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Testing Drupal 8 alpha 2

The alpha 2 release of Drupal 8 was released yesterday. Drupal 8, for me, represents a sea change in the way Drupal works and interacts with both designers and developers. The front end UI work gives much greater freedom to end users, whilst the CMI initiative is a gift to those of us fed up trying to figure out best practice for staging changes with minimum impact on the end user.

The following is my experience of downloading, installing and configuring Alpha 2 and is meant more as a record of my experiences than any meaningful insight into the whole Drupal 8 process.


  • Windows 7, 64 Bit Enterprise
  • WAMP
    • Apache 2.2.22
    • PHP 5.3.13
    • MySQL 5.5.24
  • Firefox 21


  • Downloaded the zip of the alpha 2 release
  • Unzipped to a directory in the web root.
  • Created a fresh database in mysql
  • Fired up my browser and headed to the site.


The install was pain free with no errors being generated. I went for the minimal install rather than the standard. Install progressed quickly although seemed to hang slightly on the last part of the installation, but recovered without having to be interefered with.

The only slightly disconcerting thing about the install is that when it has finished and you click to "Visit your site", the Stark theme seems to be the default. Whilst it displays without problem, it does give the site a broken appearance for people who are not used to it and might be slightly off putting. It also doesn't then make it clear where the menus are, what they do and how to progress. This may be a result of me chosing the minimal install instead of the standard.

Switching Themes

Heading into the appearance section gives a list of available themes which can be switched on and set as the default quickly and easily. Still haven't encountered any nasty errors at this stage.


One of the changes between D7 and D8 has been the change of naming in the menus. Whereas the add in modules were under the helpfully named top level "Modules" link, they have now moved into the "Extend" link. I can see the logic in this change of convention, and anyone coming in fresh without having used Drupal before will no doubt find it easy to understand. For those of us whose relationship with Drupal goes back a little further, its another change of location for Modules that we'll just need to get used to.

I thought I'd throw D8a2 into the deep end and enable all the modules at the same time to see what was available. Unfortunately I was met with a rather nasty error.

WAMP eventually just gave up loading the site, so the only option was to remove the settings.php file and dump the tables in the db and start again. Repeating the above steps but using the standard install for comparison of the themes that are enabled by default.

2nd Try

Installation this time took a lot longer, however you'd expect that given the extra number of modules that need to be loaded. This time Bartik is the default theme which makes life a lot easier. However you are not logged in automatically to the site and instead have to login again. Using the minimal install seems to log you in without any further steps required.

Once logged in, the toolbar is enabled by default which is a nice little touch. Makes the site a lot easier to navigate out of the gate. Looks like the main navigation menu has been disabled.

Trying to navigate to the extend menu after this seems to have been too much for my system as the connection just keeps timing out. I think in order to properly evaluate D8a2 I'm going to need to move to a better platform.