Last week I attended Drupal GovCon at the NIH Campus here in the D.C. area. I also attended DrupalCon in New Orleans back in May. There are many similarities between the two events but the differences are worth noting. Overall GovCon offers more FREE training, has similar sessions on the tracks it covers but misses the more future-looking and core conversation tracks, and the session length and session selection process may have contributed to less quality sessions at GovCon this year.

Free Training!

DrupalCon has plenty of PAID training opportunities, while GovCon has a great amount of FREE training. I am guessing this is because companies that are targeting the government space are eager to show off their training capabilities to a government crowd. GovCon offers training throughout the duration of the conference as well, but that means some training also conflict with sessions. At DrupalCon all training is held on the Monday before the actual conference begins.

Session Tracks

DrupalCon has more session tracks than GovCon. Here is my own break down of the session tracks between the two events and how I believe they map.

GovCon TrackDrupalCon Track
Business and Strategy (38)Business (12)
Drupal Showcase (13)
Project Management (10)
Total: 35
Code and DevOps (33)Coding and Development (8)
DevOps (12)
PHP (10)
Symfony (5)
Total: 35
Font-end, UX and Design (27)Front End (13)
UX (12)
Total: 25
Site Building (10)Site Building (12)
N/ACore Conversations (13) (5)
Horizons (13)
Total: 31

Overall, the number of sessions per track is roughly the same. Other than the obvious lack of discussions it is the lack of Horizons and Core conversations that jumps out. I am curious if this is because the sessions weren't proposed, or if the content is not interesting to a Government audience?

Session Length

DrupalCon has 1 hour session while govCon did 45 minutes. At first this seems like a very minor issue but almost every session I attended at GovCon felt rushed (except for the ones that obviously weren't). With an hour session you have a buffer for people to meander in, for equipment issues, and for the "the fire marshal says we have to move" incidents.

Session Selection Process

Dagny and I proposed the same session to both GovCon and DrupalCon and were not-selected for either. The two organizations do their selection criteria a little differently and both have their pluses and minuses. DrupalCon focuses heavily on the past experience of the presenter. This year, GovCon used a blind selection process which is theoretically less biased, but favors larger Drupal shops who propose more sessions overall. In my opinion the GovCon sessions this year were more skewed towards beginners and I wonder if the experience of the presenters led to that. I like the idea of being less biased and giving more people the opportunity to present, but there needs to be some balance with the overall experience of the speaker.

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