Drupal Dev Days Burgas 2024 Recap

Daniel Lemon / Jul 9, 2024

Drupal Developer Days Burgas 2024 was a vibrant and engaging conference that gathered over 160 participants for a schedule featuring more than 45 sessions, 4 impactful keynotes, and 8 tracks (2 parallel tracks), coupled with fun and entertaining social activities.

Continue reading for the event recap with summaries of each keynote and some personal highlights from attendees.

People sitting in a seminar, several with hands raised, appearing engaged and attentive.

Photo credit: Daniel Lemon


Attendees were treated to 4 different keynotes, two on Wednesday, one on Thursday, and one on Friday.


  • The opening keynote on Wednesday by Suzanne Dergacheva was about Shaping Tomorrow: Drupal's Blueprint for Innovation.

Suzanne Dergacheva kicked off Drupal Dev Days with a forward-looking keynote on Drupal’s roadmap for innovation. Addressing the many options for creating a digital presence, Suzanne emphasised the importance of Drupal's unique strengths — its "secret sauce" — in staying competitive. She highlighted key initiatives focused on enhancing user experience, improving backend performance, and integrating modern technologies. Drawing from her experience leading Promote Drupal and running Evolving Web, Suzanne shared insights on driving Drupal adoption and innovation. She also underscored the potential of Drupal in the SaaS ecosystem and the critical role of community contributions in shaping Drupal's future, advocating for the open web as a winning formula.

  • Next up, we had Lauri Timmanee and Gábor Hojtsy present Drupal Starshot.

Starshot aims to simplify the process of creating and extending Drupal sites, particularly for site builders with little to no Drupal experience. By leveraging Drupal core, Starshot enables users to build and customise sites using pre-packaged recipes, all within their browser. The session covered the necessary steps to achieve these objectives and detailed how individuals can get involved in the initiative. A lively Q&A segment allowed participants to address specific questions, providing deeper insights into how Drupal Starshot will transform their Drupal projects.

Two presenters in front of a slide titled "What's preventing us from getting there?" discussing Drupal limitations.

Photo credit: Daniel Lemon


  • Thursday opened with Frederik Wouters giving us an insight into AI and Drupal: Build Smarter Systems.

Frederik Wouters’ keynote delved into the transformative potential of AI within Drupal. He showcased some of the most impressive AI modules currently enhancing Drupal’s capabilities, focusing on how these technologies can automate routine tasks and provide intelligent insights and recommendations. Frederik also explained the basics of retrieval augmented generation and its application in Drupal, demonstrating how AI can free up time and resources for organisations to focus on more critical tasks. Additionally, he highlighted real-world applications of AI in content management, personalisation, and user experience, while addressing the ethical considerations and challenges associated with AI. Frederik urged the community to prioritise responsible AI development and deployment, leaving attendees with a new perspective on AI's role in Drupal.

A presenter stands in front of a slide displaying a diagram titled "Embedding AI," explaining the process involving PDF content, chunking, embeddings, vector search, and LLM response.

Photo credit: Daniel Lemon


  • After a very late night on Thursday thanks to the evening’s social event which featured a live band, Friday opened with Stanko Metodiev presenting Open-Source Platform Alliance: Collaboration Across FOSS CMS.

Stanko Metodiev concluded the keynotes with a compelling discussion on the power of community-driven cooperation among open-source CMS platforms. He emphasised the necessity for Drupal, WordPress, and other open-source platforms to collaborate in order to compete with proprietary systems like Wix and Squarespace. Stanko illustrated how collective efforts can expand opportunities and capabilities within these systems, fostering an environment where sharing research and development insights becomes commonplace. He highlighted the benefits of cross-platform innovation, shared resources, and collective growth. His call for unity and cooperation resonated deeply with the audience, pushing the boundaries of what these platforms can achieve and setting a positive tone for future collaborations.

A presenter stands in front of a slide titled "Have we forget the word 'content' in CMS?" listing features like real-time collaboration and AI suggestions.

Photo credit: Joris Vercammen

Social Events

The schedule featured social events each evening, helping participants get to know each other better.

  • Wednesday: Many of us gathered at “HashtagPavilion” for drinks.
  • Thursday: The highlight was an amazing Horo dance lesson right after the last session, where over 60 attendees enjoyed learning two types of Horo dances. Later that evening, we met at “Barabar” for a live music performance.
  • Friday: After the conference ended, we gathered at “Beach Bar Caribe” for drinks, with one of Bulgaria's most famous DJs providing the music for the night.
Attendees in an auditorium standing in a circle being taught a Hora dance.

Photo credit: Daniel Lemon

Attendee Interviews

I had the opportunity to interview a few of the attendees post-conference to get their insights and experiences of the event. I posed the following three questions to each of them:

  1. What was your favourite session at Drupal Dev Days, and what did you learn?
  2. Did you achieve your goals for the event?
  3. What made Drupal Dev Days memorable for you?

Nerea Enrique: CurriedN

  1. I think my favourite session was the one about TypedData - I have used them, but I didn’t dig into how they were built, and I didn’t know how powerful they could be. It gave me ideas on how to use them in the future!
  2. Since my first goal was to give my talk, yes, I achieved my goal! I felt relieved! I was really nervous, because I struggle to express myself, and even more in a “foreign” language. I’m proud that I’ve been able to share a part of my knowledge with everyone.
  3. All the things the organisers did to make the conference different: lunch through Bulgarian specialities, a t-shirt with embroidery representing the country, the dance activity. They made it in a way that we could learn about the culture, and that’s the thing I’m going to remember the most!

Joris Vercammen: borisson_

  1. I didn't really watch a lot of sessions and spent more time in the contribution rooms, but I really liked the Starshot AI BoF, to see what kind of issues people were running into and what things they would want to see in the future being resolved with AI. I really wanted to see more scepticism about AI, specifically regarding copyright, content ownership and ecological impact, but we got to have some discussions about that afterwards.
  2. My goals were trying to find some time to commit things to facets that were RTBC for a long time. I managed to commit 7 issues, so that went quite well. My secondary goal regarding code was working on some configuration validation things in core, and I got to work on 2 issues in that realm, so that went well also.
  3. I'd say mostly the same things that were so nice about other Dev Days; spending time in the sprint room / working with people much smarter and getting information from them on how to work more effectively. In addition, I went swimming in the Black Sea twice before the conference day even started, so that was a special thing as well. I also have to mention the time we spent with the Belgian community for football reasons.

Suzanne Dergacheva: pixelite | evolvingweb

  1. My favourite session was Lauri and Gabor’s session about the goals for the Starshot initiative. It got me really excited about the idea of a 1-click demo like the new WordPress Playground.
  2. I achieved my goals, which were to align marketing and UX teams working on the Starshot initiative.
  3. What made the experience memorable was the great environment. The small university setting, great lunch next door, and all the productive conversations this enables.

James Shields: lostcarpark

  1. I'm going to cheat and mention two. They weren't technical ones, though they were fascinating. First was the session on collaboration across open-source CMS platforms by Stanko Metodiev. I thought it was an interesting discussion on the opportunities for working together between Drupal, WordPress, and other open platforms and the areas we all need to improve against closed platforms like Wix and Squarespace. The second was João Ventura's discussion called "The End of Drupal", where he talked about Drupal's declining market share, and indicators showing that Drupal could be on the way out. But he countered with Drupal's strengths, and concluded Drupal has a bright future. He did warn that Starshot is probably Drupal's last chance to turn the trend around.
  2. Yes, I gave the First Time Contributor Workshop, which was against an AI session, so didn't get huge attendance, but I think everyone got something out of it. I had some great conversations with people during the week, and I got some good contribution work done.
  3. The location was one very memorable aspect. Burgas is an amazing city, and a beautiful backdrop to the event. The evening bar sessions were also fantastic.

Sinduri Guntupalli: sinduri

  1. Quite a few sessions at DDD were highly engaging, but "AI Automation Pipelines using Drupal" by Marcus Johansson particularly stood out to me. The live demo of transforming a YouTube cooking video into a well-formatted recipe directly on a Drupal site showcased the promising future capabilities of AI integration with the Drupal platform. Additionally, I was impressed by Klausi's session on the D7 Security initiative, it's inspiring to see how dedicated Drupal community members are volunteering their time and effort to ensure the security of older Drupal versions.
  2. When attending a Drupal event, my primary focus is to network with diverse community members, expand my knowledge with fresh ideas, and give back to the community I love. At Drupal Developer Days in Burgas, I learned about cutting-edge Drupal advancements, made valuable connections, and actively participated through volunteering. Overall, it was a highly rewarding experience.
  3. Attending Drupal Developer Days offered a wonderful chance to explore Burgas, a city I might have otherwise overlooked, which has now left a lasting impression on me. The event itself was fantastic, featuring informative sessions and amazing social events. One of the highlights was the playful sparring match with Stanko about Drupal vs. WordPress and as always, networking with fellow attendees proved invaluable.

Niklas Franke: HeroicNick

  1. Favourite session - "The end of Drupal? A look at the future". This session highlighted several things within the Drupal realm that might be crucial for the sustainability of Drupal as a web solution. Especially for community members like me, who were introduced to Drupal quite late, the session was a great summary of previous more and less successful endeavours from the community and challenges that Drupal will face today and tomorrow.
  2. Yes, I achieved my goals for the event - hosting my own session and creating awareness for my project/ initiative; connecting with Drupal community members from different countries; listening to several very interesting sessions; and making progress in the contribution room with a couple of projects I am involved in.
  3. The organisation of the event with the good balance of conference and social events was great. Also, since the destination was more exotic than other Drupal Dev Days, it is memorable for me to gather in a city I never thought I would end up visiting.

Valery Lourie: valthebald

  1. AI in Drupal BoF led by James and Marcus. Lots of practical information on how AI can be used with Drupal today. Also, lots of ways to contribute.
  2. The most important goal was to handle a high-level international Drupal event with a meaningful agenda. This goal was fulfilled in my opinion. Of course, there were items where we failed (like attracting more people, Wi-Fi on the first day), but I'm very satisfied with the level of talks that I could experience.
  3. Plenty of things! Firstly, being part of the organisers team. My previous experience in 2017 with a Drupal Camp (40 attendees give or take), but DDD was on another level of complexity (and also satisfaction). Then, the program. Four very different (and good!) keynotes. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to attend other sessions, so I'm impatiently waiting for the videos to be published. Finally, the social events - those were a blast! I sincerely don't understand how people could wake up every morning after partying until 4am.
All attendees posing for a group photo in an indoor atrium with banners for Burgas Free University and Drupal Developer Days.

Photo credit: Joris Vercammen


Drupal Dev Days in Burgas was an extraordinary event that left attendees inspired and motivated. The conference showcased cutting-edge developments in Drupal, offered insightful sessions on various topics, and provided valuable networking opportunities coupled with many contributions back into the open-source framework. Kudos to the organisers for curating a diverse range of content and creating a memorable experience. We’re already looking forward to the next one!