Drupal is is a free, open-source web content management system (CMS), popular in powering many websites in the world.
On 19th November 2015, the community is launching version 8, marking the biggest change in Drupal history.
The CMS offers great standard features, flexibility and an almost endless list of modules that sets it apart from most CMS alike. Drupal 8 offers many more features and flexibility built within its core, and unlike Drupal 7, it's more of a framework that it is a CMS.
Drupal started its life as a project written by Dries Buytaert as a message board. After becoming an open-source project in 2001, Drupal's name come from a Dutch word "druppel" which means "drop" or "water dropplet"; a word in which became its logo.
Before being launched officially, Drupal 8 has came a long way as its development phase.
Drupal 8 started its feature completion on December 1st, 2012. This is the time when a new branch of Drupal is opened for development and any features or changes can be considered for acceptance as long as their within the issue thresholds. On February 18th, 2012, Drupal 8 entered its clean-up phase. This moment was when Drupal 8 began publishing its alpha releases. On July 1st, 2013, API completion phase for Drupal 8 began after the API freeze deadline, starting the moments for beta releases that happened on October 1st, 2014.
On October 7th, 2015, Drupal 8 first announced its candidate (RC1) which includes new features and improvements for both users and developers, including: a revamped user interface; WYSIWYG and in-place editing; improved mobile support; added and improved key contributed modules; added a new object-oriented backend using Symfony components; redesigned configuration management; and improved multilingual support.
The RC1 version was a collective work made by more than 3,000 core contributors, hundreds of organized events, conducted usability tests, mentored contributors, found sponsors, etc..
Same Name, Different Being
The internet is growing and the trends are shifting fast into the mobile-first era. Companies and organizations on the web need to innovate quickly to catch up with the speed of customers' demands. As new devices and new technologies are adding more complexities in building a website, Version 8 is Drupal's new establishment in the new standard of digital experience, object-oriented delivery and API-based architecture.
"Drupal 8 answers the call for a flexible digital platform built for the future," said Drupal's creator Dries Buytaert, who is also Acquia's co-founder and CTO. "It provides a modern development framework, a reimagined user experience, and tools that empower builders to create digital experiences that are multilingual, mobile and highly personalized. It brings together contributions from more than 3,000 users and developers to deliver the most important advances in digital experience delivery the market will see this decade."
What sets Drupal 8 different from Drupal 7 or any versions prior to it, is its introduction of many significant changes. With version 8, Drupal is involving a major re-architecture of CMS. Angela Dyron who co-maintained its previously described the changes to Drupal 8 as getting off the island".
With its over than 200 new features and improvements over the prior version, Drupal 8 comes with many new capabilities. Below is a list of some of the highlights:
- Mobile-first: Allowing authors to publish content to any device. The entire Drupal is made responsive.
- Multi-channel, Dynamic Content Delivery: Drupal can deliver its contents "as a service" to any site, device, native application, or emerging channel with RESTful APIs.
- Front-end Flexibility: With client-side framework, developers can get the flexibility in creating experience delivery.
- Enhanced Usability: A reimagined and easier-to-use authoring experience comes from a new editor tool and streamlined in-line, in-context authoring.
- Translation and Globalization: Drupal 8 transforms content management localization.
- Faster Development: Drupal 8 comes with object-oriented web development framework, their built-in components, staged configuration management, and improved unit testing support.
- Faster Dynamic Content: Dynamic caching for personalized, data-driven experience to accelerate content delivery.
- Integration into the Digital Experience Stack: Drupal 8's core and its modules have better ability in integrating with third-party tools.
"Drupal 8 is built for organizations that are thinking ahead. When it comes to digital, the future is here," said Tom Erickson, CEO of Acquia.
Because it rolled out a number of components taken from Symfony 2 PHP framework, Drupal 8 is meant to be modern with more flexibility built within its code base. Beside that underlying code base, all of its adjacent technologies such as Composer, Guzzle, and Twig, are now also included. And with its flexibility, developers can now find their site's contents will be available through APIs.
A decision was made to go "whole hog and catch up with everybody else and get the code base to the point where it's all object-oriented, and decoupled, and unit tested and all of these kinds of things, so that going forward ... we never have to do this big re-architecture again," said Byron.
Patching Old Problems And Its Workaround
While Drupal has been a widely popular CMS of choice by many webmasters and web owners, Drupal still falls back behind to some extent if compared to some other popular CMSs. One of which is its steep learning curve and its backed user-interface and user-experience.
Drupal 8 manages to tidy up those mess a bit. Although Drupal 8 didn't become more newbie-friendly, but it indeed took several steps forward in becoming a CMS geared towards more astute developers.
For example, Drupal 8 provide some previously a must-have modules, baked straight into its core. Key contributed modules such as Views, Date, and Entity Reference are the examples. It's also making itself multilingual out of the box, differentiating itself apart from WordPress and Joomla.
Drupal has been a resource-heavy CMS. Despite its size, it's relatively consuming more memory when running many contributed modules. Module management was somehow difficult, making upgrades a bit of a hard work to those that don't rely heavily on command line prompts. Drupal 8 is aimed to patch some of this issue by making it perform better while scalability improved, especially its content caching system.
With its name and its massive scale and usage, there's no doubt that the arrival of Drupal 8 is the big milestone in the platform's history. And for a news in the world of CMS as a whole, it's indeed a big step up, as many others don't come up with a name as big as Drupal.