18 March 2022
Paul Morriss

Drupal Meetup March

Our March Meetup focused on two presentations on:

  • Ignition Error Pages module and the Documentation Generator module

  • Backdrop as an alternative CMS for Drupal 7 sites

This was followed by short discussion on the possibility of a ‘hybrid’ Meetup with some people meeting in-person and others dialling in. 

Ignition Error Pages and Documentation Generator modules

Gaurav Kapoor is a senior Drupal engineer at Axelerant. At our March Meetup he spoke about two contributed modules, Ignition Error Pages and Documentation Generator.

The Ignition Error Pages module integrates Ignition with Drupal to make error pages look beautiful. At the moment, it only works with Drupal 10 due to dependence on Symfony 5.

The Documentation Generator module can be used as part of a site handover, or more generally to find out more about a Drupal site. The module was originally set up as a sandbox module, however Gaurav took it on as the maintainer. It provides documentation in one page that can be exported to MS Word or PDF. It includes quite a few filters so you can choose what gets generated in the documentation. 

Backdrop for Drupal 7 sites

The second presentation was from Greg Netsas, a Drupal developer at Salsa. Greg introduced Backdrop CMS as an affordable open-source solution for SMEs, not-for-profit and the education sector. Backdrop CMS was forked from the Drupal codebase in 2013, before the introduction of the dependency on Symfony with Drupal 8 and newer versions, so it’s more similar to Drupal 7. The first release was in 2015, and it follows a 4-month release cycle, with 21 minor releases since. Each minor release adds new features and improves the user interface and experience. It’s now being used as a solution for Drupal 7 sites that are nearing end-of-life but can’t be migrated to Drupal 9 either because of the complexity or, most commonly, because of budget restrictions.

Backdrop values the needs of the editor and architect over the needs of the developer, and the needs of the contrib developer over the needs of the core developer. The project principles are:

  • Easier upgrades — Backwards compatibility is important

  • Simple — Write code for the majority

  • Focus — Include features for the majority

  • Extensible — Ensure Backdrop can be extended

  • Secure — Keep sites and people safe

  • Performance — Meet low system requirements

  • Release on time — Plan and schedule releases

  • Freedom — Remain free and open source

Greg also talked about the collaboration between the Drupal Security Team and the Backdrop Security Team for security releases that affect both projects, and he showed us some interesting stats on the size of the Backdrop community.

Interesting recent fact: Stanford University in the US has upgraded two of its high-profile sites from Drupal 7 to Backdrop CMS. The upgraded sites went live back in January, but it was only shortly after Greg’s presentation that there was an official announcement by the team of developers that look after those sites. They said: “Our total cost was less than 20% of the cost to rebuild (in Drupal 9).”

If you want to see what Backdrop looks like and try its user interface, you can spin up a sandbox (it only takes about 1 min and the sandboxes only last for 24hrs).