Still waiting for Drupal 9? Here’s what to expect for now

December 26, 2018

When you adopt a technology, you hope that the decision won’t be short-lived, and the time, effort and money put into making it will not be in vain. This doesn’t apply only to tech, but it’s a problem inextricably linked to software and web development. Languages, libraries, frameworks, and platforms come and go in the blink of an eye, while others fight for market share, pushing out new features to stay relevant and keep us clicking that download button.

So, how is Drupal fairing in this fight and what features can we expect to see in the future? It’s been roughly 3 years since Drupal’s last major release and Drupal 9 isn’t due until 2020, but that hasn’t stopped Drupal’s open-source community, a collective of thousands of community members, from releasing updates at a steady pace. In fact, since Drupal 8 first launched new features have been released every 6 months, along with bugfixes and security improvements every month. and there are some exciting initiatives on the horizon. Here are three of them:

Admin UI & JavaScript Modernisation


  • drupal admin ui


Currently in its design phase, this initiative is re-imagining how we will interact with our admin tools. You may have heard of Calypso, WordPress’s new project that harnesses React to provide a single-page application experience for managing content. Well this is that but for Drupal. If you’re thinking, “WordPress did it first! Why should I care?”, well that’s true, but who does it better often matters more than who did it first. So, let’s wait and see.

This modernisation will provide new types of integrations, full decoupling and progressive decoupling. In other words, the overall page is still served by Drupal, but certain parts of the page provide highly interactive, JavaScript-driven interactions achieved through the REST API.

API-First Initiative


  • drupal api first


This is probably the most exciting thing coming down the pipeline right now. This initiative will put the power and flexibility of Drupal in the hands of developers over HTTP APIs; allowing us to integrate our Drupal-based projects with other systems, use our content anywhere, and have even more control over the front-end. Drupal will be able to power applications written in different languages like Python, Java or Go, from behind-the-scenes, to beautifully render experiences using the latest frontend frameworks.

Automatic Updates


  • drupal auto update


Installing updates for any platform can and usually is a challenging (read: expensive) process. It can lead to site-breaking changes that occur because of a development dependency which isn’t ready for the update. This is often a reason to not provide automatic updates as a feature. However, with the right approach it can be done effectively and make people’s lives easier – that’s the goal of technology in the first place, right? Drupal is working on a secure system for doing exactly this, which will lower the costs for maintaining a Drupal site and reduce the barrier for small-to-medium sized site owners that have considered Drupal in the past but decided against it because of their budget.

Final thoughts

In the past, Drupal has been painted as having a confusing admin interface, a steep learning curve and generally a higher barrier to entry than WordPress, but clearly, Drupal caught wind of that and its community has been working tirelessly to fix it and realize the platform’s true potential. With multiple other features in the design, planning and beta stages, we can expect Drupal to only get better.

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