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9 Changes To Be Excited About In Drupal 8

(Cross-posted from DigitalBungalow.com)

Although still lacking a firm release date, the upcoming launch of Drupal 8 will be sure to impact the CMS landscape for years to come. Already, it has sparked interest across a host of different fields. While developers are waiting tosee how this will affect with work flows, clients are already asking what this next iteration will do for them that isn’t already available in Drupal 7. Luckily, you don’t need to be a developer to understand all the working parts that go along with this latest update, and what it really means for the future of our favorite open-source CMS.

In order to gain a better understanding of what one should expect, I went straight to the best sources. Researching insights and opinions from industry thought leaders, such as Tom Wentworth, CMO of Acquia and Dries Buytaert, the founder of the Drupal CMS, as well as reaching out to our very own front-end developer Matt White, provided a clearer view of the significant changes that will be released in Drupal 8.

Straight from the source, these are the nine changes worth getting excited about upon the release of Drupal 8:

1. You down with OOP? Drupal 8 will officially enter the world of object oriented programming with the introduction of some core Symfony components. Symfony, a PHP framework developed by SensioLabs, enforce the use of the namespaced PHP classes instead of global functions—a development methodology commonly referred to as object oriented programming (OOP). This allows programmers to create dynamic relationships between these objects and adds the advantage of not having to change modules when a new type of object is added. More importantly, when done right this means code that is more maintainable, has fewer bugs, and requires less rework.

2. Twig The default template engine will migrate to using Twig with Drupal 8. Twig provides a greater separation between logic and display, and marries well with Symfony’s class-based approach to programming. It also helps lower the barrier of entry for front-end themers trying to get into a Drupal project on the ground floor. Gone are the bad old days of embedded PHP logic scattered around numerous template files.

3. Inline Editing Drupal 8 will support inline content editing by using the Spark project. The Spark project was introduced in Drupal 7 and acted as an “incubator” for Drupal 8, spearheading the advancement of the platform’s authoring experience. With these refinements in place, Drupal is setup to directly compete with players such as Sitecore and CQ5, platforms that are known for their streamlined publishing and editing experiences.

4. Toolbar A new toolbar will be introduced in Drupal 8. Also a product of the Spark project, the toolbar will be responsive, extensible and more concise. Top-level items include: Home, Menu, Shortcuts, and Users. For mobile, textual labels will be replaced with visual icons saving screen real estate and providing a cue for usage.

5. Views Views will be integrated as one of Drupal’s new core modules. “Views is the #1 most-used contributed module, installed on nearly 70% of all Drupal websites,” explains Dries Buytaert. The module provides a graphical user interface that allows you to organize and show your content any way you could imagine with out a single line of code. After its proven success, views will finally be brought into the Drupal core.

6. Accessibility Drupal 8 will be the most accessible version of Drupal to date, specifically benefiting visually impaired users. The new internal method “Announce,” will give module developers the ability to create direct output to screen readers. Another Drupal object called TabbingManager will constrain tabbing to unneeded elements providing a functional workflow for those users.

7. Content creation…Simplified By default, CKEditor will be available as a replacement for the default Drupal 7 WYSISYG. If you’re unfamiliar with CKEditor it’s an open source application for HMTL text editing that simplifies web content creation.

8. REST and relax RESTful web services in Drupal 8 serves as a major sea change for the platform. Drupal content entities can now be interacted with via a REST (representational state transfer) interface allowing for the design of more tightly networked web applications. As the web eco-system becomes more co-dependent, relying on more and more third party integrations, having a standard interface with which to interact with your users and content will be paramount to allow for growth – REST gets this done.

9. Hablas Espanol? Building a multilingual website gets a lot easier with improvements to language maintenance options, site translations and easier-to-customize settings. This will benefit both end users and developer and reach greater audiences on both sides.

Change can often be met with resistance and make those involved uneasy. In the end, though, Drupal 8 will provide a better user experience for developers, as well as clients. These innovative advancements are what will continue to make Drupal the best open source CMS available.

What are your thoughts about Drupal 8? Did we miss anything? Leave a comment and let us know!

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