Drupal 8 is the new standard for creating incredible digital experiences. It has simplicity for editors, power for administrators, and accessibility for everyone. It is a cohesive product that creates custom websites unlike ever before.

But let’s get down to the nitty gritty. There are some important architecture changes that every CTO should know about. When advising your client on whether or not to choose Drupal 8 or to migrate your current Drupal site, here’s what you need to know.


Headless Drupal

Headless Drupal is a clever term used to describe the CMS’ practice of separating the back-end and theming components. In such an architecture, Drupal is used as a CMS for data entry and retrieval, but the rendering of content on web pages to end users (the theming layer) is passed over to another tool.

Drupal 8 is capable of outputting data, not just as HTML, but also in many forms such as JSON or XML. How it delivers data depends on the device or application that is making a request. This could be an iOS app or Smart TV app.

Drupal 8 is a tool that has been carefully planned and constructed. It is a cutting-edge product that keeps the future in mind. Initially you may just have a website, but eventually apps or dynamic Internet applications may be built that use the same Drupal back-end for retrieving your data.

Does that mean Drupal 8 changes how Drupal integrates with other systems?

Drupal 8’s inclusion of standard PHP libraries means that for any particular application there’s a high probability that a strong external library exists. There is no longer a reliance on a single developer working inside of the Drupal ecosystem to meet your integration needs.

Drupal 8 also provides mechanisms for exporting its data via a RESTful API allowing it to easily integrate with other systems.

In addition, the new plugin system within Drupal means that extensions to Drupal can easily be developed.

Let’s talk database attraction layer. That sexy creature.

The process of standardizing on the Drupal Entity model began in Drupal 7 and has been extended in Drupal 8. Developers working with Drupal 8 will work at the Entity level rather than the database level. This allows Drupal 8 websites to work agnostically with a larger number of database technologies, not just the traditional relational ones such as MySQL. For example, it is possible to use NoSQL solutions such as MongoDB as the database storage layer with a Drupal 8 website.

A key difference to keep in mind, my CTO friend.

With Drupal 8’s predecessors, members of the Drupal community built all the code. In Drupal 8, the developers have embraced other projects like Symfony and are building libraries, which can be reused in other projects. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, Drupal 8 includes components developed by a larger community to solve a problem, which results in opening up the pool of talent development teams can draw on.