Contributing to a modern administration UI for Drupal

At Ymbra we’ve always been a champion of giving back as much as possible to the community and that’s why we’ve always been involved in it: participating in the Catalan and Spanish Drupal associations, organizing and sponsoring events, contributing code and giving sessions... But it’s time go one step further: Ymbra is giving me the opportunity to invest most of my time during the coming months into the initiative to redesign the new Drupal administration.

The origin

There’s been a conversation about improving the Drupal Admin UI for a while now, and during last year’s DrupalCon in Vienna several BoF were held to discuss it. In parallel an important decision was also taken: Drupal was going to use React to build the Administration UI. During the last Driesnote in Nashville a new initiative to redesign the Drupal administration was officially announced and the two groups have been working together. As a result of this collaboration and during the Frontend United sprints, it was decided to merge the two initiatives under the same roof and create the new Admin UI & JavaScript Modernization initiative, that will be coordinated by Sally Young, Matt Grill, Angie Byron and myself.

This initiative is really strategic because its main goal is to compete with the new solutions emerging in the market, such as that offered by Gutenberg from WordPress, creating a new and completely redefined content editing experience. To make it happen it’ll require real dedication to have it as soon as possible to be sure Drupal keeps being competitive. In consequence some people dedicating a few volunteer hours per week is not enough.

What will be done

The initiative has four main areas so far:

  • The development of the new Admin UI with JavaScript started a while ago and the main focus right now is the content listing page.
  • The user research and testing is going to have several steps. For now an online survey has been prepared to answer some key questions and gather participants interested in helping in future phases, like a card sorting to work on the Admin interface Information Architecture (we’ll work together on that with ifrik and rachel_norfolk).
  • On the design side the goal is to define a new Design System that will serve as the ground work for any technology used to create a UI for Drupal’s administration. For now it’ll be used for the Seven restyling and the new UI built with React.
  • The restyling for Seven will consist on implementing the new Design System into the current admin UI so the integration of the Javascript parts is smoother.

The 4 main areas of the Initiative: Javascript UI, Design System, Research and Seven restyling.

Who will be doing it and how to get involved

To get here we've been working and planning for a few months with Roy Scholten. On the Design System, for example, we’re working with Roy, Archita Arora, Lewis Nyman and Antonella Severo using Figma as the main tool to ease the collaboration and centralize the work and Trello to coordinate it.

For the user research part we’re working with a group of experts with whom we intend to define and test the improvements we’re going to introduce in the new Admin UI. We're also working with Roy and Antonella, Michelle Jackson, Sarah Lowe and Suzanne Dergacheva.

The work done for the Seven restyling has just started in the #admin-ui Slack channel where we’ve started to work with the first designed components on a Seven clone.

If you’re more interested in the Javascript part, you can learn more about it in this post by Sally Young and participate in the creation of the new Admin UI with Javascript on the Slack channel #javascript and follow the weekly meetings there every Monday at 4:30pm (UTC). Sally Young, Matt Grill, Daniel Wehner, Ted Bowman and Lauri Eskola are some of the great people behind it.


Huge thanks to all the contributors to this initiative so far, and special thanks to the initiative coordinators Sally Young, Matt Grill and Angie Byron, and to Roy Scholten.