Why I Like Drupal 8 and You Should Too

September 12, 2019 - 10:30am
By: 
Jaime Contreras
Why I Like Drupal 8 and You Should Too

The profession of building websites has seen many changes in the last few years. SEO, website performance, multi-screen responsiveness, and accessibility are no longer luxuries. On top of that, tools have emerged that have improved the development experience and simplified scalability. Finding a modern CMS or framework that can incorporate ALL of these considerations is difficult. Especially when the flexibility to be able to create unique websites is also important. This is where Drupal 8 outshines other frameworks.

Here is a list of major benefits that you are missing out on if your website is built in Drupal 7 (or below), WordPress, or most other common content management systems.

1. Website Accessibility, Security, and Scalability  

Accessibility - One of the major changes in web development these days is the standard of building sites that are easily accessible by all visitors no matter their abilities or disabilities. For some clients, this is no longer a luxury but a regulation. For others, there is no law, but they can be opening themselves up to discrimination lawsuits by not making an effort to build a site that is accessible. A well-implemented Drupal 8 site can automate many aspects of accessibility and facilitate best practices in maintaining the accessibility of the site. Compliance will also help your website gain points with major search engines.

Security - One reason that major companies and government agencies move to Drupal is because of its fast security updates, and the large community of experienced developers who stand behind it. Drupal 8’s adoption of standard technologies, such as Composer, makes it a lot easier to keep your site up to date and secure. This also means less time fixing the code and more time improving and adding new features.

Scalability - In the past whenever there was a new major release of Drupal, version 6 to 7, it wasn’t just an update. It really meant a full install of the new version of the Drupal core, then maliciously and painfully rebuilding and migrating custom code, configurations, users, and all of the content from the old site to the new site. In other words, hundreds of hours of rebuilding and months before the new site was ready. After Drupal 8, that will no longer be a problem. Drupal 8 was built to allow major updates without having to rebuild the site. Three to five years down the road, all you may need is a fresh facelift to have your website up to date with new trends. So taking the time to architect a well built Drupal 8 site will pay off in the long run.

2. Drupal 8 as API first

Drupal 8 was created as an API (Application Programming Interface), making it more powerful than ever. It now has the ability to skip the generation, all the HTML markup and simply serving the data required to be implemented on the front end of the website, allowing other technologies like javascript to serve dynamically generated pages specifically targeted to the user.

Best of all, it can be used to connect back and forth with other APIs to get any information you want to serve and share as a service. All of this is already built into Drupal 8 to serve any data without having to write one single line of code.

If you haven’t wrapped your mind around what this means yet. Let me give you a couple of examples of this: “Web Apps” & “Mobile apps”. These can be developed to use the same data living in Drupal 8. Your Drupal site becomes the backbone content management system without having to update multiple sources of data to keep things in sync. Think about it… your website, your mobile apps, your own intranet, and content from other places all managed in one place, making one perfect ecosystem.

3. Development  

Drupal 8 was completely recoded from scratch with all new improved code.  Many things that were a constant hassle in the older versions are now a breeze to build.

Migration of old to new: If you have a website with large amounts of content, for example, news, products, or blogs, setting up an automated migrating of all the data into Drupal 8 is possible from almost any source. Yes, that even means if your old website was built in WordPress.

One of my favorite development improvements for sure is Configuration Management. Now you are able to export and import configuration changes from a live site to your local development, or vice versa, without affecting content. That feature alone has cut hundreds of hours from my development workflow. This not only helps reduce the cost of overall development but it gives developers time to concentrate on getting the features built and not wasting time deploying already built features manually.

The implementation of Composer as the dependency manager to install and maintain modules, custom code, and patches, makes it super easy to create copies of your website in a development environment and automatically turn on all the development helper features by just having a few files on hand that are environment-aware. With a few simple commands to sync code and configurations, you are ready to develop and deploy in no time.

After a couple of years of developing in Drupal 8, I wonder how I was able to do without all the new development features for so long.

Drupal 8 is a dream-machine for large or small websites. All of these features make it quick to build a simple website and powerful enough to build the largest, most complex websites.  Drupal’s flexible and innovative system is only limited by your imagination.

Happy coding!

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