Drupal 8.8 New Features

Drupal 8.8.x is finally here!

The stable release of Drupal 8.8.0 has brought some bug fixes and plenty of new features. Drupal 8.8 is also a key part of the upgrade path to the eventual, stable production release of Drupal 9, and, while billed as a minor update, does start to introduce some eventual Drupal 9 core features.

Drupal 8.8.1 has already been released less than a month later so it’s probably time to start thinking about upgrading. Drupal 8.9.x is already in development and after that, it’s Drupal 9. Drupal 8.6 is no longer receiving security fixes.

Drupal 8.1.1 has some security patches for 8.8.0 and it is recommended that everyone upgrade immediately.

The new features introduced in Drupal 8.8.x include:

  • Native Support for Composer
  • Stable Media Module and WYSIWYG
  • Improved Workspaces
  • Improved Migration Features
  • Experimental Administrator Theme (Claro)
  • Technical Improvements Under the Hood

This is some big stuff that has the potential to really improve the development, administration and operation of Drupal websites.

For those who are already familiar with Drupal, upgrading is relatively straightforward. Given changes to Drupal 8 core’s path alias system, it’s important to keep in mind that upgrading the Pathauto module is a prerequisite of upgrading to Drupal 8.8.x core.

Anyone new to Drupal can go to drupal.org, download the newest, stable, production release and install it on your development web server to test it.

Install Drupal 8.8 screen

Native Support for Composer in Drupal 8.8

Here at Duo Consulting, we've been using Composer to manage all of our Drupal 8 PHP libraries on new Drupal 8 projects. Sometimes, there have been problems with this that we've had to work around. We've been looking forward to the native support that 8.8 brings.

For those unaware, Composer is a “tool for dependency management in PHP. It allows you to declare the libraries your project depends on and it will manage (install/update) them for you,” according to Composer’s website.

Composer installs packages and libraries inside individual project directories, not globally (by default), allowing you to keep each project’s dependencies separate and update each project on an individual level. Managing Drupal projects via Composer simplifies the installation and upgrade of all PHP code dependencies for Drupal core, contributed modules, and any custom modules thata you create. In the past, third-party code tended to be stored in the same repository as the project itself, complicating updates and making code reviews difficult. Now, with a composer.lock file and some automation, updates and deployments can be greatly streamlined.

Drupal Media

Drupal has required addons to extend its core functionality to allow the embedding of images in written content. A WYSIWYG (or what-you-see-is-what-you-get) solution as part of core has finally been implemented, and part of this is a stable media module.

Here at Duo Consulting, we’re definitely excited about the stable media library module support. Depending on the requirements that clients had for media management, embedding media within the WYSIWYG was much more complex than it should have been.

Sometimes clients would have to upload media to a different section and then embed the media from there, for example. Having a smoother out-of-the-box solution will benefit all of our clients.

Media library

Lack of out-of-the-box WYSIWYG support for content editing with image embedding has always been a weak point in Drupal and often brought up by WordPress proponents. Drupal 8.8 is an excellent step towards remedying this and making it more friendly for content creators and editors.

ckEditor

Improved Workspaces and Content Moderation in Drupal 8.8

With Drupal 8.8 comes the ability to use the Workspaces and Content Moderation modules together. They were not compatible in previous releases of Drupal. The most exciting piece of workspaces for us is the ability for editors to stage content. This has the potential to really improve the workflow of content-heavy websites.

Previously, editors would typically stage content in a completely separate instance of the site within a different environment, such as staging. This made moving the content from that environment into production a difficult process. We have employed programmatic solutions for this in the past, but those tended to require quite a bit of effort, so most clients opted for manually publishing the content. 

Many WordPress websites are still using a system like this, with a staging version for content creation, then publishing the content manually on the production website. Turning this into a permissions and role based workflow in Drupal 8.8 decreases overhead, reduces errors, and makes Drupal a much more attractive option for content-heavy websites. Especially when combined with the core WYSIWYG solution and stable media module support now.

Improved Administration Theme (Claro) in Drupal 8.8

Claro theme example

Drupal has had the same administrative look for years now, but a new, experimental admin theme called Claro is now included.

Claro is definitely a step in the right direction. It has come out of the Admin UI and JavaScript Modernization initiative for Drupal, which is doing a lot to modernize the front-end experience with its work on building out a React app and modernizing Drupal core's JS handling.

After installing or upgrading to Drupal 8.8.x, you can enable Claro in Appearance by selecting it as the administration theme.

Save configuration

Technical Improvements in Drupal 8.8

Besides these big changes, there has been work behind the scenes on improving the overall Drupal core.

Final Thoughts on Drupal 8.8

With Drupal 8.6 no longer receiving security updates, and Drupal 8.8 an incremental step to Drupal 9, everyone should be starting their upgrade plan.

The improved WYSIWYG and media module support allowing a universal media library is a huge step towards improving the Drupal experience for written content creators and their editors. Workspaces now being compatible with the Content Moderation module will improve the workflow for written content even further, by allowing editors to publish directly to production websites without an intermediary step.

The other improvements like to path aliases and migration, are also big deals. And the new Claro admin theme makes the administrative side of websites look fresh and modern.

We at Duo Consulting are very much looking forward to using the new features in Drupal 8.8 and leveraging them to help our clients.