Texas Camp Recap

June 8, 2018

Photo by Yes Moon

Had an excellent, jam packed time at Texas Camp in Austin. It was an extremely well organized event attended by a bunch of super engaged and friendly Drupalers. A bit of a short trip for me as I had tickets to see How Did This Get Made back home on Saturday night, but that just resulted in things being focused around a couple of clear themes.

Visual Regression Testing

Visual Regression Testing is a topic I’ve been interested in quite a while now, but I’ve fallen out of practice as of late. I was really excited to see that there was a bunch of content on visual regression testing planned for the camp, much of which was focused around BackstopJS. I’ve tried a number of other solutions in the past (Wraith, PhantomCSS, WebDriverIO) but not Backstop JS which seems to be gaining momentum in the Drupal community.

On Thursday the folks at Pantheon held a training session on BackstopJS, which I attended. It provided a great overview of how they use the tool, along with some example repositories for learning. By the end of the training I had completed a first pass at adding a suite of regression tests to this blog. I would have liked to see a little more content in the training about the general functionality of BackstopJS rather than the Pantheon team’s use cases, but any training where I can walk out with a real world example implemented is a big win.

Continuing on the Backstop train I also doubled down and attended Ryan Bateman from Hook 42’s session on BackstopJS. He provided a little more of the general functional overview that I was looking for after the training, and also talked about the Backstop Generator module that he had recently created. Backstop generator allows you to quickly create a backstop.json file that tests against specific pages on your site and/or a random selection of pages. Seems like a great way for Drupal projects to take advantage of BackstopJS with very little effort. It was also great getting a chance to talk with Ryan later on in the camp - I think he stands as the only Alaskan Drupalist I’ve ever met.

Due to travel I wasn’t able to catch David Stinemetze from Rackspace’s related Archiving and Visual Regression Using Drupal 8 session, but I’m planning on catching up on the video later.


Texas Camp featured two very excellent keynotes that I was lucky enough to enjoy over breakfast burritos. Both are very much worth watching, so rather than try to recap, I’ll just paraphrase a few things that really stuck with me.

Nikki Stevens - Breaking the Binary: The Politics of Code and Inclusivity in Technology

  • Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.
  • Small choices matter and create new futures.
  • Forms on a website can influence real world behavior.

Michael Schmid - The Future of Drupal

  • Change is what keeps us alive.
  • JavaScript is taking over the web.
  • The market is (Squarespace, Wix, etc.) is pushing us in the direction of 'ambitious digital experiences'

A Whole Bunch of Me Talking at People on Friday

I was initially scheduled to do my UI Patterns Talk, but was also asked to fill in for a presenter who was unable to attend. As a result I got to give two talks in a single afternoon. This is fine for me because I love hearing myself talk, but to the brave souls who attended both of my sessions - I salute you.

Component Based Theming With UI Patterns

Was exceptionally happy with the lively Q&A that followed the session. Even if you've heard me give this talk before, I'd encourage you to jump to the Q&A at the end.

Hot JAMS(tack): Building a Music Discovery App with Drupal and React

It was fun revisiting this talk after DrupalCon, but I was especially excited to hear from people who either have, or were planning to use the examples in this project to learn more about decoupled Drupal and React. That was main motivation behind the talk in the first place, so I'm extremely happy that this project may have helped a few people find a starting point to experiment with decoupled Drupal and React.

Other Sessions

I also caught a handful of other great talks.

  • Web Accessibility Tips and Tools - provided an excellent overview of a11y resources, many of which are outlined in this google doc.
  • Manifesto-Driven Development - an interesting look at influential tech manifestos and how you could use one to define the direction of a project. Thinking about writing one for an upcoming project.
  • Decoupling Edutopia.org - a fascinating look at a complicated, highly performant decoupled build. I was impressed by some of the technical solutions but left wondering if the effort outweighed the benefit in this case.


Had some great BBQ and craft beer at the after parties, and can't stress enough how convenient it was having breakfast tacos around to start the day. And then Saturday night I met up with some old Boston friends and did the tourist-y bat bridge thing, saw a fun band called Quiet Company play at Stubbs BBQ, and closed out the night with some Austin food trucks.

All in all, a great trip. And I barely got this post online before the end of the next camp on my list.