It’s back! CTI meets Prague for DrupalCon 2022 – the world’s second-largest annual gathering of Drupal experts and enthusiasts. For some, it was great to return to the perfect place to share expertise, create solutions and build relationships. For others, it was a first leap into an event which offers a fantastic opportunity to connect with members of the community whilst gaining knowledge from experts.

CTI attend DrupalCon Prague 2022

Paul Johnson, our Drupal Director, who attended the event gave us an in depth insight into his return to a much loved Drupal event:

“DrupalCon Europe is the annual conference where members of the Drupal community meet, exchange knowledge and of course have fun. Whilst this was my 15th in person DrupalCon, and the event is always a highlight of the year, this was extra special. The sense of relief that we could all once again gather to share knowledge, collaborate and contribute was clear to see by the expressions on everyone’s faces. It was wonderful.

By contrast Joz, Paul and Rob were experiencing the conference for the first time and it was a delight to introduce them to the event. Read on to learn more about what they discovered.

CTI attend DrupalCon Prague 2022

Photo by Paul Johnson

I never miss the #DriesNote, it was an early highlight.

The influence it has on the direction of the project cannot be overstated.  As the years pass I’ve noticed how Dries Buytaert, Drupal’s founder, has paid ever increasing attention to his keynote. And with the passing of time Buytaert’s appreciation of the impact Drupal and open source has in the real world has grown. The decisions he and the project make affect the lives of millions of internet users every day.

This time Dries Buytaert chose to speak on how we have significant responsibility as an Open Source Project to pave the way in developing a framework which underpins The Open Web, in direct contrast to the likes of social media platforms,  valuing privacy and an individuals’ data ownership.

As an agency we choose Drupal in part due to the long term investment in digital inclusion and accessibility, security and privacy. With many clients across the public sector and government these facets are crucial.

Buytaert’s call to redouble efforts in this arena, a continuation of his personal commitment to an Open Web, is reassuring and will be an area we actively participate in.

Through Dries’ leadership Drupal has always benefitted from a long term vision. Evident through unfaltering commitment to security and accessibility, Drupal is a natural choice for organisations and institutions where these attributes are imperative. As concerns around privacy rise, Drupal will become more and more of interest.

Buytaert emphasised how Drupal’s decision to deliver headless capabilities, ahead of the curve, has resulted in it being a common choice for Composable Architectures harnessing its’ API-first approach. Rapidly rising in popularity, composable systems provide components that can be selected and assembled in various combinations to satisfy specific user requirements. In a post pandemic world facing economic uncertainty, these architectures enable organisations to deliver uncompromising solutions cost effectively, something CTI Digital has already demonstrated many times over.

CTI attend DrupalCon Prague 2022

Photo by Paul Johnson

Buytaert expressed personal frustration on protracted decision making in Drupal, how it was throttling Drupal’s potential.

Perfection can be the enemy of good. We are promoting the notion of reversible and irreversible decisions to help categorise decisions and encourage faster decision making in #drupal” Dries Buytaert

He provided the example of one way and two way doors which is well documented. 

  • One way doors are decisions almost impossible to reverse. 
  • Two way doors are decisions which are reversible, so the door swings two ways.

In Drupal major architecture decisions are one way. So many decisions could be two way, ones which could be made, see if they work, adapt or even totally change tack based learnings. Buytaert is challenging the community to not be afraid of mistakes in these situations. I for one applaud this.

CTI attend DrupalCon Prague 2022

We caught up with Joz, Rob and Paul to find out their thoughts on their first time attending DrupalCon 2022:

Joz Ahmed, Lead Drupal Developer at CTI Digital

“I enjoyed my first DrupalCon and meeting colleagues and friends for the first time in person.

The biggest takeaways for me were the package manager initiative is very cool, this is the underlying module required by the Automatic Updates and the Project browser initiative. The Package manager sub-module (at time of writing) is a Drupal sub-module within the Automatic Updates module which provides a thin wrapper around the composer_stager php library.

I see a lot of potential with this within the agency environment where we could automatically ping non-production environments to automatically update itself then get a CI tool to commit that to a pull request for manual review.

The other takeaway was the “Drupal performances from real production projects” by Mamoot. Having recently worked on optimising Drupal sites on an application level, I have learnt further infrastructure tweaks we could make such as Redis and Igbinary tweaks, how to calculate the PHP-FPM configuration, opcode optimisation, NGINX tricks and how to properly adjust the Drupal cache bins.”

Rob Edwards, Senior Drupal Developer at CTI Digital

“I had a great time at my first DrupalCon. Listening to and interacting with other members of the Drupal community in person was an interesting and rewarding experience and I’ve discovered new tools, technologies and general tips and tricks that will feed into my day-to-day work as a Drupal developer.

Dries’ (@Dries) keynote was a great way to kick off the conference with an inspiring talk about the current state of the Drupal project and how it fosters the Open Web. His comparison with social media platforms effectively communicated what makes Drupal a relevant and prevalent solution, covering areas such as flexibility, security, scalability, accessibility and privacy. He went on to explain some exciting new features that will make Drupal ‘easier’ in the future, such as Project Browser and Automatic Updates.

Having recently worked on a headless Drupal build and a good understanding of the challenges that this brings, I was excited to hear talks on this topic. One of my favourite talks of the conference was from Brian Perry (@bricomedy) about the Drupal State project – not something that I had heard of before DrupalCon. He explains how many different approaches are currently being used to integrate Javascript frontends with a Drupal backend and how a framework agnostic tool could be used to prevent the same problem from being solved repeatedly. He demonstrated the difficulties in getting data from the JSON API and how Drupal State can be used to solve these. 

I think it’s a great idea to have an official Javascript SDK for Drupal and I think that the Drupal State project could lay the foundations for this. Brian helped me get set up on the project in the contribution room later in the day and I started looking into a bug which I encountered.”


Paul Jones, Senior Drupal Developer at CTI Digital

“I had a great time at Drupalcon Prague. This was my first Drupalcon and also my first time meeting some of the people I’ve been working with at CTI.

The main thing that interested me was how much things are improving for frontend development, both within Drupal itself and when using Drupal as a backend for a separate frontend application.

There was a brilliant talk from Lauri Eskola and Mike Herchel on “How Drupal 10 will make you fall in love with Drupal theming” that went over some of the new improvements. I’m very excited for the new starterkits and moving away from subtheming, and the new default styling for common components like tabs and menus sounds like it will save a lot of time and pain on future projects.

Alexander Varwijk’s talk on Building a GraphQL API went into a LOT of detail on how to set up schema with the GraphQL module, and why you would want to define this yourself instead of just providing the structure as defined in Drupal. I’ve already gone back and watched the recording again, and it’s something I’m definitely going to have to sit down and spend some time digging into.

One other talk that wasn’t frontend related was Annertech’s talk on Migrating at Scale. Stella Power and Erik Erskine went over how they managed a large-scale migration from a lot of smaller sites. They also provided a field analysis tool that will definitely find a home in my toolbox for future migrations.

Finally, the trivia night was brilliant. I’m not just saying that because we managed to get 4th either, the whole night was just great fun. Thanks to everyone involved in putting that together!”

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