Drupal, We Need To Talk

Update 21 April: I've published a followup post with details of the BoF to be held at DrupalCon Baltimore on Tuesday 25 April. I hope to see you there so we can continue the conversation.

Drupal has a problem. No, not that problem.

We live in a post peak Drupal world. Drupal peaked some time during the Drupal 8 development cycle. I’ve had conversations with quite a few people who feel that we’ve lost momentum. DrupalCon attendances peaked in 2014, Google search impressions haven’t returned to their 2009 level, core downloads have trended down since 2015. We need to accept this and talk about what it means for the future of Drupal.

Technically Drupal 8 is impressive. Unfortunately the uptake has been very slow. A factor in this slow uptake is that from a developer's perspective, Drupal 8 is a new application. The upgrade path from Drupal 7 to 8 is another factor.

In the five years Drupal 8 was being developed there was a fundamental shift in software architecture. During this time we witnessed the rise of microservices. Drupal is a monolithic application that tries to do everything. Don't worry this isn't trying to rekindle the smallcore debate from last decade.

Today it is more common to see an application that is built using a handful of Laravel micro services, a couple of golang services and one built with nodejs. These applications often have multiple frontends; web (react, vuejs etc), mobile apps and an API. This is more effort to build out, but it likely to be less effort maintaining it long term.

I have heard so many excuses for why Drupal 8 adoption is so slow. After a year I think it is safe to say the community is in denial. Drupal 8 won't be as popular as D7.

Why isn't this being talked about publicly? Is it because there is a commercial interest in perpetuating the myth? Are the businesses built on offering Drupal services worried about scaring away customers? Adobe, Sitecore and others would point to such blog posts to attack Drupal. Sure, admitting we have a problem could cause some short term pain. But if we don't have the conversation we will go the way of Joomla; an irrelevant product that continues its slow decline.

Drupal needs to decide what is its future. The community is full of smart people, we should be talking about the future. This needs to be a public conversation, not something that is discussed in small groups in dark corners.

I don't think we will ever see Drupal become a collection of microservices, but I do think we need to become more modular. It is time for Drupal to pivot. I think we need to cut features and decouple the components. I think it is time for us to get back to our roots, but modernise at the same time.

Drupal has always been a content management system. It does not need to be a content delivery system. This goes beyond "Decoupled (Headless) Drupal". Drupal should become a "content hub" with pluggable workflows for creating and managing that content.

We should adopt the unix approach, do one thing and do it well. This approach would allow Drupal to be "just another service" that compliments the application.

What do you think is needed to arrest the decline of Drupal? What should Drupal 9 look like? Let's have the conversation.

Drupal developers abandoned small site builders

Martin Williams wrote:

I got into building sites with CMS some years ago, after pub discussion with guy whose business revolved around such things. He'd mentioned Drupal; but I looked at info, found it complex. I built with Mambo; then to Joomla; felt Joomla developers were a bit up themselves, not into helping things like search engine friendliness...

And then, to Drupal; seemed to me on the right track. I think started w Drupal 5.

Certainly I used Drupal 6; went through the pain/hassle of these changes between cms as naively believed the hype about being for users like me [non-coders wanting to build sites] and about advances towards being more user friendly.

Took a while, but I moved to Drupal 7 [was it really an "upgrade" for me? - not really]. Some things stopped working; took trouble to get photo galleries, say, about functioning.

And now this situation.

Seems to me Dries and co just have their heads in the clouds; maybe blinded by the funding, the appeal to enterprises. And with this, the hell with small users; Drupal as "drop" just forgotten/abandoned.

So feel angry, betrayed; surely there are others who feel likewise. Non developers, with sites that might function, but where to go?

Wordpress migration of course tempting; but not simple at all it appears.

I look at Backdrop; seems a great idea, very worthy, but maybe not enough "sex appeal" to draw many developers ... yet [?] But looks the place I might head

And Drupal 8 can head off into the clouds; and Drupal into history... [and, perhaps, enterprise "space"]

- while something else that occurs to me: Drupal 9 as something that can be reached from 8, but also from D7 without having to pass thro D8.

Added Sun, 2017-07-09 15:14


Maia Asher wrote:

Great article …Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.

Added Sat, 2017-08-05 08:27

Without a polished voice of documentation, Death to D8

Anonymous wrote:

Jeffery F'n Way.

That right there should be enough to get the point across, but i'll elaborate...

OSTraining is okay, but it's a bit like being talked to as if you were a child.

Drupalize.me has the worst intro music that haunts me at night, and their teachers are way to academic, basically reading a written document out loud. There is very little in the way of simple, yet applicable demonstrations to help the average php programmer get their head around the use case of X topic. I'd also add a level of immaturity in the delivery of the content with poorly placed jokes etc.

I think Drupal's "voices," as it were, will never be able to compete against the mature, helpful, sympathetic voices that really make adoption so easy, and in some cases refreshing.

Added Tue, 2017-08-22 07:13

I've been using Drupal for

DarrenC wrote:

I've been using Drupal for around 10 or so years. While most of my work with it has involved theming, I've recently been building a few custom modules for use on Drupal 7 sites.

While I have had a bit of a play around with Drupal 8 (and hadn't been all that impressed with it), I decided to give it another go.

From a theming perspective, I was able to build a workable theme without too much drama, despite having no previous experience with Twig. Examples were quite easy to find (thankfully).

I decided to rewrite one of my custom Drupal 7 modules for Drupal 8. It wasn't an overly complex module, but one that requires a config page and user permissions.

I was astounded by how much more code I had to write - and how many more files were involved - just to get the Drupal 8 version of the module to do exactly the same thing.

From my perspective, it doesn't make sense to make something more complex - or more involved - than it should be.

I understand completely that Dries (or more precisely, Acquia) want to head in a slightly different direction with Drupal.

But the danger is that they will kill off the community that helped make Drupal what it is today (well, at least going back to Drupal 7).

So, do I continue to use Drupal 7? Do I use Drupal 8? Do I look at using Backdrop (which has a few issues and no real support)? Heaven forbid, should I look at using WordPress?

Perhaps, I should leave it up to Acquia, who, nearly two years after Drupal 8 was released, are still using Drupal 7 for their main website.

That should say it all.

Added Thu, 2017-09-07 02:03

Existing base

Wicked wrote:

I've been holding off on going all in on D8 as a Site-builder/themer because after building websites for 15 years, I don't have the patience anymore to get stuck on the most basic of bugs. I have 6 years of D7 experience yet I waited more then a year ... but last week I finally made my first, very simple, bi-lingual website in D8 ... and I just realized I'm going to need to switch job directions after having been a Drupaler for 6 years.

D8 isn't even close to production ready IMO. Half the modules are either missing or lack half their D7 version functionality. It is mind-blowing really. I realize it's open-source and someone has to fix these things willingly in their spare time but since a lot of these bugs are quite trivial for developers to fix, all I can extract from this is that they have lost a very large part of the developer-base.

Added Mon, 2017-09-11 01:37

There is more than one

Les Avis Sur CrazyBulk wrote:

There is more than one reason: each time you upgrade drupal is almost like doing a new site, so no reason to upgrade until you have to. Modules need help to update and people do not help. I maitains some modules and i have about no help in updating they do drupal 8, and many modules still do not have a usable drupal 8 version, and some of then make a bad decision: lets make everything hyper oo and new padrons. Result? See linkchecker and backup_migrade. No drupal 8 version or very simple with almost everything missing. They could just make a drupal 8 version that works and after this make a new version that is better. My personal site is drupal 8 but i really think in comming back to drupal 7. As people said, drupal 8 is 100% big enterprise update and 0% simple user.

Added Thu, 2017-09-21 19:49

For me the problem is vers. 8

Matteo wrote:

I'm not a programmer, but I love Drupal 7 and made made many website using it. I don't know how to write a module, but I've always been able to find the right one for my needs. Consequently, my point of view is the one of an administrator-user, not the one of a developer.

Last time I tried to use Drupal 8 was July 2017, and after few days of frustration I had to go back to version 7. Even the most basic modules, like Panels, are still full of bugs or with limited functionalities, making the configuration a pain.

For me the reason of the decline is that I have to choose between a great software, that is now considered outdated, and a new updated one, that after few years still looks like a bugged beta version to me. :-(

Added Mon, 2017-09-25 02:08

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