The Secret Sauce, Ep. 30: The State of Workbench in Drupal 8

An update on the status of Workbench in Drupal 8.

Listen to Ken Rickard (@agentrickard) discuss some exciting new developments for Workbench in Drupal 8.

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Correction: In this episode, I incorrectly name Tim Millwood's employer. Tim works for Appnovation Technologies. Our apologies for the error. -- Ken Rickard.



Allison Manley [AM]: Hello and welcome to The Secret Sauce, a short podcast by, that offers a little bit of advice to help your business run a little bit better. 

I’m Allison Manley, an Account Manager, and today we have our Director of Professional Services  Ken Rickard talking about the state of Workbench in Drupal 8.  

Ken Rickard [KR]:  Hi, this is Ken Rickard, the director of professional services at Palantir. Today we’re going to talk about Workbench and the module suite that we developed as part of the Drupal 7 lifecycle. 

Workbench, if you don’t remember, is a series of three modules that were designed to hit very common publishing use cases. Workbench Moderation is the most popular. It provides for staging previews along an approval workflow. Workbench Access is an editorial access decision module, it lets you decide who can edit content on your worksite. Workbench itself is really just a collection of editorial views to make it easier for people to find the content they need to work on.

Since our last blog post on this subject, some really fun and interesting stuff has happened in that space. In particular, if you were at DrupalCon New Orleans, you heard Dries talk about the workflow initiative in Drupal core. What’s fascinating about Drupal core right now is that we contributed a lot of code to Drupal 8 regarding how publishing workflows actually operate, and actually removed some of the barriers that made it harder to do workbench moderation. Some of those things are still there, but because we’re now following a semantic and stable release cycle, so that every six months we have a new release of Drupal that does not break backward compatibility, that means that we can add new modules to core.

And there was a movement among the core maintainers — specifically I know that Alex Pott was involved, I know that Nathaniel Catchpole was involved — and they decided that they wanted to push Workbench Moderation into Drupal core in Drupal 8.2, which is the next release that’s coming up, in order to start shaking out the rest of the issues that need to be solved in core that are really specific and relevant to the workflow initiative. The workflow initiative has some really fantastic and ambitious things that are going to be happening, but for it to work properly, all content must be revisionable, and those revisions must have the capacity to be moderated. Since we had a working model of content moderation, that’s going to be brought straight into core and then iterated on. So it’s really fascinating.

There are a couple of things that are important about that from our perspective. Number one, it really is a culmination of the work that we started, at this point, seven years ago, in order to make it easier for publishers to use Drupal to accomplish the tasks they need to accomplish. So that’s a huge victory for us; we’re really proud of that. Number two, it does show very good things about the product lifecycle and the maturity of Drupal as a project as Drupal 8 moves forward, this idea that says, hey, we can add new features without breaking backwards compatibility. We’re willing to experiment with things in core in order to improve the experience for our users. I think that’s really critical.

So the outcomes of that, which are going to happen pretty rapidly — there’s a developer named Tim Millwood . . . Tim works for Acquia [Correction: Tim works for Appnovation Technologies], he’s been involved with the workflow initiative since day one, he’s part of the module acceleration program, and Tim’s been around the Drupal community for quite a long time. Tim’s taking over the workbench moderation in core project, which is going to be called ‘content moderation’. He’s got a first iteration that’s almost ready to be committed into core. So while Tim’s working on the code side, there’s actually part of the Drupal UX team approaching, how does workflow management affect the user interfaces that Drupal presents? And that work is being spearheaded by Roy Scholten and Bojhan Somers and the rest of the UX team. And they’re doing some really exciting stuff. I know they’ve been getting together at the dev days event that just happened in Milan. They’re collaborating quite frequently, which is really exciting to see.

So content moderation is going to go into core in 8.2, which essentially means that principal work on Workbench Moderation is going to stop. There’ll be a few bug fixes, and if a security release has to come out, that’s going to stop. But it was yesterday, as we record this, that I made Tim Millwood a maintainer of Workbench Moderation, so that he could work on a 2.X branch, an 8.2 branch of that module, which would just be an upgrade path for current users of the module when the core module goes in. So you can replace what you’re doing in the Workbench module with the core module going forward. So that’s really exciting. And like I was saying, it’s sort of a culmination of what we were hoping for with the module suite as it goes.

If you have any questions, you can always reach out to us. We’ll be happy to talk about the future of these things. But from my perspective, it’s really exciting. It’s very gratifying to see things that you thought of years ago moving through being successful in contrib, and then being adopted as sort of essential to the project. And that’s one of the things that keeps us motivated as contributors.
AM: That’s it for this week’s Secret Sauce. For more great tips, check out our brand spanking new website at, download the Secret Sauces from iTunes, and check us out on Twitter. Our handle is @palantir. 

Have a great day!