January 14, 2016

A better Way to Administrate Drupal
There’s Something Wrong

The Drupal community has recently been fraught with heavy discussions concerning the future of the front-end. Dries has proposed the integration of a front-end framework into Drupal core, and most of the front-end members of the Drupal community appear to be against the idea. Much of this idea stems from the need for an improved administrative and Authoring Experience (AX) within Drupal. The community generally agrees that Drupal’s default out-of-box authoring experience leaves much to be desired. The team here at Chapter Three agrees with this sentiment as well.

We train nearly all of our clients how to use their Drupal system. For this reason we are all too familiar with the pain-points that currently plague Drupal administrative experience. Upon logging into their first session, a user’s sense of direction is ghostly thin, as the administrative section seems indifferent to their presence. Labels are too general, directives are unclear, and important information is often buried.

We Want to Help

I started an internal discussion with the team about the possibility of contributing an administrative theme to the community. Many were eager to help. A new Slack channel was born, and a impassioned flurry of ideas and concepts came pouring out. We then began documenting our discovery phase: identifying problems we want to address, improvements we could make, experimental concepts that we’ve seen work elsewhere, and what technologies we would be using to craft the new theme. There were even mentions of how building a supporting module could aid in any necessary heavy lifting the theme couldn’t cover.


Originally I expected we would begin our project like most: in the cover of total darkness until we were ready to reveal it to the world in all of its awe-inspiring glory. Or at least make decisions and movements in a super secret vacuum-sealed production silo while pushing to D.o whenever we feel like, as most do.

However, we’re going to be doing things a little differently.

We intend on providing public insight to the project with transparency. That means this is the first blog post of many (hence the title). We’ll be providing details of our discovery phase, the decision-making, design choices, principles, build process, caveats, challenges, changes, so on and so forth.

End User

This project is aimed at helping individuals who use our systems the most, and who are most affected by the unsavory AX of Drupal’s default admin side. Our goals are to help the end-user; more specifically, our typical client-user. I realize a client-focused direction is void of any warm fuzzy feeling, and might seem to undermine the community. However, if we’re going to take this seriously then we’ll be targeting demographic that (arguably) pushes Drupal’s lifecycle the most.

What's Next

We’re currently still in our discovery phase - this means a lot of concepts and ideas being enthusiastically projected across mugs brimming with artisanal coffee, and then jotted-down into a Google Doc. Once the caffeine-dust clears, we’ll have more to show you. We’re now coordinating a time for our kickoff meeting.

Stay tuned.