Drupal.org Migrates Developer Tools to GitLab

image credit: Drupal Association

The Drupal Association announced this week that Drupal.org will be migrating its developer tools to GitLab. In selecting a partner for modernizing the project’s tooling, the association aimed to preserve the most valuable parts of Drupal’s workflow. They also wanted a partner that would keep evolving its code collaboration featureset.

In December 2017, after evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket, it appeared the association would be moving forward with Bitbucket. If the comments on that discussion are any indication, the Drupal community was not excited about the selection. GitLab reached out to comment on the status of some of the blockers the association had identified and worked privately with Drupal representatives to resolve those issues.

“They have escalated the internal priority of issues that blocked our adoption of GitLab, offered technical and financial support for the migration, and made a commitment to ongoing support for the Drupal project,” Drupal Association’s director of engineering Tim Hestenes Lehnen said. The team plans to migrate Drupal.org’s 45,000 projects to GitLab over the coming months.

“By adding merge requests, contributing to Drupal will become much more familiar to the broad audience of open source contributors who learned their skills in the post-patch era,” Lehnen said. “By adding inline editing and web-based code review, it will be much easier to make quick contributions. This not only lowers the barrier to contribution for people new to our community, it also saves significant effort for our existing community members, as they’ll no longer need to clone work locally and generate patches.”

It’s easy to see how the WordPress project might also benefit from collaborating on a platform like GitLab. In October 2017, after the company announced a $20 million Series C round of funding and appointed Matt Mullenweg to its board of directors, WordPress contributors speculated about whether the project would move to GitLab.

“It’s definitely something on our minds,” Mullenweg said when asked if GitLab and WordPress might collaborate in the future. “Core WordPress is still Trac and Subversion, so I think that it’s not our top priority this year, but in the future it’s definitely on the radar.”

In 2016, GitLab worked to establish itself as the most welcoming platform for open source organizations after GitHub failed to address open source maintainers’ concerns in a timely way. The company began actively courting disgruntled GitHub users following GitHub’s May 2016 pricing hike.

GitLab’s efforts to resolve critical issues for Drupal.org demonstrates the company’s commitment to ensure open source projects have what they need. Drupal.org’s transparency throughout the decision to migrate its developer tools enabled the project to respond to the community’s request to make GitLab work. It also prompted GitLab representatives to reach out with more information on the project’s blockers. As WordPress will be looking to move its developer tools to a new platform in the future, following along with Drupal.org’s migration experience as it progresses should be a good learning opportunity.