Five Acquia Lightning Initiatives Leading the Way for Drupal

May 17, 2019 5 minute read
Acquia is kicking off spring with Acquia Lightning 4.0, which arrived May 16 with a myriad of user experience improvements and new functionalities.

Acquia is kicking off spring with Acquia Lightning 4.0, which arrived May 16 with a myriad of user experience improvements and new functionalities that leverage all that Drupal 8.7 has to offer to improve time to value for marketers and site builders, and reduce developer toil. Whether you are looking to expand your vision, strengthen relationships with your audience or curate your digital presence, Acquia Lightning can lead the way.

At the Speed of Light: The Benefits of Acquia Lightning

Acquia Lightning provides tremendous value to the thousands of developers and organizations that use it; it’s among the most popular Drupal distributions. The Acquia Lightning team can develop new capabilities rapidly and launch them in Lightning, putting more functionality into the hands of users earlier than Drupal alone.

In addition to user benefits, it enables Drupal to excel beyond competing Web Content Management (WCM) platforms like Adobe Experience Manager and Sitecore.

Key benefits of Acquia Lightning include:

  • Lightning accelerates Drupal development. Lightning makes it easier / faster to build and maintain exceptional customer experiences by providing the best of Drupal packaged, secured, and tested in a well-maintained distribution..
  • Lightning delivers critical core features Drupal doesn’t have. With Lightning-only features related to media, layout, workflow and APIs, Lightning provides early access to Drupal innovation. Much of what’s in Lightning will eventually make its way into Drupal core (see recent Drupal 8.7 release for examples of that) but using Lightning gives developers early access to innovation. As we like to say: Lightning has all of Drupal core, plus more.
  • Lightning integrates with Acquia Cloud . Building with Lightning on Acquia Cloud provides the best of both worlds - the innovation of the Lightning distribution plus the most scalable, secure and developer-friendly Drupal cloud platform available for your mission-critical sites and applications. Lightning is tested against other Acquia products for inter-compatibility.
  • Keep in mind that Acquia Lightning leverages and builds upon the full capabilities of the recently released Drupal 8.7. But the new Acquia Lightning 4.0 provides capabilities over and above what you’ll find in Drupal core.

Here are five areas of innovation the Acquia Lightning team has been driving with Lightning 4.0:

  1. Simplified Page Building. Lightning’s capabilities for non-technical experience builders extends what’s possible in Drupal 8.7. This functionality is focused on making it easier and faster to create new pages and experiences for any scenario, using drag and drop techniques - without a developer’s help.
    Simplified Page Building
    Fig. 1 Rapid page-building interface in Acquia Lightning

    Lightning leverages the fully accessible Layout Builder in Drupal 8.7 (it replaces the Panels and Panelizer modules previously in Lightning) and supports specific use cases Drupal core doesn’t, including creating multiple templates that editors can choose from when creating or editing content.

    It’s all pre-configured and provides a decluttered user interface. Saving time in building and maintaining sites is a hallmark of Lightning, which based on feedback from developers saves 30% or more time on Drupal site development and configuration, plus maintenance time in the long run.
  2. Enhanced Media Management. Lightning supports numerous out-of-the-box page building components, making it easier than ever to insert and manage media (images, video), Google maps, slideshows and banners on your pages - making experience building easier and faster for non-technical users.

    Lightning 4.0 provides enhanced media management, including a carousel widget that can be embedded on pages and a built-in tool to crop images.

    Lightning lets you easily add and re-use media in Drupal, whether it's a file from your computer or an asset embedded from external services like Instagram, YouTube, or Vimeo. You're free to add audio, video, documents, and images, and crop images in place.
  3. Intuitive Page-Editing Tool.  This is a great usability improvement that allows editors to change or update media assets, such as images, via the on-page Quick Edit tool. Content editors can now use the Quick Edit mode to change/edit a hero image, for example, without going into the administrative interface. Users can change images, or browse the media library, right from the browser, keeping their work front and center.
    Intuitive Page-Editing Tool
    Fig.2. Example of Quick Edit tool for an image
  4. Modern Admin Interface and Workflow Support.  Lightning leverages Drupal’s core workflow and adds improved user experience with a new administrative user interface built with accessibility in mind. A dashboard and customizable moderation sidebar provides easier usability for managing sites and content, providing front-end context for non-technical users who may not want to use the administrative back-end. A pop-out sidebar displays content needing review, provides the ability to access drafts, and shows recent activity. Lightning supports change-tracking and lets content reviewers see who made which changes - useful to improve the speed and effectiveness of workflow review and approvals.
    Modern Admin Interface and Workflow Support
    Modern Admin Interface and Workflow Support P2
    Fig. 3. Example of the dashboard (top) and moderation sidebar (below) with editorial workflow support in Lightning
  5. JSON:API improvements. Lightning has adopted Drupal’s support for JSON:API, delivering out-of-the-box support for building decoupled apps using a common standard. As more organizations seek to build decoupled or headless sites and applications   JSON:API makes it easier and faster to create them. Drupal possesses one of, if not the, most feature-complete, easiest-to-use JSON:API implementations in existence, making it easier for Drupal developers to build decoupled applications, preview content and upload files via the JSON:API. Lightning also adds OpenSSL and Oauth support, and a beautiful API docs module.