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Appnovation Technologies: Simple Website Approach Using a Headless CMS: Part 1

6 February 2019 - 12:00am
Simple Website Approach Using a Headless CMS: Part 1 I strongly believe that the path for innovation requires a mix of experimentation, sweat, and failure. Without experimenting with new solutions, new technologies, new tools, we are limiting our ability to improve, arresting our potential to be better, to be faster, and sadly ensuring that we stay rooted in systems, processes and...
Categories: Drupal

Commerce Guys: Eliminating barriers to Drupal Commerce growth

5 February 2019 - 5:52pm

At the end of 2018, Dries Buytaert, creator of Drupal, asked folks involved with the project to share their thoughts on what's "holding Drupal back." His prompt came on the heels of two great blog posts related to his company Acquia's growth strategy and lessons he's learned and applied from Amazon's growth strategy. I didn’t beat his third post on overcoming Drupal’s obstacles to the punch, but the series did prompt me to think long and hard about the barriers we face as maintainers and leaders of the Commerce project within the Drupal ecosystem.

For the entirety of our existence, Commerce Guys has focused on building and promoting Drupal as an eCommerce platform, first through Ubercart and then Drupal Commerce. While eCommerce is a huge industry, our reach within the community has only averaged around 5% of all Drupal sites. Given the diverse and varied types of users Drupal serves, I consider this relatively low number unsurprising. (A certain percentage will also choose to integrate third party shopping cart systems, but historically that’s always been a fraction of the number of Drupal sites using our native solutions.)

It’s tempting to be fatalistic about Drupal Commerce’s growth and accept that our growth rate will be pegged to Drupal’s own growth rate so long as our relative percentage holds. It actually is an important baseline to acknowledge - our success is tied to Drupal’s success, and so we prioritize contributing to initiatives that help improve Drupal’s core APIs, make it easier to maintain and upgrade, and attract new audiences through API-first / JavaScript initiatives. However, I think we can and should do better than just waiting for growth to happen upon us.

Why should I think we can do better?

After Dries’s posts last year I compared our usage statistics for Commerce 2.x (on Drupal 8) to our usage statistics for Commerce 1.x (on Drupal 7) at the same point in its life-cycle. What I saw convinced me we have plenty of room to grow:

  • In 2013, Drupal Commerce 1.x grew from 23,224 to 33,989 sites.
  • These numbers represent growing from 4.02% to 4.50% of all Drupal 7 sites.
  • Our average growth rate that year was 3.89% month over month; Drupal’s own growth rate was 2.72%.
  • In 2018, Drupal Commerce 2.x grew from 3,097 to 6,980 sites.
  • These numbers represent growing from 1.41% to 2.85% of all Drupal 8 sites.
  • Our average growth rate last year was 8.65% month over month; Drupal’s own growth rate was 1.23%.

Just based on those numbers, even though Commerce 2.x grew over twice as fast last year as Commerce 1.x did in a similar timeframe in its life-cycle, we still represent only half of the relative number of Drupal sites we did back then. We can double our user base on Drupal 8 without challenging our historical average representation at all. That’s good news!

Our growth rate right now is fantastic, especially compared to Drupal's own. There are likely a variety of factors at play here, but I think it boils down to some combination of recognized maturity, excellent word of mouth from a steady stream of case studies, and our contributed module ecosystem stabilizing to a point that Drupal 7 / Commerce 1.x sites are finally porting to Drupal 8 / Commerce 2.x. As our 2.x project lead recently observed, we’re now up to over 250 contributed modules on drupal.org and maintain a community support Slack channel with over 1,000 participants.

Eliminating barriers to growth in 2019

In order for us to keep up and even accelerate our rate of growth, Commerce Guys has been working hard to identify our barriers to growth and develop solutions to them. As a small team playing in a large market (against very well-funded competitors), we can only do so much … but every bit of progress on any of the following fronts will help.

1. Features and integrations

The biggest barrier to growth has historically been our under-developed contributed module and integration ecosystem. Ecosystem development is incredibly important - agencies don’t often have the expertise or confidence to develop new features or integrations themselves. Our major competitors (Magento, Shopify, et al) all have massive ecosystems that third-party software vendors take the initiative to join while our own ecosystem remains dependent on our own team or the core of our development community to expand.

2. Developer support and education

It’s tempting to point to performance and scalability as another barrier to growth, but we see poorly performing Drupal Commerce sites as a symptom of another issue - lack of exposure by the average Drupal developer to best practices for scaling sites with a large amount of authenticated (or otherwise cache-breaking) traffic. We know that we can scale Drupal Commerce to support 10,000+ transactions per hour and thousands of concurrent users, but we also know that otherwise capable Drupal teams struggle at a fraction of that scale. In other words, it’s not a capabilities gap, it’s a knowledge gap, and we’re to blame for not sharing what we've learned with our userbase.

3. Reaching our core audience

Finally, we’re hardly communicating to the market at all about why they should be choosing Drupal Commerce. Our websites are aging, and organizations who do decide upon Drupal are often confused about what sort of support, if any, we might offer them if they choose to adopt our software. We understand how our solution differs from other major players in the market and where it should be seriously evaluated (e.g. cross-border commerce, digital product sales, subscription billing), but we aren’t doing enough to demonstrate our capabilities or provide a vision for why merchants will be better off using Drupal Commerce than a competing application.

We certainly have our work cut out for us in 2019, but we’re encouraged by last year’s growth and the support of our friends and champions within the Drupal community. We believe we can work to eliminate these barriers to growth while building a sustainable business that allows us to grow without compromising our values. In reverse order, the basic roadmap we’re targeting to address those known-blockers above will be:

  1. Relaunch our company and project websites to more clearly communicate who we are, what our software can do, and how we support eCommerce teams to build with confidence on Drupal.
  2. Standardize our consulting efforts and support retainers into concrete, documented offerings that anyone can understand.
  3. Coordinate our development roadmap with more agency and technology partners to ensure essential contributed modules receive the attention they deserve and our integration roster continues to grow.

We'll be encoding our expertise into productized solutions that allow us to grow a team focused on ensuring eCommerce sites built with Drupal are optimized for stability, security, and scalability. We've always valued the impact we have on the Drupal community even as a small team, and we believe addressing these issues will afford us the opportunity to grow, broaden our impact, and grow Drupal itself as a result.

Categories: Drupal

DrupalEasy: 11 Tips to start your Drupal 8 project right

5 February 2019 - 1:55pm

As someone who has been building Drupal sites for over 12 years now, I'd like to think that my knowledge and expertise has grown at a rate similar to the power, flexibility, and complexity of the Drupal project itself. For well over 10 years, Drupal training and development has been the focus of my consulting business; over the holidays I took some time to look back and really think about the lessons I've learned and how I can utilize them moving forward. 

In addition to documenting the process for myself as well as my current and future clients, I also wanted to share what I've learned with the Drupal community. After all, it is this community that has made it possible for me to have the success that I have found so far. I have worked on projects of all sizes from large Fortune 500 companies to small local businesses. I’ve been alone on project as well as with large teams of developers. There have also been projects with massive budgets as well as projects with no budget. The breadth of this experience has really contributed to my ability to provide more value for my clients. 

One word I use often when speaking with current as well as prospective clients is "sustainability". I always want to be involved in a solution that provides good value not only now, but for the lifetime of the project. I want to build sites that are easy to maintain, easy to update, and easy for different developers to cycle in-and-out of. With sustainability, and all of the elements that contribute to it in mind, I present the 11 tips to start a Drupal project right. 

1. Commit to a Local->Dev-Stage->Prod developer workflow

Having a professional developer workflow should go without saying, but I often come on-board small, single-developer projects that have a remote development environment and a live environment - and nothing else. At the very least, projects of all sizes should have not only a dev and live environment, but developers should have local environments as well. 

There's a lot of focus on DevOps in the Drupal ecosystem (with good reason), but before you jump into a continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) system, be sure you have the basics first and then add complexity only as necessary. I've seen way too many projects invest in a full-on CI/CD system only to have it ignored because developers didn't have the time and/or expertise to utilize it properly.

2. Commit to the entire team using a project tracker

This is a bit of a pet-peeve of mine. I'm a firm believe that commitment to a project tracker must include 100% of the development team and stakeholders. Note the "and stakeholders" - this includes project managers, content and QA folks, and anyone else who has a role in the project. How often is a project ready to launch and then at the last minute a stakeholder chimes in requesting changes? This is demoralizing and frustrating for the entire development team.

Project tracker tasks should be focused. Large tasks like "theme the site" aren't very helpful and comment threads in tasks like this often become unwieldy, defeating the purpose of using a project tracker. Train the entire team on using the project tracker and committing to using it for the majority of project task communication. 

3. Utilize a remote Git repository

You're not using Git yet? Seriously? Stop reading this and go get yourself and your team trained up (we offer training). Also - commit early and often. Smaller, more focused commits (like project tasks) are easier to manage.

4. Use Composer to manage the code base

This is an article about Drupal 8, so this isn't really optional. While there is work in the community on various Composer-related projects, for now the Composer template for Drupal projects is the de-facto standard for managing your Drupal 8 project's codebase. Don't know how to use Composer? Learn it (we also offer Composer training).

5. Use consistent local development environments for development team

Avoid "it works on my machine" conversations for the rest of your life by ensuring that the entire development team is using identical local environment configurations. Docker-based solutions are tailor-made for this type of thing, but it has been possible for awhile with virtual machine-based solutions as well. A solid local development environment will pay dividends - making it easy to get new developers up-and-running, and allowing developers to focus on building the project, not monkeying around with their local environment.

I've been a fan of DDEV-Local, a Docker-based solution, for awhile - I provide training and I also wrote a book about it! 

6. Define information architecture with all stakeholders

This is where I see projects go sideways more often than not. When defining the information architecture (IA) for the site, all stakeholders must be involved. This tip really goes hand-in-hand with the next one, but the bottom line is that this needs to be a discussion. There's nothing worse than getting near the end of a project and showing it to a content author and finding out that there are gaps. Generally, the goal is to get the granularity right when defining IA. This is next to impossible to do without feedback early in the process from all stakeholders.

Review any existing content that is to be migrated to the new system, ask content authors what the issues with their current system are, and be careful not to over-engineer a solution that won't provide enough bang-for-the-buck. 

7. Prototype information architecture with content authors

This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one - an important part of defining the IA is testing and confirming that everything is accounted for. In my experience, the absolute best way to do this is by prototyping the system. Allow your actual content authors, editors, and admins to test-drive the new architecture by adding and editing content on a prototype of the site. This needs to be done very early in the development process, so the focus should be 100% on the add/edit forms - not the output. In fact, I recommend not putting any effort into theming the output at this point, making it crystal clear that the prototyping exercise is to confirm that the set of entities, bundles, and fields designs are on-target.

I really cannot stress enough how important this step is. IA mistakes made early that are not corrected will be a burden until they are corrected (if ever). It's normally relatively easy (and inexpensive) to fix IA mistakes early - quite the opposite if they are left to fester and other parts of the site are built upon them. I have never been part of a project where the IA prototyping didn't result in important updates to the IA. 

8. Create a style guide

If you're building a custom theme, then you probably need a style guide. Part of a solid UX/UI design is consistency in design. Consistency brings user comfort. When users are more comfortable on your site, they'll spend more time there. 

Style guides can be as simple or as complex as they need to be. At the absolute minimum, I would recommend that a style guide contain basic typography and a color palette. You'll need to consider how/if typography will change based on responsive mode (are H1s the same pixel size on mobile as they are on a desktop display?) Similarly, you'll want to think about how the header/navigation/footer respond to various screen widths as well. Have an element that appears throughout your site? Then define rules how it looks in various places and various screen widths. 

9. Create wireframes and mockups as necessary

Similarly, if your project is going to have a custom theme, then you're going to need to design the layout of key pages. How are landing pages arranged? How do they respond at various screen widths? Think about the entire site and design wireframes for a representative sample of pages. Only 2 or 3 wireframes are necessary for many projects (home page, content page, interior landing page). 

Consider these representative pages as a group, not individually. Look for common elements (easier to theme) and value consistency. If every page is a one-off, then implementation costs will rise. 

Start with wireframes and generate only the mockups you need. Often, between a solid style guide and some good wireframes, mockups aren't necessary in many cases. Think of the style guide as a box of LEGO bricks that can be assembled into mockups in various configurations. If time and budget is limited, favor the style guide over mockups.

10. Use the Configuration System

Drupal 8's configuration system provides a powerful tool to easily push non-code configuration changes between environments. The "trick" to using it is that the entire team has to understand and participate in the process. If the development team is five people, and only two are using the configuration system, you're going to have rough sledding. 

The configuration system will help enforce a solid developer workflow, encouraging team members to update and test configuration (like a new View) locally before pushing it to remote development environments. A byproduct of using the configuration system is that config changes can easily tracked by the project tracker via commit messages. 

11. Define realistic and meaningful milestones

There's not much that kills developer morale and confidence in a project more than lack of project leadership. At the core of this is often a lack of project planning and milestones. All team members should be involved in the setting of goals and milestones for the project. A single milestone of "the site must be done in 5 months" doesn't cut it. The entire team should work together to define realistic and meaningful milestones. Take into account non-project responsibilities of team members, identify and plan for potential pain points in the project. 

Project leaders need to listen to team members and provide training and professional guidance when necessary. Most developers are problem solvers who like to learn new things. Project leaders should embrace and leverage this for the betterment of their projects, the result will be a positive one for the entire team!

Mike Anello is the architect and instructor for DrupalEasy’s Drupal Career Online, which includes intensive live online sessions, rich learning resources, an active learning community and hands-on projects designed to provide those who need to get skilled up in Drupal with the best possible start. The next session of the DCO starts February 25th. If you’d like to learn more, you can sign up for a no-cost Taste of Drupal mini-webinar.

Categories: Drupal

Jacob Rockowitz: Webform 8.x-5.x stable release plan

5 February 2019 - 7:38am

Looking back

Three years ago on Christmas day, I tagged the first alpha of the YAML Form module, which became the Webform module for Drupal 8. Looking back, it has been a great learning experience building and maintaining the Webform module. Looking forward, I want to make sure the Webform module is as stable as possible while still trying to smooth out any rough edges around accessibility and user experience. Everyone should feel that the Webform module is a stable, supported, and maintained part of Drupal's ecosystem of contributed modules. To help organizations and individuals understand what to expect from a stable release of the Webform module, it’s worth defining some general goals.

Setting goals

The goals of this blog post and the overall stability of the Webform module are to…

  • Define the ongoing stable release cycle.

  • Document what to expect from stable releases.

  • Encourage the growth of Webform add-ons and integrations.

Tagging releases

For the past three years, I've been tagging a new release at the beginning of each month. Frequently monthly releases were quickly followed up with a hotfix release to address unexpected regressions. Regressions happen because the Webform module is a feature-rich application with maybe not enough test coverage and definitely not enough eyeballs reviewing the code. Quality assurance is a challenge for open source projects; reviewing code for free is not as much fun as writing it. Even Drupal core needs help with improving the reliability of minor updates.

For example, Webform 8.x-5.1 was released at the...Read More

Categories: Drupal

ComputerMinds.co.uk: A/B Testing with ABJS module

5 February 2019 - 5:00am

ABJS is a contrib Drupal module, and, without any requirements or ties to paid services, is as low cost as you can get. As we’ll see, it’s pretty basic but it really lets you get down to building your own understanding of how A/B testing works. The beauty of ABJS is in its simplicity. The settings pages are fairly self-explanatory, which is really helpful. Let’s set up a basic A/B test to show how things work.

Setting up our first experience

In our test, we’re going to split the site 50:50 in order to test an alternate homepage design. Go to /admin/config/user-interface/abjs and get a feel for things. See the tabs across the top? The best way to set up a new test is to work backwards. That’s because your Tests will need to reference your Conditions and Experiences - and you’ll need to create them before you can use them.

First up, create an Experience. Experiences make the actual A’s and B’s of your A/B tests. Go to the Experiences tab. Give your experience a very clear and helpful name. Our first one will be our normal homepage experience. Making a ‘normal’ experience allows us to explicitly log our page views for our analytics.

The Javascript we set up for our site looks like this:

if (typeof(ga) !== "undefined") { ga('set', 'dimension1', 'normal'); } window.Drupal = window.Drupal || { 'settings': {}, 'behaviors': {}, 'locale': {} }; window.Drupal.behaviors.abtesting = { attach: function(context, settings) { jQuery('#request-a-quote-form').on('submit', function() { ga('send', 'event','Productfinder', 'ID search', 'Homepage'); }); } }

1. We came to the Drupal Behavior format after realising that the ABJS scripts in the header would run before the Google Analytics scripts, and we would need the GA script to run before we could log our analytics. You could probably do this another way if you wanted, but this is easy enough to copy and paste for now.

2. Set our custom GA dimension.

3. This ends up happening before Drupal is actually ready to accept and execute behaviors, hence the very careful creation/copy of the window.Drupal variable.

4. Add a submit handler to our form, which will send an event to GA. This is the thing we’re trying to measure. Hopefully our alternate version of the page will result in more clicks on this button, and we’ll be able to track those in GA.

If you copy & paste the above, you'll want to make your tweaks:

1. Change the first call to ga() in line 2 to be a dimension you’ve set up in Google Analytics (Go do that now! Their support articles are really good, so I won’t explain that here).

2. Set the value for that call to be the value you want (‘normal’ may well be fine).

3. Change the event values in the final call to ga() to send the event values you want or need. They don’t need to be fancy, just unique - you just need to be able to track them in GA. Now, go create an “Alternate homepage experience” experience.

Set up your Alternate Experience

This is the Experience for the change / difference you're wanting to test.

Copy the JS from your ‘Normal’ experience, and tweak it to:

1. Have a different value for your GA dimension

2. Make an actual change to your page. Put this after the jQuery/ga call.

Now go create your condition(s).

All your experience Javascript will be added to every page, so this is where you make sure that you’re only running things where and when you really want to. Again, you write up some Javascript; it will return a Boolean value indicating to ABJS whether you want your test to be run. In our example, we’re just testing the homepage. So we’ll just do this:

return (window.location.pathname == "/");

Don't forget to set a helpful and clear name for your Condition, so it's easy to select later.


Test time!

At last, you can now go set up your Test.

1. Give your test a name. Make it helpful, so that you know which test does what when you have multiple tests later :) Perhaps name it after the change you’re making in your alternate test.

2. Select your two experiences in the two select boxes. Don’t let the fraction field confuse you - this is just the proportion of people you want to be diverted to each of your two experiences. This can be super helpful if you want, for example, to test something on a small proportion of users. For us doing our small, low-cost A/B test on our small client’s site, we want to maximise our data. So we’re doing 50:50 - this means fractions of 0.5 and 0.5 You can have multiple experiences here, which is pretty neat. So if you want to test multiple variations of your homepage, you can! Go for it!

3. Double check your Javascript :) Go execute it in the browser console or something, to make sure it works. No point taking your site down accidentally!

4. Set your test to 'Active'! This will add your tests to the site, so you can start collecting data! Now is the time to go to Google Analytics and watch the data pour in (for some definition of pour, depending on how busy your site is right now!).


Analysing your data

A key thing to remember when watching your analytics is that things change all the time, and sometimes randomness can be responsible for what you’re seeing. Or maybe there was a seasonal spike in sales which increased revenue that week, or maybe you’re not filtering your users to the right segment… A few recommendations for you:

  • Create segments for your two dimension values, so you can easily filter your data.
  • Data can be misleading. Always check other angles before declaring you’ve fixed the problem.
  • Run your numbers to check the Statistical Significance. If you don’t have tens of thousands of samples, your results may just be random chatter rather than necessarily related to the changes your Experience made. Either remember your A-Level statistics, or go use an online calculator. I recommend https://measuringu.com/statistically-significant/ for a good explainer.
  • If your site is not high traffic, you may need to run your tests for weeks or even months to get enough data to clearly show whether there's a difference. Or, it may be worth deciding that there's not clearly a difference, so it's worth testing something else.
     

     

So, we’ve created some tests with ABJS. How did it go?

Overall, ABJS is nice because it feels like you’re in control. And all developers like to feel in control. It’s also nice because if you want to go set up a test, you can! It’s easy!

Where ABJS loses out is in the pile of lovely features that the big products out there can offer. Creating, managing, scheduling and analysing are all tasks that have been made a lot easier by some off-the-shelf products. But if you can’t afford that budget, or really rather enjoy thinking things through (or indeed love a bit of statistics!) then this is your lot - and it works well enough.

Later on in the series we'll be playing with Google Analytics' A/B testing suite and seeing how it compares. Stay tuned!

Categories: Drupal

CTI Digital: How do you start contributing to Drupal without code?

5 February 2019 - 2:27am

Outlets for contributing to Drupal beyond code, whilst abundant, are not always evident to those having interest to do so. I want to help people become better acquainted with ways to get involved and how to start their contribution journey. Be they completely new to Drupal or simply yet to find an outlet.

Categories: Drupal

Agiledrop.com Blog: Top Drupal blog posts from January 2019

5 February 2019 - 12:25am

Just like every month, we’ve prepared a selection of the most interesting and engaging Drupal-related blog posts from the previous month. Check out January’s list and make sure you haven’t missed any!

READ MORE
Categories: Drupal

Spinning Code: SCDUG November 2018

4 February 2019 - 5:00am

This fall the South Carolina Drupal User’s Group started using Zoom are part of all our meetings. Sometimes the technology has worked better than others, but when it works in our favor we are recording the presentations and sharing them when we can.

In November Kaylan Wagner gave a draft talk on using experiences in the world of online gaming to be a better remote team member.

We frequently use these presentations to practice new presentations and test out new ideas. If you want to see a polished version hunt group members out at camps and cons. So if some of the content of these videos seems a bit rough please understand we are all learning all the time and we are open to constructive feedback.

If you would like to join us please check out our up coming events on Meetup for meeting times, locations, and connection information.

Categories: Drupal

DrupalEasy: DrupalEasy Podcast 215 - Kaleem Clarkson - Drupal Event Organizers Working Group

4 February 2019 - 4:00am

Direct .mp3 file download.

Kaleem Clarkson, Operations Manager and Front-End Drupal Developer at Kennesaw State University and Drupal developer at blend me inc. Listen in as they discuss the newly formed Drupal Event Organizers Group and Mike breaks bad news about the Marvel Universe to Kaleem.

Discussion DrupalEasy News Upcoming Events Sponsors Follow us on Twitter Subscribe

Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play or Miro. Listen to our podcast on Stitcher.

If you'd like to leave us a voicemail, call 321-396-2340. Please keep in mind that we might play your voicemail during one of our future podcasts. Feel free to call in with suggestions, rants, questions, or corrections. If you'd rather just send us an email, please use our contact page.

Categories: Drupal

Matt Glaman: Testing your Drupal code base for deprecated code usage with PHPStan

3 February 2019 - 7:14am
Testing your Drupal code base for deprecated code usage with PHPStan Sunday 3, February 2019 mglaman

Last month I wrote about writing better Drupal code with static analysis using PHPStan. One of the more practical uses I saw for PHPStan and Drupal was the discovery of deprecated code usages through the phpstan/phpstan-deprecation-rules package. I had not fully tested it, until this week. 

Categories: Drupal

blog.studio.gd: Drupal 8 Views Plugins (Part 2) : The display extender plugin

3 February 2019 - 12:04am
Let's see how and why to use a views display extender plugin.
Categories: Drupal

blog.studio.gd: Views Plugins (Part 1) : Simple area handler plugin

3 February 2019 - 12:04am
In this series I will show you how to make use of the new Drupal 8 Plugin system, we begin with a simple example : the views area handler plugins.
Categories: Drupal

blog.studio.gd: Overview of CMI in Drupal 8

3 February 2019 - 12:04am
Some notes about the new Configuration management system in Drupal 8
Categories: Drupal

blog.studio.gd: Migrate to Drupal 8 from a custom site

3 February 2019 - 12:04am
Migrate is now included in the Drupal core for making the upgrade path from 6.x and 7.x versions to Drupal 8.

In this article will see how to use the Drupal migration framework to migrate custom sites to drupal 8.
Categories: Drupal

blog.studio.gd: Inline Entity Display

3 February 2019 - 12:04am
Handle referenced entity fields directly in the parent entity
Categories: Drupal

WeKnow: Improving Drupal and Gatsby Integration - The Gatsby Boina Starter

1 February 2019 - 9:47am
Improving Drupal and Gatsby Integration - The Gatsby Boina Starter

This is the latest post of the “Improving Drupal and Gatsby Integration” series. This time I will be talking about the Gatsby Boina Starter; we are contributing to make your Drupal-Gatsby integration easier. The Boina starter ships with the main Gatsby configuration files you might need to get up and running on your Gatsby site.

jmolivas Fri, 02/01/2019 - 17:47
Categories: Drupal

OPTASY: How to Decouple Drupal Commerce to Deliver Richer Shopping Cart Experiences: Useful Modules

1 February 2019 - 4:16am
How to Decouple Drupal Commerce to Deliver Richer Shopping Cart Experiences: Useful Modules radu.simileanu Fri, 02/01/2019 - 12:16

Just imagine it: Drupal 8's robust features as a CMS, the flexible e-commerce functionality of the Drupal Commerce ecosystem and a JavaScript framework for the front-end! All in the same native mobile app! You can easily achieve this “combo” — a reliable content repository & a JS-based front-end providing a fantastic shopping cart experience — if you just... decouple Drupal Commerce.

For why should you trade Drupal's battle-tested content authoring and administration tools for a more interactive user experience? 

And why should you give up on your goal to deliver richer cart experiences just because Drupal 8 can't rival the JavaScript in terms of advanced native mobile app functionality?
 

Categories: Drupal

DrupalCon News: You should stay at a DrupalCon partner hotel. Here’s why.

1 February 2019 - 4:12am

The hotels we chose each offer an ideal hub—connecting you to a rewarding DrupalCon community experience. 

Categories: Drupal

Drupal Association blog: Introducing Community Group Sections in the Community Portal

1 February 2019 - 4:09am
/Community

As mentioned previously, we have been collaborating across the Drupal community on updating and, expanding Drupal.org/community and that work is ongoing. There are still wrinkles to resolve, such as how to make the menus on that page more obvious, but we are getting there:

Next step - community group sections

One of the things I was especially keen to do was to make areas for the groups of people that make our community work available under /community and give them the tools and space to tell the World about:

  1. Who they are
  2. What they do
  3. How they work
  4. What their latest updates are
  5. How you can get involved.

Well, the framework to do this looks good and the first couple of sections are now available. You can see the following community groups already:

  1. Event Organizers’ Group
  2. Core Mentoring Group
  3. Agency marketing Group (the Promote Drupal initiative)

Each section will have a “standard” home page content, detailing the info above, as many content pages as the group can muster and a blog that will go onto Drupal Planet.

Of course, a group will likely have content across many different parts of the Drupal.org website. I’m especially keen for all members of our community to be able to see what groups there are and how they work in one easy to consume place. Our project values challenge us all to clearly define how our community functions: "We foster a learning environment, prefer collaborative decision-making, encourage others to get involved and to help lead our community."

What about the community group you are a member of?

If you represent a community group and would like to join the growing list of those with sections under /community, please get in contact

I’m looking at globally-relevant groups right now - maybe in the future, we will look at what we can do to support local groups.

Imagine what could be possible when new members of our community come to /community and find right where they belong! I'm excited to see what's next.

Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Integrating Drupal and Salesforce? Surely a win-win for you.

1 February 2019 - 3:54am
Integrating Drupal and Salesforce? Surely a win-win for you. Vasundhra Fri, 02/01/2019 - 17:24

The number eight in bible signifies resurrection and regeneration, a digit that implies “New beginnings” 

Just like the resurrection of Drupal which loudly announced its new inceptions as a content management system, and its ability to connect with Saas CRM like Salesforce. 

Salesforce is like the heart for most of the business that has allowed them to handle there sales data at one stop and given highest priority in terms of customer’s growth. And now that it has a tighter integration than ever before, Drupal 8 can do it too 


So instead of wasting any more of your time and beating around the bush, let's explore the paths that lead down its integration and the key considerations that are involved in it. 

Benefits of Integrating Drupal and Salesforce

Managing Territories

When you have a team of salespeople small or big, how would you manage that which territories or which areas each of them is going after? 

Definitely with the help of Salesforce that would monitor and track almost anything that you can imagine of. Instead of managing those old school spreadsheets, a CRM like Salesforce can help you track and monitor all the tasks. It saves your time, resources that arrives while managing small and large scale teams. With the help of this CRM, you have the power to do many things such as:

  • Better management of lead processing and territories.
  • The leads can be assigned to the users according to according to the data that have business sense.
  • Instant email notifications can help in rep up the sales of the customers and prospects immediately.
  • It can help you attain better efficiency. 

Tracking competitors and managing opportunities 

In this competitive world, it is important to track and manage your competitors. You can do this thing with the help of Salesforce CRM. 

It diligently ensures that each and every opportunity is followed up on and not forgotten through the various in-built tools and responses faster to any client that enquires about your services or products which shows ultimately to your customers that you care about their business.

Forecasting

A good CRM system gives you the ability from a business point of view to track exactly what is happening but also accurately forecast the growth or decline of your business. For forecasting, salesforce can also provide you with:

  • Calculate the forecasting including all the information from the sales team.
  • Differentiate between booked and recurring venues 
  • Customize forecast based on the parameters that make sense to the business.

Managing Orders

The Salesforce CRM allows you to truly manage end to end customer relationships. You can see everything from the first time when you engage with a client to when they place an order and beyond. 

The best part about Salesforce CRM in terms of managing order is that it can easily turn an estimate into order and beyond with a single click of a button and customized or automated reports based on what you need to see

Architectural approaches

There are different architectural approaches to have you think about data flow that provides for different requirements and satisfy different needs. Architectures like:

Technology Description Strengths Weakness Real-Time Push Sends data immediately on the entity and creates,  updates and deletes Fast, limited, update lag, avoids UX, can avoid race conditions  Less durable and reliable  Cron Based Sync Identify records requiring sync on the cron Handles large volumes well, can be stopped and start as needed Slow, lags and risk the update conflicts Work Queue Single point of integration receives data and action Reliable, performant and has a shorter time lag Large changes create backlogs, the risk of update conflicts

Real-Time Push

With the real-time integration, the Drupal objects are exported to salesforce immediately. You get the feedbacks indicating whether the item failed to export and the data is available in Salesforce or not. This can be a great option if you need the data to be in the salesforce as close as possible.

Cron Based Sync

Earlier in Drupal 7 the asynchronous push left hiccups concerning error handling (which involved debugging and troubleshooting) optimization, API calls etc.

Now in Drupal 8 salesforce cron based push service has been introduced to construct database queues, normalizing queue items, optimizing queue operations and implementing error handling. 

The Cron based sync has helped Drupal’s core API schedule synchronization from salesforce to Drupal. 

Work Queues

With the queue-based batching system running in the background, it allows many objects to be sent to the salesforce as soon as possible. Instead of the objects being sent to the Salesforce at the same time. In this architecture, instead of the objects that are being sent to the salesforce as soon as it is created, edited, deleted it goes into the queue where it waits to be exported to other items. 

The queues items are then picked up on the configurable schedule and then exports to the Salesforce in batches. Batching the data helps in synchronization and helps to increase the performance by using fewer API calls.

Approaches suitable for integration

There are many ways to move your data from the website to another application. Drupal and Salesforce out of which is the easiest and allows integration in almost all projects. Here are some approaches which are suitable to integrate Drupal and Salesforce.

Simple web forms

Salesforce lets you create simple HTML web form (Web-to-lead or web-to-case)  that generates lead or case records in Salesforce when they are submitted. 

Anyone of the Salesforce administrator can create these forms and then paste them in Drupal for the users to complete it. 


While not all of the things are addressed in every circumstance, there are specific situations when this method is a good solution: 

  • A basic idea on the user data or inquiry information into Salesforce is needed.
  • There is no or little expertise in web development. 
  • Something quick and easy is needed. 

Third party form service 

There are an ample number of form services like Formstack, click and pledge and Wufoo that have the power to pass the data to Salesforce. In this, you can either embed the form in Drupal or let the user click through the platform.


This method is suitable when the following conditions are applied:

  • When there is a need to pass both user and transaction data into Salesforce. 
  • There is no need to move the information in both the directions. 
  • You may want users to log in to submit a form or return to the form and provide more information later. 
  • You want sophisticated solutions that don’t really need to be customized

Salesforce Suite

The Salesforce Suit is the collection of all the Drupal modules that allow synchronization of all the data and the information that is between Drupal and Salesforce in single or both directions. This suit also has the ability to provide a mapping tool that can be used to define the integration which is field-by-field and object-by-object.


Salesforce forms

The simplest way to hook Drupal up (or any other website) with Salesforce is by simply linking over to a form that is created by the Salesforce. Any data that the user is entering gets dumped directly to the salesforce and Drupal is not involved in it.

This type of method is good for a lead generation or simple application form. One of the biggest advantage in using salesforce forms is that it is not only cheap and easy to use, but there are zero setups that are done on Drupal side besides providing a link to the form.

Salesforce mapping 

There might be instances where you might have content that constitutes in both Drupal as well as Salesforce and is needed to stay in sync. Salesforce mapping does that task for everyone. 

Salesforce mapping keeps the version of the data at both ends, whatever happens to one happens to the other version too. 

Rules can also be made to add, delete, push or pull data.  

 

  Cost Direction   Complexity Simple Web Forms Free  One direction inbound to Salesforce DIY Third Party Form Service Low One direction  DIY or Developer Assistance Salesforce Suite Moderate To High  Bi-directional  Developer Assistance Salesforce Mapping High Double-entering the same content in two places Developer Assistance Salesforce Forms Low  Natural  DIY Integrating with different Directions   Integrating with One Direction Integrating with two directions Useful when When you have to pass user data, transaction data, and specific node types  When data is entered directly into Salesforce  To keep Integration Simple  Modern  Advantage This approach limits complexity and therefore liability and errors. Fewer duplicate records are created in Salesforce. User Experience No updates required to impact UX  Users need sophisticated interaction such as the ability to view offline data you have entered  Use Cases Donation forms, Event registration Donation forms, Event registration  Drupal modules are here to ease the integration with Salesforce 

The Drupal Salesforce Suite module is a testament to both the ingenuity and passion of the Drupal community and the flexibility of Drupal as an enterprise platform. As a contributed module, the Salesforce Suite for Drupal enables out of the box connection with Salesforce, no matter what your configuration is. It supports integration by simply synchronizing Drupal entities (eg users, nodes) with the Salesforce objects (organization, contacts)

The Drupal community, as a matter of fact, has been contributing a lot to this part. It has come together to sponsor the development of the suite of Salesforce integration modules that can deal with a variety of business needs. To rewrite the module, the community gathered time and the resources, taking full advantage of the advances that were made in the Drupal and Salesforce platforms. To put it all together it now has been rearranged into a modular architecture exposing core functionality via an API enabling other systems, E.g., Springboard, Jackson River’s fundraising platform 

Most importantly the Drupal suite module has authorized Auth 2.0 to its highest access control 

For the non-technical users, the Drupal entity and Salesforce object mapping system has provided them with the power to configure the data maps between any objects in any 2 systems. Not only this but the synchronization between any Drupal entity and Salesforce object, E.g., Drupal users, donation receipts has been made easy. It has presented its users with a lightweight wrapper around the SOAP API, which has more capabilities for some use cases, using the same OAuth authorization 

Examples of the Use case of Drupal and Salesforce Integration 

SpringBoard 

A packaged distribution of Drupal for non-profit organizations, Springboard, Jackson River’s innovative solution (for online fundraising and marketing), needed to accept online donations and wanted to use Drupal to power other user touch points such as petitions, email registration and more. Springboard presented a robust integration queue for bi-directional sync of data between Drupal and Salesforce.com CRM.

RedHen CRM 

RedHen CRM has been designed for the needs of membership organizations and associations, the RedHen framework is extensible and flexible and can be leveraged to produce a broad range of CRM solutions. For instance, RedHen could be used as a light-weight sales pipeline management tool for small businesses. RedHen CRM could also be leveraged as an integration point between Drupal and much larger, enterprise CRM solutions such as Salesforce. 

Case studies on Cornell University 

The university offers hundreds of opportunities to the students including the ones that are living aboard. But to take the advantages of the opportunities the student had to navigate a full maze of departments and websites. Thus, to solve this issue Cornell University Experience Initiative (CUEI) came up with a plan to bring out a “Netflix” like experience to the students that provide customizable user guide making it easy for the students and the opportunities. 

An organization known as Pantheon was chosen. They wanted to maintain there content with Drupal but also wanted to manage student application and data with Salesforce CRM. The whole team chose Message Agency as their partner to help conceptualize how Drupal and Salesforce would work. Message Agency is also an architecture of the Salesforce Suite, a set of Drupal modules that allows integration of these two powerful solutions.


There are interested students who come to the site to find things and explore. For that task, Drupal does a really good job, but when it comes to actions and customization Salesforce wins in it. This created a whole new paradigm of student’s communication and interaction. 

The technique of centralizing information also provided Cornell with opportunities where each department had their individual page or site with content strategies. But before the website went live the CSEI team tested the user experience with the most trusted stakeholders: Cornell Students

The feedback which they received was overwhelming. They granted with positive reviews telling that how great and well organized the website was. Not only this but Pantheon also evaluated the site’s performance under the traffic load by providing complexity and image-heavy design 

The Future 

The wide raps of what Salesforce and Drupal make possible has given us a vivid idea on how the sales can be increased and raised among the marketing organizations. If you take one view away from all of the above, it should be this: there's definitely an integration that will work for your organization's needs and budget, but it might not be as efficient as integrating Salesforce and Drupal.

If you are able to get a Drupal-Salesforce integration deployed to your operation and organization, there is no doubt on the fact that you will enjoy streamlined and optimized business processes in the short and long term, thus boosting sales and also making the entire process much more comfortable and effective. The flexibility and customizability of Salesforce could prove to be troublesome when it comes to the consistency of your back-end.

Conclusion 

Drupal installations are all unique because of the different modules and customizations that they use, so integration has to be set up in a different manner by an expert.

If you already have a Salesforce instance set up, we'll be happy to explore the appropriate integration options. If you're new to Salesforce, we can work with your Salesforce developers to make sure your data is structured in a way that minimizes the integration effort and costs. 

Ping us at  hello@opensenselabs.com now for the required services related to the whole topic.

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