MerixGames

March 18, 2015

/ code & tools

Drupal 8 – harder, better, faster, stronger...

Michał Kopydłowski

There is a lot of buzz regarding new Drupal 8 release in recent days. People raise good questions and prepare for the new standards that are comming. So, when we finally can use a stable version? If fusion with Symfony2 framework will work out for this CMS?

These and other questions will bother everybody who are waiting for new version of this world’s leading open source web CMS platform. And they are justified because of promises that Drupal will be "faster", "high-tech" and "better". What is most interesting is that most of the code was written from scratch and it's entirely based on Symfony2. Let's look at upcoming features Drupal 8 will offer:

Drupal 8 new features

  • fast content editing without need of full edit mode
  • improved content preview which illustrate real look of page before publishing
  • easier draft saving and managing
  • more intuitive interface for translations
  • built-in theme is responsive
  • new Breakpoints module to handle responsiveness
  • built-in Views module
  • built-in WYSIWYG (CKEditor)
  • improved form fields management
  • improved and built-in multilingualism
  • object-oriented architecture thanks to Symfony2 framework
  • configuration managment through yml config files
  • it uses Twig to create templates
  • improved front-end performance
  • new update mechanism

Multilingualism in Drupal 8

For sure multilingualism deserves special attention in Drupal 8. In Drupal 7 it needs installation a lot of modules and wasn't free of bugs. Drupal 8 offers built-in complete and proper attitude for managing translation process. What we mean is that translations don't create new content in system (as was in case of Drupal 7). Only entity is translated.  It is high time that such basic functionality as multilingualism works out-of-the-box.

Symfony2 & Drupal 8

Drupal 8 is based on Symfony2

New quality for Drupal 8 are Symfony2 framework components. There is no doubt. Object-oriented architecture and  MVC model makes the code clean and consistent. This forces the use of best practices for module developers, which is invaluable for any Drupal developer and finally find appreciation from final customer too.

Deployment

One of the biggest problem of Drupal has always been complex process of changes implementation which is associated with the fact that settings are saved in database. In Drupal 8 we get the opportunity to manage the configuration through yml data files. Thanks to that, we can version the configuration and improve database performance at the same time.

Twig

In Drupal 8 Twig is a new templating engine. It is fast and flexible and, what is the most important, it's safe. Thankfully, all bad practices of placing logic within templates will no longer exist. Simply said, Twig won't allow to do that anymore!

Productivity

Researches have shown that frontend is the most frequent reason for the long page loading because of styles, scripts and images. This is why styles and scripts aggregation is now improved with Drupal 8. What's more, the efficiency of image compression is enhanced. It is also added "lazy loading" method. With these treatments pages in Drupal 8 should loaded faster.

Data migration

Migrate Drupal module

The current way of updating became history. Its imperfection revealed especially on more complex sites, where an attempt to migrate mostly ended in failure. Drupal 8 has a built-in import mechanism based on Migrate module. It allows to import data from both Drupal 7 and 6, as well as other sources. The new feature looks promising, but we can't say anything about reliability of such migration yet. We should also remember about modules for version 8. This is still under development at the moment (Drupal 8 beta).

Do you need to learn Drupal again?

Drupal 7 users easily find themselves in Drupal 8, because most of the changes (in administration panel) are rather small modification or visual revisions.

It's different when we talk about Drupal developers. Especially those with no experience in Symfony2. It can be a huge challenge for them. It won't be necessary to learn whole Symfony2, but you have to learn basics and get familiar with the mechanisms on which it is based.

Drupal 8: conclusion

It's unusual that one of the most popular CMS-s with established position and hundreds of thousands of users decided to rewrite the code from the ground up. This is brave, but risky. We will see whether it was a right move, but it is difficult to imagine it any other way.

Object-oriented architecture means the code is better quality, easier to maintain and extend. This is what customers expect – modern, user friendly, easy to expand, efficient and safe platform. Drupal 8 meets all of these requirements with the benefits of both owners of services and developers!

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