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

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