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Drupal 8, the next version of the content management system Drupal, is projected for release sometime after Fall 2013. From all appearances it will not be just another version upgrade. There will be extensive improvements on issues that matter to all types of Drupal users. That last sentence does not even do it justice. Really, Drupal 8 will be a quantum leap among content management systems and web-application frameworks.
Who will Drupal 8 benefit the most, users or developers? This is hard to quantify, but so far, it seems that the end user will feel the biggest shift. The most dramatic changes for end users will be a simplified interface for content modification, and improved mobile compatibility. However, these are not the only enhancements that are underway for what is undoubtedly the most ambitious Drupal version to date.
If you can post to Facebook, You can post to Drupal 8
Posting content will be as easy as it is on popular social networking sites, perhaps easier depending on specifics. If you can post to a site like Facebook, you ought to be able to update Drupal 8 content without any additional training.
The usability for site managers is also markedly improved. This is all due mainly to the Spark distribution work which allows in-place editing. The goal is for content creators, site managers and end users to have the option to click what they want to edit on a page and make changes directly without having to switch to an administrative editing interface. This update will make the process of seeing what your changes look like as you compose feel entirely natural.
Drupal 8 is setup for mobile in multiple ways. The new Drupal is being built so that you will be able to interact with your site on both traditional and mobile displays. Additionally, work is underway to develop “responsive layouts” which allow site creators to place regions of text, graphics and other elements so that everything appears readable on mobile devices and laptops, auto adjusting size and orientation to the device. Mobile apps will also be able to tie into Drupal 8 more easily.
Say you feel like logging into your Drupal site and checking on new comment activity, but you only have your mobile phone. With Drupal 8 you’ll be able to do that with an interface that works well with your mobile device; no scrolling around and trying to enlarge text. While much of this is possible with Drupal 7 with extra setup beforehand, we’re going to see this become the standard on Drupal 8.
HTML5 and High-Performance
Drupal 8 does HTML5, the shiny new version of Hyper Text Markup Language that supports video, audio, better forms, 2D/3D graphics and animation. That is just the start of the great things HTML5 offers and it’s with Drupal 8 it’s already built in.
We can also expect performance improvements with Drupal 8. To generate pages suitable for a variety of devices it is important for Drupal 8 to be quick, and major progress is already underway to enhance speed, mainly on the “front-end,” and that means on your end-user device. In actuality, the skill of the Drupal site builder has a large effect on the final performance of a site, and is also related to server technologies used.
Two of the other main features of the Drupal 8 release are multilingual sites and theme design.
If you have a multilingual site, or more to the point, want a multilingual site, Drupal 8 now includes the language systems in core. So adding languages and translations is more like installing or updating modules.
Designers will also see big changes with the way themes are made using Drupal 8, and given the mobile initiatives, this is imperative. The goal here is to make design work well, and the result should be cleaner and more elegant web design.
That is a long list so far and that’s just the beginning. Drupal 8 has even more in store for all of us due the large and growing community of ambitious and hard-working contributors.
Elements in this post are based on ever changing progress thus far, and the final software will have differences when released at some point in the future, which as many know, is par for the course for virtually all complex software projects. This article is intended to give the flavor of some of the current Drupal projects on the table.
This blog entry is based on an informal presentation and post-discussions about Drupal 8 given by Darrell Ulm at Drupal Camp Ohio 2012.
Darrell works for Advomatic which is a progressive website development company.
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