2nd August 2013
The top three things that excite me about Drupal 8
Way back in August 2011 Dries Buyteart, the original mastermind & creator behind Drupal spoke about the future and specifically about timescales for the release of Drupal 8
Personally, based on listening to a lot of people, I believe that for Drupal 8, the release date should be 18 months after Drupal 7 reaches its Plateau of Productivity
This is of course somewhat ambiguous as it is Dries himself who will make the decision of when Drupal 7 has reached this “plateau of productivity”. However the 1st of July 2013 marked the beginning of the Drupal 8 API freeze. This critical phase aims to start solving “release blocking bugs” and provide developers with a stable API to begin porting modules to Drupal 8 and, as any company who uses Drupal as its development platform of choice will know, the bottleneck in switching to the latest version of Drupal is dictated largely by the availability of key modules.
The API freeze also means that we will start to see beta releases rather than alpha releases. This doesn't sound like much, but it will mark a milestone in development and won't happen until all of the critical upgrade bugs from the last release of Drupal 7 have been resolved.
I’ve picked a few of the key features I’m most excited about in the upcoming Drupal 8 release:
Views in core
All I can say is “It’s about time”. Views is a vital tool for Drupal developers and having it as part of core means greater support, not to mention recognition for the developers who published this fine module. Views is essentially a way of querying the Drupal database and pulling content together into a single “view” based on filtering criteria defined by the developer. It’s powerful and flexible (but is sometimes overused).
Configuration Management Initiative
One of the main problems with Drupal, and in fact many other CMS systems, is the difficulty in designing a development cycle that effectively makes use of version control systems like GIT or Subversion to provide a non-production environment in which new features can be tested safely, and not moved to the live site until they are working as intended.
The Drupal 8 configuration management initiative seeks to remedy these problems by rewriting vast tracts of the Drupal core to enable Drupal configurations to become fully revisionable and manageable through code. By utilising a standard interface for configurations, the potential for “locking” everything on a given server arises which could prevent changes to one environment whilst allowing them on another. Awesome!
Inline content editing with AJAX
Whilst not a feature I can see myself using all that often, I’m excited about this for our clients. The ability to simply be on a given page of your website and edit it right there and right then, without needing to navigate through screens of admin panels, finding the page in the huge list of content then dealing with awkward WYSYWIG editors (there is no such thing as a good WYSIWYG editor) is quite an enticing prospect.
I adore Drupal 7, I think it was a massive leap in terms of accessibility, usability and functionality from Drupal 6, but I think that Drupal 8 is without doubt the most ambitious and forward thinking Drupal release to date, and quite possibly the most exciting CMS release of recent times. With alpha versions already available and beta releases on the way, I will be tinkering with Drupal 8 over the coming months. However I fully expect it to be about 18 months from release date before the critical modules are ported from Drupal 7 that will allow Drupal 8 to become more popular than its mighty predecessor.