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DrupalCon Portland 2024: Insights & Innovations with Matt Glaman

At DrupalCon Portland 2024 and as part of the Insights and Innovations series, we had a great conversation with Matt Glaman, a Principal Software Engineer at Acquia and a prominent member of the Drupal Community. He is a seasoned DrupalCon attendee and shared his unique experiences, favorite sessions, and exciting new developments in the Drupal community. In particular, Matt shared with us the introduction of Starshot and the launch of his own module, Retrofit. Additionally, Matt shared his experience migrating the Acquia DAM project from CKEditor 4 to CKEditor 5 and some tips/tricks for developers to build custom plugins in CKEditor 5.

The Hallway Track: Where Real Connections Happen

Matt’s decade-long journey with DrupalCon 2024 was nothing short of a testament to the evolving nature of the conference. While the formal sessions initially drew him in, it was the informal ‘hallway track’ that he found most enriching.

“My favorite session is actually the hallway track. This is my 10th DrupalCon. So the first two were, sessions and sessions, but now it’s seeing friends and getting together and having all the talks on what people are working on.”

Indeed, DrupalCon appeared as much a tech conference as it was a reunion of passionate developers and innovators who shared and built on each other’s ideas.

Drupal Starshot: A Unified Initiative

One of the highlights of this year’s DrupalCon was the announcement of Starshot during Dries Note 2024. Matt found the launch exciting as it fostered a unified approach amongst agencies and developers working on similar projects and “recipes” to build sites.

Starshot is not just a new feature or module – it’s an initiative that brings together diverse elements of the Drupal community under one umbrella - Drupal CMS.

For Matt, Starshot represents a strategic ownership of Drupal personas – from site builders to core developers.

Embracing Duality: Drupal CMS and Drupal Core

A significant takeaway from our conversation was Matt’s perspective on Drupal’s evolution to cater to two distinct primary user personas:

  • The low-code site builder using Drupal as a CMS
  • The developers leveraging Drupal core as a robust framework

“We’ve always kind of been right down the middle and never owned either audience. So I think we’re going to be able to own those two audiences and really show what makes Drupal great through our different technologies.”

This distinction, aimed to streamline Drupal’s offerings, makes it more accessible for newcomers while still powerful for seasoned developers.

Retrofit: Bridging Drupal 7 and 10

Matt’s excitement was undeniable when discussing Retrofit, a module he developed to ease the Drupal 7 to Drupal 10 migration. In fact, he gave a talk about the module - Save Time Upgrading Drupal 7 to Drupal 10 using Retrofit. The tool aims to minimize code rewrite efforts for developers by allowing significant portions of Drupal 7 code to run within a Drupal 10 environment.

“Retrofit lets you run your Drupal 7 code in Drupal 10… It’s just we’ve done such a great job at data migration and all the data.”

This innovation could potentially reduce time and resources significantly for many developers facing daunting upgrade paths. Be sure to take advantage of it and read more about it at the link to Matt’s talk, above.

Challenges and Solutions Migrating from CKEditor 4 to 5

Switching gears, Matt also delved into the technical challenges he faced during the migration work from CKEditor 4 to CKEditor 5. Learning the new APIs and adapting to CKEditor 5’s framework was a learning curve, but one that was ultimately rewarding. He describes his experience as:

“…it’s oh, I have to write a little bit of PHP code in Drupal to say that there’s a plugin and then make the JavaScript API of Drupal talk to CKEditor 5.”

For those interested in plugin development, Matt highlights the importance of leveraging CK Editor’s extensive documentation and test cases as invaluable learning tools.

The Role of CKEditor 5 Premium Features in Enterprise Workflows

While we were discussing some of the premium features of CKEditor 5, Matt pointed out the advantages of these features for businesses entrenched in document-centric workflows, like those heavily reliant on MS Word or Excel. The features included Paste from Office Enhanced which enables error-free copy-pasting from MS Word and Excel for complex text and style formatting.

Another useful premium feature we discussed was Document Converters, specifically Import from Word for CKEditor 5. This feature allows you to convert any number of Word documents into error-free HTML inside CKEditor 5. Styling is preserved along with comments and suggestions from Track Changes.

Wrapping Up

As our conversation wrapped up, it was clear that Matt’s contributions and insights are a reflection of the broader and dynamically evolving Drupal community. Whether it’s embracing both low-code users and hardcore developers with new initiatives like Starshot, addressing version challenges with  Retrofit, or tackling technical upgrades with CKEditor 5, the community continues to thrive on innovation and collaboration.

To explore more about Matt’s work and Retrofit, make sure to check out his sessions and contributions in the Drupal community.

For more updates from DrupalCon 2024 and the latest Drupal + CKEditor 5 developments, follow us on our socials.

Want to talk with us?

If you’ve got questions about how CKEditor 5 can supercharge your Drupal site builder, or anything else to do with rich text editing, just contact us anytime. You can also find us on these channels:

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