You may have heard of a variety of Drupal 8 initiatives during the development cycle leading up to Drupal 8.0.0 being released in 2015. These were officially recognized efforts to get a variety of big changes into Drupal 8, and included projects such as configuration management, Views in core, and multilingual improvements. A lot of work from those initiatives is now part of Drupal 8. Not everything got in though, and as time moves on some priorities for new work will always shift.
With Drupal 8 we also changed how we approach future changes in the code base by switching to a new semantic versioning system and revising our development policies to embrace new features in future minor versions of the software. With a formal structure for new features to be rolled out in Drupal 8, many people have continued to push various projects forward. At DrupalCon New Orleans in Dries' keynote, he recognized the continuing efforts for major changes by carrying forward the concept of official initiatives that have been reviewed and approved by the core team. The idea of initiatives appears to be a solid concept that has been successful for our community, so we're going to keep using the same idea and word for post-launch projects as we did for the pre-launch projects.
The new initiatives
During that keynote Dries presented his list of existing and proposed official initiatives to the community. At that time the list he presented consisted of:
- Migrate (already active)
- Workflow (planned)
- Media (proposed)
- Data Modeling (proposed)
- Block and Layout (proposed)
- API-First (proposed)
- Theme Component Library (proposed)
You'll notice that many of those were categorized as only proposed. That means that either folks in the community had started conversations around these things, or Dries thought these would be good ideas for someone to tackle. A proposed initiative isn't necessarily moving forward, and they do not have a formal team and/or proposed plan for accomplishing the goal. A lot has happened in the 5 months since New Orleans, so I want to take a look at where things are now, just after DrupalCon Dublin. (Note that much of this list is derived from Angie Byron's DrupalCorn keynote and several sessions from DrupalCon Dublin.)
Current active and planned initiatives
Here is a short overview of the current official initiatives for future versions of Drupal 8 (i.e. Drupal 8.3.0 and higher), along with some information about how you can follow the projects or even jump in to help.
- The Migrate module shipped as an experimental module with Drupal 8 core when it released almost a year ago. Dries noted that this initiative was already in progress in his keynote, and there have been significant improvements to the system in each minor version so far (both Drupal 8.1.0 and 8.2.0). There is still yet more work to do to get it completely stable and feature-rich so there is ongoing work here. You can keep track of the work in the meta issue, Stabilize the older Drupal to newer Drupal migration system.
- The Content Workflow initiative has moved from planning to fully active. The most significant change so far is that we now have a new experimental module in 8.2, Content Moderation. You can track it in the meta issue linked above, and there is a very nice post by Yoroy, Content workflow initiative, the concept map that defines the scope and areas to be addressed.
- The API-first initiative is another one that has moved from proposed into fully active. This is currently focused on REST improvements for core. 25% of change records for 8.2 were for the REST module. The next target in sight is to get JSON API in as an experimental module. To learn more about what their plans are, you can see their DrupalCon core conversation.
- There has been a team of people working on Media in the Drupal contributed space for the last 2 years, including work on a media library, using remote media, WYSIWYG embedding, and re-usability of media. They are now moving out of a proposed initiative with a plan to move these best-of-breed features into Drupal core. You can see the issues they are hammering on in their kanban board or filtering for issues using the D8Media tag. For a complete overview, check out the DrupalCon Dublin core conversation session.
- The Blocks and Layouts initiative is one that was also a pre-launch project (formerly called the Scotch initiative). There is still work happening on that front in the contributed space, with strategic core issues to pave the way for moving this work into core. The issues are widespread and you can follow them by looking for the Blocks-Layouts tag in the issue queue.
- The Usability initiative was not part of Dries' initial list, but there has been a strong UX team working throughout Drupal 8's development. We saw 2 new experimental modules in 8.2, Place block and Settings tray, and there is more coming for 8.3, most notably Quick edit improvements. This team also had a session at DrupalCon Dublin.
These are some new initiatives that have been proposed within the community, and some of Dries' initial list that have not yet been adopted by or planned by anyone yet.
- The New core theme initiative is moving along quickly with a team formed up and their plan outlined. This is just waiting on a green light from the core committers to move this into an official initiative. You can find out more about the plan from the DrupalCon Dublin core conversation.
- The Theme component library was on Dries' list, but this one has been put on hold while the new core theme is worked out. To see some of the ideas being sketched out, you can see what's going on in the Zen theme as a proof-of-concept.
- Both the Data modeling and Cross-channel organization ideas proposed by Dries have not gathered momentum or a team to carry them forward yet.
A Note about experimental modules
You'll notice that in these initiatives "experimental" modules are mentioned a lot. The idea is to get new features into core in various non-stable states (alpha, beta, etc.) and see how they work out. If they work out well then they will eventually become full, stable modules in core. If not, they can always be removed. Due to the fact that they could be removed, it is generally not recommended to use these for production sites, but of course getting people to test them out on real sites gives the feedback needed to evaluate and improve them.
The initiative pipeline
Given the wide variety of projects that are always going on in the Drupal community, how exactly do new initiatives come along, outside of having Dries announce them at a DrupalCon? Dries outlined some basic guidelines in New Orleans, but to make things clearer there is now a new Ideas project and issue queue on Drupal.org. You can see everyone's proposals and anyone can work an idea out where the community and core committers can give feedback. As a prototype or game plan is approved, it gets moved into the core issue queue for full implementation.
For a really good look at the changes in Drupal 8 development and the way new features are moving into core, Gábor Hojtsy has a great presentation, Checking on Drupal 8's Rapid Innovation Promises.