Why You Should Be Excited for Drupal 8

With Drupal 8 in active development, there are many features that our WDG developers are excited about seeing. The biggest change with Drupal 8 is the adoption of Symfony.  The core of Drupal has been re-written on top of the Symfony framework, meaning that many of the hooks available in Drupal’s API are being dumped. This will allow for a cleaner code base rather than continuously building code upon code like you would within other CMS’. While this major change in Drupal is exciting, it does mean that a tremendous effort will be required from the community to port all 7 modules to 8. Developers will also have to become better associated with object oriented programming. On a positive note, traditional PHP developers will have an easier time adapting to developing awithin Drupal.

Here’s a breakdown of how Drupal will improve the experience for anyone working on a Drupal 8 site.

Content Managers

Inline-editing

You no longer need to click on the “Edit” tab and be redirected to different page when you need to change content. Users are now able to edit specific sections of content without being redirected.

Mobile-friendly site editing

Need to update your content on the go? Get your tablets and phones ready because Drupal’s default administration tools will now be responsive in 8.

Built in WYSIWYG

This more than speaks for itself. It’s one of those small details that I whole-heartedly believe will encourage more folks to jump into Drupal 8 without being intimidated.

Responsive themes

Default themes such as Bartik, Seven, etc. will now be responsive, straight out of the box. This is certainly a step in the right direction and shows great initiative; however, in my opinion as a Drupal Developer, all default themes could use a design overhaul, and maybe take some notes from Rubik.

Developers & Site Builders

Blocks & Layouts everywhere initiative (SCOTCH)

This initiative aims to bring unity to a system of disjointed output components (blocks, page callbacks, menus, theme settings, and more), and provide a standardized mechanism of output, new tools for placing content on a page, and a potential for performance gains among other added benefits.

What does this mean? Essentially, everything will be rendered as a block that is then outputted on Drupal’s page. In addition, if everything is considered a block, the new layout system will empower site builders with a new UI allowing them to change the layout of a page.

HTML5 and death to IE6 and IE7

Drupal’s core markup is now going to be written in HTML5.  You can follow a proposed draft of Drupal 8 coding standards at at http://jacine.github.io/drupal/. On a side note, support for IE6 and IE7 will be dropped. I hope this makes everyone else as happy as it makes me.

Configuration Management

For anyone who has worked on a large project with multiple developers, you are probably using a form of subversion control (and if you’re not, you have some ‘splainin’ to do). While this helps, it can also cause problems since Drupal 7 stores everything in a database.  If you create a new content type, the only way to push that up to your production site is to (a) copy all of the fields and cross your fingers you spelled everything right, and (b) export them to features.

In Drupal 8, configurations will now be stored in files instead of the database. This means you will now be able to natively export configuration settings to the file system as YAML.

Symfony

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, Drupal will now be built on top of Symfony.  The logic behind building Drupal on top of a framework mainly has to do with the large community backing and supporting it. It will allow developers to focus on more Drupal specific tasks instead of trying to build a framework from scratch.

Twig

Drupal 8 will now feature a new theming system called Twig. The main benefit for using Twig is its security.  Twig will increase performance as it compiles templates down to plain optimized PHP code. It will provide a new learning curve to developer but hopefully the pros will outweigh the cons.  You can read more on Twig here – http://twig.sensiolabs.org/

WSCCI

This acronym (pronounced Whiskey) stands for Web Services and Context Core Initiative.  The goal of this initiative is “to transform Drupal from a first-class CMS to a first-class REST server with a first-class CMS on top of it”.

In conclusion, there are some major changes coming with Drupal 8. This is a great thing for Drupal. The developers behind upcoming 8 are very forward thinking and have the opportunity to easily set Drupal apart from all other CMS’ within the next few years.

The Web Development Group is an established full service creative agency in the Washington, DC, area. We specialize in interactive design and development geared towards building custom web solutions for our client’s complex needs. To discuss your next web project in Drupal, drop us a line via our online form.

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