Today, my friends, we’re going to Change the World...
Rachel Lawson presented day three’s keynote. It was a really good session as it showed how everyone who attended, has contributed in some way to Drupal, as well as how “Drupal changes the world”. It started by “Meeting Sami”, a 10-year-old boy from Mosul, Iraq, who was captured (along with his brother) by ISIS. He was held captive for three and a half years, after which he was sent to a refugee camp. While in the camp, it was the Warchild charity that provided support, activities, education, and most importantly, ended up reuniting Sami and his brother with his family.
Now, you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with Drupal? I know, I also did, but it became apparent that Warchild recently switched to using Drupal, making use of several modules. Rachel asked the audience to stand up, if they had made a contribution to modules used by Warchild, including paragraph and media. Almost half the room did, but I didn’t. She then went on to ask about other contributions that people in the audience had made. This time, it related to anything from documentation, to hosting meetups, and even attending camps.
By the end of the session, everyone in the room was standing, including me. It felt good to know that I had contributed in some way. During the question and answer session, the issue of becoming a member of the Drupal Association was raised, as well as the importance of doing so. Membership empowers the Drupal community to be able to do more things that are requested by users, which in turn makes a transformational difference.
“If you don’t push yourself and just go with things, then you’ll never get the amazing things.” - Rachel Lawson
Drupal 9: Decoupled by design?
Both Preston So and Lauri Eskola gave a session on decoupling Drupal, as well as the direction in which it is going. Anyone who has been working with Drupal should know that the idea of decoupling Drupal has been around for some time. Among the reasons for doing this, is that developers are free to choose any technology they want for the frontend. It’s clear that Drupal 9 will continue to use Twig, but with support client-side rendering with an API first approach. Another point was that editors prefer the non-decoupled approach, which raises the questions, “Who is requesting this? Is it the clients or developers?”
The future of Drupal in numbers
One of the most interesting and debatable sessions I attended was presented by Nemanja Drobnjak. Similar to the first keynote session, this session was about comparing Drupal from 18 months ago, with its current state. This presentation could have been perceived as very pessimistic, especially when seeing the numbers compared to other major CMS’s like WordPress. He also referred to the compare PHP frameworks blog.
All the data in the presentation had clearly been researched, so it was rather shocking to hear Nemanja predict that Drupal could go out of use within 15 years if the current trends continue. A few suggestions to prevent this were made. From improving documentation to Drupal directly targeting the education sector. This session drew a lot of questions. Firstly, “Why compare Drupal to Wordpress?”. I agree completely. It's about who is using it and benefiting from it. It reminded me of the blog post I read in which Vue.js passed React.js in the number of people who have 'starred' it on Github. Basically, it doesn’t mean that React is dying and Vue is now the norm. Both have different purposes and uses, just like, for example, Drupal and Wordpress.
Another question raised was, with Decoupled sites becoming more popular, “Can a crawler detect the backend?”. Maybe the data wasn't 100% correct.
An update on Drupal 8.6
The day four keynote session was presented by Gábor Hojtsy, who gave a short speech about the upcoming Drupal update. He then moved onto how we could help with several initiatives, both at Drupal Dev Days and in general, including helping with Admin UI and documentation.
Contribute, contribute, contribute! Yes!!!
Having put my Windows issues on the back burner, it was time to get the admin UI demo to work. I went over to the Admin UI innovation table where I met Lauri Eskola, Daniel Wehner, and Volker Killesreiter, all of whom helped me try to get the site working. Turns out it was because of an outdated module, so I updated the module, created a pull request and boom, my first ever contribution to Drupal was made. I then spent the rest of the day looking at the code and getting to grips with how it worked.
I was then assigned my first issue, which took some time to complete as I was still getting used to the code base. But nonetheless, I was able to fix the issue and contribute some more to the initiative. I really like how everything is broken into small issues, meaning that a single person isn't completing a large issue by themselves. It is clear that Drupal can only be maintained if people contribute back to the project and/or community.
It is never too late to contribute! Even though Drupal has been around for almost 20 years, it still relies heavily on people to contribute and come up with innovative ideas. If you are looking to contribute, but don’t know how I can suggest you take a look at the Drupal development and strategic initiatives.
Having heard the word “contribute” several times, it would have been great to hear someone repeatedly say the word, as Steve Balmer did - "developers".
Quo Vadis, Free Software?
The final keynote session, by Rui Seabra, was about free software. He shared thoughts on how we should have the freedom to run software as we wish, make changes to the software to make it fit for your purpose, and distribute both the original and modified version. It was clear that as users of so-called “free software”, we have a misconception about what we think is free. Rui also went on to talk about how we can help protect the internet, especially from the EU’s copyright directive. I did find the joke about the “[fill in] sucks” reference to Windows, very amusing.
Free software is everywhere, and people are forgetting that the freedom of sharing is a quintessential part of the evolution and moving forward together. “If we didn't share we wouldn't have knowledge, technology, and hardware we use today.” - Rui Seabra
Progressive decoupling - the why and the how
The final session I attended was my colleague Blazej Owczarczyk’s talk, where he explained everything about progressive decoupling. One of his key points was that you should only decouple where it makes sense. Blazej showed some cool and interesting new features available in EcmaScript 6/7. We also learnt about the new await/async function in EcmaScript 8, which I found to very cool and cannot wait to start using. It was then time to move on and discuss how we could use these new features in our current Drupal sites.
By installing dependencies, defining a dynamic library and running a web server, you are able to create a decoupled environment for any technology of your choice. Two things I really liked about the session was 1) Blazej asking the audience to tweet a thanks to our very own Philipp Melab for the GraphQL module, and 2) the bonus question, which resulted in more questions from the audience. Way to go Blazej, we’re very proud of you here at Amazee Labs.
The rest of the day I spent contributing more to the Admin UI initiative.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank:
Ruben Teijeiro for being so helpful throughout the week and introducing me to several people.
Christophe Jossart for not only helping me with my installation issue but for being great company and showing me around Lisbon.
Lauri Eskola, Daniel Wehner, and Volker Killesreiter for the introduction to Admin UI, which helped me find the issue as to why I couldn’t set up the site on my machine and finally allowing me to help contribute to the great initiative.
Finally, to all the sponsors, speakers, organiser, and volunteers, a huge thank you for a spectacular week, great evening social events, and for making my first ever Dev Days an amazing one. I hope to see you all at the next one.