Spry Digital at DrupalCon 2023: Pittsburgh Recap

Julia Koelsch // Drupal
DrupalCon 2023 Group Photo

In early June of this year, some of us at Spry had the opportunity to attend DrupalCon in Pittsburgh, PA. There were so many things we enjoyed about the conference itself: an opportunity to run into old friends, meet new friends, deepen our Drupal knowledge, learn what’s on the horizon for Drupal, and help foster the Drupal community. 

This year's conference balanced the technical sessions with those on marketing, business, and culture. In fact, some of our favorite talks were on topics that aren’t unique to Drupal. Here’s a recap of our highlights:

The Future of Drupal Is Here

The re-architecture of Drupal, starting with Drupal 8, was essential for Drupal to evolve at the rate of change in technology. It was an investment, and with any significant platform change, some of the major payoffs won’t be seen immediately. Now with Drupal 10 and beyond, it’s clear that the investment paved the way for some really exciting features in upcoming Drupal versions.

One of our favorites was “Single Directory Components in Core.” Mike Herchel, senior front-end developer at Agileana, and Mateu Aguiló Bosch, senior developer at Lullabot, gave a compelling vision of the future of Drupal theming. This has the potential to fundamentally change how theming is done in Drupal and is a compelling reason to migrate to version 10 (v10) ASAP!

Other great sessions on Drupal features included

  • the “Advanced Render Cache Debugging” session - presented by Jody Hamilton, Web Development Manager at Renesas, and Janez Urevc, Senior Engineer at Tag1 Consulting - really got us excited about troubleshooting, particularly for complex performance issues.
  • the long-talked-about feature of Automatic Updates in Drupal is coming! Thanks to Adam Globus-Hoenich, Staff Software Engineer at Acquia, and Ted Bowman, Principal Software Engineer at Acquia, for presenting “Introducing Automatic Updates in Core.”


Being Your Authentic Self and Supporting Others in that Quest


Brittany Acre, senior client success manager at, gave a talk that resonated with us: “Authenticity is Contagious - Being real and showing emotion builds long-lasting client relationships.”  She explained why trying to model so-called "professionalism" can be harmful personally, as well as bad for those you work with, bad for your company culture, and bad for business.

Other great talks that we want to share include: 

  • Monica "Nikki" Flores and Ellie Fanning from Lullabot presented an inspiring and actionable talk on thinking beyond how “DEIA” is traditionally defined, providing specific steps you can take at work to support true equity for everyone:  “Beyond Inclusion: Building a Culture of True Equity.” 
  • There is a lot of talk about how tech careers are good choices for those who identify as neurodivergent, but there’s not a lot of talk about how to support neurodivergence at work. Fei Lauren, scrum master at Renesas Electronics, bravely shares her personal experience and offers suggestions for organizations in her talk  “Neuroinclusivity in Tech: The hidden costs of neglecting soft skills.”

Other Takeaways

The Drupal community is one of the friendliest and most diverse open-source communities I’ve encountered in my career. This DrupalCon gave me plenty of reasons to continue to feel this way. The Drupal Association infused the conference with opportunities to talk about issues as they arise, hosted events for affinity groups like the Black in Drupal roundtable and the Women in Drupal luncheon, and ensured that attendees felt safe to be themselves. 

This DrupalCon also represented the culmination of this year’s Discover Drupal program, for which I was a mentor. Being able to meet the person I’ve been mentoring was hugely gratifying. Many thanks to the Drupal Association for this program and for the opportunity to participate!

There were more great talks that we couldn’t attend, but thankfully, all sessions were recorded and conveniently organized on YouTube. Check out the whole playlist for more great information.

Link to photo album:

Meet the Author: Julia Koelsch

Julia Koelsch, one of the Co-Founders of Spry Digital, has over 18 years of experience in the design and development of IT solutions. She possesses a unique combination of technical expertise and analysis from a business perspective. She has a passion for developing technical solutions for organizations that allow them to better focus on their own areas of expertise.

Julia’s interests have always balanced the technical and non-technical. Her love of literature led her to a degree in English from Washington University in St. Louis. Soon after graduation, her love of programming led her to take Computer Science classes at Webster University. She helped found Spry Digital in 2010 with Sheila Burkett and Ken Moire.