Drupal 8 is Coming? What's That Mean for Site Owners?

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On Monday, a couple of us are headed to Portland for the last North American DrupalCon before the expected release of Drupal 8 late this year. While we're very excited about Drupal 8 as site developers, what does a new Drupal release mean for owners of Drupal sites?

The most important thing to know is that the Drupal community has a policy of supporting, through bug fixes and security updates, the two most recent Drupal releases. Right now, that means Drupal 7 and Drupal 6 are supported. Once Drupal 8 is released, Drupal 6 will reach "end of life" status, and updates will no longer be issued. If your site is still running Drupal 6, you should start planning your upgrade strategy now, so that your site isn't left unprotected from newly-discovered bugs or security vulnerabilities.

But even if you're already running Drupal 7, you probably want to start thinking about Drupal 8 soon, because there's an awful lot of Drupaly goodness coming soon:

  • The user experience for content authors and editors is going to improve dramatically thanks to the Spark project, with WYSIWYG editing out of the box, in-place editing, and a responsive design that will make editing from mobile devices much more pleasant.
  • It will become much better to track changes to configuration settings and deploy them among development, staging, and production servers, thanks to the Configuration Management Initiative. Earlier versions of Drupal have required some convoluted workarounds to avoid deploying configuration changes without accidentally overwriting content.
  • Drupal 8 will include a full-featured REST server, making it much easier to build multiple sites that share content, or use Drupal as a powerful backend for mobile apps.
  • There's lots more! Much of the behind-the-scenes functionality in Drupal 8 will move to a powerful PHP framework called Symfony, and the new Twig theming engine will give designers more flexibility and serve pages more quickly. Views, a module used on nearly all Drupal sites, is moving to Drupal core.

We'll be posting more about the latest Drupal 8 developments, and other DrupalCon happenings, next week, here and on Twitter. Stay tuned!