Transforming Enterprises with Drupal 8

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As we’ve said before, enabling organizations to transform digitally is at the heart of Phase2’s focus on content, collaboration, and experience. A key element of effective transformation is the combination of adaptability and foresight - in other words, the ability to see what new technologies are coming, understand their potential, and harness their power for your benefit.

In the world of open source CMS solutions, that imminent technology is Drupal 8. Although a long time coming, Drupal 8 is still an unknown quantity for many organizations. The way we see it, companies’ willingness to pick it up and run with it (strategically!) will play a major role in their success in the coming years.

MSK & Drupal 8, A Commitment to Innovation

Last year, Phase2 teamed up with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to act as the organization’s Drupal technology partner after they had made the innovative decision to be Drupal 8 pioneers. The MSK team had more than a simple migration in mind: they endeavored to build one of the very first enterprise-scale Drupal 8 sites, despite the fact that D8 only existed in a beta form at the time. This decision reflected the center’s ability to see the big picture and boldly pursue innovation. In everything from patient care to biomedical research, MSK constantly seeks new ways to advance beyond what was previously thought possible, and their attitude towards digital transformation was no different.

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Major Perks of D8

In addition to the power in core, which allowed the team to use less than ten total modules, there were vast improvements in extensibility, testing, templating, and configuration management.

Extensibility

The ability to extend plugins and services is more available in Drupal 8, with the result that instead of struggling to use yet-to-be-ported contrib modules, our team was free to create custom code specifically fitted to MSK’s needs. The idea of inheritance also made custom code easier to manage.

Object-Oriented Programming

One of the trickiest learning curves of Drupal 8 was also the catalyst for a lot of saved time. Object-oriented programming forced us to take a highly structured approach, isolating our business logic into objects. This results in separated pieces which can move forward despite one another. You can run your migration without knowing how things are going to be themed, and you can theme things without knowing how all content will be structured, etc.

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Testing

The level of testing integrated directly in Drupal 8 core makes it significantly easier to confidently maintain MSK’s site functionality as Drupal 8 continues to evolve. The existence of self-documenting tests, which weren’t available in Drupal 6, was a great positive change for the MSK team.

External Libraries

Drupal 8’s incorporation of Twig accelerated the theming process. In addition to Twig, the inclusion of external libraries (JavaScript, Backbone, PhpUnit, Guzzle, and Symfony's YAML, Routing, and Dependency Injection libraries just to name a few) created a great framework for our developers to work in.

Don’t Miss the D8 Train

We fully believe Drupal 8 (even as a beta) is a valuable alternative to Drupal 6 and 7, especially for enterprise organizations that can combine the core with extended custom code. What’s more, the community needs more organizations to take the leap to Drupal 8 to facilitate improvements and provide influential feedback to the community. Phase2 and MSK were able to contribute a significant amount of code back to the project. To move Drupal 8 closer to an official release, more organizations need to invest in its creation through projects of this kind - and Drupal vendors need to be ready to support them.

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Drupal 8 is a win-win for enterprises and the Drupal community alike. Are you and your organization ready to transform with Drupal 8? Take the first step by attending our DrupalCon session with Memorial Sloan Kettering (or our session on Drupal 8 for enterprise organizations!). You can learn from the challenges we faced and come away with a list of hints, tricks, and best practices for beginning your own Drupal 8 project. In the meantime, stay tuned to our blog for more on our adventures in Drupal 8.

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