Talking Drupal #218 - Backdrop

July 09, 2019
In episode #218 we get an update on Backdrop, the Drupal fork, from Jen Lampton.

Listen:

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Topics
  • What is Backdrop and how did it get started.
  • What is the target audience for Backdrop.
  • What is the target websites for Backdrop, is it based on size or complexity.
  • How do you position Backdrop as an alternative to Drupal, what are the benefits of moving from Drupal to Backdrop.
  • Is there a migration process from Drupal 7.
  • How does Drupal 7 EOL impact Backdrop.
  • What has been most satisfying about co-foundering a project like Backdrop, and the most challendging?
Transcript

We value the accessibility of our podcast to all members of the Drupal community. Because of this we use otter.ai to provide transcripts of our shows. As with any transcript technology the transcripts may not be 100% accurate. If you find any glaring discrepancies please contact us at [email protected]. Thank You


 

John

This is talking Drupal weekly chat about web design development by a group of guys with one thing in common. We love Drupal. This is Episode 218. backdrop. Hi listeners. As you may have guessed at this point, I am not Stephen Cross Steve’’s launching a site right now. So we wish him luck with that endeavor. As you may have guessed, I’m

 

John

Picozzi and joining me today, we have Nick Laflin from enlightened development.

 

Nic

Good afternoon. Just a quick yard update for those who have been following the saga. I finally finished the patio. Had a party this Saturday finished it just in time, like a day before. So look for the newsletter for some updated pictures.

 

John

So you plan the party before you plan to the launch of the patio?

 

Nic

Yeah, it was my birthday party. So kind of do you want to have it too far after the birthday?

 

John

So nice. And and how old are you now?

 

Nic

I am 34. Wow, okay, I feel certain A little

 

John

wake up every morning achie.

 

Nic

but not quite. But I'm getting to a point where I'm thinking of like, Oh, yeah, that was 10 years ago. Oh, no, wait, that was the, you know, the 90s were 20 years ago. So I had a couple of those moments, but not too bad yet.

 

John

Awesome. Also joining us, we have Jen Lampton, the team lead and co founder for backdrop, CMS. She's also the backdrop on the backdrop security team, and a member of the project management committee. Welcome, Jen.

 

Jen

Thanks.

 

John

Alright, so we're going to get started with our story of the day we only have we only have one, and it is it's pretty helpful, I think. Haha, pun intended. Apparently Drupal is launching a new health system for core.

 

Nic

Yeah, this. So this seems really interesting to me. Help. The help my this is different from the help module, I think, the help module, I don't think I actually use it that often. I think it's what provides some description for some modules. But over the years, just something that is installed on the Drupal sites I don't really pay attention to but this Help system i think is a little bit different. I think it's more in line with what, Jake, Jacob Rockowitz, which is talking, it's a way for module theme and distribution developers to request help for on their project. So if I'm reading this release correctly, it looks like a way for a developer who's creating a project to say, Hey, here's some tasks that need to happen that I would like your help on. That could be documentation, writing some tests, maybe theming, or bunch different ways is just a unified way for a module developer to make it clear what contributions they're looking for to a project. So hopefully, this will help with the within the contrib space with getting, you know, better tests better, maybe new features, just kind of clarify the direction that people are going with with the module.

 

John

Cool. That sounds? That sounds awesome. And, you know, I know. Jacobs really going to be pretty pretty involved in that. And, and helpful there.

 

Nic

Yeah, I mentioned you will be.

 

John

So let's jump to our main topic for today. And that's getting an updates and finding out what's going on in the backdrop, CMS world. So, Jen, can you give us a for some of our listeners that may not know what backdrop is, can you give us a quick basically background on what, where backdrop came from and what it is?

 

Jen

Sure. So, backdrop is essentially Drupal seven, plus a ton of the most popular contributed modules that are added. So it's got stuff like views and panels and half auto and handful of other things in core. It's also removed a bunch of the stuff that only benefited 1% or less of the Drupal community. So things like database support for something other than mysql, alternate field storage, a handful of modules that were in core, everybody likes to turn off immediately upon install. So we tried to make it leaner in terms of what features were in there that were maybe not that important. And then we tried to make it more robust in the sense of things that everybody use should be there out of box. So your process for installing backdrops should be turned on, it shouldn't be turned on and then install these 20 contrib modules that everybody knows and loves. Then I was the second half of your question was.

 

John

So yeah, I think you kind of covered it. Just just telling us what what the goal was for backdrop,

 

Jen

the goal. So that's also something that's interesting to mentor to is that long term, our plan is to create a product that is more focused on the kinds of people that need to build their own websites. So it's a tool that you should be able to set up and get from, I don't have anything, I have a working website as fast as possible. And that does not necessarily mean it's perfectly engineered for the coder. It's more designed for just a person who wants to click together something that they may need for their job. So it's a perfect fit for people who may have like a couple of people on staff that part of their job is the website, but maybe their entire job isn't building a website, it's sort of going to be a better fit into those organizations than the ones that have to hire a team orcontract a team to manage their site for them.

 

Nic

Okay. And I before we get too far into this, I just want to mention that I think you're a returning guest. You are one of our first guests. How was it? October 2013. I came on episode 17. To talk about backdrop, so nice.

 

Jen

That must have been After it forth, but before it was released,

 

Nic

I think it was I think it was right, shortly after you and Nate announced it. And so people listening to today's episode might want to go back and listen to that just to you know, see, you know, see what's changed how different things are.

 

John

And Nick, there's one only one other appearance I thought this was Jen's third time on the show.

 

Nic

It's possible I just look for the backdrop show

 

John

at it. I think he

 

Nic

I think he I think he may be did an update about a year, year and a half after. Okay. So we can look at that while we're while we're chatting.

 

Jen

It's exciting. I noticed that over time, our focus has changed a little bit like initially, we're like very focused on a very particular thing that we thought we were building. And then as we started to build the community, we realized what our community wanted might not be what we envisioned. And because of the way our process works is we're supposed to sort of meet the needs of the community, it's shifted to match that overtime, might be a little different. I think I might go back and listen to that first episode and see where we are.

 

John

It's like jumping in a time machine, right?

 

Jen

Yeah.

 

Nic

So So what do you think some of the bigger changes have been that have kind of grown out of the community's needs.

 

Jen

And so when we first fork backdrop, we actually forked a really version of early Drupal eight. And that was because we wanted to get configuration management in. And when we did that we inherited a bunch of other changes that have happened between Drupal seven and Drupal eight, that now in hindsight, we really wish we hadn't inherited because right now, the primary thing everybody wants from backdrop is to be more seven compatible. And so over the past few years, what we've been doing is adding more and more backwards compatibility into core. So we've got wrapper functions that match Drupal functions to backdrop functions. We also have a conversion layer. So it's like, Okay, well, we had this old API, and it used to do things this way. And then Drupal 8 API that we inherited does it this way, how do we make the Drupal seven way still work in background. So we're trying to make it as easy as possible to get your modules working. We've also got this focus towards making the developer experience as easy as possible. So if you're using a function that was a Drupal seven function, or function that was duplicated, at some point in backdrop, it's going to log to watch job that this is a dedicated function so that as a developer, it'll still work. But if you check, the logs will be like, hey, you might want to change your function, call your argument order, whatever it is, it's different. So we're trying to make everything much more obvious when changes happen, so that people who are working on upgrades or changing, right, adding new modules, doing it the Drupal way will be able to see the differences between Drupal and backdrop more easily without having any documentation.

 

Nic

Okay, very cool. And so what version of backdrop Are you currently on?

 

Jen

currently on 113, two. So we use semantic burgeoning. So our API's haven't changed since we first released, I guess I shouldn't say haven't changed, they haven't broken, we have been adding new API. So that's kind of part of our things that we can add new stuff at any time. But we're not going to break anything that's currently running. The minor version 13 indicates edition of new features. So every three months, we have a minor release. And we include something new, so that could be putting in a module like token or pathauto, or email or link or, you know, Ck editor, whatever it is, we need to add. And then all the little bug fix releases that that number after 30, those are just fixing, either issues that have been long standing and Drupal things that we found, from the backdrop conversion, new issues, who might have found a backdrop or, most importantly, usability improvements. So we know that if we're going to be focusing on groups of people who may not be developers, we need to make the user interface significantly better than what it was with Drupal. Drupal is a fantastic tool for developers, it's a little harder for non developers to wrap their heads around. And so we're like, if we're starting from there, we've got a lot of work to do to compete with something like WordPress. So we have a big focus on usability, we've been doing things like changing strings in the user interface to make things more intuitive. We've been adding buttons, changing colors, stuff that just makes your instance when you're using the software correct more often.

 

John

So Jen, at the top of the show, you actually talked about some of the target websites for a backdrop. And you said, okay, it's like a smaller, you know, smaller groups, people that, you know, maybe nonprofits or people that just kind of need to get their own website up. So a couple questions around that. One is, is there a UI difference in backdrop that makes it more easier for somebody to download and install through the UI, as opposed to having a kind of like, get into get into, like configure configuration files and stuff like that?

 

Jen

Yeah, we try. And I guess the initial install is still going to still going to be fairly complicated. We have gotten back into a couple of like ones to one click installers from hosting provider. So if you're using like softaculous, or something on your web hosting company, people automatically have a button to do an install. So we're hoping that will help. But once you have backdrop running, we've tried to make a lot of changes to how you interact with the software. So like installing a module, for example, you go to the modules page, you don't have the module you want. There's a tab there that says install new module, and you click on that. And I'll show you a list of all the modules. So you don't ever need to leave your website in order to install new things, the same things true for themes, and layouts anything else. So we just tried to sort of match all of the things that WordPress does really well and say, hey, why can't we do this with Drupal? And if it's possible, let's put it in backdrop. So we've got that. And there's also just the, when you're working with user interface, usability was something that was really important to me in Drupal seven, I was on these ability team, I did a bunch of studies. And I did a lot of training. And when you watch people who aren't familiar with the software interact for it for the first time, you can see things that you don't see, as someone who's been using it for a decade, you're like, Oh, yeah, I don't know why that button is there are why it says that, because that's not what it means. If I can fix that, it's just a button label. I'm just some stuff like that, where we tried to make it really clear in every interface, what to do. One of those really important distinctions is that now that we have configuration management and core, you know, somebody made an executive decision about when you said this form, where does that data go? Is it content as going the database, or the configuration does it go and files, once that decision is made, buttons and backup, I'll get labeled. So if you're configuring something, you click the button says configure, you're guaranteed that code is going to be written into a configuration file. And if you're editing some things, we click a button that says Edit. That code is there, that information is gonna be saved in the database. So just stuff like that, where it's like, we know where this stuff goes, let's just communicate this all to the user so that they know if they click that button where they have to go in the system to find that information later.

 

Nic

Right. So it kind of circle back on some of you said that there's a little bit of a tangent, but something I've always been curious about, you mentioned that you're in a couple of one click installs for hosting providers like softaculous,How does that process started? Like, did you approach them? Do they approach you? Did they maintain it? Do you maintain it? How does that process work?

 

Jen

Yeah, so all of the one click installers are, I don't know, if I want to say proprietary, they're not open source. So it's, there's no way for us to contribute to any work that they're doing. And the way that something gets added is usually based on demand. So that means that there needed to be a certain number of people that specifically requested to have, you know, a backdrop button on their tool. And then a developer at the organization that maintains it, like someone that took softaculous would have to go and set up a file that would define how backtrack gets installed, where its code comes from what version is, we have had some problems with getting those installers to keep their versions of backdrop up to date, because we come out with releases every four months, it's a lot of work for them to go and update that, you know, config file or whatever it is they have on there. And that's that's that. So it's also been a big motivator for us to get automatic updates in core, because if somebody can install backdrop, it's a couple of versions old. And then once they're in, they get a little button and it's like, Hey, you need update that problem is no longer a problem. So how do you get it in you usually demand based we've had a, there's a couple of them that we have, like they have an internal ticket open for backdrop, but it hasn't gotten enough noise yet that someone there is willing to work on it. And then we have a bunch where they're like, okay, it's and I'm done worrying about it. And we're like, yeah, it's there. But then when you use it, you're like, wait a minute, this is really old. So you have to go and push the Update button and make sure it's not today. Okay.

 

John

So going back to, you know, who's using backdrop we talked about, again, small businesses, nonprofits, smaller organizations, is it your recommendation that a larger organization or more complex site not used backdrop?

 

Jen

Well, it really depends on what the goals of that site are like what a website does is very, very different from one project to another and what a person means when they say I need a website can be anything. And so we do have a specific target target audience in mind, and that our audience is basically not the enterprise. We feel like Drupal is a fantastic tool for that audience. And we don't want to be competing with that. Our goal is to provide an alternate tool for people who maybe don't feel comfortable with that budget. And so it could, it could be anything in terms of what your site needs to do. Our general guidelines are like if you're on Drupal seven, and you don't feel limited by Drupal, like if you're if you feel like you're fine, your current site, backdrops going to be a good fit for you. But if you're on Drupal seven, and you feel like you're hitting the limits of what it can do for you, that's a good indication that you probably are going to be hitting the same limits against what backdrop can do for you. And if you want your project to be able to grow in the ways that your business needs, you're probably going to need to be on a more powerful platform, something like drupal 8 . Some other options out there. So Drupal seven is a fantastic tool is proven, it's been successful, been around for a long time, but it is dated. And so backdrop is essentially what happens if you took Drupal seven and modernized it, it performs a little better than Drupal seven, it's got a lot more features and core than Drupal seven. It's just a modern version of what that was before. So it's Drupal seven, plus a little more. So if you're hitting the limits against Drupal seven, you're probably not going to get that much more out of backdrop. But if you're fine on Drupal seven, a backdrop is probably going to be fine for you maybe a little better, you're gonna have a little you know, better performance, more tools, less burden of maintenance, right? Because the more stuff we put in core, the less you have to worry about maintaining yourself. So yeah, it's sort of a it's a tool for people who were who love Drupal seven, you love Drupal seven, we got it, we got a tool for you.

 

John

Okay, so my next question is, is kind of related to that, right? How do you position backdrop as an alternative? The questions as to Drupal. But I'm going to specifically say to Drupal eight, you know, What benefits do you have? From say, Hey, I'm on a Drupal site Drupal seven site, I should go to backdrop as opposed to upgrading to Drupal eight. Unknown Speaker Yeah, the biggest difference if you're on Drupal seven. Now, if you're happy with Drupal seven, and you've got two options, the biggest difference is how easy is going to be to get you from where you are to where you're going. Drupal eight, you have to build a site and do a migration. And there are some great tools that are in development that will help make that process a little bit easier. But there is still that two step process of building a new site and then move in the content, you want to move over dr up, you don't do a migration, you do an upgrade. So this is the upgrade in the same sense of going from Drupal five to Drupal six, or Drupal six to Drupal seven. So you put in your backup code base, and you hook up your Drupal seven database and you run you push the button that says update and your site will get converted, all of your content gets moved whatever database structures necessary from Drupal seven to backdrop style, all of your configs comes out of the database gets written to config files, all of your block placements get converted into layout placements. And it tries to make that process as easy as possible. It is not going to be perfect, right in the same way that Drupal five to Drupal six wasn't a perfect upgrade. But upgrading from Drupal seven to backdrop is easier than upgrading from five to six. And that goal is still too hard for our audience, that's still too much, too much work for people to do. So what we're working on long term is every version upgrade needs to be easier than the one before part of what we're doing right now like the reason it's hard is because we did get some of those changes been in Drupal seven and Drupal eight, and we're adding in backwards compatibility layer, that's going to make it easier over time. We're also working on making sure that every contributed module that got added to core has an upgrade path that's out of the core as well. And so testing all of those to make sure that the burden is on us. If we put a module on the court to make sure that people who are running module in Drupal seven get the same feature set out of running and backdrop, which is a little bit different than how it was in Drupal eight, where I was like, Oh, well put, you know, you've got Link field in Drupal seven will put a URL field in Drupal eight, but you've got to figure out how to get your needs. You had a Drupal seven met in the Drupal eight world, that's not cores problem. We started on a different mentality where it's like, our community is going to be less capable of solving that problem on its own. So we need to solve that problem for them.

 

Nic

So Excuse me. So that brings me to my next question. I've seen kind of I'm hearing that kind of this in your answers to yo backdrop isn't really made for developers. So what are you trying to hit with backdrop? Is it made to be more like WordPress? Or is it made to be something new and unique? And you know, what kinds of things? One of the biggest barriers I think for Drupal for non developers is the theme layer. Can Have you have you to approach that issue at all?

 

Jen

Yeah, so I did a lot of work in Drupal theming layer, initiative new lead for twig for a couple of years in Drupal eight. That was definitely one of the pain points, I thought when I was doing training. So trying to teach people how to write themes for Drupal. The Drupal seven theme system was really hard for front end developers who weren't familiar with Drupal to get their heads around. When we came to backdrop, we've looked at what our projects, philosophy is like, what the principles are, what it stands for, and said, Can we put something like tweak in core? And the answer is no, it violated a lot of our principles, and that there's going to be too much change from version to version of you switch from PHP template to twig. It's a newer, more modern technology that is known by the majority of web developers, it just or a lot of things that didn't seem like it was a good fit. So we said, okay, well, you know, having done that once, how would I do that, again, in a way that's in line with our own philosophy. And so what we did is we sort of took the lessons learned from twig and applied them to backdrop. So, for example, we were removed the process layer, there's a whole bunch of different layers that execute in Drupal theme system. And the process layers, the one that seemed to trip the most people up is because most of the time it's hidden, and people don't really understand that it's there. And then there's things that they're seeing in pre process that don't come out the same way and their template files. And they're confused until one day, they learned that there's a magic layer in between. And so that was something where we're like, Okay, what is this layer? Do? You look at it primarily, it did things like flatten arrays and just strings before they get printed in files. That's something that any front end developer can understand, you just need to put it somewhere they can find it. So we moved all the stuff that was happening the process layer directly into the templates. So in Drupal, there's sort of this mentality, the templates are only to have HTML, they shouldn't be any logic, there shouldn't be any complicated PHP processing, it just prints out variables. And that changed when we put into it twig, really, let's give the front of developers some credit and give them some powerful, give them some logic, give them some ability to execute whatever they want, we can do that in PHP, we don't need the layer protection there to do that. So in backdrop, we did the same thing, we took all the functions that people would normally have, you know, done in twig and Drupal eight and put them into PHP. So we have, you know, Drupal attributes became backup attributes, you see that all over the place in the template files, you see explodes, or implodes. For all the class arrays, you see loops, for loops for each loops, you know, all of the kinds of stuff that you didn't see in template files, and Drupal seven are there and backdrop, but we had to kind of stop with that. Because of our we don't want to change too much mentality. We didn't want a whole bunch of people were working on themes in Drupal seven to come to backdrop and not be able to port them easily. So we did a lot of cleanup, we did some consolidation of template files, we did more exposing things to people where they would find it. But we are still working with PHP template. And we are limited the amount of change that we can do between versions. So that's where we landed now. And we are working with a bunch of frpmt end developers in our community, we've got someone on the PMC, who's directing us towards, you know, what is the most painful thing about working in the backdrop theme layer, and that's going to be on the cutting block, in backdrop to, but for now, we sort of stopped with making it slightly easier than it was in Drupal seven by giving front end developers a little more power and flexibility.

 

John

So in the template, are you guys still using? What is it D7 PHP template, as opposed to twig when da?

 

Jen

Yes, yeah.

 

Nic

Okay, so kind of a somewhat related topic, but a little bit different. Somebody has kind of been a big topic in the Drupal world slash WordPress world for a long time is layouts. You know, one of the things that WordPress has had for a while to really to modify the layout. And Drupal eight is recently released layout builder, which allows site builders a lot, it's kind of like panels is a little bit more powerful than panels. But it kind of gives site builders the ability to build new layouts and allows editors to choose those and kind of put content where they want to insert media where they want and kind of just spruce up their own content without needing to theme. Is there an I heard you mentioned panels? I think I heard you mentioned panels was in backdrop core.

 

Jen

Yeah. So we have a module called layout that was included in backdrop 1.0 the very beginning. And that is a port of panels. So we took the panels module from Drupal seven, we took the API and ported it to backtrack, we changed it very slightly. So it saves into configuration instead of into database. And then we wrote an entirely new user interface for it. And it's a version of panels plus a lot of panels add on modules. In particular, there's one called panels everywhere that rather than panels, and I think your drupal 8 does this to where when you're controlling layout, it's only the like content section of your page, it doesn't touch the header of the footer, anything other than where the content areas. So if you're designing a theme for that you would do like a columnless game. And then you can put your columns in your content, and that that's the way you can create columns. And that's what we did in Drupal seven. That's what everyone's been doing for a long time. So a lot of Drupal developers sort of already think that way, which is fine. But in backdrop, we thought well, okay, if you didn't come to this world with the Drupal experience, what would you expect to have in your layout? And so the header in backdrop is just a block and the header settings that used to be part of your theme. Those are just configuration options on the block? Do you want the logo to show yes, no, that's a checkbox on your block settings. same in the footer, there's a photo block, you can drop it in, you can take it out. And that makes the creation of a page match sort of the mental model of someone who doesn't already have the experience of using Drupal, which was good, and also provided this great utility for the number one problem that Drupal is like, how do you make a landing page, it's a want, it's a single thing, you aren't gonna it's not a content type read a whole bunch of them. It's not a list of things you don't need to view, it's not you know, or you can write a custom module and put it like page callback. And they're like, you could do that to build a single landing page, you could create a panel and create a new one, like there's a whole bunch of answers to that problem, none of which are very easy. But in backdrop, he's making your way out, you give it a path, now you have one. And we're specifically like to tout the fact that you could also create an unbranded page. By doing that same thing, removing the header and moving the footer moving navigation and I just have a blank page, you can manage the CMS. So this is something like marketing agencies are going to love because they can put whatever they want in there, it doesn't have to match the theme of the rest of the site. So you just need a single one off page for some particular event or promotion you're doing, they can go to town, just don't dump some HTML in there you the pictures good to go. So we've had that for a while. It's been getting incrementally new features added as people start to use it and go, I really want you this that the other thing so every new version, we improve user interface or add new blocks or change the way you can like add classes or whatever it is, but most exciting, the next version of backtrack 114, which comes out in September is going to include a new flexible layout. So in panels, there was something called the flexible layout where you've got to add your new rows and columns. Drupal eight, I think has this already. WordPress has it, there's a whole theme whole system of themes called like divvy themes where you can build your own rows and columns. So we're going to be adding that into backdrop in the next version, too. So we should have feature parity with the divi system in WordPress and slightly more feature completeness than is currently in Drupal eight.

 

John

So with all these great features, and everything coming into backdrop, what's what's the growth and adoption like? And I guess I'm wondering more? Is your are your users more migrants from Drupal? Are they native backdrop customers who have just found backdrop and adopted it? Or you know, some mix of the two?

 

Jen

I would definitely say we're a mix of the two. Every now and then we have new people who are like, Oh, I just google whatever and found you and I'm so excited. And we're like, wow, how did you find us? Because we are, we're very definitely very focused on this is for people who are on Drupal seven, right, this is Drupal seven, plus all the modernizations that you wish it had. And so when people who don't have experience with Drupal seven come to us were surprised, we're happy to see them. But it's not necessarily where we're focused right now. And it's interesting, because a lot of those people are also WordPress users. And in fact, a bunch of our Drupal people with Drupal experience are also WordPress users, there's two. And these are people that maybe have, you know, a handful of sites, some of them on WordPress, some of them on Drupal, maybe their developers that work in both. And they find backdrop being you know, a split between the two kind of a perfect balance for them. So some of them have Drupal, eight sites, Drupal, seven sites, backdrop sites and WordPress sites. And that's kind of what our target is like, we want backdrop to be another tool in your tool belt that you can work with, regardless of what you're working on. So all of the knowledge you'd have to work on backdrop does, it shouldn't be that backdrop specific, you should be able to pick it up. And some of you can pick up WordPress or craft CMS or any other tool that you can use for the web.

 

John

Interesting. Are you seeing a lot of agency adoption are there? You know, I know at Oomph we are a WordPress Drupal shop. So we're doing obviously, Drupal implementations for large companies, are you seeing agencies kind of pick up backdrop in that same way and use it for their clients?

 

Jen

Yeah, so we have a special support page and bankruptcy, Mr. org, where any organization can, you know, put in their logo and link to their website and say we do backdrop stuff. And there's a handful of Drupal agencies on there, like big names, you probably know from the Drupal community that basically looked at backdrop and said, Well, we already have that skill set. So why not accept backdrop work. But it's tough, like, especially for the bigger agencies. And there are people that come to them and go, we want Drupal, here's a big pot of money. And then like we want backed up, here's a small part of might like which would you take on. So for the bigger agencies, you see them wanting to do backup, because they have those skills, but also not consistently making the decision to take on the projects, where the smaller agencies the like marketing firm, so you know, you know, five person company sort of thing. Those ones are the ones that are like, Yes, because we have these skills, we don't need to learn a bunch of new stuff, we can take the money and move on, we can build up quickly, we can estimate it, we know we have the ability to figure out how much it's going to cost to do something. So yeah, we see smaller agencies taking on backdrop projects more than bigger ones.

 

John

interest.

 

Nic

So I have a slightly different question that I've been interested in. Since I heard that you were coming back. backdrop is now what five years? It's going on five years old. Yes. It's been a little over six years since you were last on that. I can't believe this podcaster has been going on that long. But it's been a little over six years, since you've last been on, you know, Drupal 8 has been released. Drupal 8 is a few years old. Has, was there anything that really jumped out at you that caused you to fork Drupal seven, that you thought was going to be really painful in Drupal eight that ended up maybe not being as painful as you thought? I mean, I think your underlying philosophy, you know, obviously still requires a backdrop exist. And you want to know your stated goals really haven't diverted that much. But I imagine there's some things with Drupal eight that you kind of, kind of wish you had. Could you talk a little What about those and you know what the path forward maybe used to getting those into backdrop.

 

Jen

So we have a whole bunch of issues in our GitHub queue that are labeled with Drupal eight feature parity. And we have a project, it's got like a common board that helps us work towards getting all those in. There are things that are in Drupal eight that I wish we had. But it's been an interesting experience, because there's no reason we can't put those things in backdrop. And so it's just a matter of looking at like, how did they do it in Drupal eight? Is this what our audience wants? If the answer is yes, how would you do that on the code base we already have. So feature wise, there's no reason we can't do exactly the same thing. Which is has been nice. So we have we've been working towards those things like looking at the list and going oh, this is really cool. People really like this, enjoy it, let's put it in backdrop. And then it gets on the list. And it gets in you know, a year later, sometimes four months later, depending on how excited people are about it. In terms of what I thought was going to be really definitely, when we first announced the fork, Drupal eight was sort of a mess, it was not done yet, it was very difficult to achieve simple things. And when we first you know, had this really long heart to heart, Skype call with Angie and said, we're going to do this fucking thing. And she was like, No, no, please don't, it sort of sparked this whole initiative interval about improving a developer experience. And I think that without that movement, everything in Drupal eight would have been harder. And because of it, the process of building things as a developer has gotten much better. So I think that my I had fear initially about none of this is going to change, this is just the way it's going to happen. And everyone is going to hate it. And none of that is come to light, like everyone's been like, it's fine, we can fix it. We're going to build, you know, more classes that are Drupal specific, that rap for things that are really complicated, and it's going to be easier for people to work with. And all of that got done. I know that most of it got done. And so working was a developer, Drupal eight, now as a developer is not that painful. So I definitely think that like I had initial fear that never came to light. But I also still feel that it's largely unnecessary. And people who want that should use it, because it's there for like, this is a project that was driven by developers. And they're a bunch of developers. So like, we want this toy, and so they got it. And that's great. But there are a bunch of developers who don't want the toy and have to use it. And I feel like we're trying to be like, you have to use it if you're going to use your blade. But you don't have to use drupal 8 because now there's backdrop and backdrop that you do things in the way that you already know and understand. It'll give you the same set of features that don't have an easier upgrade path. So now it's like as developer, you have a bigger toy box, and you're like, what do I want to play with? Do I want to work on Nicole, fancy Drupal eight twig, object oriented thing, or don't want to just get this thing done really fast. I mean, it's not exciting, because there's not a lot that it's new. But it's predictable. And it's something I've been using for 10 years. And it's familiar, and some people really appreciate that.

 

Nic

So as we get ready to wrap up, you know, looking back again, now you've been doing this for five years or so what's been the most satisfying and maybe the most challenging thing as well, in CO founding a project like backdrop, you're taking a really popular CMS and like you said, you had a call with Angie. And it sounded like she was somewhat resistant to that fork at the time. You know, yeah, it must have been kind of scary. Looking back, what was the most satisfying what's been most satisfying? What's been most challenging.

 

Jen

Um, so the most satisfying thing for me is having new people join the community, like, especially in the past few weeks, there's been a whole bunch of new people who are longtime Drupal users, like I've been using Drupal for 13 years, I just found backdrop. And then they say something like this, everything I ever wanted from Drupal, like that's the most rewarding thing, where it's someone who has this experience that we're hoping would have in our community, like, those people are super valuable. And when they come in, and they say that they like it, that we've made these decisions that were like, we think this is what people want. And then they come in and say yes, that was what I want. That feels amazing. And then they're like, I'm committed to working on this, I'm going to do all my stuff in this, I'm going to do an upgrade on my own. So I'm gonna do whatever. And they're like that kind of initial enthusiasm when they come in the door with that sort of makes the whole thing worthwhile. So that's my favorite thing. The hardest thing for sure is, this is a large undertaking, surprise, running an open source projects, especially when starting, you know, as big as Drupal was trying to take that and forth, and turning something else has been a challenge. There's a lot of things that we hadn't anticipated needing to do. There's a lot of things that as developers, our team is not very good at. So marketing, being one of them were like, yeah, we need that, that's probably not important. We just don't know how to do it. And then, you know, people who understand come are like, well, what's your marketing strategy? And we're like, What's that? What's the marketing strategy? Um, so yeah, there's been a lot of stuff that we've had to learn, which it wasn't necessarily anticipated. There's like, figuring out how to handle a community is also something that, you know, I've a little bit experienced, but just with running community events in Drupal, but an entirely online community trying to, you know, have meetings at a time that everybody can attend, trying to have events that people can get to, you know, especially when the community is small, we have a lot of people, but we're geographically very distributed. You get people in Germany, and people in France, people in Australia, and, you know, people in the US, and how do you get them all together? And so you see, like these, you know, little communities emerging, but we need to have like a backdrop con before, get everyone in the same place at the same time. So there's stuff like that that's been really hard, like logistically, that was just completely we're like, let's write code, because that's what we do. And then you don't see all the other little things that need to happen in order to make the community successful.

 

John

So one last question before before we let you go. Drupal seven end of life, obviously is is looming, right? Yes. How closely as backdrop related to Drupal seven does end of life impact backdrop? And then the second half of that question is, Is Is this an opportunity for people who know that Drupal seven is going to be end of life to kind of jump on the backdrop? train?

 

Jen

Yeah, so Drupal seven and backtrack are about 80% code compatible. So if you have a module that worked for Drupal seven, it is very likely that 80% of that code does not need to be touched at all. It's actually depending on the complexity of the module possible that the only thing you have to change this one line in the info file, and it'll still work. That's true for field modules, block modules, there's a bunch of systems that are completely unchanged. So does end of life impact us in terms of what we're doing in the code and our community? No, it'll end and we'll just keep doing the same thing we've been doing for the last five years will solo releases will still add new features. In the community, we have seen an uptick in growth since the announcement of the end of life date for Drupal seven. Yes, it's definitely an opportunity for backtrack, when we first forked, we expected to have a much larger initial jump. And it turned out that that didn't happen because there was no urgency. Everyone's like, I'll figure it out later. I don't have to decide now. Well, guess what, two days later. And people see that deadline. And they're like, Oh, I need to make a decision. So we've had a whole bunch of new people evaluating backdrop, we've had a whole bunch of new people trying it building sites on it to see if it's, if it's, it does what they think it does, or you know, just to get some experience with it. And we've seen a whole bunch of new people committing, which is something that we hadn't seen before, where there's agencies that are like all of my drupal properties are going to move to backdrop I've told all my clients this, we've started moving them over. And it's just having, you know, it's time and people are starting to do that. So that's been really good. The one thing that will affect us, is the security team. So right now, backdrop and Drupal handle their security releases together if there's a security release for Drupal, and it affects backdrop the new versions of both the piece of software, I'm not on the same day. So we have visibility to some of those issues. And in Drupal cube, the ones that are going to affect backdrop, we work on them together will test patches for each one, sometimes a security patch will come out and they'll ask the backup community to try and like figure out the vulnerability from the patch ahead of time to see if it's safe or not. And so we have this kind of good back and forth. Sometimes they roll patches for backdrop core, of course, sometimes we roll patches for Drupal. try and figure out how to work together. As soon as Drupal seven end of life happens in the security team stops working on Drupal seven issues in Drupal, we will be taking on the Our team will be taking on that burden entirely ourselves. So we have a process for a security team. Already we have a private issue queue, we have a group of people that have visibility onto our email address the special code base that we use for running all the tests, we have a process for involving can community members who have identified the issues and helping them fix it basically modeled everything that Drupal security team is doing. But right now, because there's a lot more activity in the Drupal seven security team, that's where the majority of our work happens at end of life that will switch in the majority of work will happen in the backdrop q we're hoping to still continue to work with the long term support people on security issues with Drupal. But how that happens is to be determined. So that's the biggest difference there.

 

John

So just quickly, you said that 80% of backdrop is or Drupal seven is compatible with backdrop what happens in that 20%? what's what's your suggestion for people that find may find like, oh, have this Drupal module installed, but it doesn't work the backdrop what what do they do in that case?

 

Jen

Yeah, so what I've been doing is I've been getting my Drupal seven modules working on backdrops, the first thing I do is put the module on the backdrops, I change the infocomm, turn it on, and see what works and what doesn't. Usually you turn it on, and it mostly works. Sometimes there are interactions with systems that have changed slightly, the biggest change that we have right now that we don't like is the fact that the property language from Drupal seven change to lane code in Drupal eight. And so we have that change in backdrop that one in really early. We're currently working on trying to come up with a backwards compatibility, a way that we can make the reference to language work in backdrop without necessarily any doubt that property now or entities, we're figuring it out. And hopefully that will be less of a pain point in the future. But that right now is the thing that makes me the most mad because I have to replace everywhere. But we do have a copy of coder module that will do the finer place for you. It also replace all Drupal functions with backtrack functions and anything that it can automate. And that can also we've had people who are not developers run a module through coder and say, Oh, this works for me now. And there are some the some of the other biggest issues are how the page renders. So in Drupal seven, we have this massive page array that was assembled ahead of time, carried around and then rendered all at the end. And so there were functions that interact with page array, you know, like page altar, all of that stuff is gone. Because our page system doesn't have that it's it's just a bunch of blocks that get concatenate together as a string. That made that memory requirements much lower made the performance much faster, it allowed us to snap in the layout system in a way that just puts blocks in the right places. So that's a pretty big change in how the page is modeled. But that affects very few modules. So like I rewrote the meta tags module for backdrop, and that one was really hard because it always create a new page array, and so every time I needed to do something, I had to figure out a new way to do it. And that module being the hardest one I've ever worked on took me two weeks to get working on vector. So in terms of like, worst case scenario, I don't know something might take a month. Best case scenario, it's five minutes.

 

John

All right, I feel like we could probably talk about backdrop and then all the features and fun for for another hour but unfortunately we have to wrap it up. So Jen if people are interested in reaching out to you with questions about backdrop or finding out more about backdrop Where can they do that?

 

Jen

So you can find more about backup at backupscms.org. If you have questions about backup, we have a forum forum.backupscms.org. If you have questions specifically for me, you can find me on Twitter. My handle is Jen Lampton if you have questions more generally about backdrop you can do at backdrop CMS, there's usually somebody watching that account most of the time. There's also other ways we have a live chat. So you can jump in a live chat if you have a GitHub account and talk to anyone in the community about backdrop whoever happens to be there. And we if you have a hard question you want to ask us face to face. We have meetings every Thursday, where you can join in a Google hangout and talk to whoever happens to be there about whatever's on your mind. Open q&a at the end of every meeting.

 

John

Fabulous. That's awesome. All right. Well, we have wrapped up another show, Nic, where can people contact you on the internet?

 

Nic

You can find me pretty much everywhere at nicxvan.

 

John

Awesome. Thank you. And if you are interested in reaching out to us at talking Drupal you can send us an email show at talking Drupal. com. You can also contact us on Twitter at talking Drupal. If you go to talking Drupal. com You can also become a Patreon sponsor if you're interested you like the content you've here here here. And for me, my name is Johnpicozzi. If you want to find out about Oomph, you can go to oomphinc.com you can find me on all the social networks at johnpicozzi Thanks everyone and have a great day.

 

Nic

Thanks see you week.

 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai