Get Ready to Rock with Drupal 8

It’s finally here. No, not the new Star Wars movie. Last month, after much anticipation, Drupal 8 made its debut on the Acquia platform.

Drupal 8 offers more than 200 new capabilities for customers of the open source platform. We here at Acquia expect that on our platform, Drupal 8 will further transform the unification of commerce, content and community.

You probably already have customers asking about it. You may already be building in Drupal 8.

But you will undoubtedly face the same challenge we faced: having the time to learn how to use Drupal 8 while still maintaining your current level of service. No lie: It does take time. But here’s another truth: It can be done.

Hopefully this blog series – Organizing to Rock ’n’ Roll with Drupal 8 – will shorten your learning curve and allow you to keep focused on your customers.

Last year, as we started to help Acquia prepare for Drupal 8, we looked for instructive documentation but found many sources to be incomplete and rudimentary. So we decided to start an internal training project to find out what sort of technical issues we would encounter. We viewed this project as a way to also inform our customers about what they will need to do.

The first change worth nothing – and it’s a big change – is Drupal 8’s shift to object-oriented programing (OOP). As you probably know, that’s the programming language model organized around objects instead of “actions,” and data rather than logic.

We are adapting part of the Symfony framework; not all of it but a significant portion. And there are other new developments: Composer – which is used with PHP as a library management tool – and Twig. These both come with Symfony and surely will be new to many. In fact, we know many Drupalists aren’t fully versed in OOP, so we certainly considered that when putting together our training project.

Building this knowledge base took several months. We tried many iterations to figure out what would solve problems. That said, you still need to understand which contrib modules are part of the project you’re working on, and what it takes to get them ready.

Drupal itself, as you know, is a community undertaking. There’s no guarantee a particular module you use was ported from version 7 to version 8, or the stuff you’re working with has been included in the core. So you will have to identify, for example, if you’re using custom code or contrib code. No matter what, there’s a lot to consider, and it’s why we’d love to hear from you throughout this series.

The series will hopefully help you determine the level of Drupal 8 experience you’ll need, and when. My co-author, Thomas Howell, and I will also share how we created a training method, what we call “mitosis.” And we’ll look closely at the challenges that will arise as you learn while trying to stay productive. How will you fit learning around work? We’ll share the pitfalls and opportunities and help coordinate your learning and work.

There is, after all, a cost to learning, but we hope that we can help balance progress with your continuing efforts to do business.