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Drupal 8 Changes to the Core



Drupal 8, from a brief look, did not look like it had changed much from Drupal 7, but once I really started comparing the features available now in Drupal 8 core to old features that came packaged with Drupal 7 core, I really started getting excited about what is in store for us in the next version of Drupal. To get the full scope of all the new features that come packaged with Drupal 8, I updated my local XAMPP server and went through the complete installation process. The changes I found were so abundant that I decided to break this post up into two separate posts, one on an overview of the changes to the core, and the other on the technical changes to Drupal 8.

With my new XAMPP server installed and Apache configured to my development version of Drupal 8, I fired up my localhost and called up my Drupal URL in my browser. The first thing I came to was the Drupal installation process, not much has changed here, a couple of things I did notice were that the standard buttons, and drop-downs have been updated, and the core modules take a bit longer to load than they previously had in Drupal 7. Once I loaded up my newly configured site however, I started noticing changes right away with the top administration menu and how the contextual links are now presented to the user.

The newly designed administration menu is segmented into four different categories Home, Menu, Shortcuts, and Username, giving site administrators the ability to drill down into four distinct paths. The “Menu” option, which will probably be the focus of this new design, offers links for “Content,” “Structure,” “Appearance,” “People,” “Extend,” “Configuration,” “Reports,” and “Help” that used to be spread across the top of the menu along with all of the rest of the items that came with the Drupal 7 menu. One thing that is really cool about this new menu theme is that the menu anchors to the top or to the left side of the screen, depending upon where you put it or what size your screen is.

The old contextual links in Drupal 7 are now replaced by pencil icons and the site has the ability to go into “Edit” mode by tapping the pencil icon on the top right of the screen to make all pencil icons visible next to content that can be edited. The advantage to this new feature is to make content editing on mobile devices as smooth as possible.

While I was viewing the options present under the “Menu” link I noticed that there was not a link for “Modules,” but there was a link for “Extend,” so I figured this was replacing the modules link and that I better take a look at all the core changes that have been made between platforms. Here are some of the changes I seen while looking at the updated core:

Added Modules

  • Ban module, setup specific IP addresses to ban from your site.
  • Breakpoint module, setup multiple widths that your content will break to.
  • Configuration Manager module, synchronize data changes between sites.
  • Datetime module, adds a field type that is configured for date and time formats.
  • Email module, adds an email field format.
  • Entity Reference module, adds support to reference other entities.
  • Hal module, serialize entities using HAL.
  • JSON-LD module, serialize entities using JSON-LD.
  • Layout module, allows different pages to have different layouts.
  • Link module, adds a simple link field type.
  • RESTful Web Services module, enable Drupal to be used as an API, not just a HTML rendering engine.
  • Telephone module, enable configuration of specific fields for telephone numbers.
  • Tour module, provides guided tours.
  • Views and Views UI module, enables generated lists of content to be structured in many different formats.

Removed Modules

  • Blog module
  • Dashboard module
  • Poll
  • Profile
  • Trigger

There looks to be a lot of great improvements to the Drupal core, with many features that will change the way Drupal is viewed as a platform. One of these changes is RESTFul web services module that will now change Drupal from strictly a web platform, serving up HTML rendered pages, to a very robust API that is capable of serving up data to your applications or HTML if needed for your website. This is the future in my opinion, and I am glad Drupal really jumped on the development of this feature.

Another improved feature for Drupal 8 is the site wide break point configuration. This configuration, at the time of this post, does not look to be added to the user interface yet, but is available through theme and module configuration files. Breakpoints work like a standard media queries and multiple breakpoints can be configured for multiple uses. Say for example, you wanted to define an Android specific and iPhone specific breakpoint for your site, your configuration might look something like the described YAML files below.

Last but not least, content creation received an overhaul on the user experience. Previously, in Drupal 7, all of the URL and authoring settings were at the bottom of the page and were addressed after content creation, but now content creation is setup in a two column layout that allows the site administrator to adjust authoring settings before or after the content is created. Often times such settings get over looked.

That is it for now; I will be following up this post with a technical overview of Drupal 8. There looks to be a lot of changes there as well. Let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns.


YAML Configuration file example of a breakpoint setup for iPhone portrait set 320 and Android portrait set at 480.

#File breakpoint.breakpoint.theme.yourtheme.iphoneportrait.yml 
id: theme.yourtheme.wide
name: iPhonePortrait
label: iPhonePortrait
mediaQuery: 'all and (min-width: 320px) and (max-width:320)'
source: bartik
sourceType: theme
weight: '2'
  1x: 1x
status: '1'
langcode: en
#File breakpoint.breakpoint.theme.yourtheme.androidportrait.yml
id: theme.yourtheme.wide
name: androidPortrait
label: androidPortrait
mediaQuery: 'all and (min-width: 480px) and (max-width:480)'
source: bartik
sourceType: theme
weight: '2'
  1x: 1x
status: '1'
langcode: en
Matt_Eaton's blog 9578 reads

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Matt Eaton

Long time mobile team lead with a love for network engineering, security, IoT, oss, writing, wireless, and mobile.  Avid runner and determined health nut living in the greater Chicagoland area.