DrupalCon 2013: Summary of Dries Buytaert's Keynote

Published on the 24th September, 2013

DrupalCon 2013 is well underway now with Dries giving his keynote earlier today. There are lots of exciting things coming up with Drupal 8, and it’s a big change both technically and conceptually from the previous releases. I’ll attach the full keynote below, but here’s a quick summary for you speedy readers.

There are six key initiatives in Drupal 8 which Dries quickly covered:

  • Configuration management
  • Mobile
  • Blocks
  • Multilingual
  • Views in core
  • Web services

These are all designed to modernise Drupal, help people get up and running quickly and make Drupal better integrated with both third party services and the whole ‘graph’ of the web. Mobile is a big part of the new direction of Drupal so it has been rebuilt with HTML5 and will be responsive right from install. There are some “massive improvements” to the multilingual support for Drupal and Views will also be included in core. The web services initiative aims to make Drupal into more of a platform through which you can build native apps by bringing in contextual data and a REST server.

There are hundreds of new features included with Drupal 8; here are a few which Dries walked through:

Accessibility

Screen readers will be able to better understand the structure of the web pages and menu system. Dries showed a very impressive demo for this, and while a screen reader isn’t something we all use, it’s good to know it’s an important part of the CMS so that everyone can get the best experience.

Schema.org

Schema.org support has been available through a third party module for some time, but with Drupal 8 it’s now included in core. You’ve probably noticed Google returning search results for pages that include more context, such as star ratings and video length etc. - this is exactly what the Schema.org specification does. Dries says this plays a big part in where the web is heading, turning search engines into “answer engines”. There are some obvious SEO benefits from this too, but it’s really exciting that this is now going to be included in core.

New theme system

Drupal 8’s theming engine is now going to use Twig. This means that themes can now be free from somewhat random and confusing PHP code.

Update to fields in core

The fields in core are going to be more contextual. For example, you can now add a date field which will use HTML5’s date/datetime input field. This means that users can use the native UI for entering data, so on mobile devices the nice date/time selector can be used. There will also be support for other field types, such as email and telephone.

New admin pages

The admin interface has had a large overhaul, and will be much easier to use with better contextual help.

For the way the web is transforming, these seem like sensible steps and will keep Drupal ahead of the game. In terms of what users wanted, a lot of people asked for Drupal to be quicker to learn and to be able to get up and running faster. A WYSIWYG editor is now included as standard, there is an improved menu system so users can quickly discover all of the features and theming has been better separated from development with the use of the template engine Twig.

As for now, work is still being carried out on the new APIs and critical bugs. Early next year, module contributors will be invited to start upgrading their modules, although Dries warned that if you start upgrading now there still might be some changes to the APIs, so it’s probably best to wait until the next phase. When will Drupal 8 be ready? “It’s ready when it’s ready”. There are still critical bugs to fix, and there is still time for people to take part and help bring Drupal 8 closer to launch.

If you’d like to see the full keynote, here it is - it’s about an hour long, but if you use or are interested in Drupal you don’t want to miss what’s coming up.

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