DrupalCon Pittsburgh Nuggets—with Ketchup
We stare at a giant plate of retrospective DrupalCon 2023 meals and realize that we have only enough ketchup for some of them. Drupal migration projects call, Slack is delivering a storm of pings, and GitHub pull requests need tending. So, we humbly offer you a few nuggets from our time at DrupalCon—the ones that get our blog ketchup, the world’s favorite condiment brought to us by Pittsburgh. (While H. J. Heinz started out making horseradish in the mid-1800s, it was tomato ketchup that catapulted them to fame in 1875.) We hope these chunks give you a feel for the conference, what’s on our minds, and some savory directions you might want to follow.
If you’ve never tasted DrupalCon before, it’s the conference that brings thousands of people together from across the globe who use, develop, and support the Drupal platform. Attendees socialize, participate in educational talks, panels and sprints, and spread the knowledge that makes our community a leading force in open-source content management systems. This year several Kalamuna members attended the event from June 5-8th. Now, onto those nuggets:
Nugget #1: Drupal’s frontend capabilities growing
Bringing the ideas behind Single Directory Components, and Decoupled Layout Builder into Drupal core demonstrate Drupal’s adoption of modernized frontend development practices. In addition, decoupling and running Drupal in headless state is a lot more solid than what it was a couple years ago. Drupal Next, and GraphQL Compose are great examples of empowering frontend applications that leverage data coming from Drupal’s backend. We are very excited about the frontend capabilities coming to Drupal 10 and 11.
Nugget #2: AI + Drupal = excitement
DrupalCon proved that there are innovative AI initiatives within the Drupal community, and we’re excited to see where they go. Kevin Quillen, who built the OpenAI module in Drupal, gave a lightning talk called Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in Drupal 10 with OpenAI and ChatGPT; Between this, our own poking around, and informal talks with colleagues, we got a wider view of AI’s future in Drupal. The OpenAI module also provides an API foundation for OpenAI and ChatGPT to generate textual content, images, content analysis, and more. The module demonstrates what’s possible when integrating artificial intelligence with Drupal to empower site builders, content editors, and even developers. We’re excited to see within the module an opportunity to abstract the AI-layer to support multiple AI models, like Google Cloud AI, Stable Diffusion, etc. This brings us to consider how we can extend our existing innovations in content personalization to leverage AI-enabled content. Good stuff.
Nugget #3: Apply open source philosophy to lots of things
Some of us attended the panel, How to Make Big Things Happen in Drupal by Kristin Pol, Mike Herchel, Tiffany Farriss, and Gabor Hojtsy, and took away the notion that you can open source non-code projects. Not a new idea, but worth repeating. So what does that look like? First, you can open source something before you start it. This means beginning in the open by announcing your idea to stir excitement, and then laying out your plan in hopes that others will get on board. Doing this creates a community around your project and increases the likelihood that whatever you’re doing will become useful for everyone. Projects sometimes halt because of budget or contract changes, or something else. If you open source a project, it won’t die a half-completed death in your private github, blog, woodworking shed, or book club. Other folks may continue the work.
Nugget #4: “Drupal community demonstrates its inclusivity with talks on neurodivergence
DrupalCon offered several fora to learn about and discuss diversity, a sign the community cares about this topic and is open to various perspectives. Fei Lauren began their talk, Neuroinclusivity in Tech - The Hidden Costs of Neglecting Soft Skills, by introducing and defining neurodiversity, moved into strategies for embracing diversity, and closed with take-away resources. A standout thought from the talk: it may seem to a manager that a neurodivergent team member isn’t working out, but with knowledge, compassion, and a willingness to adjust, teams can make accommodations for folks to help them thrive. Fei went into several other topics, but the takeaway here is that these sorts of presentations and panels bode well for the Drupal community’s diversity and appetite for including different kinds of people and their perspectives.
That’s it: our square meal of four nuggets. It was a joy to see so many familiar faces and have so many interesting, thought-provoking conversations with the best in our field. Whether strolling down the conference hallway or flow-charting on cocktail napkins over a beer, we made new connections and fostered some old ones. This DrupalCon, like many before it, left us whirling with new ideas, fresh insights, and a feeling of excitement for what’s to come.