“How hard will it be to upgrade to Drupal 9?” “What's the future of Mautic look like with Acquia?” “What can we do to make Drupal more user-friendly?”
As the Drupal community expands and open source software becomes a larger influence in mainstream business, new questions pop up every day about what’s around the corner. As a member of the Acquia team, I’m always learning about new initiatives and developments happening across the larger Drupal community, but it can be hard to know where to search for a straight answer. Luckily, Drupal’s founder and Acquia CTO, Dries Buytaert, recently hosted an “Ask Me Anything” live Q&A to address what’s next for Drupal and share his hopes for the future of open source.
The Q&A was a great chance to hear what open source developments and customer experience trends people are most interested in, as well as get a firsthand account of just how much Drupal has evolved since its start as a basic web framework. Questions ranged from the scalability and sustainability of open source to how to prepare for the release of Drupal 9 to the correct pronunciation of Buytaert (hint: “Buy-Art”). Hundreds of members of the Drupal community tuned in and participated in the webinar, submitting their questions via Twitter as well as in the live webchat.
Dries heard your questions and here are a few of the top highlights from the webinar on the potential of open source and the evolution of the total digital experience. For the full hour-long conversation, you can always check out our recording as well. Let’s dive in!
What were the main challenges with open source development you had to overcome?
Dries: It all comes down to scaling the project. For example, in 2005, Drupal.org was running on a shared server. There was so much traffic coming to our website that the server literally melted. The challenge was that we needed $3,000 to buy a new server. Well, I didn’t have $3,000, but still needed to find a way to scale our infrastructure.
So, how did you solve it?
Dries: It’s a funny story. I replaced every page on our website with an empty page with a PayPal button that said “Please give us money to buy a new server,” and in just 24 hours we had raised around $10,000! People were so willing to get involved, and I still believe so much in the importance of contributors to keep open source and Drupal sustainable and growing.
Moving forward, our focus is to not only sustain open source projects but to enable them to scale. The biggest problem in growing open source today is enabling enough contributors who give back to the project and make it sustainable and scalable.
As we move toward the release of Drupal 8.8, what are the things that you would argue make Drupal a better platform than WordPress?
Dries: First of all, I think it already is a better platform. But there are ways we can still improve. It comes down to the learnability and usability. The learning curve for Drupal is currently steeper than WordPress, but we’re investing in the platform to make it better to use. We’re investing in easier demos, Layout Builder and making it easier to manage media across the platform.
We are also working to implement more no-code, low-code features. Organizations care about speed, usability and total cost of ownership. They want to be able to drag and drop and create sites quickly.