During BADCamp this year, I participated in the Front End Summit. We learned about Drupal 8, had a series of lightning talks, and a lively panel featuring a diverse range of voices from the Drupal front end community. Here are some of my take-aways.
Drupal 8 Core Rocks
Learning more about Drupal 8, it’s exciting to see that so many of the modules we work with in our “toolkit” on Stanford Sites have been moved into core in Drupal 8, like Menu Block, for example. It validates the direction we are going with Sites and with our stack.
The Front End Community
Although UX and design was drastically improved in Drupal 8, the way the community talks about it is not inclusive. The “Front End” Summit should have been a home to everyone working on design, UX, mobile, responsive, and not just a home for themers. Being a Drupal Themer is actually kind of hard core, and the code of a theme, even with all the great improvement in D8, theming is still intimidating for people just getting started and wanting to change the styles of their site. How can we onboard new themers better and give them a toolkit to get started? Scaring them into sprinting with you won’t work. We need hand holding. How can we hold hands at scale through online tools?
Designing for Drupal 8
Similarly, what I need to know about Drupal 8 as a designer is not what new variables are available in the twig theme layer, or new syntax for looping, but I need to know the high level stuff. The “why” and the story behind the new features and changes so that I can pitch this product. I need to know how what is available in core can be a new set of recipes for success in site building. All of these things influence design decisions, and as designers, we need to understand the tool with which we are designing so we can communicate with our developers, clients, and other stakeholders about what is possible.
Some big themes
There were quite a lot of other very interesting threads that I could probably dive into deeper, but for the sake of brevity will summarize here:
- Accessibility — how this is hard, and what people are doing to automate/integrate it into their process
- Tools that we use — and how this landscape is still changing, but for the most part people have settled on a few key tools (e.g. SASS, Grunt, Bower) and stopped trying every new thing
- Task automation — but particularly for testing, and especially challenging for accessibility testing
- The wide range of “what is Front End” — and how this is challenging for the Drupal community
- What a Designer should be creating as a deliverable — and specifically if a Designer should know how to code.. verdict: undecided
- Particularly troubling was the question of how happy are Front End Developers with Drupal — the answer has not been a resounding yes (re: D7), and we hope Drupal 8 will attract more Front Enders
If you attended the Front End Summit, what were some of your big take-aways? Leave a note in the comments.