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February 16, 2012

Drupal 8 Core Initiatives. What Should We Expect?

Drupal 8 promises to deliver a new and improved core, a stronger bond between contributors and developers, gathering new users all over the world and increasing in popularity and use. 
We are looking forward for DrupalCon Denver 2012 to find out more about the Drupal 8 release, particularly about mobile, usability, web services, HTML 5, multilingual support, and design.
Mobile comes first
One important aim for Drupal 8 is usable and accessible backend administration from mobile devices and tablets. With the increasing use of mobile devices, besides the usual desktop computers there is no way back, but moving everything to smaller screen sizes and compatibility. In one of his speeches, Dries mentioned the fact that if Drupal was started from scratch today- then he would mostly concentrate on mobiles and tablets and then move on to desktop computers. As an example we can take media companies, where most of their editors on field use tablets in order to report and write articles. Hence making the administration backend mobile-friendly will ensure comfort and increase usability between users that are using the Drupal CMS. Applying responsive design along with new core functionalities will be a must though. 
The top issues Drupal core 8 should address are:
1. Web services for native app integration
2. HTML5 elements necessary for HTML5 Web apps
3. Ability to use Drupal’s administrative forms in mobile devices
4. All of Drupal 8’s core themes should be responsive
5. Front-end performance improvements
Usability was a priority for Drupal 7 as well; hence it will definitely be one of the top priorities for Drupal 8 because of its increasing popularity and use. Usability tests are up and running in order to see what can be improved in the new version of Drupal. Drupal will surely increase its popularity between newbie and experienced developers, once it becomes easier to use and understand. In the end this is one of the aims the Drupal community would really like to achieve. The less time you will be spending on mastering it - the better, and this is exactly what they are working on right now. This CMS has been sometimes criticized for not being intuitive enough, so improvements are to be done in this area. We hope to see a more easy to learn CMS on the market and we hope Drupal will be the first in line in order to achieve this.
Web Services
Although Drupal has had web services support since early time through the Services module, the new version will aim to use the Representational State Transfer architecture, meaning that Drupal 8 will be able to produce data in other formats other than simple HTML pages. This includes JSON and XML for example or any other formats that will be needed in the future. With the growing number of different web applications, it is impossible to assume that website will respond to requests in HTML format only. The main contributor to this new improved functionality Larry Garfield, stated: “We need to treat HTML pages as what they are: A particularly common form of REST response, but only one among many. To that end, Drupal needs to evolve, and quickly, from a first-class web CMS into a first-class REST server that includes a first-class web CMS.” If you would like to know more about the web services initiative for Drupal 8, check out Garfields’ announcement blog post here.
HTML 5 seems to be like an inevitable milestone for the Internet, and the Drupal developers community acknowledges that, this is why this is one of another top initiatives for Drupal 8. The aim is to use HTML 5 as the default doctype. Today it is using XHTML doctype, but with the major possibilities the web has to offer both to desktop as well as mobile devices, this move is inevitable. Jacine Luisi – a high-class contributor and Drupal themer is the person in charge of this initiative and she has already set the goals and the milestones for her work to be done here. Some of the goals of this initiative would be:
1. Have the most benefit for end users
2. Simplify style and scripts elements
3. Ensuring input filters and functions accept HTML 5 elements
4. Get rid of all the old CSS bits by refactoring Drupal’s existing CSS
You can read about all the other goals and next steps of the initiative on Jacine’s blog.
Multilingual Support
One of the most important aim of Drupal is to extend as a community. More contributors and users would mean a lot to this CMS, hence aiming for different countries is important. This is why Dries has decided to make multilingual access an official initiative for Drupal 8, putting Gabor Hojtsy as the Initiative Owner for this feature. Drupal will have to be popular not only for English speaking people, but for as many people as possible, hence internationalization is a must. In order to create multilingual sites, a lot of contributed modules are needed, the interface being not that intuitive for the user, this is why giving the possibility to create a multilingual site with ease will be an important step ahead for Drupal and all of its users. Want to know more about the Multilingual Initiative? Check out Gabor Hojtsy’s personal website.
Las but not least important is design improvements in the new Drupal version. There were rumors that a new theme will be added to the Drupal core, that would catch new users' attention with better looks. Attracting more designers is an important aim for the Drupal community. The new core theme will not only be a beautifully designed theme, but will be thought through in order to be more intuitive and easier to use.
Jeff Burnz is the Initiative Owner of the Drupal 8 Design Initiative and he will be the one who will guide the process of creating the new theme for Drupal core. A strong team of Drupal UX-ers and front-end developers was selected for this task, in order to achieve the goals set for this initiative in a professional way. These are just some of the initiatives to be seen in the new improved Drupal core, but stay tuned for upcoming updates!

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