Welcome Drupal 8 – a recap of DrupalCamp Vienna 2015 [part 1]

14 December 2015

From the 27th till the 29th of November Max and Mike attended the Drupal Camp Vienna which was fully focused on new insights on Drupal 8. Since Info.nl is always looking towards new technologies and applications, it comes to no surprise that we would like to know as much as possible about Drupal 8 and later on to master our skills.

DrupalCamp Vienna connecting open minds

We’re on the verge of entering a new era of content management frameworks as we know them. Several technologies are converging with Drupal 8, this will fundamentally change the way we use it as developers.

The traditional content management systems have evolved from simple blog platforms to complex platforms that can satisfy a wide range of needs. From NGOs to universities, from digital platforms to the White House, Drupal is helping both small and large organizations to build amazing websites.

One camp, two developers, three days and lot’s of interesting sessions. Here’s a recap of my experience in Vienna!

Bridging communities and embracing diversity

While the entire Drupal community is buzzing about the new release of Drupal 8 the keynote presentation was in a different note. We had Jenny Wong from the WordPress community giving a talk about bridging communities. The message was clear: embracing diversity. This is just about the attitude as much it is about the mindset. In short: be respectful of other people choices, help build an open and welcoming community, step out of your comfort zone and try new stuff. In the end everyone has to benefit more from collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Introduction to Symfony

One of the main themes of Drupal 8 is “getting off the island”. That means renouncing some of the drupalism in favor of a more modern approach. One of the choices made was using components from Symfony, a very popular PHP framework. The next session was a gentle introduction to Symfony 3 given by the veteran Andreas Hucks. A great presentation during which we had a glimpse of what Symfony is bringing into Drupal.

And in the spirit of diversity, the next session was about another Symfony based PHP framework, the new kid on the block: Laravel and friends. Laravel leverages the power of Symfony components but has more syntactical sugar and is more opinionated out-of-the-box that makes it very good for rapid application development. Around Laravel there is an entire ecosystem to help you as a developer, whether it’s learning, deploying or building SaaS applications.

Let’s build it on Drupal 8

Drupal 8 has an entire new architecture and it leaps from procedural global functions to object-oriented code. This is exciting but also it means it will be a challenging task getting the developers up to date with the new paradigm. The next talk shared the experience of attempting such a task from Wunderkraut, one of the largest Drupal service providers in Europe. A company with a very ambitious goal: only Drupal 8 projects in 2016! Of course upgrading such a large development team is no easy task but the general feedback was really positive for all parties involved: site builders, developers and customers as well.

A lot of functionalities at your fingertips

For the site-builders Drupal 8 will look very familiar. The administration of Drupal 8 hasn’t changed much from the previous version and that’s a good thing. Keeping it consistent means less time spent on trying to figure out your way around the site administration interface. And the good news doesn’t stop there. The core packs a lot of functionalities that was once provided by installing dozens of contributed modules. That means site builders have a lot of functionalities at their fingertips without the headache of upgrading dozens of modules.

Developers are not the only one’s to be excited about Drupal 8. Long gone are the days of digging through the drupal.org documentation. Discovering the new functionality of Drupal is easier now that the code is object-orientated. That also means the learning curve is easier and the overall productivity increases. With the addition of the dependency manger Composer now developers have access to an entire array of tools and libraries. Drupal 8 promises to put the fun back in programming and does that by taking a step back and go from simple to easy. What was simple for site builders was not easy for developers.

Upgrading from Drupal 6/7 to Drupal 8

If you’re worried on how to migrate from Drupal 6/7 to Drupal 8 have no fear! There are people hard at work on providing a migration path. This powerful migration API helps you move your content and configuration into Drupal. The current state is that most of the work is finished but still needs to be tested in the real world.

Configuration nightmare is over!

No more scattered configuration in the database. A great improvement of Drupal 8 is the configuration management and moving the configuration out of the database and into text files. This means configuration changes can be tracked by version control systems and makes moving configuration between sites a trivial task.

Everything multilingual in Drupal 8

We live in a globalized world and more and more websites have a wide audience that span across many countries and many languages. That makes multilingual websites a very common sight. The challenge of having a multilingual website is not an easy one though. For the most part translating a website in Drupal was possible but not an easy task. This has considerably improved in Drupal 8 and there are no more excuses for not having a multilingual website and reaching out a broader audience.

Rebuilding in Drupal 8

It’s always very exciting to see how other companies are using Drupal 8 and the last session was about a publishing platform being rebuilt on the latest version of Drupal. It was still work in progress but the demo we witnessed looked very promising.

On the third day of the DrupalCamp we had the chance to sit on the same table with some of the creators and contributors of important modules and even the Drupal core itself. Hopefully in the near future we will also be able to have a bigger impact and contribute more to the Drupal community.

DrupalCamp Vienna took place between 27 – 29 November 2015.
Check out part 2 – Welcome Drupal 8

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