Drupal 8 – what's the (real) big deal about it?

I had the chance two weeks ago to talk about Drupal and Drupal 8 at the Free Software Foundation's conference in Budapest for a whole of 21 minutes. While there is this amazing 63 screen slideshow about all things new in Drupal 8 that I help keep up to date, having such short time really made me focus my message and think long and hard about how to summarize what Drupal 8 is really about for a wide range of people attending. Here is my take in written form.

Drupal has always been amazing as a structured content management tool. With content types and then entities and fields it allows us to really structure our content. Drupal 8 steps up this game several ways. First, it makes more things able to get structured. Whether it is a block or the categorization of content itself, it can be structured further with fields now. Drupal also has a history of using this structural system for flexible functionality. For example, ratings, workflows, user groups, selling content, etc. are all supported with fields (in contributed modules). In Drupal 8, comments are fields too (for example, you can take comments on user profiles) and there are more reusable field types like date, email, references, etc. built in. Best of all everything supports multiple languages and is translatable without further modules required. In short, Drupal 8 is improving on the system's key strength in all directions.

This is amazing for an enterprise because content needs to show up in a lot of places and a lot of ways these days. The more structured the content, the easier it is to pull out and display things for the environment needed. Drupal 8 makes this easy by building in entity view modes for display variants, Views for pulling data in whatever way from entities, and responsive output for flexible display on the web. Integration with third party systems and decoupled site implementations is enabled by web service support. Since Drupal knows so much more about your content structure internally as well, it can also intelligently cache (and invalidate the caches) when needed, and serve pages with much faster perceived performance (enabling the BigPipe contributed module). The markup generated is significantly better for accessibility too.

What about the small sites though? I think the changes are even more exciting there, because they lead to a lot more consistency on the site building front as well. You now use blocks to place everything on your pages (including branding, navigation and even the page title). You can use Views to customize even your administration experience and quick in-place editing and WYSIWYG integration for fields allows you to get further, faster. On top of that, rolling out changes is a whole lot easier with the built-in configuration deployment system.

Drupal 8 also grew the core community manyfold. While Drupal 7 had less than a thousand contributors, Drupal 8 has almost 3300. That is pretty remarkable, because it means the new version starts out with many more people already in the know.

All-in-all Drupal 8 really doubles down on our commitment to structured content and flexible functionality around it with a focus on making it easier to both enter and output that content however it fits, whoever the consumer is. It truly empowers you and me (as the tagline says) to build something amazing, for anyone.


Sina Salek's picture

Well said :)

Dann's picture

I used Drupal back at Drupal version 6. I am not a coder. Just a developer who can use CMS software.

I am getting ready to start a few new web site development projects.

I started playing around with Wordpress. I like that Wordpress can auto-update itself and it's modules. Will Drupal 8 be able to auto-update?

I like that Wordpress seems to have an extension / module for everything. Do you think Drupal 8 by November 19 will have enough modules that work?

Hope to read your reply.

Gábor Hojtsy's picture

No, Drupal does not do auto-update.

As for modules, Drupal 8 has a whole set of new features built-in, so it may very well be ready for what you need, but you know what you need, so you need to look at it, if you are interested. Some contributed modules will be ready, so it really depends on your needs.

David Snopek 's picture

Even though Drupal doesn't provide auto update out-of-the-box (there are security issues with Drupal being able to edit is own code), you could implement a simple drush-based solution, ie. run "drush up" from cron, or use a 3rd party solution like drop-guard.net or mydropwizard.com. I how that helps!

Nic's picture

You can set up Drupal to auto-update yourself: http://bramvandenbulcke.be/en/article/spend-less-time-updating-drupal-we...

Look under "Use a shell script and crontab for core security updates".

David Hernández's picture

Hi Gábor,

Thanks for sharing this! I'm translating the slides you put on the post to spanish, so we can use them in all the Drupal 8 Release Parties around Spain (and South America too!). I hope you don't mind!

Do you know who is the author and the people who updates them so I can give them credit?

Also, while translating it, I noticed a little error on them, on the second it says that Drupal is Open Source (true) and that uses the GPL license (also true). But that license, also makes Drupal Free Software. That means that the software can be sold, meanwhile the license is kept and the code distributed.

Best regards,

Gábor Hojtsy's picture

The slides have been created by Angie Byron, myself and the Drupal Association. I keep it up to date. Will see how to update the text or the licensing.

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