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July 12, 2023
April 19, 2021

Driesnote - DrupalCon North America 2021

Driesnote - DrupalCon North America 2021
Table of contents

DrupalCon North America 2021 has been the highlight of 2021 for the open-source community and we promise to bring you a recap of the largest Drupal event of the year. But before we do that, here's a recap of the Driesnote! 

DrupalCon North America saw over 2300+ attendees, out of which 30% were newcomers! Beyond celebrating the success of Drupal 9, the keynote focused on the five strategic initiatives undertaken by the Drupal community, addressing the issue of how difficult it is to contribute, and more.

The focus areas of the Driesnote were as follows: 

  1. An update on Drupal 9 and the plan for Drupal 10
  2. Falling in love with Drupal
  3. Getting off the island

How is Drupal 9 fairing so far? 

Dries kicked off by showcasing how rapidly the world has adopted Drupal. For instance, all but one of the major COVID-19 vaccine-producing companies use Drupal and big brands like WWF, Budweiser, IBM have already moved to Drupal 9! 

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

It’s barely been 10 months since the launch of Drupal 9 and there are thousands of ambitious digital experiences running on Drupal 9 already.

We also looked back at Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 vs Drupal 9 now; here are the statistics that Dries presented:

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Comparing Drupal 9 vs the previous versions of Drupal, it took Drupal 9 merely 1 month to reach 60,000 websites making Drupal faster than ever.

One of the major factors contributing to making the Drupal 9 upgrade faster than ever was the readiness of the contributed modules. Back in 2017, 17 months after the Drupal 8 launch, only 20% of the modules were ready whereas currently, 90% of the top 50 Drupal 8 contributed modules are ready and stable. Making it easy to start upgrading! 

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

One of the reasons why these contributed modules are now stable and ready is because of some key changes made w.r.t how Drupal is developed and released. There are no longer drastic breaks in between major versions anymore, instead, there is an upgrade path and backward compatibility.

The target release date for Drupal 10 is Summer 2022!

Dries covered the  major strategic initiatives that the Drupal community is currently working on:

1. Decoupled Menus Initiative

Drupal's move to become RESTful in the core has laid down a path for Decoupled Drupal and with this initiative, Drupal is looking at a way to decouple the menu from its core's rendering.

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

A few highlights of this initiative are:

  • JavaScript projects are now on
  • Drupal is branching out into the world of JavaScript, as it continues to solidify Drupal as a leader in the Headless CMS arena
  • This initiative aims at making Decoupled Drupal easier compared to other Headless CMS's

2. Easy Out of the Box Initiative 

Here's a quick update around Claro, Media Library, and the Layout builder:

  • Claro (admin theme) added as a beta now
  • There has been limited progress around Media and Layout builder
Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

3. Automated Updates Initiative

This initiative looked rather very green for the following reasons:

  • Automated updates are now available for Drupal 7 & Drupal 8
  • The community is taking these learnings and applying them to Drupal 9
Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

4. Drupal 10 Readiness 

To sum it up in one sentence, the Drupal 10 Readiness Initiative is a ginormous initiative and needs a lot of support from the Drupal community!  

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

5. New Frontend Theme Initiative

This initiative is closer to the finish line with Olivero now in the Drupal core as beta.

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Looking at the progress these initiatives have made so far, we do agree with Dries when he said that "Drupal 10 is closer than it appears".

Key milestones 

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Important dates for Drupal 7 & Drupal 8

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Dries also addressed the question as to why Drupal 7 is supported longer than Drupal 8? Drupal 7 end of life is scheduled for November 2022, whereas Drupal 8's end of life is November 2021 because the upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is very difficult. 

Falling in love with Drupal

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Dries acknowledged the fact that contributing to Drupal has been tough and tricky for a lot of contributors. And that we need to give every user and contributor a reason as to why they should adopt Drupal.

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Looking back at Drupal’s roots; Drupal was all about empowering site builders by being able to:

  • build ambitious websites 
  • with low code

Unfortunately, the site builder is now the forgotten user. Drupal has completely ignored this persona while focussing on developers and content authors. Drupal’s efforts (OOP, Symphony, Composer) towards modernization have in turn added a lot of complexities for the site builder. These modernizations have helped Drupal, but have also made Drupal complex.

How do we focus on improving the site builder experience?

Dries addressed the challenges that site builders face, for instance; how difficult it is to find the right module and install it. And to top that up, Composer makes it even more difficult to install a module.

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Dries proposed two ideas to make Drupal the go-to tech for site builder experience:

  1. Introduce a project browser
  2. Improve UX for configuration management, paragraphs, views, entities+fields, etc.

Getting off the island

Drupal has one of the most scalable, robust and mature development communities. With 10,000 people collaborating, Drupal had to put in place powerful collaboration tools and processes. 

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

When Dries started the Drupal Project, tools like GitLab/Github didn't exist. They used to share patches over emails and used CVS.

It is time for Drupal to adopt more modern tools and ways of contributing. One of the steps in this direction was to merge request workflow and move to GitLab. 

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

We then dived into the contributor experience with Matthew Grasmick who showed us how people expect to contribute vs how their contribution experience is.

Since contributing to Drupal is much tougher than contributing on GitLab, the Drupal Association is expanding the engineering team to get off the island quicker - by fully utilizing the GitLab features to improve the contribution experience! 

Driesnote DrupalCon North America 2021

Check out the DrupalCon North America 2021 Driesnote recording: 

If you’d like to contribute toward making Drupal easier and faster, visit -

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