Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit 2011 Debrief

November 2, 2011

At FCV, we love open-source, and are committed to supporting the Drupal community as much as we can. Last month FCV sponsored a few of our esteemed developers to head to Portland and deliver a talk on Data Modeling and Data flowat the PNW Drupal Summit.

Audrey Foo, FCV Developer, delivered her talk just after keynote speaker Bibiana McHugh, IT Manager for Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon and spoke on Data Modelling and Data flow for better websites. Audrey was kind enough to spend some time and give us a quick overview of her talk and experience below, check it out:

This year’s PNW Drupal summit was interesting, extremely informational, and packed with great people that are passionate about taking Drupal and the open-source community to the next level. Thanks to the organizing community, everything went smoothly in what I thought was a perfect location, right downtown at the University Place Hotel & Conference Center. The vibe of the Drupal summit mirrored the vibe of the city of Portland, friendly and super social. To top it off, the Portland User group brewed their own beer at the event!

My discussion was scheduled right after the first days keynote on open-source mapping. Starting things off right after the keynote was a little intimidating, but thankfully, with the help of the rest of the team at FCV, I was well prepared and everything went off without a bump. I was happy to see that the topic attracted a good crowd, so much so that people were sitting on the floor in the adjacent room to stay tuned. The crowd was a made up of a dynamic cross-section of developers, architects, marketers and decision makers.

Originally, I intended to talk specifically about how to use traditional ERDs (Entity Relationship Diagrams; shown in figure one) using crow's foot notation for Drupal data components; like content types, fields and node references, taxonomies, and users. However, thanks to some feedback from Ed Rubuliak, lead instructor of business systems analysis at BCIT, I decided to include a discussion about Structured Analysis (process and data flow modeling; Business Process Modeling (BPM)) which can be used as a starting point, to help prove the benefits of modeling to system owners.

chart 1
Figure 2: Example of Structured Analysis in action. 
chart 2 stru

The group discussed how BPM does have some overlap with Unified Modeling Language (UML) and how this was the result of recent improvements in business process and data flow modeling in structured analysis. However, as UML continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly daunting for agencies and developers to establish modeling in their build process. I suggested that the easiest and most cost effective way to start was with structured analysis and ERD, that could then be evolved to utlize UML as your team’s skills and needs increase.

Figure 3: An activity diagram built using UML 

uml

The real benefit to all of this (structured analysis, entity relationship diagrams (ERD),  business process modeling, and the use of Unified modeling language) is that it can be built into the development process at a very early stage to help clearly define requirements both internally and externally for a client and the project team. This helps reduce any inconsistencies in the scope of work and can allow for significantly stronger inter-department cooperation.

At FCV we have already seen amazing things happen when an IA, strategist and developer get in a room and hash out ideas on how we can take a project to the next level using the diagrams and tools mentioned above.

To close, we had a great time at the PNW Drupal Summit this year and are already looking forward to next year. Amazing job done by the organizers and everyone who attended and made the event such a success!

Please check out my slide deck below and let me know if you have any questions or comments, I would love to keep the conversation going.

-Audrey Foo

Data Flow and Data Modeling Presentation Slides 

Posted in Drupal CMS, Drupal

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