Lessons for WordPress, from Drupalcon

Drupalcon is happening, and Drupal founder Dries Buytaert has made his keynote slides available. They are highly informative and well worth looking through, even without the presentation audio. I'll highlight the big items, but seriously just see the slides, because it's good to peek across the fence (they are also beautiful).

  • Drupal 8 has been in “feature freeze” mode for 1,024 days, and under development for 5 of the 15 years of Drupal's existence. He obviously said this was too long, and is impacting Drupal adoption. However, he anticipates a big uptick with Drupal 8's release, and they've finally scheduled RC1 for October. There are some obvious lessons on release schedules and strategy here, but it made me so incredibly thankful for WordPress's iterative philosophy.
  • With regard to market position, he calls WordPress the elephant in the room, but highlights well versed stats that show Drupal's majority stake (according to Alexa at least) with the world's biggest sites, and WordPress's dominance in the long tail. I think this was largely spin, but okay.
  • He also credit's WordPress's “site builder experience” versus Drupal's “developer experience.”
  • Finally, and I'm not sure if he went over it in the talk, but he talks about how Drupal 7 missed the feature goal for automatic upgrades (equivalent of 1-click WP upgrades, much less auto-distribution of minor releases) and in my opinion that also has a huge amount to do with WordPress's dominance.
  • He states the need for Drupal to be more user focused, and to accomplish this task by doing more planning and user tests, followed by code.
  • Overall, he's not worried about Drupal's position, highlighting the amount of the web that's still not on a CMS, and showing the pattern of adoption for Drupal 6 and 7 and how Drupal 8 should follow that growth on the same release timeline.
  • He brought up the popularity of client side frameworks like React and Angular. He says Drupal 8 is prepared to be a good middle man where these frameworks can aid the CMS, not replace it. Of course, nothing prevents WordPress from the same, but he makes good points, and gets marketing cred for calling it “progressive decoupling.”
  • He says some improvements are needed for the developer experience with regard to Drupal's REST efforts, and he says GraphQL + Drupal 8 will be really beneficial. I need someone smarter than me to explain GraphQL.

It was a good presentation, and it seems Drupal 8 really is finally around the corner. I think Drupal is a little bit in la la land still saying WordPress is for small stuff and Drupal is for big stuff but whatevs.