Drupal Starshot is certainly an important and necessary step for the technology which has been at the forefront of modern web development for more than 20 years. One of Drupal’s recent key areas of focus is attracting and onboarding a new generation of Drupal developers and site builders, and Starshot will play a key role in this especially for the latter.

The Starshot project will play a vital role in bringing all the streamlined features of enterprise Drupal to non-enterprise use cases, effectively bridging the gap between enterprise and non-enterprise. 

Just a quick clarification here to help you distinguish between Drupal Starshot and Drupal CMS: Drupal Starshot is the broader project that will focus on the creation of Drupal CMS, a product that people will then use (i.e. Starshot will include the aforementioned marketing and messaging around Drupal CMS).

At his recent State of Drupal keynote presentation at DrupalCon Portland 2024, Drupal founder & project lead Dries Buytaert announced a new direction for the CMS which heavily prioritizes an out of the box user-friendly experience – Drupal Starshot.

While Drupal has been focused on streamlining the platform and its functionalities for enterprise use cases, the new Starshot project will aim to provide an equally compelling and easy to use experience for small to medium sized businesses with less technical capabilities.

Radically enhancing the out of the box experience

One of the key components of the new Drupal CMS will thus be the expanded Next Generation Page Builder, aka Experience Builder, also recently announced by Dries, which will combine the optimized experience of the Drupal Layout Builder with the best features of Drupal Paragraphs, Single Directory Components and basic theming capabilities.

This is in line with Drupal’s commitment to the Open Web, the core tenets of which are freedom, decentralization, inclusion, participation and empowerment

This will greatly empower ambitious site builders, the key user group that Drupal is committed to and whose technical proficiency is lower than that of mid- to senior-level developers, meaning they will rarely work with an IDE and pretty much never use a CLI. A key design priority will hence be that (mostly) everything will be done from the browser.

Well known and beloved proprietary low-code/no-code frameworks such as Wix, Squarespace and Webflow, as well as other open-source CMS platforms such as WordPress, are optimized and geared towards an easy and fast start, providing user-friendly out of the box functionality and great customization options for non-complex use cases.

high-level low-code/no-code website building features as early as in version 7 with Panels which later evolved into Paragraphs and Blocks in Drupal 8 and beyond.

As pointed out above, the Drupal Starshot project will focus on providing a great out of the box experience for site builders that will greatly simplify getting started with Drupal and launching a functioning Drupal site.

So, the changes in marketing together with its streamlined out of the box site building capabilities will help bring Drupal CMS closer to the people not familiar with Drupal at all, or those who don’t have a strong opinion on it due to past technical focus and difficulty for non-technical personas, something that’s essential to Drupal’s sustainability.

What does all this mean?

A small but significant change that will greatly improve the out of the box experience will be the default option to “Launch” Drupal CMS, as opposed to “Download” with Drupal Core, implying from the get-go that less technical proficiency will be required for building a website with Drupal CMS than with Core.

The glue that will hold everything together in the new Drupal CMS will thus be Drupal Recipes. Site builders will be able to select from prepackaged recipes, and the CMS will also come with the most popular contributed modules preinstalled, based on the specific recipe.

To this end, how Drupal is marketed will also be significantly refined, with the new Drupal CMS being offered as the recommended Drupal version for website projects and the current Drupal Core as the secondary option. The official Drupal website will also reflect this change, and the new version of the CMS will be the one promoted by the Drupal Association.

Many Drupal shops already have their own custom versions of the platform tailored to their typical client needs, for example. Starshot will essentially provide the same option to any Drupal agency as well as end user of Drupal. This is definitely an important time for Drupal and it will be exciting to see how its future plays out with the release of the Drupal CMS and other future developments.

In case you’re looking for experienced Drupal engineers to augment your team, check out how Agiledrop works with Drupal and/or reach out to us directly to learn more about how we can help your project out.

When is the release?

Another important feature that we can expect to see are advanced AI capabilities that will additionally enhance the site building experience. Drupal was one of the first content management platforms to provide great generative AI integration, and Drupal CMS will no doubt want to continue taking advantage of this innovation to serve less tech-savvy users.

Wrapping up & looking ahead

This means that the new Drupal CMS will need to be on a high enough level to compete with these already established players in the market. The transformation of how Drupal is marketed which we highlighted in the beginning of the article will thus play a crucial role in showcasing this new direction to the broader tech & development community.

However, there are already a lot of existing platforms and thus a lot of competition in the small-to-medium business space.

You can already try out a prototype version of Drupal Starshot right now! The first official version, however, is planned to be available in under 8 months, or by the end of this year. Unlike Core Drupal, Drupal CMS will prioritize fast innovation through a different, more frequent release cycle, with releases potentially happening as often as once a month.

Similar Posts