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DrupalCon 2016: Caryl’s Highlights

DrupalCon (Drupal Conference) 2016 marked the 3rd DrupalCon that I attended. With Drupal 8 released, I felt it was time to go to the conference and kick the tires.

Held in historic New Orleans, I not only learned more about Drupal 8, but I learned about the beignets, cemeteries, and handgrenades. But that’s for another story.

Drupal 8 brings a greater emphasis on “headless” architectures where the front-end that the user sees may be decoupled from a Drupal back-end. At this conference I focused on learning what we can do with a decoupled Drupal front-end. Here are my highlights from Drupalcon 2016:

Presentation Framework: Reveal.js

Want to ditch PowerPoint slides and move to something online and mobile responsive? Reveal.js  is a presentation framework used deliver many DrupalCon presentations. This was not a presentation itself, but rather, a technology, where, using HTML presentors can deliver rich presentations with lots of features and flexibility. If you want to try the fully-featured visual editor check it out at

Amazing User Experiences with Drupal and Ember

by Edward Faulkner

Link to session

Want a richer experience for your site? It turns out that Ember provides a software development kit (SDK) to help you build out ambitious applications. In this session Faulkner first demonstrated how to integrate Drupal with Ember then demonstrated some amazing inter-page animations, Service Worker-driven offline capabilities, and in-site authoring tools with instant preview across multiple device sizes.

Offline-capable, decoupled Drupal 8 with React.js and React Native

By Mikkel Høgh and Dick Olsson

Link to session

People such as doctors travelling to remote areas without internet still need access to website data. To address this, they need websites to be available offline on their devices.  In this session Høgh and Olsson show us how they used React.js, PouchDB, and RELAXed to load an entire website onto a device such as a phone and make it fully capable offline.

Related links

Demystifying AJAX Callback Commands in Drupal 8

By Michael Miles at Genuine Interactive

Link to session

Suppose you want to use existing data to provide more functionality on an existing page on your site. In this session Miles dove into the internals of Drupal’s Ajax framework and demonstrated how you can extend an existing Drupal page, replace links with Ajax calls. Then when you click on the link, instead of navigating to the linked page, the current page expands to display the data from the linked page.

Related links - Slides

Debugging, Profiling, & Rocking Out with Browser-Based Developer Tools!

By Mike Herchel at Lullabot

Link to session

Chrome’s Developer Tools has an amazing number of tools, options, and shortcuts for exploring the underpinnings of a website. In this session Herchel took us on a tour of these clever and timesaving tools. If you do any serious front-end development, learning these tools this is a must.

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By Wim Leers and Fabian Franz

Link to session

In this session Leers and Franz explore the question: How can Drupal start sending page data early? To give the perception of improved performance, users will see the page beginning to render earlier rather than seeing a blank white screen. Using caching, BigPipe sends page information early, and begin displaying the page before Drupal has completely finished rendered the page.

Related Link

JSON Powered Forms in Drupal

By Travis Tidwell and Randall Knutson

Link to session

As we support more devices, interfaces become more diverse. We cannot expect Drupal to support these interfaces. Travis Tidwell and Randall Knutson explained their approach to providing forms that are dynamic JavaScript renderings of JSON based schemas. With this JSON, the client can render the form for specific devices.

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Looking forward

The idea of decoupling Drupal from the front end is not new in Drupal 8. In fact many of these technologies will work on your Drupal 7 site, albeit less support from Drupal and more work for you. To learn more about decoupling Drupal, check out this post by Dries BuytaertI encourage you to keep an eye on the decoupled or headless Drupal conversation, and check out the videos for these sessions!