Acquia’s Drupal Acceleration Team

  • 7 minute read

Who we are and what we do

Acquia’s largest and most senior engineering team is dedicated full time to Drupal contribution. It’s not a new team. Formerly known as Dries’ Office of the CTO (OCTO), the Drupal Acceleration Team (DAT) has a mission to:

  • Grow Drupal adoption by supporting Drupal Core and Strategic Initiatives
  • Represent Drupal community interests within Acquia

We’re a team of Drupalists. As of today, these are DAT’s members and their tenure:

Alex Bronstein, Wim Leers, Gábor Hojtsy, Jess (xjm), Adam Hoenich, Tim Plunkett, Ted Bowman, Lauri Eskola, Adam Balsam, Zoltán Horvath, Travis Carden, Ben Mullins, Matthew Grasmick, Théodore Biadala, Narendra Singh, Kunal Sachdev, Omkar Podey, Srishti Bankar, Yash Rode, Harumi Jang, Theresa Grannum

Every initiative, upgrade, and release we've contributed to was a community effort. In this post, we'll describe the work that we've intentionally supported with significant investment.

Prior to Drupal 8.0.0

We supported Drupal 7 maintenance and Drupal 8 feature development

OCTO's earliest missions beginning in 2011 were to "scale Dries". This included work on Drupal community leadership, Drupal 7's initial maintenance after 7.0, helping contributed modules upgrade from Drupal 6 to 7, product strategy for Drupal 8, and contribution process improvements like the Drupal core gates. We helped Dries review and commit Drupal 8 patches and provided support for the Drupal 8 strategic initiatives. We even collaborated with the Drupal Security Team to develop the Wednesday security release schedule that is still used today. 

In early 2012, OCTO also began work on the Large-Scale Drupal program to help meet the scalability and functionality needs of enterprise sites through research, knowledge-sharing, and core and contributed ecosystem improvements. 

Later in 2012, numerous team members were hired to work on the Spark Initiative to improve Drupal's administrative user experience. Spark created many of the user interface elements that are still essential to Drupal core today, including the responsive core toolbar and administration menu, underlying support for responsive page layouts, core WYSIWYG editor support with integration for CKEditor, and embedded image uploads. The initiative also significantly improved the usability and accessibility of the administrative user interfaces that already existed at the time.

We helped get Drupal 8 done

In 2013 and 2014, the team collaborated with the community on process and governance improvements to make Drupal core development more sustainable. We led research and community consensus-building in many areas:

  1. To wrap up Drupal 8 feature development
  2. To define requirements for the Drupal 8 beta phase
  3. To create a scheduled, semantically versioned release cycle
  4. To expand the core governance with additional committer roles, enabling fast, reliable progress

We also organized community efforts to address beta-blocking Drupal 8 issues, and assisted the Drupal Association with improvements to Drupal.org contribution like the contribution crediting system.

In 2015, getting Drupal 8 released became the single most important step for Drupal's long-term health, so we began to work more directly on critical issues blocking Drupal 8's release (alongside hundreds of volunteers and grant recipients in the Drupal 8 Accelerate program). We organized and sponsored work to help with the Drupal 8 upgrade process, including work on the Drupal Module Upgrader, sponsorship of the Migrate Initiative, and porting the most-used contributed modules to Drupal 8. Finally, immediately after Drupal 8's release, we began work with the core committers to define the requirements for the continuous upgrade path that made Drupal 7 to 8 the last-ever difficult core upgrade.

Post-Drupal 8

We contributed to key initiatives to bring Drupal new capabilities

After Drupal 8.0.0, we resumed our focus on strategic feature improvements for Drupal core. Starting in Drupal 8.1, we helped release an experimental version of BigPipe and continued to support work on Migrate. We invested heavily in Settings Tray and improvements to the REST API during 8.2 development. 8.3 and 8.4 saw the groundwork for future features with Layout Discovery (based on the contrib Layout Plugin module) and Media (based on the contrib Media Entity module). Building on that, Layout Builder was introduced in 8.5 and Media Library in 8.6. 8.5 and 8.6 also introduced extended security coverage for minor releases. JSON:API was introduced in 8.7.

Graph of Historic Drupal Acceleration Team Allocations

 

We contributed to making Drupal 9 and 10

We also help ensure that Drupal’s dependencies are up to date and that an upgrade path exists between minor and major releases. We created and continue to maintain Upgrade Status, a user interface to check environment and Drupal site readiness for the next major version. We also worked with the Drupal Association and Palantir.net to create the Project Update Bot that saves a lot of work for drupal.org project owners to upgrade from major version to major version. In collaboration with the Drupal Association, we also created the Deprecation Status Dashboard, which surfaces ecosystem data about project upgrade readiness.

We have spent countless hours helping to keep Drupal 9 and Drupal 10 on track. That includes a lot of necessary but sometimes uninspiring work like deprecating and removing code, porting JS components that rely on jQuery, and upgrading third-party dependencies like Symfony, Diactoros, Guzzle, and CKEditor.

Of course, we did not do it alone. Thanks to the sustained efforts of the community, these initiatives are largely complete. Claro was completed just this month! See Gábor’s (DAT’s Community Manager) post: Epic story of the last week of how Drupal's frontend and backend look changed after 11 years at DrupalCon Portland.

What’s next?

Automatic Updates and Project Browser. We’re embracing the new vision of making Drupal for Ambitious Site Builders.

Special thanks to Matthew Grasmick for planning this post, Jess (xjm) for help with writing this blog and gathering historical allocations and Angie Byron (webchick) for her blog post on her time at Acquia and what we accomplished during it.