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Drupal 8.7 Release: Digital Implications
Drupal 8.7 was just released, to much excitement. What implications does the forward-looking Drupal update have for the enterprise content management market?

With the release of Drupal 9 set for June 2020, the Drupal community and supporting organizations have been hard at work ensuring the technology remains at the forefront of the rapidly growing enterprise content management market. At OPIN, we’re very excited to leverage these new features for our enterprise Drupal projects.

 

Drupal 8 image

 

Drupal 8.7 will include the following:

  • A drag-and-drop Layout Builder tool
  • Updated UI for Media Library
  • Granular Permissions and Workflows
  • All 8.7 features are fully accessible and navigable by keyboard
  • Introduced JSON:API as a stable module to Drupal core
  • Revisionable menus and taxonomy terms
  • Better compatibility with Symfony 4 and 5
  • Optional support for Twig 2
  • Easier, out-of-the-box adoption and “Welcome Tour” of Drupal through improved Umami theme
  • Dropped support for obsolete PHP 5.5 and 5.6, as well as Internet Explorer 9
    • This is a great time to upgrade to PHP 7.1 for a faster, lighter experience
  • Updates to Guzzle library, a modern way of making HTTP requests
  • Changes to various core Drupal themes like “Stable” and “Classy”
    • If you’re using these subthemes, you should apply the changes to them
  • Various stabilization improvements

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of these to further understand the digital implications of these enhancements to the world’s premier enterprise content management system.

Layout Builder

Drupal 8.7’s Layout Builder is the open source CMS’s answer to site-building tools like Squarespace and Wix. The Layout Builder allows content editors to manage content and structure elements on web pages using very simple drag-and-drop functionality. Drupal isn’t merely catching up to its competitors: the new Layout Builder actually surpasses them in many ways. It includes a powerful template editor, multi-page management, instant previews, permissions workflows, and exceptional accessibility as well (Drupal 8.7 is fully navigable by keyboard).

 

image of the new Drupal layout buidler

 

Drupal already is widely known for having one of the most robust back-ends of any content management system, making it a popular choice for large enterprises. Drupal 8.7 proves it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. As site-building tools narrow the gap between enterprise and non-enterprise websites, Drupal still stands apart.

Updated Media Library

The digital asset management market is white hot and is expected to more than triple in size by 2024. Moreover, poor digital asset management costs enterprises thousands of dollars each year in lost productivity, as employees spend too much time searching for files and relevant information.

The Drupal community understood the importance of having a powerful digital asset management system that is also simple to use. Effective management and reuse of images, videos, and other digital assets are essential for maintaining efficiency and brand consistency, especially across different locations.  

Improved Workflows

 

image of the word workflow

 

Drupal 8.7 greatly enhanced Drupal’s existing workflow tools, supporting features like content staging, improved notifications, and updated approval workflows and version controls. Customization of these workflows can be as granular or as high-level as the manager wishes - proving Drupal an effect content governance platform for any organization in any industry.

Drupal 8.7 also supports the ability to push content across multiple teams using its workflow process. Depending on the content, it may need approval from your legal team, SEO team, and local teams in international offices before it can be published. Freelancing is also expected to increase in the future, meaning advanced permission sets and workflows are necessary to secure information and reduce inefficiencies.

As enterprises continue to trend toward managing distributed workforces, particularly in marketing departments, advanced workflow capabilities like those released with Drupal 8.7 will be increasingly important as companies scale remote teams.

Decoupled, API-First Drupal

Drupal already has a strong reputation for having an extremely robust back-end architecture that can support almost any application - websites, gas pumps, native apps, digital signage, Amazon’s Alexa, and so on. Using Drupal as the back-end and another technology as the front-end, or content delivery method, is known as decoupled Drupal.

Drupal 8.7 reaffirmed the community’s commitment to decoupled or “headless” Drupal by making it easier and faster than ever to integrate front-end frameworks with Drupal’s powerful back-end. 147 contributors and 76 different organizations introduced new, stable JSON:API support as part of the 8.7 release.

 

Image of laptop screen

 

Drupal’s community is placing a stronger emphasis on API-first approaches to development, acknowledging the growing importance of omnichannel reach across all types of applications. With an increasing number of digital touchpoints consumers are engaging with, it is essential for powerful content management systems like Drupal to be as flexible as possible (using robust APIs) to seamlessly interact with them.

Semantic Versioning

Since the release of Drupal 8, Drupal has been using a minor upgrade, continuous innovation model (with significant improvements in functionality every six months, like the 8.7 release). This model has been translated to major upgrades as well, creating a smoother upgrade path between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 (this is otherwise known as Semantic Versioning).

It’s well-known that upgrade cycles cost enterprises millions of dollars annually while often throwing a wrench in the CIO’s plans, particularly for proprietary technologies. Drupal’s adoption of the continuous innovation model means lowered upgrade costs for enterprises. Moving to Drupal 8 from Drupal 7 or another CMS is the last major upgrade an enterprise will have to make. A smooth upgrade path is guaranteed from Drupal 8 onward.

With enterprises spending more on IT than ever, managing costs while retaining a great product is a top priority for CIOs.

Conclusion

Following Drupal’s six-month release cycle, Drupal 8.8 is set to be released on November 1st, 2019. 8.8 is expected to include significant improvements to the administrative user interface (cleaner, more accessible, better use of space) and an updated WYSIWYG editor, among other enhancements.

A taste of Drupal 8.8’s proposed UI, as presented at the 2019 Seattle DrupalCon

Regular and consistent upgrades are the best way to prepare your organization for the release of Drupal 9 in June 2020. At OPIN, our team ensures all of our enterprise clients are taking advantage of the best functionality Drupal has to offer. Upgrade today and take the lead in enterprise content management!

Let our industry experts take the drivers seat and discuss the flexibility and extensibility of Drupal
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Stephen has built a marketing career on his belief that even the most complex problems of the digital age should be resolved by starting from first principles, not chasing trends. This approach helps Stephen provide insights to our readers about the forces that are reshaping the digital landscape.