, one of the best things about travelling is trying out the local food. We figured that it would be rude to go to Austria and not eat the country’s famous Schnitzel. And our tastebuds weren’t disappointed!

SchnitzelDinners were an important time for us to 

 at the end of a long day. But they were also an excellent opportunity for us to socialise with other members of the Drupal community in a more relaxed environment. There was room for casual conversation, exchanging stories and bonding with other team members on a more personal level.



Vienna is praised as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and we can confirm that it completely lived up to its reputation. Our hotel had an excellent location and we were able to walk to several of the well-known landmarks in Vienna.

The buildings have the most unusual yet beautiful architecture and are often adorned with sculptures and beautiful paintings. We viewed the splendour of the Rathaus all lit up at night time.


Vienna also has a lot of historical buildings and is thriving with culture and art. St Stephen’s Cathedral was a magnificent example of Viennese history that we were fortunate enough to get a good glimpse of.

austria-vienna-st-stephens-cathedral-2_2It’s a city of colour and creativity with beautiful street art to be seen around every corner. We particularly enjoyed the street art found all along the side of the river Wien, which often held a lot of political motive and meaning.



It was the first ever DrupalCon trivia night for ⅔ of our team and we weren’t sure what to expect. But after speaking to fellow DrupalCon attendees, we heard only positive things about it and decided to tag along.

Simply just by being newbies, we earned our trivia team an extra 8 points!

The trivia night showed us just how embracing and friendly the Drupal community is. Strangers were welcome on anyone’s team and many people arrived solo and left with new found friends, including us.  

The event was a great opportunity for us to mingle, socialise and have a little competitive fun.



We were able to grab a glimpse of the old-school Austrian culture, due to Oktoberfest taking place whilst we were attending the conference. Our hotel was situated near the famous Prater fair ground, which was hosting a beer festival during our stay.

We got see a lot of lederhosen, beer, traditional dancing, live music and alpine-style huts.



With gossip circulating around DrupalCon Vienna that this would be the last ever DrupalCon in Europe, it seemed that there was a slight mist of sadness hanging above everyone’s heads.

But, after attending Jeffrey A. McGuire’s ‘Community is Shared Values’ session we left DrupalCon feeling very positive and optimistic.

‘Jam’ McGuire reflected back on tougher, darker Drupal days when there was uncertainty around the release of Drupal 8 as a product, as well as other issues in the community. But it sounds like the Drupal community has come along way since then and bounced back tougher than ever.

IMG_0005_2After eating, drinking and sleeping in Drupal for four days on the trot, the BrightLemon team felt as deflated as the Drupal drop was by the end of the week (see image below).


But all of the effort from the team that was put into the event was fully repaid in the invaluable knowledge that was gained, the brilliant memories made and the connections created.

We found the community aspect of Drupal to be infectious. Drupalists and Drupalistas proved to be a welcoming bunch with a brilliant attitude towards learning and life.

As the saying goes; “come for the code, stay for the community”, we certainly will be returning to another DrupalCon in the future.