8 Reasons Drupal 8 Will Be Amazing

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8 Reasons Drupal 8 Will Be Amazing

As we get closer to the release of the next major Drupal version (Drupal 8) we decided it was time for a quick post on the top 8 reasons why we think this version of the popular PHP web platform will be amazing.

Please note these are in no particular order and it would be wrong to pretend there weren’t other features we’d still like to see developed more fully into the final product. These are 8 reasons why we think Drupal will continue to be a powerful option when building web applications, websites, and now mobile-first websites as well.

1. Built on a solid platform

This newest version of Drupal has taken a major PHP framework, Symfony, and used it as the base upon which they’ve built this latest version. This comes as no surprise to anyone following along with the development cycle for Drupal but for others this may be a welcome new feature. If you have experience coding in Symfony already (We do!) then developing for Drupal has become that much easier. Of course for teams like ours who have already been coding in Drupal for years this isn’t too much of an advantage but for newcomers to the Drupal scene this is certainly a welcome feature.

Integrating with Symfony does bring a different set of challenges however as this will tie Drupal more closely to a secondary product maintained elsewhere, and could lead to future issues when it comes to upgrades. (Upgrading is certainly one area where Drupal could stand to focus on in their next major release). Overall, building on a well-recognized, powerful framework like Symfony is definitely a great feature for Drupal 8.

2. Thorough testing before release

We often joke in the office about the length of time between each major Drupal release. Sometimes it feels like a new version will never “drop” but the reality is we appreciate the amount of testing which is done before a stable release is made available. We are more confident that the product when it is announced as stable will indeed be suitable for integration and upgrades of existing websites. We’ve been able to be a part of alpha and beta periods and have found our fair share of bugs and little things which need to be addressed before being released as stable, but all of these are the very reason why a beta period is announced.

Even small things such as the feature freeze occurring very early on allows us to plan our upgrades accordingly. We’re able to confidently plan for what to expect and what to plan to write custom and be prepared for when the new release is finally made available. This thorough (albeit lengthy) testing process will ensure the stable release of Drupal 8 is amazing.

3. Mobile first

While others have been focusing on mobile accessibility and the whole responsive web movement Drupal has previously not addressed this increasingly large market segment in their core product release. Drupal 8 has put a strong focus on mobile and even made the claim that this version was putting mobile first. That’s a big claim and it might be a difficult one to deliver on. Regardless the focus on mobile is a welcome new addition to Drupal and we should be able to see this focus in the user interface, the speed, and other aspects of the system.

The concept of being mobile first and mobile friendly is one that many associate with being responsive (screen size adjusting to the size of the display – phone, tablet, desktop). But there is much more than just the screen size which matters when considering mobile first. Loading time is also one that is critically important. Drupal 8 is lightening the core in order to increase page load speed and this will make websites running Drupal 8 even more amazing.

4. Web services

Ok this feature of Drupal 8 is just simply amazing in and of itself. The ability to use data directly integrated into other services through a simple web service is something many others in the content management space have seen as a valuable add-on and something certainly with pursuing. Drupal has found a simple and yet elegant way of implementing web services through the integration of a RESTful web service API. There are many reasons why web services has become such a hot topic amongst CMS providers and far too many to go into within this single blog post. We’d recommend reading this introduction to RESTful web services in Drupal 8 if you’re interested in more specifics.

If you have any need to extend your web application beyond the browser than RESTful web services is one of the keys you’ll need to unlock your data and use it in multiple formats. Drupal 8 provides this functionality out of the box and by enabling a few modules. This is an amazing features which will be loved by developers.

5. Improved Theming

This next feature of Drupal 8 will appeal to the designers in the audience. Drupal has long suffered from a rather rigid and difficult tempting system which makes creating unique custom layouts a tedious and time-consuming process. With the release of Drupal 8 a new templating engine has been integrated. This is partially the result of the new Symfony framework which serves as the underpinning for the new version. One benefit from this framework integration comes in the form of the Twig templating system. This particular template engine has been adopted by a vast percentage of other systems and has established itself as one of the most common and possibly the most-used template engine.

Twig allows for compiling the layouts and output back to optimized PHP code and with the concise syntax and easy extensibility designers and front-end developers everywhere can rejoice in this amazing new feature found in Drupal 8 core.

6. Integrated Views

If you aren’t sure what we mean when we say integrated views then you may not have quite the length of experience working with Drupal as we and others do. One of the first modules we always installed when developing a website was the Views module. This module provided a level of flexibility and improvements to the general layouts of Drupal which otherwise was not possible without significant amounts of code modifications. Thankfully this will be the case no longer. Drupal 8 now includes the Views direct within core.

This was more than a simple module addition to core. The code was cleaned up, improved upon, and the user interface greatly improved to increase accessibility. Drupal 8 includes all these features now directly within core and will save developers everywhere time and hassle. That’s pretty amazing.

7. Faster page loads

One thing every platform or web system looks to achieve is faster page load speeds. This is especially the case when working with PHP systems. Everyone wants instant loading of web pages and content and the various behind-the-scenes code used to speed up the page speed varies from one system to the next. Drupal 8 has been able to see improvements in page load speed as a result of the implementation of Symfony and the resulting streamlining of custom Drupal core code.

There are still improvements needing to be made before developers and end users alike rejoice at the improved speeds found in Drupal 8. Some of the early results being found through various benchmark testing have shown improvements not only in page load but in overall performance (requests per second, etc…). If the stable release of Drupal 8 accomplishes what it intends to and is faster it will be amazing.

8. Configuration management

The last feature of Drupal 8 we’re going to look at is the inclusion of configuration management. This feature allows for a site to be installed easily from an existing configuration and maintain all the same information. Drupal 8 incorporates a better format than previous by using YAML format for the text files storing the configuration settings. In addition with Drupal 8 you’ll find a configuration manager to provide a user interface for both importing and exporting configurations.

Configuration management means moving between development, staging, and production environments incredibly easy. This gives developers the freedom to work away from production and yet within a similar environment. By including configuration management within Drupal 8 core this reduces even further the number of additional modules needing to be installed.

There you have it. Eight quick reasons why Drupal 8 will be amazing. We’ll probably release additional articles as we get closer to the release of a stable version. Until then we’ll keep testing and contributing. If you have not yet downloaded the latest testing release we recommend taking a peak for yourself. If, however, you would rather entrust your website and information to an expert then by all means feel free to drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to hear about your situation and see if we’d be a good fit for you!

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