The Drupal 8 train - Should I board it or jump onto Backdrop?

I’m not a programmer or a computer science grad but I’ve been in the software development scene for about 15 years now, mostly as a web developer and project manager.

Drupal fell on my lap in 2005, it was version 4.7. Being a website hobbyist and enthusiast at the time, I took to it immediately and became a very good Drupal site builder. A Drupal site builder is commonly referred to as someone who builds websites by leveraging the contributed modules in clever ways to create great websites without almost ever writing one line of PHP code.

Transitioning to Drupal 5 was a challenge, I had a lot of new things to learn. Making the jump to Drupal 6 was a bit easier because it seemed to solve a lot of the headaches I had with Drupal 5. Making the leap to Drupal 7 was not that hard either once I got familiar with the entity system, which is a very easy concept to grasp if you had a good understanding of CCK. The new Views interface took some time to get used to, but was a definite improvement.

Now, as I am learning and hearing about Drupal 8 - I must admit that I am a bit scared and worried that I might not be able to jump that far. Here’s the narrative I’m hearing these days: “Drupal 8 is for developers, site builders will get left behind if they can’t learn proper application design and programming concepts. Site builders who want the Drupal version of WordPress should flock to Backdrop. Drupal 8 is about ReST, JSON, Object Oriented programming, Guzzle, Twig, Symfony, and PSR-4.” Hmmm… do you speak any english?

At this moment right now, I don’t understand much about ReST and I was never really good at OO programming. Who is JSON? I keep thinking people are talking about me :) I don’t know Guzzle, Twig, Symfony, or PSR-4. Certainly, I have a lot to learn.

And I will. I will take the time to brush up on each of these concepts because I believe that, as with Drupal 4, 5, 6, and 7, the more I understand about the underlying architecture of Drupal and its database, the better site building I can do.

On the other hand, I do need to remind myself that I don’t write modules. I hire a programmer to do that for me when I have the need, but that is not often. With that being the case, I could be worrying for nothing. If content types, entities, and views along with the collection of excellent contributed modules are there, then what do I really have to worry about!? Drupal 8 will be a great improvement on Drupal 7 just as version of Drupal has been along the way.

As a Drupal project manager and Drupal website service provider, my big problem has definitely been finding Drupal talent. Whether for site building or development - knowledgeable and competent Drupalers are a rare breed. Dries said it in a recent blog post:

“The most effective way to address the Drupal talent issue, as well as the complexity issue, is to bring Drupal in line with modern frameworks and platforms, so there is less Drupal-specific knowledge to learn in order to become proficient.”

I want to learn Drupal 8 and use it to build websites where multiple languages just works, where mobile responsiveness is built-in, with AURAL accessibility and where I can still use views, content types, entities and have access to wonderful contributed modules!

I don’t want to move to Backdrop. I believe that dividing the community in two is a very bad move, for all of us. I hope that the new Drupal 8 architectural shift will be a great move for Drupal and I believe we should all stick together and make sure that what is being built will not only fit for developers, but also for site builders.

Time will tell.

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