DrupalCon 2013 Portland

We have exciting news to report from Portland: Drupal 8 looks very interesting. Many of the features of the new version have been agreed on at this point and they are expected to freeze the code in July, spending the rest of the year fixing bugs and polishing it so that a stable version of the application can be released in 2014. This is discussed in the Keynote from Dries, the creator of Drupal.

Some of the new features of Drupal 8 that will be very helpful to our site editors include:

  • Inline editing. Click an edit link next to the content you want to edit and change it without leaving the page.
  • True live preview of your edits in the site.
  • One-step image uploading and embedding.

These new features were discussed further in a session on the new WYSIWYG editor integration for Drupal 8. That will be the first version of Drupal to come with a WYSIWYG editor in the core distribution. They have chosen to go with CKEditor (we use TinyMCE right now) because of its support for inline editing. The tight integration between the application and the editor will make things like custom button dialogs much easier for us to add, which will come in handy for integration with on-campus platforms like MiddMedia.

Drupal 8 is scheduled to go into “code freeze” in July with a stable release expected in 2014. There will be significant development work to move our sites onto Drupal 8 because of big changes that have been made in the configuration, block, and templating systems. We’ll discuss this in more detail at an upcoming “Deep Dive” meeting.

The Present and Future of Content Management

Part of the debate about the future of Drupal is whether or not it will be a Content Management System, an application for organizing atomic units of content and metadata, or a Web Presentation Framework, a system for displaying web pages. To be clear: we use Drupal very much in the latter sense. But with the rise of browsing on phones, tablets, digital signage, glasses, watches, etc. positioning items in a WYSIWYG editor is a waste of time. Responsive design is part of the solution, but we also need to rethink how we are authoring content for the web.

What does this mean for the content management system, for Drupal? Well, fortunately for Drupal is is quite good at content with a lot of discrete fields. There is an argument that the core development for the platform should focus on improving that strength so that Drupal can expand to be a great content management system that meets a wide variety of needs. If a web presentation layer is built on top of that, like we and Amherst have done with Monster Menus, that’s great if it meets our needs, but it may not make sense to have that as a priority for the underlying application.

Videos for all of the sessions are available on the conference website. We’ll be happy to (try to) answer any questions you might have about Drupal in the comments.

Drupal 7 Upgrade Update

We have completed the migration of most of the custom modules that make Middlebury’s sites work. Just before leaving for this conference, we were able to get the Middlebury website’s database migrated to Drupal 7 in development and the homepage working with real content from the database. The majority of the remaining work on the project is to move over the theme files one-by-one and test that the output is still working correctly, followed by the migration of a few modules, like the ones that support the campus map, that are presentation-intensive and couldn’t be tested without the theme layers finished.

Progress on the project can be seen in our code repository.