Big Changes Ahead for Drupal

May 15, 2024| by Dan Moriarty

Our team recently attended (and once again sponsored!) the DrupalCon North America conference in Portland, OR. 

Electric Citizen booth at DrupalCon 2024

This annual conference brings together the Drupal community, from the agencies who provide Drupal services to the industry clients who rely on it, along with contributors and open-source enthusiasts from around the world.

From my perspective on the exhibitors floor, working the booth, I don’t see as many of the great individual sessions that I have in past years. But I did leave with some important takeaways from this year’s event, especially around some upcoming changes for Drupal. 

A new Drupal version is coming?
image of Dries Buytaert giving the DrupalCon keynote 2024

The annual DriesNote, given by Drupal founder Dries Buytaert, typically focuses on the big picture and where Drupal is (or should be) heading. And this year was no different!

The big idea introduced this year is something called Drupal Starshot. With language and imagery drawn from the space race of the 1960s, this important new initiative is a call to action to the whole Drupal community to make Drupal easier to use.

In order to encourage rapid development and innovation, this is a call not just for improvements, but a whole new version of Drupal!

Introducing Drupal CMS
Dark red Drupal Starshot sticker with yellow type and outline of spacecraft

The concept behind Starshot is to build a much more user-friendly version of Drupal–one that comes pre-installed with everything an editor would need to start building a great website right “out of the box”, without a need for much technical expertise.

One of the great strengths of Drupal has always been its flexibility and power to build anything you need. But with this flexibility and power comes a difficult learning curve for someone new to the CMS. 

Research has shown that the more users learn about how Drupal works, the better they like it. User satisfaction actually increases the more people use Drupal! This is the opposite experience for almost every other CMS, where the more people learn how to use it, the less they like it or struggle with its limitations.

What that tells us is that Drupal is still a great solution that people love. But we need to make it easier for new users to start adopting Drupal. And that is what this initiative aims to do. 

One concept is to call this new build “Drupal CMS”, and pitch it as the best solution for most users. The installation of Drupal we use today would be renamed as “Drupal Core”–maintaining all of its power and flexibility, but marketed more towards advanced users who need more customization and complexity.

User-Friendly Tools

The new "Drupal CMS" would come preinstalled and preconfigured with some of the latest and greatest new features available. Here are some of the highlights.

Project Browser – Discover and install modules (plug-ins) directly in your website and web browser. Explore and extend what your site can do, with no technical expertise required.

Automatic Updates – Keep Drupal up-to-date by running updates directly from your website and web browser. This currently is only offered on the “core” Drupal installation (e.g. 10.2 to 10.3), but will eventually be extended to modules and (hopefully) integrated with version control systems such as Git.

Recipes – these will be publicly available, preconfigured features and setups for your Drupal site. Instead of having to know how to put together a news section or ecommerce offering (for example), users will be able to find and install a “recipe” that will do all of the installing and configuration for you.

Experience Builder – this is a new tool (in development) for managing page layout, featuring a visual interface that lets non-technical users design and layout site pages, dropping in various preconfigured components (e.g. image gallery, webform) and rearranging page elements with a drag and drop interface. This will combine features from the core (already existing) Layout Builder, as well as great features of the Paragraphs module.

When Is This Coming?
abstract spiral representing time overlaid a backdrop of outer space

You can view the live countdown online, it’s less than 1 year from today. Some of the key components to a new DrupalCMS are officially available now or will be in the very near future (such as Recipes, Project Browser, Automatic Updates). Others have a longer time, such as Experience Builder (2025).

Because this is a brand new initiative, Drupal CMS won’t be available for some time. But the hope is to model our efforts and urgency from the time of the (first) space race – work fast, innovate fast, and get it launched! 

Contributors are welcome too (this is open-source after all). Everyone is invited to "make their pledge" to help this become a reality–from designers and marketers to developers and writers.

New Drupal Branding
sample of new Drupal brand colors

While Starshot and all these great new initiatives are the main story, it’s worth mentioning that Drupal got a brand refresh too!

While the logo has stayed the same, the rebranding introduces several new changes, all with the goal of making Drupal more inviting, modern and accessible. 

The color palette now includes warm and vibrant accent colors, going beyond the traditional Drupal blue. A custom font (ZT Gatha) was designed and paired with a secondary font from Google (Nota Sans). And a series of new design elements, patterns, and other components were released for creating new messaging and marketing around Drupal.

It looks fresh! If you are able, watch the promo video below to get a better idea of what’s included.

photo of Dan Moriarty wearing a dark blue dress shirt

About the Author:

Dan has been serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as a UX designer, developer and online strategist since 2000. More about Dan »