Dries Buytaert

State of Drupal presentation (June 2023)

DrupalCon North America 2023 DriesNote presentation

Last week, approximately 1,500 Drupal enthusiasts came together in Pittsburgh for DrupalCon North America. In good tradition, I delivered my State of Drupal keynote. You can watch the video of my keynote or download my slides (240.6 MB).

The theme of this keynote was innovation. As we like to say in Drupal, the drop is always moving. If we don't keep progressing and innovating, we risk falling behind. That is simply not an option because our mission and purpose are just too important.

License to innovate

In my keynote, I talked about the Drupal Association's goal to support and prioritize product innovation. To shed light on this important topic, I moderated a Q&A session with Tim Doyle, the new CEO of the Drupal Association, and Baddý Breidert, the current chair of the Drupal Association Board of Directors.

We discussed the strategic goals of the Drupal Association, the three-year plan we have been working on, and the actions we're taking to help accelerate product innovation. Given that it was a brief 15-minute Q&A, we only scratched the surface. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming weeks!

Jumping S-curves by letting a 1,000 flowers bloom

I also discussed the importance of Drupal "jumping S-curves". The pattern of innovation and growth over time follows an S-curve, with periods of slow progress, rapid innovation, and stagnation, followed by a leap to the next curve.

Lessons from S-curve jumps include the importance of having a vision and purpose, grassroots innovation, a supportive environment, and allowing time for ideas to flourish. I applied this theory to Drupal and emphasized how we are well-positioned for innovation, and have been able to jump S-curves over the years because of this.

Drupal has a clear vision and purpose, receives contributions from many individuals, provides a supportive environment, and allows ideas to grow and flourish over time. Additionally, we have initiatives like Project Browser and Recipes that help showcase innovative ideas.

Pitch-burgh innovation contest

Finally, we determined the winners of the Pitch-burgh innovation contest, where individuals from all over the world pitched their own innovative Drupal ideas via video submissions. The response to our contest was overwhelmingly positive, with many attendees expressing their desire to see it return and expand in future DrupalCons.

We received 35 proposals for DrupalCon Pitchburgh, which exceeded expectations. Moreover, thanks to the incredible support from our sponsors, we raised $75,000 in sponsorship funds. I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of our sponsors: Drupal Association, Acquia, 1xINTERNET, Skilld, Palantir.net, Digital Polygon, Zoocha, ImageX. I also want to express my gratitude to Lee Walker from Code Journeymen and Jonathan Daggerhart from Daggerhart Lab for their real-time support. When the audience vote fell short by $3,000 to fully fund the fifth winner, they stepped in, and shouted from the audience that they will provide the extra funds.

All 35 submissions can be viewed on Drupal.org. I would like to extend a special congratulations to the five exceptional projects that were granted funding as a result of the live audience vote. I'm excited to see your projects come to life over the months to come.

  1. ​​Decoupled Layout Builders (PreviousNext, $20,000)
  2. Using Drupal Gutenberg towards the most easy to use enterprise CMS (Frontkom, $22,000)
  3. JSON data and schemas FTW (Brad Jones, $20,000)
  4. Drupal API Client (Brian Perry, $10,000)
  5. Contributing and Mentoring the mentor (AmyJune Hineline, $6,000)

I'm really excited about these particular projects being funded because many Drupal site builders have requested enhancements for Drupal's page/layout builder (proposal 1 and 2), and more and more Drupal developers are embracing an API-first approach to website development (proposal 3 and 4). The funded projects offer an interesting blend of both. While we can't guarantee that these projects will be added to Drupal core itself, they surely deserve to be taken into consideration. We'll decide that in time through our regular process.

Bonus announcement and unexpected funding

Since Automattic is the main developer behind Gutenberg, I shared the Gutenberg proposal with Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic. Matt was really excited about the idea of more Drupal sites using Gutenberg, and he kindly offered to provide the full €20,000 in funding through Automattic. Furthermore, he will be sending some Gutenberg experts to join the sprint without any cost to the Drupal community. Thank you, Matt!

Matt shared this great news after my keynote, which means we received some unexpected last-minute funding. It brings the total funding for Pitch-burgh close to $100,000!

As a result, we are able to fully fund the next project chosen by the audience at DrupalCon: Policy based access in core (Factorial, €13,000). The remaining funds will be carried over to the next innovation contest or used for other strategic initiatives of the Drupal Association.


I always love the energy that fills the air when so many from the Drupal community gather together in one place. Every time I attend DrupalCon, I go home full with ideas, enthusiasm, and energy. The creativity and passion of the Drupal community constantly inspires me. I firmly believe in our ability to drive innovation at an even faster pace in the years to come.

— Dries Buytaert