The Drupal Platform
Drupal 7 is one of the most advanced CMS platforms in the world. In fact, many would call it a platform rather than a CMS. Since it's release in 2011 the Drupal foundation has been hard at work on the next upcoming release, version 8. This upcoming version, set to be released August 2013, is by far the biggest release that this platform has ever seen.
There is still a lot of hard work being done on the platform, and plenty of contrib modules have begun creating version 8 releases. Many widely used contrib modules such as Views, WYSIWYG and IMCE are being included into the core of Drupal 8 on one form or another. Let's take a deeper look at this ambitious project.
Focus on the enterprise
While other CMSs such as WordPress focus on blogs and smaller websites, Drupal is setting its sights on the enterprise market, wanting to compete with CMS systems sold by OpenText, SiteCore, and Adobe. The platform is already widely used through huge educational and government institutions, and with this release, will widen it's appeal to even larger organizations.
In addition to it’s already huge following, this release is being marketed to companies that have a high number of websites in their organization, both external and internal, sometimes all running on different platforms. With Drupal 8, you can use the same core platform to build multiple sites which all have different roles, simplifying everything and standardizing their development platform. This explains why more and more multinational companies and government organizations are choosing Drupal. Besides that, having zero licensing costs certainly doesn't hurt.
CMI (Configuration Management Initiative)
Drupal 8 will change the way that you manage all the configuration of site installs. Developers will be able to have much more control of configuration changes throughout the entire life-cycle of a website.
The founder of Drupal & Acquia Dries Buytaert summed it up nicely:
For some, configuration management is a bit of an abstract term. In short, it refers to a mechanism for handling configuration changes. Site owners often want to have fine-grained visibility and control over configuration changes with the purpose of maintaining integrity and traceability throughout the life-cycle of the website. For example, they might want to lock down a site's configuration so site builders can't make changes in a production environment, they might want tools to automatically apply a set of configuration changes made to site A to site B, they might want to rollback changes, or go back in time to see who made what configuration change when. It will also pave the way for better staging; some site owners want to be able to merge user generated content into their development environment, and new content back to the production.
All content will be assigned unique IDs allowing easier movement of content between servers. Drupal 8 also has a new content creation interface, which looks a lot more like WordPress and Joomla. And now that CKEditor is installed as the core WYSIWYG editor, there’s even less set up when creating a new website and better overall support.
Drupal is also putting the Spark project into Drupal 8, which will improve content authoring and make it more media friendly.
- The Spark project was created to rectify the weakness of Drupal's content authoring
- Spark is a powerful tool that brings content authoring to a new level with inline AJAX-ified editing of pages
- The media module will possibly be moved to the core for better media management
There is a huge focus on HTML 5 and CSS 3 in Drupal 8, which allows all the amazing features that you see on responsive websites designed for all sizes of devices. It will also have the latest JQuery library to add more client side features with an increased speed and efficiency. Front end performance will be much more optimized for faster loading of content on mobile devices.
Twig is the new theming engine that Drupal 8 is adopting to replace PHPTemplate. It’s a very modern template engine (for PHP of course) that’s super fast, flexible and secure. The Symfony PHP framework fully supports Twig, and uses it as it’s default template engine.
- admin bar improvements
- pill shaped menu items now have icons
- responsive to work on mobile devices and smaller screens
New Core Modules
Drupal 8 has added a whole bunch of new modules into the core, many of which were already widely used contrib modules. One other noticeable change, the modules page is now called ‘Extend’.
Here’s a list of the new modules:
- CKEditor WYSIWYG editor
- New native fields
- Entity Reference Field
- Ban - allows banning of IP addresses
- History - creates records of what content users have read
- Breakpoint - a part of the new built in responsiveness of the platform, allowing you to set the breakpoints in the responsive layouts
- Actions - replaces triggers while adding a lot more functionality
- Tour - built in help for website administrators
- Just about the most widely used contrib module out there
Symfony 2 is a high performance and robust PHP framework, which follows the model-view-controller (MVC) programming paradigm. Symfony also has built in support of CKEditor, JQuery and TCPPDF, all libraries that Drupal 8 will use. It’s also very light weight and has low performance overheads.
Drupal 7 already has multilingual support, but this release will take it to a new level, with deeper and more robust integration. It will have API support for multilingual configuration and will have a revamped and far more usable UI for configuring translatable entities and fields.