Drupal Association blog: DrupalCon Portland 2024 - Recapping Drupal’s most significant North American event!

Written by DrupalCon Portland Marketing Committee members Iwantha Lekamge, Luke McCormick, and Christina Lockhart.

DrupalCon Portland 2024 has come to an end, and what an exciting event it was. The City of Roses welcomed back Drupalists from around the world with open arms as we gathered at the Oregon Convention Center once more. It’s always great to get together with the rest of the Drupal community in person, and this particular DrupalCon was full of exciting news, from announcing a new version of Drupal to updated branding for the Drupal project. Four days full of networking and learning with the community through over 70+ sessions went by so quickly! 

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Attendees gather at DrupalCon Portland 2024 for the group photo

Whether you could not attend the conference or want a reminder of how awesome it was, we’ve broken down each day of the event in our DrupalCon Portland 2024 recap. Read on to learn more about how each day went!

Day One

Day One of DrupalCon Portland kicked off with a morning of sessions, including Key to Collaboration—How to Build Psychological Safety with Individuals and Teams. This session, led by Britany Acre and Cori Neslund, was an impactful examination of the value of psychological safety. It explained how having it (or not) can affect teams, some best practices to build it within teams, and reviewed tools that can help teams based on their current state.

Another session highlight on Monday morning included Accessibility Audits -The many shapes and sizes, what’s the right fit for you with Kathy Beck and Julie Elman. During this session, the two speakers discussed why accessibility matters, the components of an audit, and steps that teams can take to ensure their work is accessible. 

Next up came the Welcoming Remarks prior to the Driesnote, where we witnessed Michael Anello win the Aaron Winborn award - congratulations on a well-deserved win, Michael! The excitement in the air continued when we found out where the next few DrupalCons will be held: Barcelona, Singapore, and Atlanta! Three vibrant, exciting cities that will be a perfect fit for the Drupal community. We can’t wait to attend! 

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This year’s Driesnote, one of the most anticipated parts of DrupalCon, introduced a new version of Drupal – Drupal Starshot. Speaker and Drupal founder Dries Buytaert explained how Drupal Starshot will bring a new wave of users to the Drupal Community. Drupal Starshot, which aims to build the new default download of Drupal, will be a package built on Drupal core. It will include refined common features from the contributed project ecosystem to create a great user experience out of the box. You can learn more about Drupal Starshot and make your Drupal Starshot Pledge!

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Photo of the attendees at the Welcoming Reception

At the end of the day, the Expo Hall Welcome Party celebrated the start of an exciting week. Along with a food truck and libations, the crowd enjoyed a robot DJ, giant Lite Brite, and a 360–degree photo booth. See all of the images from the booth on the DrupalCon Portland Flick.r group!

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Day Two 

Day Two of the conference held the highly relevant keynote, Open Source AI Now: Why Open Must Win the AI War, with Alex Salkever. During his keynote, Alex walked the audience through the significant changes that AI will bring to every industry. 

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 Day 2 Keynote by Alex Salkever

Other highlights from Tuesday included Gábor Hojtsy’s deep dive into what to expect from Drupal 11, the Women in Drupal Luncheon, and many other informative sessions – some of which you can watch now on the DrupalCon Portland 2024 YouTube playlist. The Women in Drupal Luncheon, in particular, celebrated the women of Drupal, with four panelists from Four Kitchens discussing being either the only woman in a particular role or one of the few. 

Day Two continued with a few Drupal Association sessions, including the Drupal Association Public Board Meeting and Innovation and Contributions Challenges with Alex Moreno and Irina Zaks. Alex and Irina shared their research on innovation and contribution friction analysis, which led to an open discussion on what resources are needed to propel Drupal to the next level.

Day Three

The third day of DrupalCon Portland 2024 was a dynamic conclusion to the conference, filled with insightful sessions, collaborative workshops, and networking opportunities. The day began with the highly anticipated Drupal Initiative Leads Keynote, where initiative leads for nine projects shared updates on current and future endeavors within the Drupal community. Among these updates were the results of the six Pitchburg projects, showcasing innovative developments such as the Drupal API client, Decoupled Layout Builder, Policy-based access, Mentor the Mentor project, JSON Document Storage, and Drupal Gutenberg Editor.

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Initiative Updates:

  • Amber Himes Matz – Issue Queue changes, designed to increase the "throughput" of the issue queue.  Since almost all improvements in Drupal's code come through the issue queue, improving this system ripples down helpfully throughout the entire Drupal ecosystem.
  • Janez Urevc - Introducing Gander, the new core performance-testing framework that has been added to core.  This change will make it dramatically easier to monitor and improve performance in the code that runs a huge proportion of the Internet.
  • Fran-Garcia Linares – Gitlab CI, replacing Drupal CI. Compared to Drupal CI, Gitlab CI is easier to use, offers many useful features, and is much easier to maintain.
  • Ted Bowman - Automatic Updates is almost ready for release. It has been in use in over 300 sites for a year. They’ve begun expanded testing and hope to get this into core soon.
  • Jürgen Haas – ECA and BPMN, Automation API.  Powerful toolkit that enables automation of Drupal tasks, similar in some ways to a low-code/no-code approach to Drupal's "Actions" facility.
  • Mateu Aguiló Bosch - Single Directory Components. This project gives site builders and themers a lot of power to control the presentation of Drupal sites.  It integrates with UI Suite, Storybook, Experience Builder, and other exciting developments.
  • Christina Chumalas – New Navigation.  A new vertical/collapsible menu system is available now as an experimental module in Drupal core.  It incorporates many exciting features, including easier customization of menus, a "drawer" feature, a new design system, and much more.

For more information about any of these initiatives (including information about how to get involved with any of them), be sure to watch the action-packed video: Drupal Initiatives Keynote.

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Drupal Project Initiatives Keynote

Following the keynote, attendees could participate in various sessions tailored to different interests and skill levels. The Drupal Branding Panel provided a comprehensive overview of efforts to modernize and enhance the Drupal brand, while the First-Time Contributor Workshop welcomed newcomers to learn about contributing to Drupal, fostering a welcoming environment for fresh talent. Simultaneously, the Mentored Contribution session offered hands-on guidance for participants to navigate the contribution process with the help of experienced mentors.

In the Marketing Contribution room, marketing professionals explored strategies to effectively promote Drupal, emphasizing the crucial role of marketing in expanding and sustaining the Drupal community. This not only provided valuable insights but also encouraged active participation and collaboration among attendees.

The day concluded with the "Unofficial Official DrupalCon24 Party" at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), where attendees had the opportunity to unwind, network, and celebrate the successful conclusion of DrupalCon Portland 2024.

Overall, day three was a testament to the vibrant and collaborative spirit of the Drupal community, highlighting innovative developments, strategic goals, and the importance of community involvement. The event set a positive tone for future DrupalCons, showcasing the dedication and enthusiasm of Drupal enthusiasts worldwide.

Day Four

Finally, the conference’s fourth and final day was jam-packed with a day full of trainings and summits. From the insightful Nonprofit Summit to the community-driven Community Summit, attendees of the summits enjoyed guest panels and learned from each other during roundtable discussions. You can watch sessions from some of the summits and trainings on the Drupal Association YouTube channel.

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The Nonprofit Summit at DrupalCon Portland

We’ll see you next time!

After four days of collaborating and learning with the community, DrupalCon Portland 2024 came to an end. From the sessions to the social events each day after the conference, we enjoyed every bit of it! Don’t forget that you can watch session recordings now on the Drupal Association YouTube channel.

As always, it was an incredible event, and we cannot wait to get together at the next DrupalCon – DrupalCon Barcelona, which will be held in Barcelona, Spain, from 24-27 September 2024. Don’t forget to also mark your calendars for DrupalCon Singapore (9-11 December 2024) and DrupalCon Atlanta (24-27 March 2025)! By visiting each conference’s official website, you can sign up to stay up to date with the latest news and updates from the conference.