EvolveDrupal Atlanta: Industry Experts Share Future of Web Development—Part 1

Journeying into the Minds of Web Development Innovators

Having gained momentum and success in Canada, EvolveDrupal is now expanding to the United States! The first stop is Atlanta, the thriving business hub—home to industry leaders, innovative startups, and top talent. Sponsored by Evolving Web, Acquia, Pantheon, and DubBot, this event will take place on April 12, 2024.

An array of enlightening sessions awaits, featuring industry experts exploring various topics. From an Inclusive Design Approach to Drupal 7's End of Life on website security and from leveraging Drupal for scalable software products to insights on migrating to Drupal 10, the agenda is diverse and promising.

With excitement building, questions arise: What exactly will these sessions entail? What insights will attendees gain? The Drop Times sub-editor, Kazima Abbas, provides a sneak peek into the content of each session directly from the featured speakers: Michael Herchel, Senior Front-end Developer at Agileana; Mary Blabaum, Director of Product Design at Acquia; Allison Vorthmann, Platform Engineer at HeroDevs; Andy Waldrop, VP Digital Experiences & Product Management at WebMD; Jesse Dyck, Solutions Architect at Evolving Web. 

In this article, readers will get a glimpse into what to expect straight from the experts themselves.

Michael Herchel—The Future of Drupal Theming

TDT: In your session, you aim to forecast 'The future of Drupal theming,'  amidst the evolving landscape of web development. What do you see as the most significant challenges Drupal theming will face in the coming years, and how can developers best prepare to overcome these challenges?

Michael Herchel
Michael Herchel

Michael Herchel: Good question. The biggest challenge will be seamlessly integrating theming into page building. From a content editor's perspective, the result needs to look like a beautifully designed page that also creates conversions. Drupal is on a good track with this because of the inclusion of Single Directory Components in the core. And now work is being done in contrib to integrate Single Directory Components into Drupal's UI. This work will be super exciting when Drupal's new page builder is built and will allow non-technical content editors to easily build beautiful yet complex pages using Drupal's user interface!

Mary Blabaum—5 Ways to Grow Your Inclusive Design Approach

TDT: In your session on '5 Ways to Grow your Inclusive Design Approach,' you'll be sharing tangible ways to make design practices more inclusive and aligned with accessibility best practices. Could you highlight one of these ways and provide an example of how it has made a significant impact on improving user experiences?

Mary Blabaum: Understanding your target user. Take time to understand your user base—dedicate time to learning the unique attributes and needs of users of the digital experiences you are creating. 

Mary Blabaum
Mary Blabaum

If you have personas, augment them to be inclusive of more diverse users, people of different genders, multicultural users, and people with disabilities. Including more diverse users in your personas sets you and your collaborators up to create holistic requirements, allowing the development of usable and accessible experiences for anyone who comes to your site. By seeking to understand and invest this time early in the design process, you can save a lot of rework down the line, catch up to standards, and reach more users. Above all, you are moving the needle to a more inclusive digital experience for all!

Allison Vorthmann—Drupal 7 End of Life: Navigating Security Risks After D7's Sunset

TDT: In your session at EvolveDrupal, you'll be covering the implications of Drupal 7's End of Life on website security. Can you shed some light on the key security risks website owners may face post-EOL, and what strategies or solutions you recommend for mitigating these risks?

Allison Vorthmann
Allison Vorthmann

Allison Vorthmann: The lack of security support represents the primary challenge when dealing with Drupal 7's end-of-life (EOL). Without continuous support, the risk of data breaches escalates, along with exposure to things like Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and various other common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs).

For those who choose to continue using Drupal 7 after EOL, several proactive steps can be taken to maintain security. Options include engaging commercial extended support services provided by companies like HeroDevs, participating in community initiatives such as the D7Security group, or managing security independently. This could include conducting routine security scans, implementing firewalls to prevent attacks, and maintaining backups of your website's data.

Jesse Dyck—Seamless Shifts: Mastering the Art of Migrating to Drupal 10

TDT: Jesse, your session 'Seamless Shifts: Mastering the Art of Migrating to Drupal 10' will provide attendees with valuable insights into the migration process. From your experience, what are some common pitfalls organizations encounter when migrating to Drupal 10, and how can they best prepare to navigate these challenges successfully?

Jesse Dyck: Simon and I are co-presenting this one; we brainstormed quickly and have a few points:

Jesse Dyck
Jesse Dyck

The most common thing we see is not putting enough emphasis on the initial planning of the migration. That’s the chance to uncover and address potential issues early. Not being thorough enough can lead to uncovering those issues late in the process and causing a lot of stress and headaches when deadlines are looming.

Also, when migrating to Drupal 10 there can be some unexpected challenges around the required CKEditor upgrade from version 4 to 5. It underwent a complete rebuild, effectively having its Drupal 7 to 8 moment, which means a lot of plugins require that same rebuild. Thankfully by this point, many contrib plugins have been updated, but any custom plugins should be carefully reviewed and planned for. Along the same lines, some other "deprecated” constructs, such as Panels, need to be replaced with Layout Builder and require additional attention and planning, since there is no easy migration path. So, in some ways, it’ll depend a lot on the architecture of the existing site, so taking the time to uncover these while planning the migration is key.

Andy Waldrop—Using Drupal to Build Scalable Software Products

TDT: In your session on 'Using Drupal to build scalable software products,' you'll be diving into the strategies behind developing a Drupal distribution that scales efficiently across multiple clients. Could you share some insights into how developers can balance the need for scalability with maintaining ease of use and manageability in such platforms?

Andy Waldrop
Andy Waldrop

Andy Waldrop: In this session, we will review how we can deliver multiple software products that can be maintained and upgraded at scale and launch new applications from a simple Slack command. Focusing on a strong Web Ops foundation has led to major advancements in how fast we can deliver new features and products built on top of the Drupal platform.

In conclusion, EvolveDrupal Atlanta's experts have provided invaluable insights into various facets of web development, including inclusive design, Drupal migration strategies, and scalable software solutions. Stay tuned for the upcoming second part, where we'll unveil more sessions from other featured speakers. Don't miss out on valuable insights to stay at the forefront of web development!

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