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OpenSense Labs: Open Source : A community and culture

31 May 2019 - 5:28am
Open Source : A community and culture Harshit Fri, 05/31/2019 - 17:58

Open source communities are more about sharing ultimate value rather than just building something. They love to contribute and impact people all across the globe. Open source culture is more than just reusing free code on GitHub to get products to market faster.

The open source culture embraces an approach to software development which totally lays emphasis on all round collaboration and helpful nature, the teams tend to focus more on increased competencies instead of core infrastructure and cross channel implementation.  The culture embraces an approach to software development that emphasizes internal and external collaboration, an increasing focus on core competencies instead of core infrastructure, and implementation of DevOps processes commonly associated with microservices and cloud native technologies. 

What are the key traits of an open source community and culture? A responsibility to contribute 

Open source involves a broad range of technologies and a diverse set of people who bring some or the other expertise to the table. Often people are more inclined towards contributing the best of their individual abilities. They feel the responsibility to contribute and make sure they are often involved in the betterment of multiple projects and are they are often people are members of multiple projects, involving a broad range of technologies. Frequently, member recognition isn’t set by how much they’re paid or what titles they’re called. It’s how much of a headache is solved or endured for others. 

 All round responsibility and accountability

Accountability between members begins when they know each other as people and professionals. It’s especially important to have consistent written contact, ad hoc and scheduled video conferencing, and meeting in person at least once a year to build personal bonds.

Seamless and undeterred Collaboration

Collaboration for an open source organization culture stretches across multiple areas. Well into domains like organization goals, cultural fit, and more.

Team members who define together what a cultural fit is demonstrates what's important to the organization. Just as, a united group of passionate hackers and designers who take part in the joys of community sharing, they want to hire those having like interests and similar ideals.

More inclination towards automation

Automating tasks within an organizational culture is about respecting people’s effort while not wanting them to be distracted from getting the right thing done when needed. 

Organizational members focus ultimately should be on what’s important to them and, in turn, the organization.

Consistency in everything 

The consistency of people, processes, and management thereof is the glue of an open source organization culture. Without consistency of action, principles and guidelines flounder despite the best of intentions.

Streamlined Processes

It's extremely hard work to develop fundamentals when shortcuts and hacks so often seem to provide great short-term benefits. However, consistency is the key to positive long-term results.  

For example; there needs to be a detailed and consistent process in hiring for fit, not skills, and for the long-term. Beyond these two key criteria, the candidates should also be demonstrably capable, driven, and passionate for the role to be filled.  

An underlying passion 

The underlying spirit to do good work is hard to find, it comes to you upon due search. And it is more powerful than any other driving force in the professional landscape. You will strive harder and harder for the things which mean something to you and the Drupal community makes you feel connected to their growth, you grow as they grow, which ultimately helps you feel the need to deliver sheer excellence. 

Shared Responsibility

At an organization, culture becomes the way you work. Through culture, there’s a shared responsibility for good communication and positive results. In communicating with clients and one another, it needs to be timely, considerate, and accurate. 

Drupal: For great community and culture Drupal has a predefined set of values and principles

Drupal, since its inception was built around a foundational set of values and principles. The agenda was to gather a community of like minded individuals and bring them on the same page about the vision and mission of the product and its roadmap.

Source: Dries Buytaert’s Blog Drupal’s code of conduct and CWG 

Drupal community's Community Working Group comprises of independent volunteers who strive hard to protect and promote the health of the entire Drupal community, they also help and maintain and keep on track the Drupal Code of Conduct and also act as the escalation body to help mediate conflict between community members. 

What should make you want to contribute to Drupal?

Can you imagine hundreds of thousands of people relying on your code or waiting to get some feedback from you? Their business’s growth is dependent on the advancements you make in your contribution. The more you contribute the better your worth and stance in the community, what is better than people believing, listening and relying on you for some advancements in the community? 

Final word 

Open Source is here to stay and develop software that has a huge impact upon individuals and businesses. People continue to make efforts because of their underlying passion for building great things and open source communities are an example of that. 

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Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Myths about OpenSource Technology

31 May 2019 - 5:02am
Myths about OpenSource Technology Harshit Fri, 05/31/2019 - 17:32

Open source software has been receiving some serious criticism and some serious applauds from the tech community all across the world. People beg to differ on a lot of ideas about it, it has led to some serious publicity over these years. But hold on a second, with publicity comes myth and with myth comes some serious thoughts and people get mislead. Which at the end of the day hampers people’s thought process. Some think source software is totally free to use and some question its security quotient.

Open source technology has made it nearly possible to do so much in literally no time.

Let’s get into some myths about open source technology about back them with actual facts.

Myth #1: Open Source is free

Many people get more inclined towards open source software because they are misled into thinking that open source software is free to use and there will be hardly any software run costs in the future. On the correct note, this is not true, open source means open source code and that you can easily  access the source code of any system if you are enrolled in any given community.

To break it into a more understandable concept:

An Open Source Content Management System vendor can charge you for the services being provided around the open source software, And by far there is no link between the software license and the what you have to pay to get out of it.

Take Drupal for example, it's free to download and use for personal purposes but the advancements have gone so far that you will need to seek expert services for utilising the software to it's very best potential.

What's the free part?

You are free to access the source code behind the functionality and alter it for your own use case but provided that you abide by the terms and conditions in the license agreement.

Myth #2 - All open source software is Linux based

This myth is one of the most common and it’s fair enough for people to believe, especially when they are new to the open source landscape or just starting off their careers. When OSS came into the picture, this was the most commonly When people mentioned OSS, the quick and common assumption about it is that OSS only runs on the Linux operating system. It is a quick and easy assumption to make as many open source programs are made with Linux availability as a prime motivator.

MYTH #3: Contribution to OpenSource is only for startups

In the government sector, open source contribution is strong and they have the deploy teams to be able to handle and make the best use out of the open source software. Hence they end up making more and more contributions in the process.

On the other hand, the developers in the public sector do contribute to the code base but they have to expect some benefit out of it, either in the financial aspects or on the career trajectory aspect.  Some state and federal agencies like code.ca.gov and code.gov are using code sharing and collaboration to help the government in cutting down the duplicacy costs.

Drupal as an open source software is great for giving startups a heads up for showcasing their expertise and content. On the other hand, it is also one of the best solutions when it comes to enterprise requirements. You can custom build your content management systems which serve for a large scale content repository.

Myth 4 : OSS is less secure than proprietary software

So, is open source software inherently more secure? Of course not. Before going for any open source solution, you should look into its security thoroughly.

You can always review its version history and the frequency of security updates provided by the supporting community, you should also look for the amount of work being poured into its security segment and what is the word of mouth like?

Maybe you’ll even find an independent agency vouching for a product’s security, or certificates proving its reliability, or a respected colleague who can assure you that it's the best option on the market.

Additionally, you can see what tools your competitors, partners, and established companies in the industry are using. For instance, Ruby on Rails is used by 500px and Airbnb, and that alone is a great indicator that this framework is reliable enough for startups.

Drupal is considered one of the most secure content management systems across the world. Why? Because of its dedicated security team and the frequent security releases which make the system more and more robust over time.

Myth 5 - OSS is not scalable

Open source software is never designed to fit in everyone's shoe, the entire agenda of open source software is to make sure people can make it fit in their shoes with the help of respective expertise and their organisational requirements.

Take Drupal for example, It is designed to be scalable and adaptable in comparison to its commercial competitors. It is supposed to be evolved by the community and hence meet enterprise expectations. Developers have been able to adapt projects to small  and enterprise size requirements.

Myth 6 - Open Source is not maintainable

It is a strong assumption that open source software is harder to maintain and it can lead to possible confusion among the user crowd. There is always a sense of responsibility and motivation to improve the code and better the software overall, not for monetary gain, not for any gain other than a feeling of social responsibility.

Open Source softwares generally track all the upgrades, improvements and maintenance measures using paid tools to help maintain a record of the versioning and who was the code contributed by. See? The community has already got the maintenance concern or issue covered before it even gets started.

One more strong foothold about open source is that it can be managed and the work can be overtaken by other technology service providers, in case your technical team decides to move on. So, you should now be sold on the idea that open source is maintained like a premier software.

Myth 7 - OSS doesn’t have a support system in place

Since there is no one to hold accountable openly, people think open source software is less cared about or not supported so well in the industry.

But things are the absolute opposite, the amount of care and support put in by the community support teams is enthralling and it can completely change your mindset about it. Companies which run on the software bring in their brightest minds to help provide support for their software so that they don't get shut down at the end of the day due to lack of sincerity in support and care.

Final word

There might be a ton of myths and rumors circulating within and outside the communities but one should always think and work this out before making any harsh assumptions. Myths often keep us from adopting or trying out a technology and this has to come to an end sooner or later because the technology and the community speak for themselves.

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Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Brace yourself, Drupal 9 is Coming!

31 May 2019 - 4:45am
Brace yourself, Drupal 9 is Coming! Jayati Fri, 05/31/2019 - 17:15

With Drupal 9 on the verge of release in June 2020, the Drupal community has about 18 months to map out a transition plan. The latest versions of Drupal in recent times saw a major breakthrough from the past versions. As the philosophy of development has changed, Drupal 9 is said to be built in Drupal 8 and the migration will be super easy this time.

Released in 2011, Dries announced the end-of-life (EOL) for Drupal 7 to be due in November 2021 after serving for more than 8 years. However, many people are still on Drupal 7 given the compatibility issues in the two versions which caused major disruption and migration became a task for developers. However, the new philosophy makes it easier to plan and anticipate any unforeseen obstacles that you may encounter. Are you prepared for it?

Planning for Drupal 9?

Launching with the objective to modernise the dependencies such as Twigs and Symfony and to remove support of deprecated APIs, Drupal 9 is making its way into the Drupal community soon.

Every new information being released about the update and new features is gearing us up for the big leap. The first and foremost action to be taken in consideration is to plan and upgrade no later than the summer of 2019. Experts believe, as long as your modules are updated with minor releases like Drupal 8.7 and the upcoming Drupal 8.9 in December 2019, there won’t be much to worry during the main release of Drupal 9. Being upto date with Drupal 8 is a crucial step for adaptability and easier usability in the future.  

Dries Buytaert wrote recently in a blog:

‘’Instead of working on Drupal 9 in a separate codebase, we are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8. This means that we are adding new functionality as backwards-compatible code and experimental features. Once the code becomes stable, we deprecate any old functionality.’’ What’s New in Drupal 9?

With a lot of buzz around the new features to be delivered, let’s understand few important reasons for the strategic release of Drupal 9:

  • The innovative model of Drupal 8 had new releases every six months which led to adding of new features and enabling improved ways of problem solving. However, Drupal 9 will deprecate the codes which are needed for backward compatibility. In the process, it will provide an opportunity to remove the codes and anything else that is no longer needed.
  • As of now, Drupal needs to adhere to the vendor support life cycles and integrates with common PHP projects like Twig and Symfony. But the third-party dependencies will reduce with Drupal 9 and we’ll have supported versions of software for a long time such as Twig 2 and Symfony 4/5.
Why upgrade Drupal 8 when Drupal 9 is coming?

Drupal 9 is not being built on a new core and its functionalities will not look alien to Drupal 8 users. Instead, they will be added to D8 as backward-compatible code. Only with time and familiarity, as the new features will hold a stable position and mark their success, the older counterparts will be deprecated. As a result, D9 will be stripped of all deprecated code and only the complete collection of stable features will be termed as Drupal 9.

For example, in Drupal 8.0.0, the Drupal::l($text, $url) was deprecated. Instead of using \Drupal::l(), you can use Link::fromTextAndUrl($text, $url). The \Drupal::l() function was marked for removal as part of some clean-up work.

What does it Mean…

With no new paradigms of development and yet being a big leap, how will Drupal 9 change the workings?

For Core Contributors:

Your tasks will get limited in Drupal 9 even before the release. Making the quality robust and release more predictable, new features will remove deprecated functionality and lead to Drupal's dependencies to a minimum.    

For contributed module authors

Similarly, authors can also start working on the compatibility issues before the release as their Drupal 8 know-how will still remains relevant in Drupal 9 with no dramatic changes in the core.

For Drupal site owners

The release of Drupal 9 will make the upgradation much easier for site owners. It will be the same as Drupal 8, only with its deprecated codes removed. According to the experts, keeping your modules and themes stay up-to-date with the latest Drupal 8 APIs will do and a 12- to 18-month upgrade period will be sufficient.

What happens to module, profile and theme maintainers?

Though existing Drupal 8 sites have a year and a half to upgrade to Drupal 9, the technology in Drupal 9 would be already battle-tested in Drupal 8. The set of tasks for module and theme maintainers involve getting updated with the new and better APIs. It would be a mandate to check if your code is compatible with Drupal 9 as it may hold invalid when sites migrate. However, do not wait till the release of Drupal 8.8 which is expected at the end of 2019. As six months will be a limited time to upgrade to Drupal 9 for complex codes, it’s advisable to start assessing now.

How to Prepare for Drupal 9

The big catch in this whole drill of migration is to make sure that you no longer use the deprecated codes. Following are few ways suggested by Acquia:

  • Be updated with Drupal 8 features and modules
  • Create a report for deprecation using Drupal Check.
  • Check for your active modules which might be deprecated at api.drupal.org
  • Address a consolidated list of errors that can occur and need upgradation to Drupal 9 by generating a ‘’readiness assessment’’.
  • Use the latest versions of dependencies in line with Drupal 9.
Wrapping it up

As Drupal 9 will emerge as a phoenix from the ashes of Drupal 8, Buytaert sums it up best, “The big deal about Drupal 9 is that…it should not be a big deal.”

Excited? Have questions about how Drupal 9 will impact your site? Want to chalk out a plan for upgradation? We are here to help. Drop a line to our experts at hello@opensenselabs.com.

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Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Run to Glory: The Drupal Effect on High Performance Websites

31 May 2019 - 4:06am
Run to Glory: The Drupal Effect on High Performance Websites Shankar Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:36

Usain Bolt, in his last appearance at the World Track and Field Championships in 2017, stood third by a narrow defeat in the 100m race leaving behind a yawning gulf. Bolt finished the race just a hundredth of a second later than his fellow competitors.

Every (nano)second counts!


Such is the importance of speed that even a three-time Olympic gold medallist, Usain Bolt, had to bear the brunt of those nanoseconds. Someone might ask “How do I get started learning about web performance?

Visualise that it is the Mega Book Sale Day and the bookworms are thronging the best performing online stores that are selling the books of renowned authors. Coping with such a colossal turn-up, a site with much faster page load speed would be preferred over the ones that are a bit sluggish. Drupal offers a superb platform for an effective website performance optimisation thereby making it faster and user-friendly.

The Significance of Website Performance Optimisation

Web performance optimisation involves monitoring the performance of web application analysing and assessing it, and identifying the best practices to improve it.

Web applications are a combination of server-side and client-side code. To improve the web performance, both the sides need to be optimised.

The client-side optimisation relates to the initial page load time, JavaScript that runs in the browser, downloading all of the resources etc. that are seen in the web browser.

The server-side optimisation relates to database queries and other application dependencies to check how long it takes to run on the server for executing requests.

Performance optimisation is significant because of the following factors:

User retention

BBC found that they are losing out of 10% of users for every extra second their website took to load. Also, DoubleClick by Google found that if the web page took more than 3 seconds to load, 53% of mobile site visitors tend to abandon the page.

 

We all strive to make our users engage in a meaningful interaction with what we have built for the web.

So, if it is an online store, you would like to see a prospective audience turning into buyers. Or if it is a social networking web application, you would want your online visitors to get ensconced in an arresting interaction with one another. High performing sites play a vital role in engaging and retaining users.

An increase in user retention by 5% can result in increased profits by up to 95%.

It costs 5 to 25 times more to attract new customers. So, even a 5% enhancement in customer retention can lead to increased profits of 25%-95%.

By redesigning their web pages, Pinterest combated a 40% reduction in perceived wait times and witnessed a 15% increase in their search engine traffic and sign-ups.

COOK, a provider of high-quality frozen meals, was able to address the average page load time and cut it down by 850 milliseconds which resulted in 7% in conversions, 10% increase in pages per session and 7% decrease in bounce rate.

Improved Conversions

User retention ultimately leads to better conversion rates. Slow sites can have huge repercussions on the business revenues. Better performance of sites can be highly profitable to shore up revenues.

Source: Hubspot

According to 2016 Q2 Mobile Insights Report by Mobify, 1.11% increase in session-based conversion was seen for every 100ms decrease in homepage load speed. Moreover, a 1.55% increase in session-based conversion was noticed for every 100ms decrease in checkout page load time. The outcome was an increase in the average annual revenue by approximately $530,000.

Also, AutoAnything revved up their sales by 12-13% after decreasing their page load time by half.

User experience

When sites ship tons of code, underwhelming performance persists as the browsers chew through megabytes of it on snail-paced networks. 

Source: Impactbnd

Even the devices with limited processing power and memory can find it hard to cope up with the modest amount of unoptimised code. With poor performance taking centre stage, application responsiveness and availability diminishes.

Better optimised code lead to high functioning and better-performing sites which in return alleviate the digital user experience.

Strategising the web performance

Formulation of strategies to improve web performance can be done in two ways:

Bottom-up strategy

Also known as performance-by-design, the bottom-up strategy is the preferred approach to integrate performance as a core development principle. In this strategy, the performance optimisation principles are framed, applied and maintained. This is done right from the application design phase. 

The key stages that are involved in this approach are stated below:

  • Performance principles are laid out.
  • The key pages/transactions are identified, optimised accordingly, and then performance principles are executed.
  • Performance SLAs (Service Level Agreement) are monitored and maintained.

Here's a chart by Infosys which explains it best: 

Key stages involved in bottom-up strategyTop-down strategy

If an existing application needs to be optimised for performance, top-down strategy comes into play. This is a preferred option only when the legacy applications are being optimised for high performance. Also, this is not cost effective and the optimisation options are limited.

Steps involved in this strategy are as follows:

  1. Factors that are contributing to the page performance are assessed using tools like PageSpeed Insights, WebPageTest etc.
  2. Activities that would lead to maximum performance improvements are optimised.
  3. Other optimisations with subsequent releases are iteratively implemented.

In addition to these strategies, one must consider an important methodology called ‘Performance Budgeting’. It means setting a performance threshold that you aim to stay within. You can safeguard your site speed and detect any regression in the performance by setting up a performance budget to ensure continual eye on performance.

This is how we do it!

Expected load time and Google page speed score, as shown below, is the core of our perpetual and iterative development process.

The above chart shows that, while applying performance budgeting methodology, we take note of:

  1. Average load time of 2 seconds or less
  2. Defined maximum limit on page size and number of HTTP requests
  3. Verification of all server site tuning for an efficient and responsive site
  4. Google page speed performance grade of above 90
  5. Implementing performance optimisation
Implementing Performance Optimisation

How to speed up my Drupal website performance? Drupal is loaded with an enormous amount of features which, when implemented smartly, can lead to superfast page loads. There are several techniques to make your website faster by leveraging the amazing features of Drupal.

Keeping your site and modules updated

Outmoded modules can deter your efforts in speeding up your website. Thus, it is important to update every module enabled on your Drupal site.

Uninstalling unused modules

Like those outdated modules, it is significant to keep a tab on least used or no longer used modules. The number of Drupal modules installed on the site is directly proportional to the time taken for code execution which affects page load time. Uninstalling unwanted modules can alleviate execution time.

Moreover disabling the modules also adds to the execution time of the code. So, a complete removal by uninstalling the unused modules can speed up the Drupal site.

Optimising Cache

Optimisation of native cache system ensures that all the web page components are stored in an easily accessible location after a user visits your site for the very time. So, whenever the user visits your site again, the page elements are loaded from the cache which leads to increased page load speed.

Drupal has the provision of advanced caching with a great set of modules:

  • Internal Page Cache module helps in caching the web pages for anonymous users to increase the speed for subsequent users.
     
  • Dynamic Page Cache module caches web pages for the anonymous and authenticated users and is recommended for the websites of all screen sizes.
     
  • BigPipe module allows your users to quickly see the unchanged, cacheable page elements while the personalised content is exhibited next. This technology was inspired by Facebook. Drupal 8’s much improved render pipeline and render API is of huge help.
     
  • Redis module helps in integrating Drupal with Redis key-value store thereby providing a robust cache system for static pages.
     
  • Varnish module lets you integrate Drupal sites with an advanced and fast reverse-proxy system - Varnish cache -  to serve static files and unknown page-views quicker and at high volumes.
Optimising database

Website coding is not the sole thing that can be optimised. Optimising database by regularly cleaning up the data and removing the unwanted piece of information.

Memcache API and Integration module, help in the integration of Drupal and Memcached. It stores your data in active memory for a limited period of time thereby making it faster to access. 

So, instead of making queries to the database constantly, the information is readily available. Such a system also works on the shared web hosting plans.

Incorporating a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Components like CSS, JavaScript and media are hosted by CDN and served to the online visitors from the nearest location. This can help in mitigating the page load time by rapidly delivering web page components.

Drupal module, CDN, helps in the integration of Content Delivery Network for Drupal websites. It changes the file URLs so that files like CSS, JavaScripts, images, videos, and fonts are downloaded from the CDN instead of your web server.

Optimising bandwidth

Aggregating all CSS and JavaScript files to make them load together is what bandwidth optimisation refers to. Such a parallel processing ensures that all the page elements can be seen by the users almost immediately.

Optimising images

Drupal 8 core is loaded with image optimisation feature to set the compression ratio of the images and fine-tune the page performance.

Moreover, the size of the images for screen sizes of different devices can be optimised in Drupal 8 to enhance the page load speed.

Handling 404 errors

Whenever something on the website breaks to cause a 404 error, it can lead to sluggishness. For instance, a failed image can damage the performance of the site. Drupal 8 provides a module called Fast 404 which utilises the resources better and whitelists files and verifies pathways of problem.

Managing the use of CSS and JavaScript

CSS and JavaScript provide wonderful methods for customisation and flexibility. But, too much of good things can be troublesome for your websites. Avoiding excessive use of CSS files and JavaScript use and keeping the code to a minimum can improve performance.

Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation, Drupal module, can help in keeping a tab of your front-end performance by aggregating CSS and JavaScript files to improve speed.

Using lazy loading

Lazy or on-demand loading is a perfect way to optimise your site’s performance. In this method, you split your code at logical breakpoints and then load it once the user has done something that requires a new block of code.

Basically, in traditional websites, all the images and content are preloaded into the web browser when someone accesses the site. Lazy loading loads these elements as soon as a user scrolls to view a content.

Blazy, Drupal module, provides the functionalities of lazy loading and multi-serving the images to save bandwidth and server requests.

Better web hosting

It is of consummate importance that, while implementing every possible tips and trick and utilising the Drupal’s amazing features, you chose the best web hosting provider that will decide your site’s ultimate speed, stability and security.

Upgrading the server hardware

Server scaling is of paramount importance in order to optimise the website. And to do so, you can either upgrade the server hardware by scaling vertically or by scaling horizontally. When you scale vertically, more resources are thrown at the same server and is considered the simplest approach of scaling the hardware. And when you scale horizontally, more servers are added to separate the load. This approach, when executed well, can minimise the load that any single server receives. In case, you have multiple app servers for Drupal, you will need a method of deploying code to each server concurrently. For example, plartform.sh and pantheon.io can manage the entire hosting setup for you but if you are handling it by yourself, you would require rsync setup or git push to each of your servers etc.

Case Study

The Drupal website of the Farm Journal’s MILK was optimised for high performance and better search engine rankings with a help of carefully drafted audit report by Opensense Labs.

In this section, we will focus on how we used our Drupal expertise to resolve the performance issues.

Project highlights

Previously segregated CSS and JS files cached separately which escalated the page load time. We aggregated all these files and put them in one place which assuaged the page load time.

Moreover, we used Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation Drupal module to minify CSS, JS and HTML and reduce load time.

In addition to these, we enabled Redis, used as a database, cache and message broker, so that it can be used as the backend instead of MySQL. This allowed cached items to be retrieved swiftly and improved performance.

Project outcome

On testing the performance metrics on tools like PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom, we witnessed significant improvement.

PageSpeed Insights

  • Result on handheld devices
Pre-implementation (Live Instance)

 

Post-implementation (Live Instance)

 

  • Result on Desktop
Pre-implementation (Live Instance)

 

Post-implementation (Live Instance)

 

Pingdom

Pre-implementation Pingdom Score (Live Environment)

 

Post-implementation Pingdom Score (Live Environment)

 

Conclusion

Speed can be the determining factor in the amount of time an online user spends on your website. It’s important that you remove the sluggishness from your website and inculcate betterments in its performance. Drupal 8 can help by incorporating wonderful features to make your site a high performing space.

Feel free to reach us at hello@opensenselabs.com for developing a high performing Drupal website

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Categories: Drupal

wishdesk.com: Integrating Drupal 8 with Marketing Tools

30 May 2019 - 4:36am
The team at WishDesk explores the most popular marketing automation tools that integrate with Drupal 8.
Categories: Drupal

TC Drupal News: Volunteers still needed for Twin Cities Drupal Camp

29 May 2019 - 12:13pm

Twin Cities Drupal Camp is coming up very soon, and we have some great trainings, sessions, and more planned. But TCDC doesn’t happen by itself — it runs on volunteers who give a little time and effort to make the camp run. People just like you. Volunteering to help with camp operations is another great way to contribute to Drupal. So what do we need help with?

Thursday: before camp set up and registration Friday: before camp set up, staff registration desk, count room attendance, start /stop session recorder, help with party setup and take down Saturday: help guide unconference groups

So if you’d like an easy way to contribute to Drupal, volunteer to help during camp. Can we count on you?

Use the contact form to sign up: https://2019.tcdrupal.org/contact and indicate when and how you‘d like to help.

Categories: Drupal

Drupal core announcements: Francesco Placella (plach) to become full-fledged Framework Manager

29 May 2019 - 8:18am

I'm pleased to share that Francesco Placella (plach on Drupal.org) is moving from a "provisional" core committer to a full-fledged framework manager. (Read more about Drupal core's governance structure.)

Francesco has been a member of the Drupal community for over 11 years. He contributed an incredible amount to multilingual efforts, the Field and Entity API, and was a top contributor to the Drupal Association's D8 Accelerate program, so you can also thank him for Drupal 8 getting released. :slightly_smiling_face:

This experience has given Francesco an extremely well-rounded knowledge of Drupal's API underpinnings, making him a perfect candidate for Framework Manager. He is also extremely meticulous in his patch reviews, and always willing to jump in on problems to help others.

The rest of the committer team all were extremely happy to recommend his promotion to full-fledged committer, so please join me in formally welcoming plach to the team!

Categories: Drupal

Ben Marshall: Change Drupal 7 Menu List Class & Attributes — The Drupal Way!

29 May 2019 - 7:14am

Have a few menus on your site & looking for a quick way to add or change the menu classes and attributes? Use the theme_menu_tree__[menu_name] override in your theme’s template.php file to change Drupal 7 menu list class and attributes:

// template.php /** * Override theme_menu_tree(). */ function theme_menu_tree($variables) { return '<ul class="menu">' . $variables['tree'] . '</ul>'; } /** * Override theme_menu_tree__[menu_name](). */ function theme_menu_tree__main_menu($variables) { return '<ul class="menu">' . $variables['tree'] . '</ul>'; }

The code above will allow you to easily change all menu ul classes and other attributes or just the main menu’s ul classes and attributes.

Looking for a module to change Drupal 7 menu list class & attributes?

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find one that handles the individual menu ul instances cleanly, but the Menu Attributes module is a start. It gives users the ability to set the following attributes for each menu item — this does not help with setting the ul classes & attributes:

  • id
  • name
  • target
  • rel
  • class
  • style
  • accesskey

What about Drupal 8? Check this out article out by Tamas Hajas: Drupal 8 Twig: add custom CSS classes to menus (based on menu name).

Related Articles

The post Change Drupal 7 Menu List Class & Attributes — The Drupal Way! appeared first on Ben Marshall.

Categories: Drupal

Mediacurrent: How to Maximize Your Agency Partnership for a Promotion-Worthy Website 

29 May 2019 - 6:50am

Gaining approval to launch a new website is a big investment — and it’s expected to achieve a big reward. Your internal team (and customers) expect it to match up to their favorite website. That could be Amazon, Apple, or any number of well-known brands relying strongly on their website.

Needless to say, the expectations for a new website are very high, regardless of your budget. Compounding the challenge is the fact that a site build remains a complex process due to technology, expectations, diverse perspectives, and competing goals within the organization.

The challenge for the business is that a new website build is not standard operating procedure. It is not something that is done regularly. It is often resisted by the internal users because as much as people want the latest and greatest site, they may also fear change. So the risk-reward can be very high for the person in charge of the project, but selecting the right digital agency and leveraging your agency-partner relationship can tip the scales in your favor. Your agency-partner, let’s say partner, can help you, because it is standard for them.

Perspective from both sides of the aisle 

My career experiences have given me a broad perspective and good understanding of the internal challenges one faces to get buy-in for a major website re-build project.

Today, as a Mediacurrent Project Manager, I primarily work with existing clients for both site builds and post launch support, and I also work on pre-sale projects.

I was previously hired by a top 20 medical device manufacturer into a new position responsible for Online Marketing Strategy and Analytics, reporting up to a reasonably new head of the department of Marketing Services. Up to that point, online marketing and the website was not a focus for the marketing team. We made the case for a new website, got management and budget approval, chose Drupal, and I managed the entire process — including vendor selection.

The RFP Process
  • If you have an existing agency partner, they can help you. It would essentially be consulting time, but often the partner sees a lot of RFPs and can identify areas that you may have missed.

  • Have a diverse group of people involved in the process. This can make the process slower, but can help significantly in the end if you have early buy-in from all the right parties.

  • Accept what you think is fair based on the request vs. resources and experience being made available to you. You may not always have the names of all the individuals assigned to your project, but the partner will ensure the resources meet the need.

Development
  • If the partner doesn’t offer, ask for regular demos of functionality throughout the development phase. This will help you see the work being done and you can make adjustments as needed. Be careful with adjustments though. You want them to be clarifications and not changes to the original scope of work.
  • Don’t go short on Quality Assurance (QA) time. Partner QA teams do nothing but QA and are well versed at finding things you may not think to look for. Allow the partner to QA each ticket you review. If you by-pass QA or do it yourself, you run a high risk that there will be issues and ultimately misses.
  • Keep your stakeholders abreast of the work being done, so they see progress. Invite them to the demos and reconfirm their approval.
Training Internal Users
  • During development, begin planning for training your internal users. Without their buy-in, you will fail. Keep them informed of the progress and if possible create a campaign that raises awareness and keeps the project top of mind.
  • Be sure to build your site with help text for each field. When demos take place, have them recorded so you have videos of both front and back end for the users to understand how what they insert is rendered.
  • Your partner can help plan training sessions to get everyone acclimated to the new system.
Post-Launch
  • Websites are evolutionary; new features and functions arise as users get acclimated to them. Most likely there will be items that didn’t make the initial launch in order to keep within time or budget, but having a support agreement will allow you to continue to improve your site. If necessary, have your partner convey the fact that these new features and functionalities are possible, but can be done post-launch to keep the project on time.
  • Reporting is critical. While this has to be established during the development phase, you need to develop a series of reports. There should be a report for the product team with specific areas for them to focus on and the senior management team, which wants to know if their investment is paying off. Your partner can help develop these as they have done them for other clients in the past, as opposed to taking time to do it yourself.
  • Your hosting and development companies need to work in unison, and sometimes this can be more than two companies. Keep them connected to ensure the entire platform is optimized.

While these are high-level considerations, I believe they are all critical to success. When you have the opportunity to build a new site or revise an existing one, following these guidelines will put you in a position to be successful and to leverage that success to a promotion.

Categories: Drupal

OPTASY: OPTASY Favorites: 5 Best Drupal Blog Posts in May and Why We Enjoyed Them

29 May 2019 - 6:32am
OPTASY Favorites: 5 Best Drupal Blog Posts in May and Why We Enjoyed Them adriana.cacoveanu Wed, 05/29/2019 - 13:32

May has been most generous with us, no doubt about it: it has "spoiled" us with a heavy load of both useful and usable Drupal content. The community has been altruistic enough to share their “enlightening” experiences of working with Drupal, their discoveries and latest contributions. As for us, we "feasted" on their articles and tutorials, even managed to sync all our personal tops and to come up a unique "best Drupal blog postslist for this month.
 

Ranging from valuable tutorials to overviews of the latest Drupal releases, to glimpses of these Drupal contributors' hard work, our selection is as varied as it is valuable.
 

Categories: Drupal

Agiledrop.com Blog: Interview with our developer Peter, one of the release managers of PHP 7.4

29 May 2019 - 3:21am

Our developer Peter is one of the release managers of the upcoming PHP 7.4 release. Even though he has a lot on his plate right now, he was able to take the time to answer a few questions and give us a glimpse into what new features we can expect. Enjoy the read!

READ MORE
Categories: Drupal

Vardot: Drupal SEO: 13 Things That Improve Ranking

29 May 2019 - 1:30am
Firas Ghunaim May 29, 2019

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might not be the first thing you think of when designing a new website, but building an optimized framework from the start will help you drive traffic to your site and keep it there.

With our Drupal SEO checklist in hand, you can build an excellent website that draws customers in as soon as you launch. To give you a quick summary before we go into detail, here’s a bullet list of what to check before the launch day.

  • Check that all web pages have unique titles using the Page Title module

  • Check if your XML Sitemap and Google News Sitemap are configured properly

  • Check if the Redirect module is enabled and configured

  • Check if the Global Redirect module is enabled and configured

  • Check that .htaccess redirects to your site

  • Check that your homepage title includes a descriptive headline, logo, and primary image

  • Check if your meta tags are filled with descriptive information

  • Check that OG tags are filled correctly and with descriptive information

  • Check if your site's information displays well when shared on social

  • Check if your path alias patterns are meaningful

  • Check if Google Analytics is enabled and configured

  • Check if Site Verification is enabled and configured

  • Check if Search 404 module is enabled and configured

 

Drupal SEO: 13 Things that Will Improve Your Site's Ranking

 

1. Check that all web pages have unique titles

Titles are the first element that any user will see --whether they come directly to your site, find it on a search engine, or see it shared on social media. Not only do good page titles help customers who are already on your site, but they help with social sharing, and picking your site out of search engine results.

 

All of your pages should be easily identifiable to the end user. Not only should they have unique titles, but they should also have meaningful titles. Having multiple pages with the same titles (like “Get in touch”, “Contact us” and “Make a booking”) will simply confuse your end users and search engine crawlers.

 

From an SEO perspective, page titles are among the most important types of data you can fill, because they help search engines understand what each of your web pages is about.

 

Writing good titles is extremely important, and having keywords in your title that match a user's search greatly improves the chances of them clicking on your page. Moz suggests the following format for title tag design: Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.

You can set up unique page titles much easier if you install the Drupal Page Title module.

 

Read more: 10 Drupal Modules that Will Boost Your Website’s SEO

 

2. Check if XML Sitemap and Google News Sitemap are configured properly

The XML Sitemap module for Drupal creates a robot-friendly map of your site that Google and other search engines can crawl to categorize your website. You should configure XML Sitemap early in your site build for the best effect, but you can also alter the settings later on at admin/config/search/XML if needed.

You can view your sitemap from http://yoursite.com/sitemap.xml (just replace “yoursite.com” with your own domain).

Google News Sitemap offers a similar but different service that creates a Google-specific map for ranking under their “News” section and to appear as news items on their main SERP pages. These two modules work nicely side by side to make your site easy for search engines to crawl and index.

 

Image from Drupal.org

 

Please note that if your site contains accelerated mobile pages (AMPs), there is no need to create sitemaps for them. The rel=amphtml link is enough for Google to pick up on AMP versions, which means you can easily gain traffic from Top Stories carousels and mobile search.

 

3. Check if Redirect module is enabled and configured

Redirect is a handy module for making sure users always make it to your site. It uses case-insensitive matching to help catch broken links with redirects and tracks how often users are hitting those redirects.

You can use redirects to capture any broken links, set up promotional links, or simply capture typos users are entering when trying to access your site.

 

Image from webwash.net

 

4. Check if Global Redirect module is enabled and configured

If you’re using Drupal 8 you can skip this one because the functionality has been rolled into the Redirect module. Otherwise, install Global Redirect to work in tandem with Redirect to catch any broken links.

Global Redirect will test all links with and without a trailing slash, ensure links are case-insensitive, and if a link is truly broken, it will return a user to your home page rather than a 404 page that decreases the position of your site in SERPs.

 

Image from webwash.net

 

5. Check that .htaccess redirects to your site

Some users attempting to visit your site will navigate to www.yoursite.com, while others will simply type yoursite.com. By setting up your site to handle either request using an .htaccess redirect, you can be sure you won’t miss any visitors.

 

6. Check that the homepage title includes a descriptive headline, logo and primary image

Design a homepage title that contains a descriptive headline as well as a slogan, to represent who you are as a business. This is usually the first impression you give off to visitors the moment they land on your site or catch your entry on a search engine.

This is a good opportunity to load your website up with SEO-friendly keywords, but don’t go overboard and sacrifice your image for it - keyword stuffing may not only decrease the trust index of your site but also its conversion rates.

 

 

 

7. Ensure that your meta tags are filled with descriptive information

SEO-optimized meta tags remains to be one of the top on-page ranking factors. You can think of these as expanded page headers --short-form descriptions of your website that give users and search engines a clearer idea of what to expect out of a webpage.

Make sure to install the Metatag module on your site to have an easy, user-friendly interface for updating metadata. With the module installed you can easily populate meta data with keywords, page descriptions, and more.

The Metatag module will also give you extra control over how your site appears when shared on Twitter or Facebook.

 

Read more: SEO tips for your Drupal site

 

8. Check that OG tags are filled correctly and with descriptive information.

OG tags are meta tags specifically designed to ensure your site communicates nicely with Facebook. By setting these tags correctly you will be able to control exactly how your site appears on Facebook, including what images and what taglines are used.

 

9. Check if your site information displays well when shared on Facebook and Twitter

After configuring the Metatag module and OG tags, pop over to Facebook and make sure that your site shares the way you would like it to. It’s important to test this out now before users start sharing your site.

Similarly, try tweeting a couple of your pages to see how well your Twitter Cards come through. If you don’t want to show your site to your audience until you are sure it’s set up properly, you can check Twitter Cards using the Card Validator.

For more information on configuring Twitter cards, check out these user guides by Twitter.

 

 

10. Check if your path alias patterns are meaningful

By default, Drupal will set your URLs to node/123 - while this works great for the database backend, it doesn’t work well for your end users, or for search engines.

You can use the Pathauto module to create rules and patterns for your URLs that will significantly cut down on your maintenance times and simplify your site navigation.

 

11. Check if Google Analytics is enabled and configured

While having Google Analytics configured won’t improve your SEO, it will give you all the data you need to understand where your users are coming from and how they behave once they hit your site.

Installing the Google Analytics module makes setting up and configuring Google Analytics a breeze.

 

12. Check if Site Verification is enabled and configured

Having your site verified will make it easier for search engines crawlers to reward you with a higher rank, and for Google to allow you to access private search data. With site verification, you will receive better data and better search engine rankings for just a few minutes work.

The Site Verification module makes it easy to prove to search engines that your site is truly your own.

 

13. Check if Search 404 module is enabled and configured

The Search 404 module is a saving grace for reducing your bounce rate and SERP rankings, as well as for improving your overall user experience. Instead of your users finding an ‘Error: Page not Found” in place of the content they were hoping for, they will be offered a search of your site based on the URL string.

For example, if www.yoursite.com/great-seo-tips doesn’t exist, use this module will automatically search your site for “Great SEO tips” and show visitors the results.

 

While SEO may seem like a tricky subject to wrap your head around, the basics are easy with the right modules and guidance, and Drupal is a great content management system for building search engine optimized websites.


If you liked our SEO checklist, then check out the other educational materials that we at Vardot have designed to help you build a top quality website. If you’re looking for even more ways to improve your site’s SEO, have a look at SEO articles on our blog --or better yet, get in touch with our team!

Categories: Drupal

Acro Media: BigCommerce & Drupal for Growing Ecommerce Businesses

28 May 2019 - 7:45am

This is the second post in a two part series focused on specific platforms for experience-led ecommerce. The first post focused on Drupal, an open-source CMS, as an excellent option for creating content-rich customer experiences when combined with an ecommerce component of your choice. This post will focus on BigCommerce, an increasingly popular open SaaS ecommerce platform, and how its strengths in ecommerce can be complemented by an integration with Drupal.

A quick introduction

Like the last post, here’s a quick introduction to the main concepts and software discussed.

SaaS

Whether it’s accounting, marketing, ecommerce, etc., SaaS (software as a service) platforms are a great option for many businesses. With this service model, businesses simply sign up and pay a monthly fee to use the platform. This is an attractive option because the cost is generally quite reasonable and the onus is on the service provider, not the business, to host the service and keep it up and running. For a business, it’s hands-off and requires little to no IT staff to manage.

Open SaaS

Open SaaS is still a relatively new term and has a couple different meanings. For this post, I’m using open SaaS to describe a SaaS services that is also open for integration and innovation through APIs and webhooks. This means that a business can use the SaaS service as-is, but it’s not restricted by it. This will become more clear the further you read through this post.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is gaining popularity as a SaaS ecommerce platform. As a service, BigCommerce provides everything a business needs to quickly create an online store and start selling products. It has a wide variety of customizable themes available, supports custom themes, and has an extension library to add additional functionality to the base platform. While this is all quite normal for SaaS ecommerce, what makes BigCommerce an exciting platform is it’s commitment to being open via APIs and webhooks. This allows BigCommerce to be used as a headless backend store management area with the front-end of your choice, opening up a world of possibilities for creating customer experiences not previously possible with other popular SaaS ecommerce solutions.

SaaS at different stages of growth

Ecommerce businesses can grow quickly. Being set up for scalability to handle this growth is extremely important early on to eliminate headaches later on. This is the main reason why all of us at Acro Media are always talking about the importance of utilizing the right commerce architecture. The right architecture will enable a business to scale effectively without bottlenecking operations with swivel-chair processes. BigCommerce is uniquely capable of handling this growth, from startup all the way up to enterprise powerhouse.

SaaS for startup and small businesses

For many small ecommerce businesses, SaaS ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce provide a quick and cost-effective solution to get to market. These businesses typically have a low IT budget and are just looking for solutions that are easy to implement and use. In many cases, SaaS checks these boxes and is the perfect starting point. This is why platforms like BigCommerce, Shopify and SquareSpace have become so popular. We call this scenario commerce-led because the ecommerce platform used dictates what other software and integration are also used in combination.

SaaS for medium, large and enterprise businesses

While SaaS is typically great for startups and small businesses, established businesses are an entirely different situation. They’re now looking at technology as an enabler for reaching the next level. They see personalization and the customer’s experience as an area where they can differentiate themselves from their competitors. These businesses are now hitting the limitations and restrictions of their SaaS ecommerce platform due to the fact that SaaS is typically built for the most common use cases and is therefore rigid in allowing these businesses to add the unique functionality and the integrations that they need. As technological requirements for a business changes, the software used must change too. These businesses are now looking at investing in stable technology that increases efficiencies, automates time consuming tasks, and gives them the edge in defining their customer journey. This may mean moving away from a commerce-led architecture and into experience-led. Often, ecommerce replatforming is part of this move.

BigCommerce is different

So, where does BigCommerce and Drupal fit into the mix. As I mentioned earlier, BigCommerce as a SaaS service is an ideal ecommerce platform for startup and small business. Not only does it give these businesses the ecommerce tools and stability needed to easily conduct business online, but it’s uniquely capable of growing with these businesses further, all the way through to enterprise.

How? Through BigCommerce’s open APIs and webhooks, BigCommerce can be run headless as a robust and secure enterprise-level ecommerce backend that compliments the incredible content experience capabilities of Drupal as the frontend. This means that these businesses can start with a SaaS solution that works great and then replace the frontend with Drupal if and when it makes sense to do so. They integrate directly together, creating a SaaS & open source hybrid ready to disrupt the insanely expensive enterprise ecommerce space, finally giving companies a capable and cost-effective alternative solution that is built for growth, scalability and integration.

Why Drupal?

If you haven’t read the first post in this series, I’d recommend you take a moment to do that. It discusses the strengths of Drupal for experience-led ecommerce complete with some examples. In short, customer experience is seen as a major competitive advantage in established ecommerce and Drupal is able to provide that experience while also being able to integrate with the ecommerce component of your choice. One choices being BigCommerce.

How it works

Acro Media teamed up with BigCommerce to create the BigCommerce for Drupal integration, so we are very in-tune with the strengths of both platforms. Here’s a high-level breakdown of how the integration works.

  1. Set up a BigCommerce store
    The business signs up for an account with BigCommerce and adds products, payment gateways and shipping options as it normally would. The BigCommerce backend is used for all of the ecommerce functionality, so the store configuration happens here.

    As mentioned earlier, existing BigCommerce store’s don’t need to create a new store for this integration with Drupal to work. Drupal just replaces the frontend, so the integration can happen at the beginning or anytime in the future.

  2. Connect BigCommerce and Drupal
    Drupal is then installed separately and the BigCommerce for Drupal module is added along with any dependencies. The module’s settings page within Drupal is where the BigCommerce store is connected and products get synced. This brings the products into Drupal as content.

  3. Complete the Drupal website frontend
    The rest of the website is then built within Drupal like any normal Drupal website. This involves setting up additional content types, configuring the display of this content and imported products, and finally theming the site.

That’s it! Drupal is where the content lives and what customers interact with. Operational staff who manage the store and fulfill orders do so within BigCommerce. When customers decide to purchase products, they do so through an embedded BigCommerce secure checkout.

And there you have it, the best of both worlds!

Further information

Interested in learning how your business can leverage the strengths of BigCommerce and Drupal together?

Or check out these related resources.

Categories: Drupal

DrupalEasy: Layout Builder in core - first impressions

28 May 2019 - 3:59am

I recently decided to begin rebuilding the various landing pages on DrupalEasy.com using Layout Builder, introduced as a stable module to Drupal 8.7 core. Prior to this, the various landing pages on the site had been built using Paragraphs module.

While I appreciate what Paragraphs module can do as a layout tools for individual entities, I learned the hard way that perhaps it isn't the best tool for the job of building landing pages. 

I've been keen to use Layout Builder for awhile, but also hesitant to make the switch. Layout Builder has (unstated) lofty goals - to be the de-facto method of building landing pages in Drupal. I'll be perfectly happy if I didn't have to use Paragraphs or Panels in the future, instead relying on a core module.

I was biding my time until Layout Builder was stable in core, and now that it has come to pass, I wanted to take the time to rebuilding our landing pages while updating their content, layout, and styles just a bit.

For starters, I created a new "Landing page" content type. Knowing that all of our landing pages will just be a series of blocks, I didn't add any fields - in fact, I removed the default "Body" field from the content type. I also created a default layout by selecting the "Use Layout Builder" checkbox on the content type's "Manage display" page. Knowing also that I may want to tweak the layout of some of our landing pages, I also selected the "Allow each content item to have its layout customized." (this effectively replaces the Panelizer contrib module). 

From there, I clicked the "Manage layout" button and set up a default layout for our landing pages. I'm not going to take you step-by-step through the process, but it's quite intuitive - and far better than any of the community's attempts to provide a browser-based layout tool in the past (no offense to anyone who has tried - it's a really difficult problem!)

After that, I created a new "Landing page" node and went directly to the "Layout" tab. The default layout I created in the previous step was ready for me to populate - but I was also able to tweak the layout for just this node as well. The process for adding content to the layout is easy primarily because it utilizes Drupal core's settings tray functionality. Existing blocks, custom blocks, as well as fields belonging to the content type are easily placed. I especially like the "Show content preview" checkbox for simplifying (and speeding up?) the interface during construction. 

My experience wasn't without hiccups, however. I did run into a couple of issues that I'd imagine a few other folks will stumble upon as well.

First, I tried adding a system Search block to one of my layouts. When I did this, I was unable to save the layout. I traced this issue to an issue related to rendering form blocks inside Layout Builder. At the time of writing this post, I didn't feel there was a mature enough patch yet, so I opted to remove the Search block for now. 

As this site is hosted on Pantheon, **and its codebase is built on https://github.com/pantheon-systems/example-drops-8-composer** , I ran into an issue where I was unable to add a new section to any layout. Turns our it was caused by this issue - luckily the fix for this was easy.

Finally, as I use the Bootstrap base theme for this site, when adding a bit of styling, I noticed that I had to override (using CSS) some of the breakpoints that Layout Builder uses by default. Specifically, Layout Builder has a 40em breakpoint, which doesn't align with Bootstrap's (default) 768px breakpoint. Not a big deal to do with a little bit of CSS (Sass), but important to note nonetheless. I used the following Sass to align layout builder's 2-column layout with the Bootstrap breakpoint:

.layout--twocol-section { &.layout--twocol-section--50-50 { > .layout__region--first, > .layout__region--second { @media #{$mobile} { flex: 0 1 100%; } @media #{$tablet} { flex: 0 1 50%; } } } }

Overall, I'm really happy with Layout Builder so far - the resulting landing pages are easier to update - both from a content and a layout standpoint. It also provides a good deal of confidence knowing that I'm now using a core solution that will only improve with time.

Categories: Drupal

Srijan Technologies: Smart Content Personalization Modules for your Drupal 8 Website

28 May 2019 - 2:15am

As a marketer, you want to make sure that the content you create stays with them. But chances of standing out in the crowd are meagre.

Why?

Because

Categories: Drupal

OSTraining: How to Display a Cookie Compliance Banner in a Drupal 8 Site

27 May 2019 - 5:02pm

Since 2018, European site-builders have a legal obligation to meet a specific requirement. Their sites must display a banner to inform people about the use of cookies.

This European requirement is mandatory in order to comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

In other words, you must ask user permission if you want to store cookies on the browser of a European (EU) citizen.

The EU Cookie Compliance D8 module provides an easy way to manage this type of functionality. In this tutorial, you will learn about the installation and basic configuration of this module.

Let’s start!

Categories: Drupal

Sooper Drupal Themes: 10 Awesome Places to find a Remote Developer and More

27 May 2019 - 5:00am
Have you thought of hiring a remote developer?

Here at Sooperthemes, we stumbled upon the challenge of looking for remote talent to hire, specifically a remote developer. With this in mind, we scoured the internet for the best websites where you can find a remote developer to hire. Hiring remote staff is a completely different process, compared to hiring an on-site employee. However, this also comes with a lot more freedom from where to choose talent for your business, since remote staff hiring usually gives access to a bigger pool of candidates from different countries or even different continents! This list has a focus on finding remote developers, however, it can also be used to search for other classes of remote professionals. Having said that, here are the top 10 places from where you can hire a remote developer:

Upwork

Upwork is the first on the list of places from where to hire remote employees. It has a lot of job bidding which can drive the cost of hiring down. However, a lot of job bidding can also lead to price fixation and a drop in the quality of work, it’s a double edged sword. Currently, they have an escrow account that is put in place in order to protect both parties involved in the deal, the client and seller. Lately however, there have been a number of negative reviews, from both sides, the clients and sellers. On top of that, there are fees to be paid when using their system in order to make the payment. A workaround for this is to use the platform to make contact with the remote developer and to take the rest of the business outside of the platform.

Freelancer.com

Freelancer.com is similar in concept with Upwork. They do provide a huge pool of talent, however, with a great pool of people to choose from, there are chances to stumble upon untalented workforce. It is also great for project based work. On the other hand, it can get quite pricey, with service fees of 3%. Freelancer.com is the 2nd go-to place were Sooperthemes is looking for remote developers.

Jobrack

Are you searching for labour from Eastern Europe? Then Jobrack is for you. Jobrack prides itself by providing Eastern European talent that work for less money than their Western counterparts. This way businesses can save money while also being able to acquire skilled workforce from the remote corners of Eastern Europe. Jobrack is the Eastern European website dedicated to remote  hiring.

TopTal

TopTal claims to provide the top 3% talent in the industry. They have a rigorous screening session that basically ensures that the people that are selected are indeed top notch professionals. Because of this, TopTal doesn’t have a rating system in place, since it's already implied that they have the best that the market has to offer. On the other hand, hiring off of TopTal will generally result in generally bigger fees to be paid, since talent is usually more expensive compared with lower skilled workforce. If you have a budget and want to cut to the chase, while also saving time on the screening process, then TopTal is the best place for you to find highly skilled workforce.

Guru

Guru is another platform that is similar to Upwork and Freelancer. However, compared to the abovementioned, Guru has better search parameters that enable you to pinpoint the right talent for the job. On top of that, they do have a pay-back feature in case the client is not satisfied with the quality of the work that was delivered to him. One downside is that Guru has a 2.5% handling fee every time a client is making a payment towards the employee. On the other hand, there is a cash back of 3.5% if the payment is done through check, e-check or wire transfer.

Fiverr

Fiverr is the most straightforward platform on this list. You can find here a lot of sellers that are selling their services at a starting price of 5$. However, if you decide you need more complex work done, then you can choose a more expensive package, that will be able to fulfill your higher expectations. Not only that, but if you’re unsatisfied with the work received, then you are able to get a revision from your seller if the package does include them in the price. Some sellers will charge more money for an increased amount of revisions for the project. On top of that, Fiverr is really protective over the buyers at the detriment of the seller, which is good for buyers but sometimes results in unfair results for sellers. This might scare away sellers who can find business elsewhere on better terms.

Indeed

Indeed is a platform that is continuously scouring the internet for job openings. On Indeed, you have the option to be find remote talent, although at a much slower rate than on other platforms. Indeed is not a dedidacated remote staffing website, however there might still be some hidden gems hidden.

GetACoder

If you’re looking to hire more technical staff, like a remote developer, then GetACoder is the right platform on our list. The platform is focused on being able to provide sellers (employees) from 234 different country locations. Because of this, the prices are driven down. On top of that, as a buyer (employer/client) you can post jobs for free. One of the drawbacks are that there are no tests for the employees to pass, meaning that there might be unskilled workforce, thus requiring a good screening process from the side of client.

Drupal Jobs

Drupal Jobs is the place where you can search for Drupal remote developers and on-site. Drupal Jobs is a niche hiring and job seeking platform that focuses on Drupal development jobs. Drupal Jobs may not have the sheer number that other sites have, but given the fact that this website is entirely dedicated for good Drupal developers, it is worth it.

Codementor

Codementor is a website that is specifically dedicated for clients to be able to find software developers. Codementor has a fast and efficient registration process. After that, it doesn’t take much time for a client to be able to find the right freelancer that is willing to do the job for him. If you’re a client that is searching for a remote developer or on-site, then Codementor is definitely the right place from where you can start.

Costs for using these services:

Company

Pricing

Upwork

  • 3% processing fee on the amount paid to the freelancer

Freelancer.com

  • 3% or $3, whichever is greater for fixed price project

  • 3% for hourly paid jobs on every payment made to the freelancer

Jobrack

  • The price for a job posting starts at $149

TopTal

  • TopTal requires a $500 upfront deposit that will be applied as credit to the first invoice once a freelancer is hired

Guru

  • Job posting is free. Promoting the job posting starts at $29.95

  • 2.5% handling fee when paying an invoice

  • 3.5% Cash back when paying with check, e-check or wire transfer

Fiverr

  • All services purchased up to and including $40 have a fee of $2

  • Services that are more than $40 will have a fee of 5%

Indeed

  • It’s free to post job offers on Indeed, however, for promotion there is a fee starting at $5

GetACoder

  • 10% commission fee plus a $5 dollar fixed fee for “free” members.

Drupal Jobs

  • Pricing starts from $199 for a single job posting that lasts for 30 days

Codementor

  • No service fee, membership is granted by being part of the community

Conclusion

Hiring remote employees always seems like a daunting task, especially if you don't know the right places where to search. However, with this list, now you know where you can find the best remote employees that the market has to offer. On top of that, when keeping in mind the challanges that come when hiring a remote employee, which were discussd in a previous article, you can better mitigate the shortcomings and better leverage the positive aspects of remote hiring.

Categories: Drupal

DrupalEasy: Some of my favorite (newer) DDEV things

27 May 2019 - 2:03am

Local development environments are in the midst a bit of a renaissance recently - mainly driven by the maturation and adoption of Docker-based solutions.

I've been using (and recommending) DDEV for awhile now, and one of the things that I really like about it is the consistent pace of development. Since early February, there have been three minor releases of DDEV (1.6, 1.7, and 1.8). With each minor release of DDEV comes new, often very useful features. Here's just a few of my recent favorites:

NFS Mounting

One of the few disadvantages of using a Docker-based solution over a native local development solution is often the performance (depending on your operating system and hardware). In the DDEV 1.6 release, NFS mounting was introduced - this is a method to mount the DDEV Docker containers using NFS instead of the default Docker mount - resulting in significant performance gains. While using NFS mounting does involve a one-time system -setup, the results are well worth it.

Windows Chocolatey support

For Windows users, Chocolatey is similar to Homebrew for Mac OS X. With DDEV 1.6, you can now install DDEV using Chocolatey from the command line.

DrupalEasy has live, online, monthly 2-hour DDEV workshops - the next one is June 12, 2019. Local DDEV config files

If you're working in a team environment, then having a local DDEV config file is a huge advantage. Prior to DDEV 1.7, if you wanted to utilize a DDEV post-start hook, it had to be configured in .ddev/config.yaml. In a team environment, this file is shared among all developers, so everyone would share the same post-start hook (even if they didn't want it). Starting in DDEV 1.7, you can have your own .ddev/config.local.yaml with only your additions or modifications to .ddev/config.yaml. For example, if you want to add a post-start hook and not share it with the rest of your team, just create a .ddev/config.local.yaml file and add it there.

Easy local https by default!

It is pretty much standard practice these days to have your production environment only available via https. It only makes sense that your local development environments should behave in the same manner. In DDEV 1.8, support for the most-excellent mkcert project was added, so with a one-time, super-easy mkcert installation on your host operating system, DDEV will automatically default to providing you with an https connection to your local development environment. 

There's a lot of great reasons to use DDEV (check out more of them in my DDEV book!), and it is exciting to know that every six weeks or so, we'll be getting new ones with each DDEV release.

Categories: Drupal

Lullabot: Behind the Screens: Behind the Screens with Cathy Theys

27 May 2019 - 12:00am

Cathy Theys could often be found roaming contribution days at DrupalCons organizing people, but she's recently switched gears back to development. I caught up with her in Seattle to find out why.

Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Interactive Screens: Drupal for Building Digital Signage Solution

26 May 2019 - 6:47am
Interactive Screens: Drupal for Building Digital Signage Solution Shankar Sun, 05/26/2019 - 19:17

Possibly the greatest ever digital signage advertising was created for British Airways which had it all. The advert, connecting to live flight information, displayed a child pointing up to the sky as an aeroplane flew above him. This was so cleverly done that the advert showed the flight number and its destination as well.

What a great blend of entertainment and education using the latest technologies! Source: British Airways

The digital signage system is scalable and its usefulness can be extracted to a great extent like digital menu boards for restaurants or the interactive digital movie posters for movie theatres. Drupal has the power to be a remarkably scalable digital signage solution for different sorts of organisations thereby reducing costs, speeding up time to market, and building engaging experiences for the people.

Digging Deeper Into The Terminology: Digital Signage

Digital signage refers to a centralised content dissemination platform for serving digital content on screens. It can be leveraged to display information through television programming, menus, advertising and other messages.

It can be seen in the form of digital signboards, billboards, and other such display devices for displaying visual information. It is connected by a content management system like Drupal that sends the digital content to be displayed. The information displayed can be anything ranging from static data and charts and graphs to images and video streaming.

Digital signage is a centralised content dissemination platform for serving digital content through television programming, menus or advertising on screens.

It can be commonly seen in outdoor marketing campaigns to display promotional content. Moreover, industries that rely on real-time information delivery to its employers or customer such as stock exchanges, airports, and sports stadiums can use digital signs to a great extent.

Digital Signage Can Be Used In Awesome Ways

Its uses can be seen through the eyes of organisations to understand the different ways it can be implemented. Some of the biggest brands have harnessed its immense potential.

Netflix, one of the largest over-the-top media service providers, carried a promotional campaign that relied on the humbled animated GIF. Instead of using a long video clip, they opted for reaction-based clips which were just a few seconds long. These videos were tied into the events that were actually happening around the globe.


Swedish pharmacy Apotek Hjärtat developed a controversial billboard using a built-in smoke detector. Every time a smoker passed by, the billboard would cough loudly at them before displaying a series of products to help people stop smoking. Although it turned heads, questions were raised whether such an overt messaging is effective or not.


Coca Cola’s Small World Machines Initiative had a grand ambition and offered a live link between India and Pakistan. Coke machines were placed in both the nations where people could interact with one another through the screen like touching hands, drawing peace, love, and happiness symbols together.

A Trio Of Major Merits Through Digital Signs

Enormous possibilities of digital signs are pretty evident with so many big brands using them to a great effect. Using digital signs can prove beneficial in many ways.

  • Enhances customer engagement: People love colourful and moving images rather than static images which help in enhancing user engagement.
  • Makes a good impression: Content can be updated remotely within seconds. For instance, such quick updates can help retailers to form a good impression and adjust to customer demands without having to deploy employees or new signs printed.
  • Revs up revenue: Digital signs can help increase your sales and revenue. In 2014. Taco John deployed digital menu boards and witnessed a 12% increase in sales.
How Can Drupal Be The Perfect CMS For Digital Signage Solutions?

Well, it all boils down to the CMS that would be relaying digital content on to the screen to attract people. Drupal is one of the big players in the content management systems that can be the perfect fit for creating digital signs.

Content Creation

Your CMS should allow the content creation to be done intuitively and support all the common file types. Drupal comes with intuitive tools for content creation, workflow and publishing for streamlining content authoring.

Remote Access

With Drupal, on-the-go team members can assess, edit and approve content from mobile devices to keep content and promotional campaigns flowing on to the screens regardless of where they are and what device they are working on.

Content Revision

Drupal helps in enabling a swift and simple way to track all the alterations and revisions which is a must-have if you have multiple editors and need to handle a history of content changes.

Content Workflow

Drupal allows you to administer custom, editorial workflows for all the processes involved in the content production. It lets you view the stage your content is in - from creation to assessment to publication.

User Controls

Authentication and user permissions in Drupal helps in handling editorial workflows efficaciously and previews show how the content will look on screen before the content editors would finally approve and relay them on to the screens.

Content Scheduling

Drupal has the provisions for scheduling the content at your own convenience. It is possible to schedule a campaign to be published at a certain time. In case, a campaign is no longer required or outmoded, it can be unpublished as well.

Security

Drupal is one of the most secure CMS platforms among the leading players like Wordpress, Joomla and Magento. In a report published by Sucuri called Hacked Website Report, Drupal turned out to be the least vulnerable to security attacks in comparison to Wordpress.

Scalability

Your CMS should be able to grow with you and accommodate more screens. Drupal is a highly scalable solution with high traffic sites like Grammy, NBC Olympics, University of Oxford and many other renowned names performing astoundingly well even during the busiest of times.

Support And Maintenance

Drupal is an open source solution and you can rest assured that the Drupal community comprises of numerous vendors who are adept at providing round the clock support and maintenance.

At Opensense Labs, we have designed the Bucket and on-the-go models of support and maintenance services. We offer support in the day-to-day operations. Our support hours run parallelly with business hours but are extendable as per your needs.

Use Cases

The University of Iowa, which is powered by Drupal, kicked off a Drupal Digital Signage Service to offer new digital capabilities inside the campus.

Drupal’s flexibility in content management and delivery in combination with Intel Compute Sticks, mini-computers that serve each screen or sign, proved rewarding. This helped in offering wireless connectivity to the Drupal-based content as it is relayed on to the screens in real-time.

Source: University of Iowa

The digital signs provided key information for students like the time at which a bus would arrive or leave, emergency alerts, advertisements for student groups, computer lab availability, university news, and events etc.

The University reported rapid adoption of the service as many colleges and divisions within the University used the free and user-friendly solution on several screens. Stakeholders used templates and drag and drop tools and widgets for customising and governing the screen content.

The University’s move to expand the use of Drupal to digital signs proved beneficial in many ways. An IOWA NOW news story stated that “the backend is incredibly user-friendly. It’s the same system our websites run on, and so very intuitive. The web-based platform allows us to update information and slides from anywhere and anytime”.

Being an open source software, Drupal incurred no licensing fees. Hardware costs were lower too. Thanks to the project team’s discovery that the digital signs could be run on small, energy-efficient compute sticks. Moreover, wireless connectivity eliminated the expense of data ports and cabling.

Source: University of Iowa

The Drupal Digital Signage system, rather than using a webpage, used a specialised software application. This made the displaying of content as simple as plugging the URL of a sign into a browser. Users were granted access permissions for specific signs and by utilising templates and a drag-and-drop interface, they could display the content or widgets in numerous regions of the screens. That content, displayed on the screen, could also be shared with other units.

Furthermore, the digital signs, being accessible to all screen-reading technologies, saved staff time. Being easy to learn, training time got reduced.

Content editors only needed to enter news or events into a familiar interface. The content would go to both their websites and digital signs simultaneously without having to perform double entry.

Another example can be seen through Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) which plays a huge role as the largest public transit system in the United States of America. It had benefitted tremendously by using Drupal and Amazon’s Internet of Things (IoT) service from Amazon Web Services (AWS). With Drupal, the MTA was able to leverage the same CMS that powers its website to serve content and data to thousands of digital signs in hundreds of stations in New York City. By utilising the power of digital signage into station countdown clocks, MTA has been able to disseminate a great customer experience.

Source: Acquia

The content can be built inside Drupal and data is pulled from external feeds in order to supply the countdown clocks with data. Data can be pulled from transit information, weather and message provider as Drupal is equipped with provider APIs. Once data is given context via Drupal content model, it is pushed to the digital signs with the help of a data pipeline that was implemented to leverage IoT service from AWS. Using progressively decoupled Drupal approach, a front end experience was developed using ReactJS for displaying the data. As data flows, React governs all the important on-screen presentation and utilises the data that is received to inform the display on the countdown clock.

Future Of Digital Signage

According to the statistics given by the Statista, the statistics portal, the digital signage market worldwide was valued at 19.61 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 and the display market was estimated at 6.07 billion U.S. dollar in 2015.

Future of digital signage is bright as is for Drupal and together they can work wonders. Source: Statista

This number is going to see a significant rise by 2023 as the market value is poised to reach 32.84 billion in 2023. Digital signage technology is not just here to stay but grow multifold.

Conclusion

Digital content distribution can surely be taken to next level by making it engaging through digital signage solutions. Drupal can be the perfect choice of CMS for relaying content on screens.

We provide Drupal services with top-of-the-line expertise. Contact us at hello@opensenselabs.com to explore Drupal as a superb platform for building digital signage solutions thereby providing a whole new level of customer experience.

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Categories: Drupal

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