Earlier today, we released Drupal 8.5.0, which ships with improved features for content authors, site builders and developers.

Content authors can benefit from enhanced media support and content moderation workflows. It is now easier to upload, manage and reuse media assets, in addition to moving content between different workflow states (e.g. draft, archived, published, etc).

Drupal 8.5.0 also ships with a Settings Tray module, which improves the experience for site builders. Under the hood, the Settings Tray module uses Drupal 8.5's new off-canvas dialog library; Drupal module developers are encouraged to start using these new features to improve the end-user experience of their modules.

It's also exciting to see additional improvements to Drupal's REST API. With every new release, Drupal continues to extend investments in being an API-first platform, which makes it easier to integrate with JavaScript frameworks, mobile applications, marketing solutions and more.

Finally, Drupal 8.5 also ships with significant improvements for Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 migration. After four years of work, 1,300+ closed issues and contributions from over 570 Drualists, the migrate system's underlying architecture in Drupal 8.5 is fully stable. With the exception of sites with multilingual content, the migration path is now considered stable. Needless to say, this is a significant milestone.

These are just a few of the major highlights. For more details about what is new in Drupal 8.5, please check out the official release announcement and the detailed release notes.

What I'm probably most excited about is the fact that the new Drupal 8 release system is starting to hit its stride. The number of people contributing to Drupal continues to grow and the number of new features scheduled for Drupal 8.6 and beyond is exciting.

In future releases, we plan to add a media library, support for remote media types like YouTube videos, support for content staging, a layout builder, JSON API support, GraphQL support, a React-based administration application and a better out-of-the-box experience for evaluators. While we have made important progress on these features, they are not yet ready for core inclusion and/or production use. The layout builder is available in Drupal 8.5 as an experimental module; you can beta test the layout builder if you are interested in trying it out.

I want to extend a special thank you to the many contributors that helped make Drupal 8.5 possible. Hundreds of people and organizations have contributed to Drupal 8.5. It can be hard to appreciate what you can't see, but behind every bugfix and new feature there are a number of people and organizations that have given their time and resources to contribute back. Thank you!

When I'm home, one of the devices I use most frequently is the Amazon Echo. I use it to play music, check the weather, set timers, check traffic, and more. It's a gadget that is beginning to inform many of my daily habits.

Discovering how organizations can use a device like the Amazon Echo is big part of my professional life too. For the past two years, Acquia Labs has been helping customers take advantage of conversational interfaces, beacons and augmented reality to remove friction from user experiences. One of the most exciting examples of this was the development of Ask GeorgiaGov, an Alexa skill that enables Georgia state residents to use an Amazon Echo to easily interact with government agencies.

The demo video below shows another example. It features a shopper named Alex, who has just returned from Freshland Market (a fictional grocery store). After selecting a salmon recipe from Freshland Market's website, Alex has all the ingredients she needs to get started. Alex begins by asking Alexa how to make her preferred salmon recipe for eight people. The recipe on Freshland Market's Drupal website is for four people, so the Freshland Market Alexa skill automatically adjusts the number of ingredients needed to accommodate eight people. By simply asking Alexa a series of questions, Alex is able to preheat the oven, make ingredient substitutions and complete the recipe without ever looking at her phone or laptop. With Alexa, Alex is able to stay focused on the joy of cooking, instead of following a complex recipe.


This project was easy to implement because the team took advantage of the Alexa integration module, which allows Drupal to respond to Alexa skill requests. Originally created by Jakub Suchy (Acquia) and maintained by Chris Hamper (Acquia), the Alexa integration module enables Drupal to respond to custom voice commands, otherwise known as "skills".

Cooking with Amazon Echo and Drupal

Once an Amazon Echo user provides a verbal query, known as an "utterance", this vocal input is converted into a text-based request (the "intent") that is sent to the Freshland Market website (the "endpoint"). From there, a combination of custom code and the Alexa module for Drupal 8 responds to the Amazon Echo with the requested information.

Over the past year, it's been very exciting to see the Acquia Labs team build a connected customer journey using chatbots, augmented reality and now, voice assistance. It's a great example of how organizations can build cross-channel customer experiences that take place both online and offline, in store and at home, and across multiple touch points. While Freshland Market is a fictional store, any organization could begin creating these user experiences today.

Special thanks to Chris Hamper and Preston So for building the Freshland Market Alexa skill, and thank you to Ash Heath and Drew Robertson for producing the demo videos.

Josh Gee, former product manager for the City of Boston's Department of Innovation and Technology, recently shared how Boston.gov identified 425 PDF forms used by citizens and moved 122 of them online. Not only did it improve the accessibility of Boston.gov's government services, it also saved residents roughly 10,000 hours filling out forms. While Boston.gov is a Drupal website, it opted to use SeamlessDocs for creating online forms, which could provide inspiration for Drupal's webform module. Josh's blog provides an interesting view into what it takes for a government to go paperless and build constituent-centric experiences.

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Caribbean sunset

Spending a few days at the Cayman Islands, where the WiFi is weak and the rum is strong. When I relax, I become creative and reflective. Writing helps me develop these creative thoughts and deepens my personal reflection. It's a virtuous cycle, because when I see my world, myself and my ideas more clearly, it helps me relax even more. Relaxing makes me write and writing makes me relax.