It was in September this year that the much anticipated Drupal 8.6 was released. Drupal is an open-source web content management platform written in PHP. Any Drupal development company would swear by the CMS framework which is popular for building websites that deliver amazing digital experiences.
On a rough estimate, Drupal serves as a back-end framework for about 2.3% of the websites that exist worldwide today, right from personal blogs to political to government websites.
Content management framework Drupal releases two major updates every year, the first in March/April and the second one in September/October. Going by the release statement on the company’s official blog, Drupal 8.6 has been dubbed as the most significant update in Drupal’s history.
Let’s take a plunge and find out what new key features Drupal 8.6 brings along that Drupal development services providers must know about.
New Feature #1: Two New Easy Ways to Install Drupal
Drupal has traditionally depended on multiple external tools. However, in order to make it easier to start the development environment, a ‘quick-start’ command has now been included that only requires PHP installed on the system. With PHP’s built-in webserver and SQLite database, Drupal installs quickly and a ready to use browser opens up.
Since the Drupal installer is now able to recognize existing configuration, it provides an option to install using that configuration. This means that a site can be rebuilt locally for development, without its content.
New Feature#2: Umami Food Magazine Demo
For the very first time, the former dull and plain Drupal install page has been replaced by dummy content of an imaginary food magazine. After finishing the installation, the user is welcomed by a new option: “Demo: Umami Food Magazine (Experimental)”. The demo has been designed to showcase and demonstrate Drupal’s capabilities such as data modeling, page composition, listing, and content moderation. The demo contains about 20 content items, most of them in the “Recipe” section.
The short, crisp and tastefully designed demo also has a few landing pages. Pseudo IDs of author and magazine editor have been included in the demo to provide a hands-on experience of Drupal’s content management interface to the users. It is an innovative way of engaging users by letting them tinker with the demo and learn the basic concepts of Drupal.
New Feature #3: oEmbed for Media and New Media Library
Drupal 8.6 has taken a giant leap forward by introducing the “media library” module in its core, a long-pending demand for which a clarion call was being sounded by Drupal developers and trainers across the globe for many, many years.
In fact, it was only in 2017, with the release of Drupal 8.4 that Drupal started to shift focus on media handling features albeit in a nanoscopic manner. Since the Media Library module has been created with Views, the screen can be customized in whichever way you wish.
Apart from the new media library, Drupal 8.6 comes with built-in stable oEmbed support for media which makes embedding remote videos from sources like YouTube and Vimeo easier.
New Feature #4: New Experimental Workspaces Module
Moving individual pieces of content through editing and approval workflow is easy with Drupal’s existing content moderation functionality. But at times, as a developer, you are encountered with the formidable task of deploying content packages containing a few hundred, or a few thousand content items simultaneously. This is where Drupal’s new experimental Workspaces module proves an invaluable tool. The module’s intuitive user interface lets you define multiple workspaces, make changes and deploy between them. Still in its experimental stage, Workspaces feature also allows the users to preview a webpage before publishing.
New Feature #5: Migrate is Now a Stable Module
As the name suggests, Migrate is a module that allows you to migrate content from previous Drupal versions or external sources to Drupal 8. The module was introduced in the first minor release of Drupal 8. Migrate now becomes a stable module with the release of Drupal 8.6, which makes life easier for Drupal migration services providers as they can create custom migrations without making changes to the underlying code.
What does that mean for Drupal development services providers?
It is now imperative to upgrade to Drupal 8.6.0 for receiving bug fixes and security updates. With the release of Drupal 8.6.1, an upgrade path bug reported in Drupal 8.6.0 upon its release, has now been fixed.
Starting March 2019, Drupal 8 will require PHP 7. In case the site you are providing maintenance and support for, is still hosted on older versions like PHP 5.5 or 5.6 you must consider upgrading. Upgrade to PHP 7.2 for best results.
Although PHP 6 is no longer supported, full support is still available for Drupal 7 including bug fixes and security patches.