Powerful Ways to Extend and Develop Drupal 8

October 22, 2015
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In our last post, we looked at why Manhattan Associates was happy with Drupal 8 from a front-end perspective. What sealed the deal for them, though, were the powerful ways they could extend and develop Drupal 8 with improved configuration management, a new Web services API, and easy internationalization.

Painless configuration management

Manhattan Associates’s internal development team was looking for best-in-class workflows and effective tools for collaboration with partner agencies such as Mediacurrent.

Drupal 8’s powerful config management reduces developer friction for testing and deploying new features, bringing the company cost savings while improving the development experience. With Drupal 8, it’s incredibly easy to set up and keep parity between your development, staging, and production environments so you know that if your application works in dev, it will work in prod. The new system can natively export your existing config and import it into a different environment — no need for reconfiguring elements or writing custom scripts to port settings. Configuration can even be stored in version control so you can easily roll back changes and share environments.

Importing is particularly painless with the built-in diff tool that displays incremental differences between the new and old configuration keys, improving clarity and minimizing the chance of misconfiguration.

Diff UI example from Alex Pott's "Principles of Configuration Management"

D8's configuration management also extends well using third-party modules. When a module is first loaded, its default values are inserted into your application’s “live configuration,” the whole configuration at that moment. If the module is updated and includes new default configuration, the new values will not automatically be imported into the live configuration, so that the module’s existing functionality will not be disrupted for your application. This behavior lets you keep modules up-to-date without worrying about breaking changes.

With Drupal 8 configuration management, Manhattan is able to reduce costs by improving efficiency both in-house and in collaborations. They no longer have to rely on partner agencies for complex config deployment, and when they do work with a partner, the simplified workflow and ease of pushing and testing config means they still see cost savings.

Integrating Web Services

Manhattan was also looking for ways to integrate Drupal with powerful third-party technologies, such as marketing and analytics tools, and they wanted a platform they could build on for years to come.

Drupal 8’s Web Services makes it easy to plug and play any application that wants to share data with Drupal. The package includes an authenticated RESTful API for data import and export that supports a variety of output formats, such as JSON and XML. Rather than having to store data in multiple places or across different services, data can be centralized in Drupal and retrieved through the API. Drupal can also be made a consumer of other services that can use the API to push data into Drupal. This functionality allows for greater interoperability between Drupal and technologies such as marketing, sales, and business intelligence tools.

With Drupal 8 Web Services, Manhattan Associates was able to integrate Eloqua, their preferred marketing platform, into Drupal seamlessly — and they’ll be able to integrate future services just as easily.

Batteries-included internationalization

Internationalization was key for Manhattan, a supply chain management software provider that offers services in more than 20 locations worldwide.

Multilingual capabilities are ubiquitous in Drupal 8, creating a simplified, more flexible, and more thorough platform for internationalization that meets Manhattan’s needs as a global company. Drupal 8 allows admins in global offices to work in their native language while collaborating with peers in other countries. An admin can choose from 94 languages for native install, and every interface, down to the config files, can be translated. For users around the globe, Drupal 8 websites are equally friendly. Every element of the site can be translated for the best experience in each language.

With Drupal 8’s fantastic support for translation, it’s a great solution for a global company like Manhattan Associates, or companies looking to grow an international presence.

Next up: Mediacurrent weighs in on the lessons learned from this early Drupal 8 project.

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