As we are all aware, Drupal is an excellent content management system which can be used to build complex and scalable web sites. A few years ago when I was only managing my own personal Drupal sites, I was enchanted by the variety of modules available to add functionality to my site. When I had a new idea, there was usually a module which could handle the functionality. Since I wasn't picky, I was also happy to just use a community contributed theme. Then, I could just focus on creating content and move on with my life. Installation was easy - all I had to do was click a few buttons and my host would automatically install Drupal on my shared hosting account.
Fast forward a few years, and my desires have become increasingly complex. I'm not satisfied with sites that are just "OK." No, I want my sites to look great and also handle more and more functionality. At the same time, I'm managing more projects - both for clients here at OpenSourcery, and for my own personal use. With only so many hours in the day, I'm always looking for ways to optimize my workflow. Thankfully, I am confident that Drupal 8 is going to deliver many improvements which - at the end of the day - mean better tools for developers and more value for customers. Here is why.
1. Drupal 8 Developers are Smart People.
While working at the Drupal Association, I had the opportunity to meet several people who are responsible for making Drupal 8 a reality. Dries Buytaert is the founder of Drupal and is responsible for managing contributions to Drupal 8 core. He, Nat Catchpole, and Angie Byron work very closely to oversee its development. Having met both Dries and Angie (although not Nat), I'm confident with their ability to lead Drupal 8 into success. Let's not forget that these developers have a long standing track record of excellence in the Drupal community.
2. The Industry is Ready.
While it's easy to see the performance of the core contributors, it's even easier to see the success record of the community as a whole. Millions of websites across the web are dependent on Drupal - and so are the companies who build, maintain, and own these sites. This fact alone really secures the future of Drupal: With so much momentum, many, many people have interest in keeping the ball rolling. We've proven that the open source model works, and everybody is more excited than ever to contribute.
3. Technical Improvements. Drupal 8 is going to make development faster than ever. Although I don't think that Drupal will be "easier" to use and understand, I do think that it will be "better" in the sense that professional developers will be more capable of doing their jobs effectively. Here are some technical changes which should help us out.
A) Improved Deployment Tools One of the most challenging aspects of working as a professional Drupal developer is handling deployments. When we build a web site - or make changes to an existing site - we don't do it live on the web. Sites have to be duplicated, worked on, and tested BEFORE any changes are made to a live site. Then, we have to figure out the best way to move those changes online. With inconsistent hosting environments and inherently unpredictable behavior of modules such as Features, this process becomes tricky. Changes that may appear to be simple can be complicated by the problem of deployment. Drupal 8 will offer a more consistent way to transfer configuration settings - built right into core.
B) Improvements for Front End Developers Making a website look good is not easy. However, it's a very important aspect of web projects today. Sites can't just work, they need to work with style. In fact, many of the changes clients request are changes to the look and feel of their sites, even after it's functioning 100%. But, because each website has its own theme, colors, and layouts, it can be difficult for developers to quickly make changes, because they have to spend time learning how each particular site works. Drupal 8 attempts to not only improve the way Drupal renders pages, but to standardize how layouts are dictated. The goal is to allow developers to make style changes more quickly and with less hassle.
Much More To find out more about Drupal 8, check out Angie Byron's article on Drupal Watchdog.