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Updates to the Authoring Experience in Drupal 8

Michael SilvermanWritten by Michael Silverman
Apr 4, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Content is the lifeblood of any content management system. Improving the out-of-the-box authoring experience was a main focus for Drupal 8. For those of us that use the author interface every day, there are some exciting changes in the experience. These include a new in-place editing feature, redesigned content creation page, refreshed admin theme, and more.

Content Authoring

Here are some of the most exciting updates to the authoring experience available in Drupal 8:

Acquia Spark

Spark is an Acquia initiative created to improve Drupal’s core default authoring experience. The developers of Spark helped make enhancements to Drupal core, while also creating back ports of key Drupal 8 UX improvements for Drupal 7. If you’re on a Drupal 7 site today, you can take advantage of these features before moving to Drupal 8.

CKEditor Toolbar Configuration

Drupal 8 ships with the CKEditor WYSIWYG editor, which features a new drag-and-drop admin interface. This configurable admin toolbar allows users to add and remove buttons easily, improving the usability of the editor. Buttons are also now contained in “button groups” which can be read by screen readers, providing an accessible editing experience for all website users. There is also a new admin theme in Drupal 8, a refreshed version of the one found in Drupal 7.

Image Captions

In addition to supporting traditional WYSIWYG editor functionality, like bold, italic, images, links, and more, the CKEditor also supports easily editable image captions. These image captions are supported by the new Widgets feature.

Quick Edit

The new in place editing feature in Drupal 8, called the Quick Edit module in the backported version in Drupal 7, allows users to click into any field within a piece of content and edit it on the front-end of the website. This saves editors time, because they no longer have to use a back-end form to correct typos, missing links or images. Full node content, user profiles, custom blocks, and more are all available to edit with this feature.

Improved Content Creation Page

The new content creation page in Drupal 8 contains two columns. One column is for the main fields, as in the actual content part of the page, and the second column is for “extras,” optional settings that are used less often. The new content creation page is designed to create a more streamlined experience for content authors.

Responsive/Mobile Editor Interface

All Drupal 8 authoring features are designed with mobile in mind. The new admin toolbar is responsive, automatically expanding and orienting itself on wider screens while collapsing and orienting vertically on smaller screens. If you’re still on Drupal 7, you’re in luck. The mobile friendly toolbar is available for Drupal 7 as the Mobile Friendly Navigation Toolbar module.

Improving the Block System

Another area of focus for Drupal 8 was improving the Block system. Blocks are reusable widgets of content that you can place in different regions of your site. One major enhancement in Drupal 8 is that you can have more than one instance of a block on the same page and all instances can have different configurations. Also, the Block Admin UI has been redesigned and is much easier to use.

Additionally, in Drupal 8 several previously hard-coded site components are now blocks, like breadcrumbs, site name, slogan. This makes it easier to update the organization of pages in the user interface. You can now also create custom block types, just as you can create custom content types. This gives you granular control over different styles, fields, and more for each block you create.

You can learn more about the improved block system in our recent blog post Drupal 8: The Best Use of the Block System Yet.

These improvements to the authoring experience are just the beginning of the enhancements coming to Drupal 8. As time goes on, new modules will be available for Drupal 8 and the Drupal community will continue to make advancements to core.

Topics: Development

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