WordPress and Drupal: Why We Went to DrupalCon

If you’re following us on Twitter(🐦thewpvalet), you know that last month, we attended DrupalCon 2016 in sweet New Orleans, LA. For five wonderful days, Mason and Kim got together with great people to learn about the Drupal content management system.They explored the latest in Drupal developments. It’s important for us to keep a pulse on the advancements of the technology in this realm and incorporate new ideas for making our products fit our clients’ needs.

The conference was massive—much larger than WordCamp US back in December, especially in terms of audience and number of sponsors. Videos were available online nearly instantly after each talk completed. Conference organizers leveraged YouTube, making content extremely accessible to most folks.

Exciting Releases in the Drupal World

Drupal is an open source software led by Dries Buytaert.  His opening talk “Driesnote” is similar to Matt Mullenweg’s “State of the Word” each year.

One of the key tenets of Drupal’s ongoing success (according to Dries) is its commitment to reinventing itself—it’s eager to abandon out-dated tech in favor of a newer and better approaches and function. This is one of the most obvious differences between the value systems of Drupal and WordPress.

Drupal 8 launched November 19th, 2015! (This release represents 4.5 yrs of work, with over 3,300 contributors.) Then shortly afterwards, Drupal 8.1 launched on time on April 20, 2016. (A new release is scheduled every 6 months). Some exciting improvements in Drupal 8.1 are:

  • It’s more extensible
  • Multilingual is built-in
  • Caching for authenticated users

Drupal does an annual survey (similar to the annual WordPress survey). Some interesting key stats in the survey were:

  • 2,900 people answered the survey
  • 75% of respondents are non-coders (46% content authors & 29% site builders)
  • These non-coders feel they should be considered when making product decisions

The Drupal Vision

The vision of Drupal is to build the leading platform to assemble the world’s best digital experiences. Core proposed initiatives for development to achieve this are:

  • Media Management
  • Editorial Workflow
  • Migration
  • Blocks & Layout
  • Data Modeling Tools
  • API-First and Theme Components

DrupalCon conference attendees include mostly agency and developers who love Drupal. Whereas WordCamps are local events, aimed to educate end users, DrupalCon is a gathering of an existing fanbase.

What Concerns Do Agencies Have about Drupal?

A few Drupal agencies are concerned about the ‘commoditization’ of Drupal extensions.  They are worried that a race to the lowest price will make sustainable business a new challenge.  Many within the group of Drupal focused agencies see WordPress theme/plugin development shops as folks who have already overcome this challenge successfully.

Why the Heck Were We There?

But isn’t Valet a WordPress agency? Yes, for sure. However, the Drupal community is interested in other agencies who are building cross functional systems. This gets us wondering where WordPress and Drupal will meet up as they both progress. At DrupalCon, we spoke to many folks who were interested in what we use outside of WordPress, or in conjunction with it. It seems like we’re bound to share some space eventually, despite the seeming distance between the communities right now.

Open Web. We sat in on a specific sessions called “Lessons from WordPress Core” with Steve Persch & Andrew Taylor.  It was great to see how Drupal is looking to learn from WordPress and should push the WordPress community to reciprocate.

There was an interesting comparison (and debate about) Acquia and Auttomatic.

What’s to Come

There was a developer for Drupal who mentioned he would be speaking at WordCamp EU. It looks like we’re naturally becoming more familiar with each other’s ecosystem.

DrupalCon was interesting. We felt it was relaxed but very ‘work’ focused. Overall, DrupalCon showed us that Drupal is still rapidly evolving, and it will continue crossing into WordPress areas in the future. It was a thought-provoking conference for us, and we’d recommend it!

WordPress and Drupal DrupalCon