Drupal 8 is coming! No really, it is this time. As of today there are 9 critical tasks and 13 critical bugs remaining in 8.x. Once both of those numbers go to 0, assuming no more criticals are filed or reclassified, a Drupal 8 release candidate will become available. At that time, security issues with Drupal 8 will no longer be public in the issue queues and site builders and developer alike can be confidant Drupal 8 is ready to start implementing in production.
So what’s this mean for your Drupal project your working on now (or getting ready to work on soon). If you’re release date is at 3 - 6 months out and you can get by without a bunch of contrib modules, now’s a good time to start looking at if the site or web application could be implemented using Drupal 8. If you need to release before then, I’d recommend holding off on Drupal 8.
Drupal 8 brings a number of advantages to developers and site builders alike. If you haven’t heard yet, Drupal is now Object Oriented built on top of the Symfony Framework. This means a lot of the drupalism’s developers dealt with in the past, like hook_menu (replaced with the new D8 router built on top of symfony). Also, CMI (Config Management Initiative) brings the ability to define module default configurations through simplified YAML syntax.
One of my favorite new features, which elevates Drupal from your average CMS to
a fully mobile-ready service handler is the WSCCI (Web Services and Context
Core Initiative). Built on top of Symfony responses, Drupal 8 can now natively
handle non-html responses (without really hacky tricks like
die(json_encode($var))). Everything returned to the user in Drupal 8 is now
a response. In addition to the ones provided by Symfony and the Zend Framework,
Drupal adds some really cool response types you can use in your code, such as
AjaxResponse and viewAjaxResponse (used for ajax responses specific to views).
Speaking of Views, it’s now part of core! That means a lot of simple Drupal sites that only had contrib modules for views, can run views out of the box! Based on historical data of the Drupal 7 release, most adoption trailed behind views being available, which is no longer the case with Drupal 8.
Finally, Entities with full CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) are not only available in Core, but used as the basic building block of every piece of content in Drupal. Everything from a Node to a taxonomy term is now an Entity and you have the tools with Drupal 8 to build your own custom entities.
If your more interested in creating themes for Drupal, there’s much to rejoice
about Drupal 8 as well. Drupal 8 templates are now using
twig which means
themers for Drupal 8 can do simple logic statements without having to write
templates and hooks in PHP.
This just scratches the surface with all the new things being added to Drupal 8. If you want to know more checkout http://www.drupal.org/8. This took years in the making, and a lot of people in the community volunteering their time and effort. My thanks goes out to all those that helped, whether it was writing documentation, reviewing patches, or contributing as part of one of the major Drupal 8 initiatives. If you’re interested in helping make Drupal 8 better, we’re always looking for new people to help. The community helps new people get started with contribution on Wednesdays 16:00 UTC. You probably won’t want to jump in on fixing one of those criticals I mentioned above, but working on major and minor bugs are valuable to the community as well.
Finally I want to wrap up with what future releases for Drupal are going to look like. The Drupal Community is looking at switching to a 6 month minor release cycle with only releases that break backwards compatibility being classified as major. Prior to a major release, a LTS (Long Term Support) release will be made available to give developers plenty of time to update their code to support the new features being added. Even major releases are planned to take less than a year from code freeze. This is very exciting and means things that don’t break compatibility can be added to improve Drupal 8 much faster than they have in the past.
If you haven’t looked at Drupal 8 yet, it’s getting close enough to release that you might want to consider doing so. Drupal 8 is a huge advancement from Drupal 7 and in my opinion is way ahead of where competing content management systems and platforms are right now. Having the power of Symyfony at it’s core with all the entities we’ve come to love with Drupal 7 makes Drupal 8 your choice for building your next website or application.