The New Drupal Evaluator Experience, by the numbers

Six months ago, Drupal's evaluator experience was complex, time-consuming, and frustrating. That's changed dramatically.

I previously published an article in which I compared the evaluator experience for Drupal against that of Wordpress, Symfony, and Laravel. I attempted to get a new "Hello World" site up and running in each of the four different PHP frameworks and recorded a few statistics.

At the time, Drupal required the most in-browser clicks (to discover relevant documentation, download, etc.) and came in next-to-last in total time required.

Google search term Clicks Commands run Total Time
Symfony 3 3 1:55
Wordpress 7 0 7:51
Drupal 20+ 0 10:42
Laravel 3 9 17:28

It wasn't pretty. I repeated that experiment after the release of Drupal 8.6.0, and I'm pleased to report that those numbers look entirely different today:

Google search term Clicks Commands run Total Time
Drupal 3 2 1:27
Symfony 3 3 1:55
Wordpress 7 0 7:51
Laravel 3 9 17:28

Whoa! Drupal is now the fastest to get up and running and is tied for least clicks! Additionally, the Drupal site that I created isn't an empty "Bartik" shell (as in the initial experiment). It's now a beautifully designed and fully functional application.

Dries highlighted these improvements today during his keynote at DrupalCon Europe: Driesnote slide

The evaluator experience is now fast, simple, and dare I say... fun.

What changed?

Let's review how we made this happen as a community.

  1. Drupal 8.6.0 has been released, introducing two salient improvements.

First, a new quick-start command has been added to core. This single command will install a temporary Drupal demo site and automatically log you into it. Best of all, its only dependency is PHP. There's no need to install or configure a web server or database server.

Second, a new Umami installation profile is now in core. Thanks to the hard work done as part of the Out of the Box initiative, the Umami profile provides a fully functional, beautifully themed Drupal application out of the box. It's ready for evaluator experimentation.

  1. UX changes have been made to Drupal.org.

Notably, a new /download page has been published (leave feedback here). This page sports a number of UX improvements.

To start, the new page provides a link that always downloads the latest version of Drupal. Unlike the previous download page, this does not require that you navigate to the release node. The click path to download Drupal has been reduced from 5 clicks to 2 clicks.

Just as importantly, the page provides two prominently-featured and instructive blocks directly below the download links: "Demo Drupal" and "Getting Started." These are intended to steer users into relevant Official Documentation. No more wild goose chases to find the right docs. This greatly reduces the "20+" clicks (in the first chart).

See Documentation Initiative Update, UX Changes to Drupal.org for more information on recent and planned UX changes.

  1. The Evaluator Guide has been published

One of the key parts of the Documentation Initiative Proposal was to introduce a new class of Official Documentation for Drupal. It differs from the community documentation in a few vital ways. Official Documentation:

  • Concisely provides the recommended way to accomplish a task (not a list of all possible ways)
  • Is version controlled
  • Follows an established standard
  • Is subject to a formal review process

The (pre-existing) Drupal 8 User Guide is now considered Official Documentation.

In preparation for the Drupal 8.6.0 release, a new Evaluator Guide was published via the new Official Docs project (leave feedback here). To quote the guide:

This guide provides instructions for creating a temporary Drupal demo application that can be used to evaluate Drupal on your local machine. The demo application is unsuitable for live websites and should be used for demonstration purposes only.

It provides the two commands that you need to evaluate Drupal.

Recap

With the release of Drupal 8.6.0, Drupal's evaluator experience has become excellent and competitive. This has been achieved through the work of multiple initiatives and contributors.

But, the work isn't done! The goals of Documentation Initiative aren't complete. We want to continue to improve existing documentation, expand the Official Documentation, and make more UX improvements to Drupal.org.

How you can help

Are you interested in helping with this work? You can.

Issues

Look for issues tagged with “Documentation Initiative” to follow progress and contribute!

Bi-weekly community “office hours”

Community members are invited to attend bi-weekly community “office hours.” This meeting is intended to provide a forum for status updates, discussion, feedback, etc. Feel free to propose agenda items in the #documentation channel on Drupal Slack. The meeting is held via Google Hangout on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 11am ET.

Slack channel

Contributors and interested community members are welcome to join #documentation channel on Drupal Slack.

Thank you!

I’d like to extend thanks to a few groups and individuals...

Appendix

For the curious and skeptical, the breakdown of the time-to-Drupal measurements published in this post is as follows:

  • 20s Discover documentation: Drupal.org --> /download --> Evaluator Guide
  • 12s Download & decompress Drupal on CLI (copy & paste command)
  • 41s Install Drupal on CLI (copy & paste command)
  • 14s Open & load browser page (triggered by previous command)

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