Backdrop Does a Disservice to Developers

March 5, 2015

I have been thinking awhile about why the Backdrop fork bothers me so much. At first I thought it would just be the fact that it will be splitting the community some or taking resources away from the Drupal project. But lots of projects I have worked with have been forked in the past, and it is almost aways a good thing, so why would this be different?

Thinking about it more, it dawned on me that Backdrop is the easy way out. People can put all sorts of spin on it, but at the end of the day Backdrop is going to cater to developers who don’t want to learn the new development methods in Drupal 8. I understand that mentality, why learn something new when what you know has served you so well for so long. If you jumped on Drupal at version 5, you have had 8 years where you can build awesome web sites and just learn how to develop things the Drupal way.

The thing is, lots has changed in the last 8 years outside of Drupal. I personally think Drupal 8 is a great thing. It is bringing more modern development practices, like object-oriented programming and test-driven development, into the project. It is also doing this by not reinventing the wheel, but by using an established framework in Symfony These are all really good things, not only for the project, but for Drupal developers as well.

Right now, a Drupal developer who just knows Drupal 7 or earlier has limited job opportunities outside of the Drupal community. If they have not kept up on things like MVC frameworks or how to write tests for code, they are behind a lot of other developers. [1. This is just for back-end development, not front-end coding but some of this applies there too]

Letting developers live in this world longer, Backdrop does a disservice by having their skills fall further and further behind. I realize, no one is making anyone use Backdrop but by advertising it as “the comprehensive CMS for small to medium sized businesses and non-profits” and talking about how it is easy to convert from Drupal 7, I feel it is making it too easy to suck developers in without thinking about the potential consequences to their careers.