April 21, 2021

DrupalCon 2021

JD Flynn

Technical Architect

Another DrupalCon has come and gone, and I’m back with more excitement than ever for the future of Drupal as a content management system. Always a highlight: the Driesnote. A Drupalcon tradition in which Dries, the founder of the Drupal project, outlines where Drupal has been, where it is, and where it’s going. Here are the key takeaways.

Upgrade Paths

Previously, migrating content from Drupal 6/7 to Drupal 8/9 was daunting and thought to be more effort than it was worth, often requiring developers to completely rebuild a site, and content editors to re-enter the content on the new version. Now, the upgrade path is becoming simpler. Several hosting providers are offering automatic upgrades from 8 to 9, and the Migration API in Drupal is making moving content from 6/7 to 8/9 easier than ever. However, be prepared to upgrade again soon.

Core Initiatives

Dries mentioned several initiatives that are taking place for Drupal 10, all meant to make the Drupal experience better: decoupled menus, improved contribution and an improved module ecosystem.

Decoupled Menus

There is work going on now to improve the menu system so that going decoupled becomes easier. Soon, instead of having to build menus in your decoupled front end completely from scratch, there may be endpoints available that you can call. This way you can still build your menu structure within the Drupal system, but use your front end to call the endpoint and have access to all of your menus.

Improved Contributor Initiative

The Drupal contribution path has made many improvements over the past 20 years. The early days of emailing code to Dries are long gone, replaced with the imperfect but still improved patch system. Going forward, Drupal is moving towards a fully git-based approach, using pull requests and merges rather than patch files. In addition, finding out how to contribute on the Drupal website is going to become easier for new contributors.

Project Browser Initiative

Finally, a better module experience! If you’ve ever had to try and find a module on Drupal.org, you know that it may not always be the most obvious path to find what you’re looking for. The contributed module ecosystem is vast, but there’s no central location to filter, search, and explore modules. The Project Browser Initiative aims to improve this by creating a home for modules that is much easier to navigate. In the Driesnote, Dries showed an altered screenshot of the Apple Appstore with module names instead of apps, comparing to browsers that are already available on many of the content management systems in the same space as Drupal.

Final Thoughts

DrupalCon 2021 was a different experience than the in-person event, but it was still great. The dev community was still able to connect, learn, share knowledge and experiences and inspire each other. And there was no chance I wouldn’t be able to get into the room for a session I wanted to see! As always, there was more information than there was time to take it in, but I left with an excitement for the future of Drupal and an appreciation for what makes Drupal Drupal.