After years of development and a few delays, the open source Drupal 8 content management system (CMS) is now generally and freely available. Among the most popular and widely deployed CMS technologies in use today, Drupal counts whitehouse.gov and the Federal Communications Commission among its notable users.
In 2012 Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal announced that Drupal 8 would be generally available in December 2013. Years of delay followed. This marks the first major update to Drupal since Drupal 7 was released in January of 2011. Drupal 7 was also a multi-year development effort, taking three years to build.
With Drupal 8, the open source CMS gains over 200 new features, focused around next-generation content delivery needs. Among the biggest differences is a mobile-first approach, which is very different than Drupal 7. Content authors can now more easily publish responsive websites that are optimized for desktop or mobile users.
An improved caching engine makes it faster to deliver all types of sites. Both site users and developers will benefit from the speed gains offered by the Symfony PHP framework, on which Drupal 8 now depends. The new Drupal 8 CMS also rethinks the way that content can be shared, with a REST-based API system for content delivery.
Usability is also a core focus for Drupal 8, with a new editor tool that enables content authors to create content in a more streamlined manner.
"We've implemented a more modern development framework, reimagined the usability and authoring experience, and made technical improvements that will help us build for the multi-lingual, mobile and highly personalized experiences of the future," writes Buytaert, co-founder and CTO of Drupal and Acquia, in a blog post. "From how we model content and get content in and out the system, to how we build and assemble experiences on various devices, to how we scale that to millions and millions of pageviews -- it all got much better with Drupal 8."
While Drupal is freely available as an open source project, it also benefits from Acquia's commercial backing. Acquia has raised $173 million in funding to date, including a $55 million round announced at the end of September.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Apps Today and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.