Check Out the New Page Builder in Drupal 8.5!

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Check Out the New Page Builder in Drupal 8.5!

Drupal 8.5 is now available!

In this blog post, I'll give you an introduction to three of the main new features you can start using in 8.5.

New Feature #1. Layout Builder

To me, the most exciting feature in Drupal 8.5 is the Layout Builder. No matter what you personally think about Page Builders, vast sections of the website-building world loves them. You can talk about other Drupal features headless frontends and continuous integration tools all day, but drag-and-drop Page Builders is what many end-users care about.

In Drupal terms, the best way to think about this could be, "Panels is now in core". 

layout builders

  • After enabling these modules, go to "Structure" then "Manage display".
  • You'll see that the fields have been replaced by a "Manage layout" button.

manage display Drupal 8.5

  • After clicking this button, you'll be taken to the front of your site. Here you'll see a Panels-style page builder tool. You can drag-and-drop fields and other items between different regions of the page.

drupal field layout

  • If you click the "Add Section" button you'll have a choice of layouts in the right sidebar:

click add section

  • Inside each section of the layout, you can choose from a wide variety of Drupal items to place on the page. Did I mention that this was "Panel in core"? In fact, at first glance, this appears to be far better. The user interface is certainly a big improvement over Panels.

drupal 85 layout builder

New Feature #2: Settings Tray

This is an experimental module that has gone stable in Drupal 8.5.

After enabling the module, click the blue "Edit" button in the top-left corner of the admin toolbar.

enable settings tray

Now you'll see a "Quick edit" link next to all your blocks. In previous versions, you only had the "Configure block" link.

quick edit drupal block

If you click "Quick edit" you'll see the block configuration options in the sidebar of your site. This is the "Settings Tray" from the module title. This should make it easier to configure blocks without needing two switch back-and-forth between multiple pages.

settings tray module edit

New Feature #3: The Media module

The Media module landed in the core 6 months ago with Drupal 8.4. However, in 8.4 the Media module was completely hidden. In 8.5, the Media module is stable and visible but it is not enabled by default.

You can click here for a full overview of how to use the new Media module, but here's a short version of how Media works in 8.5:

  • After enabling the Media module, go to Structure, then "Media types".
  • You'll see four default media types: Audio, File, Image, and Video.

media types screen

  • When you add a new field, there will be a "Media" option, alongside the old "Image" and "File" types:

new media field

  • When you select the settings for each field, you can choose which media types are acceptable:

media type

The usability of this new Media workflow is not perfect. When a content creator sees a Media field, they're going to be sent to a new screen to add their media. After navigating through the other screen, they can then come back here to choose their newly uploaded files.

create new media

At the moment, there's no browseable media library. Users will need to search using the file's title:

choosing drupal media

All in all, the Media in 8.5 shows progress, but has real limitations. The old Image and File field types are still the default option and I suspect most sites will continue to use the old field types.

Honestly, the non-default status, plus some usability issues, left me underwhelmed. We may be looking at Drupal 8.6 before use of the Media module really starts to take off.


Drupal 8.5 is shaping up to be an exciting release. I didn't even touch on a host of other improvements such as the Content Moderation features finally going stable, and BigPipe being enabled by default.

Did you see any features that you're really looking forward to in 8.5?

About the author

Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.