Since its launch in 2011, Drupal 7 has become one of the world's most popular content management systems. For users of that version or its predecessor, Drupal 6, the news at the end of 2014 that a new edition of Drupal would soon be launched was greeted with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.
Changes to this much loved platform will require those who develop websites using it to learn new ways of working. At the same time, the additional features should make Drupal a slicker, more intuitive system for developers and end users alike.
Here are some of the reasons why we think the arrival of Drupal 8 is an exciting prospect that everyone involved with Drupal development should greet with open arms.
1) New fields have been added
A total of five fields have been added to the Drupal core. These include date, email, link, reference and telephone. In addition, comments is now available as a field, rather than as a setting.
As well as there being more fields, there are also now more ways in which fields can be used. Fields can be added to users, nodes, blocks, taxonomy terms, contact forms and comments.
These expansions of the use of fields open up all sorts of exciting new possibilities for Drupal developers to explore.
2) Drupal now comes with a text editor
CKEditor, one of the most powerful text editors available, is provided with Drupal 8. This makes it more straightforward for novices to get to grips with the CMS and start posting nicely formatted articles.
There is also a Quick Edit module that allows logged in users of a Drupal site to edit text directly from the front end of the site.
Together, these features make it easier for developers to provide sites that will be intuitive for their end users. The upshot should be happier customers.
3) Images can be made even more responsive
In Drupal 7, it was possible to automatically resize images in the core. Now, users will be able to choose different styles for an individual image to be used on different devices. This makes it easier than ever before to achieve a device-neutral site using Drupal 8.
4) Views is now in the Drupal core
One of the most popular modules for existing Drupal users is Views. This has now been integrated into the Drupal core and is used by almost all of the Drupal administration screens. As a result, the platform is now much easier to customise from the moment that you start using it.
5) Multilingual modules are now built in to the core
Producing a multilingual site is much simpler in Drupal 8 than with previous versions. Four of the modules that were necessary to produce a site in multiple languages have been included in the Drupal core. This allows users to start translating their site immediately, without the need to add extensions to the CMS.
6) The modules necessary to create web services have also been taken into the core
With Drupal 8, users can create a web service straightaway. All of the modules that had to be added to Drupal 7 are now part of the core. This makes creating a REST export simpler and quicker.
7) Import and export of features is much simpler
The new configuration manager allows users to easily export features that they have built themselves. Configuration types can be exported from one site and then easily imported into another. This makes it easy to create a new content type in a test site and then transfer it across to live sites.