Learn Drupal 8 now by helping to make it more unified and user/developer friendly

Many of the Drupal 8 core APIs are shaping up now, and as Larry Garfield likes to say "we are still not ready porting Drupal 8 to Drupal 8". Meaning that the new APIs introduced are not used widely at all places where they would be applicable. Views is in core, but not all listings are views, router configuration instead of menu hooks are in core, but most modules use menu hooks, and so on. We of course target the final Drupal 8.0 release to have these conversions done, but we need more help to do them. Let me highlight items that interest me most as the multilingual initiative lead (but most of these rhyme with multi-channel publishing / web-services efforts as well).

Help convert content-like things to content entities

Drupal 8 has a new improved Entity API to manage content entities. What better opportunity to get to know the new content handling APIs than being involved in porting core components to it? Web services and multilingual are both fundamentally in need of a unified handling for content-like stuff in Drupal.

Comments have already been converted to the new entity API (http://drupal.org/node/1778178) which can serve as an example for conversions elsewhere, namely nodes (http://drupal.org/node/1818556), users (http://drupal.org/node/1818570) and so on. See the full list of conversion issues at http://drupal.org/node/1818580. Once these conversions are done, we still need to apply multilingual property handling to do such basic things as editing titles on nodes in different languages (http://drupal.org/node/1498674).

While the existing entity types need conversions, there are also other content-like things in core that need to be converted to entities proper. For example aggregator feeds (http://drupal.org/node/293318) have been converted to content entities but more needs to be worked on. Hands are needed to help with converting menu links (http://drupal.org/node/916388) and custom blocks (http://drupal.org/node/1871772) as well.

Learn Drupal 8 configuration by porting things to the configuration system

The new configuration system in Drupal 8 is great in unifying all configuration elements under one system instead of custom one-off database storages and APIs for configuration.

There is a laundry list of system settings forms to convert to configuration at http://drupal.org/node/1696224 including locale module settings, file system settings, etc. still to be done.

Drupal 8 also comes with configuration entities, which store their data with the configuration system (and are not fieldable). Some of the previously custom coded features such as views, menus (http://drupal.org/node/1814916) and contact form categories (http://drupal.org/node/1588422) have been converted to configuration entities. Others like languages are still to be done (http://drupal.org/node/1754246). Track all related issues at http://drupal.org/node/1802750.

Learn the new configuration schema system by writing schemas for configuration

A configuration schema system was just recently added to core (see http://drupal.org/node/1905070 for documentation and examples). Some configuration files got a schema defined in the initial patch, but there is still more work to be done to adopt this and complete. For example, only some of Views got schemas written, and we need to complete that (http://drupal.org/node/1910606). The meta issue to track and find schema issues is at http://drupal.org/node/1910624.

Why get involved?

I think this is a unique opportunity to (a) get to know Drupal 8 early (b) still have a chance to shape things in Drupal 8 where you find them confusing (instead of bragging about them too late when there is no chance to change) and (c) help Drupal 8 become the great consistent platform we all want it to become. Better web services features and dramatically more extensive multilingual features are also a huge plus!

How to get help if you get stuck?

Most of these issues have someone who got it started and you can find the people who worked on previous complete conversions that I linked to above. Find these people on IRC, get involved in virtual meetings, ask at core mentoring hours. Sometimes all is needed is reviews, help testing or help writing tests.

Thanks for all your contributions!

Drupal 8's Multilingual Wonderland session video from BADCamp

I've had the pleasure to present the results of the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative - great work of numerous highly respected individuals - at the start of this month in Berkeley at BADCamp 2012. The session has some great demo content about where did we get and background information on what is still to be done. We are pretty close with all the essentials but will not be bored for the rest of the Drupal 8 release cycle either to put on more polish and fix the rough edges. Meet us this Friday, the last day before the Drupal 8 feature freeze if you want to get involved!

Just 4.5 months until feature freeze, all hands needed to help with multilingual content in Drupal 8

The content translation problem

One of the great goals of the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative (D8MI for short) is to have one unified system for content translation. The basic problem is that with Drupal 7, you have two ways to translate content: copy nodes for different language versions (with the built-in Content translation module) or save different languages under one entity (with the built-in multilingual fields capability). Although the later does not have a user interface in core, the API is there, so well respecting contributed modules need to support both. The reality is that many modules support neither, because node copies are combersome and field language support is painful.

This is both a user and a developer problem. Users need to decide their translation methods up front, and both methods have their advantages and limitations. Node copies allow for best workflow because they have authors, publication status, permissions, core search support, etc. all a given. Field language on the other hand works better with relations (when signing up for nodes, putting nodes into a common menu, etc.) as well as sharing values between translations (product images, non-translated attributes, etc.). The grand plan for Drupal 8 is to figure out a way for a system that marries the advantages of all as possible and have one better configurable system instead of two independent systems. This should make it easier for users and developers alike to work with multilingual entities.

This is an extremely simple idea, yet the implementation is lagging behind enourmously.

On using fields API for every input in Drupal and removing translatable strings from code

My last post where I've explained how Internationalization module re-implements some of Field API and where it does not do that it misses crucial functionality did not get much discussion. Therefore I decided to turn the key point at the end to the center of discussion: that either Drupal core will do fields for all user input (content and configuration alike, all through form your site name to your views empty text), or i18n module needs to do it in contrib. There is a clear need for input widgets, validators, permission handling, storage and output formatters and rendering used consistently. If it is not done by core, it will keep being a bolted-on half-failing approach despite best efforts in contrib. Please discuss at http://groups.drupal.org/node/154434

The other important post that we need your input on is about removing all UI strings from code. There are various issues with having them in code, while there are also various disadvantages to removing them from there. There are performance, translatability and even user experience concerns involved. This post is already getting some discussion, but we need much more. This could be a huge, fundamental change, so all your input is welcome. Don't say we did not ask you. Please discuss at http://groups.drupal.org/node/154394

Your input helps shape Drupal 8 and how Drupal supports building multilingual sites for years to come. Have your voice heard now!

How to make a Drupal 7 module i18n enabled and what does that teach us for Drupal 8?

There is great discussion forming on my previous posts on exportables and user provided text as well as the dangers of using t() for user editable data, and I can only hope we can keep that up! In that tradition, I'm cross-posting this piece to groups.drupal.org as well for discussion.

Regular readers could find this boring, but let's reiterate the three working modes that all objects should ideally be able to handle in Drupal to support multilingual site building.

  1. Being able to mark an object as in one language.
  2. Being able to mark an object as in one language and relate it to others as being a translation set. This is useful when you want to use the different language objects in different relations, track their history separately, have different permissions and workflows for them, etc.
  3. Being able to translate pieces of the object that need translation and leave the rest alone. Load the right language variant of the object dynamically as needed. This is very useful for keeping external relations intact and sharing common fields between translations effortlessly.

There are certain things, where not all of these make sense. For the site's name for example, people would probably only use either (1) or (3). For a block for example, people should be able to use either based on their needs. (2) is useful to place blocks differently on translated pages, (3) is good to keep the placement consistent without effort. This can be different on a per-block basis. Same applies to nodes, menus, taxonomy, views, rules, and so on.