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Drupal 8 – The Complete Framework Analysis

Drupal 8 – The Complete Framework Analysis

It was 2 years ago when Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, came up with compelling factors on why Drupal 8 is a mandatory move for the survival of the open source CMS. Plenty of CMS has come, but have been unable to stay relevant to current trends and needs, thus failing miserably. Drupal has made it so far because its contributors have taken the pain to make radical changes over time and adapt to those changes.

Even though Dries accepts that Drupal 7 is an amazing CMS, there are plenty of limitations that needed to be overcome to move along with the evolution of technology. Being mobile-first and compatible with third party services is becoming quite a mandatory option for all websites. And in Drupal 7, mobile theming and responsive design were major concerning factors.  Even though you can achieve it with additional modules, the loading time becomes high.

The other major Drupal 7 drawbacks were incomplete API entity, no clear option to separate content and configuration, increasing deployment issues, inadequate template option, etc. Drupal 8 set to overcome these issues and in the process, it came out with a few of its own features making D8 unique in its own style.

Drupal Reborn As Drupal 8

Drupal, as we have known, is gone!

We have to accept the fact Drupal needs to include modern frameworks and platforms to welcome more developers to Drupal. Thus, the move towards Symfony became relevant with Drupal 8. Even though the terminologies (Like view, node, fields, modules, etc.) remain the same, Drupal 8 will include object-oriented-programming standards.

Hardcore Drupal developers will find it a little difficult to cope up with the new programming techniques, as there are advantages and disadvantages to the new D8. Inheritance and polymorphism in D8 can be quite challenging, initially, but encapsulation and faster development time make up for it. When we compare procedural languages to Object Oriented languages, a lot of time is spent on writing the program but less time in maintaining it. This applies to D8 too.

The main reason to shift to a newer programming structure is to attract more talents and with that, make Drupal an affordable option for organizations of all sizes.

Drupal 8 Adapting Symfony 2

Symfony 2 is a powerful framework used to build web-based application. It cannot be used to administer a website, as it’s not a CMS. What it can do is work along with the CMS and empowers it.

In reality, most CMS can be used over Symfony with few exceptions like Drupal. To overcome these hurdles, Drupal 8 is designed to accommodate certain Symfony 2 layers. This particular combination is a match made in open source heaven, forming a well-balanced system for a flexible CMS. Similarly, going hand-in-hand with Symfony has made PHP a mandatory language for Drupal developers.

How Symfony And Drupal 8 Work Together

Cipix has done a great job in explaining the various components of Symfony 2 and Drupal 8, and how they relate to one and another. It’s critical to understand how the two communicate with each other to fetch data and perform various website functionalities.

Symfony2 Framework
Drupal 8 Framework

Image Courtesy – Cipix


We have already established the fact that Drupal 8 is not adopting all Symfony components. They’re only making use of the smarter layers to extend Drupal 8’s functionality.  Looking at the schematics, you can get a rough idea on what components of Drupal 8 and Symfony 2 are put into use.

Drupal bypasses the “bundle” approach that is more popular for web applications. As for any CMS, the framework needs to be completely flexible and extendable. Thus, the layers were carefully selected. Drupal 8 exclusive layers have the 3rd party libraries and the core functionalities like the themes, modules, the core library, etc.

DrupalKernel helps in loading the entire environment with the various modules and services similar to how a Kernel in Symfony behaves, but in a slightly different manner. Once the environment is completely set, it delegates the request handling to the HttpKernel layer, exactly like how Symfony works. The HttpKernel further converts a ‘request’ to a ‘response’ with the help of EventDispatcher.

The main reason to choose Symfony is to make use of its WSCCI (Webservice Content Core Initiative) feature to make Drupal 8 an awesome RESTserver with a first class CMS functioning on it. In places where code inheritance fails, EventDispatcher plays an effective role as a mediator to make the CMS extendable. It also makes communication between classes extremely simple.

ClassLoader helps in defining classes and caching the location. Using PHP, developers can easily call various classes effortlessly during each run-time.

YAML – It’s the integral part determining the configuration management initiative. It’s designed to save configuration information in the form of XML files or readable INI files. Configuration management is a major part of the Drupal 8 initiative, as inconsistent configurations made deployment and migration a highly complex task in Drupal 7. Routinglets us determine each route with a unique URL matcher and it matches with a HTTP Request to match a configuration request. Each module’s route is configured via the YAML configuration file and it triggers the action defined by the module’s class.

DependencyInjection is a great component that helps in stabilizing and centralizing the way objects are used to construct applications. With Symfony’sDependencyInjection, code for Drupal 8 can be written to be reused and unit-tested whenever necessary.

The Serializer helps in transforming objects into the specific format as needed, like XML, YAML, JSON, etc. to efficiently co-ordinate between various components. The Validator helps in validating the various entities within Drupal to successfully validate each form. Translation is a predefined tool that has a set of translation files, which takes certain strings as input and generates a translated output string.

Process is rather a self-explanatory component where it performs the sub-process’s commands using the command-line interface.

These components help you understand how Symfony and Drupal rely on each other to yield the perfect combination for a futuristic and a flexible CMS. Drupal 8 is rather a revolutionary CMS that lets you push boundaries to a whole new level.

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