Release Notes, Translated: Drupal 8.7.0

Sunrise over mountains

Updated 5/9/2019: Thanks to Gábor Hojtsy for the clarification on Twitter, that Drupal 8.9 will be released alongside Drupal 9 as an LTS release. I've updated this article to reflect that information.

This week marks another major milestone in the release cycle of Drupal 8 (if you aren’t familiar with Drupal’s release cycle, read this next). On Wednesday, May 1st, Drupal 8.7.0 was released with some hugely impactful new features and a bunch of under the hood improvements that will ensure any Drupal 8 site that makes the update stays on track for a smooth upgrade to Drupal 9 next June. Per usual, there is a lot packed into this release, so I’ve taken the time to comb through the full release notes and pull out the highlights that anyone running a Drupal 8 website should know about.

The Big Three

Layout Builder is Stable
This one has been a long time coming. Layout Builder provides a way for developers to create a drag-and-drop layout system for any content type in Drupal. Dries showed a great demo during his keynote at Drupalcon Seattle - check out the video if you haven’t seen it in action yet. Layout Builder was originally added to Drupal core over 1 year ago, as an experimental module, in version 8.5.0. Over the last year, a lot of core developer time has gone into fixing bugs and making Layout Builder as complete as possible for this stable release. The result is a huge leap forward for admin experience and landing page flexibility in Drupal. Our development team here at Elevated Third is hard at work determining how Layout Builder shapes the future of Paragon’s already admin-friendly and component-based page building system.

JSON:API Included in Drupal Core
Another major milestone for Drupal core. Since the release of Drupal 8.0.0, Drupal 8 has touted itself as API-first. The inclusion of JSON:API in Drupal core means that by simply enabling a module, developers immediately have access to a full REST API that contains their entire site’s structure and content, which can be retrieved using standard HTTP methods. On top of that, the REST API dynamically updates as your site changes and grows.

So, why is that a big deal? It’s not uncommon for a REST API to require an entire development team to build and maintain, especially for particularly large and/or complicated web applications. JSON:API takes the heavy lifting out of making your content available over a REST API, allowing developers to take advantage of Drupal’s best-in-class content architecture management and push that out to any other application they would like. This means marketers and content administrators can focus on maintaining a single content repository in Drupal, while that content powers everything from their website frontend (and that doesn’t even have to be built with Drupal!) to mobile apps and billboards.

Umami en Español
When Drupal 8.6.0 was released the Umami install profile was included as a result of the Out of the Box initiative. This install profile allows a user to install a fully functioning, themed Drupal site, complete with content. With Umami, Drupal could finally showcase its power in a more easily accessible format to evaluators looking to understand what Drupal is capable of out of the box.

As of Drupal 8.7.0, Umami can now also showcase Drupal core’s powerful multilingual capabilities through a curated set of Spanish translations, with more languages in the works.

Future-proof and Prep for Drupal 9

As Dries put it, “we are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8.” A big part of that is deprecating old code, updating current code and adding new code that will allow us to leverage the latest and greatest under the hood in Drupal. Each minor release of Drupal continues with this mission to ensure the update (not rebuild!) from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 goes as smoothly as possible.

Support for PHP 5 Dropped
As of Drupal 8.7.0 support for PHP 5 has been completely dropped in favor of PHP 7.2, the recommended PHP version for Drupal 8. Running Drupal on the most current version of PHP lets you take advantage of the performance and security enhancements you need for your enterprise site.

IE 9 Workarounds Removed
Drupal officially dropped support for Internet Explorer 9 and 10 way back in the 8.4.0 release, but there were still some lingering workarounds for an odd issue IE presented by only allowing a specific number of stylesheets to be loaded on a page. These workarounds were completely removed in this release, which likely doesn’t affect a huge portion of the Drupal 8 community, but does make an important statement that Drupal will continue to push forward without being hindered by outdated, unsupported technology.

Lots of Other Updates and Bug Fixes
A minor release of Drupal is anything but a minor effort. Core maintainers and hundreds of other community members put in countless hours reporting, fixing and testing bugs. Drupal’s ability to leverage such a huge number of contributors speaks to the strength and commitment of the community as well as the stability of the software that is powering some of the highest traffic websites in the world.

On top of the bug fixes, other pieces of key functionality provided by third-party libraries have been updated to contribute to the long-term stability of Drupal. Sometimes the most important functionality is the stuff you don’t even know is there.

Get Excited for the Next Minor Release

The next minor release, Drupal 8.8.0, is scheduled to be released on December 4th of this year. As of right now, 8.8.0 will be the penultimate minor release of Drupal 8, with Drupal 9 and 8.9 scheduled for June 3rd, 2020. Drupal 8.9 will be released alongside Drupal 9 as an LTS (long term support) release for anyone who isn't quite ready to make the jump to Drupal 9. If you’re interested in reading more about how this major release affects Drupal, give this a read.

According to the Drupal core development roadmap, there are some exciting updates in store for Drupal 8.8.0. The main things to look out for are a refresh of the default admin theme, some major enhancements to the core Media suite of modules and an upgrade to developer quality of life in the form of Configuration Management 2.0.

Stay tuned for more about the Drupal development roadmap, upcoming minor releases of Drupal and what the release of Drupal 9 means for everyone from marketers to developers to designers. Until then, enjoy Drupal 8.7.0 and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Read the full release notes here.

Banner photo credit: Dario Gartmann on Unsplash.