Drupal 8: Re-architecting for world domination

Drupal's creator, Dries Buytaert, on Drupal 8 and the open source project's future in the enterprise

Living in harmony with Symfony

At the inaugural DrupalCon Sydney earlier this year, Buytaert outlined his lofty ambitions for the Web platform. Drupal currently runs 2 per cent of the world’s websites, Buytaert told the conference, but there’s no reason the community shouldn’t aim for it to run 10 per cent of them.

Many of the world’s biggest websites still rely on proprietary Web experience management solutions from vendors such as Adobe, and Buytaert said that there was an opportunity for Drupal to replace these systems.

Buytaert told Computerworld Australia that Drupal 8 was a key step in this direction.

"If you look at the history every major release of Drupal we doubled [the user base]," Buytaert said. He doesn't expect Drupal 8 to be an exception.

"I think Drupal 8 is kind of our boldest release to date. [There are] just so many big changes and I think so many big changes that people really want," Buytaert said.

"Developers want those changes. Site builders want those changes. And so I look at Drupal 8 and I think it's going to be a really great release... To be honest, if you compare us with the propriety alternatives like Adobe CQ5 or Sitecore, I really think we can say we've built the best CMS for enterprise systems. I really think so."

Although Drupal has already made strong inroads into many large organisations, particularly in the government and education sectors, and in Australia notably in the finance and insurance sector, when it comes to the enterprise version 8 will still represent a coming of age for the platform.

Along with enhancements for site builders and content creators, such as WYSIWYG editing integrated into core, behind the scenes, significant changes have been made to Drupal's architecture for version 8, incorporating elements drawn from the Symfony2 Web framework.

"Drupal is 12 years' old and we started when PHP didn't really support object oriented [programming]. And obviously Symfony is, from the ground up, completely object oriented," Buytaert said.

"So while the concepts are very similar, [Symfony is] written in a more modern way and they have a few architectural choices that they do differently. But I don't think it's completely different to Drupal."

"They use a modular architecture which is pluggable and so we have modules and they have components and bundles. So there's a core and then there's all of these bundles that allow you to extend Symfony in many different ways," Buytaert said.

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