5 min

Language evolves. These days, even the Baby Boomers know what a Content Management System is and most of us can now talk about ‘the CMS’ without having to explain what it is and how it works.

Of course, the use of CMS systems is broader than mere blog posting, the application of this technology also functions at a wider enterprise software application and data management level to build corporate information systems and manage content assets across different industry use cases.

One of the popular open source technologies in this space is Drupal.

As the Drupal organisation now hits the release of Drupal 10 late in 2022, this latest version is now actually being referred to as an open source digital experience platform aimed at everyone from the small non-profit to the enterprise.

Modernised backend look 

Drupal 10 comes with features that promise Drupal developers and users flexibility and modularity as core principles. The launch team has said that Drupal 10 offers tools to help build the versatile, structured content that dynamic web experiences require. There’s a modernised backend look and what is hoped to be a future-proof platform upgrade. 

“Drupal 10 includes many new features that appeal to developers and content creators alike. A stronger developer and site builder experience combined with easier content authoring and editing make this a key update for all users,” said Dries Buytaert, founder and project Lead of Drupal.

We sat down with Scott Massey (and some of his customer users) in his capacity as managing director of international markets at WebOps platform company Pantheon to ask him about how he feels this technology has evolved. Pantheon’s technology is designed to empower marketers and developers to create, iterate and scale websites on the open web to reach billions of people globally.

“It only took me a few minutes to upgrade to the latest D10 release candidate, so I am looking forward to many happy site owners. We have equated upgrades with rebuilding the entire website for so long that we shouldn’t gloss over the fact that we are giving web teams hundreds of hours back. It’s gotten easier and easier to update, since version 8 and we have the Drupal community to thank for the hard work these last few years,” said Massey.

Styles & themes

He suggests that the ongoing improvements and optimisation of Drupal core are going to be beneficial. The work that has been done around CSS and Twig support and theming in general should make a difference to how easy it is to get started and to change styles and make edits to the default theme.

“For example, Drupal 10 offers a new theme generator that allows users to run a simple PHP command from your terminal to generate a new theme. This makes themes available to use on new or existing sites with all their defaults in place around styling. For those of us that have to manage multiple sites at once and keep them consistent, this should make things much easier,” added Massey.

Users such as Mark West, engineering manager at TPXimpact have said that they can’t wait to work with a new and refined version of Drupal that bakes in upgraded versions for PHP, Symfony and uses more modern Javascript. This is hoped to make it easier to develop large complex websites.

Additionally, there’s lots of improvements for admins and users too. These include a better authoring experience using CKEditor 5 and UX improvements in the new Claro admin theme.

Looking more broadly, the support for better accessibility and internationalisation will be very useful in the future, along with paving a path forward as a headless CMS taking an API first approach with better GraphQL support.

So what do users think will make the biggest difference to the community in the new release?

Bye-bye, Internet Explorer 

“Removing support for Internet Explorer (IE) might not sound like the biggest change, but it will free up time spent working on legacy tech. Because it does not have to look at backward compatibility with IE, Drupal 10 will require less time spent on outdated browsers. There were some elements in those versions where CSS components and controls were frankly broken or inaccessible, so Drupal 10 can implement those features fully,” said Massey.

Drupal 10 is thought to be a key inflection point in CMS history because it is heavily focused on the Open Web philosophy, ensuring the resulting site remains as open and accessible as possible. 

This is the opinion of Alexandra García Domenech, manager for CMS – PHP, Hiberus Digital Business. She says that previous Drupal versions were more focused on improving developers’ experiences but this new release has some great features for Site Builders and Content Managers, including the new CKEditor 5 and Project Browser, among others. This new orientation provides a significant decrease in the entry barrier for non-developer profiles allowing many more users to use this platform to build their next site.

So then, are there any things missing in the new release?

Inscrutable marketplace 

“I’d like a first-time user to have better choices in the look of their site from the start. The theme marketplace has become inscrutable, and it’s a subtle barrier to entry for organisations who might choose Drupal for a proof of concept or a small site. I am hoping the project browser makes it easier for those new to drupal to get a site launched first, then discover the amazing possibilities over time,” said Massey.

For him, Drupal remains one of the most powerful tools for organisations, not because of any particular new features (which are all well and good, keep them coming!), but because of its core data model.

In conclusion, Pantheon’s Massey says that he believes that the ‘journey is the destination,’ meaning that he has seen Drupal implementations that have helped companies better understand their organisational structure, data, content and the interactions between all three. 

It is an unexpected and transformative by-product of carefully rethinking the CMS as the hub of how people communicate internally and externally. 

Free image use: Wikimedia Commons