DrupalCon NA - 5 Reasons to be Excited for the Future of Drupal

DrupalCon NA - 5 Reasons to be Excited for the Future of Drupal

DrupalCon North America 2021 took place a few weeks ago and a number of zu developers were able to attend this online event. While online doesn’t provide the same experience as actually attending a conference in person, the digitized DrupalCon was still a great success as the record numbers of registrations proved.

The format for the conference was slightly different this year, with each day more or less focused on one of the current strategic initiatives, here are a few links to take a deeper dive into each:

Each day was split into two parts—presentations for the first half of the day and contributor sessions for the second half. This format allowed for a greater focus on allowing and enabling people to contribute to the project, with access to mentoring and help resources readily available.

In his traditional “State of Drupal” keynote, Drupal founder and Project Lead Dries Buytaert provided updates on the progress of each of the current strategic initiatives and introduced a renewed focus on improving the sitebuilder and contributor experiences. The upcoming work in these areas will be seen in the Project Browser Initiative as well as the modernizing of drupal.org’s collaboration tools with GitLab.

Here are 5 key takeaways we’re most excited about...

Decoupled Drupal is looking great

Decoupled Drupal has been the main topic at past DrupalCons but was included in forward-looking talks or long-term discussions. This year marked a noticeable shift toward case studies on completed decoupled Drupal sites and conversations centred around solving the challenges raised by the shift toward a decoupled setup. 

In particular, community progress and conversation around Drupal’s Decoupled Menus Initiative is very exciting. Solving challenges centred around menus has been one of the major hurdles involved with the shift toward decoupled Drupal.

JavaScript modernization is coming

Naturally following the growing trend toward decoupled Drupal sites is the conversation around modernization for Drupal’s JavaScript libraries. This is a significant undertaking for a project as large as Drupal, but it brings change that end users will experience—such as more modern rich text editors.

Admin experiences are improving

The administrative experience has been a major focus within the Drupal community over the last couple of years. We’re now reaching the point where community effort around this topic has flourished into beautiful, usable administrative themes that put editor experience at the forefront. This incredibly important area of website development tends to be pushed down the priority list, but the time has come to bring it back into the spotlight. We’ve begun testing recently released administrative themes and are very excited to bring these updated administrative experiences into new and existing workflows for our clients.

Updates are predictable and smooth

One of the biggest changes to happen within the Drupal project in recent years is a shift towards predictable, planned releases and smaller jumps between these releases. This has allowed us to reduce the time required for updating, feel confident about the move toward Drupal 9 (and soon to be Drupal 10) and it makes for smooth and painless security updates. The community workflow around updates has greatly matured, allowing us to predict and plan for security patching and long-term support. 

Improved sitebuilder and contributor experiences

Taking a step back to focus on the sitebuilder and contributor experiences was a major topic at DrupalCon this year — taking up a significant portion of the main keynote. The takeaway here is that the community has recognized that the site builder and contributor experiences were under prioritized in the rush to modernize Drupal. As Drupal is backed and powered by a large open-source community, excellent support for contributor workflows is foundational for the growth and development of the entire project. 


DrupalCon is always a fantastic event that highlights the effort and changes released already and brings forward community awareness of new initiatives in progress. Several of us at zu have experience with contributing to Drupal and we are all looking forward to improvements being made to the process.

The future looks bright for Drupal. We are excited to continue using it to bring digital experiences to life and to empower individuals and organizations to deliver their message to their audience.