Saving Money With Open Source
Open source software like Drupal helps remove common business constraints.
Drupal 8 is great for sustaining innovation
The first post in our series comes from Ken Rickard, Director of Professional Services.
I’ve been working with Drupal since version 4.5, starting in late 2004, working as an end user, product manager, developer, team lead, core contributor, sales engineer, and sales manager. Since its release in 2015, Palantir.net has been using Drupal 8 to provide solutions for ourselves and our clients.
In that time, we’ve started to identify the long-term benefits that really make Drupal 8 shine. While many of these benefits appear to be developer-centric, the story that they tell is how the platform helps organizations of all sizes to invest in sustained innovation.
From a business perspective, we can focus on three fundamental changes in Drupal 8.
Drupal 8 adopted a more standard semantic versioning that indicates the major version, API release, and feature release status of Drupal core. As of this writing, core stands at 8.3.7, and the 8.4.0 release is in beta testing.
Along with semantic versioning came a commitment to regular release cycles -- planned for every six months -- and a commitment to maintain backwards-compatibility. These changes make core releases more predictable, both for resourcing and implementation. We know when the next version is coming, what new features are included, and how any changes will affect our existing sites and code.
This predictability brings Drupal more in line with traditional software releases, and provides a huge benefit to contributors and customers alike.
With the new release cycle, the project finally has a proactive plan for dealing with backwards compatibility issues. Instead of major upgrades between versions, Drupal is prepared to offer incremental changes that foster long-term stability without sacrificing innovation.
We know in advance what elements have been marked as deprecated and when they are scheduled for removal. (Hint: largely when Drupal 9 development begins in earnest.)
Perhaps even more than the first two features, the shift to using a library-based approach to code -- where essential components are integrated from external libraries -- gives organizations even more control over their innovations. Drupal now uses Composer and other modern PHP development practices, so we can decouple our code -- both front-end and back-end -- from Drupal specifics.
Since we can move large sections of Drupal code into standalone libraries, we can spend less time working through specifics of a Drupal implementation and focus instead on the technical and business problems that the software needs to solve.
Taken together, these three elements are powerful. Combined with the GPL open source license that allows anyone to use, improve, and share their code, we have an overall platform devoted to innovation. From a business standpoint, the long-term value of investment in Drupal 8 will be measured in years. Since the software is free to use, companies can invest in their teams and create an environment of sustained success through innovation.