20th June 2016 Development 0 comments

Drupal is upping its game. This popular open-source CMS has gone through a significant transformation over the last year, introducing changes the Drupal community had long been waiting for. Drupal 8, launched back in November 2015, was the biggest Drupal update to date. The release of Drupal 8 meant that support for Drupal 6 sites ended in late February 2016. Let’s take a look at some of the implications of the latest Drupal 8 update, and what it all means for websites developed in Drupal.

Benefits of Drupal- Dynamic & Scalable

Developers get used to certain ways of coding and Drupal is no different. Sometimes faulted for its steep learning curve, Drupal amply repays developers with its dynamic and scalable features. In the saturated world of CMSs- what makes Drupal different?

  • Drupal offers a lot of developer features out of the box (like an extensible architecture), and is powerful enough to run large data rich sites and web applications. 
  • Scalability- Drupal is suitable for large and small web builds.
  • Drupal is open-source with an active & reactive development community. Threads, forums, Reddit posts- there#s rarely a Drupal question that hasn’t been asked (and answered) before.
  • Drupal’s generally strong security record over the last 5 years makes it one the best out of the popular CMSs for security.  Less hacking, less spam = happier webmasters. The White House trusts it for their website, which is saying something!
  • The latest Drupal 8 update makes Drupal an even stronger CMS contender with a renewed commitment to on usability and content creation, as well as improved multilingual and mobile features.

Drupal 6 Support Ended This Year

The end of the Drupal 6 support cycle means that Drupal will no longer:

  • update the Drupal 6 core.
  • monitor and provide system security support.
  • update or add new modules.

Without Drupal security patches webmasters will potentially have an insecure site environment- which could turn out to be costly. The end of the Drupal 6 support lifecycle will lead to:

  • Security concerns & increased risk of security breaches on your site.
  • Reliability and compatibility issues: more support & development time will have to be spent on maintaining Drupal 6 sites.
  • Third party integration will be challenging due to out-of-date modules.
  • Decrease in compatibility with modern frameworks (e.g. Drupal 6 not supported by Bootstrap).
  • Less control over your website and facing a potentially forced and rushed upgrade in future.

Newer versions of Drupal have advantages over Drupal 6 in terms of capability and compatibility, as well as having a more comprehensive feature set. It is better to upgrade now rather than doing an emergency upgrade when your Drupal 6 site no longer works!

Drupal 8: Better for Developers & Users

Drupal 8 has been hailed as a user-friendly development solution: focusing on speed, usability,and security- making for cheaper and better web builds.

Drupal 8 champions key innovations such as progressive decoupling, configurable field elements and REST-first native web services for better third party integration.

The new Drupal 8 has also put more emphasis on usability and flexibility for example:

  • Adoption of a WYSIWYG editor to help content creators and a more integrated drag and drop editor
  • Multilingual features such as language maintenance and translation
  • Mobile-first attitude for responsive designs and themes

Upgrading your Drupal Site

  • You will normally need to involve developers in an upgrade from one major version of Drupal to another, such as 7 to 8. Drupal 8 has a new migration process to help users upgrading from version 6: this process should always be managed by Drupal developers to minimise site disruption.
  • The site and its database should be backed up beforehand and the upgrade ought to be tested in a dry run before you carry it out on a live site.
  • It’s very important to ensure you have tested it thoroughly and checked that the content and features in your site are not affected by the upgrade.

What CMS have you chosen for your site? Did you consider Drupal?