John Faber Managing Partner Follow
November 7, 2023

Chapter Three attended DrupalCon Europe for the first time in many years, held this year in the beautiful northern French city of Lille. We had a great time, and I have distilled my thoughts on the event into four major takeaways. 

Drupal is an overlooked gem

Drupal founder Dries Buytaert’s signature spiel, DriesNote is always a highlight of DrupalCon, and this one was no exception. In something of a departure from his norm, instead of providing a deep dive into the future of Drupal and its current direction, Dries told an allegorical fable comparing Drupal to more “exciting” technologies, each expressed as a town, in which Drupal asks why the young technology people were leaving Drupal for these more exciting “towns.”

In the end, though, it turns out that towns like Reactopia and Contentopia actually only looked better from the outside but, when investigated further, were, in fact, not better. In many cases, they were harder to inhabit than Drupal. The story culminated in the promise held by initiatives like Project Browser, Auto Updates, and a better Layout Builder to bring young technologists back to the town they had once abandoned in favor of flashier digs. 

Innovation is breathing new life into the Drupal project and community.

DrupalCon is always a great arena to see what innovations are out there, and this latest edition was no exception. The Next-Drupal and decoupled space continues to be a shining star of innovation in the community.

Next-Drupal Download Statistics

Wunder has contributed further to the initiative by creating the Next-Drupal-Starterkit to help accelerate the setup of decoupled sites using Next-Drupal. This open-source project is now open to the community to improve on and expand.

The session “Headless CMS Showdown: Live Demo and Comparison of Sanity, Strapi, Directus, and Drupal” was a highlight, demonstrating how Drupal compares to all the aforementioned new headless technologies.  Drupal has established a very cool new product and SaaS business called NodeHive, which facilitates Drupal enterprise backend for decoupled projects and provides a sleek backend user interface for content editors, among other things. 1xInternet has also donated time and engineering to build out the Drupal Search API Decoupled, making decoupled sites faster to build. Community-led innovations like these promise to expose Drupal to a larger development community and will help in its long-term success.

Drupal is about focus and sales

Competition in the CMS ecosystem has never been more fierce. Drupal remains a force to be reckoned with, but as its niche is becoming smaller and more focused, sales pressure on agencies across the Drupal economy is considerable. For the past ten years, a Drupal CEO survey covering all business areas has been sent out and reviewed at a CEO dinner at the European DrupalCon. Ten years of data demonstrate that success within Drupal comes from effective sales and deep technical specializations.

Drupal recognizes the need for better marketing.

As always, DrupalCon Lille brought together the Drupal Association for a series of announcements, recognitions, and plaudits on progress within the community. This DrupalCon marked the official transition of Baddy Sonja (Ólafsdóttir) Breidert from the Drupal board and her replacement by Tim Doyle. Baddy was instrumental in improving the association on many fronts, including finding Tim.

Tim is tasked with modernizing the Drupal Association. A major element of this will be improving the way Drupal is marketed. A new marketing initiative was formed to help modernize the language used to describe Drupal. The Drupal Association is always innovating, and adding Tim to the leadership team will inject a bit more “business” culture into the organization, which will be great for Drupal. 

We’ve missed you, DrupalCon Europe! It was definitely worth the trip across the pond, and we look forward to seeing these initiatives progress.