The Future of Drupal is Now
People are often curious about the latest and greatest trends in any given project. Drupal is certainly no different, however we are not beholden to someone else’s decisions behind closed doors. The beauty of open source is that we can see these things play out in real time and even act on them, nudging things in a different direction or helping prioritize something that might otherwise have fallen off others’ radar. Here, we will explore a few of Drupal’s Strategic Initiatives.
Front-End and Design
Over the last decade, there has been a lot of effort to expand the appeal of Drupal beyond the developer community, bringing in a strong focus on UI/UX improvements and integrating more design standards. These projects further that effort.
The administration interface has long been one of the sore spots for new users coming into Drupal for the first time. To the uninitiated, there is quite a learning curve. To modernize the Admin UI, developers have implemented ongoing user testing as well as interface improvements.
This initiative also includes an effort to enable a fully-functional, completely decoupled alternative to the standard Drupal admin pages, with React being used for a demonstration application. The various API improvements underlying this will make things like mobile administration apps much easier to build and allow them to be much more feature-complete.
This has long been a bit of a buggabear in Drupal. While there have been some fairly good media management solutions in the contributed space including modules like Entity Browser and distributions like Lightning and Varbase, Drupal core has remained lacking. This initiative aims to standardize that and much of that work is now in Drupal core, with the remaining work focused on the media library component.
Let’s face it: The default Bartik theme is showing its age. Initially built before mobile-first was really a thing, it has gradually fallen behind the times. This initiative is designing and building a completely new default front-end theme for Drupal with a modern look and feel.
In addition to an updated, cleaner design, Oliver will also be WCAG AA compliant and include a variety of additional functionality to support new features in Drupal core. This new theme began with a significant design review process, a description of which can be read on the Designs for new front-end theme for Drupal 9 issue page.
Back-End and Integrations
Meanwhile, the developer community is, of course, still always looking to stay ahead of new technologies and keep Drupal at the forefront of the latest development trends. These projects represent a continuance of that ongoing effort.
As more and more of the web is being built in a decoupled fashion, with the systems and applications presenting content to the users not necessarily being the ones in which it is created, Drupal needs to expose as much of that data and functionality as possible using current API standards. This initiative is part of that ongoing effort to standardize Drupal’s APIs and make it easier to set up integrations out of the box. There are numerous advantages to this approach from performance, to design flexibility, to create-once-use-anywhere. This initiative also serves to provide the necessary underlying changes for the Admin UI front-end project listed above.
Configuration management has been in Drupal core since the development of Drupal 8, however there have remained many areas of improvement. The contributed space has endeavored to address many of those, however this initiative is aimed at bringing more of those improvements into core and streamline the developer experience.
Keeping Drupal sites up to date has always been a pain, as with any other system, especially for larger projects with many components. This initiative strives to address at least some of that by allowing automatic Drupal core security and patch releases including functionality for code signing, A/B testing of updates and the like, with the potential to enable more significant updates in the future.
Content and Other
Some of the biggest requirements from clients, especially on larger sites, often revolve around editorial workflows. Solid workflows are a must when dealing with teams of content creators and editors. Many improvements have made their way into Drupal core recently and this initiative is intended to build on that effort with a goal of bringing preview and staging of content directly into core. This initiative is in need of help getting it off the ground and you can learn more about its current status on the workflow initiative issue page.
Wondering how you can get involved in all of these projects? This is a great one to get your feet wet in. This initiative is really just the always-ongoing effort to improve and expand Drupal’s documentation. Anyone can get involved and help make everyone’s lives easier.
Hopefully some of these issues are interesting to you, or you have a pressing need that could be addressed by one or more of them. We refer to Drupal as a “do-ocracy”: if you see something that you think needs to be addressed, jump in and help do it. We’re all better off when people pitch in, whatever their skill level. And if you’re looking to get first-hand experience on Drupal projects, join our Esteemed Colleagues Community!