Drupal 8: Worth the wait?
Positioned as the “latest, greatest release of the world’s most widely used enterprise web CMS”, Drupal 8 is starting to build momentum. It was started in 2011 and with the first release version delivered in late 2015, we are already up to version 8.1.8 with many new features and fixes delivered so far.
One of Drupal’s greatest strengths lies in the fact that it is open source, allowing it to reflect more of the needs of users and developers. According to Drupal.org, “Drupal 8 taps into the concentrated innovation from its open source community. You can drive value and streamline your work with new capabilities for successful digital experiences.”
Certainly Drupal 8 is a huge step forward compared to previous versions of Drupal and the new features really do help a broad range of users. Drupal.org’s statement that “Drupal 8 has something for everyone who supports online content and digital experience at your organisation: business decision makers, site administrators, digital marketers, content managers, web developers, technical architects, and IT pros” is true and in the digital communications space many of the enhancements will have a benefit.
Content authoring has seen a significant improvement in Drupal 8. This recognises that authors want to do changes themselves, any time, anywhere. The new integrated WYSIWYG editors and new on-page editor make it easier to make these edits to your sites. And with the full mobile responsiveness of Drupal 8 those changes can be done on devices on the move at any time – a very useful feature for fixing those annoying typos. Sadly, at present ‘mobile’ doesn’t mean that it works on a mobile phone. As future content authors are mobile, so the platform needs to cater for their working behaviour.
Also focused on the content authors, Drupal 8 has seen big improvements in the multilingual capabilities, easing the running of truly global web estates.
Outside of the headlines, one of the other big improvements is the configuration management in Drupal 8. The ability to push configurations from Development > Staging > Production or to copy sites easily is a massive step forward. This is especially useful in new site builds or for major upgrades.
In its marketing, Drupal.org states that “Drupal 8 is a platform you can use to achieve digital success”. To achieve digital success, your web estate is just one element of your digital ecosystem. It’s great to see this is recognised further in Drupal 8, with many new ways to integrate your Drupal 8 platform with your other systems (such as email, analytics, marketing automation, CRM etc.) allowing data or content to be passed around your digital ecosystem.
So has it been worth the wait? I believe Drupal 8 is a journey that has just begun. The platform is architected to be extended rapidly over the coming months and years and with the huge community support I believe it will prove to be a major success. And the significant improvements made around authoring, mobility and integration really recognise the future needs of organisations to help them be successful with their digital communications.
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