Kalamuna's Top 3 DrupalCon Takeaways: Components, Composer, and Paragraphs, Oh My!

By Hawkeye Tenderwolf,
Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz

I arrived at DrupalCon NOLA 2016 with some clear priorities for investigation, and I didn't come away disappointed. Read on for the low-down on the most important Drupal initiatives shaping our development experience here at Kalamuna.

Components and ¶s

We all agree that style guide driven development is pretty swell (watch the DrupalCon presentation), but who has time to build out every component1 in beautiful, semantic markup just to turn around re-implement their div-riddled, bastard cousins in CMS-land? Not us Kalabots. But thanks to John Albin's recent work on twig.js for KSS-node, we can now build our precious components with a JavaScript implementation of the Twig templating system. “Wait a minute… Doesn’t Drupal 8 use Twig, too?” you probably just rhetorically wondered aloud. Pause, let it sink in, and then, “Oh for synergy's sake!” you may now exclaim, “You mean I can use re-use my style guide markup directly in Drupal!?” Why yes, my friend, yes you can :) Even in Drupal 7, with a little elbow grease.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Paragraphs has been around since 2013 and rapidly gained acclaim for being the bomb diggity. And though Panels, Panopoly, and the In-Place Editor have long been staple ingredients in Kalamuna’s awesome-sauce, our love affair is officially over. We find those tools have lost their shine and perhaps outlived their usefulness; Kalateam is moving full steam ahead with some Paragraphs-based page building workflows that represent a radical shift in editorial UX for our clients. And with good reason: Paragraphs bundles align nicely with those nifty components that make up our style guide. It’s not one-to-one, mind you, but it works out pretty well. All that’s left is to pull that style guide markup into our Paragraphs bundles’ entity view mode templates.

This doesn’t exactly happen “out of the box,” but not to fear, the folks at Phase2 and Red Hat have got our backs. At DrupalCon, they demo'd some pretty elegant tools that aim to close the gap between design and implementation. Watch their presentations on (a) the relatively straightforward Drupal Lab approach2 and (b) Red Hat's hugely powerful but more complex Pattern Builder tool.3


I'm really excited about this one. Gone are the days of bundling core and contrib code into your development repository. While this was already possible in Drupal 7 with Drush Make, I never got into it. With the introduction of Composer for dependency management, it’s never been easier to keep our repositories slim and trim. In one of the devops BoFs, I learned about the official drupal-composer/drupal-project repository as a starting point for D8 composer-based workflows. Fork it, clone it, and “composer install”-it. Boom bam, thank you ma'am, you’ve got some tasty Drupal 8. For a similar approach but with a Docker environment thrown in for good measure, check out Rob Loach’s soapbox.

Configuration Management

Thought you knew everything there was to know about Configuration Management? Think again. Alex Pott and Matthew Tift demonstrated a novel, recommended workflow that blew me away. Watch the ~15 minute demo (starting from 31:52 in the linked video) for a sneak peak into using Configuration Installer to solve the simple case of:

"I want to build a site for a client, and I’m one of N developers who are working on it. We want to manage configuration locally and then deploy it to production.”

So good!

As usual at DrupalCon, I spent a lot of time walking the floor, talking and catching up. But this year I also spent more time in actual sessions and BoFs than ever. There is so much exciting movement in Drupal-land right now, tools that make my job more fun, efficient, and satisfying. Most importantly, I find myself increasingly empowered to collaboratively build next-level experiences with my clients and their users.

Like what you read? Kinda the opposite? I highly encourage unrelenting flattery, excoriating lambastes, and gnashing of teeth. Hit me up on the GitHubs, the dee-dot-oh’s, and @Kalamuna.

1. Components are re-usable chunks of web; HTML, CSS, + JS that bridge the communication gap between design and implementation.

2. Check out Drupal Lab on GitHub logo and read the press release.

3. Check out Pattern Builder on GitHub logo and read the official post by primary architect, Micah Godbolt.

Derek "Hawkeye Tenderwolf" DeRaps

Senior Architect

The Masters of the Internet hath decreed that a champion web weaver must lead the progression of technology and science, and Kalamuna has followed suit by offering two-wheeling Derek DeRaps to the fast-paced arena of ever-changing requirements and challenges. With a fierce gaze and unrelenting laughter, he smashes our client’s worries and sorrows away in heroic fashion.