We're building in Drupal 8 right now

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Keith Jay
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"...start building your websites on Drupal 8. Even though we haven’t released Drupal 8 yet, for certain types of projects, you can start building today."

Dries Buytaert, Driesnote, DrupalCon Barcelona 2015

At this year’s European DrupalCon, Dries used his keynote to announce that Drupal 8 would have its first release candidate on October 7th 2015 (subject to no security or data loss issues). This is incredibly exciting news and what’s more, Dries encouraged us to get using Drupal 8 today if we have web projects that fit the bill for the current Drupal 8 beta state.

I’m planning on this blog post becoming the first in a series where we review our own experiences of using Drupal 8 to build this site. In the lead up to DrupalCon we put in some late nights to get our new site live and following exactly the same process that we use on many of our client projects, we have started by building the site as a static HTML prototype and as a first version, decided to launch using the same static HTML.

Launch early, review and iterate

Building out a web interface through static HTML is a great way to really get to grips with the needs of the content, design and user interface and importantly, you can work iteratively on refining the proposed design. This is especially true with the responsive aspect of current web design where it’s often the case that you are solving design issues that really only only crop up when crafting something that works well across devices and browsers. For this project the steps we have followed are:

  1. Launch quickly and try out the design ideas and content in a light-weight, easy to tweak fashion
  2. Review how well things are working, get feedback and iterate
  3. Move to Drupal 8 when we are happy things are working exactly as we want

Drupal 8 wins

From what we’ve seen so far, Drupal 8 makes prototyping out different content types and content editing features straightforward from a site building perspective but by having a completed and tested version of our design up and running in the browser, we benefit from real insight into what we need the content management tools in Drupal to deliver. We also know exactly where we need to think a little harder on making tricky areas, such as responsive images, remain simple for content editors to be in control of. This ability for us to make the content editing experience optimised is one of the chief reasons we use Drupal and the new content editing features in Drupal 8, including inline WYSIWYG editing are going to be really interesting to experiment with for improving the content editor experience.

We have already started building out this design into a custom Drupal 8 theme and in the next post I will introduce the steps we took to get up and running, some of the resources we found helpful for getting the basics in place and our thoughts so far on one of the biggest Drupal 8 changes, theming in TWIG.