Core Modules & Features: Drupal 8

Core Modules & Features: Drupal 8

We are on the horizon of the Drupal 8 release later this year. According to Drupal's creator, Dries Buytaert, the new build will be the open-source project's "boldest release to date."

Many users will find familiar built-in modules from Drupal 7; in addition to brand new modules. Here is a list of new modules:

Actions: Enables performance of tasks which are triggered by specific events within the system. Drupal 7 users will be able to most closely associate this module with "Trigger", which has been nixed in favor of Actions.
Ban: A favorite among power-hungry admins and a necessary component for website policing. This module enables the banning of IP addresses.
Breakpoint: Allows for management of breakpoints and breakpoint groups - a key component in Drupal Responsive Design.
Configuration manager: Enables administrators to manage configuration changes. With it, developers will be able to take a snapshot of a Drupal configuration from a single point in time. All changes will be saved in both the config file and database, a big value for projects.
E-mail: Adds & defines a field type for e-mail addresses.
Entity Translation: Allows entities to be translated into different languages. The entity translation module will replace content translation, formerly used in Drupal 7 for a similar function.
History: Displays records including data on user content viewing.
JSON-LD: Serializes entities using JSON-LD format.
Language: Makes configuration possible for a number of languages to be used on your website. Also provides unique language negotiation functionality.
Layout: Ability to swap different page layouts.
Picture: Includes a built-in image formatter, in addition to breakpoint mappings to output responsive images using the HTML5 picture tag.
RESTful Web Services: Exposes entities and other resources as RESTful web API.
Views: Ability to create customized lists and queries from your database.
Views UI: An administrative interface for Views.
XML-RPC: Provides XML-RPC functionality; available for Drupal 7 but has graduated to a dedicated, built-in version on Drupal 8.

The "Modules" option in the toolbar will now be relabelled "Extend." A welcome new addition to this tab will be a search option for locating modules; meaning users will not have to endure tedious scrolling anymore. Drupal 8 will also offer a new "Tour" button, which provides details as to what is happening on-screen through an informative pop-up.

As for a module that simply didn't make the cut: the Blog module. The removal of the Blog module from core is a bittersweet initiative, though there are alternative ways of replicating this functionality for those who rely on it. For less tech-savvy Drupal users, the move may not be favorable.

Views in Drupal 8

Views will be making its debut in Drupal 8 core, in a clear and decisive move from the development community of the high value of this heavily used module. Roughly a year after initial talks to include views, coding integration is nearly complete.

Including Views in Drupal core will simplify customization of lists. Making modifications to these lists will also be easier. Other details with regard to Views for Drupal 8 will be revealed at DrupalCon later this month in Portland.

Mobile Initiative

In a concerted effort to 'keep up with the times', Drupal Mobile initiatives are also in effect. Drupal 7 has some great mobile contributions, while the goal for Drupal 8 is to make it mobile-ready out-of-the-box. Familiar default themes like Bartik, Stark, and Seven will be responsive for Drupal 8. While these may be the only 3 confirmed, the ultimate goal is for all themes to become responsive for Drupal 8.

In addition to responsive themes, an effort is underway to create mobile-friendly administrative tools. The Toolbar, Dashboard, Overlay, and Shortcut modules are currently being modified to display in an intuitive fashion on mobile devices. Corporate environments have changed substantially since the release of Drupal 7. Content creators are now publishing from desktops, cell phones, tablets and more. Mobile-friendly administration will become a very practical feature that adds further to Drupal 8's value proposition.

Performance optimization is also included in the list of enhancements. This area is primarily focused on the front-end in order to cater to the limited bandwidth and processing power of mobile devices (when compared with their desktop counterparts).

Drupal presently receives and returns requests as fully-themed HTML pages. However, in the age of mobile apps, such rendering isn't always ideal. The Web Services initiative aims to turn Drupal from a first-class HTML page serving framework into a first-class REST framework, capable of not only serving HTML pages but also JSON, XML and others.

Twig

For those who are unfamiliar with Twig, it's nothing to shake a stick at. Twig is the new template engine, built right into Drupal 8. Created by the developer of Symfony, it grinds templates down to plain optimized PHP code. The overhead compared to regular PHP code is significantly reduced, resulting in a speedy, concise programming language.

Developers may define custom tags and filters behind a versatile lexer and parser, even create your own DSL via Twig's open architecture. Twig includes a sandbox mode and automatic output escaping, making it incredibly pragmatic and secure. Lots of documentation is available already, and the community is certainly abuzz at this addition - a big win for theming with Drupal.

Not convinced? Check out Twig in action at DrupalCon Portland 2013.

Multilingual

Drupal 7 does presently come with the ability to add multilingual functionality. Doing so requires downloading and configuring various contributed modules.

As for Drupal 8, the multilingual initiative, known hiply and conveniently "D8MI," seeks to consolidate disparate components into one, all-encompassing integration. This initiative includes improvements to base language features, interface translation, content translation, configuration translation and usability improvements.

Final Thoughts

Drupal 8 is reaching the final stages of development, with a planned code freeze in July, and a subsequent release penciled in for September 13th. The community may still get involved with official Drupal 8 community initiatives. Naturally, timelines might shift since the official completion date remains "whenever its done", as per Drupal's typical launch philosophy.

Change records for Drupal 8 core are logged and progressively updated. Tasks already completed include big improvements to jQuery UI, HTML5 integration, and forward movement on mobile. Without question, Drupal 8 will be an exciting, forward-thinking, mobile-ready framework with vast improvements that keep up with the changing nature of the web.

Tags: