Drupal 8.6 is here — more powerful than ever before

Drupal 8.6 is out in the wild, and the latest version shows how the platform has evolved to try and attract technical and non-technical users to the Drupal community.

Some of the more exciting updates in Drupal 8.6 include:

  • Embedding YouTube and Vimeo vidoes within core’s media library
  • Layout Builder now being considered stable
  • A stable status for the Migrate module

drupal 8.6 benefitsPhoto by Tomasz Frankowski

In almost every one of our blog posts, we talk about the power of Drupal — how it can solve complex organizational challenges while improving day-to-day efficiencies. The challenge has always been that only developers with a high technical acumen could take advantage of its capabilities. More and more, though, Drupal is working to become a platform that anyone can use. These updates are the latest example of that progression.

Traditionally, Drupal relied on a “modular system” that took advantage of a small number of core modules. Developers could then add contributed modules to their site depending on the site’s desired functionality. However, as web development software has progresses, it was vital for Drupal to improve its user experience for non-technical users. That is why heaps of work has gone in to “out-of-the-box” features that are now available in core. Now, back-end users do not need to rely on as many plugins to make their site functional.

One way version 8.6 accomplishes this is that Drupal core now allows back-end users to embed YouTube and Vimeo videos based on the oEmbed library. oEmbed has been an industry standard for years, and it is welcomed to Drupal core with arms wide open. Now, without adding any contributed modules, site administrators can add remote video URLs into the media library and add field to content types.

Supporting YouTube and Vimeo is a first step for inserting remote embeds with core. As admins embrace contributed modules for similar remote media types (image/video/audio) or social channels like Instagram or Twitter, there’s a good chance they’ll also end up in core in the not so distant future.

Drupal 8.6 also includes two modules that are now considered stable, meaning any Drupal user should feel safe to use it. Those modules are Layout Builder and Migrate, and each plays a critical role in making Drupal more user friendly.

Layout Builder will provide more power than ever to non-coding site administrators. Drupal users will be able to configure and customize their own layouts of content without writing code or hiring a front-end developer. That being said, outside of creating layouts based on columns and adding core elements (blocks, nodes, etc), the currently available options for Layout Builder are limited — for now. Now that the module is stable, contributors can start writing plug-ins so that Layout Builder can work with various other modules/systems in Drupal. That is when the module will help make content administrator’s dreams truly come true.

Migrate is another module now considered stable in Drupal 8.6. Two important notes are that the module is currently considered stable only for core modules and non-multilingual websites. The beauty of the module is that it’s never been easier to migrate from either Drupal 6 or Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. To be honest, it’s a fun and exciting experience to run the migrate process.

Even if these updates are not relevant to you, I still recommend keeping up with Drupal 8 updates because they are coming faster than ever before. Major updates to Drupal only used to come when a completely new version of the platform was released, such as Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 or Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Thanks to Drupal’s new migration plan (which makes it possible for there to be version 8.6), improvements to the platform are able to be deployed more frequently.

Since these version updates are major, you should spend a good amount of time testing the functionality of your website after updating. Don’t forget to always run updates on non-production environments first, then update the production site.

The next major update to the platform will be Drupal 8.7, and it is scheduled to be released on March 19 2019.  Keep an eye out to see how the updates in that version can help you and your users better leverage the power of Drupal.


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