In December, 2022 Drupal will have another major release. As Drupal developers maintaining platforms for many organizations, big and small, we know any major Drupal release is Good News that brings effort and costs. We’ll try to explain what's behind this release, why you can’t delay, and how it will improve your business.
Drupal 10 comes with many improved and new features. They are mainly aimed at modernizing the platform. We all like new features, but more critically, Drupal 10 updates many of the foundation technologies of Drupal.
As an open-source, community led technology Drupal is highly dependent on a large number of third-party components. As these components mature, evolve and eventually reach end-of-life, Drupal has to evolve to support the latest versions.
Coordinating these efforts is no easy challenge for the Drupal community. Clients are always asking us how to plan for updates and maintenance. While some guidance is possible, the roadmap is often delayed, due to slower developments, or alarmingly sped up as security demands arise.
The first step is aligning the updates required for the non-Drupal components that Drupal relies on, some of which are reaching end of life. Drupal core is heavily dependent on components such as Symphony, CKEditor and, most importantly, PHP.
Drupal relies heavily on the Symfony framework to provide a lot of basic functionality such as managing cookies, handling and routing incoming requests, and services. Drupal 9 uses Symfony version 4, which is reaching end of life and support by November 2022. The Drupal 10 upgrade will be skipping a version of Symfony going directly to Symfony 6.2
Bottom-line: Drupal 9 websites will be running on an unsupported, not secure, version of Symfony after November, 2022.
Drupal 10 increases the PHP version to PHP 8.1. This requirement stems from Symfony 6.2 requiring PHP 8.1. Most Drupal 9 websites are built with PHP7. Support for the latest version, PHP7.4 will end in November, 2022. The current version, PHP 8.1 is not compatible with Drupal 9.
Bottom-line: PHP 8.1 is the first critical step in the update to Drupal 10. For many websites the update to PHP 8.1 will actually be the largest effort and risk involved in the Drupal 10 update.
While some steps to the Drupal 10 update may be fairly simple for most developers, some care is required. Drupal core code and libraries that have been identified as "deprecated" in Drupal 9 will be removed. However, this deprecated code can't be immediately removed as it may break functionality in a site's custom code or contributed modules. Therefore, developers and Q/A need to work carefully to cross-check the impact of deprecated code on each page and functionality.
Users complained that Bartik, the default front-end theme for Drupal, is obsolete. They felt the 11-year-old theme had an outdated design and wasn’t compatible with some of the newest features of the software.
They will be happy to hear that their calls have been answered.
Drupal 10 will have a new default front-end theme. It’s called Oliveiro. It has a clean, modern look, it’s easy to navigate and works well with features the users appreciate.
Crucially, Drupal 10 improves compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which is a set of recommendations to make online content more accessible to internet users with disabilities such as blindness, low vision, deafness, hearing loss, limited movements and more. Its conformance with the recommendations will have an AA level, which means mid range. The system needed to meet 38 criteria to get it which shows an admirable effort.
The administration theme Seven is by now also quite old. It was designed 13 years ago and some claim that at this point it even discourages users with its retro looks.
Drupal addresses this with Claro.
Just like Oliveiro it is a clean, modern looking theme, designed according to the WCAG recommendations. It will be able to take full advantage of the capabilities of Drupal 10 and commentators expect it to make life easier for content managers and site administrators.
Drupal 10 will make life for developers much easier. This will be thanks to its planned automatic updates feature. It will not be available for all websites but still it’s a big step forward.
This function will include only security and core updates for now but it’s said it will be expanded in the future and it’s not an insignificant option. Drupal takes security very seriously and works a lot on amending vulnerabilities once they are discovered. The problem is that at the moment website owners need to apply these updates manually and they rarely do. Automation takes important care of this.
This is another change with which Drupal 10 helps non-developers and new users become more autonomous.
The way the system works is the following - you have a core theme on which you put different modules. The problem is finding the ones you need can be really difficult if you are not a skilled professional. There’s a lot to take into account from compatibility to whether the module you want to add even exists.
Drupal 10 will introduce a module browsing experience which will help users filter through all options and find the one suitable for them. If they find it difficult to choose, a list of most-liked will help them narrow their selection.
CKEditor is a text editor which allows for writing content directly into a webpage. Until now Drupal used its previous incarnation - CKEditor 4. The new version comes with a better interface and user experience.
Its design will be reminiscent of popular text editing programs like MS Word or Google Docs. It will be more efficient than its predecessor. It will automate formatting options, improve the paste function and will have enhanced image-upload functionalities. SEO specialists will also be thankful for the removal of the option of adding an H1 tag in the text which confuses search engines and doesn’t help your optimization efforts.
Let’s discuss the modules first.
Statistics show that some of the modules on Drupal are not widely used by people taking advantage of the platform. That’s why now they will be removed to declutter it visually and to improve experience. It’s not yet clear exactly which modules are to be removed but it’s rumored that the list will include Aggregator (for external content), QuickEdit (for text editing), HAL (for serializing entities), Activity Tracker (allows tracking of content), RDF (adds metadata to a page), Forum (for discussion boards).
Another change will be the removal of older codes that are no longer useful.
Also, users will not be able to use Drupal 10 on Internet Explorer 11, the browser version, released in 2013.
Symfony 4, a safe space for developers to make changes in before updating the live version of a website, won’t be supported as of November 2022. Drupal 10 will work with its newest version Symfony 6 which will have many modern features.
The new update of Drupal to version 10 makes a much appreciated content management system even better.
It will improve the user experience by providing an updated interface with a new, clean, modern, easier to navigate look. This positive direction extends to decluttering of less used modules and the addition of a better text editor which is similar to popular platforms in the sphere, to which content creators are used.
Automatic updates will make your website safer and new features will help you become more autonomous while using Drupal.
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