My DrupalCon Pittsburgh Reflection

DrupalCon Pittsburgh 2023 served as a powerful reminder of the vibrant Drupal community and its enduring spirit. I attended DrupalCon in Portland in 2022 and it felt like we were just coming out of a global pandemic. Pittsburgh felt much more normal for a DrupalCon and it was amazing to see all the people back at the conference, out and about in the exhibit hall, and enjoying all the brilliant content and events the con had to offer. This year’s DrupalCon captured the essence of previous (pre-pandemic) cons, bringing a sense of familiarity and excitement. It was clear that the spirit of innovation and the power of community was back and better than ever. Join me as we dive into the highlights of DrupalCon Pittsburgh including the Driesnote, a few Acquia presentations, the keynote session by Dr. Safiya Noble, and finally the announcement regarding Drupal 7.

Insights from the Driesnote:

If you’ve seen Dries speak at DrupalCon (or via the recordings after) you know you can always count on him to deliver a sweeping update of the state of Drupal. This year was no different with much of the focus being on innovation happening in and around the community. This keynote also hallmarked the new “Pitch-Burgh initiative” that offered real funding opportunities to Drupal community members who had ideas of how to drive innovation. Thirty-five proposals were submitted and ultimately seven got funded! You can read more about the Driesnote and funded initiatives in Dries’ State of Drupal (2023 edition) blog post on his site. I’m particularly excited that AmyJune’s “Contributing and Mentoring the Mentor” got funded (it was the final one to make the cut due to some in room heroics to add additional funding to the pool) because we need every opportunity to support and grow our community (and this program should really help with that).

Unleashing Innovation, Awe-inspiring Acquia Presentations:

Throughout DrupalCon, Acquia was represented in a number of talks (at all levels including our booth, lightning talks, sessions, and keynotes). Below were a few intriguing presentations I wanted to share with you.

Tami Pearlstein, Principal Product Marketing Manager at Acquia held an amazing session called, "Drupal isn't the Question; Drupal is the Answer". It revealed remarkable Drupal experiences crafted by Acquia’s passionate customers. She explored the history of Drupal's innovation, celebrating its groundbreaking moments and explored the current innovative projects waiting to be discovered.

Gábor Hojtsy, Principal Community Product Manager at Acquia, along with other Drupal community members Mike Herchel (mherchel), Tiffany Farriss (farriss), and Kristen Pol (Kristen Pol), presented their Initiative Leads keynote. This thought provoking presentation called "How to make big things happen in Drupal” provided their guidance on engaging with Drupal initiatives and provided valuable knowledge that showcased the collaborative nature of the Drupal community, inspiring others to embark on their own Drupal journeys.

Acquia’s Drupal Acceleration Team (DAT) also had a chance to shine in Pittsburgh! Ted Bowman and Adam Globus-Hoenich (phenaproxima) ran a session called "Introducing Automatic Updates in Drupal Core''. This feature is a game-changer for maintaining Drupal sites. The long-awaited feature, coupled with the contributed Automatic Updates Extensions module, promises to simplify site maintenance and enhance security. Automatic Updates has been years in the making and we are closer than ever to seeing this feature added to Drupal! If you haven’t had a chance to experiment with it yet, I wrote a tutorial to help you add it to your code base.

Wim Leers, another member of DAT, talked about, "Drupal's next leap: configuration validation”. This is a breakthrough in configuration management. The ability to validate configuration through APIs opens doors for more reliable administration interfaces and improved configuration management modules. I believe this advancement holds immense promise for the future of Drupal.

Keynote Presentation = My Next Book Read

Dr. Safiya Noble's keynote, "Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism," ended up being one of the best keynotes I’ve seen at a DrupalCon (and I’ve been attending in person since 2012). Her insightful analysis dove into the hidden biases entrenched within digital platforms, revealing their far-reaching societal implications. It was fascinating to learn about the intricate interplay between technology and the dynamics of race, gender, class, and politics. Dr. Noble's call to action struck a chord with me, emphasizing the need to critically examine the narratives propagated by search engines and actively pursue equitable representation. Diversity and inclusion are topics that I already champion in my day-to-day life, but I look forward to picking up Dr. Nobel’s challenge in my own digital presence online (including on my own website). 

Drupal 7's End-of-Life Announcement:

I was in the room where it happened for this one. The Drupal Security Team announced that they would be extending Drupal 7's end-of-life from November 2023 until January 5, 2025. There was literal applause in the room! 

The Security Team warned however that this is the final extension. The current support for D7 is made possible thanks to the Drupal core maintainers, the Drupal Security Team, and organizations and volunteers who contribute. You can donate to support the work of the Drupal Security Team on the Drupal Association’s Security Team Donations page. To learn more about sponsoring Drupal core maintainers and contributors, read xjm's blog post: Why sponsor a core committer?

Personal Experiences:

My favorite thing about going to DrupalCon is always the interactions I get to have with friends and colleagues in a new city. I was fortunate to talk with numerous Acquia customers, partners, and competitors to hear about the exciting things they are working and some of the challenges they are trying to overcome. Even though the conference takes up the vast majority of every day, I still got to explore (and run!) a little bit. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city (and second only to Venice, apparently, in the number of bridges) and I greatly enjoyed getting to explore! I’m also very proud that Acquia donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank for each visitor to our booth–meaning that we gave back to this wonderful community that we all got to experience and exist in for a few days. 

Thank-You DrupalCon Pittsburgh:

DrupalCon Pittsburgh was (per usual) a transformative experience, showcasing the passion for Drupal and the vibrant community that surrounds it. The event highlighted so much innovation, collaboration, and the power of collective efforts. From the insightful presentations to the impactful keynote and Driesnote, the conference was definitely one to remember. While I’ve been to countless DrupalCons, I’m glad I read the DrupalCon Survival Guide for all the tips and tricks to prepare for Pittsburgh. I look forward to possibly seeing you at DrupalCon Lille.


If you’re a marketer, take a second to check out my coworker, Tim Ludwig’s recent article “This Marketer’s First DrupalCon: The Pittsburgh Highlights”.