New Help Topics module in Drupal

Drupal more user-friendly than ever with new Help Topics module

It’s important that all users, including non-tech marketers and business owners are able to easily work with a website. When it comes to Drupal, it continues to make great strides strides towards being more user-friendly, which is one of the key priorities and benefits of Drupal 8.

We are happy to announce another great advancement in the Drupal user-friendliness field — the new core Help Topics module. Let’s see what the module does to raise it even higher.

A user-friendly CMS is a competitive CMS

First, we should note why Drupal usability is its priority today. One of the key reasons is that it helps Drupal be competitive among other CMSs. It should become the best user-friendly CMS and a platform of choice for more business owners.

For example, much ink has been spilled over the rivalry between Drupal and WordPress in website development.

  • Among the key strengths of the WordPress CMS is a high level of user-friendliness.
  • Drupal has always been regarded as a platform that allows you to build more advanced functionality while being a bit more complicated and having a steeper learning curve.

Drupal creator Dries Buytaert said he was passionate about making Drupal more user-friendly for the day-to-day users.

Drupal creator Dries Buytaert strives to make it easy to use for everyone

The achievements in making Drupal the most user-friendly CMS are huge already and the work goes on. D8 can boast:

  • easy content creation experiences with the CKEditor
  • the Quick Edit feature to edit content on the fly
  • a convenient and attractive Media Library and media embedding
  • a user-friendly drag-and-drop Layout Builder
  • the forthcoming Claro admin theme that follows all modern UX design guidelines
  • adherence to WCAG and ATAG in web accessibility standards
  • convenient admin UIs to do almost anything
  • flexible workflows based on roles

and much more.

Why the new Help Topics module in Drupal was needed

One of the key aspects of user-friendly website administration experiences is knowing how the website’s modules work. Their user interfaces, settings, and work peculiarities may range from simple to challenging. Getting help with them greatly improves admin usability.

So Drupal needed a unified way in which modules and themes can add their help topics. In this area, the Drupal core already has the Help module but it only lets the module developers create overview help topics via the hook_help().

According to the Help Topics maintainer Andypost, it was not easy for everyone to add help topics with the existing Help module. To solve this, the community created the Drupal 8 User Guide and even translated it into several languages within the Drupal Documentation Initiative.

Next, as Andypost tells us, the Initiative’s leader Jennifer Hodgdon (jhodgdon) created a Configurable Help module. It is a sandbox for now but it is going to reach stability and allow adding help topics directly from the browser.

The decision was made to add parts of this new module to Drupal core as an experimental module Help Topics, as well as convert the Drupal 8 User Guide into the help topics about the core modules’ work. The idea to add the Help Topics module to Drupal core was successful!

The new Help Topics module overview and roadmap

The Help Topics module allows the developers of core and contributed modules, themes, and distributions to create help topics as Twig files. An additional contributed module will allow anyone to do it from the browser.

There can be as many topics per module as needed for the sake of making Drupal more user-friendly. The topics will be found on a website’s Help page at admin/help.

Help Topics module coming to Drupal 8.8 core

Some will be listed there directly if they are marked as “top-level.” Others will be listed as “related.”

Based on the tasks the users are supposed to do, the help topics can be single or grouped:

  • One task makes a “Task topic.”
  • Multiple task topics can be grouped into a section and make a “Section topic.”

As “The Drop is Always Moving” tweeted, the Help Topics is the result of the wonderful work of 38 people over several years. It will be included in the D8.8 as an experimental module and should provide a useful help solution to Drupal users.

Help Topics experimental module included in Drupal 8.8 dev

Furthermore, the Help Topics module roadmap is to reach stability and merge with the existing core Help module. Another core module in this area will also remain in place — the Tour module that makes Drupal more user-friendly through tooltip help.

Help Topics module to come to Drupal 8.8 core

The structure of Help Topics

Each topic will be a Twig file that lives in a particular module’s subdirectory called help_topics. The files should be named like this: modulename.topic_id.html.twig.

They will have the "front matter" metadata and the HTML body. A single Task topic should have metadata with this information:

  • the topic’s title
  • whether they are “top-level” or “related”
  • the goal
  • the optional explanation “what is/are”
  • the required steps to perform the task (wrapped with an H2 heading)
  • the optional additional resources (also H2)

Section topics have similar metadata is similar, but they can only be “top-level” and should list the overview of related tasks, not the required steps. You can see more information about the Help Topics standards.

Enjoy Drupal user-friendliness with all its new tools

Considering the giant steps in which the Drupal becomes a more user-friendly CMS, it’s necessary to keep your website updated. Only in this case you and your users will take advantage of the new usability features.

Think, for example, about the fact that the Layout Builder is only stable as of Drupal 8.7, and the Media Library got a new more user-friendly and beautiful interface in the same release.

You can always rely on our development team who will smoothly update your website to the latest core versions, configure the user-friendliness-related modules such as Help Topics or any others, and assist you in preparing for Drupal 9.

And, in the light of our today’a topic, we can offer plenty of additional UX secrets to make your website more user-friendly.

Talk to our Drupal team!


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