Drupal Starshot initiative

For a very long time, Drupal site-builders had no easy way of setting up a new Drupal instance locally, or on the Cloud, without having to follow quite specific or even narrow instructions or adopt a Drupal distribution. This is about to change with Starshot, the new default download of Drupal CMS that will become available as a ready-to-install package and it will offer a great user experience, right out of the box!

Some background

Drupal can be (and has been) a low-code solution adopted by users and provides a robust solution for various scenarios. Having said that, Drupal can be challenging to newcomers and, admittedly, it's famous for its steep learning curve.

Extending Drupal: Searching for modules

Some of the tools needed to bring Drupal to the next level and make its usability comparable to WordPress or Webflow are already available but not quite there; for example, you can search for a module using the Download & Extend page on https://www.drupal.org/project/project_module:

Download & Extend search feature on Drupal.org

The search feature is not exactly inviting and the project (module) pages can also be somewhat demanding to users with little or no Drupal experience.

Extending Drupal: Distributions

Distributions provide a set of website features as a single download that includes Drupal Core, modules, themes and configuration. Drupal distributions make it possible to quickly set up a use-specific website in fewer steps than by installing and configuring all the separate elements individually.

Drupal distributions

While distributions have served the community well, they are:

  • Not managed centrally
  • Not easily expandable to a wider scope of features
  • Specific to the organisation that provides/maintains them
  • Hard to install and remove (especially when they require coding/Terminal knowledge)

As a result, distributions can feel like a more "closed" format of pre-packaged features and do not necessarily appeal to large Drupal user groups. 

Starshot is promising to change all that:

The result of Starshot will be a fast-moving Open Source product that enables site builders without Drupal experience to easily create a new Drupal site and extend it with pre-packaged recipes, all using their browser. It will guide site builders to install recipes for common use cases and innovative capabilities that are immediately useful for production. It will focus on getting people from install to launch really fast and will bring new people and contributors into Drupal and the Open Web.

Starshot Initiatives

Read on for some fascinating initiatives included in the Starshot promise.

1. Automatic Updates Initiative

automatic updates not supported for Core

Currently, applying Drupal Core security patches requires some knowledge of or familiarity with Composer and the Terminal. This naturally increases the time between security patches being made available and applying them on the live website and enforces organisations to invest more hours in maintaining their Drupal assets.

The Automatic Updates Initiative is aiming to change that by introducing a secure system for automatically installing Drupal Core patches and security updates.

2. Experience Builder Initiative

The Layout Builder module has been a very popular digital experience-building tool for some time now. From the module's page on drupal.org:

Drupal's Layout Builder allows content editors and website builders to easily and quickly create visual layouts for content display. Users can customise how content is arranged on a single page or across types of content, or even create custom landing pages with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface.

The layout builder currently provides the ability to quickly put together unique user experiences on a plethora of Drupal websites but it comes with some limitations, the most prominently being the following:

  • Dependency on multiple contributed modules
  • Subpar experience for content editors

At DrupalCon Lille 2023, Dries announced a new strategic initiative to build a Next Generation Page Builder, which should eventually resolve these issues and elevate Drupal's experience-building workflows to the next level.

You can follow how the idea evolves on the corresponding Drupal.org project idea page.

3. Project Browser Initiative

As mentioned above, finding and installing modules requires too many steps and some of them require you to leave your Drupal site and navigate to drupal.org, while others require technical skills such as Composer or the Terminal. The Project Browser Initiative aims to resolve this and make it easier to find and install modules, especially for new users and Drupal site builders.

4. Recipes Initiative

In the introduction section above, we've covered the main reasons why site builders have currently no easy, reliable and sustainable way of installing Drupal. The Recipes Initiative aims to change exactly that and create a new feature in Drupal called a “recipe” that can be installed at any point in the lifecycle of a Drupal website, including during installation through the Project Browser. From the initiative's page on drupal.org:

Recipes will be declarative, not functional. Architecturally, recipes will harness a new capability called Config Actions to define the recipe. Recipes will have the ability to require dependent modules for functionality. Recipes can build on other recipes to create larger Recipes.

The first phase of the Recipes Initiative is complete; The Recipe Initiative APIs have been added to Drupal Core as experimental. The second phase of the initiative is currently in progress and you can follow the progress of the related issues on the corresponding page: Recipes Phase 2 Roadmap.

Ways to get involved

Drupal Starshot is a unique collection of initiatives that will allow Drupal users of all levels to compose, build, expand and maintain Drupal projects in the years to come. As Dries mentions in his blog, the success of Drupal Starshot will be a testament to the incredible collective power of the Drupal community. It's a challenge we are also unwilling to postpone and intend to win.

You can get involved and help with Starshot in the following ways:

Starshot upcoming sessions


The Starshot Initiative is fascinating news for Drupal, its loyal community and all the future adopters, colourfully encapsulating the principles that make the Web accessible to everyone. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!