6th July 2016

24 things about Drupal 8 every CTO should know - Part two

John Ennew
Technical Director

If you’re a CTO who’s thinking of migrating to Drupal 8, you might be dealing with a number  of questions about what this change means for your business. This week, we’re continuing to answer all of your lingering queries. In part one of this series, we covered planning for Drupal 8, and some important implications for Drupal 7. This week, we’re going to delve into the hot topic of Drupal 8’s new functionality, as well as some crucial issues relating to the front end. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then we’ll begin.

24 things about Drupal 8 every CTO should know - Part 2

New functionality in Drupal 8

9. Does Drupal Commerce feature in the Drupal 8 release?

 

Drupal Commerce is not maintained by the Drupal core team but maintained by a company - Commerce Guys. They have a Drupal 8 version of the module in active development.

The new Drupal 8 version is described as offering significant improvements over the old versions of Drupal Commerce, including better add to cart facilities, faster product creation and more intuitive product administration.

10. Are multilingual sites handled differently in Drupal 8?

Previous versions of Drupal had only partial support for multilingual websites. Multilingual projects usually involved stitching together a number of contributed modules to provide support for various elements of Drupal to be translated and each worked in a slightly different way. This inconsistency caused many projects budget and deadline pressures.

There has been a significant overhaul of multilingual capabilities in Drupal 8. Translations of all core elements are done in a sane and consistent manner in Drupal 8 core.

The installation system natively supports 94 languages. There are simple processes for installing new languages and language updates. The administration interface is entirely translatable. Assets, such as files or images, can now be assigned to a language or shared between languages.

11. How is the content editor experience different in Drupal 8?

Drupal 8 ships with the popular CKEditor WYSIWYG web editor. This means this tool is supported as standard and so will be maintained to continue to integrate well with it.

The new NavBar module in Drupal 8 core offers a clean administration tool for accessing all sections of the administration interface.

Drupal 8’s quick edit feature allows content editors the ability to do simple editing and changes in the page instead of loading a form specially for editing content.

On the horizon there are improvements to media handling in Drupal 8 as well which will give Drupal 8 a superior interface for managing assets such as files and images but this did not make it into core.

12. Does Drupal 8 handle complex user and content permissions any differently?

Under the hood the content access permission system has been rewritten in Drupal 8 but the behaviour for content administrators is much the same as before.  

It is expected that contributed modules will be providing the fine grained additional permission control they did in previous versions of Drupal. The popular choice in previous versions of Drupal for this was Organic Groups, which hadn’t been refactored to match more recent core versions. To provide stable functionality in Drupal 7 we have been using the Group module instead, we are planning to create a Drupal 8 release too.

The front-end and Drupal 8

13. Does Drupal 8 change theming and front-end standards approach?

 

In Drupal 7 PHP based templates made it too easy for developers to place logic in their templates which should have been managed in modules. Over time, templating code which was not strongly controlled would become fragile and it would be hard to find bugs and add new functionality.

Theming has changed significantly with the introduction of the Twig templating system in Drupal 8. Developers will now be able to write almost all markup in Twig templates rather than PHP code in functions. Though there will be an initial investment in learning required by development teams, the long term results will be cleaner templates which are more maintainable.

14. How is accessibility handled in Drupal 8?

There have been some improvements made to accessibility in Drupal 8.

WAI-ARIA landmarks, live regions, roles & properties are included which improves the accessibility of dynamic areas of the page. Drupal’s Form API now puts errors in-line rather than having the errors displayed in different regions to the form element which had the input error.

There is a JavaScript alert for audible announcements allowing site builders to include timely messages specifically for aural users. A new Tabbing Manager ensures a logical ordering to accessing page elements for users not using a mouse.

A general approach in Drupal 8 is to use standardised libraries to deliver functionality rather than trying to develop well known and well developed functionality from scratch. By working with library developers, best-of-breed technologies can be developed in partnership with a larger community.

One of the effects of this is that accessibility for a particular function can be developed by teams of people who really understand that field. A good example here is using the jQuery UI library to provide autocomplete functionality in Drupal 8. The Drupal community can now help the jQuery UI community in producing a better, more accessible tool.

We hope you’ve found this post useful and that it’s answered some of your most pressing Drupal questions. Part one of our guide is here if you missed it. In part three of our mini-series, we’ll be covering Drupal 8 in the enterprise, as well as architecture changes and those all important security issues.

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