2023 was a white hot, fun, successful and non stop year for me. Perhaps one of the best in my life both personally and professionally. Hoping for (and working toward) that trend to continue into 2024 and beyond.
Drupal 10 Development Cookbook
I accomplished a big milestone / bucket list item by co authoring the Drupal 10 Development Cookbook with Matt Glaman. The response to it has been incredible and encouraging hearing from so many people that it has helped learn, understand, and wield Drupal 10 in their CMS projects. It is also very humbling to be alongside other long time community giants like Danny Sipos, Adam Bergstein, Selwyn Polit and Luca Lusso who also released their well detailed books on Drupal 10.
I fully believe version 10 is one of the best versions of Drupal to date and continues getting better with each release. These books help newcomers get onboard no matter what their skill level, and I look forward to what comes next.
Drupal, AI, and ChatGPT
Unless you slept for the entire year, you no doubt heard about artificial intelligence and specifically "ChatGPT". ChatGPT was on the lips of virtually everyone from children to the eldery, the government, media, schools, healthcare organizations and literally everyone in between. Early on in 2023 I pre-empted the hype-train by integrating ChatGPT into Drupal 10 with the OpenAI / ChatGPT integration module.
Since its first release in January 2023 and many of the feature additions over the year, I heard from various people around the world online and in person at conferences and meetings. Initially, most only viewed ChatGPT as a chatbot like interface. That is how it was unveiled to the world. But when you wield the OpenAI API, you can go well beyond that and create interesting solutions or enhancements to everyday tasks.
That is precisely what we set out to do with ChatGPT and Drupal.
We were able to close out the year by creating 11 submodules within the suite that empowered content users to do a variety of content and debugging tasks in Drupal 10. Drupal wound up being one of the first major open source platforms that had fully functioning and production ready use cases for ChatGPT and AI integration through our efforts in adding it into the CKEditor WYSIWYG in Drupal as well as augmenting other non-WYSIWYG areas to assist content editors and site owners. There are a whopping 475 installs of this module in Drupal 10 so far!
In 2024, these kinds of AI enhancements in a platform will be table stakes - but in 2023, it was Drupal.
It was encouraging to see other efforts emerge around these topics as well, especially when the veil lifted that proved that AI wasn't just for chatbots and conversational UIs. I am very interested in enhancing search, content personalization and other site ownership features in various practical cost effective ways that AI can provide.
On the other side of the coin, the last release of the OpenAI module democratized access to ChatGPT in Drupal by bringing site builders and content editors into the mix to create their own AI workflows thanks to the fantastic ECA module. This will empower anyone to create their own custom AI enhanced functionality by easily creating it via ECA. For an example, here is a recent video by Mike Anello:
I will be talking about this more in the coming weeks about why this is such a powerful concept.
Acquia Triple Certified Drupal 10 Expert
In May I was able to complete full Acquia certification again for Drupal 10 to be designated a Triple Certified expert. I was the first Acquia Drupal 10 certified person in the US, adding to my growing list of certifications. In the future, I would like to assist in helping design the certification questions with Acquia and evangelize this aspect more.
Drupalcon, Conferences, and Podcasts
I attended several conferences and was fortunate enough to be invited on a handful of podcasts in 2023. I hope to be a guest on more podcasts in 2024. It was thrilling to see the buzz around various developments in Drupal, not just around AI, but in other initiatives like the new recipes initiative, automated updates, decoupled Layout Builder and other exciting developments.
I thought Drupalcon Pittsburgh was one of the best and most engaging to date giving a presentation on ChatGPT in Drupal and having many conversations with people around AI throughout the conference. I will be attending Drupalcon in 2024!
At the end of the year, we attended Acquia Engage in Boston. We were honored to receive an award for AI innovation partner of the year due to our work in integrating and evangelizing ChatGPT for Drupal. I even had the opportunity to come up on stage and speak about the opportunity to a packed house during the innovation keynote alongside Dries Buytaert and Deanna Ballew. I had a lot of fun hanging out all week talking to various agencies, partners and clients about AI and how they may be using it this year in their content development efforts. The talks and showcases were picked up on various outlets like CMS Wire!
Modules and Projects
We were able to release several new modules and update some others this year to provide new functionality and enhancements for Drupal 10 sites. Below is a list of some notable mentions:
- Views REST Serializer Extra
- Layout Builder Context Integration
- Twig Slugify
- Acquia Site Studio Views Element
- OpenAI / ChatGPT Drupal Integration
- Media Entity Podbean
- Drupal Recipe Generator
- BigCommerce Integration
- Search API Trim Whitespace
- Search API Coveo
- SweetAlert v2
I also got to work on a few new things in 2023 as well. I had an opportunity to publish two small packages to Packagist, which can be obtained with Composer:
These were the result of exploring Drush generators and offering the functionality as standalone packages that were not a part of Drupal modules. It was also my first time publishing packages to Packagist, outside of the Drupal.org ecosystem.
The recipe generator was something I came up with to quickly iterate over creating Recipes for Drupal for the new Distributions and Recipes initiative. That package has been downloaded over 320 (!!) times and still cited in articles and conferences highlighting how recipes may work and replace install profiles in future versions of Drupal. This effort helped others understand the initiative and get up to speed creating their own recipes. The future of this feature is very promising and I can't wait to see the result when this is completed.
Finally, I was able to squeeze two other side projects in at the end of the year.
The first is an add-on for DDEV. It provides a local Typesense server and admin dashboard for search related purposes. I have long been an admirer of Typesense from a distance and finally got to sink some time into this. Since it is a DDEV add-on, anyone running a DDEV project (not just specifically Drupal) can take advantage of it.
The second is a connector module for Drupal 10. This is what connects Search API to be able to talk to Typesense and index content to a collection. This will be one of my mini initiatives for 2024. I previously was able to pitch in some changes for the Search API Coveo module last fall, proofing out that Drupal and the incredible Search API module is capable of just about anything.
I am very interested in getting solid Typesense support stable and available for Drupal as part of the work I am doing around AI and search. This will likely lead to some contribution to the Search API Solr module as well.
Here is a quick work in progress video of it in action:
Outside of all of the above, we also launched several successful client projects!
There were also several contributed articles to the Velir blog as well (and of course several that were made on this blog). I have tried to balance the content between the two sites:
- Velir Wins Awards for AI and Nonprofit Work at Acquia Engage
- Debug Errors in Drupal using ChatGPT and Ignition
- Using the Key module to store secrets outside of Drupal
- Why We Merged Our Drupal Development Stack with DDEV
- New Drupal 10 Module for Decoupled Search Experiences
- AI, ChatGPT, Recipes and More: A Drupalcon 2023 Recap
- Learn About Drupal 10, AI, and More at Drupalcon Pittsburgh
- Leveraging the Context Module with Layout Builder in Drupal
- Exploring the New “Recipes” Feature in Drupal 10
- Three New Drupal Modules for Ambitious Site Builders
- The Rise of OpenAI and ChatGPT
- “Drupal 10 Development Cookbook” is Now Available
That was quite a year! For me it was one of the most productive and rewarding years yet. What comes next will be even bigger changes. Stay tuned!