The future of Drupal is headless (Drupal = Headless Core Platform)

Discover the future of Drupal as a headless core platform in our latest blog post. We delve into strategic recommendations to ensure Drupal's relevance in the digital landscape for the next five years, embracing modern JavaScript frameworks, API-first development, and more.
Lukas Fischer
Gründer, Digital Consultant
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Drupal Headless Core Platform architecture

In the rapidly evolving world of web development, the concept of headless architecture has surged in popularity, pushing the boundaries of traditional CMS platforms. Among these, Drupal, a platform often labeled as traditional or hybrid, has been a topic of much debate. In my talk "The future of Drupal is headles" at Drupal Mountain Camp 2024 I shed light on this discussion, arguing for Drupal's ability to be a headless core platform.

For transparency: At NETNODE, we're actively developing "NodeHive Headless CMS", a product designed to fulfill this vision.

This exploration was inspired by a thought-provoking blog post from Dries Buytaert, the founder of the Drupal project. Dries's reflections tackled the criticisms of Drupal in light of emerging technologies such as MACH architecture and JAMstack, highlighting Drupal's enduring relevance and achievements. Building upon his insights, my presentation aimed to address critical inquiries regarding Drupal's future:

  • What role does Drupal play in a modern digital experience stack?
  • How can Drupal remain significant and influential in the coming five years?

What role does Drupal play in a modern digital experience stack?

Answer: Drupal = Headless Core Platform for composable digital ecosystems

My stance is unequivocal: Drupal is a headless core platform. To substantiate this claim, I dove into an array of statistics and trends, contrasting the waning interest in traditional CMS platforms with the burgeoning enthusiasm for headless CMSs and JavaScript frameworks. My argument was fortified by data from Google Trends, Stack Overflow, and comprehensive industry reports, offering a well-rounded perspective of the digital landscape's current state.

I firmly believe Drupal is uniquely positioned to act as a central pillar in a modern stack. It seamlessly integrates with an assortment of microservices while offering a robust API for decoupled frontends. This strategy not only capitalizes on Drupal's superior content management capabilities but also embraces the adaptability and scalability intrinsic to headless architectures.

Where should we invest to stay relevant in the next 5 years?

I propose several strategic recommendations for the Drupal community and for Drupal as a product:

  1. Replace the Theming Layer: Transition from traditional theming approaches to using modern JavaScript frameworks like Next.js, Nuxt.js, and others. This change would not only modernize Drupal’s front-end development experience but also align it with current industry standards and practices. Ultimately, embrace decoupled frontend as default.

  2. Offer Standard SDKs: Develop and provide standard Software Development Kits (SDKs) for all major platforms, including JavaScript/TypeScript for web development, iOS for mobile, and others. This would simplify the integration process for developers working across different platforms and technologies, making Drupal a more attractive option for a wider range of projects.

  3. Recreate the Admin UI with React: Embrace a true API-first approach by rebuilding the admin user interface using React. This would not only enhance the user experience for content administrators but also demonstrate Drupal’s commitment to leveraging contemporary technologies and frameworks.

  4. Move Code to GitHub: To better engage with the JavaScript community and younger developers who are more familiar with GitHub, migrate the code repositories from GitLab or other platforms to GitHub. This move could significantly increase contributions from front-end developers and help in keeping the Drupal project vibrant and forward-looking.

  5. Position Drupal as a “Headless Core Platform for Composable Digital Ecosystems”: Shift the narrative around Drupal to emphasize its strengths as a headless core platform. By focusing on its capabilities for building composable digital ecosystems, Drupal can be positioned as a flexible and powerful choice for developers looking to create sophisticated web architectures.

To concretely illustrate Drupal's potential, I showcased NodeHive, a headless CMS solution I developed by us (NETNODE AG) on top of Drupal. This demonstration highlighted its simplicity for front-end developers and its sophisticated features, such as streamlined content editing and seamless microservice integration.


In conclusion, my presentation was an invitation for the Drupal community to proactively embrace the headless paradigm. By positioning Drupal as a versatile and robust headless core platform, we can ensure its continued relevance and impact in the web development ecosystem, meeting the demands of modern digital experiences from a position of strength and innovation.

If you are interested in consulting around headless Drupal, don't hesitate to get in touch with me

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