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Drupal 8.8 Release Enhances Usability and Accessibility

Both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 are set to reach End of Life by November 2021, but in the meantime, our community of dedicated Drupalists is doing all they can to upgrade the current Drupal 8 experience for users and make the eventual migration from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 as simple as possible. Last week, the latest version of Drupal 8 was released: Drupal 8.8. Version 8.8 provides numerous improvements designed to make Drupal easier to use and more accessible to users than ever before. Drupal’s new administrative UI, its Media Library and other capabilities help advance the goal of streamlining Drupal adoption and use by everyone. Like every Drupal update, teams are building on the backs of those brilliant open source giants who came before them, and 8.8 is no exception. In this version, improvements made in Drupal 8.7 are further refined and expanded to better serve the needs of the community.  

Concurrent to the newest release, Acquia Lightning (Acquia’s Drupal 8 distribution for developing sites more rapidly) is compatible with Drupal 8.8. And as of today, Acquia Cloud Platform is ready to support your Drupal 8.8 sites and applications.

Here are the main  improvements in the latest Drupal release: 

New Administrative Theme

One major area of improvement that the Drupal Administration wanted to focus on for this update was a better Drupal admin UI. Many Drupal leaders and content editors felt that Drupal would benefit from a more modern UI and cleaner design.  

The Claro administrative theme (in “beta” experimental stability in 8.8) provides a cleaner, easier-to-use interface for site administration, configuration and authoring. An improved color scheme, mobile-friendly pages, and visual contrasts make Drupal sites easier to navigate and more accessible for vision-impaired users. This new admin theme supports Windows High Contrast mode, while other accessibility improvements include easy navigation via keyboard.

The overall effect is a more modern, visually appealing UI that improves upon the legacy interface, which has undergone mostly minor updates over the past several years. 

Watch this video for an in-depth look at the new administrative theme: 

Drupal Media Library

The Media Library, now stable in 8.8, makes it easy to use and reuse images, videos and other rich media assets in a Drupal site or application. Previously available in Drupal core as a beta experimental module, the Media Library enables users to upload media and reuse a combination of uploaded and existing media assets. Users can embed media directly in a rich text editor, plus they can easily align and caption media assets.  
Here’s a demo of the Media Library in action: 

Improved Drupal Workspaces

In Drupal, a workspace is a place in which a content creator can work on one or more changes and then publish them at the same time. New, hierarchical workspaces make it easy for one or more content creators to work across multiple workspaces, together. In practice, this means that, for example, a publisher of a digital magazine or a team of content creators can work on producing a regular edition and a special edition simultaneously and share content via inheritance upstream to the regular edition, or downstream to the special edition, then publish both pieces in tandem.

View this video on workspaces, with examples:

Drupal 9 is Coming in 2020

If you’re one of the estimated 68% of organizations today that still haven’t upgraded from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, this latest release is even more reason to make the move! Version 8.8 is the last Drupal 8 minor release with significant new features leading up to the release of Drupal 9 on June 3, 2020. The final D8 minor release (Version 8.9) is also scheduled for June 3 and will be a long-term support release that includes all the changes in Drupal 9.0. Drupal 8 is the most secure and robust installment of the CMS platform available right now, and it’s constantly undergoing new evolutions to make it even better. Keeping your website running efficiently requires regular updates, which is why our Drupal experts are paying attention to what today’s digital innovators want and giving them smarter, faster solutions to reach their goals. With each new minor release, take the opportunity to integrate consistent updates into your work plan and build a well-thought-out strategy that will make the eventual switch to Drupal 9 as easy as possible.

If you need some additional information and guidance on preparing for a Drupal 9 upgrade, Acquia’s team of Drupal experts has your back with our Drupal 9 informational resources.

Finally, just in time for this new release, Acquia has updated its e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Drupal 8”. You can access it here.