A new era for Drupal begins with Drupal 8

As was mentioned earlier this week, today is the day Drupal 8 becomes official and is released for public consumption. The last time CMS Report was given the opportunity to talk about a major Drupal release was in January 2011 with the release of Drupal 7. If you thought the three year waiting period from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 was long, waiting nearly half a decade for Drupal 8 certainly feels like a lifetime in the world of content management. During this cycle of development, Drupal's own open source community has evolved and its developers have introduced hundreds of changes into the Drupal content management platform.

Since the release of Drupal 7, the Drupal community considered not only how they could influence the content management industry, but has also looked outward to consider how the best practices of developers, designers, and publishers could influence Drupal's own to build a better Drupal. Dries Buytaert, founder and project lead of Drupal, in a blog post remarked that "Drupal 8 has been a big transformation" for the open source community. 

The pace of change in the digital world has become dizzying. If we were to ignore these market forces, Drupal would be caught flat-footed and quickly become irrelevant.

But we didn't. I'm proud to see that we've responded to these market forces with Drupal 8, and delivered a robust, solid product that can be used to build next-generation websites, web applications and digital experiences. We've implemented a more modern development framework, reimagined the usability and authoring experience, and made technical improvements that will help us build for the multilingual, mobile and highly personalized experiences of the future. From how we model content and get content in and out the system, to how we build and assemble experiences on various devices, to how we scale that to millions and millions of pageviews -- it all got much better with Drupal 8.

Drupal 8

There are literally hundreds of coding, design, and workflow improvements to be found in Drupal 8. Below is a list of featured changes and additions found in the new version of Drupal:

  • In-context, what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editing and previews
  • Comprehensive content modeling out of the box with entities, fields, and views
  • Customization of content pages and even forms and administrative pages via the administrative interface
  • Full translatability and localization out of the box
  • Reliable configuration management for safe and straightforward deployment of changes between environments
  • Mobile-first, responsive, HTML5 output
  • REST-first native web services
  • Enhanced accessibility and WAI-ARIA compliance
  • Modern PHP standards and practices, with integration of popular libraries such as Composer, Symfony2, Guzzle, and Twig
  • Significantly improved front-end performance out of the box
  • Enhanced caching and best-of-class integration with CDNs and reverse proxies
  • Full compatibility with PHP7, and the PostgreSQL and SQLite databases

With key modules like Views and Entity Reference fully included in Drupal 8 core, and many contributed projects already available for Drupal 8, you should be able to start building a website with Drupal 8 much sooner than was possible with any previous release of Drupal.

As I mentioned a few days ago, if you have need to upgrade your Drupal 6 or Drupal 7 website to Drupal 8, a Migrate module should be out shortly. What I didn't know at the time was that an Upgrade Status module has also been made available so you can get a customized, up-to-date report on the status of when your Drupal 6 and 7 modules and themes are also available in Drupal 8. Once you are ready, you can then use the Drupal 8 Migrate module to update existing core content from your Drupal 6 and 7 directly to Drupal 8. The readiness of migrating content and configuration from third-party modules will depend on the contributors of those modules you plan to use for your Drupal 8 site.

Drupal 8 is available to use for free and with download links available at Drupal.org. Starting with Drupal 8.0.0, Drupal core releases will move to a new release cycle schedule. New features to Drupal 8 are expected every six months in minor releases, with bug fix and security release windows to be made available monthly.