On March14th 2015, the Chinese Drupal Community gathered in Shanghai for DrupalCampChina 2015. With two keynotes, three one-hour presentations, nine thirty-minute sessions and a great after party, it was a busy day of learning and sharing ideas.
Learn from the best
China is a large country, but on the day of DrupalCampChina 2015, attendees from cities as far away as Beijing and Hong Kong traveled more than 8 hours to the event. One of the top reasons that many Chinese Drupalers were motivated to travel from afar was the keynote speakers, who were funded by Drupal Association. Many Chinese Drupalers appreciated the opportunity to listen and meet some of the top Drupal developers in the world; furthermore, they wanted to learn more about open source culture, the organization of the Drupal Community, and Drupal core development.
This year, we were thrilled to have Ryan Szrama and Clay Shirky as our two keynotes. Ryan’s talk, “Opening Doors with Open Source eCommerce,” was inspiring. His stories charted the path he took that defined his open source career, and how it shaped both Ubercart and Drupal Commerce modules.
Our other keynote, Clay Shirky presented on “Collaborative Technologies.” Analyzing the social aspects around recent technologies, Clay’s talk demonstrated how humans are not only producing the technologies, but how those technologies in turn shape the development, distribution, and community of the future. In a way, Clay’s talk explained how Drupal and its community was born and why they are what they are today.
Both keynotes were exciting and inspiring, and boosted our attendees’ confidence and enthusiasm for Drupal and Open Source.
Growing Drupal in China
As Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “Isn’t it delightful to have a friend coming from afar?” At DrupalCampChina 2015, Adam Malone from Acquia and Felipe Rubim from CI&T travelled to Shanghai from Australia and offered their insights and guidance. I took the opportunity to discuss methods of growing Drupal in China with them based on their experiences both in Asia Pacific and the rest of the world.
Many people at the camp had fun and were inspired watching Adam present “Let's talk about web experience management with Drupal 8”. Later on, while discussing the growth of Drupal in China, Adam mentioned Acquia’s broad interest in helping Drupal grow in Asian markets. His rule of thumb is to organize more local meetups and to encourage social activities for the group where Drupal isn’t the focus. By creating friendships within the community, we make stronger ties between its members. Adam also pointed out that it’s important to learn the decision making process within different business areas. Once the requirements and priorities are better presented, Drupal usually can offer many solutions with the ability for further customization. If we want to increase Drupal adoption from the top down in China, then the developers and site builders have a lot of learning to do, and we can’t wait to get started.
Felipe Rubim has assisted with the organization of this camp over the past six months. He firmly believes in the value of DrupalCamp China, which is why he motivated a whole team of Drupalers at CI&T to travel from Ningbo to Shanghai. Their bold presence gives many newcomers a great impression of Drupal. Felipe believes Chinese developers must see more opportunities related to Drupal before they join, and that businesses may also expect a bigger pool of Drupal shops and developers before they jump in. To try and tackle both at the same time, Felipe and his team suggest that the Drupal community should focus on:
- Localized Drupal marketing (Chinese material on Drupal, locally searchable/reachable);
- The translation of more key documentation, along with support on forums;
- Increasing the number of key advocates (e.g.: D.A., local evangelists, etc), people that can speak up for Drupal across different audiences/prospects
- Implementing and marketing flagship local cases;
The Future of Drupal in China
In early 2015, CNN claimed that China had 557 million smartphone or tablet users, which was almost double of the entire U.S. population. One thing worth noting is that these 557 million users are 80% of the total number of Chinese internet users. Furthermore, as famous Google Exec Hugo Barra pointed out, Alibaba/Taobao in China sold $5.75 billion online in one single day, comparing to $2 billion for U.S. Cyber Monday. In fact, Barra’s Chinese company Xiaomi also recently won a Guinness record for selling 2.11 million phones in 24 hours.
Given that mobile and eCommerce has exploded in China, many Chinese Drupalers have been working on mobile and eCommerce related projects lately, which made it a popular topic at DrupalCamp. We discussed how two large sets of APIs offer the integration to this massive Chinese eCommerce and mobile world. One is from Alibaba, and the other is from Tencent (WeChat). Drupal and the Commerce module offer the amazing capability to integrate Content, Workflow and Commerce together, making it incredibly easy to develop for Chinese eCommerce sites. Drupal Commerce Kickstart Distribution also lets users open a new simple eCommerce site in hours. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese Taobao shop owners have been dreaming about customized shop displays and the Commerce Kickstart distribution can make their dream come true without writing any code. Clearly, there is a lot of opportunity for Drupal in China. Now what we need to do is begin growing.
The security aspect of Drupal was another popular topic at DrupalCampChina. China experienced a lot of cyber security challenges in the past 6 months, for example the recent man-on-the-side-attack. Most Chinese internet companies gradually learned the importance of cyber security and the advantage of using open source software like Drupal. At the camp, many attendees learned about the work and responsibilities of the Drupal Security Team, and learned about Drupal security advice compared to other popular open source software. Ultimately, we concluded that it will be almost impossible for most proprietary Chinese CMS software to catch up with the security practices that Drupal can offer.
Many small and medium businesses in China were eager to learn about optimization of hosting websites for Chinese markets. Both the technical aspects like bandwidth and connectivity, and political governance of Internet are quite different when the Internet crosses border in China. Some Chinese companies host websites in China, but then must deal with increasing market demand in the rest of the world, while many international companies are uncertain of the best practices to optimize speed for Chinese market. Numerous strategies have been discussed, but thanks to the power of Drupal (e.g. CDN module, Storage API), the implementation of many optimization strategies is only a marginal investment for many companies.
Attending DrupalCon LA
DrupalCampChina 2015 was held shortly after the Chinese New Year. We took the opportunity to meet and discuss the plans for the near future. Many Chinese developers had a taste of the fun and value of this camp in Shanghai, and wanted to learn more about Drupal and its community. Therefore, we formed a team to travel to DrupalCon LA. Keith Yau, Jackie Chen, Jerenus Zheng, and Everright Chen had a great time at DrupalCon LA and had lots of exciting new ideas to bring back and share with our community in China. For most, this was both their first DrupalCon and their first trip to the US. They witnessed how well the Drupal community collaborated at Sprints; learned to communicate with many Drupalers both offline and online; and they were shocked to see how many potential career choices were available at DrupalCon. When they talked about this trip after they returned, it was certain that they were amazed and inspired. Nicely done, DrupalCon LA!