This year's DrupalCon North America may have been one of my favorites so far. Baltimore was a wonderful city, the sessions I attended were incredibly inspiring, and the convention itself was extremely well-organized. And, for the first time, I started to feel comfortable that Drupal 8 was finding its footing instead of being stuck in "wait-and-see mode."
There were many new faces in the crowd, which bodes well for the Drupal Community. And "community" was very much at the forefront of conversations, presentations, and keynotes. Though it was nice to see a sense of community being emphasized, the emphasis was intentional and an attempt to bring the community closer together.
To that end, there were many moderated discussions for the community to express their feelings with regard to diversity and inclusion and possibly identify a better governance model for the future.
In his keynote, Dries did have his mea culpa moment where he recognized,
"I have heard all of you. We are going through some difficult times and I want to reassure you that I have really heard you. It pains me to see the community is in pain. I love this community."
(Here's a link to the DriesNote beginning at 26:00 https://youtu.be/q25eaJHpXFo?t=26m)
"More and more sites are being launched in Drupal 8. I'm not sure if you've been keeping track of the usage statistics but the past few months we've been launching over 15,000 per month. So that number had been going up and up and up. Which is great!"
(Here comes the kicker.)
"And one of the things that these websites have in common is that they are
much more ambitious."
Wait. What? "Much more ambitious?"
Between his slide showcasing major corporations launching on D8:
and the YMCA slide promoting, "Ambitious Digital Experiences"
left many in the audience wondering where they fit into the Drupal 8 experience.
There are small agencies that consider themselves ambitious.
There are small development teams that consider themselves ambitious.
So, perhaps ambitious was merely an ambiguous term and more like a recognition that Drupal 8 isn't the best fit for non-ambitious projects like brochure sites. Or perhaps Dries was verifying what some of us already suspected that D8 was built with large-scale clients in mind.
For the rest of the conference, I spent a lot of time talking to attendees and checking out name badges. I saw large universities represented, corporations, cable channels, museums, etc. It left me wondering where were the small agencies that once came to DrupalCon?
My concern is if Drupal 8 is primarily aimed at the big players with big budgets, that leaves a lot of us out of the D8 game. I really hope this isn't the case, but if so, I do like where Backdrop fits into the picture since it is excellent for those building sites with limited budgets, D7 experience, and ambitious goals.