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Xeno Media: When Should You Redesign Your Website?

13 September 2018 - 8:44am

Website redesigns are a common occurrence in growing businesses, but many people get confused as to when they’re supposed to do one. Your website is a window for the world to get a look at your company. It’s a very important part of your business' marketing efforts. It’s critical to get the timing right.

While there’s certainly space between a redesign being a nice “want-to-have” and it being a “need-to-do,” here are some signs that will tell you when it’s time for a refresh.

Mobile Unfriendliness

Over half of all internet traffic is now coming from a mobile device. If your website is not formatted effectively to be viewed and used on a wide variety of screen sizes, then the redesign should come much sooner rather than later. Having a design that makes the content illegible on a mobile device will send your user elsewhere.

Responsive layouts, navigation links that break up into big, tap-friendly menus, data plan-friendly image optimization, and other considerations for mobile users are what constitutes a mobile-friendly design. Google provides a Mobile-Friendly test tool you can use to check your own website.

Mobile Versions or Responsive Design?

One approach to address this is to develop two versions of your website, one for mobile and the other for desktop users. The web server detects the device that your visitor is using and routes them to the correct version. The advantage of this system is that the mobile version can be optimized to be lightweight in data and speedy to load, specifically for mobile users. That means you can sideline any non-applicable considerations in your design. The biggest disadvantage is that you need to then maintain twice as many web pages: your mobile site and your desktop site.

We recommend responsive web design for our clients, instead. It's just more efficient.

Rather than developing both a desktop and a mobile version, you should have one website that will adjust its layout and navigation based on screen size. Skilled web developers can deliver fast websites to both platforms by optimizing and compressing images, using minified code (which means to strip out all unnecessary code), and other speed improvements.

By setting 'breakpoints' in the layouts, you can also have different layouts and navigation for different screen sizes. A giant drop down animated menu that looks great and is super useful on a desktop is gonna drive your mobile users bonkers.

Via breakpoints, you can set the navigation menu to collapse into a simpler menu with big finger-friendly buttons when it's served to someone on a phone.

Unprofessional Design

Your website is the first impression your company makes on a user, and you want that impression to be a good one. Customers are qualifying companies as much as companies are qualifying customers. They use channels like social media, company websites, and online reputation platforms to see if the company is a good fit for their needs. Compare your website to that of your competitors. Have coworkers critique the website. Look at websites in your industry that you enjoy visiting. Does your website stack up?

Trends shift in web design, as they do in fashion - what looked great in the past can be jarring or cringe-inducing now. Showing up to a pitch meeting in dated business attire projects the impression that you either don’t care about or are ignorant of modern clothing trends. When a visitor lands on your website, dated design projects that same impression.

Web design can look unprofessional if its inconsistent with your brand. Your website needs to clearly call out your company's value statements to your visitors. Unappealing fonts, low-quality icons, slapdash layouts, and thoughtless color palettes confuse and build mistrust in your visitors

User Experience and Design

Good design is about more than just the visuals of your website. It considers the users' needs and their experience while navigating and using your site.

Intuitive navigation needs to tell the user where they are, how they got there, how near their destination is, and how they get there. Thoughtful categorization of content complements your design. By grouping things in a way that makes sense to your visitor, you make it easy for them to solve their problems or satisfy their needs. 

High Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is a metric describing the percentage of your visitors that leave your website within moments of arriving from a search results page. Either they were sent away by a technical problem or something about your website compelled them to leave of their own volition.  You can see your bounce rate in analytics suites, like Google Analytics, assuming you have the code installed.

If you DON’T have this software installed, you have no way of knowing how effective or ineffective your website is. Bounce rates are considered to be great if they're in the 20's to the 30's (percentage-wise) and acceptable in the 40's and mid-50's. Upper 50's and up, is considered to be a high bounce rate.

There are two important things to note here. First is that these classifications are generalizations across a broad swathe of industries. Websites in some industries have a lower bounce rate since their content is more engaging. Second is that you should only be worried about human visitors to your website when it comes to bounce rate.

In your web analytics software, it's important to filter out bots and crawlers from your data. Moz has a great explanation and guide to filter out bots from Google Analytics

A high bounce rate means that your website is not serving its basic function in some fundamental way. This is a major problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. There are a number of reasons that visitors could be bouncing from your website, but some major ones are:

Slow loading pages

When a visitor arrives on your site, they expect the content to load nearly instantly. High load times (or latency) could be caused by bloated code (an inexperienced developer used way more code to achieve a result that a more experienced developer could have done with less). It could also be due to an inefficient system of fetching and displaying content or it might simply be large images that aren't optimized for the web.

The longer the loading time, the greater the chance that your visitor is going to head back to the search results and try the next option. Since your site likely appeared in their search results because you offer something they were looking for, this means your visitors went to a competitor.

Confusing Titles or Meta Descriptions

The page title (as denoted in your website by the tag) appears in search results. It's read by search engine robots and used to categorize your website in their indexes. Meta descriptions (which appear in tags) are brief summaries of the content of the page (By default, this will be filled with the first few lines of text if you leave it blank). 

While search robots don't pay much attention to meta descriptions, visitors do. They read it and the title tag to decide if the answer to their problems lie on your page. If they arrive on your page and the content doesn't match the title or meta descriptions, they're really likely to head back and try another result.

Technical Errors

For some visitors, they could land on your website and not find the content they're looking for. The URL they clicked on leads to a page that does not exist. There's no reason to stay, so the visitor heads back to the search results. Or they arrive and are redirected to a redirect in a  permanent loop until they give up and try a different result.

Errors like 404 (Page not Found) or 301 (Permanent Redirect) loops are a very poor experience for the visitor and they can contribute to a high bounce rate.

Frustrating Content Administrator Experience

Administrator experience is a term that describes the ease of use of the website for normal operations. Updating copy, adding new articles, adding products to an online store are some everyday tasks for your webmasters and content editors. They need to be straightforward and simple to accomplish. If you need a professional web developer to make content changes or updates, you’re in dire need of a redesign. A good solution might be switching to a content management system like Drupal or WordPress. They excel at making life easier for website administrators who are not developers. This is particularly true if you have multiple people adding content to the website.

One of the simplest ways to improve an administrator experience is to review permissions for each user and limit them based on needs. A content administrator can focus on just the tasks they need to accomplish, making it easier to familiarize themselves with the interface.

Drupal has pretty granular permission systems in place right out of the box, letting you choose what each user can do. WordPress' permissions are role-based, meaning you assign a person to a category (Administrator, Editor, Author, etc) and they inherit all the permissions of that role. WordPress can be extended with plugins to grant more permission setting ability.

Outdated Code

Even the best website will eventually need to be refreshed. Web technology evolves and improves constantly. New versions of programming languages like PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Java (to name a few) are released in updates. Eventually, much older versions of software stop being regularly updated.

This is a problem. The outdated code is a big security weakness, making it one of the first targets for malicious hackers. When support ends for older versions of software, it becomes more difficult and more expensive to maintain that website (since any fixes and updates have to be custom development). This becomes even more of a problem when the outdated software has dependencies or other software that requires it.

A redesign can be a good opportunity to refresh all of the software at once, bringing your site’s code up to the latest versions in one fell swoop.

Is it time to redesign your website?

Trends in web design, user experience, and digital marketing shift relatively rapidly. You can expect to redesign your website every 3-5 years if you want to stay current. For companies, this means that what visitors to your site will both expect and accept also changes. If your site doesn't meet the expectations of your customers, they'll leave. On the Internet, they're not starved for choice.

Send us a message if you'd like to talk about redesigning your website. We'd be happy to do a free site review!

Name Company Email Phone Message Website Want news, tips, and exclusive content?
Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Storing the Data: Drupal as a Central Content Repository

13 September 2018 - 7:22am
Storing the Data: Drupal as a Central Content Repository Akshita Thu, 09/13/2018 - 19:52

The journey from a visitor to the client doesn’t happen overnight nor over a single screen. 

It is unfair on the part of organizations to assume that all readers will be using the same screen to consume their content. 

In case organizations are working towards targeting various visitors it is important to have a durable and centralised content dissemination platform to serve digital content through various screens.

Therefore it is equally important that various mediums ensure a smoother journey and the backend - content repository - provides a seamless translation of information to various touchpoints. 

What is a Content Repository?

“A content repository is a database of (digital) content with an associated set of data management, search and access methods allowing various application-independent access to the content with the ability to store and modify content.” 

The content repository acts as the storage engine for a larger application such as a CMS which adds a user interface on top of each of the repository's application user interface.

The proliferation of content across a variety of sources can create an enormous business challenge. As the unstructured content grows, organizations need to look for a flexible approach that supports interoperability with a wide array of popular systems and products. 

A robust central content management repository should store a variety of content formats, facilitate read/write capabilities, control access. 

Here are some of the features of a content repository:

  • Efficient storage to integrate content
  • Query and Search 
  • Versioning 
  • Import/export the content 
  • Editor accessibility for all the documents and the content. 
  • Records retention management systems
  • Document capture systems and document-imaging (Complementary systems) 

Difference between a Content Repository and CMS
A content management system manages the creation and modification of digital content and typically supports multiple users in a collaborative environment.
While a content repository disseminates the content to be shared between disparate websites, different kinds of devices or channels such as mobile phones, tablets, kiosks, Facebook or syndicated via an API.

How Does a Content Repository Work?

A central content repository allows the content editors to edit content directly from the backend of one site. The content editors simply choose the topics that the content belongs to, and the sites subscribe to those topics and it is then available to all the connected sites automatically. 

A Content Repository Workflow works like this:

Content creation of a topic happens on Site A.

  • The content is shared via a central content repository.
  • Site B is subscribed (sync rules) to receive updates whenever the content for the same topic is created.
  • Site B, C, D receive the notification and pull in the content. 
  • If any user on site C searches for the new content published through site A, she will get it through the content repository.

Drupal 8 is well suited to act as a central content repository, as it has built-in support for REST web services, a serialisation component, and can be configured to work with publishing workflows and notifications.

Search web service such as Apache Solr or ElasticSearch can best provide a lookup service for each site. Rather than subscribing to a particular topic, content editors can simply search for the content they wish to import from.

Application of Drupal as a Central Content Repository
  • Content management
  • Document management
  • Digital asset management
  • Records management
  • Revision control
  • Social collaboration
  • Web content management
Building Consumer Experience with a Central Content Repository

Content is not only the material you use to develop your CXM strategies—it’s also the interactions between customers and prospective customers have with you. Talking about the online customer experience, a CMS is part of the process of designing and supporting CX strategies. 

Simply because it stores all the content you need to manage the experience. However, customer experience management is about more than the online channels. 

In order to successfully manage the customer experience, the CMS needs to be able to quickly access and react to the elements of a customer interaction. Not just this, the elements should be accessible to the editors as well. 

Managing every single version of the web pages is a heck of a job and ensuring that the content looks just the same is another fight. 

Most, if not all, CMSs are designed to store content not just as HTML pages, but as individual components that can be easily reused across different web pages. Across various devices, mobile sites and apps, and social networks.

In this way, the content repositories can be leveraged to provide content as well. 

Content integration is the key to a well-managed content repository. Managing the content by integrating it with all the other systems. 

A central content repository also allows you to develop the support applications that have access to customer information easily, including information from CRM systems, traffic information, and the like.

Having it all accessible in a centralized content repository will help you identify, design, and refine your CX strategies quickly.

Building a Central Content Repository for FarmJournal Media 

For Farm Journal Media, OpenSense Labs have implemented a similar centralised content management system. 

Technologies Used 

  • Express.js 
  • MongoDB 
  • Drupal 8 

How Did It Work?

Express.js- node.js framework provided a library of many pre-built functions which were leveraged for the CCMS. 

It allowed simultaneous access to multiple authors without compromising on speed. This could be done by leveraging its events loop based asynchronous task handling. 

The interface to serve content was developed via MongoDB. The system triggered updates of content from CCMS to MongoDB asynchronously and in real time. This ensured the cron jobs do not overload the sites as the webhook request will be triggered only when required. 

Due to this layered architecture, the overall content journey once the editor hits save, to consumer site was at max 3 seconds.  

An increase in consumer sites, update count and pull requests do not affect the load on CCMS Drupal. 

A special fail handler was built to sanity check between CCMS, Mongo and consumer sites. This ensured there was no duplicity and maintain an error log for missing articles during the journey it takes with an exact failure points reported. 

One of the sites of FarmJournal

How Did the CCMS Worked?

It allowed the team of editors to:

  • Centrally manage the content through one platform
  • Cross-publish articles on full networks of FarmJournal sites
  • Use a simple site vs category mapping for automated syndication of articles. 
  • Have a centralised reporting to boost the editorial teams’ productivity & article publication pace. 
The Scope of Building a Content Repository in Drupal Coupled CMS (with supporting API)

A traditional website on Drupal allows content editors to add or edit content with a preview for the content as well. This is because a traditional CMS is tied (or coupled) to a front end (which is the case with Drupal).

Taking the front end out of the equation can bear its own challenges.  

The front end is what a user sees when viewing an application, which, in Drupal’s primary case, is a website. 

Content editors can view the content before it’s published using a wide array of tools such as inline editing or pre-published previews. 

Available modules in Drupal allow for quick and relatively easy modification to how the data is displayed on the frontend. Developers aren’t always needed to make simple changes, which can be more efficient for both time and cost, possibly a huge benefit to using a coupled CMS.

Drupal 8 has a strong emphasis on providing many API services out of the box, and there is a strong push for the API-first approach.

Headless CMS (the API-only approach)

With API-first Initiative at the forefront, Drupal 8.0 was shipped with a built-in REST API which spelt the beginning of Drupal’s transformation as an API-first platform.

A headless CMS often confused with a decoupled CMS is considered an API-only approach. 

It provides a hub for the content sans any frontend. 

The backend allows content editors to publish content distributing it automatically to any integrated application. Since there is no coupled frontend interface to immediately view the data applications such as Digital signage need be developed and integrated in order to access this content. 

In such a scenario trialing and proofing content before publishing can be difficult. Another challenge is the layout which can be a limitation to the marketing teams. 

The Drupal community has already taken steps towards making sure Drupal continues to be a relevant contender as either a coupled OR headless CMS.

Drupal distribution Open Y can be used to build such applications for a Digital Signage.

Drupal Distribution Contenta can be used as an API to connect the backend of Drupal with any application. 

Conclusion

Previously unstructured and inaccessible content comes alive in digital business applications that engage customers, automate business processes, enhance collaboration and govern and protect content throughout its lifecycle. 

Content management services and solutions from OpenSense Labs support your digital transformation and help you build a cognitive business that is confident, efficient and competitive. Drop a mail at hello@opensenselabs.com.  

blog banner blog image Content Repository Content Management System Drupal Drupal 8 Consumer Experience Digital Signage Contenta CMS Database Coupled CMS API-first Drupal Decoupled CMS Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On
Categories: Drupal

Drupal blog: Extended security coverage for Drupal 8 minor releases

13 September 2018 - 6:49am

This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from Dries Buytaert's blog. Please leave your comments on the original post.

Since the launch of Drupal 8.0, we have successfully launched a new minor release on schedule every six months. I'm very proud of the community for this achievement. Prior to Drupal 8, most significant new features were only added in major releases like Drupal 6 or Drupal 7. Thanks to our new release cadence we now consistently and predictably ship great new features twice a year in minor releases (e.g. Drupal 8.6 comes with many new features).

However, only the most recent minor release has been actively supported for both bug fixes and security coverage. With the release of each new minor version, we gave a one-month window to upgrade to the new minor. In order to give site owners time to upgrade, we would not disclose security issues with the previous minor release during that one-month window.

Illustration of the security policy since the launch of Drupal 8.0 for minor releases, demonstrating that previous minor releases receive one month of security coverage. Source: Drupal.org issue #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal and Drupal Europe DriesNote.

Over the past three years, we have learned that users find it challenging to update to the latest minor in one month. Drupal's minor updates can include dependency updates, internal API changes, or features being transitioned from contributed modules to core. It takes time for site owners to prepare and test these types of changes, and a window of one month to upgrade isn't always enough.

At DrupalCon Nashville we declared that we wanted to extend security coverage for minor releases. Throughout 2018, Drupal 8 release managers quietly conducted a trial. You may have noticed that we had several security releases against previous minor releases this year. This trial helped us understand the impact to the release process and learn what additional work remained ahead. You can read about the results of the trial at #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal.

I'm pleased to share that the trial was a success! As a result, we have extended the security coverage of minor releases to six months. Instead of one month, site owners now have six months to upgrade between minor releases. It gives teams time to plan, prepare and test updates. Releases will have six months of normal bug fix support followed by six months of security coverage, for a total lifetime of one year. This is a huge win for Drupal site owners.

Illustration of the new security policy for minor releases, demonstrating that the security coverage for minor releases is extended to six months. Source: Drupal.org issue #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal and the Drupal Europe DriesNote.

It's important to note that this new policy only applies to Drupal 8 core starting with Drupal 8.5, and only applies to security issues. Non-security bug fixes will still only be committed to the actively supported release.

While the new policy will provide extended security coverage for Drupal 8.5.x, site owners will need to update to an upcoming release of Drupal 8.5 to be correctly notified about their security coverage.

Next steps

We still have some user experience issues we'd like to address around how site owners are alerted of a security update. We have not yet handled all of the potential edge cases, and we want to be very clear about the potential actions to take when updating.

We also know module developers may need to declare that a release of their project only works against specific versions of Drupal core. Resolving outstanding issues around semantic versioning support for contrib and module version dependency definitions will help developers of contributed projects better support this policy. If you'd like to get involved in the remaining work, the policy and roadmap issue on Drupal.org is a great place to find related issues and see what work is remaining.

Special thanks to Jess and Jeff Beeman for co-authoring this post.

Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Why Choose Drupal For Your Next Web Development Project

13 September 2018 - 5:54am
Why Choose Drupal For Your Next Web Development Project Shankar Thu, 09/13/2018 - 18:24

A sportsperson is rewarded for his anticipatory calls which he does to judge the next move of his opponent. When done right, it can make a world of difference in deciding the fate between a marvellous triumph and a drudging defeat. A business enterprise is not much different which has to rely on its decision-making whenever it has to choose between technologies for their projects. Choosing Drupal for your next web development project can be the most significant decision for your organisation.


No matter where you are today, your next step is crucial to take you to the leader’s position of the table or even slide down the bottom of the bottle. And when it comes to projects involving web development, selecting the right CMS in the incipient stage becomes really important. So, how can you transform the whole digital experience of your next project by choosing Drupal as the content store?

Why opt for Drupal?

As a technology professional, you seek for a reliable, safe and flexible web content management for creating the features that you want for your project and leave out weighty features. Drupal as an out-of-the-box web content management tool and a customisable platform allows business and technology leaders to power digital innovation.

Every time you come up with a significant business goal of achieving preeminence and ponder over Drupal’s ability in building what you want, the answer is nearly always ‘“yes”. With Drupal’s horizonless potential accompanied by native functionalities and module extensions, there is no limit to imagining what you can do with disrupting technologies without deranging your business.

Security

With a proven record of being the most secure CMS and application framework, Drupal beats the big players in the CMS market by standing resilient to critical internet vulnerabilities. Thanks to the Drupal Security Team for actively validating and responding to security issues.

Source: Sucuri

You can enable a secure access to your Drupal site as it has the in-built support for salting and repeatedly hashing account passwords when they are stored in the database.

It also supports the enforcement of strong password policies, industry-standard authentication practices, session limits, single sign-on systems.

Drupal offers granular user access control to give administrators full control over who gets to see and who gets to modify different parts of a site.

It is possible to configure Drupal for firm database encryption in the top-of-the-line security applications.

Drupal’s Form API ensures data validation thereby preventing XSS, CSRF, and other malicious data entry.

Drupal limits the number of times login attempts are made from a single IP address over a predefined time period. This helps in preventing brute-force password attacks.

Drupal’s multi-layered cache architecture helps in mitigating Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and makes it the best CMS for some of the world’s highest traffic websites.

Notably, the functionalities that Drupal has to offer addresses all of the top 10 security risks of Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).

No wonder, a report from Sucuri shows that Drupal is the best-security focussed CMS when compared to the likes of Wordpress and Joomla. If internet security is one of your top priorities, Drupal is your best bet.

Scalability

If you aspire your site to be amongst the busiest or if you already are so popular and are trying to cope with a colossal amount of traffic to your site content, Drupal can scale with your needs.

NASA, powered by Drupal, manages peak loads efficiently including 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Coverage
Source: Mobomo

The scalability that Drupal provides supports the most content-rich sites and experiences. No matter if you have one or over a thousand content contributors, Drupal can manage a voluminous amount of visitors, content, and Drupal users.

Content Workflow

Drupal’s magnificent tools make it easy for the content authors to create and publish content on the site. Authentication and permissions bring in efficacy in the editorial workflow and previews show how exactly your content will look on different devices.

Your content team can assess, edit and approve content from mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

Drupal also allows the creation of content with a WYSIWYG editor. You can even perform in-place authoring where you just have to browse the page, click on the content and edit right there. All the alterations and revisions are trackable.

You can see what stage your content is in - from creation to review to publication - and it helps in handling user roles and actions automatically.


Content tagging and taxonomy is a great feature of Drupal where it helps in defining content elements, tag content on the basis of attributes, create a relevant taxonomy for content to make it searchable.

To make content authoring as easy as it can be, Drupal can be a lovely choice for your next project.

Multilingual

Out-of-the-box support for language handling helps you to deliver localised digital experiences thereby saving time and money. Drupal 8 core comes with 4 core modules for enabling translation of every content on the site.

Al Jazeera Media Network, built on Drupal 8, produces news content seamlessly in English and Arabic languages.

Not only does Drupal give configuration and content translation workflows, it also gives an interface language of administrators and content producers. Thus, it enables the business organisations to speak in the language of their customers, 

Without the need for any additional components, Drupal 8 can be installed in over 90+ languages.

Once you install Drupal, languages packages can be safely and automatically downloaded and implemented without hampering your customised translations.

So, if you are in the need of quickly building customised sites in any language of your choice or an intricate multilingual web application with dynamic, language-based displays, Drupal is a praiseworthy option.

Content-as-a-service

If you want to allow your front-end developers to create engaging customer experiences, Drupal’s content-as-a-service approach lets you think outside the page-based mentality.


Drupal’s CaaS solution helps in delivering infinitely reusable, future-proof content by decoupling the back and front ends where-ever useful. Separating the backend from the frontend also helps the frontend developers change the look and experience of the sites in a snap.

Moreover, front developers can build better experiences with Drupal’s presentation-neutral content and RESTful API and leverage tools like Angular, Ember, Backbone and more.

Ingestion of content from third-party content, for instance, from aggregators and syndicators, to bring content into your Drupal environment is possible which can be pushed to any channel.

With Drupa’s CaaS capability, content is easily consumed by other websites and application that you choose.

Web content is no longer pushed to a web page to viewed through a desktop browser. Go for Drupal’s content-as-a-service approach if you want content flexibility in your pursuit of delivering an ultimate digital experience.

Mobile-responsive

In this day and age, almost everything is happening on-the-go. Website development is not far behind.

Source: ArachnidWorks

Drupal enables the development of responsive sites and web applications to deliver optimal visitor experiences to the online visitors.

By supporting the best practices of responsive web design approach, Drupal helps in ensuring an impeccable content experience to the users every time and on every mobile device.

Pick Drupal for mobile-friendly and fully responsive sites and web apps.

Speed

Business projects do not end in perfection through dilatory strategies. If you are a digital marketer or anyone looking to incorporate celerity in business workflow, you know how the word ‘speed’ matters.

Drupal’s pliable platform allows digital marketers and developers to surmount the logjam and delay thereby running a steadfast and agile team.

For ensuring a continuous delivery of web development projects, Drupal can be a wonderful option.

Third-party integration

Outside of Drupal, there are plenty of great technologies that can be an astounding asset to your website.

Drupal integrates seamlessly with a variety of marketing technologies and business applications. This allows you to leverage the merits of the best set of tools out there outside of Drupal.

Drupal’s API-first approach helps in connecting content to other sites and applications thereby making content more vibrant and powerful.

If you are someone who wants to flex with the awesome third-party tools, Drupal gives you the liberty to do that flexibly.

Content architecture

The flexibility that Drupal has to offer for creating the right content architecture is immense and that shows in its ability to enable that using the Admin Interface or even do it programmatically.

You can exhibit apt content for each context with the help of stupendous display mode tools and Views. It constitutes a wide array of media types.

It provides a reposeful user experience by offering customisable menus and creating paths to content across several devices.

Drupal is the answer for the flexibility in the content architecture.

Multisite

When you have a plethora of business, ventures, it calls for multiple websites for different segments of your digital firm.

Drupal allows you to administer multisite setup across your enterprise, brands, geographies and promotional campaigns on a centralised platform. This helps in providing a faster and simple way of creating and deploying multisite ecosystem.

Business-driven

Nobody likes to be dictated how to do things in a business. And Drupal understands that. It does things as the business demands.

It helps in creating a solution that supports your business requirements. Thus, it paves the foundation for boundless solutions.

Drupal is your sure-shot choice to sway things your way as your digital business demands.

Perfect tech stack

Drupal comes with a modern LAMP technology stack including Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP to meet the requirements of fast-paced, agile and flexible organisations who are committed to building a next-generation digital platform.

Drupal is your perfect CMS with a strong stack foundation.

Robust community presence

Thousands of organisations build solutions with Drupal and in the process build Drupal itself. That’s the beauty of being an open source software.

From design to system architecture, Drupal experts make their valuable contributions back to the community. The Drupal community across the globe shares its knowledge on the right ways of doing things.

If you have a question, just drop in your queries and the active community will always have someone waiting with an answer.

Lead by modern web standards, you can create innovation for clients, the community and the world.

Big players

Business leaders like Tesla Motors, Pfizer, the Government of Australia, Grammy, Rainforest Alliance, The Economist, Oxford University and many more across the planet are powered by Drupal.

So, when it comes to the question of who is using Drupal, there is no dearth of big names in the tech industry. Join the league!

What value does it bring to your business?

The Drupal Values and Principles emphasise the culture and behaviour that each member of the community has to adhere to. These principles guide both the technical and non-technical decision-makings and show how contributors and thought leaders can support the Drupal community and the project.

The illustration below shows the values and the principles that Drupal has been offering over the years to the business enterprises around the world.

Source: Dries Buytaert’s blogCreating impact

Drupal values have been instrumental in creating the sort of impact to the business enterprises that serve a great purpose in their growth. It has been a force to reckon with when it comes to developing software that is easy, accessible and secure to be leveraged by everyone. Choose Drupal for the impact performance!

Fostering togetherness

Drupal has been committed to building a learning environment thereby fostering togetherness. It does so by putting everyone in the community on the pedestal through collaborative decision-making, provision of encouragement to others to get them involved. In this pursuit, it lets everyone to take leadership challenge in order to take the community forward. Drupal is your go-to option for a collaborative business workflow.

Targeting excellency

In order to attain excellence in a web development project, Drupal allows you to perpetually reassess and embrace the changes as it comes making your project as great as it can be. Go for Drupal if excelling in your project endeavours is your agenda.

Better treatment

Drupal community strives to negate any sort of intolerance towards others. It is committed to understand each other well and give constructive animadversion thereby staying optimistic. It is a wise decision to opt for a CMS that professes to treat others with dignity and respect.

Relishing what you do

Who does not want to have fun while working on a project? Drupal firmly stands by its perspective to let its community enjoy while tinkering and innovating something unique with Drupal. Want the amalgam of innovation and fun to be incorporated into your project? Drupal is the answer.

What’s new about Drupal?

September 5, 2018 marked the commencement of a new era in this digital age. Being a pioneering content store, Drupal community, in its efforts towards making Drupal more and more wonderful, unveiled a major upgrade to Drupal 8.

Drupal 8.6, the new upgrade, comes with an improved user experience for the digital marketing and the content editing teams in addition to simpler installation and more stable upgrades for technical teams.

Considering Drupal can lend your content authors a whole new experience. This new upgrade has added support for remote media types that streamlines the embedding of Youtube or Vimeo content in your videos.

Moreover, it has made rapid strides with the quotient of ease of use. For instance, Workspaces, experimental Drupal module, offers sophisticated content staging capabilities.

The Layout Builder, another experimental Drupal module, is proving to be the saviour for site builders by allowing the creation of layouts with dynamic sections, thus, creating more opportunities for custom layouts.

Before the release of Drupal 8.6, downloading and installing it was an intricate and time-intensive process. But now, you can have an out-of-the-box experience by installing Drupal in minutes using the new Umami demo profile. This is especially great for showing enormous capabilities of Drupal right out of the box to the prospective clients.


These are some of the highlights that act as the stepping stone for a whole lot of exciting stuff that is about to transpire in the Drupal platform. Drupal 8.6 is stupendous and the road ahead looks sparklingly bright.

The Bottom Line

While choosing the best platform for the governing the cornucopia of content that your site possesses may seem like an arduous task and why not? After all, it is your public-facing website that needs to be built with the utmost care.

Amidst the growing demands of businesses to improve their workflow with the incorporation of emerging technologies, Drupal has been able to stay relevant and useful and is still growing to be even better.

Selecting Drupal as the CMS of choice can act as the harbinger of success for your future endeavours. Opensense Labs has been cultivating a robust culture with its partners and is always ready to assist you to build a great digital experience with Drupal development.

Contact us at hello@opensenselabs.com for enabling a digital transformation of your business using Drupal.

blog banner blog image Drupal 8 Drupal Drupal CMS Drupal development Drupal web development Drupal websites Drupal web application Drupal web application development web development web development project website development website development project Drupal values and principles Drupal module drupal security Drupal scalability content workflow Drupal multilingual site Content-as-a-service CaaS Responsive web design Mobile Responsive Multisite Drupal community Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On
Categories: Drupal

Amazee Labs: Drupal Europe: Day Three Highlights

13 September 2018 - 4:22am
Drupal Europe: Day Three Highlights

Mustapha tells us about the third day's highlights in Darmstadt, Germany, and some exciting announcements!

Mustapha Ben Ellafi Thu, 09/13/2018 - 13:22

Drupal Europe 2018 - Wednesday 

The third day of Drupal Europe was a big day, we had the prenote and the Driesnote with some exciting announcements, the group photo, and a lot of interesting sessions.

The Prenote:

Our big day started at 8:15 with the prenote, which is very important because it shows you how awesome this community is. We were singing together and laughing very loudly about some "geek" jokes which would seem strange to others but not to us because we are living those jokes each day. The prenote is important because it makes you feel that you're not lonely, but you have all this family from around the world.

Driesnote:

At every Drupal conference, Dries Buytaert, the leader of the Drupal project, shares updates on the current state of Drupal and makes some announcements on the way forward.

He firstly spoke about the Drupal 8.6 release which has some great content management improvements, which can be discovered here. Then the announcement party started and here are some of the highlights: 

- The adoption of React and JSON API to build a new decoupled administration UI.

- Drupal 9 will be released in 2020.

- Drupal 7 will have an end of life by 2021.

- Drupal 8 will too have an end of life by 2021, but it will be an easy upgrade to Drupal 9.

- Drupal.org <3 Gitlab: drupal.org code will be moved to Gitlab.

- There will be a Drupalcon next year organized by the Drupal Association and it will be held in Amsterdam.

After those exciting announcements, everybody went outside the Darmstadtium for the Group Photo which was taken by our own, Josef Dabernig.

Talking about Josef, he had a great a session entitled "Upgrading vs. Upcycling - How to stay ahead of the curve". It covered the life cycle of a Drupal project, how to audit your Drupal website, and which improvements you can propose to clients.

Last but not least, after such an exciting day, we went to do our Amazeeng "Team Dinner" and finished off our big day with lots of fun.

Thursday's Program: 

Thursday's speakers:

Categories: Drupal

Finalist Drupal Blog: Launching a succesful educational Portal

13 September 2018 - 2:24am
Introduction

Today, we will take you on a journey through some important insights we achieved as builders of educational portals.

Portals in which Drupal plays a part and how we managed to create added value to educational portals we built over the years.

Of course we like to give some examples in how we succeeded, but it is just as interesting to look at some flaws that actually helped us to do it better the next time.

Educational portal?

But first, just what is an educational portal?

With the word educational we actually say two things:

Educational in a sense that it involves around education.

Educational in a sense that the portal brings more knowledge or insight to the user.

Another word for a portal might be entrance. That said, an educational portal has a broad understanding. In this talk, we would like to focus at applications that have a clear internal focus for our university as a whole, our students, our teachers and staff. You can think of electronic learning platforms, digital learning (and working) environments and intranet systems for universities.

Recent years: digital workspace

As part of the digital transformation every university is going through, the term “digital workspace” is floating around in this context. A digital workspace brings together all the aforementioned subsystems into one intuitive, platform.

We’ll touch on that subject later on.

Role of Drupal

Secondly, how do educational portals / digital workspaces relate to Drupal?

Universities around the world have been using Drupal for some years now, even going back to version 4.x. Drupal is particularly popular because of:

  • High modularity

  • Flexible API for integrations

  • Identity and access management

  • Authentication with external providers, OAuth, SSO in place via contribs

  • Open source nature / General Public License

  • Very flexible but yet fine-grained management of roles & permissions

And that is exactly where we would like to start today.

Target Audiences

We could say that the typical challenge of education is the broad collection of target audiences.

When developing an educational portal it’s important to know your target audience, not only are you gonna deal with Teachers and Students and cater to their needs, but you’d also have to keep in mind that Parents may be visiting the site, as are Alumni, Heads of Faculties, potential sponsors, researchers, general staf, journalists and the general public.

And we are probably still not complete in our list.

One way to tackle this is making use of Persona’s, a method of visualising your potential users.

With this method you create fictional characters that represent one of the user roles. (Afbeelding user roles)

With the persona’s defined you can make an educated guess of the type of user journey the users of the portal are gonna follow.

The next step is wire framing. An efficient way to achieve a shared view on “what we need” is to invite the target audiences to literally DRAW what they have in mind and bring all these views together in user experience sessions.

After this, we can use these views in wire frames. This is quite essential in managing expectations. And there is a hidden advantage in this way of working: it can be a superb way of bringing together groups that are not necessarily ‘best friends’ or at least have opposite goals.

Prototyping the application and perform usertests with a select group of users which represent the roles defined earlier.

[dit nog aanvullen en bruggetje naar technische tip hieronder]

From a Drupal perspective we would like to share another important insight we achieved during development of portals. As we concluded that Drupal has a flexible basis for role and access management, we need to make sure it is still manageable. The actual handing out of permissions can of course be carried out in Drupal itself, but large organisations should prevent this multilayered approach. In easier words: we want to make sure all permissions are stored in one central location, like for instance Active Directory. In the end this will prevent flaws like abusing the system while no one notices it.

Politics in Education

Working with large educational institutes brings some special challenges in the form of different fractions in the organisation. There are not only the IT and business side of the organisation, but also lots of different faculties who all think they are the most important faculty of the university.

Getting all these different teams on the same page can be a daunting task and sometimes lead to extensive rework on your project.

Essential in preventing these issues is understanding what the goal of the various stakeholders is and realising that, sometimes, it just isn’t possible to please everybody and still have a great product, so you have to make compromises now and then.

There are however some factors which can either make your life a little better, the most important being a good product owner and a competent analyst to really get a feel of what is essential in your project.

Another crucial part of the process is to make proper wireframes, mockups and have a clear content strategy so all parties involved can get a good feel of the expected functionalities. Make sure everybody is on the same page as early in the process as possible!

Also having proper Persona’s and have people involved take a good survey can be a great help in preventing bickering and arguing.

Integrations

Organisations in Higher Education probably already have a multitude of systems and programs that need to be incorporated in some way in the portal. Examples of types of application you’d have to interface with are: HR applications, Scheduling programs, Learning Management systems, Publications repositories, mailing lists, external websites, Document Repositories, Course management software, and so on, the list seems endless.

Of course you could write an importer for the xml which comes from the HR application, a feed processor for the external websites’ RSS feed and a file fetcher and processor for the archaïc publication repository.

The universities we saw do not have 3 systems.

Abetter way to handle all these streams of data would be to create a standalone piece of software to act as a middleman, a so called Enterprise Service Bus or ESB.

Garbage in, Garbage out!

The ESB is built to adapt multiple intgrations and normalize the data, which is distributed in a uniform way to our portal and any other clients. With an enterprise service bus Drupal only has to take care of a standardized and centralized integration. This heavily reduces complexity in our portal.

Some of the advantages of using an ESB are:

  • decoupling the requesting party and the distributing party

  • Simplifying and standardising the interfaces between the two parties

  • Stimulating the re-use of data (as they are centrally available it promotes the re-use)

  • Centralised location of monitoring of services

  • Reducing time-to-market

  • Sanetising and validating

While the ideal of an ESB is great, reality is unfortunately different and in some cases you will have to manage external connections to the portal within Drupal.

This simply means that there will probably exist some point-to-point integrations in your portal.

To handle this not so ideal situation, we should implement some control management inside Drupal.

To be more specific: standardize this within your Drupal application.

We need a referee

A Gatekeeper, or, as you wish, some kind of referee

This will require two essential things for each integration:

Some sort of gatekeeper functionality which will prevent to import garbage.
Proper logging system which will help keeping track of unwanted side effects of integrations with third party software.

Testing

Yes, it is a clock and it is a quarter to nine. True.

It actually represents the starting time of the students who were going to use the new portal first day at school after holiday break. We proudly launched the portal the week before. As teachers were already using it, we had a positive shared view on the use and especially the performance of the system. But, as the students day schedule now was part of the portal, and somehow we could have foreseen that, well, EVERYONE would check their day schedule at the latest moment possible, we ran into some big time performance problems.

This is a typical example of peak traffic. We hadn’t taken peak times into account.

As a development team we found out that we failed to address the cost of quality on this matter. It would have been better to have some proper stress testing in place.

So, we quickly fixed it by shoveling some extra power to our servers and immediately sitting down with IT people of our client.

Although it is quite tempting. Running away will eventually bring more problems. We sat down with IT people and created the solution we wanted.

Different types of tests
  • Unit / Kernel / Browser & Javascript tests
    Tests which check if your code is working as supposed

  • Behavior tests (e.g. Behat)
    With behavioral test you run scenario’s / user stories

  • Visual Regression tests (e.g. BackstopJS)
    Visual regression tests check visually if anything changed on the page

  • Performance tests (e.g. JMeter)
    Test the performance of the application

Performance testing = Being prepared

Steps

Some general steps to running tests on your application.

  • Analyse existing data

    • Google Analytics / Logs

    • What are the top pages

    • What pages give errors

  • Prepare testscenario

    • Use the results of the analysis
  • Configure tooling

    • Pick your tool (Jmeter?)
  • Run the test

  • Analyse results

    • Profiling & monitoring
APDEX

APDEX is a standard for measuring user satisfaction based on pageload time.

Basically it works like this, you set a baseline that’s acceptable and one that’s frustrating for your application (which for an LMS might be a different baseline then for a webshop). Then when you run your test, firing of a gazzilion requests to your application, you get a set of results mapped to your baselines following a pretty simple formula:

APDEX = (Satisfied + Tolerated / 2) / Total samples = 0,xx Unfortunately…

APDEX is not the holy grail

Nowadays there are a lot of onepage / javascript apps, you have bigpipe which skews results. Also the resulting APDEX score is an average, so shifting the numbers might give you the same score, while the frustrated results can be higher.

So you should always use monitoring, alerts and, if available analytics to be sure that during expected peak times the system is working as expected.

A nice thing to mention here is the current trend of containerisation of environments, making use of systems like Docker, Kubernetes and OpenShift. A hugely effective feature is autoscaling of the environment without facing downtime. For the first day, when facing problems of performance nature, it can take away the harshness of coping with organisational agitation and disgrace. Moreover, it gives you time to fix things the right way.

Technical Choices / architecture

So we were talking about the ESB. What would happen if we considered Drupal as actually being one of the distributing systems, a client to the ESB? We would simply consider Drupal as a content management system, out there to serve content to whatever external system we want.

This is typically the case when operating in an omnichannel communication strategy.

A user experience is partly determined by the online ‘obstacles’ that a user encounters. Removing frictions within the customer journeys of users makes the experience positive. We also believe that omnichannel communication is becoming increasingly important in the online world. In concrete terms, this means that the publication and distribution of content and information via a website is no longer sufficient. Channels such as (native and mobile) apps and other websites are becoming more and more part of the communication strategy. It is crucial that a CMS has the right interfaces and tools to make this possible. The CMS as a publishing machine, which provides direct communication to all channels and chain partners in combination with a front-end interface for the distribution of function, form and content, will form the basis.

The news here is: Drupal is not necessarily the portal itself.

In fact, we are aiming to serve a unified experience for our users across all channels.

A definition:

“The digital workspace is a new concept that enables tech-savvy employees to access the systems and tools they need from any device—smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop—regardless of location. ”

Forbes

And that, in our opinion, is a very unpretentious definition. One could image that, for instance, when you work together in a group for a school project, that all these subsystems “know” you and also “know” you are part of that group. When asking questions to tutors that apply to the group, you would expect the whole group.

Categories: Drupal

Digital Echidna: Thoughts on all things digital: Expressing Our Gratitude for All Who Have Helped Us Grow

13 September 2018 - 2:09am
We’re number (two-hundred-and-forty) one!  Earlier today, Canadian Business and Maclean’s released its 30th annual Growth 500 list, and we’re proud to announce that we’ve made the list for the second, consecutive year. Digital Echidna ranks as no.…
Categories: Drupal

Dries Buytaert: Extended security coverage for Drupal 8 minor releases

12 September 2018 - 11:50pm

Since the launch of Drupal 8.0, we have successfully launched a new minor release on schedule every six months. I'm very proud of the community for this achievement. Prior to Drupal 8, most significant new features were only added in major releases like Drupal 6 or Drupal 7. Thanks to our new release cadence we now consistently and predictably ship great new features twice a year in minor releases (e.g. Drupal 8.6 comes with many new features).

However, only the most recent minor release has been actively supported for both bug fixes and security coverage. With the release of each new minor version, we gave a one-month window to upgrade to the new minor. In order to give site owners time to upgrade, we would not disclose security issues with the previous minor release during that one-month window.

Illustration of the security policy since the launch of Drupal 8.0 for minor releases, demonstrating that previous minor releases receive one month of security coverage. Source: Drupal.org issue #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal and Drupal Europe DriesNote.

Over the past three years, we have learned that users find it challenging to update to the latest minor in one month. Drupal's minor updates can include dependency updates, internal API changes, or features being transitioned from contributed modules to core. It takes time for site owners to prepare and test these types of changes, and a window of one month to upgrade isn't always enough.

At DrupalCon Nashville we declared that we wanted to extend security coverage for minor releases. Throughout 2018, Drupal 8 release managers quietly conducted a trial. You may have noticed that we had several security releases against previous minor releases this year. This trial helped us understand the impact to the release process and learn what additional work remained ahead. You can readabout the results of the trial at #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal.

I'm pleased to share that the trial was a success! As a result, we have extended the security coverage of minor releases to six months. This means that instead of one month, site owners now have six months to upgrade between minor releases. It gives teams time to plan, prepare and test updates. Releases will have six months of normal bug fix support followed by six months of security coverage, for a total lifetime of one year. This is a huge win for Drupal site owners.

Illustration of the new security policy for minor releases, demonstrating that the security coverage for minor releases is extended to six months. Source: Drupal.org issue #2909665: Extend security support to cover the previous minor version of Drupal and the Drupal Europe DriesNote.

It's important to note that this new policy only applies to Drupal 8 core starting with Drupal 8.5, and only applies to security issues. Non-security bug fixes will still only be committed to the actively supported release.

While the new policy will provide extended security coverage for Drupal 8.5.x, site owners will need to update to an upcoming release of Drupal 8.5 to be correctly notified about their security coverage.

Next steps

We still have some user experience issues we'd like to address around how site owners are alerted of a security update. We have not yet handled all of the potential edge cases, and we want to be very clear about the potential actions to take when updating.

We also know module developers may need to declare that a release of their project only works against specific versions of Drupal core. Resolving outstanding issues around semantic versioning support for contrib and module version dependency definitions will help developers of contributed projects better support this policy. If you'd like to get involved in the remaining work, the policy and roadmap issue on Drupal.org is a great place to find related issues and see what work is remaining.

Special thanks to Jess and Jeff Beeman for co-authoring this post.

Categories: Drupal

Drupal Association blog: DrupalCon Seattle: Four Conferences in One

12 September 2018 - 4:30pm

For past attendees of DrupalCon North America, the 2019 event is already looking slightly different due to content for new audiences, program add-ons, and new classification of the previously used terms “tracks” and “tags.” We are working to make these changes clear on the website, but in the meantime I’d like to help clarify what’s new, what your ticket gets you, and what’s the same ol’ DrupalCon.

Tracks

A track now refers to the audience in one of the four areas of focus we’re offering, much like four mini-conferences under one big DrupalCon umbrella. The new areas of content are for non-builders—primarily end-users—who are emerging audiences but important members of our community.

We’ve divided audience registration into tracks that reflect this change. If you’ve always come to DrupalCon, you probably belong in the Builder Track, which is specific to your ticket. Those registering for Content & Digital Marketing are marketing teams who will explore things like customer journeys and how Drupal fits in to that; those selecting Agency Leadership will look at the business of Drupal as used by agencies for their business growth. The Executive Summit is tailored for C-level executives who are evaluating or embracing Drupal.

Tags

Within each track, there are sessions—those sessions are categorized by “tags”—similar to what we used to call tracks, except tags are much more flexible.

2018

2019

What it is

Track

Tag

Builder sessions used to be segmented out by "track" and there were a lot of them. But it was very isolating for content. What if a session was both "UX" and "design" —both "performance" and "big ideas"? It was limiting to have to choose just one.

Now we have tags, and each session can have up to 3; attendees can see how how content cross-references between topics.

Now, you can choose from more content options than ever before at a DrupalCon; this is where tags come in, and you can choose sessions with content topics ranging from UX to design to content strategy to business; 37 tags in all.

With more than 125 sessions in the Builder track you’re likely to find compelling content relevant to your Drupal experience—without being pigeonholed.  Whether that means exploring javascript, processes, or decoupled Drupal (or all three in one session) we are confident that there will be many tag combinations that will speak to you.

This is a generalization of having four tracks in one DrupalCon looks like in practice:


To view larger, scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the png file.

Who goes where?

The largest program in terms of sheer size of the event space, attendees, and offerings is the Builder track, which will be full of attendees who have likely been to a DrupalCon before. You’re also given the option of many summits and tailored trainings on Monday and Tuesday of the conference, for additional fees. Wednesday and Thursday of DrupalCon will be full of sessions, BoFs, and keynotes, lasting until early evening.  Instead of closing early on Thursday as in the past, we will be extending both session and exhibit hours so that your days will be chock-full of content options in order for you to experience the different topics of your choosing.

Recap

In short, the track you’re in means “conference within a conference” co-located as DrupalCon, with opportunities to interact with those in other tracks.

DrupalCon continues to serve as the venue where cross-track interactions, networking, and relationship-building can happen, particularly at co-mingled events. All attendees’ tickets include: keynote speakers, the opening reception, social events, exhibit hall access, complimentary coffee all day (in fact, all day long is a new bonus!), lunches, and DrupalCon swag.  

Join us

We’d love to have you at DrupalCon, and right now, there are a few ways to make that happen:

  • If there’s a particular topic you’d like to present, our Call for Papers is open.  We are accepting sessions for all 3 of the tracks and suggest submitting early.
  • We’re also accepting applications for our grants and scholarships program. For this DrupalCon, we’ll be allocating more funds than ever before and encourage you to apply.
  • Early bird registration continues through October 31 for DrupalCon Seattle, so get your ticket now, at the lowest price.
File attachments:  DrupalCon Track Tickets (1).png DrupalCon FloorPlanFinal.png Included in Tracks Table.png
Categories: Drupal

Mediacurrent: Drupal vs WordPress - A Lego Analogy

12 September 2018 - 9:59am

Choosing a platform on which to build your website can be a daunting task. There is an ever-growing list of content management systems (CMS) from advanced platforms like Drupal and WordPress to all-inclusive DIY website builders like Wix and Squarespace. The right choice depends on factors such as desired functionality, flexibility, available budget, and your ability to manage the site after launch.

Where you fall on the spectrum between mom-and-pop shops and enterprise businesses will also heavily influence your decision.

  Mom-and-Pop <—————————> Enterprise

Questions to consider before choosing your CMS
  • How often do you want to post or update content?
  • How many content editors will be adding to the site?  
  • Do your editors need varying degrees of access and permissions?
  • Will your site have a heavy reliance on search, interactivity, or 3rd-party integrations?
  • Do you have specific design needs that require multiple custom layouts?
  • Will you be able to support the site without developer support?
  • What is your project budget?  
  • What is your post-launch support budget?
Scalability vs Simplicity 

WordPress and Drupal have many things in common. Both are open source and freely available, are supported by their developer communities who contribute code to the projects including regular security updates, and offer extensive add-on functionality to the CMS core through plugins and modules.

Site builders or content managers who have used both systems often have a bias for WordPress over Drupal, considering WordPress the more user-friendly of the two. Before one can accurately make such an assessment, I believe the comparison must be apples to apples between comparably sized sites with similar functionality or complexity. If one compares how user-friendly WordPress is for creating and managing a personal blog or small business website that requires no customizations and has static content versus the complexities of using Drupal to build a site for the enterprise with dynamic relationships between various data points, that is not a reasonable comparison.  It is true that Drupal has a higher learning curve than WordPress largely due to the amount of available customization that is built into its core. WordPress is simple to use, especially for blogs or small sites, but not necessarily scalable or suited for larger more complex sites. If pushed to the enterprise end of the spectrum above, would WordPress still maintain its user-friendliness and be able to scale? Conversely, Drupal is best suited for enterprise level sites with custom requirements and would add unnecessary development overhead if chosen for a small site or blog.

If WordPress and Drupal were Lego types...

I’ve often thought of Wordpress and Drupal in terms of Lego whereas:

Source: Lego.com

WordPress is like Lego Duplo where you can build things easily with preformed shapes as long as those preformed shapes match your specific needs. These preformed shapes equate to plugins to add functionality and pre-designed theme templates that determine the styles and layout of your site. Duplo blocks are appropriate for ages 1-5 or, in other words, personal projects or small to medium businesses with simpler requirements. 

 

Source: Lego.com

Drupal is like Lego Technic where you can build whatever you can imagine with little to nothing preformed. Like Technic pieces, Drupal has highly configurable plugins that provide granular control over the functionality of your site and do not impose pre-selected designs to your theme. They are appropriate for ages 7-16 or, in other words, medium to large businesses or organizations with complex requirements. 

With that analogy in mind, let's explore some of the advantages of each platform.

Advantages of WordPress

Confession: I love WordPress. It’s true! As a non-developer with several personal projects outside of work, whether it was for my consultant friend who needed a five-page site with a contact form, a guitarist wanting to promote his music, or managing several blogs, WordPress meets those needs perfectly. Below are the features that stand out in my experience from which people draw the conclusion that WordPress is so user-friendly. 

Dashboard

Upon logging into WordPress you are presented a user-friendly and intuitive admin interface from which you can figure out almost instinctively how to manage your website. You can quickly navigate to various types of content or site functionality from the left rail admin toolbar. The admin toolbar has appropriately named menu items. Hovering over each one triggers a slide out sub navigation making it easy to find the action or setting for which you are looking.

Media Library

Adding images to your content or as a featured image above a post or page is quite simple. With a click of a button, you can add images, audio or video files, documents, and PDFs. Images are automatically given responsive image styles so that they adapt appropriately to the width of one’s browser window or mobile device.

Though not specifically part of the media library, inserting YouTube or Vimeo videos into a post is as simple as pasting the URL. WordPress will render the video as embedded on the page (also works with Twitter and Instagram posts).

Adding Content

As noted above, the Dashboard provides quick access in a few different ways to add new content. The Add New Post (or another type of content) edit page has a visual WYSIWYG editor for formatting your content with links to add media, categories, tags, and visibility of your new post. You can easily view revisions after content has been published and revised with functionality that is provided out of the box.

Plugins and Themes

I’m grouping these two together because here is where we begin to add to WordPress core and its out of the box functionality. I’ve used 3rd-party plugins to add custom forms, simple e-commerce capabilities, invoicing and client management features, automated backups, and SEO enhancements to WordPress sites. The WordPress Plugin Directory boasts 56,182 available plugins to add functionality that is not included or as customizable within WordPress core. Many plugins are completely free or offer freemium versions with more advanced premium features available for a one-time charge or subscription fee.

Likewise, the WordPress Theme Directory offers many free or commercial templates searchable by layout options, features, or subject (topic matter of your site). Themes typically have some customization built-in to control layout options, widgets, background images, and the like.

 

Updates

 

WordPress Core, installed plugins and themes can be updated with the click of a button through the Dashboard. 

*Plugins are a double-edged sword in that they add flexibility from a non-developer standpoint while simultaneously introducing more risk from a security standpoint. The more 3rd-party plugins you use, the more dependence you will have on those 3rd-parties keeping their code secure by providing timely updates. Security issues with WordPress are introduced most often through vulnerabilities exploited in plugins.

Lower development costs 

This isn’t a feature of WordPress, but it’s worth mentioning that if the “out of the box” solutions meet your needs and you are able to build a site without the assistance of a developer, it will cost you less. If you fall on the mom-and-pop end of the spectrum, have a lower development budget, and are not picky about every detail of design or functionality, WordPress is likely a great option for you.

Advantages of DrupalCustom content types and views 

Whereas WordPress comes with two content types (posts and pages), Drupal also comes with two content types out of the box (article and basic page). However, it not only allows you to edit the fields for those content types but also create new content types and views without custom code that meet your specific requirements. If your site needs a blog, you can create a content type for blog posts and a view that displays them the way you want. If you need a staff directory, you can create a content type for staff that has fields for name, title, profile picture, bio, etc., and then create a view to display the staff in a list, a grid, or to whatever your specs require.

This is one way in which Drupal and WordPress differ. Drupal is an application framework that allows you to build what you need the way you need it. WordPress core starts as a blog that makes you add to core in order to manipulate its built-in behavior. For example, in order to disable blogging in WordPress, you have to install a 3rd-party plugin such as Disable Blogging in WordPress.

If you compare WordPress core and Drupal core, Drupal is far more robust than WordPress.

Access control and user permissions 

Out of the box Drupal core allows you to create and define your own user roles and associated permissions for each. If your site requirements call for multiple levels of user permissions with varying degrees of access, Drupal lets you create new roles and assign them with custom permissions. And, unlike WordPress, Drupal allows granting more than one role to your users. This gives you fine-grained control over what they are allowed to do. Building on the previous example of a staff directory, you could create a role for Staff and only give that role permissions to edit one’s bio page. All of these customizations for roles and permissions can be done in the admin without adding any custom code.

Taxonomy 

Whereas the tagging system in WordPress is flat, in Drupal you can have multiple types of categorization and determine how much information you want to track on each one. Drupal allows you to create more complex and custom data relationships across various types of content.

Internationalization 

Want the Drupal admin to display in the native language of your officemate overseas? No problem! Native language handling is now built into Drupal 8’s core APIs which improve the ease of globalization management. Building a multilingual site no longer requires installing multiple contributed modules. 

Security 

Drupal is known for having a volunteer security team and a standardized set of policies and procedures for dealing with security issues. Security advisories are routinely posted on https://www.drupal.org/security for Drupal core as well as contributed projects. For enterprise clients with specific security needs, the Drupal distribution Guardr is available with a combination of modules and settings to enhance the Drupal application’s security.   

Customization

As a web application framework, Drupal can be adapted to meet very specific requirements. For example, the Drupal entity system allows tracking specific data points and values that are needed when building applications. At times, Content Types aren’t the best choice for these data elements, and more custom entities allow for improved performance and fit the requirements best.

If this has you scratching your head, you’re not the only one. I’m purposely skirting around the complexity of the section because it is beyond the scope of what I’m trying to speak to here. The important difference here is that Drupal allows tracking points of data without cluttering up the editorial experience. Sometimes the data needs to be seen but not heard. Drupal lets you do that. And site editors may never even realize it’s happening.

Conclusion

As a site builder who has built dozens of sites in HTML, Joomla, and WordPress and worked for five years as a project manager at Mediacurrent (almost exclusively with Drupal), I realize that the Lego analogy may be helpful but at the same time not completely accurate. After all, WordPress boasts such enterprise level sites such as Techcrunch, Sony Music, and Time, Inc. But my experience reinforces the perception that WordPress is amazing at simple sites or blogs while Drupal is the go-to for more complex sites. 

I’ve found that clients will like a template design exactly the way it comes except for “insert numerous design changes” or the plugin functionality as-is “if you change this one behavior that isn’t built into the plugin.” And at that point, the gains of using out of the box functionality and design offered by WordPress (either via core WordPress or plugins and themes) are lost to customizations and a custom Drupal implementation is preferred. If you fall on the enterprise end of the spectrum and have deeply refined technical requirements, Drupal is likely a great option for you.

It comes down to the level of complexity for which you need to plan. If you are building a large site that is essentially brochureware (static pages), WordPress will work for you. If your site requirements call for a dynamic application with a heavy reliance on custom search results, interactivity, or 3rd-party integrations, or if you have specific design needs that require multiple custom layouts, your best bet is to use Drupal 8.

Categories: Drupal

Acquia Developer Center Blog: Jumpstart Your Drupal 8 Adventure with this Webinar on Acquia Lightning

12 September 2018 - 8:53am

If you’re going to start a Drupal 8 project, and there are many reasons why this makes sense, you should start with Acquia Lightning.

Because this flexible Drupal 8 distribution streamlines the process of building and delivering feature-rich Drupal 8 sites. It takes the guesswork out of Drupal 8 module selection and configuration for key features like media, page building, and workflow.

Tags: acquia drupal planet
Categories: Drupal

Ben's SEO Blog: How to Use Drupal 8 to Clean Up Your Content

12 September 2018 - 7:00am

Creating great website content and presenting it well is the best way to improve Google rankings and engage more visitors. While you need to create the content, Drupal 8 is one of the elite Content Management Systems (CMS) available to organize and show it off well. Drupal’s ability to organize your marketing content is one of the reasons it has always been great for SEO.

A winning SEO strategy requires relevant, timely, and well-organized content. Website content provides the relevant substance for your keywords and includes links to related content. Fresh content takes precedence over older, stale content in Google search results. When your website content is well-organized, visitors and search engines will find it easier to navigate and Google will reward your site with even... Read the full article: How to Use Drupal 8 to Clean Up Your Content

Categories: Drupal

Matt Grasmick: The New Drupal Evaluator Experience, by the numbers

12 September 2018 - 6:41am

Six months ago, Drupal's evaluator experience was complex, time-consuming, and frustrating. That's changed dramatically.

I previously published an article in which I compared the evaluator experience for Drupal against that of Wordpress, Symfony, and Laravel. I attempted to get a new "Hello World" site up and running in each of the four different PHP frameworks and recorded a few statistics.

At the time, Drupal required the most in-browser clicks (to discover relevant documentation, download, etc.) and came in next-to-last in total time required.

Google search term Clicks Commands run Total Time Symfony 3 3 1:55 Wordpress 7 0 7:51 Drupal 20+ 0 10:42 Laravel 3… more
Categories: Drupal

Specbee: Decoupling Drupal - What To Consider While Using JSON API?

12 September 2018 - 5:45am

The relationship between content and code is not a healthy one anymore. The consumer-facing presentation layer is not as removed from the content editor layer, as it used to be, mainly because of the new interactive experiences being provided to consumers through apps.

Modern frameworks and programming languages allow for flexibility in the formation of your content management stack. Thus, decoupling content from code has become a common practice in the recent years and Drupal was one of the early adopters of the same.

Categories: Drupal

Drupal blog: Drupal 7, 8 and 9

12 September 2018 - 5:03am

This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from Dries Buytaert's blog. Please leave your comments on the original post.

We just released Drupal 8.6.0. With six minor releases behind us, it is time to talk about the long-term future of Drupal 8 (and therefore Drupal 7 and Drupal 9). I've written about when to release Drupal 9 in the past, but this time, I'm ready to provide further details.

The plan outlined in this blog has been discussed with the Drupal 7 Core Committers, the Drupal 8 Core Committers and the Drupal Security Team. While we feel good about this plan, we can't plan for every eventuality and we may continue to make adjustments.

Drupal 8 will be end-of-life by November 2021

Drupal 8's innovation model depends on introducing new functionality in minor versions while maintaining backwards compatibility. This approach is working so well that some people have suggested we institute minor releases forever, and never release Drupal 9 at all.

However that approach is not feasible. We need to periodically remove deprecated functionality to keep Drupal modern, maintainable, and performant, and we need to stay on secure, supported versions of Drupal 8's third-party dependencies. As Nathaniel Catchpole explained in his post "The Long Road to Drupal 9", our use of various third party libraries such as Symfony, Twig, and Guzzle means that we need to be in sync with their release timelines.

Our biggest dependency in Drupal 8 is Symfony 3, and according to Symfony's roadmap, Symfony 3 has an end-of-life date in November 2021. This means that after November 2021, security bugs in Symfony 3 will not get fixed. To keep your Drupal sites secure, Drupal must adopt Symfony 4 or Symfony 5 before Symfony 3 goes end-of-life. A major Symfony upgrade will require us to release Drupal 9 (we don't want to fork Symfony 3 and have to backport Symfony 4 or Symfony 5 bug fixes). This means we have to end-of-life Drupal 8 no later than November 2021.

Drupal 9 will be released in 2020, and it will be an easy upgrade

If Drupal 8 will be end-of-life on November 2021, we have to release Drupal 9 before that. Working backwards from November 2021, we'd like to give site owners one year to upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.

If November 2020 is the latest we could release Drupal 9, what is the earliest we could release Drupal 9?

We certainly can't release Drupal 9 next week or even next month. Preparing for Drupal 9 takes a lot of work: we need to adopt Symfony 4 and/or Symfony 5, we need to remove deprecated code, we need to allow modules and themes to declare compatibility with more than one major version, and possibly more. The Drupal 8 Core Committers believe we need more than one year to prepare for Drupal 9.

Therefore, our current plan is to release Drupal 9 in 2020. Because we still need to figure out important details, we can't be more specific at this time.

If we release Drupal 9 in 2020, it means we'll certainly have Drupal 8.7 and 8.8 releases.

Wait, I will only have one year to migrate from Drupal 8 to 9?

Yes, but fortunately moving from Drupal 8 to 9 will be far easier than previous major version upgrades. The first release of Drupal 9 will be very similar to the last minor release of Drupal 8, as the primary goal of the Drupal 9.0.0 release will be to remove deprecated code and update third-party dependencies. By keeping your Drupal 8 sites up to date, you should be well prepared for Drupal 9.

And what about contributed modules? The compatibility of contributed modules is historically one of the biggest blockers to upgrading, so we will also make it possible for contributed modules to be compatible with Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 at the same time. As long as contributed modules do not use deprecated APIs, they should work with Drupal 9 while still being compatible with Drupal 8.

Drupal 7 will be supported until November 2021

Historically, our policy has been to only support two major versions of Drupal; Drupal 7 would ordinarily reach end of life when Drupal 9 is released. Because a large number of sites might still be using Drupal 7 by 2020, we have decided to extend support of Drupal 7 until November 2021. Drupal 7 will be receive community support for three whole more years.

We'll launch a Drupal 7 commercial Long Term Support program

In the past, commercial vendors have extended Drupal's security support. In 2015, a Drupal 6 commercial Long Term Support program was launched and continues to run to this day. We plan a similar paid program for Drupal 7 to extend support beyond November 2021. The Drupal Security Team will announce the Drupal 7 commercial LTS program information by mid-2019. Just like with the Drupal 6 LTS program, there will be an application for vendors.

We'll update Drupal 7 to support newer versions of PHP

The PHP team will stop supporting PHP 5.x on December 31st, 2018 (in 3 months), PHP 7.0 on December 3rd, 2018 (in 2 months), PHP 7.1 on December 1st, 2019 (in 1 year and 3 months) and PHP 7.2 on November 30th, 2020 (in 2 years and 2 months).

Drupal will drop official support for unsupported PHP versions along the way and Drupal 7 site owners may have to upgrade their PHP version. The details will be provided later.

We plan on updating Drupal 7 to support newer versions of PHP in line with their support schedule. Drupal 7 doesn't fully support PHP 7.2 yet as there have been some backwards-incompatible changes since PHP 7.1. We will release a version of Drupal 7 that supports PHP 7.2. Contributed modules and custom modules will have to be updated too, if not already.

Conclusion

If you are still using Drupal 7 and are wondering what to do, you currently have two options:

  1. Stay on Drupal 7 while also updating your PHP version. If you stay on Drupal 7 until after 2021, you can either engage a vendor for a long term support contract, or migrate to Drupal 9.
  2. Migrate to Drupal 8 by 2020, so that it's easier to update to Drupal 9 when it is released.

The announcements in this blog post made option (1) a lot more viable and/or hopefully helps you better evaluate option (2).

If you are on Drupal 8, you just have to keep your Drupal 8 site up-to-date and you'll be ready for Drupal 9.

We plan to have more specifics by April 2019 (DrupalCon Seattle).

Thanks for the Drupal 7 Core Committers, the Drupal 8 Core Committers and the Drupal Security Team for their contributions to this blog post.

Categories: Drupal

CTI Digital: Digital Transformation at Drupal Europe

12 September 2018 - 4:52am

This week, thousands of members of the Drupal community have come together to share insights and to celebrate the power of open source. Embracing knowledge transfer, the Digital Transformation and Enterprise track stands out as accessible for developers, marketers and business owners alike. 

Categories: Drupal

Drupal blog: Who sponsors Drupal development? (2017-2018 edition)

12 September 2018 - 4:49am

This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from Dries Buytaert's blog. Please leave your comments on the original post.

For the past two years, I've examined Drupal.org's commit data to understand who develops Drupal, how much of that work is sponsored, and where that sponsorship comes from.

I have now reported on this data for three years in a row, which means I can start to better compare year-over-year data. Understanding how an open-source project works is important because it establishes a benchmark for project health and scalability.

I would also recommend taking a look at the 2016 report or the 2017 report. Each report looks at data collected in the 12-month period between July 1st and June 30th.

This year's report affirms that Drupal has a large and diverse community of contributors. In the 12-month period between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, 7,287 different individuals and 1,002 different organizations contributed code to Drupal.org. This include contributions to Drupal core and all contributed projects on Drupal.org.

In comparison to last year's report, both the number of contributors and contributions has increased. Our community of contributors (including both individuals and organizations) is also becoming more diverse. This is an important area of growth, but there is still work to do.

For this report, we looked at all of the issues marked "closed" or "fixed" in our ticketing system in the 12-month period from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. This includes Drupal core and all of the contributed projects on Drupal.org, across all major versions of Drupal. This year, 24,447 issues were marked "closed" or "fixed", a 5% increase from the 23,238 issues in the 2016-2017 period. This averages out to 67 feature improvements or bug fixes a day.

In total, we captured 49,793 issue credits across all 24,447 issues. This marks a 17% increase from the 42,449 issue credits recorded in the previous year. Of the 49,793 issue credits reported this year, 18% (8,822 credits) were for Drupal core, while 82% (40,971 credits) went to contributed projects.

"Closed" or "fixed" issues are often the result of multiple people working on the issue. We try to capture who contributes through Drupal.org's unique credit system. We used the data from the credit system for this analysis. There are a few limitations with this approach, which we'll address at the end of this report.

What is the Drupal.org credit system?

In the spring of 2015, after proposing ideas for giving credit and discussing various approaches at length, Drupal.org added the ability for people to attribute their work to an organization or customer in the Drupal.org issue queues. Maintainers of Drupal modules, themes, and distributions can award issue credits to people who help resolve issues with code, translations, documentation, design and more.

A screenshot of an issue comment on Drupal.org. You can see that jamadar worked on this patch as a volunteer, but also as part of his day job working for TATA Consultancy Services on behalf of their customer, Pfizer.

Credits are a powerful motivator for both individuals and organizations. Accumulating credits provides individuals with a way to showcase their expertise. Organizations can utilize credits to help recruit developers, to increase their visibility within the Drupal.org marketplace, or to showcase their Drupal expertise.

Who is working on Drupal?

In the 12-month period between July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, 24,447, Drupal.org received code contributions from 7,287 different individuals and 1,002 different organizations.

While the number of individual contributors rose, a relatively small number of individuals still do the majority of the work. Approximately 48% of individual contributors received just one credit. Meanwhile, the top 30 contributors (the top 0.4%) account for more than 24% of the total credits. These individuals put an incredible amount of time and effort in developing Drupal and its contributed projects:

Rank Username Issues 1 RenatoG 851 2 RajabNatshah 745 3 jrockowitz 700 4 adriancid 529 5 bojanz 515 6 Berdir 432 7 alexpott 414 8 mglaman 414 9 Wim Leers 395 10 larowlan 360 11 DamienMcKenna 353 12 dawehner 340 13 catch 339 14 heddn 327 15 xjm 303 16 pifagor 284 17 quietone 261 18 borisson_ 255 19 adci_contributor 255 20 volkswagenchick 254 21 drunken monkey 231 22 amateescu 225 23 joachim 199 24 mkalkbrenner 195 25 chr.fritsch 185 26 gaurav.kapoor 178 27 phenaproxima 177 28 mikeytown2 173 29 joelpittet 170 30 timmillwood 169

Out of the top 30 contributors featured, 15 were also recognized as top contributors in our 2017 report. These Drupalists' dedication and continued contribution to the project has been crucial to Drupal's development. It's also exciting to see 15 new names on the list. This mobility is a testament to the community's evolution and growth. It's also important to recognize that a majority of the 15 repeat top contributors are at least partially sponsored by an organization. We value the organizations that sponsor these remarkable individuals, because without their support, it could be more challenging to be in the top 30 year over year.

How diverse is Drupal?

Next, we looked at both the gender and geographic diversity of Drupal.org code contributors. While these are only two examples of diversity, this is the only available data that contributors can currently choose to share on their Drupal.org profiles. The reported data shows that only 7% of the recorded contributions were made by contributors that do not identify as male, which continues to indicates a steep gender gap. This is a one percent increase compared to last year. The gender imbalance in Drupal is profound and underscores the need to continue fostering diversity and inclusion in our community.

To address this gender gap, in addition to advancing representation across various demographics, the Drupal community is supporting two important initiatives. The first is to adopt more inclusive user demographic forms on Drupal.org. Adopting Open Demographics on Drupal.org will also allow us to improve reporting on diversity and inclusion, which in turn will help us better support initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion. The second initiative is supporting the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team, which works to better include underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions. The DDI Contribution Team recruits team members from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, and provides support and mentorship to help them contribute to Drupal.

It's important to reiterate that supporting diversity and inclusion within Drupal is essential to the health and success of the project. The people who work on Drupal should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software. While there is still a lot of work to do, I'm excited about the impact these various initiatives will have on future reports.

When measuring geographic diversity, we saw individual contributors from 6 different continents and 123 different countries:

The top 20 countries from which contributions originate. The data is compiled by aggregating the countries of all individual contributors behind each commit. Note that the geographical location of contributors doesn't always correspond with the origin of their sponsorship. Wim Leers, for example, works from Belgium, but his funding comes from Acquia, which has the majority of its customers in North America.

123 different countries is seven more compared to the 2017 report. The new countries include Rwanda, Namibia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Swaziland, Zambia. Seeing contributions from more African countries is certainly a highlight.

How much of the work is sponsored?

Issue credits can be marked as "volunteer" and "sponsored" simultaneously (shown in jamadar's screenshot near the top of this post). This could be the case when a contributor does the minimum required work to satisfy the customer's need, in addition to using their spare time to add extra functionality.

While Drupal started out as a 100% volunteer-driven project, today the majority of the code on Drupal.org is sponsored by organizations. Only 12% of the commit credits that we examined in 2017-2018 were "purely volunteer" credits (6,007 credits), in stark contrast to the 49% that were "purely sponsored". In other words, there were four times as many "purely sponsored" credits as "purely volunteer" credits.

A few comparisons between the 2017-2018 and the 2016-2017 data:

  • The credit system is being used more frequently. In total, we captured 49,793 issue credits across all 24,447 issues in the 2017-2018 period. This marks a 17% increase from the 42,449 issue credits recorded in the previous year. Between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, 28% of all credits had no attribution while in the period between July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, only 25% of credits lacked attribution. More people have become aware of the credit system, the attribution options, and their benefits.
  • Sponsored credits are growing faster than volunteer credits. Both "purely volunteer" and "purely sponsored" credits grew, but "purely sponsored" credits grew faster. There are two reasons why this could be the case: (1) more contributions are sponsored and (2) organizations are more likely to use the credit system compared to volunteers.

No data is perfect, but it feels safe to conclude that most of the work on Drupal is sponsored. At the same time, the data shows that volunteer contribution remains very important to Drupal. Maybe most importantly, while the number of volunteers and sponsors has grown year over year in absolute terms, sponsored contributions appear to be growing faster than volunteer contributions. This is consistent with how open source projects grow and scale.

Who is sponsoring the work?

Now that we've established a majority of contributions to Drupal are sponsored, we want to study which organizations contribute to Drupal. While 1,002 different organizations contributed to Drupal, approximately 50% of them received four credits or less. The top 30 organizations (roughly the top 3%) account for approximately 48% of the total credits, which implies that the top 30 companies play a crucial role in the health of the Drupal project. The graph below shows the top 30 organizations and the number of credits they received between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018:

The top 30 contributing organizations based on the number of Drupal.org commit credits.

While not immediately obvious from the graph above, a variety of different types of companies are active in Drupal's ecosystem:

Category Description Traditional Drupal businesses Small-to-medium-sized professional services companies that primarily make money using Drupal. They typically employ fewer than 100 employees, and because they specialize in Drupal, many of these professional services companies contribute frequently and are a huge part of our community. Examples are Chapter Three and Lullabot (both shown on graph). Digital marketing agencies Larger full-service agencies that have marketing-led practices using a variety of tools, typically including Drupal, Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, WordPress, etc. They tend to be larger, with the larger agencies employing thousands of people. Examples are Wunderman and Mirum. System integrators Larger companies that specialize in bringing together different technologies into one solution. Example system agencies are Accenture, TATA Consultancy Services, Capgemini and CI&T (shown on graph). Technology and infrastructure companies Examples are Acquia (shown on graph), Lingotek, BlackMesh, Rackspace, Pantheon and Platform.sh. End-users Examples are Pfizer (shown on graph) or NBCUniversal.

A few observations:

  • Almost all of the sponsors in the top 30 are traditional Drupal businesses. Companies like MD Systems (12 employees), Valuebound (58 employees), Chapter Three (33 employees), Commerce Guys (13 employees) and PreviousNext (22 employees) are, despite their size, critical to Drupal's success.
  • Compared to these traditional Drupal businesses, Acquia has nearly 800 employees and at least ten full-time Drupal contributors. Acquia works to resolve some of the most complex issues on Drupal.org, many of which are not recognized by the credit system (e.g. release management, communication, sprint organizing, and project coordination). Acquia added several full-time contributors compared to last year, however, I believe that Acquia should contribute even more due to its comparative size.
  • No digital marketing agencies show up in the top 30, though some of them are starting to contribute. It's exciting that an increasing number of digital marketing agencies are delivering beautiful experiences using Drupal. As a community, we need to work to ensure that each of these firms are contributing back to the project with the same commitment that we see from firms like Commerce Guys, CI&T or Acro Media. Compared to last year, we have not made meaningful progress on growing contributions from digital marketing agencies. It would be interesting to see what would happen if more large organizations mandated contributions from their partners. Pfizer, for example, only works with agencies and vendors that contribute back to Drupal, and requires that its agency partners contribute to open source. If more organizations took this stance, it could have a big impact on the number of digital agencies that contribute to Drupal
  • The only system integrator in the top 30 is CI&T, which ranked 3rd with 959 credits. As far as system integrators are concerned, CI&T is a smaller player with approximately 2,500 employees. However, we do see various system integrators outside of the top 30, including Globant, Capgemini, Sapient and TATA Consultancy Services. Each of these system integrators reported 30 to 85 credits in the past year. The top contributor is TATA with 85 credits.
  • Infrastructure and software companies also play an important role in our community, yet only Acquia appears in the top 30. While Acquia has a professional services division, more than 75% of the contributions come from the product organization. Other infrastructure companies include Pantheon and Platform.sh, which are both venture-backed, platform-as-a-service companies that were born from the Drupal community. Pantheon has 6 credits and Platform.sh has 47 credits. Amazee Labs, a company that is building an infrastructure business, reported 40 credits. Compared to last year, Acquia and Rackspace have slightly more credits, while Pantheon, Platform.sh and Amazee contributed less. Lingotek, a vendor that offers cloud-based translation management software has 84 credits.
  • We also saw three end-users in the top 30 as corporate sponsors: Pfizer (491 credits, up from 251 credits the year before), Thunder (432 credits), and the German company, bio.logis (319 credits, up from 212 credits the year before). Other notable customers outside of the top 30, include Workday, Wolters Kluwer, Burda Media, YMCA and OpenY, CARD.com and NBCUniversal. We also saw contributions from many universities, including University of Colorado Boulder, University of Waterloo, Princeton University, University of Adelaide, University of Sydney, University of Edinburgh, McGill University and more.

We can conclude that technology and infrastructure companies, digital marketing agencies, system integrators and end-users are not making significant code contributions to Drupal.org today. How can we explain this disparity in comparison to the traditional Drupal businesses that contribute the most? We believe the biggest reasons are:

  1. Drupal's strategic importance. A variety of the traditional Drupal agencies almost entirely depend on Drupal to support their businesses. Given both their expertise and dependence on Drupal, they are most likely to look after Drupal's development and well-being. Contrast this with most of the digital marketing agencies and system integrators who work with a diversified portfolio of content management platforms. Their well-being is less dependent on Drupal's success.
  2. The level of experience with Drupal and open source. Drupal aside, many organizations have little or no experience with open source, so it is important that we motivate and teach them to contribute.
  3. Legal reservations. We recognize that some organizations are not legally permitted to contribute, let alone attribute their customers. We hope that will change as open source continues to get adopted.
  4. Tools barriers. Drupal contribution still involves a patch-based workflow on Drupal.org's unique issue queue system. This presents a fairly steep learning curve to most developers, who primarily work with more modern and common tools such as GitHub. We hope to lower some of these barriers through our collaboration with GitLab.
  5. Process barriers. Getting code changes accepted into a Drupal project — especially Drupal core — is hard work. Peer reviews, gates such as automated testing and documentation, required sign-offs from maintainers and committers, knowledge of best practices and other community norms are a few of the challenges a contributor must face to get code accepted into Drupal. Collaborating with thousands of people on a project as large and widely-used as Drupal requires such processes, but new contributors often don't know that these processes exist, or don't understand why they exist.
We should do more to entice contribution

Drupal is used by more than one million websites. Everyone who uses Drupal benefits from work that thousands of other individuals and organizations have contributed. Drupal is great because it is continuously improved by a diverse community of contributors who are enthusiastic to give back.

However, the vast majority of the individuals and organizations behind these Drupal websites never participate in the development of the project. They might use the software as it is or don't feel the need to help drive its development. We have to provide more incentive for these individuals and organizations to contribute back to the project.

Consequently, this data shows that the Drupal community can do more to entice companies to contribute code to Drupal.org. The Drupal community has a long tradition of encouraging organizations to share code rather than keep it behind firewalls. While the spirit of the Drupal project cannot be reduced to any single ideology — not every organization can or will share their code — we would like to see organizations continue to prioritize collaboration over individual ownership.

We understand and respect that some can give more than others and that some might not be able to give back at all. Our goal is not to foster an environment that demands what and how others should give back. Our aim is not to criticize those who do not contribute, but rather to help foster an environment worthy of contribution. This is clearly laid out in Drupal's Values and Principles.

Given the vast amount of Drupal users, we believe continuing to encourage organizations and end-users to contribute is still a big opportunity. From my own conversations, it's clear that organizations still need need education, training and help. They ask questions like: "Where can we contribute?", "How can we convince our legal department?", and more.

There are substantial benefits and business drivers for organizations that contribute: (1) it improves their ability to sell and win deals and (2) it improves their ability to hire. Companies that contribute to Drupal tend to promote their contributions in RFPs and sales pitches. Contributing to Drupal also results in being recognized as a great place to work for Drupal experts.

What projects have sponsors?

To understand where the organizations sponsoring Drupal put their money, I've listed the top 20 most sponsored projects:

Rank Project name Issues 1 Drupal core 5919 2 Webform 905 3 Drupal Commerce 607 4 Varbase: The Ultimate Drupal 8 CMS Starter Kit (Bootstrap Ready) 551 5 Commerce Point of Sale (POS) 324 6 Views 318 7 Commerce Migrate 307 8 JSON API 304 9 Paragraphs 272 10 Open Social 222 11 Search API Solr Search 212 12 Drupal Connector for Janrain Identity Cloud 197 13 Drupal.org security advisory coverage applications 189 14 Facets 171 15 Open Y 162 16 Metatag 162 17 Web Page Archive 154 18 Drupal core - JavaScript Modernization Initiative 145 19 Thunder 144 20 XML sitemap 120 Who is sponsoring the top 30 contributors? Rank Username Issues Volunteer Sponsored Not specified Sponsors 1 RenatoG 851 0% 100% 0% CI&T (850), Johnson & Johnson (23) 2 RajabNatshah 745 14% 100% 0% Vardot (653), Webship (90) 3 jrockowitz 700 94% 97% 1% The Big Blue House (680), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (7), Rosewood Marketing (2), Kennesaw State University (1) 4 adriancid 529 99% 19% 0% Ville de Montréal (98) 5 bojanz 515 0% 98% 2% Commerce Guys (503), Torchbox (17), Adapt (6), Acro Media (4), Bluespark (1) 6 Berdir 432 0% 92% 8% MD Systems (396), Translations.com (10), Acquia (2) 7 alexpott 414 13% 84% 10% Chapter Three (123), Thunder (120), Acro Media (103) 8 mglaman 414 5% 96% 1% Commerce Guys (393), Impactiv (17), Circle Web Foundry (16), Rosewood Marketing (14), LivePerson (13), Bluespark (4), Acro Media (4), Gaggle.net (3), Thinkbean (2), Matsmart (2) 9 Wim Leers 395 8% 94% 0% Acquia (371) 10 larowlan 360 13% 97% 1% PreviousNext (350), University of Technology, Sydney (24), Charles Darwin University (10), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) (1), Department of Justice & Regulation, Victoria (1) 11 DamienMcKenna 353 1% 95% 5% Mediacurrent (334) 12 dawehner 340 48% 86% 4% Chapter Three (279), Torchbox (10), Drupal Association (5), Tag1 Consulting (3), Acquia (2), TES Global (1) 13 catch 339 1% 97% 3% Third and Grove (320), Tag1 Consulting (8) 14 heddn 327 2% 99% 1% MTech (325) 15 xjm 303 0% 97% 3% Acquia (293) 16 pifagor 284 32% 99% 1% GOLEMS GABB (423), Drupal Ukraine Community (73) 17 quietone 261 48% 55% 5% Acro Media (143) 18 borisson_ 255 93% 55% 3% Dazzle (136), Intracto digital agency (1), Acquia (1), DUG BE vzw (Drupal User Group Belgium) (1) 19 adci_contributor 255 0% 100% 0% ADCI Solutions (255) 20 volkswagenchick 254 1% 100% 0% Hook 42 (253) 21 drunken monkey 231 91% 22% 0% DBC (24), Vizala (20), Sunlime Web Innovations GmbH (4), Wunder Group (1), epiqo (1), Zebralog (1) 22 amateescu 225 3% 95% 3% Pfizer (211), Drupal Association (1), Chapter Three (1) 23 joachim 199 56% 44% 19% Torchbox (88) 24 mkalkbrenner 195 0% 99% 1% bio.logis (193), OSCE: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (119) 25 chr.fritsch 185 0% 99% 1% Thunder (183) 26 gaurav.kapoor 178 0% 81% 19% OpenSense Labs (144), DrupalFit (55) 27 phenaproxima 177 0% 99% 1% Acquia (176) 28 mikeytown2 173 0% 0% 100% 29 joelpittet 170 28% 74% 16% The University of British Columbia (125) 30 timmillwood 169 1% 100% 0% Pfizer (169), Appnovation (163), Millwood Online (6)

We observe that the top 30 contributors are sponsored by 58 organizations. This kind of diversity is aligned with our desire to make sure that Drupal is not controlled by a single organization. These top contributors and organizations are from many different parts of the world, and work with customers large and small. Nonetheless, we will continue to benefit from an increased distribution of contribution.

Limitations of the credit system and the data

While the benefits are evident, it is important to note a few of the limitations in Drupal.org's current credit system:

  • Contributing to issues on Drupal.org is not the only way to contribute. Other activities, such as sponsoring events, promoting Drupal, and providing help and mentorship are also important to the long-term health of the Drupal project. Many of these activities are not currently captured by the credit system. For this post, we chose to only look at code contributions.
  • We acknowledge that parts of Drupal are developed on GitHub and therefore aren't fully credited on Drupal.org. The actual number of contributions and contributors could be significantly higher than what we report. The Drupal Association is working to integrate GitLab with Drupal.org. GitLab will provide support for "merge requests", which means contributing to Drupal will feel more familiar to the broader audience of open source contributors who learned their skills in the post-patch era. Some of GitLab's tools, such as inline editing and web-based code review, will also lower the barrier to contribution, and should help us grow both the number of contributions and contributors on Drupal.org.
  • Even when development is done on Drupal.org, the credit system is not used consistently. As using the credit system is optional, a lot of code committed on Drupal.org has no or incomplete contribution credits.
  • Not all code credits are the same. We currently don't have a way to account for the complexity and quality of contributions; one person might have worked several weeks for just one credit, while another person might receive a credit for ten minutes of work. In the future, we should consider issuing credit data in conjunction with issue priority, patch size, etc. This could help incentivize people to work on larger and more important problems and save coding standards improvements for new contributor sprints. Implementing a scoring system that ranks the complexity of an issue would also allow us to develop more accurate reports of contributed work.

Like Drupal itself, the Drupal.org credit system needs to continue to evolve. Ultimately, the credit system will only be useful when the community uses it, understands its shortcomings, and suggests constructive improvements.

Conclusion

Our data confirms that Drupal is a vibrant community full of contributors who are constantly evolving and improving the software. While we have amazing geographic diversity, we still need greater gender diversity, in addition to better representation across various demographic groups. Our analysis of the Drupal.org credit data concludes that most contributions to Drupal are sponsored. At the same time, the data shows that volunteer contribution remains very important to Drupal.

As a community, we need to understand that a healthy open source ecosystem includes more than the traditional Drupal businesses that contribute the most. We still don't see a lot of contribution from the larger digital marketing agencies, system integrators, technology companies, or end-users of Drupal — we believe that might come as these organizations build out their Drupal practices and Drupal becomes more strategic for them.

To grow and sustain Drupal, we should support those that contribute to Drupal and find ways to get those that are not contributing involved in our community. We invite you to help us continue to strengthen our ecosystem.

Categories: Drupal

Dries Buytaert: Drupal 7, 8, and 9

11 September 2018 - 9:07pm

We just released Drupal 8.6.0. With six minor releases behind us, it is time to talk about the long-term future of Drupal 8 (and therefore Drupal 7 and Drupal 9). I've written about when to release Drupal 9 in the past, but this time, I'm ready to provide further details.

The plan outlined in this blog has been discussed with the Drupal 7 Core Committers, the Drupal 8 Core Committers and the Drupal Security Team. While we feel good about this plan, we can't plan for every eventuality and we may continue to make adjustments.

Drupal 8 will be end-of-life by November 2021

Drupal 8's innovation model depends on introducing new functionality in minor versions while maintaining backwards compatibility. This approach is working so well that some people have suggested we institute minor releases forever, and never release Drupal 9 at all.

However that approach is not feasible. We need to periodically remove deprecated functionality to keep Drupal modern, maintainable, and performant, and we need to stay on secure, supported versions of Drupal 8's third-party dependencies. As Nathaniel Catchpole explained in his post "The Long Road to Drupal 9", our use of various third party libraries such as Symfony, Twig, and Guzzle means that we need to be in sync with their release timelines.

Our biggest dependency in Drupal 8 is Symfony 3, and according to Symfony's roadmap, Symfony 3 has an end-of-life date in November 2021. This means that after November 2021, security bugs in Symfony 3 will not get fixed. To keep your Drupal sites secure, Drupal must adopt Symfony 4 or Symfony 5 before Symfony 3 goes end-of-life. A major Symfony upgrade will require us to release Drupal 9 (we don't want to fork Symfony 3 and have to backport Symfony 4 or Symfony 5 bug fixes). This means we have to end-of-life Drupal 8 no later than November 2021.

Drupal 9 will be released in 2020, and it will be an easy upgrade

If Drupal 8 will be end-of-life on November 2021, we have to release Drupal 9 before that. Working backwards from November 2021, we'd like to give site owners one year to upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9.

If November 2020 is the latest we could release Drupal 9, what is the earliest we could release Drupal 9?

We certainly can't release Drupal 9 next week or even next month. Preparing for Drupal 9 takes a lot of work: we need to adopt Symfony 4 and/or Symfony 5, we need to remove deprecated code, we need to allow modules and themes to declare compatibility with more than one major version, and possibly more. The Drupal 8 Core Committers believe we need more than one year to prepare for Drupal 9.

Therefore, our current plan is to release Drupal 9 in 2020. Because we still need to figure out important details, we can't be more specific at this time.

If we release Drupal 9 in 2020, it means we'll certainly have Drupal 8.7 and 8.8 releases.

Wait, I will only have one year to migrate from Drupal 8 to 9?

Yes, but fortunately moving from Drupal 8 to 9 will be far easier than previous major version upgrades. The first release of Drupal 9 will be very similar to the last minor release of Drupal 8, as the primary goal of the Drupal 9.0.0 release will be to remove deprecated code and update third-party dependencies. By keeping your Drupal 8 sites up to date, you should be well prepared for Drupal 9.

And what about contributed modules? The compatibility of contributed modules is historically one of the biggest blockers to upgrading, so we will also make it possible for contributed modules to be compatible with Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 at the same time. As long as contributed modules do not use deprecated APIs, they should work with Drupal 9 while still being compatible with Drupal 8.

Drupal 7 will be supported until November 2021

Historically, our policy has been to only support two major versions of Drupal; Drupal 7 would ordinarily reach end of life when Drupal 9 is released. Because a large number of sites might still be using Drupal 7 by 2020, we have decided to extend support of Drupal 7 until November 2021. Drupal 7 will be receive community support for three whole more years.

We'll launch a Drupal 7 commercial Long Term Support program

In the past, commercial vendors have extended Drupal's security support. In 2015, a Drupal 6 commercial Long Term Support program was launched and continues to run to this day. We plan a similar paid program for Drupal 7 to extend support beyond November 2021. The Drupal Security Team will announce the Drupal 7 commercial LTS program information by mid-2019. Just like with the Drupal 6 LTS program, there will be an application for vendors.

We'll update Drupal 7 to support newer versions of PHP

The PHP team will stop supporting PHP 5.x on December 31st, 2018 (in 3 months), PHP 7.0 on December 3rd, 2018 (in 2 months), PHP 7.1 on December 1st, 2019 (in 1 year and 3 months) and PHP 7.2 on November 30th, 2020 (in 2 years and 2 months).

Drupal will drop official support for unsupported PHP versions along the way and Drupal 7 site owners may have to upgrade their PHP version. The details will be provided later.

We plan on updating Drupal 7 to support newer versions of PHP in line with their support schedule. Drupal 7 doesn't fully support PHP 7.2 yet as there have been some backwards-incompatible changes since PHP 7.1. We will release a version of Drupal 7 that supports PHP 7.2. Contributed modules and custom modules will have to be updated too, if not already.

Conclusion

If you are still using Drupal 7 and are wondering what to do, you currently have two options:

  1. Stay on Drupal 7 while also updating your PHP version. If you stay on Drupal 7 until after 2021, you can either engage a vendor for a long term support contract, or migrate to Drupal 9.
  2. Migrate to Drupal 8 by 2020, so that it's easier to update to Drupal 9 when it is released.

The announcements in this blog post made option (1) a lot more viable and/or hopefully helps you better evaluate option (2).

If you are on Drupal 8, you just have to keep your Drupal 8 site up-to-date and you'll be ready for Drupal 9.

We plan to have more specifics by April 2019 (DrupalCon Seattle).

Thanks for the Drupal 7 Core Committers, the Drupal 8 Core Committers and the Drupal Security Team for their contributions to this blog post.

Categories: Drupal

Drupal Modules: The One Percent: Drupal Modules: The One Percent — Multiselect (video tutorial)

11 September 2018 - 2:04pm
Drupal Modules: The One Percent — Multiselect (video tutorial) NonProfit Tue, 09/11/2018 - 16:04 Episode 43

Here is where we bring awareness to Drupal modules running on less than 1% of reporting sites. Today we'll consider Multiselect, a module which changes the input of lists and reference fields to a nifty two-column display.

Categories: Drupal

Acro Media: Decouple Drupal Commerce with the JSON API Module

11 September 2018 - 7:45am

There is a lot of talk out there right now about “decoupled” or “headless” open source eCommerce platforms. I won’t get into why that is in this article, but I will show you how easy it is to enable a full REST API for your Drupal 8 and Drupal Commerce platform in JSON format. It’s literally the enabling of a module… that’s it! Let’s take a look.

In this Acro Media Tech Talk video, you’ll learn a little bit about the module used to expose the API, where to find documentation, and see an additional module that enhances the experience working with the API. Using our Drupal Commerce demo site as an example, you’ll see where you can view and modify the site resources as well as how to view the data for each resources in JSON format.

The data structure of Drupal is well suited to the JSON API which makes Drupal and excellent choice as a backend content-creation area for a decoupled application. This video will get you started, but what you ultimately do with that data is up to you!

Additional details:
Categories: Drupal

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