I started writing this blog post with a different title in mind. I intended to write a list of the things that would actually surprise new users of Drupal 8, but I ended up with a very short list.
Everyone talks about Drupal 8 as being an enormous change from Drupal 7. Yes, it does bring a radical overhaul codebase. And yes, there are some visual changes such as a new admin toolbar and a new content creation screen. We've covered those changes in previous posts.
However, I'm going to argue for ordinary users, the most surprising thing about Drupal 8 is how little has changed.
Drupal 7 users are going to be able to adjust to Drupal 8 much more easily than Drupal 6 users were able to adjust to Drupal 7.
Let's take you on a brief tour of Drupal 8 and you'll see how similar it looks to Drupal 7.
A tour of Drupal 8
The initial installation screens are currently unchanged from Drupal 7 (although as noted in the comments, a redesign is on the way):
After installation, you'll see the same theme as with Drupal 7. Drupal 8 ships with Bartik, the default theme from Drupal 7:
Drupal 8 also ships with the same Seven administration theme. With the exception of some text, this screenshot below could have been take from either Drupal 7 or 8:
Browse to the content types page and again there's a screenshot that, minor details aside, could have been taken from Drupal 7:
There are some new field options available in Drupal 8 such as Date, Email, Entity Reference, LInk and Telephone. However, only the Date module is enabled by default:
It is true that there are some new features such as Views in core, but even Views almost entirely retains it's Drupal 7 interface:
Almost everywhere you go in the Drupal 8 interface, there's an enormous sense of familiarity for Drupal 7 users.
So has anything changed for end-users?
The Drupal 8 changes are mostly about clean-up
Yes, there are some changes in Drupal 8. Most of them are subtle and involve a clean-up of the interface.
For example, compare the Block module area on the Drupal 7 modules page ...
... to the same area in Drupal 8. Most the details have been moved under a slider.
And compare the buttons on content types in Drupal 7 ...
... to the same area in Drupal 8. The buttons have been combined.
There are also some small usability improvements such as a search box for the module screen:
End-users will hear a lot of talk about how different Drupal 8 is and how much work has gone into improvements. That's true for developers, but for end-users the changes are very subtle.
My guess is that 95% of Drupal 7 users will be able to pick up Drupal 8 within a few minutes of use. End-users will probably experience a much quicker transition than they did from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7.
For most people, the surprising thing about Drupal 8 will be how unsurprising it is.