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Nishtha Pradhan Author's Perspective
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5 Minute read

What’s new about Drupal 8?

Drupal is one of the leading open-source content management platform. And Drupal 8 is turning out to be the new standard for creating incredible digital experiences for small businesses, global enterprises, and everything in between. It is a powerful new suite of tools, and can be the strongest link for any new content supply chain.

Drupal 8 enables you to interact with countless applications, thanks to its REST-first native web services. It gives you the power to use progressive decoupling to break free from back-end restrictions without sacrificing security and accessibility. It enables you to deliver faster, with enhanced entity caching and better integration with CDNs and reverse proxies. With Drupal 8, you can build almost any integrated experience you can imagine.

Drupal 8 Features

When Drupal 6 was released in 2008, it was the best version of Drupal up until then. With easier theming, drag and drop administration, new core modules, and an easy setup, D6 would have been the ideal choice for your business.

But the open source community worked hard to improve itself and soon Drupal7 was launched. It was an improvement to D6 with more features and functionalities. But probably the improvements weren’t significant enough for business to invest in updating their Drupal site.

All that changed in November 2015 with the release of Drupal 8. A complete rewrite, D8 is written in Symfony, and comes with the Object Oriented Programming (OOP) approach. Unlike previous releases, D8 is an MVC based framework, which means faster sites, and an easily scalable architecture. With all functionality streamlined into four key modules, the significant addition to Views module to core, and support for over 100 languages, it’s safe to say Drupal 8 packs quite a punch.

  1. Mobile Flexible

    Due to the Mobile Initiative, Drupal was the first major Content Management System (CMS) to be mobile friendly out-of-box. Drupal 8 ships with a nice administration theme that is also fully responsive, allowing content creators to add/edit content from their phone or tablet. By upgrading to Drupal 8, one can ensure a responsive web design that works for the user and changes according to their screen size and specifications.

  2. Broad Support for HTML

    The increased clarity and simplicity of HTML5 coding in Drupal 8 makes it easier to write web markup. It also gives direct access to fields like email, date, time and phone etc. This coding increases the resulting functional excellence and device compatibility. There are theme-based templates for writing HTML5 coding that could help even the amateur web designers.

  3. Broad Support for HTML

    Drupal 8 has far more crucial built-in functionality than any prior version. This is crucial to website security because core modules have a much higher level of scrutiny than community contributed modules have. Being in core means passing a much stricter review process before being added, and with many more eyeballs on the code. Also, unlike some contributed modules, Drupal core updates are released regularly.

  4. Improved Performance and Scalability

    BigPipe in Drupal 8 enhances performance by sending the cacheable parts of the page first, then the dynamic/uncacheable parts. Drupal 8 also requires PHP 7.x, which offers a modest performance improvement over PHP 5.x. Finally, Drupal 8 provides a built-in dynamic page cache for logged in users that caches pages minus the personalized parts.

  5. Enhanced Flexibility

    With Drupal 8, just about everything that makes up the underlying architecture is considered an “entity”. This is a huge break from prior versions of Drupal as entities were broken into distinct categories, such as node (page), field collection, and so on. Also, things like blocks (e.g., the header and footer of any site) were not considered entities.

    These two limitations have been removed in Drupal 8, resulting in better flexibility than ever. Just about anything can be referenced in a field. One example benefit is creating a block reference field. This would put the power of adding reusable content in the hands of content editors.

  6. Easier Migrations

    One thing that may have had some people holding off on upgrading to Drupal 8 was that Drupal's new migration features weren't quite ready, and writing a custom data migration or working with a buggy migration tool can be quite a challenge. The Drupal Migrate module is finally stable. This module is included with Drupal and is designed to make it as easy as possible to move all of your content from a Drupal 6 or 7 site to your shiny new Drupal 8 site.

  7. Powerful Authoring

    Drupal 8 brings powerful authoring tools like WYSIWYG Editor and CKEditor for content editors alongside draft creation. The most significant improvement is the in-place editing that comes bundled with the core module. Under this type of editing, content editing could be done through a simple editing window on the same page without the need to open the complete editing form.

    Powerful Authoring

  8. Language No Barrier

    The web developers could use in-built multilingual features inside the admin interface. Creating web pages that offer language-based viewing, filter options and blocked visibility option is now convenient. The automatic updating of translated updates from the user community is accepted readily. This feature makes Drupal 8 a must-have web platform for multilingual businesses.

  9. Future Proofing Your Site

    Drupal 8 will make your site more future proof in two ways:

    1. It allows for content to be accessed beyond a browser.

    2. The new release cycle allows for major new innovations to be built into core.

    Drupal 8 core ships with RESTful Web Service APIs. With this capability built into core, the possibilities of how Drupal 8 can be used are practically endless.

    For example, Drupal can be used to serve content to mobile applications. Other examples might include sharing content with Amazon’s Alexa and Internet of Things (IoT) devices like wearables.

  10. Ease of Media Management

    One of the major downfalls of Drupal in the past included adding media to content, and for larger sites, managing media assets. With the release of Drupal 8.5.0, the media module was added to core, finally making Drupal’s media capabilities on par with CMS platforms like WordPress.

    Ease of Media Management

    Image source: drupal.org(Entity Browser Enhanced)

  11. Downloads Easily

    Drupal 8 based websites cache every entity and download JavaScript only when required. Once a page has been viewed, there is no further requirement to download it again. The content seen previously will be quickly presented through the cache memory. This process remains automatic once it is configured perfectly and runs smoothly.

  12. Enter the ‘Twig’

    A theme-based engine called Twig is now an integral part of Drupal 8. With it, one would be able to create websites with its easy to comprehend themes and templates that are less complex than the php templates of the previous version. Being a handy tool for web development, Twig makes the website strong on the security front and improves the development process.


Conclusion

Drupal 7 is going to reach end of life on November 28, 2022. Hence, it is important to know the roadmap that has been laid down to succeed Drupal 7. The image below depicts Drupal 8 releases from March ’20 to February ’21.

Drupal Core Release Cycle

Image source: drupal.org(Drupal Core Release Cycle)

Each minor version has development, alpha, beta, and release candidate phases. The alpha, beta and release candidate phases last approximately two weeks each (so the first alpha release is about 6 weeks before the minor release date). The image below shows the release phases of Drupal 8.7.x:

Drupal Core Release Cycle

Image source: drupal.org(Drupal Core Release Cycle)

Releases/ Update Information Drupal Version
First Wednesday of every month Bugfix release window for Drupal 9.1.x, 8.9.x, and 7.x
Third Wednesday of every month Security release window for Drupal 9.1.x, 9.0.x, 8.9.x, and 7.x

Nishtha Pradhan Junior Associate | Altudo


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