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Everything You Need to Know About Drupal 8

FUN FACTS AND OVERVIEW ABOUT DRUPAL 8

  • According to Smart Insights, 51% of internet users view media and websites on their mobile devices. Mobile-first design, improved speed and performance and built-in editor-friendly features are only some of the features Drupal 8 boasts. This redesign will improve user experience and make Drupal more efficient and accessible than ever.
  • It's not just end-users that access content on-the-go. Drupal 8's new integrated WYSIWYG on-page editor makes it easier for content authors and marketers to navigate create and edit new content. After all, this is a mobile-first world.
  • Drupal 7 is on its way out, and Drupal 6 is gone. Now that Drupal 8 has been released, there won't be any more updates made to the last version. This means Drupal 7 won't support features that meet your audience's needs. As we know, technology moves fast, and if you don't keep up, you get left behind.
  • Search Engine Optimization is important as ever for driving traffic to your website, and Drupal 8 offers many features to leverage SEO.
  • Twig, the new template engine for Drupal 8 will offer many performance and security enhancements while allowing the flexibility to create your own features.
  • Drupal 8 will allow the option of "headless Drupal," using back-end for content management while using another medium or multiple mediums as the front-end. While this won't work for everyone, it's now a viable option, depending on your end-goals.

If you have more questions about Drupal 8 or can't wait to start using it, contact us today.

WHAT'S NEW IN DRUPAL 8.8?

At OPIN, we are excited to begin working with the new features that are available in Drupal 8.8 which will help us to continue delivering industry-leading digital solutions. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from Drupal 8.8.

MEDIA MANAGEMENT WITH WYSIWYG EDITOR

Drupal 8.7 made bulk uploads into the media library possible, which improved user experience (UX) drastically. Drupal 8.8 takes UX a step further by addressing the one issue that was keeping Media Library from being marked as fully implemented, or non-experimental: WYSIWYG integration. WYSIWYG integration simplifies content editing as this module replaces any other editor integration modules. 

This module has an abstraction layer for other Drupal editors to integrate with, meaning that other Drupal content editing modules are functional regardless of the editor that you have installed. Website builders and content editors will be able to easily embed media into their site as Drupal 8.8 is equipped with complete media management. This is a significant change for Drupal users as the media management features have been going through a transformation for nearly a decade. WYSIWYG integration completes Drupal’s media management transformation which will offer site builders and content creators a simplified way to embed media into their Drupal sites. 

COMPOSER IN DRUPAL CORE INITIATIVE

Current versions do not have an intuitive way to make use of Composer-based dependencies, and there are some modules that require Composer to be used to install them. A composer plugin places scaffold files from the Drupal core project into their chosen location. Only individual files can be scaffolded. 

The purpose is to let Drupal sites be fully managed in Composer while still having the placement of individual files in arbitrary locations as an option. This means that with Drupal 8.8, the core version will be built using Composer and will not break when the user needs Composer to manage the site. Making it easier for Drupal users to manage various modules that the site is composed of.

CONTENT MODERATION AND WORKSPACES CORE MODULES CAN BE USED ON THE SAME SITE WITH DRUPAL 8.8

With Drupal 8.8 the Content Moderation and Workspaces modules will now be compatible with each other and can be installed together. When a moderation workflow is facilitated for an entity and if there are entities in drafted or unpublished moderation states in a workspace, that workspace will not be published until the draft reaches a publishable moderation state. This feature will have an impact on administrators, editors, as well as site builders.

FASTER JSON:API MODULE 

The JSON:API module, which allows content creators and developers to create their content without having to write a single line of code, is expected to be significantly faster with Drupal 8.8. The JSON:API module integrates Drupal’s ecosystem of web services that are responsible for third-party content. This module provides a painless authoring experience that is compliant with industry standards and is flexible.

NEW AND MODERN ADMINISTRATION THEME

Built on top of the Seven theme, it is likely that the Claro theme will be an experimental theme in Drupal 8.8 core. Claro has an improved appearance that is responsive and enhances web accessibility. 

Claro has been implemented using the new Drupal Design System. The design system makes the Claro theme more appealing to users with the use of cooler colours and colour contrast. This theme makes a site easier to operate on different devices including touch screens by increasing the size of form controls. Frontend controls like Quick Edit and Toolbars will be involved in the new design system. 

Drupal is the leading open source content management system and is constantly being improved by a global community of contributors, with the purpose of transforming digital experiences. At OPIN our team enables our clients to take full advantage of Drupal’s functionality. Upgrading to Drupal 8.8 is the best way to prepare your organization for the release of Drupal 9 in June 2020 and lead your industry in digital experience.

Drupal 8.7 Release: Digital Implications

With the release of Drupal 9 set for June 2020, the Drupal community and supporting organizations have been hard at work ensuring the technology remains at the forefront of the rapidly growing enterprise content management market. At OPIN, we’re very excited to leverage these new features for our enterprise Drupal projects.

DRUPAL 8.7 UPDATES

Drupal 8.7 will include the following:

  • A drag-and-drop Layout Builder tool
  • Updated UI for Media Library
  • Granular Permissions and Workflows
  • All 8.7 features are fully accessible and navigable by keyboard
  • Introduced JSON:API as a stable module to Drupal core
  • Revisionable menus and taxonomy terms
  • Better compatibility with Symfony 4 and 5
  • Optional support for Twig 2
  • Easier, out-of-the-box adoption and “Welcome Tour” of Drupal through improved Umami theme
  • Dropped support for obsolete PHP 5.5 and 5.6, as well as Internet Explorer 9
    • This is a great time to upgrade to PHP 7.1 for a faster, lighter experience
  • Updates to Guzzle library, a modern way of making HTTP requests
  • Changes to various core Drupal themes like “Stable” and “Classy”
    • If you’re using these subthemes, you should apply the changes to them
  • Various stabilization improvements

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of these to further understand the digital implications of these enhancements to the world’s premier enterprise content management system.

DRUPAL 8 LAYOUT BUILDER

Drupal 8.7’s Layout Builder is the open-source CMS’s answer to site-building tools like Squarespace and Wix. The Layout Builder allows content editors to manage content and structure elements on web pages using very simple drag-and-drop functionality. Drupal isn’t merely catching up to its competitors: the new Layout Builder actually surpasses them in many ways. It includes a powerful template editor, multi-page management, instant previews, permissions workflows, and exceptional accessibility as well (Drupal 8.7 is fully navigable by keyboard).

 

image of the new Drupal layout buidler

Drupal already is widely known for having one of the most robust back-ends of any content management system, making it a popular choice for large enterprises. Drupal 8.7 proves it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. As site-building tools narrow the gap between enterprise and non-enterprise websites, Drupal still stands apart.

UPDATED MEDIA LIBRARY

The digital asset management market is white-hot and is expected to more than triple in size by 2024. Moreover, poor digital asset management costs enterprises thousands of dollars each year in lost productivity, as employees spend too much time searching for files and relevant information.

The Drupal community understood the importance of having a powerful digital asset management system that is also simple to use. Effective management and reuse of images, videos, and other digital assets are essential for maintaining efficiency and brand consistency, especially across different locations.  

DRUPAL 8.7'S IMPROVED WORKFLOWS

Drupal 8.7 greatly enhanced Drupal’s existing workflow tools, supporting features like content staging, improved notifications, and updated approval workflows and version controls. Customization of these workflows can be as granular or as high-level as the manager wishes - proving Drupal an effect content governance platform for any organization in any industry.

Drupal 8.7 also supports the ability to push content across multiple teams using its workflow process. Depending on the content, it may need approval from your legal team, SEO team, and local teams in international offices before it can be published. Freelancing is also expected to increase in the future, meaning advanced permission sets and workflows are necessary to secure information and reduce inefficiencies.

As enterprises continue to trend toward managing distributed workforces, particularly in marketing departments, advanced workflow capabilities like those released with Drupal 8.7 will be increasingly important as companies scale remote teams.

DECOUPLED, API-FIRST DRUPAL

Drupal already has a strong reputation for having an extremely robust back-end architecture that can support almost any application - websites, gas pumps, native apps, digital signage, Amazon’s Alexa, and so on. Using Drupal as the back-end and another technology as the front-end, or content delivery method is known as decoupled Drupal.

Drupal 8.7 reaffirmed the community’s commitment to decoupled or “headless” Drupal by making it easier and faster than ever to integrate front-end frameworks with Drupal’s powerful back-end. 147 contributors and 76 different organizations introduced new, stable JSON:API support as part of the 8.7 release.

Drupal’s community is placing a stronger emphasis on API-first approaches to development, acknowledging the growing importance of omnichannel reach across all types of applications. With an increasing number of digital touchpoints consumers are engaging with, it is essential for powerful content management systems like Drupal to be as flexible as possible (using robust APIs) to seamlessly interact with them.

SEMANTIC VERSIONING

Since the release of Drupal 8, Drupal has been using a minor upgrade, continuous innovation model (with significant improvements in functionality every six months, like the 8.7 release). This model has been translated to major upgrades as well, creating a smoother upgrade path between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 (this is otherwise known as Semantic Versioning).

It’s well-known that upgrade cycles cost enterprises millions of dollars annually while often throwing a wrench in the CIO’s plans, particularly for proprietary technologies. Drupal’s adoption of the continuous innovation model means lowered upgrade costs for enterprises. Moving to Drupal 8 from Drupal 7 or another CMS is the last major upgrade an enterprise will have to make. A smooth upgrade path is guaranteed from Drupal 8 onward.

With enterprises spending more on IT than ever, managing costs while retaining a great product is a top priority for CIOs.

What's new in Drupal 8.6?

Drupal 8.6 has something for everyone. Check out what's new!

1. MIGRATION HAS BECOME SEAMLESS

The update features the ability for users who come from Drupal 6 and 7 to update their Migrate Drupal and Migrate Drupal UI modules more easily. For organizations hesitating to upgrade from an older version, this will make it much easier. Drupal 8 was designed with marketers and content creators in mind. Empower your organization’s conversion experts by providing them with the tools they need.

2. BUILT-IN SUPPORT FOR EMBEDDING MEDIA

Seen in this update is a new module that allows you to embed media in a more stable way providing you access to many media types as well as the ability to embed YouTube and Vimeo videos. Video content is an incredibly powerful conversion tool. Embedded content saves you the effort of re-uploading videos and improves page load times. New media tools allow you to diversify your organization’s content delivery methods, more effectively captivating and converting your audience.

3. IMPROVED LAYOUT CAPABILITIES

With your Drupal website, you are now able to customize the layout of your landing pages even more with improved layout capabilities. For example, being able to provide more layout options instead of just stacking components on top of one another is an important tool for advanced site builders. The update also sees the ability to add customized content, unique to a specific layout. This allows you to create custom landing pages that are designed to convert your customers more effectively.  

4. NEW UMAMI DEMO PROFILE

The new demo profile is a significant addition to the platform. Umami is a prebuilt demo site that all Drupal 8.6 users have access to. It showcases the most compelling features of Drupal wrapped into one perfectly-designed site that you are able to use immediately when downloading the update. Whether you are a digital agency presenting Drupal to clients, or an internal stakeholder attempting to migrate your CMS, this tool is invaluable. Umami outlines key features that can help demonstrate how the platform meets the needs of an enterprise.

5. ABILITY TO REBUILD SITES FROM EXISTING CONFIGURATION

The Drupal installer has improved significantly in this update. Possessing the ability to automatically recognize previous configuration settings, the upgrade provides options to rebuild a new site directly from an older configuration. It does this by pulling content from the cloud instead of locally. Save your organization time and money by upgrading to Drupal 8.6. No longer will you have to rebuild or reconfigure with each upgrade. You can always have the latest version of Drupal, enabling key features without risking your digital presence in the process.

Drupal 8.6 is an exciting update that brings enhancements to the world’s leading open-source enterprise CMS. This upgrade gives your organization new tools to connect with your audience across your online presence. What does your upgrade path look like? Are you ready for Drupal 8.6? 

What’s New in Drupal 8.5

The new Drupal version available for download brings significant enhancements to the platform in key areas. Drupal 8.5 makes the Media module available for all, improves migrations, fixes workflows running on PHP 7.2 and so much more. This new version provides improved functionalities while maintaining core backward compatibility for public APIs. So what’s so great about Drupal 8.5? Let us break it down for you with some key points.

1. MEDIA IN CORE IMPROVED AND AVAILABLE TO ALL SITE BUILDERS

Drupal 8.5 addresses the usability issues that were common to version 8.4 and the new module can now be enabled normally. This means that Drupal 8.5 effectively supports playing and uploading both audio and video files as well as reusing and listing media. A number of contributed modules extend the capabilities of the core Media module, allowing such features as WYSIWYG integration, support for remote media like YouTube and a media library.

2. SETTINGS TRAY AND CONTENT MODERATION NOW STABLE

The Settings Tray and Content Moderation modules are now stable. The Settings Tray gives a quick solution to managing contextual settings like moving items in a menu block. On the other hand, the improved Content Moderation module promotes workflow states like Archived, Draft, Published and roles that can move content between states. Drupal 8.5 also adds support for translations to be independently moderated.

3. NEW EXPERIMENTAL LAYOUT BUILDER MODULE

The new experimental Layout Builder module displays layout capabilities for pages, user profiles, articles among other entity displays. This experimental feature will go a long way in improving web development for users. The Layout Builder uses the same user interface as the Settings Tray module. This same “outside-in” user interface enables site builders to effectively edit layouts on their actual pages as opposed to having to do it from the back-end of a separate form. This feature is expected to undergo massive improvements in the coming months.

4. BIG STEPS FOR MIGRATIONS

The Migrate Architecture is now stable! After four years of hard work coupled with 1300+ closed issues and over 570 contributors, efforts have finally paid off as Drupal 8.5 comes with a fully functional and stable migration architecture. The 8.5 release also features support for incremental migrations. This means that sites owners and developers will be able to work gradually on their new sites in perfect synergy with their old Drupal sites. The site migrations and incremental migrations will be spectacularly smooth in the latest version. Site owners will now be warned in the user interface if some data on their new Drupal 8.5 sites might be overwritten.

5. BIGPIPE BY DEFAULT

BigPipe is the epitome of faster with zero configuration. BigPipe is now part of Drupal’s 8.5 version Standard installation profile. This means that all Drupal 8 sites will be super-fast by default thanks to Drupal’s improved render API and render pipeline. The BigPipe module provides an improved implementation of CMS rendering strategy enabling greatly superior performance for pages with personalized, dynamic or frugal uncacheable content.

OTHER IMPROVEMENTS

Version 8.5 adds a number of additional benefits for users. There is now groundwork for a new demo profile and theme from the Out of the Box Initiative.

PHP 7.2 is now supported which will improve performance over version 7.1. PHP 7.2 is the recommended version to use with Drupal 8.

The next bugfix release (8.5.1) is scheduled for April 4, 2018. Drupal 7 is still fully supported. Make sure to keep yourself up to date and ensure your site is running optimally!

What's New in Drupal 8.4

This newest version covers a wide range of integral issues, all of which are poised to improve the experience for website builders and publishers. In this update, vital tools for content building and management have been optimized. Site administration, stability, and security were also addressed in this key update. Let’s look into the specific features of Drupal 8.4.

1. FILE USAGE AND TRACKING

Drupal introduced this feature, which will prevent the unexpected deletion of files caused by a number of user issues, such as incorrect file usage. When Drupal 8 was released, it had a few bugs, especially when it came to keeping track of files. Numerous file deletion errors were recorded even when the user did not intend to get rid of them. This is because the process occurred automatically without user intervention. This prompted Drupal to remove automatic deletion, an improvement that is implemented in Drupal 8.4.

2. WORKFLOW

Drupal 8.4 comes with a stable Workflow module. This is a critical factor that can help website managers and publishers to keep track of the flow of tasks. The Workflow module in the latest update enables you to categorize content depending on their states and transitions. These states have different tags such as “published,” “archived,” and “draft.” It also allows you to set up new states such as “review” depending on how you want to manage tasks.

Once you have created the states, the latest version allows you to create transitions between them. Transitions simply allow you to determine the direction of the workflow by deciding where the state should go. You can also choose which user should finish the move from one state to another.

3. INLINE FORM ERROR ISSUES

Another feature that comes with Drupal 8.4 is the Inline Form Errors module. This module is designed to give website visitors a summary of the errors that they make when they interact with the site through the forms. In this module, the validation errors are displayed next to the affected form elements. This creates a friendly and interactive environment where visitors don’t have to figure out the mistakes that they have made when filling the form. From the error information that is displayed, they will be in a better position to correct their information.

4. DATETIME RANGE

When it comes to content management, most website managers would like to have timestamps which state the start and end dates. Drupal 8.4 is designed to address this issue through its DateTime Range module. It has a dedicated field that allows end dates to support other related modules such as the calendar.

5. MEDIA MODULE

One area that experienced a massive change in Drupal 8.4 is the Media module. It comes with new media handling features which, once activated, give you the power to handle different types of media files such as images, documents, slideshows, Slideshares, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Inline entity forms. You can easily embed this data and save it into the library.

The media module in this version of Drupal is reusable and can be applied to any of the above media types. The changes are lauded as moves aimed at making Drupal user-friendly. It is also important to note that the media module is hidden and you should install a contrib module of the media type that you intend to use.

6. CONTENT MODERATION

Drupal 8.4 gives room for content moderation where the tasks that are obtained from the Workflows module can be directly applied to the content. Unlike in the previous versions where different states were selected from a drop-button, the selection here is from a select-list.

SUMMARY

From this information, it is clear that Drupal 8.4 comes with a series of new features that are designed to change the way you manage your website. The changes are available when you update your site or install Drupal 8.4.

Four Reasons to Fast Track Your Move to Drupal 8

Drupal 8 builds on the strengths of Drupal 6 and 7 while bringing exciting new functionalities to the table. If you haven’t already upgraded your website to Drupal 8, you need to get on board. Your business is positioned to be a market leader, but to stay ahead of competitors, you need the right tool for digital enablement. With the aid of this platform, migrating both Drupal and non-Drupal websites is effortless. The flexibility in D8 and its extraordinary feature set provide an excellent solution for the future of your business, unlike rigid and proprietary CMS frameworks.

Below we will outline four of the many reasons why you need to upgrade to Drupal 8 right now.

API INFRASTRUCTURE

Drupal 8 comes with an inbuilt, service-based API architecture. This makes it possible for you to develop new apps, enabling exciting digital experiences across a wide array of devices. It also enables you to manage all of your content in a single place. The D8 architecture ensures that you don’t have to restructure your data in a different way for every solution. Some applications of the API infrastructure include the development of apps for Roku, mobile devices, and Amazon Alexa. If your website is on Drupal 6 or Drupal 7 now, migration to Drupal 8 will unleash the power of your content using API integration.

CONTENT FIRST, DESIGN ANYTIME

One of the many reasons why organizations are choosing Drupal 8 at an unprecedented rate is the ability to opt for any design or front-end experience. Businesses can truly leverage the power of their content by building responsive and engaging digital experiences. Users are looking for personalized and natural touchpoints at every stage of their journey. D8 allows you to stay on top of your web design and ensure that your content is being used as effectively as possible

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE ORGANIZATION

Drupal 8 is free and open-source software, developed by people who understand the unique challenges encountered by organizations and individuals across the globe. The platform comes with a set of tools that are helpful to organizations in transforming their online presence. In order to upgrade to Drupal 8, you don’t need to start from scratch. When planning to migrate, you have the option to upgrade the architecture of the website without making front-end changes.

The Drupal 8 ecosystem comes ready to go, out of the box. One of the several reasons why business owners choose Drupal is due to a wide array of modules available. Drupal 8 is a highly mature platform, and most of the modules on your website will continue to work for D8.

STRONG AND STABLE CODE

Organizations that make use of proprietary software solutions have been shown to change platforms frequently. However, with Drupal 8, you will never have to switch platforms again. The code is specifically designed for the future and it ensures the safety and security of your digital projects for years to come.

The Drupal 8 platform is a highly effective development tool. Customized web development on Drupal 8 improves upon the code base of previous versions. This has already been seen with our first D8 clients, who find development to be easier than ever. Incremental upgrades become effortless on Drupal 8.

If you are still using Drupal 6, you can migrate to Drupal 8 without any hassle, skipping Drupal 7 entirely. The upgrade process ensures that each and every module is compatible and continues to work through the upgrade and into the future. Drupal 6 is no longer supported and Drupal 7 will soon be reaching the end of life. This indicates that any bug fixes or improvements you make on your existing website will risk breaking the site. Migrating the website to the Drupal 8 platform will ensure that any digital investments you make will last longer than ever before.

Installing Drupal 8

There are some major changes in the latest version of Drupal, so I’ve prepared this blog article to help you in your installation.  This is not a Guide on how to install Drupal; simply tips and tricks to help you get started.

NEW SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The system requirements for Drupal have changed in the latest version.  We’ve seen big improvements in support for PHP, as well as the newer version of MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL. Drupal 8 core requires

  • PHP 5.5.9 or higher
  • Memory allocation of 64MB or higher
  • MySQL 5.5.3/MariaDB 5.5.20/Percona Server 5.5.8 or higher with PDO and an InnoDB-compatible primary storage engine, PostgreSQL 9.1.2 or higher with PDO, or SQLite 3.6.8 or higher

NEW SYSTEM.YML FILE

Drupal 8 comes with an additional configuration file sites/default/default.services.yml. 

There is little documentation on this file, but it stores configuration settings for services such as garbage collection, twig, and renderer.

In Drupal 8 you need to copy and rename this file to services.yml and change its permissions so it’s writable from the webserver.  We’ll change the permissions to become more secure after the installation.

NEW INSTALLATION STEPS

The Drupal 8 installation steps have changed slightly. The new order of the steps are:

  1. Choose Language
  2. Choose Profile
  3. Verify Requirements
  4. Setup Database
  5. Install Site
  6. Configure Site

When you've completed the installation, you'll need to go back and change the permissions to protect the services.yml file 

NEW LANGUAGE SUPPORT

In Drupal 8, you can choose the language of your Drupal website during the installation process. Be sure the directory sites/default is writable so that during installation the translation files can be copied to the translations directory at sites/default/files/translations

SETTING TRUSTED HOSTS

Many Drupal sites will respond to a page request using an arbitrary host header sent to the correct IP address. This can lead to cache poisoning, bogus site emails, bogus password recovery links, and other problems with security implications. Drupal 8 ships with a simple facility to configure expected host patterns in settings.php and warns you in the site status report if it's not configured. 

SETTING CONFIGURATION DIRECTORY

Drupal 8 now comes with a powerful configuration management system, allowing all system configurations to be exported as YAML files.  By default, these files are stored within the sites/default/files directory. However, we do not typically include this directory into version control, since it is often filled with dynamically generated files. 

Therefore, you will need to alter the settings.php to save the configuration files in a different directory, that we can include version control.   Here is the code to change your configuration directory:

$config_directories = array(CONFIG_STAGING_DIRECTORY => 'sites/default/config',);

In addition to this, you will need to create the directory and ensure that it is writable by the webserver.

Steve Lavigne

Director of Technology

Steve is a passionate storyteller who thrives on challenging the status quo. He is an avid researcher with a keen analytical mind able to strategize on technology, sales and marketing decisions by analyzing data and behaviours across various industries and technologies.

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