John Faber Managing Partner Follow
May 17, 2023

Drupal is a content management system that handles everything from back-end editorial interfaces to intricate front-end rendering of stunning designs and layouts. However, this approach has certain drawbacks, such as needing help managing everything within a single code base and needing specialized technical expertise to excel.

The code base demands specialized, purpose-built resources for hosting and scaling, which increases complexity and cost. Rendering a sophisticated, high-volume front end using Drupal necessitates substantial computational power and caching capabilities. Expert hosting companies can scale massive content management systems, and specialized development tools and workflows have been developed to handle these processes.

Despite its many advantages, the extensive technical knowledge required to manage all aspects of Drupal has, in some cases, hindered the pace of digital innovation.

Discover the magic within Drupal core, redefining how it empowers your digital experience.

In 2018, Dries Buytaert introduced an API-first initiative for Drupal 8, ensuring all of Drupal's features were accessible via APIs. This initiative has evolved over the past seven years, with Drupal now boasting mature API’s with Create, Read, Update, and Delete capabilities. The development of projects like Next-Drupal.org has enabled Drupal to be utilized as a content management platform, excelling in content architecture, editorial experience, workflows, role-based access control, and seamless API access to content. By focusing on these core strengths, a content management platform leaves front-end work to innovative technologies like Next.js, expanding the possibilities for digital experiences.

To accelerate the adoption of Drupal as an API-first content management platform, Chapter Three developed Next-Drupal.org. The decoupled model initially faced slow adoption due to the inability to publish content to the front end in real time. However, those limitations are now in the past. Next-Drupal provides an alternative to Drupal's front-end and its functionality by employing Next.js, solidifying Drupal's position as a leading Content Management Platform in the modern composable business landscape.

There are numerous advantages to embracing the content management platform model using Drupal:

  • Composable architecture is the future of digital business
  • Easier to find Next.js talent than Drupal talent
  • Mature Open Source
  • Accelerate modern workflows
  • Prevents institutional trauma by retaining your existing Drupal editorial content management experience and architecture while modernizing your technology stack
  • Simplified back-end infrastructure and reduced costs 

The evolution of Drupal to a Content Management Platform is centered around replacing its native Twig templating system with an API-driven, decoupled model. Many of the complexities in Drupal's past can be attributed to the challenges of efficiently delivering data to the front end at scale.

Numerous prominent companies still operate Drupal 7 sites and now face a crucial decision: should they re-platform or upgrade to Drupal 10? Traditional Drupal vendor upgrade quotes are surprisingly high, and a significant part of these estimates stems from the front-end upgrade (from PHP-template to Twig).

Rebuilding a content management system can be a daunting task. However, you can reduce complexity and streamline the transition by focusing on architecting a content management platform during the upgrade process. In doing so, you can effectively sidestep the headaches commonly associated with Drupal 7 upgrades.

The visionary decision in 2018 to transform Drupal into an API-first platform marked a significant turning point. This strategic move initiated Drupal's evolution from a content management system to a content management platform, securing its enduring place within the open-web composable stack.   

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