Introduction to Drupal
Drupal is an open-source technology that is widely used for the development of content management systems. It is a PHP framework that provides you a backend framework. Statistically, 13% of the top 10,000 websites use Drupal in their backend. It shows the trust people put in the technology. It is used in simple and complex applications. You can use it for personal blogs, big corporate houses, political and government sites, and more. It is widely used for knowledge management and business collaboration too.
The Drupal community has more than 1.39 million members, including 121,000 active users. They contribute, develop and improve the framework regularly to make development more developer-friendly. It has 46,800 free modules that can be extended and customized to improve the functionality of the Drupal products to a great extent. It is easy to set up a complex application and offers out-of-the-box features to set up a content management system.
Drupal 8 is a widely used version for drupal development services. It was released in 2015, and it has over 200+ features that can be used for improving the application capabilities in Drupal development. It is quick to set up and provides amazing benefits in improving the site's experience. It offers a better user experience too.
The benefits of the framework have made it one of the most sought-after technologies of all time. It has many new features that provide an authoring environment to develop a quicker website setup. It is a highly improved experience for site builders and developers.
Migrating to Drupal 8
You can hire a Drupal developer to migrate your site from Drupal's older versions to Drupal 8. The migration is now much easier than it was before. It takes only a few simple configuration steps to migrate from Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 versions. This has made migration much cheaper than it was ever before. Moreover, it requires less code, and complex configuration steps are eliminated to a great extent.
The biggest concern that comes with the upgrades – data loss, hindrance in functionality, and in the routine operations, they are no longer there. But that is not enough for deciding whether you should migrate to Drupal 8 or not, so in this blog, we would be comparing a number of factors for better decision making.
Important factors that reflect positively for Drupal 8 Upgrade
As a custom software development company, we have helped many businesses to migrate to Drupal 8. It is was a great experience as you don't have to sacrifice any feature or functionality. It is very cost-effective, in fact, one of the most efficient yet light on pocket migrations. In our experience, we have found the following factors worthwhile in improving our development experience.
Before migrating to Drupal 8, you must know what it would look like. Migration is very similar to developing a brand new Drupal 8 website. You push all your content, media, data, and elements onto a new site. It is upgrading the older website for a power-packed performance. This is why migration and upgrade are interchangeably used in the blog.
- More secure CMS
Drupal 8 is far more robust than any other Drupal version. It comes with crucial built-in functionality. It is important for website security. It offers core modules that offer a higher level of scrutiny than community-contributed modules do.
It has a stricter review process prior to being added. It is like having more sorting eyes on the code. The best part is Drupal core updates are regularly released, unlike the contributed modules.
It offers open source development services; Drupal 8 has a huge following. If you are still using Drupal 6 you will get regular security patches. It has a trustworthy long-term support program. But since it is an old version, not many people are looking forward to work on that version. And if it is about security, Drupal 8 is much more secure than any other Drupal version.
- Better authoring experience
Authoring experience in CMS involves how writers, editors, and content reviewers use a CMS platform to write, edit and review content. It is very important, as user experience is very important to consider. The writing experience for developing a page, post, or improving the content workflow is important to take into account. It also helps in editing the content and uploading assets such as images, videos, PDFs.
A lot of content editors and contributors are seen complaining about Drupal 6 and Drupal 7. We don't blame them as the authoring experience was time-consuming, laborious, and unrewarding. This can be because of the poor architecture.
When compared with Drupal 8, they are no match. The user experience is improved to ten folds. It has made a core initiative; Drupal has come together with Acquia, which has come up with a persona for content creators and site builders. Knowing the different needs of different stakeholders, they have been able to use the information for improving the authoring experience.
It comes with a built-in editor, WYSIWYG –a very quick and efficient tool for site development. The commitment to improve the ease of editing allows you to make quick and easy edits into anything on the site. With Drupal 8, the content editor doesn't depend on HTML in order to edit, add and make changes to the content on the site. The UI of the editor too flaunts a modern and streamlined experience. It is a complete treat to work with Drupal 8. It is widely improved and best for content editing.
- Built-in layout for the site builder
Drupal is all about improvements. It provides a huge boost in the site authoring experience. In a step up, Drupal 8.5 provides a better editing experience with site authors called Layout Builder. It can be configured to provide the ability to dictate the page layout on a per-page and per-content basis.
It also allows you to develop multiple layouts using a simple user interface. The new module also reduces, eliminates the need to invest time in a layout every time. With Drupal 8, you can achieve a rewarding site experience with the drag and drop tool. The editing on the tool becomes so much easier, and the developers with less experience can work on on-site development easily.
- Mobile responsive approach
Drupal's attention to improved experience over smartphones has made it a first content management system. The mobile initiative makes Drupal 8 mobile-friendly, and that makes it out-of-the-box. There are many sites that use mobile-friendly themes; this makes it time-saving. Drupal 8 has made developing site mobile-responsive easy, cost-effective and effortless. It offers a reliable administration theme that makes responsive website development easy for content creators. You can now add and edit the content from mobile phones and tablets.
Workspaces is the new core module in Drupal 8. It is very functional and efficient. It offers an agile development workflow, and the content creation becomes more streamlined. It comes with all the necessary tools and features to create new pages, elements such as menus, and other content like tags. The best part is you can publish all of it at once.
The module also allows you to create multiple environments such as staging and production. The movement of the content between different environments also becomes easy. As a software development company, we love the feature of Drupal 8. It allows you to designate the production to be visible to visitors while staging the old equivalent of the unpublished pages to only a restricted user base.
This also eliminates the need to separate the site for staging content or content on the production site with some convoluted workflow.
- Support for HTML 5
HTML5 initiative has allowed the developers to build Drupal websites with the support of HTML5. The Drupal 8 version allows you to use the latest trends in markup and provides more compatibility with mobile and handheld devices.
- Improved performance and scalability
Speed has always been a factor of comparison, and since the launch of Drupal 8, people have been speculating if this new version of Drupal is faster than the previous versions. Drupal 6 and 7 are very efficient tools. But they are no match to version 8. Drupal 8 is way faster than the previous versions because of BigPipe. BigPipe helps in enhancing the performance of the application by sending cacheable parts of the page first and then moves on to dynamic uncacheable parts. Drupal 8 also requires PHP 7, which boosts the performance of the tool to a great extent. The previous versions used PHP 5; again, it is not bad, but it is not as good as PHP 7. Coming back to the topic, Drupal 8 provides a built-in dynamic page cache. It is for logged-in users that caches pages, excluding the personalized parts.
Modern websites are more dynamic and interactive than they were a few years ago. But it has increased the problems of the developers as it hinders the experience of the site largely. Drupal 8 introduces the concept of cache tags that allow much more precise cache invalidations.
- Enhanced flexibility
Drupal 8 has amazing architecture. The architecture is considered as an entity that is very different from the prior versions of Drupal as the entities are broken up into distinct categories, node, field collection, and more. Things like blocks are not considered entities.
There are some limitations in Drupal 8, and the result provides amazing flexibility. You can reference anything in a field. Another benefit is creating a block reference field. It also puts the power of adding reusable content in the hands of content editors.
- Site theming
Drupal 8 is far from pure PHP-based templates. It uses Twig that is simpler and more secure complied templating language. It is modern and powerful, the OOP-based engine. It eliminates the need for designers to understand PHP and instead provides them a simple framework to provide desired layouts.
- Module Upgrades
Migrating Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 is very easy, but not Drupal 7. The contributed module helps significantly with heavy lifting. The project is a command line script that scans the source of the Drupal 7 module, flags any code that needs to be updated to Drupal 8. The contributed module Drupal module upgrader helps in doing the power-intensive operations such as API changes and converting code to Drupal 8 version.
- Futuristic features
Drupal 8 is not just perfect for our current technology market, but it is more futuristic. It allows you to access the content beyond a browser and the new release cycle allows more innovative development in the core. Read more about them in point no. 13.
- Browser-less accessibility
Drupal 8 core comes with RESTful Web Service API. The built-in capabilities in the core open more possibilities that can be used practically in the development process. Drupal can be used for content management on mobile applications. You would be surprised to know Drupal is used by Amazon Alexa and other leading brands in the Internet of Things and wearable market.
- New release cycle and new innovations built into the core
Drupal is a leading technology for the last 17 years. There are many reasons to go with Drupal the platform, and with the launch of Drupal 8, you can expect much bigger things are happening over the platform. It is one of the best versions of it to date.
The best thing is Drupal 8 has moved to a continuous innovation model. The release cycle now brings scalable functionality and improvements every six months instead of in years. Layout Builder, BigPipe, and other features are all examples of the innovative approach of the software. The Drupal core team has also committed to providing a smoother transition from one six-month release to the next.
Drupal 8 is upgradable to Drupal 9, and it is expected that Drupal 9 will be using backward compatible Drupal 8 modules. This feature makes it a very scalable option for the companies that might move on to Drupal 9 to meet their business needs.
- Built-in Multilingual Capability
Drupal 8 offers you multilingual site development, which makes it stand out. The site and content translations are very easy to configure in Drupal 8. It is way easier now than the previous Drupal versions.
Drupal considers everything as an entity, and thus it makes the translation much easier using UI. You can configure a workflow to approve translation in every language before being visible to the visitors.
- Built-in Media and Media Library Modules
Drupal was not very reliable when it came to adding media to content for the larger websites. The management of the media assets was a tedious experience. The release of Drupal 8.5.0 was added to core and finally made Drupal media capabilities that increased its capabilities more than other leading platforms such as WordPress.
Combined with the workflow, now you can easily upload, manage and reuse the media assets easily. Now you can move the content between the workflow states much easier with Drupal 8.6.0. It provides a simpler method to add embedded Youtube and Vimeo links directly in the content text areas. It allows you to use the built-in Media and Media Library Drupal module to manage the assets.
- Drupal 8 Core
Drupal has over 6000 modules. The contributed modules are developed and maintained by the community, and the Drupal Core contributes to the project development and patches.
Thousands of individuals over 1000 organizations use Drupal core and contributed modules to the development of high-end websites.
Is the Drupal 8 upgrade right for you?
Drupal 8 is only three years old, and in this small period of time, it has nearly 7000 contributed modules available for Drupal 8. It is highly trusted in the development community as it has made the development of feature-rich websites easy. You can hire an offshore developer and meet your business needs better. It offers easier migration, security, and no hindrance in your workflow while the work goes on. In the blog, we have tried to include all the necessary features we feel are good for decision-making.