It's been 8 months since our last overview of Drupal 8.
A good number of OSTraining members went to DrupalCon Austin or to DrupalCamps this summer and came back with questions about Drupal 8.
So, here's an update on Drupal 8 and when you can plan on using it.
Where is Drupal 8 currently?
The current version of Drupal 8 is Alpha 13. Alpha versions are officially described this way:
"These are the first to come out, and are therefore the least stable. Most reported errors are resolved but there are most likely still outstanding known issues, which might include security issues."
In short, you can't use alpha versions for real sites. They may have serious unpatched flaws and there's no upgrade path from one release to the next.
There have been 13 alpha releases, but that phase is nearly at an end. After alpha releases, there are 3 more steps:
- Beta versions
- Release Candidates
- A Stable release
Step #1. Beta versions
There are now 7 issues that are serious enough to block a Beta release. There were more than twice as many at Drupal Con Austin last month. So, there's a very good chance that we'll see a release of the first Drupal 8 beta in late July or in August.
What is a beta version? It means that APIs are meant to be stable and so module developers can safely start to update their modules.
It also means that there should be an upgrade path from each beta version to the next so you continuously develop a site.
Step #2. Release Candidates
Once there are no critical bugs in the beta releases, the next step is a release candidate.
At the moment there are around 90 critical bugs.
DrupalReleaseDate.com shows critical bugs in red. It's fair to say, at the current rate of progress, that a release candidate is unlikely in 2014.
Step #3. A stable release
We're going to get a beta version very soon, but enough critical bugs remain that we'll likely see a long release candidate phase.
At DrupalCon Austin, Dries predicted a stable release "early to the middle of next year".
Time to get it done
Drupal 8 was designed to be the most ambitious and best Drupal release ever. It still will be, but there's been a noticeable shift in attitude lately. The most recent official Drupal core update said this:
"It's time to get Drupal 8 done. We need to stop making large, non-essential changes, because every time we make more work for ourselves, we delay the release of 8.0.0 for hundreds of thousands of people. When we have a choice between doing something quickly and imperfectly, or slowly and perfectly, it's time to pick the quick, imperfect fix."
Dries said something similar in his Austin keynote:
"We need to be smarter about what we see as critical bugs. Is this really critical or can it be fixed in 8.1?"
Yes, the Drupal release cycle is changing with Drupal 8. This blog post has a full explanation of the new cycle.
One of the most important changes is that Drupal 8 will have several releases with new features. New Drupal 8 releases will come out every 6 months and will be called 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 etc.
This means that some key Drupal 8 features can be put on hold for 6 months to enable a quicker release of Drupal 8.0. Ideally, that should help speed up the final release.
So when can I start using Drupal 8?
- Testing = Now: You can download and test Drupal 8. Simplytest.me allows you to test Drupal 8 online. You can also download the files from Drupal.org.
- Development = From August: Theoretically, there should be stable APIs and an upgrade path between each beta release so you can start developing more seriously.
- Real sites = Summer 2015: You have a good chance of seeing a stable Drupal 8 and using it for live sites.
Drupal Explained is the best-selling Drupal book and we're not plannng to start updating it for Drupal 8 until the spring of 2015. I suspect that when most business will start to take a serious look at using Drupal 8.