The State of Drupal 8: November 2013

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Over the last two years, we’ve been running a series called The State of Drupal 8.

With each post in the series, we aim to keep you up-to-date with the important new features and changes.

So, what’s new in Drupal? Quite a lot.

Since our last update, the Drupal team have re-designed the installation process, finished the multi-lingual improvements, improved the UI, removed two key modules and proposed a new release cycle.

Where is Drupal 8 Now?

As I write in November 2013, Drupal is at Alpha 6 which you can download from here https://drupal.org/node/2142291.

The Drupal team are releasing Alpha versions every month.

There are no upgrade paths betweeen Alpha versions so these can’t be used for an actual site. The Alpha phase is for testing and development.

Please note that this post will only go over what’s been added since our last “State of Drupal 8” update. Scroll to the bottom to see all previous blogs in this series.

New Installation Design

The Drupal 8 installation process is technically similar to Drupal 7, but there has been a slick re-design of the interface:

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Multi-lingual improvements are Finished

The multi-lingual changes in Drupal 8 are now just about complete. All 4 core multi-lingual modules are now available. Click here for a quick introduction to translating Drupal 8 sites.

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More UI Changes

If you navigate the latest Drupal 8 alpha, you’ll see that more work has gone into cleaning up and simplifying the interface.

There are very few major changes, but lots of small usability improvements. One of my favorites is the new block screen. If you’re familiar with WordPress, this is similar to the Widgets screen, but in reverse.

All of the available blocks are on the right-hand side and can be placed into regions on the left-hand side.

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Overlay and PHP Module Are Removed

Two of the most controversial modules in Drupal 7 have been removed.

  • Overlay placed all admin screens in pop-up box. This would often break and wasn’t mobile-friendly. It’s fair to say that most developers disabled this module.
  • PHP allows users to write PHP code directly into the Drupal admin area. This could be a very dangerous feature in the wrong hands.
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New Release Cycle

The Drupal team have proposed a new release cycle. You can read the full details at https://drupal.org/node/2135189.

If you’re familiar with the Joomla, Typo3 or even Ubuntu release cycles, then this will be very similar. Here’s a high-level overview of the new release cycle:

  • Drupal 7 would be called a Long Term Support (LTS) version and would keep getting fixes until Drupal 9.
  • Drupal 8 would be a called Short Term Support (STS) version and will get incremental versions with new features: 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 etc.
  • Drupal 8 would eventually get a final release that will become the new LTS.
  • Drupal 9 would only start serious development when there is a large completed feature that can justify the start.
  • Major versions will probably continue to release every few years.
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The Release Date

We’ve been running this series for 2 years now and in that time we’ve had a few guesses as to when as stable Drupal 8 will arrive.

Back in late 2012, the estimate was a release in early 2014. Since then there have been some more ambitious guesses, but generally the consensus of early-to-mid 2014 has held.

However, lately I think ti’s fair to say that the estimates have been getting pushed back and a date towards the end of 2014 is more likely. There are still major changes to come, including work on the Migrate module to make upgrading easier for those on previous Drupal versions. (Update: Migrate won’t neccessarily need to be in core for the first stable release to happen).

http://drupalreleasedate.com/chart/samples is a good way to track how close Drupal 8 is getting to release. It shows you how many issues are left to be solved before a release is possible. At the moment, the chart clearly shows why people think that a release is getting further away, rather than closer:

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Previous State of Drupal 8 Posts

This is our 8th update in the State of Drupal 8 series. Here are the previous posts. Many give detailed explanations of the new features in Drupal 8:

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  • Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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catch

Just a note with migrate, that adding this isn’t necessarily connected to the release date at all.
Drupal 8.0 will release with or without a migration path from 6/7 to 8, then when the migration paths are ready (from either Drupal 6 or 7 whichever is first, or both if they’re ready around the same time), along with the migration framework itself running nicely, they’ll be added and included in the next minor release.
If the migration paths are all done and dusted before we’re ready to release 8.0, then it might release with those included/supported, but that’d be coincidence rather than a requirement.

steve

Many thanks Catch.
That’s one of the big advantages to the new release cycle, I guess … if Migrate misses 8.0, it can always be added for 8.1.

nod_

To be completely correct, the overlay module has been _replaced_ by a button achieving the same objectives. It’s just that it needs 100x less code to make it work and it’s not called overlay ๐Ÿ™‚

steve

Thanks for the clarification, nod.
Thanks also for your work in replacing it for D8.

James Abrahams

What the replacement of the overlay called? I tried looking through the issue queues but couldn’t find anything.

nod_

It’s been nicknamed overlayslayer, or “Back to site button” for the layman ๐Ÿ˜€

steve

Thanks James. I found this related link explaining the UX research behind the decision: [url=https://groups.drupal.org/node/375153]https://groups.drupal.org/n…[/url]

James Abrahams

ah found it [url=https://drupal.org/node/787896]https://drupal.org/node/787896[/url]

steve

Great, thanks for the link James.

Gรกbor Hojtsy

That multilingual is complete is an understatement ๐Ÿ™‚ The set of multilingual modules is complete. We are working most on the content translation side to support all node properties as well as properties on other content entities (menu titles, taxonomy term names are most important).

steve

Thanks Gabor. Those extra features are going in core or will they be contrib?

Alex Weber

“The Drupal 8 installation process is technically similar to Drupal 7” – correct me if I’m wrong but I was under the impression it got completely re-written ๐Ÿ™‚

steve

Hi Alex. You have a link to changes?

Alex Weber

Hmm I could have sworn I read about this somewhere but coming up empty atm… the code is almost identical so I guess I’m wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

steve

Good question ๐Ÿ™‚
I’m not 100% sure of that line in the blog post after you mentioned it.
The changes in D8 are too big for any one of us to keep on top of.

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