DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019 Recap

This year, Amsterdam, Netherlands celebrated its third time as a home city for the biggest European Drupal conference - DrupalCon. My overall experience was great and I am going to provide you with more insights in the next paragraphs below.

Monday mornings on DrupalCons are usually reserved for travelling to the host city, meeting Drupalers and visiting training opportunities. This time it was no exception. I spent the morning travelling to Amsterdam. After 2 hours of pleasant flight, I headed to the venue for check-in and straight to the Mentoring Orientation session. Since my main goal for this DrupalCon was to contribute by mentoring others, this was a first must-see session. We spent a good hour meeting other mentors and outlining plans for the week. The idea was to discuss how we can assist people who are interested in contributions. Mentoring process is one of key Drupal values & principles that we as a community strive to. Its goal is to encourage others to get involved and to help our community.

The other part of the day was reserved to catch up with people from the community and meet newcomers. In the evening, attendees could join the International Splash Awards 2019 event which announced the best Drupal projects in Europe in 2019 or participate in “Dinner with a stranger” organized by the Dutch Drupal community in a local karaoke bar.

State of Drupal

On Tuesday morning, attendees gathered in a big auditorium to see the first keynote at the conference. Drupal founder, Dries Buytaert held a talk about the State of Drupal. The presentation started by outlining the new features in the upcoming Drupal 8.8 release. This is one of the richest minor Drupal releases feature-wise. Here are some of the highlights of the upcoming Drupal 8.8 release:

  • Media Library module became stable in Core, it adds CKEditor integration

  • New modern looking experimental administration theme (Claro) with better accessibility features

  • Official support for creating Composer-based Drupal projects

  • Experimental support for Automatic updates

  • Improved JSON:API support, JSON:API Explorer, auto-generated documentation, performance improvements

The Drupal 8.8 release was built with various contributions coming from 641 individuals and 243 organizations with MD Systems as always being among the top contributors.

Drupal 8.8 contributors

Contributing organizations to Drupal 8.8 release

As the next major Drupal release (Drupal 9) is going to be released in June 2020, this was a perfect time to start thinking about new initiatives. Dries has proposed 4 tracks as possible directions where the contributions should go:

Track 1 - Do More with Less; The focus is on reducing costs and efforts when using Drupal. Effective tool support allows us to reduce operation costs with better automation. Some of the suggestions were to improve Configuration management, advance Automatic Updates, improve Composer support and better integrate with Symfony components.

Track 2 - Ease of Use; the session presented a Content Management System User Experience study which compares Drupal, Wordpress, SiteCore, Adobe Experience Manager by five criteria. The criteria were Modern/Outdated, Premium/Basic, Empowering/Constraining, Clear/Confusing, Would recommend/Would not recommend. The study shows that beginner users evaluate Drupal as a confusing and not recommendable CMS while the same metric drastically changes with advanced users. In relation to the results of the study, Dries has proposed to prioritize improving the beginners' experience with Drupal. Besides improving the current system, one of the interesting new ideas was to introduce the paid marketplace of themes similar to Wordpress Marketplace. It is important to mention that our company has been focusing on this topic for the past 3 years with many contributions that went into Drupal Core and Paragraphs.

Track 3 - The Open Web; Taking into account that there are 1 in 40 websites on the Internet running with Drupal and 4 billion people joining the Internet in the coming years, the proposed idea of the track 3 was to make Drupal more accessible and interoperable.

Track 4 - The explosion content + data; Improving Drupal to be a better data engine. The ideas covered introducing GraphQL support, Native DAM, Privacy, better content creation experience etc.

Despite Drupal 8 not yet being ready out of the box, our product is removing those barriers already with a modular design, better content creation experience, default accessibility support and structured data. Check out Primer in case you are looking into solutions for building the fastest prototype for your next project.

I spent the rest of the day on visiting sessions I have already outlined before.

Robin held a session about Drupal Commerce - Under the hood. He presented an overview of Drupal Commerce with a focus on its plugins that cover orders, adjustments, prices and gave insights and best practices on how to customize already feature-rich Drupal Commerce. The majority of the presentation was spent with showing useful practical examples and doing the live demo.

The similar presentation was held at Zurich Drupal Meetup October 2019 by Sascha Grossenbacher. If you are interested in this topic checkout his slides too.

Contribution Day

The Contribution day traditionally happens on the closing day of the conference where people meet with a common goal - to contribute. We had two contribution areas: General contribution area where people were working on things they were already familiar with and Mentored contribution area where mentors tried to help newcomers how Drupal.org contribution process works.

On Thursday morning, around 30 mentors showed up at the beginning of the Contribution day. We split up into several roles with people volunteering at the booth, greeting newcomers and letting mentors introduce them with the tools and processes.

Together with Kevin Wenger from the Swiss Drupal community, I mentored around 10 people during the whole day. In the beginning, we spent time getting everybody’s local environments ready and afterwards started the real work. Our work consisted of multiple phases that are part of the Drupal contribution process. We started with the issue triage in order to pick up the most appropriate issue for our mentees which guaranteed a good start. The first thing was to discuss the issue, describe the problem and outline our goals. We used the pair programming technique to kick off the implementation phase. The process covered patch creation, understanding the issue metadata options and describing the next steps. That resulted in the express fixing of the core issue Fix usage of unsupported !title placeholder in Translation.php we were working on.

As an outcome, 115 people received a credit on their Drupal.org profiles because they decided to spend hours working with mentors on their first contributions! The contribution day took a lot of energy but since we had more than 300 people in total contributing to various areas, it was well worth it!

All in all, DrupalCon Amsterdam fulfilled my expectations which were set high since last year’s Drupal Europe. The DrupalAssociation has already confirmed DrupalCon will happen in Europe in 2020 while the host city will be announced later.

I hope you enjoyed reading my report from the conference and look forward to seeing you in the next Drupal event!