Drupal Plans to Push the Page-Building Frontier with “Layout Builder”

If you’ve been reading about new -- and promised -- easy-to-use page builders, you many not be aware that the Drupal community has been working on a super ambitious visual design tool, Layout Builder, that will be included in the next version of Drupal, Drupal 8.7, scheduled to be released this Spring, 2019.

The Layout Initiative, under development for more than a year, is creating a content tool with dramatically more power and flexibility than comparable systems. Drupal founder and project lead Dries Buytaert highlighted Layout Builder’s features in a recent blog post: Why Drupal's Layout Builder is so powerful and unique. His main point: Drupal’s Layout Builder, which will be in the next release of Drupal 8, is unique in that it can work with structured and unstructured content, and with templated and free-form pages. (Dries' post includes a number of illustrated examples, including the puppy-infused one that accompanies this post.)

Drupal developers can appreciate how Layout Builder is able to leverage Drupal’s “structured content” capabilities to deliver a single tool that can work for multiple use cases. You can find out more about the project (and how you can contribute) on the Layout Initiative homepage.

In the meantime, here are four reasons (three use cases and one broader commitment) why Layout Builder could ultimately emerge as the the most exciting CMS visual design tool.

  1. Layouts for templated content. The creation of "layout templates" can be used to lay out all instances of a specific content type (e.g. blog posts, product pages).
  2. Customizations to templated layouts. Layout Builder has the ability to override these layout templates on a case-by-case basis (e.g. the ability to override the layout of a standardized product page)
  3. Custom pages. Layout Builder can be used to create custom, one-off landing pages not tied to a content type or structured content (e.g. a single "About us" page).
  4. Accessibility. A key part of bringing Layout Builder functionality to a "stable" state for production use will be ensuring that it passes Drupal’s accessibility gate (Level AA conformance with WCAG and ATAG). This holds for both the authoring tool itself, as well as the markup that it generates.

Drupal 8's Layout Builder is still a beta level experimental module, with known open issues to be addressed prior to becoming stable.

The project is on track to complete this in time for Drupal 8.7's release in May 2019.

If you are interested in contributing to Layout Builder, you can find out how to help on the Layout Initiative homepage.