Exciting Developments in the Drupal Tech Stack

By mandclu, Sat, 10/24/2020 - 11:58

The JAMstack seems to be what's getting a lot of press lately, but there's actually a lot to be excited about in the Drupal technology stack of late.

  • Drupal 9.1-alpha1 was released days ago. Some of the new features include:
    • Lazy loads images by default, by adding the loading="lazy" html attribute to img tags
    • Snazzy new Olivero theme in core. This site uses a subtheme of Olivero, so you're looking at it right now!
    • PHP 8 compatibility vastly improved, but some upstream dependencies preventing full compatibility. Changes included are PHP Unit 9, and an updated database driver
  • Composer 2 is now available! In a quick test, creating a new Drupal project with Composer 2 was quick and error free. In fact, greatly improved speed and memory consumption are two of the main benefits of the new version.
  • PHP 8 has reached release candidate, and a stable version is expected in the coming weeks. Most of the backward compatibility changes were already indicated as deprecated in previous versions of PHP, so if your code is well maintained, you should be in good shape for the upgrade. Beyond speed improvementsnew features include (geeky analysis):
    • Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler
    • Union types
    • The nullsafe operator
    • Named arguments
    • Attributes for classes
    • Match expression
  • AVIF support - although the more mature WebP format is still gaining traction, the newer AVIF format promises even smaller image files sizes. This month saw a first release for Drupal support, though it currently relies on a third-party service for generating the encoded images. That said, Imagemagick recently added support for AVIF, so it should be possible for web servers to generate them locally soon. In the meantime, browser support is very much a work in progress but Firefox has experimental support, and Apple was part of the consortium that that developed the AV1 video format on which AVIF is based, so we shouldn't have to wait as long for AVIF support in Safari as we did for WebP

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