Food for thought from OpenExpo

Sep 25, 2008

OpenExpo is an open source conference taking place twice a year in different locations in Switzerland. The second 2008 edition is taking place in Wintherthur in canton Zurich, and my visit from yesterday left me with some thoughts that I wanted to share here.

It took me some time to find the Drupal booth, with it's little logo printed on paper which lacked some confidence in comparison to the big and shiny Joomla banner. I am not in a situation to criticize when I haven't myself contributed anything to organizing Drupal's presence at OpenExpo, but the lack of marketing material is making it hard to present Drupal to the outside world without giving a 15-minute talk. As discussed with some other members of the Zurich Drupal user group, a simple set of standardized handouts giving a quick overview of Drupal's strength would be a tremendous help when presenting our favorite CMS to a wider audience. We'll work on making this kind of brochure available on drupal.org.

Among the various presentations that I attended, the one about the new features in the upcoming version of Typo3 was particularly interesting, especially in contrast to what is currently happening in the development of the upcoming Drupal 7. Whereas we plan to integrate fields in core to make flexible content types possible (the CCK UI would stay in a contributed module), Typo3's Flow3 framework makes it possible to define content types and operations on them using PHP objects. The common point between the two is an abstraction layer between the content type definition and the actual storage in a database, making it possible for developers to get away from ever using SQL again, but also raising some interesting questions about the integrity, scalability and performance of the generated database schema.

Finally, it is worth to mention that OpenExpo was a little part of TopSoft, a software event mostly dominated by traditional software companies, and the difference between the open source and proprietary exhibits was quite striking. On one hand there were dry-cleaned suits, boring business cards and huge posters with little actual content, and on the other hand there were casual clothes, stickers, and people who could talk to you for hours if you asked them about the {OS,CMS,office suite,programming language,cellphone,*} they are representing. I'm happy with stickers.

Update: Also check out a great report from Christophe Galli on the event.