Learn Drupal 8 now by helping to make it more unified and user/developer friendly

Many of the Drupal 8 core APIs are shaping up now, and as Larry Garfield likes to say "we are still not ready porting Drupal 8 to Drupal 8". Meaning that the new APIs introduced are not used widely at all places where they would be applicable. Views is in core, but not all listings are views, router configuration instead of menu hooks are in core, but most modules use menu hooks, and so on. We of course target the final Drupal 8.0 release to have these conversions done, but we need more help to do them. Let me highlight items that interest me most as the multilingual initiative lead (but most of these rhyme with multi-channel publishing / web-services efforts as well).

Help convert content-like things to content entities

Drupal 8 has a new improved Entity API to manage content entities. What better opportunity to get to know the new content handling APIs than being involved in porting core components to it? Web services and multilingual are both fundamentally in need of a unified handling for content-like stuff in Drupal.

Comments have already been converted to the new entity API (http://drupal.org/node/1778178) which can serve as an example for conversions elsewhere, namely nodes (http://drupal.org/node/1818556), users (http://drupal.org/node/1818570) and so on. See the full list of conversion issues at http://drupal.org/node/1818580. Once these conversions are done, we still need to apply multilingual property handling to do such basic things as editing titles on nodes in different languages (http://drupal.org/node/1498674).

While the existing entity types need conversions, there are also other content-like things in core that need to be converted to entities proper. For example aggregator feeds (http://drupal.org/node/293318) have been converted to content entities but more needs to be worked on. Hands are needed to help with converting menu links (http://drupal.org/node/916388) and custom blocks (http://drupal.org/node/1871772) as well.

Learn Drupal 8 configuration by porting things to the configuration system

The new configuration system in Drupal 8 is great in unifying all configuration elements under one system instead of custom one-off database storages and APIs for configuration.

There is a laundry list of system settings forms to convert to configuration at http://drupal.org/node/1696224 including locale module settings, file system settings, etc. still to be done.

Drupal 8 also comes with configuration entities, which store their data with the configuration system (and are not fieldable). Some of the previously custom coded features such as views, menus (http://drupal.org/node/1814916) and contact form categories (http://drupal.org/node/1588422) have been converted to configuration entities. Others like languages are still to be done (http://drupal.org/node/1754246). Track all related issues at http://drupal.org/node/1802750.

Learn the new configuration schema system by writing schemas for configuration

A configuration schema system was just recently added to core (see http://drupal.org/node/1905070 for documentation and examples). Some configuration files got a schema defined in the initial patch, but there is still more work to be done to adopt this and complete. For example, only some of Views got schemas written, and we need to complete that (http://drupal.org/node/1910606). The meta issue to track and find schema issues is at http://drupal.org/node/1910624.

Why get involved?

I think this is a unique opportunity to (a) get to know Drupal 8 early (b) still have a chance to shape things in Drupal 8 where you find them confusing (instead of bragging about them too late when there is no chance to change) and (c) help Drupal 8 become the great consistent platform we all want it to become. Better web services features and dramatically more extensive multilingual features are also a huge plus!

How to get help if you get stuck?

Most of these issues have someone who got it started and you can find the people who worked on previous complete conversions that I linked to above. Find these people on IRC, get involved in virtual meetings, ask at core mentoring hours. Sometimes all is needed is reviews, help testing or help writing tests.

Thanks for all your contributions!

Drupal 8's Multilingual Wonderland session video from BADCamp

I've had the pleasure to present the results of the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative - great work of numerous highly respected individuals - at the start of this month in Berkeley at BADCamp 2012. The session has some great demo content about where did we get and background information on what is still to be done. We are pretty close with all the essentials but will not be bored for the rest of the Drupal 8 release cycle either to put on more polish and fix the rough edges. Meet us this Friday, the last day before the Drupal 8 feature freeze if you want to get involved!

Just 4.5 months until feature freeze, all hands needed to help with multilingual content in Drupal 8

The content translation problem

One of the great goals of the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative (D8MI for short) is to have one unified system for content translation. The basic problem is that with Drupal 7, you have two ways to translate content: copy nodes for different language versions (with the built-in Content translation module) or save different languages under one entity (with the built-in multilingual fields capability). Although the later does not have a user interface in core, the API is there, so well respecting contributed modules need to support both. The reality is that many modules support neither, because node copies are combersome and field language support is painful.

This is both a user and a developer problem. Users need to decide their translation methods up front, and both methods have their advantages and limitations. Node copies allow for best workflow because they have authors, publication status, permissions, core search support, etc. all a given. Field language on the other hand works better with relations (when signing up for nodes, putting nodes into a common menu, etc.) as well as sharing values between translations (product images, non-translated attributes, etc.). The grand plan for Drupal 8 is to figure out a way for a system that marries the advantages of all as possible and have one better configurable system instead of two independent systems. This should make it easier for users and developers alike to work with multilingual entities.

This is an extremely simple idea, yet the implementation is lagging behind enourmously.

Great news: multilingual book, tmgmt module, EU funding

I've highlighted some great developments around multilingual Drupal in my Denver core conversation talk (see the slides and video for details on where Drupal 8 multilingual improvements are going or check out the interview with me on Modules Unraveled from last week). First of all, there are some great new developments with each, second these got little publicity if anything, so I wanted to broadcast the good news here too.

Drupal 7 Multilingual Sites book is out

The Drupal 7 Multilingual Sites book is out from Packt Publishing! Jose Reyero (Internationalization module maintainer) was a technical reviewer, and I've been involved with the book as a technical reviewer in parallel (without monetary compensation), so even if you might not recognize the name of the author (Kristen Pol), I can assure you that it is a strong book. It starts off from the basics and reaches as far as it comprehensively can in the small size. It goes through some complex topics like tips and tricks for Views, Panels and SEO, and even includes comprehensive tables for which module to use for translating what. Some topics were cut out due to the size boundaries but you can already read one of those as an article on Kristen's blog on Drupal Commerce localization. The book should be a life-saver for anybody starting out building multilingual Drupal 7 sites and even those who already got started but stumbled into some seemingly unsolvable issues. Admittedly as the book goes into some of the more advanced topics, you'll face note boxes more and more as it references issues where fixes for problems are in the works. Help is always welcome.

Ps. Kristen is happy to donate ruffle copies of the book for your events, see https://twitter.com/#!/kristen_pol/status/193752939515490304

New Translation Management Tool module

While there are relatively good tools to translate content, configuration and the user interface in Drupal, larger scale setups will require more complex translation workflows with queues for people working on translations and integration with outside services and subcontractors for translation. Remember the Translation Management module? Well, that was a bit monolithic solution to this problem, did not integrate with common Drupal components such as Views and Rules and was never fully ported to Drupal 7. There was no community behind it and as the developers stopped working on it, there was no solution for people to look to.

Enter Translation Management Tool (tmgmt) a solution along the Drupal way (TM) to the same problems. It is component based, already integrates with more services and is backed by several companies in Europe. It was bootstrapped earlier this year in Europe and is actively developed ever since. For further icing on the cake, a great project to improve and build on the module was accepted for this year's Google Summer of Code, so we are going to see even more awesomeness coming from there!

Drupal as base implementation in European Union multilingual project

Carsten and Carina from Cocomore held a discussion at Drupalcon Denver incorporating their announcement of the EU funded "MultilingualWeb - Language Technologies" (MultilingualWeb-LT) project for the Drupal community. The project is managed by a W3C Working Group and its goal is "to combine several existing technologies and standards to close gaps in the technical localization chain by better integrating localization service providers and translation technologies". It is not just a standards effort, the initial implementation is going to happen based on Drupal! Yes! We hope to work with this project on Drupal 8 improvements if the timeline allows and they certainly plan to make heavy use of the tmgmt module on Drupal 7 which should lead to more improvements and fixes there.

Quick and simple interdiffs

xjm has a great guide for doing interdiffs using two branches for the original patch and your new changes. I must admit I'm lazier than that, and have a much simpler process for doing interdiffs on patch updates. Of course this only works if you work on one patch at a time. Branches are better when you work on different things and want to keep those things around. With that, here is my simpler interdiff workflow.