Exploring Drupal's Project Browser Initiative with Christopher Wells

Drupal's Project Browser Initiative aims to make Drupal more user-friendly by simplifying the process of discovering and installing contributed modules. Led by Redfin Solutions, under the Co-leadership of Leslie Glynn and Chris Wells, the initiative targets new users and site builders with little to no developer experience, making Drupal accessible to a broader audience. The Project Browser Initiative is currently working on the 1.0 version, allowing users to install modules automatically via Composer, add additional filters, and expand the browser to include themes and distributions.

Elma John, sub-editor with The DropTimes [TDT], had an opportunity to interact with Christopher Wells, CTO of Redfin Solutions, to gain valuable insights into the inspiration behind the Project Browser Initiative and its mission to revolutionize the Drupal user experience. Wells sheds light on the challenges newcomers to Drupal face and how the initiative addresses the pivotal question of "now what?" after installation. Hear the rest from the lion's mouth:

Inspiration and the Specific Needs That It Addresses

Dries announced the need for this initiative in 2021 at his Driesnote and remarked that from user testing, it was obvious that newcomers to Drupal were being hit with a hard wall of "now what?"

The initiative was conceived to break down the formidable wall encountered by new Drupal users, who often found themselves at a loss on the platform's home page.

A lot of Drupal's power comes from its extensive collection of contributed modules, and that's often the next step once a Drupal site is installed. This initiative was designed specifically to alleviate the concerns of needing to take your next steps external to your Drupal site. With Project Browser, people can now take those next steps from within their Drupal sites.

To Contribute to This Initiative

All contributors are welcome! We have a lot of non-code contributions that are also available. A major part of our initiative is cleaning up the data on Drupal.org to make it more consistent for appearance within the Project Browser itself. This means we're doing a lot of work to suggest logos, short descriptions, and new categories for our vast library of contributed modules.

Module maintainers are encouraged to enhance their modules by incorporating logos and short descriptions and aligning with new categories suggested by the initiative.

We targeted the "top" (by installs) 100 modules, but with those nearly complete, we still have a committed team that will continue to help module maintainers rise up to meet these recommendations. The handbook page for our module is a great starting point for finding out what you, as a module maintainer, can do to buff your module up to shine bright in Project Browser.

More Information and Inspiration

  • https://www.drupal.org/project/project_browser/issues/3358590
  • https://www.drupal.org/project/project_browser/issues/3342533
  • https://www.drupal.org/project/project_browser/issues/3342545
  • https://www.drupal.org/project/drupalorg/issues/3382689

Focus, Improvements, and Features

Right now, we have a really strong, narrow focus on getting Project Browser into the core. The Association is aligned with us in terms of project priorities for making that happen. First, we are trying to get Package Manager (and/or Automatic Updates) into core because we leverage Package Manager to work on the site's codebase using Composer.

Following that, we are getting a live API endpoint stood up so we can make more real-time queries to Drupal.org to feed the data seen in Project Browser (to date, we've been working with a periodically updated "fixture" of data that makes Project Browser look right, but can grow outdated over time).

Plans for the Project Browser Initiative

In the future, we are considering things like a "Theme browser" and a "Recipe browser" to support further how powerful Drupal can be right "out of the box" and solely using the UI. Our "Roadmap" issue (#3316151) is the current state of what we're looking at for core inclusion, and we need help on each and every one of those issues!

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