Proudly Not Invented Here — or Being TYPO3 at DrupalCon Lille

Categories: Event Report Created by Mathias Bolt Lesniak
Stage with projection screen showing the text "Welcome to DrupalCon"
Drupal Association CTO Tim Lehnen speaking at the opening of DrupalCon Lille, France. Photo: Mathias Bolt Lesniak (CC-BY)
In October 2023, TYPO3 attended a Drupal conference in Lille, France. This was an opportunity to strengthen our collaboration and learn more about a fellow open-source CMS — and maybe ourselves.

 TYPO3 Association board member Mathias Bolt Lesniak visited DrupalCon in Lille, France, 17–20 October 2023 as part of the Meet TYPO3 initiative. See upcoming Meet TYPO3 events.

A Keynote about TYPO3?

I’ve said it before, and I say it again: You don't need much to make a keynote by Drupal-founder Dries Buytaert sound like it's about TYPO3. An old-fashioned search and replace of Drupal with TYPO3 is often quite enough. The Driesnote at DrupalCon Lille was a good example of this, and thus equally applicable for our CMS.

The keynote underscored the challenges many free-and-open-source (FOSS) content management systems have in common. Although our CMSs function differently and have very different user interfaces, the challenges we try to solve as FOSS software and professional communities are very much the same. How do we make our products win — especially in competition against proprietary products?

Learning From Others

Told as a fairytale, the keynote told a story about the benefits and freedom of an open-source community. At the same time, the story underlined the importance of learning by looking at what makes other technologies attractive in the marketplace. Dries used four examples, pointing out benefits that Drupal should be inspired by, but also the flaws in each solution:

  • React is in fashion and loved by developers, but it's not marketer-friendly.
  • Contentful is easy to get started with, but suffers from proprietary vendor lock-in.
  • Squarespace and Wix are user friendly and come with automatic updates, but also have many limitations.
  • Adobe has great capabilities, but is very expensive.

He concluded that Drupal must create a better builder experience, making their CMS easier to start, build, and maintain. These goals are similar to our focus in the TYPO3 project, most recently in the TYPO3 v13 roadmap.

Proudly Not Invented Here

Drupal is ahead of TYPO3 in some places, while we are ahead of them in other respects. The Drupal Association has recently started its own Marketing Team. TYPO3 has had such a team for a while, and I think there are good possibilities for learning and exchange between the two teams. Something as simple as looking at each other from an outsider's perspective could teach us a lot.

I also had interesting conversations with the people who ported WordPress’s Gutenberg editing interface to Drupal. This is currently a third-party contribution, but it is a good example of how open-source code can benefit multiple platforms and reduce the time wasted on feature duplication.

Let’s do away with the Not Invented Here syndrome. There’s a new maxim in town: Proudly Not Invented Here.

Open Source — a White-Label Brand

Since our joint letter to the European Union concerning the Cyber Resilience Act (CRA), Drupal and TYPO3 are collaborating more and more. In addition to learning from each other, promoting the importance of open source as a choice over proprietary software is a central topic. Call it white-label marketing of open source, if you want.

Just as at DrupalCon Pittsburgh, I sat in on the Drupal Association’s public board meeting. These meetings start with a formal board meeting, but a lot of time is also spent answering questions from the audience. In this way, the public board meetings serve much the same purpose as the Q&A or All Questions Answered sessions the TYPO3 Association offers at our events.

In the meeting, I placed myself anonymously at the back of the room to listen. However, as the collaboration on the CRA was brought up, I was asked to rise: The audience applauded TYPO3!

Being Stronger Together

DrupalCon Lille was also the debut of a new talk by Jeffrey A. “jam” McGuire and myself, called Defend FOSS (watch it on YouTube). For a while, each of us have been speaking about the fundamental benefits inherent in free and open source software. This was the first time we did a talk together, merging our two slide decks into a powerful message. The audience loved it and the feedback was fantastic. (We’re hoping to do it again soon, at a conference near you.)

Ultimately, conferences like these are a good chance to meet with people from related open-source projects. This time, I also had a chance to meet Kate Bazilevskaya, who represents the CKEditor project. This is the rich text editor used by both Drupal and TYPO3 Core, so maybe we should collaborate more on that too? 

I also had good conversations with hosting companies and other solution providers about TYPO3. Like with DDEV, many platforms can benefit from compatibility with both Drupal and TYPO3.