Accelerating Drupal 8 Adoption
by John Kennedy
Drupal is at a critical point in its history. To justify an upgrade to the now production-ready Drupal 8, the Drupal development community have implicitly asked the 1m+ website owners, developers and authors to trust that Drupal will continue to be their engine of innovation for the next 3–5 years. Historically Drupal has been a Lego box for site builders and developers, enabling complex use-cases via a mature and sophisticated module eco-system. The last major version of Drupal had barely any adoption until 6 months after its release when the module eco-system caught up.
To ensure less lag in D8 adoption and migration, 6 months ago we proposed that Acquia directly fund the porting of 50 important Drupal modules from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. This was heavily influenced by the community initiative kicked off by Angie Byron to track all the important un-ported modules on Drupal.org. (check it out here)
In October, after months of discussion we were able to agree on a plan and we were allocated budget to get started. On Monday we will reach a significant milestone, we will have completed acceleration of over 25 modules, if you would like to know more about the modules and contributors, check out my post on the Acquia Developer Center.
Allocating hundreds of thousands of R&D dollars to the open source community is no easy feat for any software company, but Acquia is committed to the assisting the needs of the community in any way that it can, so we came up with some guidelines for the funding:
- $500k should be directly allocated to external maintainers and expert-level Drupal developers in the community
This would ensure that we would have a group of leaders in the project who could immediately understand the correct D8 approach, quickly turn around a D8 version of a module and un-block the patch-acceptance process by working with their connections in the Drupal community.
- All external contributors would be paid at a community rate to magnify the benefit of the development fund
Generously, all of our contributors, freelancers, agencies and Drupal shops, took this request in their stride. They were happy to work on open source code at a significantly reduced rate toward the vision of D8 WCM feature-completeness.
- All modules being ported should directly impact projects in motion
It is hard to tell which modules will signal maturity to the Drupal community. We wanted to make sure that what we were building was what site-builders needed today and so each module chosen was already a requirement for a current project. This also guaranteed a timely set of user-stories to the development team and real-time feedback on development.
- Internal contributors would need to be allocated research time
Pulling resources from billable teams is a difficult decision, but to ensure Acquia’s ongoing leadership in Drupal development it was important to have contributors from around the organization who would be able to inject Drupal 8 architectural expertise back into Acquia.
In November, after a period of intense searching we were able to pull together a 15 person strong development team to kick the project into gear.
The Drupal 8 Module Acceleration Program, or D8 MAP as it has become known at Acquia, has brought together over 11 companies and freelancers working collaboratively and in their own specialties to bring the best of Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.
With 1,441,793 lines of freshly released code, Drupal 8 is a modern digital experience platform for managing web content and customer experiences with endless potential. We can’t wait to keep unlocking that potential with our additions to the growing Drupal 8 module eco-system.