DrupalCon 2023 took place in mid-October in Lille, France. As usual, it was a dynamic gathering of the Drupal community, bringing together around 1300 participants for a deep dive into the latest trends and innovations in Drupal and web development. Besides hosting a workshop and a BoF (Bird of Feathers) session about our drupal-next-starterkit initiative (more info coming soon), our team of experts – Mario, Joshua, Trond, and Outi, were there to unveil emerging trends in three topics: development, sustainability, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Development Trends: Embracing Drupal’s Ecosystem and New Tools
The DriesNote, the annual Drupal manifesto by the founder of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, was delivered in the form of a fairytale and underscored the strength of Drupal’s ecosystem. It emphasized the platform’s years of refinement and its ability to provide a complete experience, in contrast to other ways of building websites with downsides like rebuilding common things from scratch or the proprietary vendor lock-in issues.
The growing trend of component-based development is integrated into Drupal with the Single Directory Components (SDC) initiative. This development promises to streamline theming and offer greater flexibility in Drupal projects.
Accessibility and Sustainability: Promoting Inclusivity and Environmental Responsibility
Multiple takeaways from the event focused on accessibility and sustainability, underlining the importance of inclusive design and environmentally responsible practices.
Many tools and techniques to help content editors create accessible content were highlighted. The use of A11yFirst, We4Authors Cluster, and Drupal’s Automatic alternative text module enables better content accessibility. However, it was emphasized that AI should complement authors, not replace them.
An observation of Nestlé’s sustainability roadmap showcased the role of technology companies in reducing carbon footprints. The board member of the Finnish Drupal Association, Janne Kalliola from Exove, emphasized the importance of consuming energy wisely and focusing on reducing waste, ultimately contributing to environmental sustainability.
AI on the Horizon: Exploring Artificial Intelligence
AI was a prevalent theme at DrupalCon Lille, with multiple sessions and discussions highlighting its impact on the Drupal community and beyond.
Exploration of AI discussions revealed varying attitudes toward AI’s implementation. Some saw it as a potential productivity booster, while others expressed concerns about its impact on creativity. The integration of AI into various aspects of Drupal, including unit testing with AI Copilot, showcased its versatility.
Amazee.io’s talk about AI search introduced the concept of on-premise Large Language Models (LLMs) to enable AI chatbot-like search functionalities. While the application might seem novel, it highlighted the ease of incorporating AI into Drupal projects.
The trends in development, accessibility, sustainability, and AI demonstrated the Drupal community’s adaptability and commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements. As AI continues to shape the future of Drupal, accessibility and sustainability remain key pillars, ensuring that the web remains inclusive and environmentally responsible. Thank you, DrupalCon Lille 2023 for the great sessions and unforgettable moments!
P.S. This is how packed our session on drupal-next-starterkit was. We will be happy to share the session recording along with more insights on the initiative really soon.