Dec 12 2018
Dec 12

At Drupal Europe, I announced that Drupal 9 will be released in 2020. Although I explained why we plan to release in 2020, I wasn't very specific about when we plan to release Drupal 9 in 2020. Given that 2020 is less than thirteen months away (gasp!), it's time to be more specific.

Shifting Drupal's six month release cycle

A timeline that shows how we shifted Drupal 8's release windowsWe shifted Drupal 8's minor release windows so we can adopt Symfony's releases faster.

Before I talk about the Drupal 9 release date, I want to explain another change we made, which has a minor impact on the Drupal 9 release date.

As announced over two years ago, Drupal 8 adopted a 6-month release cycle (two releases a year). Symfony, a PHP framework which Drupal depends on, uses a similar release schedule. Unfortunately the timing of Drupal's releases has historically occurred 1-2 months before Symfony's releases, which forces us to wait six months to adopt the latest Symfony release. To be able to adopt the latest Symfony releases faster, we are moving Drupal's minor releases to June and December. This will allow us to adopt the latest Symfony releases within one month. For example, Drupal 8.8.0 is now scheduled for December 2019.

We hope to release Drupal 9 on June 3, 2020

Drupal 8's biggest dependency is Symfony 3, which has an end-of-life date in November 2021. This means that after November 2021, security bugs in Symfony 3 will not get fixed. Therefore, we have to end-of-life Drupal 8 no later than November 2021. Or put differently, by November 2021, everyone should be on Drupal 9.

Working backwards from November 2021, we'd like to give site owners at least one year to upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9. While we could release Drupal 9 in December 2020, we decided it was better to try to release Drupal 9 on June 3, 2020. This gives site owners 18 months to upgrade. Plus, it also gives the Drupal core contributors an extra buffer in case we can't finish Drupal 9 in time for a summer release.

A timeline that shows we hope to release Drupal 9 in June 2020Planned Drupal 8 and 9 minor release dates.

We are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8

Instead of working on Drupal 9 in a separate codebase, we are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8. This means that we are adding new functionality as backwards-compatible code and experimental features. Once the code becomes stable, we deprecate any old functionality.

Let's look at an example. As mentioned, Drupal 8 currently depends on Symfony 3. Our plan is to release Drupal 9 with Symfony 4 or 5. Symfony 5's release is less than one year away, while Symfony 4 was released a year ago. Ideally Drupal 9 would ship with Symfony 5, both for the latest Symfony improvements and for longer support. However, Symfony 5 hasn't been released yet, so we don't know the scope of its changes, and we will have limited time to try to adopt it before Symfony 3's end-of-life.

We are currently working on making it possible to run Drupal 8 with Symfony 4 (without requiring it). Supporting Symfony 4 is a valuable stepping stone to Symfony 5 as it brings new capabilities for sites that choose to use it, and it eases the amount of Symfony 5 upgrade work to do for Drupal core developers. In the end, our goal is for Drupal 8 to work with Symfony 3, 4 or 5 so we can identify and fix any issues before we start requiring Symfony 4 or 5 in Drupal 9.

Another example is our support for reusable media. Drupal 8.0.0 launched without a media library. We are currently working on adding a media library to Drupal 8 so content authors can select pre-existing media from a library and easily embed them in their posts. Once the media library becomes stable, we can deprecate the use of the old file upload functionality and make the new media library the default experience.

The upgrade to Drupal 9 will be easy

Because we are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8, the technology in Drupal 9 will have been battle-tested in Drupal 8.

For Drupal core contributors, this means that we have a limited set of tasks to do in Drupal 9 itself before we can release it. Releasing Drupal 9 will only depend on removing deprecated functionality and upgrading Drupal's dependencies, such as Symfony. This will make the release timing more predictable and the release quality more robust.

For contributed module authors, it means they already have the new technology at their service, so they can work on Drupal 9 compatibility earlier (e.g. they can start updating their media modules to use the new media library before Drupal 9 is released). Finally, their Drupal 8 know-how will remain highly relevant in Drupal 9, as there will not be a dramatic change in how Drupal is built.

But most importantly, for Drupal site owners, this means that it should be much easier to upgrade to Drupal 9 than it was to upgrade to Drupal 8. Drupal 9 will simply be the last version of Drupal 8, with its deprecations removed. This means we will not introduce new, backwards-compatibility breaking APIs or features in Drupal 9 except for our dependency updates. As long as modules and themes stay up-to-date with the latest Drupal 8 APIs, the upgrade to Drupal 9 should be easy. Therefore, we believe that a 12- to 18-month upgrade period should suffice.

So what is the big deal about Drupal 9, then?

The big deal about Drupal 9 is … that it should not be a big deal. The best way to be ready for Drupal 9 is to keep up with Drupal 8 updates. Make sure you are not using deprecated modules and APIs, and where possible, use the latest versions of dependencies. If you do that, your upgrade experience will be smooth, and that is a big deal for us.

Special thanks to Gábor Hojtsy (Acquia), Angie Byron (Acquia), xjm (Acquia), and catch for their input in this blog post.

December 12, 2018

3 min read time

Dec 05 2018
Dec 05
A figure opening doors, lit from behind with a bright light.

Last week, WordPress Tavern picked up my blog post about Drupal 8's upcoming Layout Builder.

While I'm grateful that WordPress Tavern covered Drupal's Layout Builder, it is not surprising that the majority of WordPress Tavern's blog post alludes to the potential challenges with accessibility. After all, Gutenberg's lack of accessibility has been a big topic of debate, and a point of frustration in the WordPress community.

I understand why organizations might be tempted to de-prioritize accessibility. Making a complex web application accessible can be a lot of work, and the pressure to ship early can be high.

In the past, I've been tempted to skip accessibility features myself. I believed that because accessibility features benefited a small group of people only, they could come in a follow-up release.

Today, I've come to believe that accessibility is not something you do for a small group of people. Accessibility is about promoting inclusion. When the product you use daily is accessible, it means that we all get to work with a greater number and a greater variety of colleagues. Accessibility benefits everyone.

As you can see in Drupal's Values and Principles, we are committed to building software that everyone can use. Accessibility should always be a priority. Making capabilities like the Layout Builder accessible is core to Drupal's DNA.

Drupal's Values and Principles translate into our development process, as what we call an accessibility gate, where we set a clearly defined "must-have bar". Prioritizing accessibility also means that we commit to trying to iteratively improve accessibility beyond that minimum over time.

Together with the accessibility maintainers, we jointly agreed that:

  1. Our first priority is WCAG 2.0 AA conformance. This means that in order to be released as a stable system, the Layout Builder must reach Level AA conformance with WCAG. Without WCAG 2.0 AA conformance, we won't release a stable version of Layout Builder.
  2. Our next priority is WCAG 2.1 AA conformance. We're thrilled at the greater inclusion provided by these new guidelines, and will strive to achieve as much of it as we can before release. Because these guidelines are still new (formally approved in June 2018), we won't hold up releasing the stable version of Layout Builder on them, but are committed to implementing them as quickly as we're able to, even if some of the items are after initial release.
  3. While WCAG AAA conformance is not something currently being pursued, there are aspects of AAA that we are discussing adopting in the future. For example, the new 2.1 AAA "Animations from Interactions", which can be framed as an achievable design constraint: anywhere an animation is used, we must ensure designs are understandable/operable for those who cannot or choose not to use animations.

Drupal's commitment to accessibility is one of the things that makes Drupal's upcoming Layout Builder special: it will not only bring tremendous and new capabilities to Drupal, it will also do so without excluding a large portion of current and potential users. We all benefit from that!

December 05, 2018

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Nov 30 2018
Nov 30

NBC Sports Digital partners with Acquia to cover more than 30,000 sporting events every year, including some of the highest trafficked events in the history of the web.

Dries interviews Eric Black from NBC

Many of Acquia's customers have hundreds or even thousands of sites, which vary in terms of scale, functionality, longevity and complexity.

One thing that is very unique about Acquia is that we can help organizations scale from small to extremely large, one to many, and coupled to decoupled. This scalability and flexibility is quite unique, and allows organizations to standardize on a single web platform. Standardizing on a single web platform not only removes the complexity from having to manage dozens of different technology stacks and teams, but also enables organizations to innovate faster.

Acquia Engage 2018 - NBC Sports

A great example is NBC Sports Digital. Not only does NBC Sports Digital have to manage dozens of sites across 30,000 sporting events each year, but it also has some of the most trafficked sites in the world.

In 2018, Acquia supported NBC Sports Digital as it provided fans with unparalleled coverage of Super Bowl LII, the Pyeongchang Winter Games and the 2018 World Cup. As quoted in NBC Sport's press release, NBC Sports Digital streamed more than 4.37 billion live minutes of video, served 93 million unique users, and delivered 721 million minutes of desktop video streamed. These are some of the highest trafficked events in the history of the web, and I'm very proud that they are powered by Drupal and Acquia.

To learn more about how Acquia helps NBC Sports Digital deliver more than 10,000 sporting events every year, watch my conversation with Eric Black, CTO of NBC Sports Digital, in the video below:

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Not every organization gets to entertain 100 million viewers around the world, but every business has its own World Cup. Whether it's Black Friday, Mother's Day, a new product launch or breaking news, we offer our customers the tools and services necessary to optimize efficiency and provide flexibility at any scale.

November 30, 2018

1 min read time

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Nov 28 2018
Nov 28
Dries interviews Erica Bizzari from Paychex

One trend I've noticed time and time again is that simplicity wins. Today, customers expect every technology they interact with to be both functionally powerful and easy to use.

A great example of such is Acquia's customer, Paychex. Paychex' digital marketing team recently replatformed Paychex.com using Drupal and Acquia. The driving factor was the need for more simplicity.

They completed the replatforming work in under four months, and beat the original launch goal by a long shot. By levering Drupal's improved content authoring capabilities, Paychex also made it a lot simpler for the marketing team to publish content, which resulted in doubled year-over-year growth in site traffic and leads.

Acquia Engage 2018 - Paychex

If you want to learn more about how Paychex accomplished its ambitious digital and marketing goals, you can watch my Q&A with Erica Bizzari, digital marketing manager at Paychex.

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November 28, 2018

36 sec read time

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Nov 26 2018
Nov 26

A behind-the-scenes look at how Wendy's delivers personalized and intelligent experiences to more than 30 million online customers.

Dries interviews Mike Mancuso from Wendy's

During the Innovation Showcase at Acquia Engage, I invited Mike Mancuso, head of digital analytics at Wendy's, on stage. Wendys.com is a Drupal site running on Acquia Cloud, and welcomes 30 million unique visitors a year. Wendy's also uses Acquia Lift to deliver personalized and intelligent experiences to all 30 million visitors.

In the 8-minute video below, Mike explains how Wendy's engages with its customers online.

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For the occasion, the team at Wendy's decided to target Acquia Engage attendees. If you visited Wendys.com from Acquia Engage, you got the following personalized banner. It's a nice example of what you can do with Acquia Lift.

Wendy's used Acquia Lift to target Acquia Engage attendees on their website

As part of my keynote, we also demoed the next generation of Acquia Lift, which will be released in early 2019. In 2018, we decided that user experience always has to come first. We doubled our design and user experience team and changed our product development process to reflect this priority. The upcoming version of Acquia Lift is the first example of that. It offers more than just a fresh UI; it also ships with new features to simplify how marketers create campaigns. If you want a preview, have look at the 9-minute video below!

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November 26, 2018

50 sec read time

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Nov 15 2018
Nov 15

This week Acquia was named a leader in the Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems. Acquia was previously named a leader in WCM systems in Q1 2017.

The report highlights Acquia and Drupal's leadership on decoupled and headless architectures, in addition to Acquia Cloud's support for Node.js.

I'm especially proud of the fact that Acquia received the highest strategy score among all vendors.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this result! It's another great milestone for Acquia and Drupal.

November 15, 2018

19 sec read time

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Nov 13 2018
Nov 13

After months of hard work, the Drupal Governance Task Force made thirteen recommendations for how to evolve Drupal's governance.

If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Drupal exists because of its community. What started from humble beginnings has grown into one of the largest Open Source communities in the world. This is due to the collective effort of thousands of community members.

What distinguishes Drupal from other open source projects is both the size and diversity of our community, and the many ways in which thousands of contributors and organizations give back. It's a community I'm very proud to be a part of.

Without the Drupal community, the Drupal project wouldn't be where it is today and perhaps would even cease to exist. That is why we are always investing in our community and why we constantly evolve how we work with one another.

The last time we made significant changes to Drupal's governance was over five years ago when we launched a variety of working groups. Five years is a long time. The time had come to take a step back and to look at Drupal's governance with fresh eyes.

Throughout 2017, we did a lot of listening. We organized both in-person and virtual roundtables to gather feedback on how we can improve our community governance. This led me to invest a lot of time and effort in documenting Drupal's Values and Principles.

In 2018, we transitioned from listening to planning. Earlier this year, I chartered the Drupal Governance Task Force. The goal of the task force was to draft a set of recommendations for how to evolve and strengthen Drupal's governance based on all of the feedback we received. Last week, after months of work and community collaboration, the task force shared thirteen recommendations (PDF).

The proposal from the Drupal Governance Task Force Me reviewing the Drupal Governance proposal on a recent trip.

Before any of us jump to action, the Drupal Governance Task Force recommended a thirty-day, open commentary period to give community members time to read the proposal and to provide more feedback. After the thirty-day commentary period, I will work with the community, various stakeholders, and the Drupal Association to see how we can move these recommendations forward. During the thirty-day open commentary period, you can then get involved by collaborating and responding to each of the individual recommendations below:

I'm impressed by the thought and care that went into writing the recommendations, and I'm excited to help move them forward.

Some of the recommendations are not new and are ideas that either the Drupal Association, myself or others have been working on, but that none of us have been able to move forward without a significant amount of funding or collaboration.

I hope that 2019 will be a year of organizing and finding resources that allow us to take action and implement a number of the recommendations. I'm convinced we can make valuable progress.

I want to thank everyone who has participated in this process. This includes community members who shared information and insight, facilitated conversations around governance, were interviewed by the task force, and supported the task force's efforts. Special thanks to all the members of the task force who worked on this with great care and determination for six straight months: Adam Bergstein, Lyndsey Jackson, Ela Meier, Stella Power, Rachel Lawson, David Hernandez and Hussain Abbas.

November 13, 2018

2 min read time

Nov 12 2018
Nov 12

Layout Builder, which will be in the next release of Drupal 8, is unique in that it can work with structured and unstructured content, and with templated and free-form pages.

Content authors want an easy-to-use page building experience; they want to create and design pages using drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG tools. For over a year the Drupal community has been working on a new Layout Builder, which is designed to bring this page building capability into Drupal core.

Drupal's upcoming Layout Builder is unique in offering a single, powerful visual design tool for the following three use cases:

  1. Layouts for templated content. The creation of "layout templates" that will be used to layout all instances of a specific content type (e.g. blog posts, product pages).
  2. Customizations to templated layouts. The ability to override these layout templates on a case-by-case basis (e.g. the ability to override the layout of a standardized product page)
  3. Custom pages. The creation of custom, one-off landing pages not tied to a content type or structured content (e.g. a single "About us" page).

Let's look at all three use cases in more detail to explain why we think this is extremely useful!

Use case 1: Layouts for templated content

For large sites with significant amounts of content it is important that the same types of content have a similar appearance.

A commerce site selling hundreds of different gift baskets with flower arrangements should have a similar layout for all gift baskets. For customers, this provides a consistent experience when browsing the gift baskets, making them easier to compare. For content authors, the templated approach means they don't have to worry about the appearance and layout of each new gift basket they enter on the site. They can be sure that once they have entered the price, description, and uploaded an image of the item, it will look good to the end user and similar to all other gift baskets on the site.

The Drupal 8 Layout Builder showing a templated gift basket

Drupal 8's new Layout Builder allows a site creator to visually create a layout template that will be used for each item of the same content type (e.g. a "gift basket layout" for the "gift basket" content type). This is possible because the Layout Builder benefits from Drupal's powerful "structured content" capabilities.

Many of Drupal's competitors don't allow such a templated approach to be designed in the browser. Their browser-based page builders only allow you to create a design for an individual page. When you want to create a layout that applies to all pages of a specific content type, it is usually not possible without a developer.

Use case 2: Customizations to templated layouts

While having a uniform look for all products of a particular type has many advantages, sometimes you may want to display one or more products in a slightly (or dramatically) different way.

Perhaps a customer recorded a video of giving their loved one one of the gift baskets, and that video has recently gone viral (because somehow it involved a puppy). If you only want to update one of the gift baskets with a video, it may not make sense to add an optional "highlighted video" field to all gift baskets.

Drupal 8's Layout Builder offers the ability to customize templated layouts on a case per case basis. In the "viral, puppy, gift basket" video example, this would allow a content creator to rearrange the layout for just that one gift basket, and put the viral video directly below the product image. In addition, the Layout Builder would allow the site to revert the layout to match all other gift baskets once the world has moved on to the next puppy video.

The Drupal 8 Layout Builder showing a templated gift basket with a puppy video

Since most content management systems don't allow you to visually design a layout pattern for certain types of structured content, they of course can't allow for this type of customization.

Use case 3: Custom pages (with unstructured content)

Of course, not everything is templated, and content authors often need to create one-off pages like an "About us" page or the website's homepage.

In addition to visually designing layout templates for different types of content, Drupal 8's Layout Builder can also be used to create these dynamic one-off custom pages. A content author can start with a blank page, design a layout, and start adding blocks. These blocks can contain videos, maps, text, a hero image, or custom-built widgets (e.g. a Drupal View showing a list of the ten most popular gift baskets). Blocks can expose configuration options to the content author. For instance, a hero block with an image and text may offer a setting to align the text left, right, or center. These settings can be configured directly from a sidebar.

The Drupal 8 Layout Builder showing how to configure a block

In many other systems content authors are able to use drag-and-drop WYSIWYG tools to design these one-off pages. This type of tool is used in many projects and services such as Squarespace and the new Gutenberg Editor for WordPress (now available for Drupal, too!).

On large sites, the free-form page creation is almost certainly going to be a scalability, maintenance and governance challenge.

For smaller sites where there may not be many pages or content authors, these dynamic free-form page builders may work well, and the unrestricted creative freedom they provide might be very compelling. However, on larger sites, when you have hundreds of pages or dozens of content creators, a templated approach is going to be preferred.

When will Drupal's new Layout Builder be ready?

Drupal 8's Layout Builder is still a beta level experimental module, with 25 known open issues to be addressed prior to becoming stable. We're on track to complete this in time for Drupal 8.7's release in May 2019. If you are interested in increasing the likelihood of that, you can find out how to help on the Layout Initiative homepage.

An important note on accessibility

Accessibility is one of Drupal's core tenets, and building software that everyone can use is part of our core values and principles. A key part of bringing Layout Builder functionality to a "stable" state for production use will be ensuring that it passes our accessibility gate (Level AA conformance with WCAG and ATAG). This holds for both the authoring tool itself, as well as the markup that it generates. We take our commitment to accessibility seriously.

Impact on contributed modules and existing sites

Currently there a few methods in the Drupal module ecosystem for creating templated layouts and landing pages, including the Panels and Panelizer combination. We are currently working on a migration path for Panels/Panelizer to the Layout Builder.

The Paragraphs module currently can be used to solve several kinds of content authoring use-cases, including the creation of custom landing pages. It is still being determined how Paragraphs will work with the Layout Builder and/or if the Layout Builder will be used to control the layout of Paragraphs.

Conclusion

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Drupal's upcoming Layout Builder is unique in that it supports multiple different use cases; from templated layouts that can be applied to dozens or hundreds of pieces of structured content, to designing custom one-off pages with unstructured content. The Layout Builder is even more powerful when used in conjunction with Drupal's other out-of-the-box features such as revisioning, content moderation, and translations, but that is a topic for a future blog post.

Special thanks to Ted Bowman (Acquia) for co-authoring this post. Also thanks to Wim Leers (Acquia), Angie Byron (Acquia), Alex Bronstein (Acquia), Jeff Beeman (Acquia) and Tim Plunkett (Acquia) for their feedback during the writing process.

November 12, 2018

4 min read time

Nov 08 2018
Nov 08

If you are still using PHP 5, now is the time to upgrade to a newer version of PHP.

PHP, the Open Source scripting language, is used by nearly 80 percent of the world's websites.

According to W3Techs, around 61 percent of all websites on the internet still use PHP 5, a version of PHP that was first released fourteen years ago.

Now is the time to give PHP 5 some attention. In less than two months, on December 31st, security support for PHP 5 will officially cease. (Note: Some Linux distributions, such as Debian Long Term Support distributions, will still try to backport security fixes.)

If you haven't already, now is the time to make sure your site is running an updated and supported version of PHP.

Beyond security considerations, sites that are running on older versions of PHP are missing out on the significant performance improvements that come with the newer versions.

Drupal and PHP 5

Drupal 8

Drupal 8 will drop support for PHP 5 on March 6, 2019. We recommend updating to at least PHP 7.1 if possible, and ideally PHP 7.2, which is supported as of Drupal 8.5 (which was released March, 2018). Drupal 8.7 (to be released in May, 2019) will support PHP 7.3, and we may backport PHP 7.3 support to Drupal 8.6 in the coming months as well.

Drupal 7

Drupal 7 will drop support for older versions of PHP 5 on December 31st, but will continue to support PHP 5.6 as long there are one or more third-party organizations providing reliable, extended security support for PHP 5.

Earlier today, we released Drupal 7.61 which now supports PHP 7.2. This should make upgrades from PHP 5 easier. Drupal 7's support for PHP 7.3 is being worked on but we don't know yet when it will be available.

Thank you!

It's a credit to the PHP community that they have maintained PHP 5 for fourteen years. But that can't go on forever. It's time to move on from PHP 5 and upgrade to a newer version so that we can all innovate faster.

I'd also like to thank the Drupal community — both those contributing to Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 — for keeping Drupal compatible with the newest versions of PHP. That certainly helps make PHP upgrades easier.

November 08, 2018

1 min read time

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Oct 31 2018
Oct 31

Today, Acquia announced a partnership with Elastic Path, a headless commerce platform. In this post, I want to explore the advantages of headless commerce and the opportunity it holds for both Drupal and Acquia.

The advantages of headless commerce

In a headless commerce approach, the front-end shopping experience is decoupled from the commerce business layer. Headless commerce platforms provide a clean separation between the front end and back end; the shopping experience is provided by Drupal and the commerce business logic is provided by the commerce platform. This decoupling provides advantages for the developer, merchant and shopping experience.

  • For developers, it means that you can decouple both the development and the architecture. This allows you to build an innovative shopping experience without having to worry about impacting a system as critical as your commerce backend. For instance, you can add ratings and reviews to your shopping experience without having to redeploy your commerce platform.
  • For merchants, it can provide a better experience for administering the shop. Traditional commerce solution usually ship with a lightweight content management system. This means that there can be competition over which system provides the experience layer (i.e. the "glass"). This can introduce overlap in functionality; both systems offer ways to manage URLs, create landing pages, manage user access rights, etc. Because headless commerce systems are designed from the ground up to integrate with other systems, there is less duplication of functionality. This provides a streamlined experience for merchants.
  • And last but not least, there is the shopping experience for end-users or consumers. Simply put, consumers are demanding better experiences when they shop online. They want editorials, lookbooks, tutorials, product demonstration videos, testimonials, and more. They want the content-rich experiences that a comprehensive content management system can provide.

All this is why Acquia is excited about our partnership with Elastic Path. I believe the partnership is a win-win-win. It's a win for Acquia because we are now better equipped than ever to offer personal, unique and delightful shopping experiences. It is a win for Elastic Path as they have the opportunity to provide contextual commerce solutions to any Acquia customer. Last but not least, it's a win for Drupal because it will introduce more organizations to the project.

Note that many of the above integration challenges don't apply to native solutions like Drupal Commerce for Drupal or WooCommerce for WordPress. It only applies when you have to integrate two entirely different systems. Integrating two different systems is a common use case, because customers either already have a commerce platforms in place that they don't want to replace, or because native solutions don't meet their needs.

Acquia's commitment to best of breed

Acquia remains committed to a best-of-breed strategy for commerce. There isn't a single commerce platform that meets the needs of all our customers. This belief comes from years of experience in the field. Acquia's customers want to integrate with a variety of commerce systems such as Elastic Path, SAP Hybris, Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Demandware), Magento, BigCommerce, Reaction Commerce, Oracle ATG, Moltin, and more. Our customers also want to use Drupal Commerce, Drupal's native commerce solution. We believe customers should be able to integrate Drupal with their commerce management solutions of choice.

October 31, 2018

2 min read time

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Oct 30 2018
Oct 30

Next steps for Drupal's configuration management system.

Configuration management is an important feature of any modern content management system. Those following modern development best-practices use a development workflow that involves some sort of development and staging environment that is separate from the production environment.

Configuration management example

Given such a development workflow, you need to push configuration changes from development to production (similar to how you need to push code or content between environments). Drupal's configuration management system helps you do that in a powerful yet elegant way.

Since I announced the original Configuration Management Initiative over seven years ago, we've developed and shipped a strong configuration management API in Drupal 8. Drupal 8's configuration management system is a huge step forward from where we were in Drupal 7, and a much more robust solution than what is offered by many of our competitors.

All configuration in a Drupal 8 site — from one-off settings such as site name to content types and field definitions — can be seamlessly moved between environments, allowing for quick and easy deployment between development, staging and production environments.

However, now that we have a couple of years of building Drupal 8 sites behind us, various limitations have surfaced. While these limitations usually have solutions via contributed modules, it has become clear that we would benefit from extending Drupal core's built-in configuration management APIs. This way, we can establish best practices and standard approaches that work for all.

Configuraton management initiativeThe four different focus areas for Drupal 8. The configuration management initiative is part of the 'Improve Drupal for developers' track.

I first talked about this need in my DrupalCon Nashville keynote, where I announced the Configuration Management 2.0 initiative. The goal of this initiative is to extend Drupal's built-in configuration management so we can support more common workflows out-of-the-box without the need of contributed modules.

What is an example workflow that is not currently supported out-of-the-box? Support for different configurations by environment. This is a valuable use case because some settings are undesirable to have enabled in all environments. For example, you most likely don't want to enable debugging tools in production.

Configuration management example

The contributed module Config Filter extends Drupal core's built-in configuration management capabilities by providing an API to support different workflows which filter out or transform certain configuration changes as they are being pushed to production. Config Split, another contributed module, builds on top of Config Filter to allow for differences in configuration between various environments.

The Config Split module's use case is just one example of how we can improve Drupal's out-of-the-box configuration management capabilities. The community created a longer list of pain points and advanced use cases for the configuration management system.

While the initiative team is working on executing on these long-term improvements, they are also focused on delivering incremental improvements with each new version of Drupal 8, and have distilled the most high-priority items into a configuration management roadmap.

  • In Drupal 8.6, we added support for creating new sites from existing configuration. This enables developers to launch a development site that matches a production site's configuration with just a few clicks.
  • For Drupal 8.7, we're planning on shipping an experimental module for dealing with environment specific configuration, moving the capabilities of Config Filter and the basic capabilities of Config Split to Drupal core through the addition of a Configuration Transformer API.
  • For Drupal 8.8, the focus is on supporting configuration updates across different sites. We want to allow both sites and distributions to package configuration (similar to the well-known Features module) so they can easily be deployed across other sites.

How to get involved

There are many opportunities to contribute to this initiative and we'd love your help.

If you would like to get involved, check out the Configuration Management 2.0 project and various Drupal core issues tagged as "CMI 2.0 candidate".

Special thanks to Fabian Bircher (Nuvole), Jeff Beeman (Acquia), Angela Byron (Acquia), ASH (Acquia), and Alex Pott (Thunder) for contributions to this blog post.

October 30, 2018

2 min read time

Oct 29 2018
Oct 29

MacOS Mojave, Apple's newest operating system, now features a Dark Mode interface. In Dark Mode, the entire system adopts a darker color palette. Many third-party desktop applications have already been updated to support Dark Mode.

Today, more and more organizations rely on cloud-based web applications to support their workforce; from Gmail to Google Docs, SalesForce, Drupal, WordPress, GitHub, Trello and Jira. Unlike native desktop applications, web applications aren't able to adopt the Dark Mode interface. I personally spend more time using web applications than desktop applications, so not having web applications support Dark Mode defeats its purpose.

This could change as the next version of Safari adds a new CSS media query called prefers-color-scheme. Websites can use it to detect if Dark Mode is enabled.

I learned about the prefers-color-scheme media query on Jeff Geerling's blog, so I decided to give it a try on my own website. Because I use CSS variables to set the colors of my site, it took less than 30 minutes to add Dark Mode support on dri.es. Here is all the code it took:

@media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) {
  :root {
    --primary-font-color: #aaa;
    --secondary-font-color: #777;
    --background-color: #222;
    --table-zebra-color: #333;
    --table-hover-color: #444;
    --hover-color: #333;
  }
}

If you use MacOS Mojave, Safari 12.1 or later, and have Dark Mode enabled, my site will be shown in black:

Dark mode dri es

It will be interesting to see if any of the large web applications, like Gmail or Google Docs will adopt Dark Mode. I bet they will, because it adds a level of polish that will be expected in the future.

October 29, 2018

1 min read time

db db
Oct 24 2018
Oct 24

Why Preston So' new book on decoupled Drupal will give Drupal more reach and credibility among developers building decoupled architectures.

The cover of the Decoupled Drupal book

Drupal has evolved significantly over the course of its long history. When I first built the Drupal project eighteen years ago, it was a message board for my friends that I worked on in my spare time. Today, Drupal runs two percent of all websites on the internet with the support of an open-source community that includes hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world.

Today, Drupal is going through another transition as its capabilities and applicability continue to expand beyond traditional websites. Drupal now powers digital signage on university campuses, in-flight entertainment systems on commercial flights, interactive kiosks on cruise liners, and even pushes live updates to the countdown clocks in the New York subway system. It doesn't stop there. More and more, digital experiences are starting to encompass virtual reality, augmented reality, chatbots, voice-driven interfaces and Internet of Things applications. All of this is great for Drupal, as it expands its market opportunity and long-term relevance.

Several years ago, I began to emphasize the importance of an API-first approach for Drupal as part of the then-young phenomenon of decoupled Drupal. Now, Drupal developers can count on JSON API, GraphQL and CouchDB, in addition to a range of surrounding tools for developing the decoupled applications described above. These decoupled Drupal advancements represent a pivotal point in Drupal's history.

Decoupled Drupal sitesA few examples of organizations that use decoupled Drupal.

Speaking of important milestones in Drupal's history, I remember the first Drupal book ever published in 2005. At the time, good information on Drupal was hard to find. The first Drupal book helped make the project more accessible to new developers and provided both credibility and reach in the market. Similarly today, decoupled Drupal is still relatively new, and up-to-date literature on the topic can be hard to find. In fact, many people don't even know that Drupal supports decoupled architectures. This is why I'm so excited about the upcoming publication of a new book entitled Decoupled Drupal in Practice, written by Preston So. It will give decoupled Drupal more reach and credibility.

When Preston asked me to write the foreword for the book, I jumped at the chance because I believe his book will be an important next step in the advancement of decoupled Drupal. I've also been working with Preston So for a long time. Preston is currently Director of Research and Innovation at Acquia and a globally respected expert on decoupled Drupal. Preston has been involved in the Drupal community since 2007, and I first worked with him directly in 2012 on the Spark initiative to improve Drupal's editorial user experience. Preston has been researching, writing and speaking on the topic of decoupled Drupal since 2015, and had a big impact on my thinking on decoupled Drupal, on Drupal's adoption of React, and on decoupled Drupal architectures in the Drupal community overall.

To show the value that this book offers, you can read exclusive excerpts of three chapters from Decoupled Drupal in Practice on the Acquia blog and at the Acquia Developer Center. It is available for preorder today on Amazon, and I encourage my readers to pick up a copy!

Congratulations on your book, Preston!

October 24, 2018

2 min read time

Oct 13 2018
Oct 13

In 1999, I decided to start dri.es (formally buytaert.net) as a place to blog, write, and deepen my thinking. While I ran other websites before dri.es, my blog is one of my longest running projects.

Working on my site helps me relax, so it's not unusual for me to spend a few hours now and then making tweaks. This could include updating my photo galleries, working on more POSSE features, fixing broken links, or upgrading to the latest version of Drupal.

The past month, a collection of smaller updates have resulted in a new visual design for my site. If you are reading this post through an RSS aggregator or through my mailing list, consider checking out the new design on dri.es.

2018 dri.es redesignBefore (left) and after (right).

The new dri.es may not win design awards, but will hopefully make it easier to consume the content. My design goals were the following:

  • Improve the readability of the content
  • Improve the discoverability of the content
  • Optimize the performance of my site
  • Give me more creative freedom

Improve readability of the content

To improve the readability of the content, I implemented various usability best practices for spacing text and images.

I also adjusted the width of the main content area. For optimal readability, you should have between 45 and 75 characters on each line. No more, no less. The old design had about 95 characters on each line, while the new design is closer to 70.

Both the line width and the spacing changes should improve the readability.

Improve the discoverability of content

I also wanted to improve the discoverability of my content. I cover a lot of different topics on my blog — from Drupal to Open Source, startups, business, investing, travel, photography and the Open Web. To help visitors understand what my site is about, I created a new navigation. The new Archive page shows visitors a list of the main topics I write about. It's a small change, but it should help new visitors figure out what my site is about.

Optimize the performance of my site

Less noticeable is that the underlying HTML and CSS code is now entirely different. I'm still using Drupal, of course, but I decided to rewrite my Drupal theme from scratch.

The new design's CSS code is more than three times smaller: the previous design had almost 52K of theme-specific CSS while the new design has only 16K of theme-specific CSS.

The new design also results in fewer HTTP requests as I replaced all stand-alone icons with inline SVGs. Serving the page you are reading right now only takes 16 HTTP requests compared to 33 HTTP requests with the previous design.

All this results in faster site performance. This is especially important for people visiting my site from a mobile device, and even more important for people visiting my site from areas in the world with slow internet. A lighter theme with fewer HTTP requests makes my site more accessible. It is something I plan to work more on in the future.

Website bloat is a growing problem and impacts the user experience. I wanted to lead by example, and made my site simpler and faster to load.

The new design also uses Flexbox and CSS Grid Layout — both are more modern CSS standards. The new design is fully supported in all main browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge. It is, however, not fully supported on Internet Explorer, which accounts for 3% of all my visitors. Internet Explorer users should still be able to read all content though.

Give me more creative freedom

Last but not least, the new design provides me with a better foundation to build upon in subsequent updates. I wanted more flexibility for how to lay out images in my blog posts, highlight important snippets, and add a table of content on long posts. You can see all three in action in this post, assuming you're looking at this blog post on a larger screen.

October 13, 2018

2 min read time

Oct 09 2018
Oct 09
Solid concept inrupt

Last week, I had a chance to meet with Inrupt, a startup founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. Inrupt is based in Boston, so their team stopped by the Acquia office to talk about the new company.

To learn more about Inrupt's founding, I recommend reading Tim Berners-Lee's blog or Inrupt's CEO John Bruce's announcement.

Inrupt is on an important mission

Inrupt's mission is to give individuals control over their own data. Today, a handful of large platform companies (such as Facebook) control the media and flow of information for a majority of internet users. These companies have profited from centralizing the Open Web and lack transparent data privacy policies on top of that. Inrupt's goal is not only to improve privacy and data ownership, but to take back power from these large platform companies.

Inrupt will leverage Solid, an open source, decentralized web platform that Tim and others have been developing at MIT. Solid gives users a choice of where their personal data is stored, how specific people and groups can access select elements, and which applications can use it. Inrupt is building a commercial ecosystem around Solid to fuel its success. If Solid and/or Inrupt are widely adopted, it could radically change the way web sites and web applications work today.

As an advocate for the Open Web, I'm excited to see how Inrupt's mission continues to evolve. I've been writing about the importance of the Open Web for many years and even proposed a solution that mirrors Solid, which I called a Personal Information Broker. For me, this is an especially exciting and important mission, and I'll be rooting for Inrupt's success.

My unsolicited advice: disrupt the digital marketing world

It was really interesting to have the Inrupt team visit the Acquia office, because we had the opportunity to discuss how their technology could be applied. I shared a suggestion to develop a killer application that surround "user-controlled personalization".

Understanding visitors' interests and preferences to deliver personalized experiences is a big business. Companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to scrape together information about its website's visitors. However, behavior-based personalization can be slow and inaccurate. Marketers have to guess a visitor's intentions by observing their behavior; it can take a long time to build an accurate profile.

By integrating with a "Personal Information Broker" (PIB), marketers could get instant user profiles that would be accurate. When a user visits a site, they could chose to programmatically share some personal information (using a standard protocol and standard data schema). After a simple confirmation screen, the PIB could programmatically share that information and the site would instantly be optimized for the user. Instead of getting "cold leads" and trying to learn what each visitor is after, marketers could effectively get more "qualified leads".

It's a win not only for marketers, but a win for the site visitor too. To understand how this could benefit site visitors, let's explore an example. I'm 6'5" tall, and using a commerce site to find a pair of pants that fit can be a cumbersome process. I wouldn't mind sharing some of my personal data (e.g. inseam, waist size, etc) with a commerce site if that meant I would instantly be recommended pants that fit based on my preferences. Or if the store has no pants that would fit, it could just tell me; Sorry, we currently have no pants long enough for you!. It would provide me a much better shopping experience, making it much more likely for me to come back and become a long-time customer.

It's a simple idea that provides a compelling win-win for both the consumer and retailer, and has the opportunity to disrupt the digital sales and marketing world. I've been thinking a lot about user-controlled personalization over the past few years. It's where I'd like to take Acquia Lift, Acquia's own personalization product.

Inrupt's success will depend on good execution

I love what Solid and Inrupt are building because I see a lot of potential in it. Disrupting the digital marketing world is just one way the technology could be applied. Whatever they decide to focus on, I believe they are onto something important that could be a foundational component of the future web.

However, it takes a lot more than a good idea to build a successful company. For startups, it's all about good execution, and Inrupt has a lot of work to do. Right now, Inrupt has prototype technology that needs to be turned into real solutions. The main challenge is not building the technology, but to have it widely adopted.

For an idea this big, Inrupt will have to develop a protocol (something Tim Berners-Lee obviously has a lot of experience with), build out a leading Open Source reference implementation, and foster a thriving community of developers that can help build integrations with Drupal, WordPress and hundreds of other web applications. Last but not least, Inrupt needs to look for a sustainable business model by means of value-added services.

The good news is that by launching their company now, Inrupt has put themselves on the map. With Tim Berners-Lee's involvement, Inrupt should be able to attract top talent and funding for years to come.

Long story short, I like what Inrupt is doing and believe it has a lot of potential. I'm not sure what specific problem and market they'll go after, but I think they should consider going after "user-controlled personalization" and disrupt the digital marketing world. Regardless, I'll be paying close attention, will be cheering for their success and hopefully find a way to integrate it in Acquia Lift!

Sep 17 2018
Sep 17

Last week, nearly 1,000 Drupalists gathered in Darmstadt, Germany for Drupal Europe. In good tradition, I presented my State of Drupal keynote. You can watch a recording of my keynote (starting at 4:38) or download a copy of my slides (37 MB).


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Drupal 8 continues to mature

I started my keynote by highlighting this month's Drupal 8.6.0 release. Drupal 8.6 marks the sixth consecutive Drupal 8 release that has been delivered on time. Compared to one year ago, we have 46 percent more stable Drupal 8 modules. We also have 10 percent more contributors are working on Drupal 8 Core in comparison to last year. All of these milestones indicate that the Drupal 8 is healthy and growing.

The number of stable modules for Drupal 8 is growing fast

Next, I gave an update on our strategic initiatives:

An overview of Drupal 8's strategic initaitives

Make Drupal better for content creators

A photo from Drupal Europe in Darmstadt© Paul Johnson

The expectations of content creators are changing. For Drupal to be successful, we have to continue to deliver on their needs by providing more powerful content management tools, in addition to delivering simplicity though drag-and-drop functionality, WYSIWYG, and more.

With the release of Drupal 8.6, we have added new functionality for content creators by making improvements to the Media, Workflow, Layout and Out-of-the-Box initiatives. I showed a demo video to demonstrate how all of these new features not only make content authoring easier, but more powerful:


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We also need to improve the content authoring experience through a modern administration user interface. We have been working on a new administration UI using React. I showed a video of our latest prototype:


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Extended security coverage for Drupal 8 minor releases

I announced an update to Drupal 8's security policy. To date, site owners had one month after a new minor Drupal 8 release to upgrade their sites before losing their security updates. Going forward, Drupal 8 site owners have 6 months to upgrade between minor releases. This extra time should give site owners flexibility to plan, prepare and test minor security updates. For more information, check out my recent blog post.

Make Drupal better for evaluators

One of the most significant updates since DrupalCon Nashville is Drupal's improved evaluator experience. The time required to get a Drupal site up and running has decreased from more than 15 minutes to less than two minutes and from 20 clicks to 3. This is a big accomplishment. You can read more about it in my recent blog post.


[embedded content]

Promote Drupal

After launching Promote Drupal at DrupalCon Nashville, we hit the ground running with this initiative and successfully published a community press release for the release of Drupal 8.6, which was also translated into multiple languages. Much more is underway, including building a brand book, marketing collaboration space on Drupal.org, and a Drupal pitch deck.

The Drupal 9 roadmap and a plan to end-of-life Drupal 7 and Drupal 8

To keep Drupal modern, maintainable, and performant, we need to stay on secure, supported versions of Drupal 8's third-party dependencies. This means we need to end-of-life Drupal 8 with Symfony 3's end-of-life. As a result, I announced that:

  1. Drupal 8 will be end-of-life by November 2021.
  2. Drupal 9 will be released in 2020, and it will be an easy upgrade.

Historically, our policy has been to only support two major versions of Drupal; Drupal 7 would ordinarily reach end of life when Drupal 9 is released. Because a large number of sites might still be using Drupal 7 by 2020, we have decided to extend support of Drupal 7 until November 2021.

For those interested, I published a blog post that further explains this.

Adopt GitLab on Drupal.org

Finally, the Drupal Association is working to integrate GitLab with Drupal.org. GitLab will provide support for "merge requests", which means contributing to Drupal will feel more familiar to the broader audience of open source contributors who learned their skills in the post-patch era. Some of GitLab's tools, such as inline editing and web-based code review, will also lower the barrier to contribution, and should help us grow both the number of contributions and contributors on Drupal.org.

To see an exciting preview of Drupal.org's gitlab integration, watch the video below:

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Thank you

Our community has a lot to be proud of, and this progress is the result of thousands of people collaborating and working together. It's pretty amazing! The power of our community isn't just visible in minor releases or a number of stable modules. It was also felt at this very conference, as many volunteers gave their weekends and evenings to help organize Drupal Europe in the absence of a DrupalCon Europe organized by the Drupal Association. From code to community, the Drupal project is making an incredible impact. I look forward to continuing to celebrate our European community's work and friendships at future Drupal conferences.

A summary of our recent progress
Sep 14 2018
Sep 14

Seven months ago, Matthew Grasmick published an article describing how hard it is to install Drupal. His article included the following measurements for creating a new application on his local machine, across four different PHP frameworks:

Platform Clicks Time Drupal 20+ 15:00+ Symfony 3 1:55 WordPress 7 7:51 Laravel 3 17:28

The results from Matthew's blog were clear: Drupal is too hard to install. It required more than 15 minutes and 20 clicks to create a simple site.


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Seeing these results prompted me to launch a number of initiatives to improve the evaluator experience at DrupalCon Nashville. Here is the slide from my DrupalCon Nashville presentation:

Improve technical evaluator experience

A lot has happened between then and now:

  • We improved the download page to improve the discovery experience on drupal.org
  • We added an Evaluator Guide to Drupal.org
  • We added a quick-start command to Drupal 8.6
  • We added the Umami demo profile to Drupal 8.6
  • We started working on a more modern administration experience (in progress)

You can see the result of that work in this video:


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Thanks to this progress, here is the updated table:

Platform Clicks Time Drupal 3 1:27 Symfony 3 1:55 WordPress 7 7:51 Laravel 3 17:28

Drupal now requires the least time and is tied for least clicks! You can now install Drupal in less than two minutes. Moreover, the Drupal site that gets created isn't an "empty canvas" anymore; it's a beautifully designed and fully functional application with demo content.

Copy-paste the following commands in a terminal window if you want to try it yourself:

mkdir drupal && cd drupal && curl -sSL https://www.drupal.org/download-latest/tar.gz | tar -xz --strip-components=1
php core/scripts/drupal quick-start demo_umami

For more detailed information on how we achieved these improvements, read Matthew's latest blog post: The New Drupal Evaluator Experience, by the numbers.

A big thank you to Matthew Grasmick (Acquia) for spearheading this initiative!

Sep 13 2018
Sep 13

Since the launch of Drupal 8.0, we have successfully launched a new minor release on schedule every six months. I'm very proud of the community for this achievement. Prior to Drupal 8, most significant new features were only added in major releases like Drupal 6 or Drupal 7. Thanks to our new release cadence we now consistently and predictably ship great new features twice a year in minor releases (e.g. Drupal 8.6 comes with many new features).

However, only the most recent minor release has been actively supported for both bug fixes and security coverage. With the release of each new minor version, we gave a one-month window to upgrade to the new minor. In order to give site owners time to upgrade, we would not disclose security issues with the previous minor release during that one-month window.

Old Drupal 8 security policy for minor releasesIllustration of the security policy since the launch of Drupal 8.0 for minor releases, demonstrating that previous minor releases receive one month of security coverage. Source: Drupal.org issue #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal and Drupal Europe DriesNote.

Over the past three years, we have learned that users find it challenging to update to the latest minor in one month. Drupal's minor updates can include dependency updates, internal API changes, or features being transitioned from contributed modules to core. It takes time for site owners to prepare and test these types of changes, and a window of one month to upgrade isn't always enough.

At DrupalCon Nashville we declared that we wanted to extend security coverage for minor releases. Throughout 2018, Drupal 8 release managers quietly conducted a trial. You may have noticed that we had several security releases against previous minor releases this year. This trial helped us understand the impact to the release process and learn what additional work remained ahead. You can read about the results of the trial at #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal.

I'm pleased to share that the trial was a success! As a result, we have extended the security coverage of minor releases to six months. Instead of one month, site owners now have six months to upgrade between minor releases. It gives teams time to plan, prepare and test updates. Releases will have six months of normal bug fix support followed by six months of security coverage, for a total lifetime of one year. This is a huge win for Drupal site owners.

New Drupal 8 security policy for minor releasesIllustration of the new security policy for minor releases, demonstrating that the security coverage for minor releases is extended to six months. Source: Drupal.org issue #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal and the Drupal Europe DriesNote.

It's important to note that this new policy only applies to Drupal 8 core starting with Drupal 8.5, and only applies to security issues. Non-security bug fixes will still only be committed to the actively supported release.

While the new policy will provide extended security coverage for Drupal 8.5.x, site owners will need to update to an upcoming release of Drupal 8.5 to be correctly notified about their security coverage.

Next steps

We still have some user experience issues we'd like to address around how site owners are alerted of a security update. We have not yet handled all of the potential edge cases, and we want to be very clear about the potential actions to take when updating.

We also know module developers may need to declare that a release of their project only works against specific versions of Drupal core. Resolving outstanding issues around semantic versioning support for contrib and module version dependency definitions will help developers of contributed projects better support this policy. If you'd like to get involved in the remaining work, the policy and roadmap issue on Drupal.org is a great place to find related issues and see what work is remaining.

Special thanks to Jess and Jeff Beeman for co-authoring this post.

Sep 12 2018
Sep 12

We just released Drupal 8.6.0. With six minor releases behind us, it is time to talk about the long-term future of Drupal 8 (and therefore Drupal 7 and Drupal 9). I've written about when to release Drupal 9 in the past, but this time, I'm ready to provide further details.

The plan outlined in this blog has been discussed with the Drupal 7 Core Committers, the Drupal 8 Core Committers and the Drupal Security Team. While we feel good about this plan, we can't plan for every eventuality and we may continue to make adjustments.

Drupal 8 will be end-of-life by November 2021

Drupal 8's innovation model depends on introducing new functionality in minor versions while maintaining backwards compatibility. This approach is working so well that some people have suggested we institute minor releases forever, and never release Drupal 9 at all.

However that approach is not feasible. We need to periodically remove deprecated functionality to keep Drupal modern, maintainable, and performant, and we need to stay on secure, supported versions of Drupal 8's third-party dependencies. As Nathaniel Catchpole explained in his post "The Long Road to Drupal 9", our use of various third party libraries such as Symfony, Twig, and Guzzle means that we need to be in sync with their release timelines.

Our biggest dependency in Drupal 8 is Symfony 3, and according to Symfony's roadmap, Symfony 3 has an end-of-life date in November 2021. This means that after November 2021, security bugs in Symfony 3 will not get fixed. To keep your Drupal sites secure, Drupal must adopt Symfony 4 or Symfony 5 before Symfony 3 goes end-of-life. A major Symfony upgrade will require us to release Drupal 9 (we don't want to fork Symfony 3 and have to backport Symfony 4 or Symfony 5 bug fixes). This means we have to end-of-life Drupal 8 no later than November 2021.

Drupal 8 will be end-of-life by November 2021

Drupal 9 will be released in 2020, and it will be an easy upgrade

If Drupal 8 will be end-of-life on November 2021, we have to release Drupal 9 before that. Working backwards from November 2021, we'd like to give site owners one year to upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.

If November 2020 is the latest we could release Drupal 9, what is the earliest we could release Drupal 9?

We certainly can't release Drupal 9 next week or even next month. Preparing for Drupal 9 takes a lot of work: we need to adopt Symfony 4 and/or Symfony 5, we need to remove deprecated code, we need to allow modules and themes to declare compatibility with more than one major version, and possibly more. The Drupal 8 Core Committers believe we need more than one year to prepare for Drupal 9.

Therefore, our current plan is to release Drupal 9 in 2020. Because we still need to figure out important details, we can't be more specific at this time.

Drupal 9 will be released in 2020

If we release Drupal 9 in 2020, it means we'll certainly have Drupal 8.7 and 8.8 releases.

Wait, I will only have one year to migrate from Drupal 8 to 9?

Yes, but fortunately moving from Drupal 8 to 9 will be far easier than previous major version upgrades. The first release of Drupal 9 will be very similar to the last minor release of Drupal 8, as the primary goal of the Drupal 9.0.0 release will be to remove deprecated code and update third-party dependencies. By keeping your Drupal 8 sites up to date, you should be well prepared for Drupal 9.

And what about contributed modules? The compatibility of contributed modules is historically one of the biggest blockers to upgrading, so we will also make it possible for contributed modules to be compatible with Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 at the same time. As long as contributed modules do not use deprecated APIs, they should work with Drupal 9 while still being compatible with Drupal 8.

Drupal 7 will be supported until November 2021

Historically, our policy has been to only support two major versions of Drupal; Drupal 7 would ordinarily reach end of life when Drupal 9 is released. Because a large number of sites might still be using Drupal 7 by 2020, we have decided to extend support of Drupal 7 until November 2021. Drupal 7 will be receive community support for three whole more years.

Drupal 7 will be supported until November 2021

We'll launch a Drupal 7 commercial Long Term Support program

In the past, commercial vendors have extended Drupal's security support. In 2015, a Drupal 6 commercial Long Term Support program was launched and continues to run to this day. We plan a similar paid program for Drupal 7 to extend support beyond November 2021. The Drupal Security Team will announce the Drupal 7 commercial LTS program information by mid-2019. Just like with the Drupal 6 LTS program, there will be an application for vendors.

We'll update Drupal 7 to support newer versions of PHP

The PHP team will stop supporting PHP 5.x on December 31st, 2018 (in 3 months), PHP 7.0 on December 3rd, 2018 (in 2 months), PHP 7.1 on December 1st, 2019 (in 1 year and 3 months) and PHP 7.2 on November 30th, 2020 (in 2 years and 2 months).

Drupal will drop official support for unsupported PHP versions along the way and Drupal 7 site owners may have to upgrade their PHP version. The details will be provided later.

We plan on updating Drupal 7 to support newer versions of PHP in line with their support schedule. Drupal 7 doesn't fully support PHP 7.2 yet as there have been some backwards-incompatible changes since PHP 7.1. We will release a version of Drupal 7 that supports PHP 7.2. Contributed modules and custom modules will have to be updated too, if not already.

Conclusion

If you are still using Drupal 7 and are wondering what to do, you currently have two options:

  1. Stay on Drupal 7 while also updating your PHP version. If you stay on Drupal 7 until after 2021, you can either engage a vendor for a long term support contract, or migrate to Drupal 9.
  2. Migrate to Drupal 8 by 2020, so that it's easier to update to Drupal 9 when it is released.

The announcements in this blog post made option (1) a lot more viable and/or hopefully helps you better evaluate option (2).

If you are on Drupal 8, you just have to keep your Drupal 8 site up-to-date and you'll be ready for Drupal 9.

We plan to have more specifics by April 2019 (DrupalCon Seattle).

Thanks for the Drupal 7 Core Committers, the Drupal 8 Core Committers and the Drupal Security Team for their contributions to this blog post.

Sep 11 2018
Sep 11

For the past two years, I've examined Drupal.org's commit data to understand who develops Drupal, how much of that work is sponsored, and where that sponsorship comes from.

I have now reported on this data for three years in a row, which means I can start to better compare year-over-year data. Understanding how an open-source project works is important because it establishes a benchmark for project health and scalability.

I would also recommend taking a look at the 2016 report or the 2017 report. Each report looks at data collected in the 12-month period between July 1st and June 30th.

This year's report affirms that Drupal has a large and diverse community of contributors. In the 12-month period between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, 7,287 different individuals and 1,002 different organizations contributed code to Drupal.org. This include contributions to Drupal core and all contributed projects on Drupal.org.

In comparison to last year's report, both the number of contributors and contributions has increased. Our community of contributors (including both individuals and organizations) is also becoming more diverse. This is an important area of growth, but there is still work to do.

For this report, we looked at all of the issues marked "closed" or "fixed" in our ticketing system in the 12-month period from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. This includes Drupal core and all of the contributed projects on Drupal.org, across all major versions of Drupal. This year, 24,447 issues were marked "closed" or "fixed", a 5% increase from the 23,238 issues in the 2016-2017 period. This averages out to 67 feature improvements or bug fixes a day.

In total, we captured 49,793 issue credits across all 24,447 issues. This marks a 17% increase from the 42,449 issue credits recorded in the previous year. Of the 49,793 issue credits reported this year, 18% (8,822 credits) were for Drupal core, while 82% (40,971 credits) went to contributed projects.

"Closed" or "fixed" issues are often the result of multiple people working on the issue. We try to capture who contributes through Drupal.org's unique credit system. We used the data from the credit system for this analysis. There are a few limitations with this approach, which we'll address at the end of this report.

What is the Drupal.org credit system?

In the spring of 2015, after proposing ideas for giving credit and discussing various approaches at length, Drupal.org added the ability for people to attribute their work to an organization or customer in the Drupal.org issue queues. Maintainers of Drupal modules, themes, and distributions can award issue credits to people who help resolve issues with code, translations, documentation, design and more.

Example issue credit on drupal orgA screenshot of an issue comment on Drupal.org. You can see that jamadar worked on this patch as a volunteer, but also as part of his day job working for TATA Consultancy Services on behalf of their customer, Pfizer.

Credits are a powerful motivator for both individuals and organizations. Accumulating credits provides individuals with a way to showcase their expertise. Organizations can utilize credits to help recruit developers, to increase their visibility within the Drupal.org marketplace, or to showcase their Drupal expertise.

Who is working on Drupal?

In the 12-month period between July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, 24,447, Drupal.org received code contributions from 7,287 different individuals and 1,002 different organizations.

Contributions by individuals vs organizations

While the number of individual contributors rose, a relatively small number of individuals still do the majority of the work. Approximately 48% of individual contributors received just one credit. Meanwhile, the top 30 contributors (the top 0.4%) account for more than 24% of the total credits. These individuals put an incredible amount of time and effort in developing Drupal and its contributed projects:

Out of the top 30 contributors featured, 15 were also recognized as top contributors in our 2017 report. These Drupalists' dedication and continued contribution to the project has been crucial to Drupal's development. It's also exciting to see 15 new names on the list. This mobility is a testament to the community's evolution and growth. It's also important to recognize that a majority of the 15 repeat top contributors are at least partially sponsored by an organization. We value the organizations that sponsor these remarkable individuals, because without their support, it could be more challenging to be in the top 30 year over year.

How diverse is Drupal?

Next, we looked at both the gender and geographic diversity of Drupal.org code contributors. While these are only two examples of diversity, this is the only available data that contributors can currently choose to share on their Drupal.org profiles. The reported data shows that only 7% of the recorded contributions were made by contributors that do not identify as male, which continues to indicates a steep gender gap. This is a one percent increase compared to last year. The gender imbalance in Drupal is profound and underscores the need to continue fostering diversity and inclusion in our community.

To address this gender gap, in addition to advancing representation across various demographics, the Drupal community is supporting two important initiatives. The first is to adopt more inclusive user demographic forms on Drupal.org. Adopting Open Demographics on Drupal.org will also allow us to improve reporting on diversity and inclusion, which in turn will help us better support initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion. The second initiative is supporting the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team, which works to better include underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions. The DDI Contribution Team recruits team members from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, and provides support and mentorship to help them contribute to Drupal.

It's important to reiterate that supporting diversity and inclusion within Drupal is essential to the health and success of the project. The people who work on Drupal should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software. While there is still a lot of work to do, I'm excited about the impact these various initiatives will have on future reports.

Contributions by gender

When measuring geographic diversity, we saw individual contributors from 6 different continents and 123 different countries:

Contributions by continentContributions by countryThe top 20 countries from which contributions originate. The data is compiled by aggregating the countries of all individual contributors behind each commit. Note that the geographical location of contributors doesn't always correspond with the origin of their sponsorship. Wim Leers, for example, works from Belgium, but his funding comes from Acquia, which has the majority of its customers in North America.

123 different countries is seven more compared to the 2017 report. The new countries include Rwanda, Namibia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Swaziland, Zambia. Seeing contributions from more African countries is certainly a highlight.

How much of the work is sponsored?

Issue credits can be marked as "volunteer" and "sponsored" simultaneously (shown in jamadar's screenshot near the top of this post). This could be the case when a contributor does the minimum required work to satisfy the customer's need, in addition to using their spare time to add extra functionality.

While Drupal started out as a 100% volunteer-driven project, today the majority of the code on Drupal.org is sponsored by organizations. Only 12% of the commit credits that we examined in 2017-2018 were "purely volunteer" credits (6,007 credits), in stark contrast to the 49% that were "purely sponsored". In other words, there were four times as many "purely sponsored" credits as "purely volunteer" credits.

Contributions by volunteer vs sponsored

A few comparisons between the 2017-2018 and the 2016-2017 data:

  • The credit system is being used more frequently. In total, we captured 49,793 issue credits across all 24,447 issues in the 2017-2018 period. This marks a 17% increase from the 42,449 issue credits recorded in the previous year. Between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, 28% of all credits had no attribution while in the period between July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, only 25% of credits lacked attribution. More people have become aware of the credit system, the attribution options, and their benefits.
  • Sponsored credits are growing faster than volunteer credits. Both "purely volunteer" and "purely sponsored" credits grew, but "purely sponsored" credits grew faster. There are two reasons why this could be the case: (1) more contributions are sponsored and (2) organizations are more likely to use the credit system compared to volunteers.

No data is perfect, but it feels safe to conclude that most of the work on Drupal is sponsored. At the same time, the data shows that volunteer contribution remains very important to Drupal. Maybe most importantly, while the number of volunteers and sponsors has grown year over year in absolute terms, sponsored contributions appear to be growing faster than volunteer contributions. This is consistent with how open source projects grow and scale.

Who is sponsoring the work?

Now that we've established a majority of contributions to Drupal are sponsored, we want to study which organizations contribute to Drupal. While 1,002 different organizations contributed to Drupal, approximately 50% of them received four credits or less. The top 30 organizations (roughly the top 3%) account for approximately 48% of the total credits, which implies that the top 30 companies play a crucial role in the health of the Drupal project. The graph below shows the top 30 organizations and the number of credits they received between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018:

Top 30 organizations contributing to DrupalThe top 30 contributing organizations based on the number of Drupal.org commit credits.

While not immediately obvious from the graph above, a variety of different types of companies are active in Drupal's ecosystem:

Category Description Traditional Drupal businesses Small-to-medium-sized professional services companies that primarily make money using Drupal. They typically employ fewer than 100 employees, and because they specialize in Drupal, many of these professional services companies contribute frequently and are a huge part of our community. Examples are Chapter Three and Lullabot (both shown on graph). Digital marketing agencies Larger full-service agencies that have marketing-led practices using a variety of tools, typically including Drupal, Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, WordPress, etc. They tend to be larger, with the larger agencies employing thousands of people. Examples are Wunderman and Mirum. System integrators Larger companies that specialize in bringing together different technologies into one solution. Example system agencies are Accenture, TATA Consultancy Services, Capgemini and CI&T (shown on graph). Technology and infrastructure companies Examples are Acquia (shown on graph), Lingotek, BlackMesh, Rackspace, Pantheon and Platform.sh. End-users Examples are Pfizer (shown on graph) or NBCUniversal.

A few observations:

  • Almost all of the sponsors in the top 30 are traditional Drupal businesses. Companies like MD Systems (12 employees), Valuebound (58 employees), Chapter Three (33 employees), Commerce Guys (13 employees) and PreviousNext (22 employees) are, despite their size, critical to Drupal's success.
  • Compared to these traditional Drupal businesses, Acquia has nearly 800 employees and at least ten full-time Drupal contributors. Acquia works to resolve some of the most complex issues on Drupal.org, many of which are not recognized by the credit system (e.g. release management, communication, sprint organizing, and project coordination). Acquia added several full-time contributors compared to last year, however, I believe that Acquia should contribute even more due to its comparative size.
  • No digital marketing agencies show up in the top 30, though some of them are starting to contribute. It's exciting that an increasing number of digital marketing agencies are delivering beautiful experiences using Drupal. As a community, we need to work to ensure that each of these firms are contributing back to the project with the same commitment that we see from firms like Commerce Guys, CI&T or Acro Media. Compared to last year, we have not made meaningful progress on growing contributions from digital marketing agencies. It would be interesting to see what would happen if more large organizations mandated contributions from their partners. Pfizer, for example, only works with agencies and vendors that contribute back to Drupal, and requires that its agency partners contribute to open source. If more organizations took this stance, it could have a big impact on the number of digital agencies that contribute to Drupal
  • The only system integrator in the top 30 is CI&T, which ranked 3rd with 959 credits. As far as system integrators are concerned, CI&T is a smaller player with approximately 2,500 employees. However, we do see various system integrators outside of the top 30, including Globant, Capgemini, Sapient and TATA Consultancy Services. Each of these system integrators reported 30 to 85 credits in the past year. The top contributor is TATA with 85 credits.
  • Infrastructure and software companies also play an important role in our community, yet only Acquia appears in the top 30. While Acquia has a professional services division, more than 75% of the contributions come from the product organization. Other infrastructure companies include Pantheon and Platform.sh, which are both venture-backed, platform-as-a-service companies that were born from the Drupal community. Pantheon has 6 credits and Platform.sh has 47 credits. Amazee Labs, a company that is building an infrastructure business, reported 40 credits. Compared to last year, Acquia and Rackspace have slightly more credits, while Pantheon, Platform.sh and Amazee contributed less. Lingotek, a vendor that offers cloud-based translation management software has 84 credits.
  • We also saw three end-users in the top 30 as corporate sponsors: Pfizer (491 credits, up from 251 credits the year before), Thunder (432 credits), and the German company, bio.logis (319 credits, up from 212 credits the year before). Other notable customers outside of the top 30, include Workday, Wolters Kluwer, Burda Media, YMCA and OpenY, CARD.com and NBCUniversal. We also saw contributions from many universities, including University of Colorado Boulder, University of Waterloo, Princeton University, University of Adelaide, University of Sydney, University of Edinburgh, McGill University and more.
Contributions by technology companies

We can conclude that technology and infrastructure companies, digital marketing agencies, system integrators and end-users are not making significant code contributions to Drupal.org today. How can we explain this disparity in comparison to the traditional Drupal businesses that contribute the most? We believe the biggest reasons are:

  1. Drupal's strategic importance. A variety of the traditional Drupal agencies almost entirely depend on Drupal to support their businesses. Given both their expertise and dependence on Drupal, they are most likely to look after Drupal's development and well-being. Contrast this with most of the digital marketing agencies and system integrators who work with a diversified portfolio of content management platforms. Their well-being is less dependent on Drupal's success.
  2. The level of experience with Drupal and open source. Drupal aside, many organizations have little or no experience with open source, so it is important that we motivate and teach them to contribute.
  3. Legal reservations. We recognize that some organizations are not legally permitted to contribute, let alone attribute their customers. We hope that will change as open source continues to get adopted.
  4. Tools barriers. Drupal contribution still involves a patch-based workflow on Drupal.org's unique issue queue system. This presents a fairly steep learning curve to most developers, who primarily work with more modern and common tools such as GitHub. We hope to lower some of these barriers through our collaboration with GitLab.
  5. Process barriers. Getting code changes accepted into a Drupal project — especially Drupal core — is hard work. Peer reviews, gates such as automated testing and documentation, required sign-offs from maintainers and committers, knowledge of best practices and other community norms are a few of the challenges a contributor must face to get code accepted into Drupal. Collaborating with thousands of people on a project as large and widely-used as Drupal requires such processes, but new contributors often don't know that these processes exist, or don't understand why they exist.

We should do more to entice contribution

Drupal is used by more than one million websites. Everyone who uses Drupal benefits from work that thousands of other individuals and organizations have contributed. Drupal is great because it is continuously improved by a diverse community of contributors who are enthusiastic to give back.

However, the vast majority of the individuals and organizations behind these Drupal websites never participate in the development of the project. They might use the software as it is or don't feel the need to help drive its development. We have to provide more incentive for these individuals and organizations to contribute back to the project.

Consequently, this data shows that the Drupal community can do more to entice companies to contribute code to Drupal.org. The Drupal community has a long tradition of encouraging organizations to share code rather than keep it behind firewalls. While the spirit of the Drupal project cannot be reduced to any single ideology — not every organization can or will share their code — we would like to see organizations continue to prioritize collaboration over individual ownership.

We understand and respect that some can give more than others and that some might not be able to give back at all. Our goal is not to foster an environment that demands what and how others should give back. Our aim is not to criticize those who do not contribute, but rather to help foster an environment worthy of contribution. This is clearly laid out in Drupal's Values and Principles.

Given the vast amount of Drupal users, we believe continuing to encourage organizations and end-users to contribute is still a big opportunity. From my own conversations, it's clear that organizations still need need education, training and help. They ask questions like: "Where can we contribute?", "How can we convince our legal department?", and more.

There are substantial benefits and business drivers for organizations that contribute: (1) it improves their ability to sell and win deals and (2) it improves their ability to hire. Companies that contribute to Drupal tend to promote their contributions in RFPs and sales pitches. Contributing to Drupal also results in being recognized as a great place to work for Drupal experts.

What projects have sponsors?

To understand where the organizations sponsoring Drupal put their money, I've listed the top 20 most sponsored projects:


Who is sponsoring the top 30 contributors?

Rank Username Issues Volunteer Sponsored Not specified Sponsors 1 RenatoG 851 0% 100% 0% CI&T (850), Johnson & Johnson (23) 2 RajabNatshah 745 14% 100% 0% Vardot (653), Webship (90) 3 jrockowitz 700 94% 97% 1% The Big Blue House (680), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (7), Rosewood Marketing (2), Kennesaw State University (1) 4 adriancid 529 99% 19% 0% Ville de Montréal (98) 5 bojanz 515 0% 98% 2% Commerce Guys (503), Torchbox (17), Adapt (6), Acro Media (4), Bluespark (1) 6 Berdir 432 0% 92% 8% MD Systems (396), Translations.com (10), Acquia (2) 7 alexpott 414 13% 84% 10% Chapter Three (123), Thunder (120), Acro Media (103) 8 mglaman 414 5% 96% 1% Commerce Guys (393), Impactiv (17), Circle Web Foundry (16), Rosewood Marketing (14), LivePerson (13), Bluespark (4), Acro Media (4), Gaggle.net (3), Thinkbean (2), Matsmart (2) 9 Wim Leers 395 8% 94% 0% Acquia (371) 10 larowlan 360 13% 97% 1% PreviousNext (350), University of Technology, Sydney (24), Charles Darwin University (10), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) (1), Department of Justice & Regulation, Victoria (1) 11 DamienMcKenna 353 1% 95% 5% Mediacurrent (334) 12 dawehner 340 48% 86% 4% Chapter Three (279), Torchbox (10), Drupal Association (5), Tag1 Consulting (3), Acquia (2), TES Global (1) 13 catch 339 1% 97% 3% Third and Grove (320), Tag1 Consulting (8) 14 heddn 327 2% 99% 1% MTech (325) 15 xjm 303 0% 97% 3% Acquia (293) 16 pifagor 284 32% 99% 1% GOLEMS GABB (423), Drupal Ukraine Community (73) 17 quietone 261 48% 55% 5% Acro Media (143) 18 borisson_ 255 93% 55% 3% Dazzle (136), Intracto digital agency (1), Acquia (1), DUG BE vzw (Drupal User Group Belgium) (1) 19 adci_contributor 255 0% 100% 0% ADCI Solutions (255) 20 volkswagenchick 254 1% 100% 0% Hook 42 (253) 21 drunken monkey 231 91% 22% 0% DBC (24), Vizala (20), Sunlime Web Innovations GmbH (4), Wunder Group (1), epiqo (1), Zebralog (1) 22 amateescu 225 3% 95% 3% Pfizer (211), Drupal Association (1), Chapter Three (1) 23 joachim 199 56% 44% 19% Torchbox (88) 24 mkalkbrenner 195 0% 99% 1% bio.logis (193), OSCE: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (119) 25 chr.fritsch 185 0% 99% 1% Thunder (183) 26 gaurav.kapoor 178 0% 81% 19% OpenSense Labs (144), DrupalFit (55) 27 phenaproxima 177 0% 99% 1% Acquia (176) 28 mikeytown2 173 0% 0% 100% 29 joelpittet 170 28% 74% 16% The University of British Columbia (125) 30 timmillwood 169 1% 100% 0% Pfizer (169), Appnovation (163), Millwood Online (6)

We observe that the top 30 contributors are sponsored by 58 organizations. This kind of diversity is aligned with our desire to make sure that Drupal is not controlled by a single organization. These top contributors and organizations are from many different parts of the world, and work with customers large and small. Nonetheless, we will continue to benefit from an increased distribution of contribution.

Limitations of the credit system and the data

While the benefits are evident, it is important to note a few of the limitations in Drupal.org's current credit system:

  • Contributing to issues on Drupal.org is not the only way to contribute. Other activities, such as sponsoring events, promoting Drupal, and providing help and mentorship are also important to the long-term health of the Drupal project. Many of these activities are not currently captured by the credit system. For this post, we chose to only look at code contributions.
  • We acknowledge that parts of Drupal are developed on GitHub and therefore aren't fully credited on Drupal.org. The actual number of contributions and contributors could be significantly higher than what we report. The Drupal Association is working to integrate GitLab with Drupal.org. GitLab will provide support for "merge requests", which means contributing to Drupal will feel more familiar to the broader audience of open source contributors who learned their skills in the post-patch era. Some of GitLab's tools, such as inline editing and web-based code review, will also lower the barrier to contribution, and should help us grow both the number of contributions and contributors on Drupal.org.
  • Even when development is done on Drupal.org, the credit system is not used consistently. As using the credit system is optional, a lot of code committed on Drupal.org has no or incomplete contribution credits.
  • Not all code credits are the same. We currently don't have a way to account for the complexity and quality of contributions; one person might have worked several weeks for just one credit, while another person might receive a credit for ten minutes of work. In the future, we should consider issuing credit data in conjunction with issue priority, patch size, etc. This could help incentivize people to work on larger and more important problems and save coding standards improvements for new contributor sprints. Implementing a scoring system that ranks the complexity of an issue would also allow us to develop more accurate reports of contributed work.

Like Drupal itself, the Drupal.org credit system needs to continue to evolve. Ultimately, the credit system will only be useful when the community uses it, understands its shortcomings, and suggests constructive improvements.

Conclusion

Our data confirms that Drupal is a vibrant community full of contributors who are constantly evolving and improving the software. While we have amazing geographic diversity, we still need greater gender diversity, in addition to better representation across various demographic groups. Our analysis of the Drupal.org credit data concludes that most contributions to Drupal are sponsored. At the same time, the data shows that volunteer contribution remains very important to Drupal.

As a community, we need to understand that a healthy open source ecosystem includes more than the traditional Drupal businesses that contribute the most. We still don't see a lot of contribution from the larger digital marketing agencies, system integrators, technology companies, or end-users of Drupal — we believe that might come as these organizations build out their Drupal practices and Drupal becomes more strategic for them.

To grow and sustain Drupal, we should support those that contribute to Drupal and find ways to get those that are not contributing involved in our community. We invite you to help us continue to strengthen our ecosystem.

Sep 06 2018
Sep 06

Last night, we shipped Drupal 8.6.0! I firmly believe this is the most significant Drupal 8 release to date. It is significant because we made a lot of progress on all twelve of Drupal 8 core's strategic initiatives. As a result, Drupal 8.6 delivers a large number of improvements for content authors, evaluators, site builders and developers.

What is new for content authors?

For content authors, Drupal 8.6 adds support for "remote media types". This means you can now easily embed YouTube or Vimeo videos in your content.

The Media Library in Drupal 8.6The Media Library in Drupal 8.6

Content authors want Drupal to be easy to use. We made incredible progress on a variety of features that will help to achieve that: we've delivered an experimental media library, added the Workspaces module as experimental, providing sophisticated content staging capabilities, and made great strides on the upcoming Layout Builder. The Layout Builder is shaping up to be a very powerful tool that solves a lot of authoring challenges, and is something many are looking forward to.

The Workspaces module in Drupal 8.6The Workspaces module in Drupal 8.6

Each initiative related to content authoring is making disciplined and steady progress. These features not only solve for the most requested authoring improvements, but provide a solid foundation on which we can continue to innovate. This means we can provide better compatibility and upgradability for contributed modules.

Top requests for content authorsThe top 10 requested features for content creators according to the 2016 State of Drupal survey.

What is new for evaluators?

Evaluators want an out-of-the-box experience that allows them to install and test drive Drupal in minutes. With Drupal 8.6, we have finally delivered on this need.

Prior to Drupal 8.6, downloading and installing Drupal was a complex and lengthy process that ended with an underwhelming "blank slate".

Now, you can install Drupal with the new "Umami demo profile". The Umami demo profile showcases some of Drupal's most powerful capabilities by providing a beautiful website filled with content right out of the box. A demo profile will not only help to onboard new users, but it can also be used by Drupal professionals and digital agencies to showcase Drupal to potential customers.

The experimental layout builder in Drupal 8.6 with the Umami demo profileThe new Umami demo profile together with the Layout Builder.

In addition to a new installation profile, we added a "quick-start" command that allows you to launch a Drupal site in one command using only one dependency, PHP. If you want to try Drupal, you no longer have to setup a webserver, a database, containers, etc.

Last but not least, the download experience and evaluator documentation on Drupal.org has been vastly improved.

With Drupal 8.6, you can download and install a fully functional Drupal demo application in less than two minutes. That is something to be very excited about.

What is new for developers?

You can now upgrade a single-language Drupal 6 or Drupal 7 site to Drupal 8 using the built-in user interface. While we saw good progress on multilingual migrations, they will remain experimental as we work on the final gaps.

I recently wrote about our progress in making Drupal an API-first platform, including an overview of REST improvements in Drupal 8.6, an update on JSON API, and the reasons why JSON API didn't make it into this release. I'm looking forward to JSON API being added in Drupal 8.7. Other decoupled efforts, including a React-based administration application and GraphQL support are still under heavy development, but making rapid progress.

We also converted almost all of our tests from SimpleTest to PHPUnit; and we've added Nightwatch.js and Prettier for JavaScript developers. While Drupal 8 has extensive back-end test coverage, using PHPUnit and Nightwatch.js provides a more modern platform that will make Drupal more familiar to PHP and JavaScript developers.

Drupal 8 continues to hit its stride

These are just some of the highlights that I'm most excited about. If you'd like to read more about Drupal 8.6.0, check out the official release announcement and important update information from the release notes. The next couple of months, I will write up more detailed progress reports on initiatives that I didn't touch upon in this blog post.

In my Drupal 8.5.0 announcement, I talked about how Drupal is hitting its stride, consistently delivering improvements and new features:

In future releases, we plan to add a media library, support for remote media types like YouTube videos, support for content staging, a layout builder, JSON API support, GraphQL support, a React-based administration application and a better out-of-the-box experience for evaluators.

As you can see from this blog post, Drupal 8.6 delivered on a number of these plans and made meaningful progress on many others.

In future releases we plan to:

  • Stabilize more of the features targeting content authors
  • Add JSON API, allowing developers to more easily and rapidly create decoupled applications
  • Provide stable multilingual migrations
  • Make big improvements for developers with Composer and configuration management changes
  • Continually improve the evaluator experience
  • Iterate towards an entirely new decoupled administrative experience
  • ... and more

Releases like Drupal 8.6.0 only happen with the help of hundreds of contributors and organizations. Thank you to everyone that contributed to this release. Whether you filed issues, wrote code, tested patches, funded a contributor, tested pre-release versions, or cheered for the team from the sidelines, you made this release happen. Thank you!

Sep 04 2018
Sep 04

Today is the first day back from my two-week vacation. We started our vacation in Maine, and we ended our vacation with a few days in Italy.  

While I did some work on vacation, it was my first two-week vacation since starting Acquia 11 years ago.

This morning when the alarm went off I thought: "Why is my alarm going off in the middle of the night?". A few moments later, reality struck. It's time to go back to work.  

Going on vacation is like going to space. Lots of work before take-off, followed by serenity and peaceful floating around in space, eventually abrupted by an insane re-entry process into the earth's atmosphere.

I got up early this morning to work on my "re-entry" and prioritize what I have to do this week. It's a lot!

Drupal Europe is only one week away and I have to make a lot of progress on my keynote presentation and prepare for other sessions and meetings. Between now and Drupal Europe, I also have two analyst meetings (Forrester and Gartner), three board meetings, and dozens of meetings to catch up with co-workers, projects, partners and customers.  Plus, I would love to write about the upcoming Drupal 8.6.0 release and publish my annual "Who sponsors Drupal development?" report. Lots to do this week, but all things I'm excited about.

If you're expecting to hear from me, know that it might take me several weeks to dig out.

Aug 31 2018
Aug 31

As you might have read on the Drupal Association blog, Megan Sanicki, the Executive Director of the Drupal Association, has decided to move on.

Megan has been part of the Drupal Association for almost 8 years. She began as our very first employee responsible for DrupalCon Chicago sponsorship sales in 2011, and progressed to be our Executive Director, in charge of the Drupal Association.

It's easy to forget how far we've come in those years. When Megan started, the Drupal Association had little to no funding. During her tenure, the Drupal Association grew from one full-time employee to the 17 full-time employees, and from $1.8 million in annual revenues to $4 million today. We have matured into a nonprofit that can support and promote the mission of the Drupal project.

Megan led the way. She helped grow, mature and professionalize every aspect of the Drupal Association. The last two years in her role as Executive Director she was the glue for our staff and the driving force for expanding the Drupal Association's reach and impact. She understood how important it is to diversify the community, and include more stakeholders such as content creators, marketers, and commercial organizations.

I'm very grateful for all of this and more, including the many less visible contributions that it takes to make a global organization run each day, respond to challenges, and, ultimately, to thrive. Her work impacted everyone involved with Drupal.

It's sad to see Megan go, both professionally and personally. I enjoyed working with Megan from our weekly calls, to our strategy sessions as well as our email and text messages about the latest industry developments, fun stories taking place in our community, and even the occasional frustration. Open source stewardship can be hard and I'm glad we could lean on each other. I'll miss our collaboration and her support but I also understand it is time for Megan to move on. I'm excited to see her continue her open source adventure at Google.

It will be hard to fill Megan's shoes, but we have a really great story to tell. The Drupal community and the Drupal Association are doing well. Drupal continues to be a role model in the Open Source world and impacts millions of people around the world. I'm confident we can find excellent candidates.

Megan's last day is September 21st. We have activated our succession plan: putting in place a transition team and readying for a formal search for a new Executive Director. An important part of this plan is naming Tim Lehnen Interim Executive Director, elevating him from Director, Engineering. I'm committed to find a new Executive Director who can take the Drupal Association to the next level. With the help of Tim and the staff, our volunteers, sponsors and the Board of Directors, the Drupal Association is in good hands.

Aug 01 2018
Aug 01

Today, Acquia was named a leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Acquia has now been recognized as a leader for five years in a row.

The 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content ManagementAcquia recognized as a leader, next to Adobe and Sitecore, in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management.

Analyst reports like the Gartner Magic Quadrant are important because they introduce organizations to Acquia and Drupal. Last year, I explained it in the following way: "If you want to find a good coffee place, you use Yelp. If you want to find a nice hotel in New York, you use TripAdvisor. Similarly, if a CIO or CMO wants to spend $250,000 or more on enterprise software, they often consult an analyst firm like Gartner.".

Our tenure as a top vendor is not only a strong endorsement of Acquia's strategy and vision, but also underscores our consistency. Drupal and Acquia are here to stay, which is a good thing.

What I found interesting about year's report is the increased emphasis on flexibility and ease of integration. I've been saying this for a few years now, but it's all about innovation through integration, rather than just innovation in the core platform itself.

Marketing technology landscape 2018An image of the Marketing Technology Landscape 2018. For reference, here are the 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 versions of the landscape. It shows how fast the marketing technology industry is growing.

Today, there is an incredible amount of value in community-driven innovation. Just look at the 2018 Martech 5000 — the supergraphic now includes 7,000 marketing technology solutions, which is a 27% increase from a year ago. This accelerated innovation isn't exclusive to marketing technology; its happening across every part of the enterprise technology stack. From headless commerce integrations to the growing adoption of JavaScript frameworks and emerging cross-channel experiences, organizations have the opportunity to re-imagine customer experiences like never before.

It's not surprising that customers are looking for an open platform that allows for open innovation and unlimited integrations. The best way to serve this need is through open APIs, decoupled architectures and an Open Source innovation model. This is why Drupal can offer its users thousands of integrations, more than all of the other Gartner leaders combined.

Acquia Experience Platform

When you marry Drupal's community-driven innovation with Acquia's cloud platform and suite of marketing tools, you get an innovative solution across every layer of your technology stack. It allows our customers to bring powerful new experiences to market, across the web, mobile, native applications, chatbots and more. Most importantly, it gives customers the freedom to build on their own terms.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this result!

Jul 30 2018
Jul 30
Digital backpack

I recently heard a heart-warming story from the University of California, Davis. Last month, UC Davis used Drupal to launch Article 26 Backpack, a platform that helps Syrian Refugees document and share their educational credentials.

Over the course of the Syrian civil war, more than 12 million civilians have been displaced. Hundreds of thousands of these refugees are students, who now have to overcome the obstacle of re-entering the workforce or pursuing educational degrees away from home.

Article 26 Backpack addresses this challenge by offering refugees a secure way to share their educational credentials with admissions offices, scholarship agencies, and potentials employers. The program also includes face-to-face counseling to provide participants with academic advisory and career development.

The UC Davis team launched their Drupal 8 application for Article 26 Backpack in four months. On the site, students can securely store their educational data, such as diplomas, transcripts and resumes. The next phase of the project will be to leverage Drupal’s multilingual capabilities to offer the site in Arabic as well.

This is a great example of how organizations are using Drupal to prioritize impact. It’s always inspiring to hear stories of how Drupal is changing lives for the better. Thank you to the UC Davis team for sharing their story, and continue the good work!

Jul 19 2018
Jul 19

It's been 12 months since my last progress report on Drupal core's API-first initiative. Over the past year, we've made a lot of important progress, so I wanted to provide another update.

Two and a half years ago, we shipped Drupal 8.0 with a built-in REST API. It marked the start of Drupal's evolution to an API-first platform. Since then, each of the five new releases of Drupal 8 introduced significant web service API improvements.

While I was an early advocate for adding web services to Drupal 8 five years ago, I'm even more certain about it today. Important market trends endorse this strategy, including integration with other technology solutions, the proliferation of new devices and digital channels, the growing adoption of JavaScript frameworks, and more.

In fact, I believe that this functionality is so crucial to the success of Drupal, that for several years now, Acquia has sponsored one or more full-time software developers to contribute to Drupal's web service APIs, in addition to funding different community contributors. Today, two Acquia developers work on Drupal web service APIs full time.

Drupal core's REST API

While Drupal 8.0 shipped with a basic REST API, the community has worked hard to improve its capabilities, robustness and test coverage. Drupal 8.5 shipped 5 months ago and included new REST API features and significant improvements. Drupal 8.6 will ship in September with a new batch of improvements.

One Drupal 8.6 improvement is the move of the API-first code to the individual modules, instead of the REST module providing it on their behalf. This might not seem like a significant change, but it is. In the long term, all Drupal modules should ship with web service APIs rather than depending on a central API module to provide their APIs — that forces them to consider the impact on REST API clients when making changes.

Another improvement we've made to the REST API in Drupal 8.6 is support for file uploads. If you want to understand how much thought and care went into REST support for file uploads, check out Wim Leers' blog post: API-first Drupal: file uploads!. It's hard work to make file uploads secure, support large files, optimize for performance, and provide a good developer experience.

JSON API

Adopting the JSON API module into core is important because JSON API is increasingly common in the JavaScript community.

We had originally planned to add JSON API to Drupal 8.3, which didn't happen. When that plan was originally conceived, we were only beginning to discover the extent to which Drupal's Routing, Entity, Field and Typed Data subsystems were insufficiently prepared for an API-first world. It's taken until the end of 2017 to prepare and solidify those foundational subsystems.

The same shortcomings that prevented the REST API to mature also manifested themselves in JSON API, GraphQL and other API-first modules. Properly solving them at the root rather than adding workarounds takes time. However, this approach will make for a stronger API-first ecosystem and increasingly faster progress!

Despite the delay, the JSON API team has been making incredible strides. In just the last six months, they have released 15 versions of their module. They have delivered improvements at a breathtaking pace, including comprehensive test coverage, better compliance with the JSON API specification, and numerous stability improvements.

The Drupal community has been eager for these improvements, and the usage of the JSON API module has grown 50% in the first half of 2018. The fact that module usage has increased while the total number of open issues has gone down is proof that the JSON API module has become stable and mature.

As excited as I am about this growth in adoption, the rapid pace of development, and the maturity of the JSON API module, we have decided not to add JSON API as an experimental module to Drupal 8.6. Instead, we plan to commit it to Drupal core early in the Drupal 8.7 development cycle and ship it as stable in Drupal 8.7.

GraphQL

For more than two years I've advocated that we consider adding GraphQL to Drupal core.

While core committers and core contributors haven't made GraphQL a priority yet, a lot of great progress has been made on the contributed GraphQL module, which has been getting closer to its first stable release. Despite not having a stable release, its adoption has grown an impressive 200% in the first six months of 2018 (though its usage is still measured in the hundreds of sites rather than thousands).

I'm also excited that the GraphQL specification has finally seen a new edition that is no longer encumbered by licensing concerns. This is great news for the Open Source community, and can only benefit GraphQL's adoption.

Admittedly, I don't know yet if the GraphQL module maintainers are on board with my recommendation to add GraphQL to core. We purposely postponed these conversations until we stabilized the REST API and added JSON API support. I'd still love to see the GraphQL module added to a future release of Drupal 8. Regardless of what we decide, GraphQL is an important component to an API-first Drupal, and I'm excited about its progress.

OAuth 2.0

A web services API update would not be complete without touching on the topic of authentication. Last year, I explained how the OAuth 2.0 module would be another logical addition to Drupal core.

Since then, the OAuth 2.0 module was revised to exclude its own OAuth 2.0 implementation, and to adopt The PHP League's OAuth 2.0 Server instead. That implementation is widely used, with over 5 million installs. Instead of having a separate Drupal-specific implementation that we have to maintain, we can leverage a de facto standard implementation maintained by others.

API-first ecosystem

While I've personally been most focused on the REST API and JSON API work, with GraphQL a close second, it's also encouraging to see that many other API-first modules are being developed:

  • OpenAPI, for standards-based API documentation, now at beta 1
  • JSON API Extras, for shaping JSON API to your site's specific needs (aliasing fields, removing fields, etc)
  • JSON-RPC, for help with executing common Drupal site administration actions, for example clearing the cache
  • … and many more

Conclusion

Hopefully, you are as excited for the upcoming release of Drupal 8.6 as I am, and all of the web service improvements that it will bring. I am very thankful for all of the contributions that have been made in our continued efforts to make Drupal API-first, and for the incredible momentum these projects and initiatives have achieved.

Special thanks to Wim Leers (Acquia) and Gabe Sullice (Acquia) for contributions to this blog post and to Mark Winberry (Acquia) and Jeff Beeman (Acquia) for their feedback during the writing process.

Jul 12 2018
Jul 12

If you've ever watched a Drupal Camp video to learn a new Drupal skill, technique or hack, you most likely have Kevin Thull to thank. To date, Kevin has traveled to more than 30 Drupal Camps, recorded more than 1,000 presentations, and has shared them all on YouTube for thousands of people to watch. By recording and posting hundreds of Drupal Camp presentations online, Kevin has has spread knowledge, awareness and a broader understanding of the Drupal project.

I recently attended a conference in Chicago, Kevin's hometown. I had the chance to meet with him, and to learn more about the evolution of his Drupal contributions. I was struck by his story, and decided to write it up on my blog, as I believe it could inspire others around the world.

Kevin began recording sessions during the first community events he helped organize: DrupalCamp Fox Valley in 2013 and MidCamp in 2014. At first, recording and publishing Drupal Camp sessions was an arduous process; Kevin had to oversee dozens of laptops, converters, splitters, camcorders, and trips to Fedex.

After these initial attempts, Kevin sought a different approach for recording sessions. He ended up developing a recording kit, which is a bundle of the equipment and technology needed to record a presentation. After researching various options, he discovered a lightweight, low cost and foolproof solution. Kevin continued to improve this process after he tweeted that if you sponsored his travel, he would record Drupal Camp sessions. It's no surprise that numerous camps took Kevin up on his offer. With more road experience, Kevin has consolidated the recording kits to include just a screen recorder, audio recorder and corresponding cables. With this approach, the kit records a compressed mp4 file that can be uploaded directly to YouTube. In fact, Kevin often finishes uploading all presentation videos to YouTube before the camp is over!

Kevin Thull recording kitThis is one of Kevin Thull's recording kits used to record hundreds of Drupal presentations around the world. Each kit runs at about $450.

Most recently, Kevin has been buying and building more recording kits thanks to financial contributions from various Drupal Camps. He has started to send recording kits and documentation around the world for local camp organizers to use. Not only has Kevin recorded hundreds of sessions himself, he is now sharing his expertise and teaching others how to record and share sessions.

What is exciting about Kevin's contribution is that it reinforces what originally attracted him to Drupal. Kevin ultimately chose to work with Drupal after watching online video tutorials and listening to podcasts created by the community. Today, a majority of people prefer to learn development through video tutorials. I can only imagine how many people have joined and started to contribute to Drupal after they have watched one of the many videos that Kevin has helped to publish.

Kevin's story is a great example of how everyone in the Drupal community has something to contribute, and how contributing back to the Drupal project is not exclusive to code.

This year, the Drupal community celebrated Kevin by honoring him with the 2018 Aaron Winborn Award. The Aaron Winborn award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates personal integrity, kindness, and above-and-beyond commitment to the Drupal community. It's named after a long-time Drupal contributor Aaron Winborn, who lost his battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in early 2015. Congratulations Kevin, and thank you for your incredible contribution to the Drupal community!

Jul 03 2018
Jul 03

During my DrupalCon Nashville keynote, I shared a brief video of Mike Lamb, the Senior Director of Architecture, Engineering & Development at Pfizer. Today, I wanted to share an extended version of my interview with Mike, where he explains why the development team at Pfizer has ingrained Open Source contribution into the way they work.

[embedded content]

Mike had some really interesting and important things to share, including:

  1. Why Pfizer has chosen to standardize all of its sites on Drupal (from 0:00 to 03:19). Proprietary software isn't a match.
  2. Why Pfizer only works with agencies and vendors that contribute back to Drupal (from 03:19 to 06:25). Yes, you read that correctly; Pfizer requires that its agency partners contribute to Open Source!
  3. Why Pfizer doesn't fork Drupal modules (from 06:25 to 07:27). It's all about security.
  4. Why Pfizer decided to contribute to the Drupal 8's Workflow Initiative, and what they have learned from working with the Drupal community (from 07:27 to 10:06).
  5. How to convince a large organization (like Pfizer) to contribute back to Drupal (from 10:06 to 12:07).

Between Pfizer's direct contributions to Drupal (e.g. the Drupal 8 Workflow Initiative) and the mandate for its agency partners to contribute code back to Drupal, Pfizer's impact on the Drupal community is invaluable. It's measured in the millions of dollars per year. Just imagine what would happen to Drupal if ten other large organizations adopted Pfizer's contribution models?

Most organizations use Open Source, and don't think twice about it. However, we're starting to see more and more organizations not just use Open Source, but actively contribute to it. Open source offers organizations a completely different way of working, and fosters an innovation model that is not possible with proprietary solutions. Pfizer is a leading example of how organizations are starting to challenge the prevailing model and benefit from contributing to Open Source. Thanks for changing the status quo, Mike!

Jun 28 2018
Jun 28
Drupal is no longer the Drupal you used to know

Today, I gave a keynote presentation at the 10th annual Design 4 Drupal conference at MIT. I talked about the past, present and future of JavaScript, and how this evolution reinforces Drupal's commitment to be API-first, not API-only. I also included behind-the-scene insights into the Drupal community's administration UI and JavaScript modernization initiative, and why this approach presents an exciting future for JavaScript in Drupal.

If you are interested in viewing my keynote, you can download a copy of my slides (256 MB).

Thank you to Design 4 Drupal for having me and happy 10th anniversary!

Jun 26 2018
Jun 26

The Drupal community has done an amazing job organizing thousands of developers around the world. We've built collaboration tools and engineering processes to streamline how our community of developers work together to collectively build Drupal. This collaboration has led to amazing results. Today, more than 1 in 40 of the top one million websites use Drupal. It's inspiring to see how many organizations depend on Drupal to deliver their missions.

What is equally incredible is that historically, we haven't collaborated around the marketing of Drupal. Different organizations have marketed Drupal in their own way without central coordination or collaboration.

In my DrupalCon Nashville keynote, I shared that it's time to make a serious and focused effort to amplify Drupal success stories in the marketplace. Imagine what could happen if we enabled hundreds of marketers to collaborate on the promotion of Drupal, much like we have enabled thousands of developers to collaborate on the development of Drupal.

Accelerating Drupal adoption with business decision makers

To focus Drupal's marketing efforts, we launched the Promote Drupal Initiative. The goal of the Promote Drupal Initiative is to do what we do best: to work together to collectively grow Drupal. In this case, we want to collaborate to raise awareness with business and non-technical decision makers. We need to hone Drupal's strategic messaging, amplify success stories and public relation resources in the marketplace, provide agencies and community groups with sales and marketing tools, and improve the Drupal.org evaluator experience.

To make Promote Drupal sustainable, Rebecca Pilcher, Director of MarComm at the Drupal Association, will be leading the initiative. Rebecca will oversee volunteers with marketing and business skills that can help move these efforts forward.

Promote Drupal Fund: 75% to goal

At DrupalCon Nashville, we set a goal of fundraising $100,000 to support the Promote Drupal Initiative. These funds will help to secure staffing to backfill Rebecca's previous work (someone has to market DrupalCon!), produce critical marketing resources, and sponsor marketing sprints. The faster we reach this goal, the faster we can get to work.

I'm excited to announce that we have already reached 75% of our goal, thanks to many generous organizations and individuals around the world. I wanted to extend a big thank you to the following companies for contributing $1,000 or more to the Promote Drupal Initiative:

Thanks to many financial contributions, the Promote Drupal Initiative hit its $75k milestone!

If you can, please help us reach our total goal of $100,000! By raising a final $25,000, we can build a program that will introduce Drupal to an emerging audience of business decision makers. Together, we can make a big impact on Drupal.

Jun 19 2018
Jun 19

For the past two years, I've published the Who sponsors Drupal development report. The primary goal of the report is to share contribution data to encourage more individuals and organizations to contribute code to Drupal on Drupal.org. However, the report also highlights areas where our community can and should do better.

In 2017, the reported data showed that only 6 percent of recorded code contributions were made by contributors that identify as female. After a conversation in the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Slack channel about the report, it became clear that many people were concerned about this discrepancy. Inspired by this conversation, Tara King started the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team to understand how the Drupal community could better include women and underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions.

I recently spoke with Tara to learn more about the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team. I quickly discovered that Tara's leadership exemplifies various Drupal Values and Principles; especially Principle 3 (Foster a learning environment), Principle 5 (Everyone has something to contribute) and Principle 6 (Choose to lead). Inspired by Tara's work, I wanted to spotlight what the DDI Contribution Team has accomplished so far, in addition to how the team is looking to help grow diversity and inclusion in the future.

A mentorship program to help underrepresented groups

Supporting diversity and inclusion within Drupal is essential to the health and success of the project. The people who work on Drupal should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software. This includes building better representation across gender, race, sexuality, disability, economic status, nationality, faith, technical experience, and more. Unfortunately, underrepresented groups often lack community connections, time for contribution, resources or programs that foster inclusion, which introduce barriers to entry.

The mission of the Drupal Diversity & Inclusion Contribution Team is to increase contributions from underrepresented groups. To accomplish this goal, the DDI Contribution Team recruits team members from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, and provides support and mentorship to help them contribute to Drupal. Each mentee is matched with a mentor in the Drupal community, who can provide expertise and advice on contribution goals and professional development. To date, the DDI Contribution Team supports over 20 active members.

What I loved most in my conversation with Tara is the various examples of growth she gave. For example, Angela McMahon is a full-time Drupal developer at Iowa State. Angela been working with her mentor, Caroline Boyden, on the External Link Module. Due to her participation with the DDI Contribution Team, Angela has now been credited on 4 fixed issues in the past year.

Improving the reporting around diversity and inclusion

In addition to mentoring, another primary area of focus of the DDI Contribution Team is to improve reporting surrounding diversity and inclusion. For example, in partnership with the Drupal Association and the Open Demographics Project, the DDI Contribution Team is working to implement best practices for data collection and privacy surrounding gender demographics. During the mentored code sprints at DrupalCon Nashville, the DDI Contribution Team built the Gender Field Module, which we hope to deploy on Drupal.org.

The development of the Gender Field Module is exciting, as it establishes a system to improve reporting on diversity demographics. I would love to use this data in future iterations of the 'Who sponsors Drupal development' report, because it would allow us to better measure progress on improving Drupal's diversity and inclusion against community goals.

One person can make a difference

What I love about the story of the DDI Contribution Team is that it demonstrates how one person can make a significant impact on the Drupal project. The DDI Contribution Team has grown from Tara's passion and curiosity to see what would happen if she challenged the status quo. Not only has Tara gotten to see one of her own community goals blossom, but she now also leads a team of mentors and mentees and is a co-maintainer of the Drupal 8 version of the Gender Field Module. Last but not least, she is building a great example for how other Open Source projects can increase contributions from underrepresented groups.

How you can get involved

If you are interested in getting involved with the DDI Contribution Team, there are a number of ways you can participate:

  • Support the DDI Contribution Team as a mentor, or consider recommending the program to prospective mentees. Join #ddi-contrib-team on Drupal Slack to meet the team and get started.
  • In an effort to deliberately recruit teams from spaces where people of diverse backgrounds collaborate, the DDI Contribution Team is looking to partner with Outreachy, an organization that provides paid internships for underrepresented groups to learn Free and Open Source Software and skills. If you would be interested in supporting a Drupal internship for an Outreachy candidate, reach out to Tara King to learn how you can make a financial contribution.
  • One of the long term goals of the DDI Contribution Team is to increase the number of underrepresented people in leadership positions, such as initiative lead, module maintainer, or core maintainer. If you know of open positions, consider understanding how you can work with the DDI Contribution Team to fulfill this goal.

I want to extend a special thanks to Tara King for sharing her story, and for making an important contribution to the Drupal project. Growing diversity and inclusion is something everyone in the Drupal community is responsible for, and I believe that everyone has something to contribute. Congratulations to the entire DDI Contribution Team.

Jun 15 2018
Jun 15
The Composer Initiative for Drupal

At DrupalCon Nashville, we launched a strategic initiative to improve support for Composer in Drupal 8. To learn more, you can watch the recording of my DrupalCon Nashville keynote or read the Composer Initiative issue on Drupal.org.

While Composer isn't required when using Drupal core, many Drupal site builders use it as the preferred way of assembling websites (myself included). A growing number of contributed modules also require the use of Composer, which increases the need to make Composer easier to use with Drupal.

The first step of the Composer Initiative was to develop a plan to simplify Drupal's Composer experience. Since DrupalCon Nashville, Mixologic, Mile23, Bojanz, Webflo, and other Drupal community members have worked on this plan. I was excited to see that last week, they shared their proposal.

The first phase of the proposal is focused on a series of changes in the main Drupal core repository. The directory structure will remain the same, but it will include scripts, plugins, and embedded packages that enable the bundled Drupal product to be built from the core repository using Composer. This provides users who download Drupal from Drupal.org a clear path to manage their Drupal codebase with Composer if they choose.

I'm excited about this first step because it will establish a default, official approach for using Composer with Drupal. That makes using Composer more straightforward, less confusing, and could theoretically lower the bar for evaluators and newcomers who are familiar with other PHP frameworks. Making things easier for site builders is a very important goal; web development has become a difficult task, and removing complexity out of the process is crucial.

It's also worth noting that we are planning the Automatic Updates Initiative. We are exploring if an automated update system can be build on top of the Composer Initiative's work, and provide an abstraction layer for those that don't want to use Composer directly. I believe that could be truly game-changing for Drupal, as it would remove a great deal of complexity.

If you're interested in learning more about the Composer plan, or if you want to provide feedback on the proposal, I recommend you check out the Composer Initiative issue and comment 37 on that issue.

Implementing this plan will be a lot of work. How fast we execute these changes depends on how many people will help. There are a number of different third-party Composer related efforts, and my hope is to see many of them redirect their efforts to make Drupal's out-of-the-box Composer effort better. If you're interested in getting involved or sponsoring this work, let me know and I'd be happy to connect you with the right people!

Jun 06 2018
Jun 06

One of the most stressful experiences for students is the process of choosing the right university. Researching various colleges and universities can be overwhelming, especially when students don't have the luxury of visiting different campuses in person.

At Acquia Labs, we wanted to remove some of the complexity and stress from this process, by making campus tours more accessible through virtual reality. During my presentation at Acquia Engage Europe yesterday, I shared how organizations can use virtual reality to build cross-channel experiences. People that attended Acquia Engage Europe asked if they could have a copy of my video, so I decided to share it on my blog.

The demo video below features a high school student, Jordan, who is interested in learning more about Massachusetts State University (a fictional university). From the comfort of his couch, Jordan is able to take a virtual tour directly from the university's website. After placing his phone in a VR headset, Jordan can move around the university campus, explore buildings, and view program resources, videos, and pictures within the context of his tour.

[embedded content]

All of the content and media featured in the VR tour is stored in the Massachusetts State University's Drupal site. Site administrators can upload media and position hotspots directly from within Drupal backend. The React frontend pulls in information from Drupal using JSON API. In the video below, Chris Hamper (Acquia) further explains how the decoupled React VR application takes advantage of new functionality available in Drupal 8.

[embedded content]

It's exciting to see how Drupal's power and flexibility can be used beyond traditional web pages. If you are interesting in working with Acquia on virtual reality applications, don't hesitate to contact the Acquia Labs team.

Special thanks to Chris Hamper for building the virtual reality application, and thank you to Ash Heath, Preston So and Drew Robertson for producing the demo videos.

Jun 02 2018
Jun 02

Keynoted at Frontend United in The Netherlands about our work on Drupal's web services APIs and our work toward a JavaScript-driven Drupal administration interface. Great event with lots of positive energy!

Frontend United keynote© Christoph Breidert

May 30 2018
May 30

Firefox 60 was released a few weeks ago and now comes with support for the upcoming Web Authentication (WebAuthn) standard.

Other major web browsers weren't far behind. Yesterday, the release of Google Chrome 67 also included support for the Web Authentication standard.

I'm excited about it because it can make the web both easier and safer to use.

The Web Authentication standard will make the web easier, because it is a big step towards eliminating passwords on the web. Instead of having to manage passwords, we'll be able to use web-based fingerprints, facial authentication, voice recognition, a smartphone, or hardware security keys like the YubiKey.

It will also make the web safer, because it will help reduce or even prevent phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks, and credential theft. If you are interested in learning more about the security benefits of the Web Authentication standard, I recommend reading Adam Langley's excellent analysis.

When I have a bit more time for side projects, I'd like to buy a YubiKey 4C to see how it fits in my daily workflow, in addition to what it would look like to add Web Authentication support to Drupal and https://dri.es.

May 29 2018
May 29

In the beginning of the year I started doing some iOS development for my POSSE plan. As I was new to iOS development, I decided to teach myself by watching short, instructional videos. Different people learn in different ways, but for me, videos tutorials were the most effective way to learn.

Given that recent experience, I'm very excited to share that all of the task tutorials in the Drupal 8 User Guide are now accompanied by video tutorials. These videos are embedded directly into every user guide page on Drupal.org. You can see an example on the "Editing with the in-place editor" page.

These videos provide a great introduction to installing, administering, site building and maintaining the content of a Drupal-based website — all important skills for a new Drupalist to learn. Supplementing user guides with video tutorials is an important step towards improving our evaluator experience, as video can often convey a lot more than text.

Creating high-quality videos is hard and time-consuming work. Over the course of six months, the team at Drupalize.Me has generously contributed a total of 52 videos! I want to give a special shout-out to Joe Shindelar and the Drupalize.Me team for creating these videos and to Jennifer Hodgdon and Neil Drumm (Drupal Association) for helping to get each video posted on Drupal.org.

What a fantastic gift to the community!

May 25 2018
May 25

Last weekend, over 29 million people watched the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. While there is a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding the newlyweds, I was personally excited to learn that the royal family's website is built with Drupal! Royal.uk is the official website of the British royal family, and is visited by an average of 12 million people each year. Check it out at https://www.royal.uk!

Royal uk

May 22 2018
May 22
Adobe acquires Magento for $1.68 billion

Yesterday, Adobe announced that it agreed to buy Magento for $1.68 billion. When I woke up this morning, 14 different people had texted me asking for my thoughts on the acquisition.

Adobe acquiring Magento isn't a surprise. One of our industry's worst-kept secrets is that Adobe first tried to buy Hybris, but lost the deal to SAP; subsequently Adobe tried to buy DemandWare and lost out against Salesforce. It's evident that Adobe has been hungry to acquire a commerce platform for quite some time.

The product motivation behind the acquisition

Large platform companies like Salesforce, Oracle, SAP and Adobe are trying to own the digital customer experience market from top to bottom, which includes providing support for marketing, commerce, personalization, and data management, in addition to content and experience management and more.

Compared to the other platform companies, Adobe was missing commerce. With Magento under its belt, Adobe can better compete against Salesforce, Oracle and SAP.

While Salesforce, SAP and Oracle offer good commerce capability, they lack satisfactory content and experience management capabilities. I expect that Adobe closing the commerce gap will compel Salesforce, SAP and Oracle to act more aggressively on their own content and experience management gap.

While Magento has historically thrived in the SMB and mid-market, the company recently started to make inroads into the enterprise. Adobe will bring a lot of operational maturity; how to sell into the enterprise, how to provide enterprise grade support, etc. Magento stands to benefit from this expertise.

The potential financial outcome behind the acquisition

According to Adobe press statements, Magento has achieved "approximately $150 million in annual revenue". We also know that in early 2017, Magento raised $250 million in funding from Hillhouse Capital. Let's assume that $180 million of that is still in the bank. If we do a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation, we can subtract this $180 million from the $1.68 billion, and determine that Magento was valued at roughly $1.5 billion, or a 10x revenue multiple on Magento's trailing twelve months of revenue. That is an incredible multiple for Magento, which is primarily a licensing business today.

Compare that with Shopify, which is trading at a $15 billion dollar valuation and has $760 million of twelve month trailing revenue. This valuation is good for a 20x multiple. Shopify deserves the higher multiple, because it's the better business; all of its business is delivered in the cloud and at 65% year-over-year revenue growth, it is growing much faster than Magento.

Regardless, one could argue that Adobe got a great deal, especially if it can accelerate Magento's transformation from a licensing business into a cloud business.

Most organizations prefer best-of-breed

While both the product and financial motivations behind this acquisition are seemingly compelling, I'm not convinced organizations want an integrated approach.

Instead of being confined to proprietary vendors' prescriptive suites and roadmaps, global brands are looking for an open platform that allows organizations to easily integrate with their preferred technology. Organizations want to build content-rich shopping journeys that integrate their experience management solution of choice with their commerce platform of choice.

We see this first hand at Acquia. These integrations can span various commerce platforms, including IBM WebSphere Commerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud/Demandware, Oracle/ATG, SAP/hybris, Magento and even custom transaction platforms. Check out Quicken (Magento), Weber (Demandware), Motorola (Broadleaf Commerce), Tesla (custom to order a car, and Shopify to order accessories) as great examples of Drupal and Acquia working with various commerce platforms. And of course, we've quite a few projects with Drupal's native commerce solution, Drupal Commerce.

Owning Magento gives Adobe a disadvantage, because commerce vendors will be less likely to integrate with Adobe Experience Manager moving forward.

It's all about innovation through integration

Today, there is an incredible amount of innovation taking place in the marketing technology landscape (full-size image), and it is impossible for a single vendor to have the most competitive product suite across all of these categories. The only way to keep up with this unfettered innovation is through integrations.

Marketing technology landscape 2018An image of the Marketing Technology Landscape 2018. For reference, here are the 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 versions of the landscape. It shows how fast the marketing technology industry is growing.

Most customers want an open platform that allows for open innovation and unlimited integrations. It's why Drupal and Acquia are winning, why the work on Drupal's web services is so important, and why Acquia remains committed to a best-of-breed strategy for commerce. It's also why Acquia has strong conviction around Acquia Journey as a marketing integration platform. It's all about innovation through integration, making those integrations easy, and removing friction from adopting preferred technologies.

If you acquire a commerce platform, acquire a headless one

If I were Adobe, I would have looked to acquire a headless commerce platform such as Elastic Path, Commerce Tools, Moltin, Reaction Commerce or even Salsify.

Today, there is a lot of functional overlap between Magento and Adobe Experience Manager — from content editing, content workflows, page building, user management, search engine optimization, theming, and much more. The competing functionality between the two solutions makes for a poor developer experience and for a poor merchant experience.

In a headless approach, the front end and the back end are decoupled, which means the experience or presentation layer is separated from the commerce business layer. There is a lot less overlap of functionality in this approach, and it provides a better experience for merchants and developers.

Alternatively, you could go for a deeply integrated approach like Drupal Commerce. It has zero overlap between its commerce, content management and experience building capabilities.

For Open Source, it could be good or bad

How Adobe will embrace Magento's Open Source community is possibly the most intriguing part of this acquisition — at least for me.

For a long time, Magento operated as Open Source in name, but wasn't very Open Source in practice. Over the last couple of years, the Magento team worked hard to rekindle its Open Source community. I know this because I attended and keynoted one of its conferences on this topic. I have also spent a fair amount of time with Magento's leadership team discussing this. Like other projects, Magento has been taking inspiration from Drupal.

For example, the introduction of Magento 2 allowed the company to move to GitHub for the first time, which gave the community a better way to collaborate on code and other important issues. The latest release of Magento cited 194 contributions from the community. While that is great progress, it is small compared to Drupal.

My hope is that these Open Source efforts continue now that Magento is part of Adobe. If they do, that would be a tremendous win for Open Source.

On the other hand, if Adobe makes Magento cloud-only, radically changes their pricing model, limits integrations with Adobe competitors, or doesn't value the Open Source ethos, it could easily alienate the Magento community. In that case, Adobe bought Magento for its install base and the Magento brand, and not because it believes in the Open Source model.

This acquisition also signals a big win for PHP. Adobe now owns a $1.68 billion PHP product, and this helps validate PHP as an enterprise-grade technology.

Unfortunately, Adobe has a history of being "Open Source"-second and not "Open Source"-first. It acquired Day Software in July 2010. This technology was largely made using open source frameworks — Apache Sling, Apache Jackrabbit and more — and was positioned as an open, best-of-breed solution for developers and agile marketers. Most of that has been masked and buried over the years and Adobe's track record with developers has been mixed, at best.

Will the same happen to Magento? Time will tell.

May 17 2018
May 17

As web applications have evolved from static pages to application-like experiences, end-users' expectations of websites have become increasingly demanding. JavaScript, partnered with effective user-experience design, enable the seamless, instantaneous interactions that users now expect.

The Drupal project anticipated this trend years ago and we have been investing heavily in making Drupal API-first ever since. As a result, more organizations are building decoupled applications served by Drupal. This approach allows organizations to use modern JavaScript frameworks, while still benefiting from Drupal's powerful content management capabilities, such as content modeling, content editing, content workflows, access rights and more.

While organizations use JavaScript frameworks to create visitor-facing experiences with Drupal as a backend, Drupal's own administration interface has not yet embraced a modern JavaScript framework. There is high demand for Drupal to provide a cutting-edge experience for its own users: the site's content creators and administrators.

At DrupalCon Vienna, we decided to start working on an alternative Drupal administrative UI using React. Sally Young, one of the initiative coordinators, recently posted a fantastic update on our progress since DrupalCon Vienna.

Next steps for Drupal's API-first and JavaScript work

While we made great progress improving Drupal's web services support and improving our JavaScript support, I wanted to use this blog post to compile an overview of some of our most important next steps:

1. Stabilize the JSON API module

JSON API is a widely-used specification for building web service APIs in JSON. We are working towards adding JSON API to Drupal core as it makes it easier for JavaScript developers to access the content and configuration managed in Drupal. There is a central plan issue that lists all of the blockers for getting JSON API into core (comprehensive test coverage, specification compliance, and more). We're working hard to get all of them out of the way!

2. Improve our JavaScript testing infrastructure

Drupal's testing infrastructure is excellent for testing PHP code, but until now, it was not optimized for testing JavaScript code. As we expect the amount of JavaScript code in Drupal's administrative interface to dramatically increase in the years to come, we have been working on improving our JavaScript testing infrastructure using Headless Chrome and Nightwatch.js. Nightwatch.js has already been committed for inclusion in Drupal 8.6, however some additional work remains to create a robust JavaScript-to-Drupal bridge. Completing this work is essential to ensure we do not introduce regressions, as we proceed with the other items in our roadmap.

3. Create designs for a React-based administration UI

Having a JavaScript-based UI also allows us to rethink how we can improve Drupal's administration experience. For example, Drupal's current content modeling UI requires a lot of clicking, saving and reloading. By using React, we can reimagine our user experience to be more application-like, intuitive and faster to use. We still need a lot of help to design and test different parts of the Drupal administration UI.

4. Allow contributed modules to use React or Twig

We want to enable modules to provide either a React-powered administration UI or a traditional Twig-based administration UI. We are working on an architecture that can support both at the same time. This will allow us to introduce JavaScript-based UIs incrementally instead of enforcing a massive paradigm shift all at once. It will also provide some level of optionality for modules that want to opt-out from supporting the new administration UI.

5. Implement missing web service APIs

While we have been working for years to add web service APIs to many parts of Drupal, not all of Drupal has web services support yet. For our React-based administration UI prototype we decided to implement a new permission screen (i.e. https://example.com/admin/people/permissions). We learned that Drupal lacked the necessary web service APIs to retrieve a list of all available permissions in the system. This led us to create a support module that provides such an API. This support module is a temporary solution that helped us make progress on our prototype; the goal is to integrate these APIs into core itself. If you want to contribute to Drupal, creating web service APIs for various Drupal subsystems might be a great way to get involved.

6. Make the React UI extensible and configurable

One of the benefits of Drupal's current administration UI is that it can be configured (e.g. you can modify the content listing because it has been built using the Views module) and extended by contributed modules (e.g. the Address module adds a UI that is optimized for editing address information). We want to make sure that in the new React UI we keep enough flexibility for site builders to customize the administrative UI.

All decoupled builds benefit

All decoupled applications will benefit from the six steps above; they're important for building a fully-decoupled administration UI, and for building visitor-facing decoupled applications.

Useful for decoupling of visitor-facing front-ends Useful for decoupling of the administration backend 1. Stabilize the JSON API module ✔ ✔ 2. Improve our JavaScript testing infrastructure ✔ ✔ 3. Create designs for a React-based administration UI ✔ 4. Allow contributed modules to use React or Twig ✔ ✔ 5. Implement missing web service APIs ✔ ✔ 6. Make the React UI extensible and configurable ✔

Conclusion

Over the past three years we've been making steady progress to move Drupal to a more API-first and JavaScript centric world. It's important work given a variety of market trends in our industry. While we have made excellent progress, there are more challenges to be solved. We hope you like our next steps, and we welcome you to get involved with them. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far!

Special thanks to Matt Grill and Lauri Eskola for co-authoring this blog post and to Wim Leers, Gabe Sullice, Angela Byron, and Preston So for their feedback during the writing process.

May 09 2018
May 09

How the Open Demographics Initiative recommends you ask for gender information© Open Demographics Initiative's gender identification questions

Last week, Nikki Stevens presented "Other, Please Specify" for TEDx at Arizona State University. In her TED Talk, Nikki shares the story behind the Open Demographics Initiative, which is developing a recommended set of questions that anyone can use to ask online community members about their demographics.

Nikki demonstrates how a majority of demographic surveys require users to conform to restrictive identity fields, which can alienate minority or underrepresented groups. The Open Demographics Initiative wants to develop forms that are more inclusive, in addition to giving people more control over the data and information they chose to disclose.

Inspired by Nikki's presentation, I reached out to the engineering team at the Drupal Association to see if there are plans to implement the Open Demographics Initiative's recommendations on Drupal.org. I was happy to learn that they are collaborating with the Open Demographics team to add the recommendations to the user registration process on Drupal.org.

Adopting Open Demographics on Drupal.org will also allow us to improve reporting on diversity and inclusion, which in turn will help us better support initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion. Plus, we can lead by example and inspire other organizations to do the same.

Thank you Nikki, for sharing the story behind the Open Demographics Initiative, and for helping to inspire change in the Drupal community and beyond.

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