Search Topic

DrupalCon Portland 2024 in 1,800 Words

DrupalCon Portland 2024 in 1,800 Words

Every DrupalCon is full of excitement here at As a remote company, we relish the opportunity to come together as a team and a community, to see each other face to face, to connect, to learn, and to grow.

DrupalCon Portland 2024 was no different. With many of our North American team members in attendance, we hosted our second annual LagoonCon, met new and old friends, and both shared and gained knowledge.

Read on to learn firsthand some highlights from our team’s conference experiences.

Johnny Squardoo

Johnny Squardo, Support Engineer

This was my first ever DrupalCon that I was lucky enough to attend, and it did not disappoint. On day one, I decided to jump right into the Birds of a Feather event, where I was able to connect with other like-minded individuals. We had very fun and interesting discussions about the community and the week ahead. Another of the many talks I attended was Automate, Integrate, Innovate: AI-powered GitLab CI for Drupal module development. This piqued my interest because the rise and implementation of AI are things we are focusing on at, such as our AI Hosting solution, for example. It was very informative, and I learned how AI can enhance workflow and minimize mistakes by adding this to your continuous integration platform.

After a long first day of talks and socializing, we had LagoonCon, organized by It was great to listen to Toby Bellwood, Justin Winter, Christoph Weber, Bryan Gruneberg, and the Lagoon dev team share their knowledge and passion for Lagoon, as well as Open Source in general. I had an awesome time watching those amazing and informative talks about something I am also so passionate about.

Out of everything that I was lucky enough to take away from this trip, I would have to say the thing I enjoyed most was meeting my remote teammates in person for the first time. I already knew everyone here at was amazing and talented, and it was a really special experience to spend time around them as not only colleagues but also as friends. Now that the event is over and I look back on all the people I was lucky enough to meet, the things I learned, and the atmosphere DrupalCon provided, I can not wait to go to the next one!

Christoph Weber presenting at LagoonCon

Justin Winter

Justin Winter, Business Intelligence Engineer

I presented a session at LagoonCon this year, which took place after the first day of DrupalCon. I spoke alongside Christoph Weber from our agency partner, Pronovix, about a POC that was developed and, specifically, the enhanced pipeline for data augmentation. This was designed to elevate search via a chat interface for accessing highly technical data and web page content. 

The process involves a multi-step approach, starting with splitting markdown content into manageable chunks. Each chunk undergoes a custom prompt processing to extract pertinent questions, answers, themes, and keywords, which are then converted into a vector database. This structured data then allows for efficient searching when a user poses a question by identifying stored text with similar semantic meanings, as determined by the embeddings of both the question and text chunks. This method, known generally as Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG), significantly enhances the quality of large language model (LLM) outputs. By leveraging RAG, plus our data augmentation system, we can deliver more accurate and contextually relevant responses, thereby improving user experience and interaction with complex datasets. This advancement not only streamlines data retrieval but also optimizes the practical applications of LLMs in various domains, making it a powerful tool for developers and users alike.

Image from Justin and Christoph's LagoonCon talk

Laura Caraker

Laura Caraker, Sales Representative

DrupalCon was a week full of networking, learning, laughs, and pet tags! This was the first DrupalCon I had attended since New Orleans way back in 2016, and I had such a great time. The experience was opportunistic in many ways, personally and professionally.

From a sales lens, the primary focus was to get customer feedback, start conversations, and build connections, with the intent of continuing the dialogue post-Drupalcon. It’s a great way to educate the community about what we do, and as you can imagine, the pet tag engraver we had at our booth was quite the conversation starter! Not only was I able to connect with booth visitors about their pets, but I was able to learn about their current relevant technology situation. For example, I’d ask visitors if they used Drupal exclusively or other apps in addition and, therefore, knew our ability to support multiple applications would be valuable to them. 

Since it had been a few years for me, it was fantastic to have the opportunity to reconnect with the community, see people I hadn’t seen in a while, hear about growth in the Drupal space, hear about the latest trends, and learn about competitors while also reinforcing why open source and are truly special. LagoonCon specifically reaffirmed to me why we at are unique and dedicated to that mission. 

As an employee of for a little over a month, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend an in-person conference that echoed everything I had heard and already started to experience within the company. Not only was I lucky enough to essentially continue my training in person, but I got to see firsthand how cool everyone at is! We had a dynamic group from all different areas of the company and world. I was able to learn something different from each team member while also being very inspired by the unique personality, experience, and energy each of us brings to the table here at to create a well-rounded team and solution! I also love opportunities to be surrounded by so many different angles of intelligence, which my team members certainly delivered on. I am returning to my regular day-to-day feeling inspired, motivated, and grateful to be a part of this company.

Pictures from the party at the science museum

🧩 As a puzzle enthusiast, I had a blast at the party at the science museum and was able to practice my Spanish while making Drupal friends from all over the world.

Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams, Software Engineer

This year was my seventh Drupalcon and second in Portland. Our booth was well-positioned for a constant flow of visitors, and I had a good time and left with positive vibes overall. This was also partly because our swag was free engraving of pet tags and collars. It was great to send people home with something useful, and we always appreciated when we got pet pictures in return.

One of the big changes since the pandemic has been the schedule change. It feels a lot harder to get to the contributor events since they are all coinciding with either Session/Expo hall days or Training/Summit days. I had a few issues I would’ve liked to finish but just didn’t find the time. I really enjoyed mentoring new contributors in the past but haven’t been able to participate in the last couple of cons. In the future, I’ll have to choose to do contributions instead of something else, which feels like a let down.

For the second year in a row, we hosted a side event, LagoonCon! As a full-time developer of Lagoon, having a small round table with my fellow “Lagoonies” was nice to showcase what we have been and will be working on. I feel very privileged that I get to work on open source software as my day job, and I’m lucky to work alongside such excellent talent.

Northern Lights visible near Seattle on Friday, May 10th.

👁️ Northern lights visible near Seattle on Friday, May 10th.

Rolando Scott

Rolando Scott, Technical Account Manager

As usual, DrupalCon crept up on us, and by the time we got to Portland, we felt it was over already! It was great to greet some old friends and partners and meet some new clients in person. Spending time with colleagues and meeting some of the newer folks was also fantastic. 

Regarding the conference itself,’s booth was well-visited. While many people came by to get a cool customized tag for their cat or dog (or any pet), many were curious about our services and what made us different from the rest. 

The week's highlight was LagoonCon, where we presented engaging sessions and shared great updates with close to 100 people. Seeing the amazing things AI can do nowadays and then listening to Bryan’s passionate lecture about Open Source and how we are defending it was truly inspiring. 

Another positive moment was when we sat down with one of the DA board members to tell her a few things that we think might help future conferences. Potentially, we could have a free day for people interested but not willing to pay, or we could make some more marketing efforts to get companies and organizations that have an open RFP or are thinking about having one to reach the conference more easily. 

All in all, it was another Drupalcon in the books. There were lots of sessions, learning, and networking, but overall, we spent some quality time with our team members.

Bree Benesh

Bree Benesh, Solutions Architect

My most exciting experience this DrupalCon was moderating my first panel! I was asked to moderate a panel on AI for the Gov Summit, and I dove in headfirst! I was lucky to have been on a panel previously with a moderator, Larry Swanson, who I thought did a fantastic job. I based my process largely on what I observed of his process: meeting 1-on-1 with my panelists ahead of time; interviewing each of them regarding their background, connection to the topic, and relevant opinions and insights; reviewing my notes and assembling some questions to get to the overarching themes that seem to connect my panelists to the panel topic; designing a general flow for the discussion – which may or may not be adhered to, as is the nature of organic discussion; and then meeting one last time with my panelists all together so that we could get to know each other a little better and talk as a group about the panel to come. 

I’m super grateful to Kirsten Burgard for giving me the opportunity to moderate a panel, to my panelists, Nikki Flores (Lullabot), Owen Barton (Civic Actions), Jeff McWherter (Gravity Works Design & Development), and April Sides (Red Hat), for being such warm, wonderful, smart people, and to our awesome audience, who asked great questions and leveled our discussion up even further.

Other than the panel, my highlight was reconnecting with friends and acquaintances from the Drupal Community, meeting lots of new people, and having some great conversations with them. From epic bike trips to book recommendations to tech talk, there were a lot of great stories and experiences to listen to, and I feel very warm and cozy as I bask in the post-conference glow of so much human connection. 

Bree at the AI for Gov Summit


Thanks again to all our friends, the organizers, and our wonderful community for an awesome conference! We can’t wait to see you all again soon. For some of us, “soon” is just a few months away: look for us at DrupalCon Barcelona this September! For the rest, keep an eye on our social media accounts to see where else we’ll be over the next year. Until then, take care and keep in touch!

The team at the booth at DrupalCon Portland 2024