Drupal 8 is due out later this year, and already speculation has begun to mount over what's going to be included in the new release.
One of the key features everybody is looking forward to is the level of mobile and device compatibility that the highly experienced team of developers are expected to provide.
The history of content management systems on mobile devices is patchy at best, with no real success story to match that of WordPress on desktops. Drupal 8 will focus on this area in an effort to take the lead in this essential and growing field.
What is the Drupal Mobile Initiative about?
According to various sources Drupal 8 will make a number of changes from the previous version to better position it for use targeting mobile devices. Drupal 7 is not exactly known for its mobile support and the few modules that have been written to cover this task fail to encompass all possible use cases.
App integration, mandatory HTML5 elements, comprehensive responsive design support and administration on mobile devices are all on the way. Although at this point in time the specifics of implementation and compatibility can only be speculated about.
Responsive design is quickly becoming not just de rigueur, but the default setting for most web designers. In fact, it's so omni-present, we might simply shorten the title of 'responsive web design' to 'web design'.
The developers behind Drupal 8 aren't blind to this major shift of the web's landscape (no pun intended) and are planning to reissue default themes like Bartik, Stark and Seven as fully responsive. To gain cross-platform compatibility a mobile-first approach is being adopted for Drupal 8 with responsive techniques at the heart of the drive.
In tune with a fast evolving work environment that finds content producers publishing not just from desktops and laptops, but from tablets and cell phones, Drupal 8 will be administerable via mobile devices.
Drupal 7 failed to provide this option and Drupal has lost market share as a result of the inconvenience of being tied to a desk to use it. Drupal 8's success may be more dependent on this single upgrade than on the rest of the update put together.
The main work to be done with administrative tools is on Dashboard, Overlay, Shortcut modules and Contextual links.
Front-end speed is one of the most important factors in web design; not only do slow sites loose visitors, now they also loose search engine rankings. To add a further layer of necessity, the rise of mobile browsing, and the slow growth of 4G outside of North America makes front-end speed all the more vital.
A tentative release date of September 13th 2013 has been pencilled in for Drupal 8. However, beta testers will get access much sooner. This is a great opportunity to get involved in the development of the next generation of one of the world's favorite content management systems. You can get involved here.
Whether the Drupal 8 development team is successful or not, the work they do over the next few months will either sink Drupal in a sea of mobile-friendly alternatives, or rise it to the top as the world's most mobile-friendly solution.
Are you a fan of Drupal? What are you hoping for from the next version? Let us know in the comments.
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