Sep 26, 2018
I recently had the privilege of attending and speaking at Drupal Europe held in Darmstadt, Germany. This 100% community/volunteer-driven event left me with many impressions and takeaways, including a new found enjoyment of German biergartens. Nothing, however, was as strong as the sense of direction I gained for where the Drupal project is going and the positive impact I see coming for users, builders and the Drupal community.
During his keynote, Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, noted that with the latest release of Drupal 8.6 just a week prior, every Drupal 8 release for the past 2 years has happened on schedule (every 6 months). This stabilization of releases is a big win for organizations who have invested in Drupal. It allows project teams to plan regular Drupal upgrades into their on-going development process and budgets, ensuring their application remains up-to-date with the latest features and security fixes. Dries summarized his keynote in a blog post.
For organizations still evaluating the use of Drupal, work done by the Drupal association and Drupal community, specifically in the “Out of the Box” initiative, provides a vastly improved first impression. During his keynote, Dries showed a demo for how an evaluator can fully setup a running example Drupal site with just 3 mouse clicks in under two minutes (the only requirement is having PHP running, which MACs ship with by default). The resulting site is styled and fully populated with content thanks to the Umami profile. The session - “Out of the Box is Out of the Box!” - provided a deeper dive of what the Umami profile provides and explained how it helps to showcase the new functionality of Drupal in a quick-to-setup way.
The release of Drupal 8.6 also brings a stable version of Layout builder, an advanced in-line page building experience for content editors. In the session “Site Building 2.0: How Layout Builder Will Change Everything,” Kris Vanderwater demonstrated the power this functionality provides to less technical editorial users no longer required to navigate the complexities of the Drupal admin experiences. It puts more power in the hands of the content creators and removing content burdens from developers.
In almost a completely opposite direction, progress has been made in the API-First Initiative, specifically in the support of the JSON API. This progress allows a greater separation of content creation and content rendering in Drupal, opening up new possibilities for how content gets delivered to end users. An excellent example of this was provided in the session “Build Decoupled Applications with Gatsby & Drupal” by Joe Shindelar. During the session, Joe demonstrated how to use Drupal as a backend content service for generating a "blazing fast" static site using GATSBY.JS. proving organizations are free to provide content to their users using which every technology makes sense for them, while still being able to leverage the CMS capabilities of Drupal.
These improvements to Drupal help to expose and integrate it into other communities, pulling in new technologies and people to the project. An example of this was the session “Introducing the Gutenberg content editor for Drupal 8” by Per Andre Rønsen and Marco Fernandes. Gutenberg is a decoupled React based editing experience originally built for use with Wordpress, but the creators saw a value in making it available for use in Drupal. In their session, Per Andre Rønsen and Marco Fernandes demonstrated the progress they have been making in this regard.
The Drupal community itself is continuing to grow and improve, something that was represented in a number of ways at Drupal Europe. The organizers made sure lunches were inclusive to those who are gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. Badge stickers were available for displaying someone's preferred pronouns, as well as, to identify engagement level (green = come talk to me, orange. = only people I know, red = please don't approach me). The community also had a great focus on protecting itself, this was evident by the attendance and availability of sessions focused on Drupal Community, such as the one I presented on Preventing Developer Burnout (a big thank you to all who attended it).
Given the impressions that I received from attending Drupal Europe with the direction the Drupal project is moving, I am excited for the positive impacts that are coming for developers, end users and the community. Prost!