The four big Drupal themes of DrupalCon Portland 2024

Last week was Drupal DrupalCon Portland 2024 and our team was there in big numbers. Acquia had an amazing Dungeons and Dragons themed booth with a moving dragon, capes, a throne and D20 dice to throw to get a chance at winning some swag. It was super well received.

People at the Acquia booth at DrupalCon Portland

With 1400 or so attendees, depending on who you ask about their experience, the answers could be very different. I participated in many things around Drupal's 2024 big themes, so let's get a roundup of those!

New Starshot Initiative announced

Project lead Dries Buytaert announced the new Starshot Initiative that aims to build the new default download of Drupal. A package built on Drupal core, including refined common features from the contributed project ecosystem to create a great user experience out of the box. Starshot is built on top of results from recent initiatives like Recipes, Project Browser, and Automatic Updates to take Drupal to new heights.

The new initiative had a tremendous reception and reinvigorated work on the Recipes initiative ahead of the conference and Project Browser at the conference. Dries held two in-person discussions that any attendee could go to and ask any questions or raise any concerns they had. Lauri Eskola and myself joined the Nonprofit summit to discuss Starshot there too. We've seen similar topics raised across the board and are folding those to the planning process.

Drupal 11 will be released on the week of July 29, 2024

While Starshot focuses on improving the user experience, the underlying platform also keeps improving. There was already an alpha release of Drupal 11.0.0 at the conference and major developer tools Drush, DDEV and DrupalPod were all ready in time to be used on contribution day too. I presented a session to help get attendees ready to Drupal 11 and one of the key messages I included is that nothing is forcing Drupal now to release version 11. It is released by choice to support Drupal 10 longer (until mid-late 2026, when Drupal 12 is released). In other words, Drupal 11 is released now so you can think about it later.

Drupal 7 will be end of life on January 5, 2025, but there is help!

The end of life of Drupal 7 is closing in on us. Acquia open sourced our Acquia: Migrate Accelerate product last year so to get DrupalCon attendees aware Mike Madison of Acquia presented about the significance of this and other community tools you can use to get ready for your upgrade.

Matt Glaman of Acquia as well presented on his open source Retrofit project which is a really exciting compatibility layer option additionally to Migrate Accelerate to bring custom code to work in your updated site, without needing to make all the code updates. also has an extensive resource library to help with your Drupal 7 upgrade.

Drupal has a new brand!

Shawn Perritt of Acquia worked with the Drupal Association to refine the Drupal brand narrative and the visual brand elements. Drupal core itself, as well as DrupalCon and other adjacent brands will gradually be updated to this new brand. Shawn participated in a dedicated session about the brand evolution. I think this looks really great and already used it in our presentation of the initiative leads keynote at DrupalCon.

The conference was buzzing with energy. All of these activities and possibilities were making people excited for the future of Drupal. At the same time, while these will elevate Drupal a great deal, the real magic happens when people build on top of Drupal. The new Drupal 11 with Starshot bringing it to a wider user base, promoted with fresh branding are all coming together to support that. What are you building on top of it?