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Drupal Association blog: DrupalCon Europe - a progress update...

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2018 - 8:49am

After enjoying the beautiful city of Vienna during DrupalCon Vienna in 2017, I’m now looking forward to experiencing the city of Darmstadt at the community-driven Drupal Europe conference in September. I’m absolutely sure it is going to be a great event and will do an amazing job of stepping in whilst the Drupal Association retools the future of DrupalCons around the World, especially Europe. I have my ticket - do you?

The European Drupal Community is extraordinarily vibrant. We have seen both wonderful Drupal Camps in fascinating locations and larger Drupal events, like Frontend United and Drupal Dev Days, attracting their largest ever attendances.

Creating a sustainable model for DrupalCon Europe continues to be an important goal for Drupal. A lot of progress and learnings have been made and we would like to share a progress report.

The sustainability of the Drupal project depends upon us bringing great events to all parts of the world in a way that does not place the project at financial risk. As you know, Megan, the Drupal Association Board, and staff created the licensing model for events to ensure that we can achieve this.

After creating the DrupalCon Licensing model with Bert Boerland, Baddý Breidert, Alex Burrows, Gábor Hojtsy, Janne Kalliola, Zsófi Major, and Stella Power, we published a call for proposals at the end of last year and a number of organisations stepped forward with proposals. Every one of those proposals showed great promise and left us in the enviable position of having to choose between a number of viable options.

It’s important that we create this licensing partnership with care so it is set up for success in 2019. We are taking the time needed to have all of the right conversations and testing financial assumptions before entering into anything. We are making good progress and working through summer on this initiative. Once a partnership is finalized, we will share the details with the community - hopefully at Drupal Europe.

The level of engagement around the licensing concept is very encouraging. It means great things for Europe as well as for all the many places around the world that will benefit greatly from hosting DrupalCon in their country, too.

In conclusion

A very quick recap:

Decide to change to the licensing model

Postpone DrupalCon Europe for one year

Develop the licensing model and contracts

Publish a call for proposals

Work with organisations to help them understand DrupalCon

Assess applications according to our model

Sign contracts with successful organisation

ongoing

Announce the winning proposal at Drupal Europe Provide support as they develop DrupalCon Europe Enjoy DrupalCon Europe in ...
Categories: Drupal

Xeno Media: What should you know about the Bitcoin Email Extortion Scam?

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2018 - 8:33am

Here’s the threat delivered to your email: They've infected your system with remote computer control malware. Pay a ransom in bitcoin or they’ll release evidence of you watching adult material. They show your password, or part of it, to prove their case.

Is this threat credible? No, it’s a scam. The bad guys got your information from a breach and are using it to shake you down. The evidence is manyfold:

It’s an untargeted, mass email scam

The scammers are not targeting specific individuals. Your inbox is one of thousands in a database. They’re only hoping to capitalize on panic and embarrassment to force some small number of people to pay the ransom. Their goal is making fast cash from the volume of people who give in, they’re not interested in running high effort blackmail. We know this because the content of the email is nearly identical in many, many reports.

Not only is there no concrete proof offered, the scammers actively dissuade the would-be victim from looking for evidence. There’s no mention of which adult website you had visited. Your full name often does not appear in the email. There are no images or videos of you attached or linked to.

No malware detected

The emails also claim to have installed malware through which they gathered this incriminating material - yet, malware scans reveal no threats. True, malware scanners vary in accuracy when it comes to more subtle infections. Software capable of remotely accessing your system is not one of those.

Nothing new under the sun

The history of this threat is also a clue to it being a scam. These reports have been floating around since the end of 2017. The nature of their threat, the amount of money they’re demanding and the method of ‘evidence’ collection has changed but it is essentially the same scam. A stranger threatens to reveal embarrassing information about you and will remain silent in exchange for a ransom.

So, what should you do?

You should not pay this ransom, but you should definitely see this as a big wake up call about your data security. This data was pulled from one of the many data breaches that’ve been popping up in the last several years. That means that your email and password has been compromised.

Next, act:

  • Whichever password appeared in the email: change it, everywhere and never use it again. You can check if your password has ever appeared in a breach. If it has, never use it again.

  • Adhere to good password practices when creating new passwords.

  • Run a malware scan on your system - (Malware Bytes)

  • Consider cloud-based password vaults like 1Password or LastPass.

    • If you only have to remember 1 master Password, you can make it as secure and strong as possible

  • Create long and high-strength passwords by forming a memorable phrase, then adding capitalization and punctuation.

    • It would take a computer running a brute force password cracker approximately 2 Sexdecillion years to crack "Iwaswanderingthroughthetulips1day!" -  that's a 2 followed by 96 zeros.

Concerned about keeping your website more secure? Learn about our on-going website maintenance services.

Categories: Drupal

Paizo Previews Running Games In Pathfinder 2.0

Tabletop Gaming News - 23 July 2018 - 8:00am
With the release of Pathfinder 2.0, Paizo is hoping a lot of gamers that maybe have never tried the system will make their way over. So, with those new players and GMs, they figured it’d be a good idea to give you a taste of what running a game using the system is like (and […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

External Data Source

New Drupal Modules - 23 July 2018 - 7:15am

The need of using external data source in Drupal in a context of a Microsevice architecture is increasing. So this module will allow you to create a new data source as a plugin that you can find it when you configure your field "external data source" field.
Back to wikipedia to explain why we use this module:

Categories: Drupal

CMON Announces Wacky Races Board Game

Tabletop Gaming News - 23 July 2018 - 7:00am
On your mark! Get set! Go! The green flag is flying, and it’s a race to the finish line. Just make sure that you actually make it there. CMON is teaming up with Warner Brothers to bring the classic Hanna Barberra cartoon, Wacky Races, to tabletops in board game form. Players are looking to make […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Games Workshop Taking Orders For Kill Team

Tabletop Gaming News - 23 July 2018 - 6:00am
A lot of this could theoretically go in today’s Terrain Corner as well, but we’ll get to that. Games Workshop has started taking orders for Kill Team. What is Kill Team? Basically skirmish-sized 40k. Don’t want to get your huge-ass army out every time? Grab an elite core of minis and go at it in […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Update worker

New Drupal Modules - 23 July 2018 - 5:10am

Provides a Drupal queue you can use to process a bunch of operations in an asynchronous way.

For example if you have 1 million items you want to query and do operations on, in an update hook, it would be better to do them async.

Just use this queue, and pass it a callback and some arguments, and you are good to go.

Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Breaking Down the Concept of Distributed Content Management System

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2018 - 5:04am
Breaking Down the Concept of Distributed Content Management System Akshita Mon, 07/23/2018 - 17:34

Advances in technologies have brought us to the situation where huge amounts of ever-flowing media content need to be routinely stored, encoded, and exchanged. Heading an organization – such as a multinational/regional media organization – with the complex content creation and publication needs while also keeping a track of the content can be a difficult task.

Networked storage and exchange of data allow content to be distributed across a network making the task of content management all but impossible to deal without a content management system.

Considering the popularity of Drupal as the CMS, in this article we will explore how Drupal can help in providing and managing the modern digital experience with a Distributed Content Management System. 

Understanding the Concept

To develop a better understanding of the distributed content management system, let’s understand with an example of a national daily which also publishes content in different regional languages. 

What is Distributed Content Management System?

Let’s call this media house - One India News. Further, it has 6 different regional websites. Similar to many media institutions, the website channels are split into multiple categories (let’s say 5) and each of those categories further houses a number of sub-sections.  

Some of the regional websites may only have 2 to 4 categories depending on the demand, but others may have upwards of 10 with each category having an editorial team of its own.  

And let’s not forget that each of those regional websites are handled by a number of different editors for each category and channel. Toss in the requisite assortment of vote cards, topic cards, photo collage - you can see how quickly the web presence gets complex!  

“Management of Distributed Content revolves around efficiency and control.”

At this scale, we’re likely dealing with multiple websites, all of which have requirements around content. This has now become the perfect usecase for Distributed Content Management!

 

Use Case 1: Publishing Workflows For Individual Websites

Consideration of a content approval workflow is a critical part of the content strategy for any organization that employs Distributed Content Management. For the main website of One India News, the strategy is simple. A central editorial team with defined roles and distributed content production would suffice.

Publishing workflows must be tailored not only to the media houses but to each channel and team that’s in charge of their regional website. Content to be published on the homepage of the website will likely require significantly more oversight than in the humor or offbeat channel. 

The Distributed Management of Content or The Management of Distributed Content

The Distributed Management of Content deals with the workflow involved in the content creation with a decentralized approach.

The Management of Distributed Content works around dealing with existing content from a variety of sources, involving input (from other websites/sources), output (to other websites) or both. 

By implementing Distributed Management of Content, organizations can eliminate the time and opportunity for error introduced when users enter content in multiple places. Unlike the first concept, the goals for Management of Distributed Content are generally around efficiency and control. 

Use Case 2: Sharing Content Out - Centralized Content On A Distributed Web Platform

Even the most decentralized media house have content that is centrally produced. In some cases, it may be easiest to just hyperlink to that content in its original location; however, consider, a news story of national importance published on the main website. That story may be reposted in its entirety in all the other regional websites. 

Copying and pasting become a less efficient option when the content is further distributed - more so when you consider the possibility of edits and possible unpublishing. 

Use Case 3: Sharing Content In - Decentralized Websites As Points Of Origin

Another interesting use case presents itself when we consider distributed websites as the starting point for content creation. Most media houses maintain a central calendar of events, such as festivals and political events. 

In a well-formed distributed content model, with an appropriate CMS like Drupal, the same metadata that allows visitors to filter events - audience, department, program - can be easily used to syndicate those events to various other websites.  

Unfortunately, the same level of consideration is not always given to everyone outside the subset team with appropriate permissions. 

Content managers who are generally empowered to manage their own content may not have the same access to do so, or, in cases where they do have permission, find themselves needing to enter content into an entirely different website system to get it published to their site. 

But why should this be the case?  By extending the same technologies that allow websites to receive events from a central calendar, we can enable content managers to publish events to the calendar from within the same website they usually manage. (The same content approval and publishing workflow considerations apply, of course.)

Centralized Content Management Distributed Content Management 
  • All content funnelled through one group
  • Small individual workgroups responsible for respective areas
  • Central rules and procedures to ensure rules are followed 
  • The responsibility of individual groups to oversee content quality
  • One person authority - who is responsible for the rules and implementation
  • Each group may have one or more lead approvers. Workgroups leads handle process and rules
  • Advantage -  Resulting process control without confusion
  • Advantage - Responsibility and the workload are distributed
  • Disadvantage - May result in a bottleneck
  • Disadvantage - Individual groups can interpret rules differently
Use Case 4: Multichannel Brand Content

Single-source content syndication also provides an opportunity for media companies like One media looking to promote their brand across multiple mediums. Many companies choose to employ standalone, all-in-one news providers such as ANI, rather than integrating a category for each of the news providers. 

This makes a tremendous amount of sense: these organization systems when merged with the own CMS can provide a number of compelling results such as quicker results and faster news publishing. 

By programmatically receiving the content from a content repository the organization can eliminate the risk of delayed news and lose the audience. 


Use Case 5: Content Delivery To Validated Audiences

In an attempt to decentralize content over the years, media organizations now allow users to add stories to the website. 

How they access, validate, identify the users is another key consideration for the company’s Distributed Content Management strategy. 

A common approach is to segregate guest editor content into different regional “portals” - websites that require editor to create accounts and login to see the information for their country or part of the world.  

To overcome the challenge of validating these accounts, companies often integrate with an Identity Provider (IdP) such as SAML 2.0 Single Sign On easy configuration & active support, in your Drupal website. 

At the far end of the Distributed Content Management spectrum are systems that need to publish consistent, controlled content to websites with no possibility for discrepancies across multiple sites.  

Drupal allows Distributed Content Management strategy to be applied to large volumes of content to facilitate efficient workflow. Specifically, the system allows different content and editors to be part of the same system without much replication. 

Finally, the modular design of the Drupal architecture allows both stand-alone and distributed realizations so that the system can be deployed in a variety of applications. Connect with us, drop a mail at hello@opensenselabs.com or tweet us @OpenSenseLabs. 

blog banner blog image Content Management System Distributed Management of Content Content sharing Decentralized Websites Drupal CMS Content Creation Content Marketing Distributed content management Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On
Categories: Drupal

Adding a New Gamer to an Existing Group

Gnome Stew - 23 July 2018 - 5:00am

For those of us who have gamed for a long time (I just hit 35 years of RPG experience myself), it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that not everyone is a gamer, or that “gamer” is really a spectrum. There are those folks that only like Yahtzee and Spades. There are folks that prefer chess, backgammon, and a rare game of Risk. Some people like cards only, or dice only, or just board games, or just family games. There are folks (like me) that enjoy any assortment of tiles, cards, dice, minis, books, playmats, or whatever hilarity hitting the tabletop. We live in blessed times that there are too many quality games to choose from. A side effect of this is that we have a wide variety of gamers to choose from, and I love them all.

Preparation Before Invitation

Let’s focus in on role-playing games for a bit, though. If you have a friend who is interested in joining your RPG group, there are some steps to take in preparation for extending the firm invite to the group.

  • If you’re not the host, get the homeowner’s permission to invite the new person into their home. This might involve the host meeting the prospective player in a neutral location, depending on how closely the host guards their privacy and home.
  • Talk to the group as a whole about the new player. At a minimum, get the GM’s permission. Preferably, everyone should be accepting of the new player, if not outright approving of it.
  • Talk to the prospective player about group expectations, including your social contract. If you’re not sure what a social contract is, I recommend these articles:
  • Talk to the new player about table conduct. This includes what kind of jokes to expect, if alcohol is allowed during the game, general age ranges of the other players, if any children are in the group (or present in the area of the game area), etc.
  • Talk to the new player about game style. This includes system, themes, existing characters, events leading up to the game’s “present day,” and what kind of GM the person running the game is. This article by Wendelyn will be useful in this area.
Newb to Veteran

Once everyone is on board with the new player (including the new player), then you have a new gamer in your group! Make sure the new player will stay long enough to become a “grizzled veteran” of your campaign. There are some ways to tackle this.

If you are the GM, try to get some one-on-one time with the new player and work with her to create a character that will fit in. If your gaming style/system needs another player or two present during character creation (such as Fate Core), you can either sub in for the missing players or invite the more laid back or experienced players to join in for the character creation process. I’d also recommend running a one-hour solo game with the new player to get them into the rhythm of playing the character, running in the system, and getting used to acting in character without the pressure of doing so in front of a group of strangers.

If you’re not the GM, then still arrange some one-on-one time with the newcomer. Show up with a pre-generated character and a one-hour solo game in mind. Try to run the one-shot in the same style as the existing GM, so the new player can get accustomed to the styles, themes, ideas, and so on of the game system your group is using. Let the new player know that the actual GM will be the final say in rules, assisting with character creation, and will be running the game to avoid any confusion.

Before the new player shows up, make sure they know the exact days, time, and location of the game. If it’s a person’s house, make sure the new player knows not to show up too early (no more than 10 minutes early, or whatever the host likes), and not to show up too late (usually no more than 10-15 minutes late). If you can, be early to the game, so the friend isn’t hanging out in a stranger’s house without a familiar face around. Even better, arrange to carpool to the game, so you arrive together. Also, let the player know (though this should be covered in the social contract) about splitting food costs or showing up with snacks/drinks or showing with food already in the belly or however your group works these logistics.

Once the new player shows up at the first game with the full group, make sure they have a seat immediately next to the GM. This will make it easier for them to ask questions about rules, the world, her character, and so on without having to shout down the length of the table or feeling isolated. If the group is large enough, the GM may not have the time or ability to give that much focus to the newcomer. In this case, ask for a volunteer to “mentor” the newcomer and have an experienced player assist the new player.

One thing I love to do for people who are brand new to role playing is to give them some dice with a dice bag. I kind of go overboard with it, and you certainly don’t have to go this far if you don’t have the finances to do so. I always arrive at games with my “regular dice” and my “loaner dice.” If someone consistently needs to use the loaner dice, I just give them the bag. I usually do this on the third time in a row someone needs to borrow dice. It’s a nice gift. I don’t make it seem onerous or overbearing. I make it a funny and happy moment to “christen” them into gamer culture. My loaner dice bag is always a Chessex “Pound o’ Dice” and a large dice bag to fit them all in. This can run me anywhere between $25 and $35 dollars depending on if I can find the dice on sale. If you can’t afford this, then maybe prepare a set of loaner dice that constitute “retired” dice or a couple of the less expensive sets of dice found at your FLGS.

In addition to the dice, I always make sure I have spare paper, pencils, graph paper, and other sundry tools to ensure the newcomer has the proper tools. I’ve seen plenty of people who were hardcore board gamers think that RPGs contained “everything you need to play” and show up empty handed. Loaning them stuff is a clear way of showing them how to be prepared for future sessions.

Phil has a great article about using safety tools. While I usually game with people that I’ve known for years (if not decades), I don’t need those tools at my table. However, introducing these tools for the first few sessions is an excellent idea as everyone gets to know everyone else. Just make sure your existing group is aware of the change at the table beforehand, so it’s not a surprise to anyone.

Encourage everyone (if you aren’t already doing this) to build on the new player’s ideas with the “Yes, And” approach of gaming. This will make the player’s ideas inclusive into the overall story and give them some valuable spotlight time early on.

Conclusion

I’ve used these techniques to good effect over the years. It’s usually worked, but not always. Sometimes the folks try out RPGs for a month or three and then discover they prefer to spend their Friday nights playing bridge or horseshoes or the latest MMORPG. That’s perfectly fine, so don’t judge or belittle someone if your hobby is not right for her.

What are your tips for inviting new players to the group? Have anything to add to what I laid out here? I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Metatag Head Title

New Drupal Modules - 23 July 2018 - 5:00am

The metatag module provides a Page title meta tag which is used for both title and tags.

This simple module provides additional HEAD title metatag field which may be used to set tag independently.

Categories: Drupal

DROWL Layouts

New Drupal Modules - 23 July 2018 - 4:30am

Provides DROWL's default ZURB Foundation layouts. Shared with the community for other ZURB Foundation Druapl users.

Categories: Drupal

OpenSense Labs: Devising content strategy for higher education websites with Drupal

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2018 - 3:51am
Devising content strategy for higher education websites with Drupal Shankar Mon, 07/23/2018 - 16:21

Betterment is just another form of change which brings with it a lot of goodness. Higher education sector strives hard to cultivate ingenious qualities into the mammoth amount of aspiring students who come to their premises to gain superabundance of knowledge. In this digital age, the website of an institution is the gateway for the prospective student to explore more about the universities. It is significant to devise a content strategy for higher education websites to improve the digital user experience for their online visitors.

In an earlier blog, we threw light on Drupal’s efficacy in devising the content strategy for the websites. In this blog post, we will emphasise on improvising content strategy for higher education websites with Drupal.

Understanding the needs of your Higher Education website 1. Outreaching the prospective audience

Omnichannel A/B testing and Google Analytics reports can help in understanding your audience. Agreed! It is much easier than talking to each individual on the campus. As a matter of fact, having a conversation with the people on campus and by continuing to have them would actually help in learning the intrinsic details about your needs and opportunities thereby addressing them in the best way possible.

2. Assessing the needs

Now that you understand your needs and opportunities, it’s time to reflect back on analysing them. You have to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Also, you should validate where the potential is and where the pain is. By assessing such factors, you can have a clear picture of where you want to go and what’s needed to be done to get there.

  • Understand where your institution is headed at a high level and what’s on the to-do list. Fruitful online presence should comport with the priorities of your leadership group.
  • Take a note of your resources by understanding how big is your staff and their job roles. Gauge whether professional development is needed to bring people’s skills up to date. Also, you need to check what your budget looks like, how the staff members are spending their time currently, how much time can they spare for a web redesign effort, and whether new hires would be required or not.
  • Gather information about your sources. These can include catalogues, view books, events calendar, social media or any other such sources for which you are not directly responsible but have a huge potential and are pivotal for bringing value to your website.
  • Analyse the feedback from your users to see what they think about the website. Primarily, the users constitute front-end users (target audiences) and back-end users (content editors). Compile the comments submitted by the front-end users via email in the past year or two and set up internal meetings to collect opinions. Your back-end users are equally important and you should definitely do the same with them.
  • Map key content to your strategy. This includes your homepage, the virtual tour, your admissions page, news page etc. to your high-level institutional goals.
  • Identify opportunities for integration and alignment like pulling social media content onto your landing page, or verifying whether your maps and directions page consists of a callout to sign up for a campus visit.
  • Sort out your process of content auditing and its governance by having a robust system of the content workflow. Know who your content editors are, identify gaps in content workflow, and understand the roles and responsibilities defined for content producers. Gauge whether you have a training and documentation readily available. Identify what third-party content sources or systems are your content team using, and gauge how the internal communication process is working out for your content team.
3. Evaluating your content needs
  • Use analytics tools of your choice to gather relevant data like user flows, usage trends, top referrers, popular pages etc. It is even more important to configure conversion goals, campaign tags, and other such relevant metrics so that you can track your site usage even better.
  • Audit your top competitors’ websites to understand some key context thereby evaluating your own web presence.
  • Adopt usability testing to measure the user experience of your website. It helps in testing the efficacy of your calls-to-action, messaging, imagery, and navigation by devising a short test and governing it to members of your key audiences.
  • Gauge whether your website complies with ADA Accessibility for higher education or else you could be losing important members of your community who are unable to access your website.
  • Check whether your website is optimised for search engines and whether internet users can finding you in the first place.
Three-pronged approach
  • Motivation can a crucial factor when re-evaluating your segmentation strategy. While segmenting the audience on the basis of demographics or user behaviour is significant, it is also pivotal to understand what motivated them to inquire about your university.
  • Do look at content possibilities for different segments of your audience based on demographics, motivation and preferred communication channel. This is vital for identifying new prospects and maintaining relationships with your established supporters.
  • Always test within your audience. You should specifically focus on the flexibility and online components of the website with the audience.
 
Why is Drupal 8 a big boost for the essential needs of your Higher Ed website?

Higher education institutes need a website that is not only informative but impressive and ultimately converts potential students.

Source: Drupal

Drupal, an open source CMS, can work wonders for creating digital experiences for engaging, enrolling and restrain students, faculty, and alumni. With Drupal’s innumerable benefits, you can tailor your higher education solution.

No wonder 4 out of 5 top-ranked universities in the world, according to QS World University Rankings 2018, are powered by Drupal. University Powered by Drupal Massachusetts Institute of Technology Yes Stanford University No Harvard University  Yes California Institute of Technology Yes University of Cambridge Yes

Here are the must-haves for an incredible online presence of a higher education institute:

Responsive web design approach

Your website should adopt responsive web design approach. By reformatting images and page layouts according to your visitor’s screen sizes thereby adjusting to mobile users. This debars the need for horizontal scrolling on a mobile device and improves user experience as a result.

Source: NeilPatel

Drupal is mobile-responsive and works astoundingly well across platforms ranging from laptops to smartphones. Its user-friendly UI allows administrators, both technical and non-technical ones, to efficaciously design pages, upload content, and govern it.

 

The University of Oxford, world’s 6th best university as per QS World University Rankings in 2018, has grown manifold over the years. With the proprietary CMS, that the website of the university was running on, nearing its end of life, the university chose Drupal as their preferred open source content management solution. Drupal helped in rejuvenating its outdated design and make it mobile responsive to meet the demands of the digitally advanced set of mobile users.

Content Governance

You should have student-focused content. Potential students aren’t that interested in the internal news of an institution. Instead, they would, obviously, be more likely wanting to know how your institution can help get them the degree they want and enjoy the process. For instance, you can have a blog section dedicated to successful students talking about campus life, academics, and extracurricular activities. You can also have videos where the students give tips for freshmen.

Creation and management of content is the field where Drupal is the dominant force. Developing digital content with rich media embeds is the hallmark of Drupal with its ultimate content editing module - CKEditor. Moreover, to edit the content in-place, Quick edits module is very useful. Embedding files in your posts, making file readable, enabling text field for storing captions on images, taxonomy fields for audio files etc can be managed by Media module.

 

The website of Harte Research Institute (HRI) was redesigned with the help of Drupal. This streamlined their content authoring process thereby giving total control to the HRI administrators. They could easily edit existing pages, publish entirely new pages, and make a great use of tags and taxonomies.

Multisite

Universities benefit a lot by deploying multisite for their online endeavours. It is also significant to make the right decisions before adopting multi-faceted websites depending upon whether you are a large university with a global presence or a city college.

The out-of-the-box multisite functionality of Drupal lets students, staff members and other users communicate via a single system. It allows you to serve many sites from a single Drupal codebase which minimises the overhead of handling code across multiple sites. This leads to amazing agility for launching new sites quickly.

 

The University of Minnesota replaced its existing Oracle Universal Content Management System with Drupal for its flexibility and centralised workflow. Drupal helped in swiftly spinning up new sites from a standard design set. They could create sub-sites for different departments that could work as part of a larger community and erase the need for independent sites. It also enabled them to easily deploy code alteration across platforms.

Multilingual capabilities

Your website should have multi-language support. International students are increasingly turning out to be an important segment of the audience. Speaking to them in their own language is hugely beneficial for enrolment growth.

International Students in U.S. Colleges and Universities and Share of Total Enrolment, (%), School Year (SY) 1949–50 to 2016–17
Source: Migrationpolicy.org

Drupal 8 has inbuilt support for over 90 different languages and was built with multilingual use cases in mind. Its four out-of-the-box modules for translating configuration, content, interface and language help in streamlining the development of multilingual sites. Multilingual sites come handy for maintaining international associations, organising global meets, etc.

 

The website of Georgetown University in Qatar was revitalised with the in-built multilingual capabilities and scalability of Drupal. It helped in developing a robust dual language website (English and Arabic) and governing over 2000+ pages and content types thereby giving flexibility to editors and users alike.

Web personalisation

The website should have personalisation capabilities. When the potential students would visit your site, they would expect your site to have content tailored especially for them. On the basis of attributes like profile, behaviour and the location of internet users, you can create dynamic and personalised content to provide them with the relevant website experience.

Source: Oho Interactive

Drupal can help immensely in personalising the content to provide the relevant website experience. For instance, Acquia Lift Connector module allows integration with Acquia Lift service which helps in the unification of content and the insight collected from several sources about the customers. This helps in delivering in-context and personalised experiences across platforms.

E-commerce system

There must be an e-commerce system integrated to facilitate the donation making process for your alumni and donors. Bolstering the campus commerce capabilities would also mean that online fees payment would be streamlined. With the rise in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), higher education community should invest in ecommerce-enabled course offerings.

The seven steps in securing a donation
Source: Universitiesuk.ac.uk

Drupal is a wonderful platform for setting up e-commerce system with its superb module - Drupal Commerce. To make it easier for your generous donors to donate through your website, Drupal Commerce, being an open source e-commerce framework, can be useful for integrating an ecommerce system.

  • Thermometer, Drupal module, helps in the creation of simple thermometer widget which is useful for fundraising goals.
  • Another module, CRM Core Donation lets you process online donations and track donation activity.
  • Also, Commerce Goal helps in providing a way to show progress towards a fundraising goal for donations and products.

 

University of Colorado’s dedicated website for fundraising campaign was developed on Drupal. Since the launch of the site, the university witnessed a stark rise in the online donations with the number reaching $1 million within the first month.

Collaboration features

Drupal has powerful collaboration features for back-end users to support internal academic and research items in addition to its forward-facing content like static pages, blogs, forums and course schedules. Staff members and students can access manuals, handbooks, procedural documents and research documents.

Search-friendly

You must have SEO tools. No matter in which country your institute is located, students will throng your website using a search engine. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that you rank higher on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.

Graphical representation shows that online searches and college’s website are the most used medium for exploring the higher education website
Source: Search Engine Land

Drupal websites are great for SEO reasons as well. University websites can rank higher in the search engines with the help of a suite of Drupal modules. For example:

  • Real-Time SEO for Drupal module helps you in optimising the content to be published on your website with right usage of keywords, URLs, word count, ease of reading and page title.
  • Pathauto module generates URL/path automatically the content on your website like taxonomy, users, nodes, users etc which can also be manually altered. So, if a blog titled ‘Content strategy for higher education’ is being published, it will automatically create an SEO-friendly URL called ‘blog/content-strategy-for-higher-education’.

Drupal helped in the SEO optimisation of the website of Georgetown University in Qatar. It increased time-on-site and page view count and helped the site rank higher in the online searches thereby attracting new students and employee talents.

Digital marketing campaigns

Drupal offers a huge list of modules to do social media campaigns and email marketing.

  • Easy social module helps in adding a share button to the node to easily share content in social media.
  • Activity Stream module lets you stream all your social media activities at one place.
  • Organic groups module allows you to create and maintain your own groups where each group can have its own set of subscribers.
  • MailChimp module helps in the integration with MailChimp, email delivery service, for email marketing campaigns.
Taxonomy system

Drupal comes with an excellent taxonomy system that categorising your digital content into groups. This helps in easing off website content access for the online visitors. Relevant content is displayed to the visitors thereby streamlining site navigation.

Centralised authentication

Drupal uses LDAP(Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and CAS(Central Authentication Service) which makes it easy to enable single sign-on for the websites. Higher education institutions can benefit enormously through single point access integrations. Users can safely access a multitude of services and resources using a single login.

Georgetown University in Qatar has a dedicated employee microsite for the internal audience. It can be accessed from any device using a Single Sign-On ID that is incorporated with external identity solution through Shibboleth authentication module.

Drupal community groups

Several Drupal Community Groups exist who are committed towards better higher education solution. Following are some of the examples:

User permissions

Drupal offers a plentitude of modules for managing access and sharing content across multiple sites and portals. With Content and User Access Control, site administrators can create privileges to provide unique user experiences and different access rights to professors, students, alumni and site visitors.

Some of the Drupal modules include:

  • Domain Access module allows you to share users, configurations and content across different groups of sites.
  • Workflow module helps in the creation of arbitrary Workflows and assigning them to Entities. For instance, a workflow with the states like Draft, Review and Published can be assigned to Story node type. Thus, only the users with ‘Editor’ permissions can set Stories to the published state.
  • Workbench Access module helps in creating editorial access controls. Editorial rights can be granted for a particular section of a content to a user account.
Security

Safeguarding personal information of students and faculty members is of paramount importance. Drupal is the best security-focussed CMS and is ideal for higher education institutions.

As a matter of fact, Open Source Software (OSS) is generally considered more secure than proprietary software. Drupal is no exception and its security team has been committed to timely security fixes.

According to Hacked Site Report 2017 by Sucuri, Drupal has far fewer vulnerabilities reported among the leading content management frameworks like Wordpress, Joomla and Magento.

Conclusion

Higher education institutes are the most sought-after places for gaining an abundance of knowledge. Students looking to make a mark by joining the perfect institute of their choice must know what they have in offer. Their websites should have an effective content strategy in place for students to understand as much as they can about the university. Drupal 8 offers a great platform for the building a website that is tailor-made for students. 

We provide services for Drupal Development and it is our strong suit since our inception as a company. Contact us at hello@opensenselabs.com to build a website for your Higher-Ed institute that is tailor-made for students, faculty members, alumni and anyone who wants to gain something from your site.

blog banner blog image Higher education Higher-Ed Higher Education websites Higher education institutions content strategy Drupal 8 A/B testing content editor University Mobile Responsive Multilingual Site drupal seo web personalisation Ecommerce platform Open Source Multisite digital marketing Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On
Categories: Drupal

Randomness: Friend or Foe? - by Nicholas Kinstler

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 23 July 2018 - 3:49am
So, is randomness a force of good or a force of evil? In this article, Nick Kinstler claims that it's neither...and both.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Agiledrop.com Blog: AGILEDROP: Top Drupal blog posts from June

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2018 - 3:22am
Each month, we revisit out top Drupal blog posts of the month, giving you the chance to check out some of our favourites. Here’s a look at the top blog posts from June 2018.    First one on the list is Working together to promote Drupal by Dries. In this blog post, he explains why the Promote Drupal Initiative was launched, what is its goal and how we can all help.      We continue our list with Ode to the Drupal Association by Wim Leers from Acquia. This blog post is a simple big thank you to the Drupal Association for always being there for us.     The third spot is reserved for a… READ MORE
Categories: Drupal

Mass.gov Digital Services: Our modern development environment at Mass.gov

Planet Drupal - 23 July 2018 - 3:01am

I recently worked with the Mass.gov team to transition its development environment from Vagrant to Docker. We went with “vanilla Docker,” as opposed to one of the fine tools like DDev, Drupal VM, Docker4Drupal, etc. We are thankful to those teams for educating and showing us how to do Docker right. A big benefit of vanilla Docker is that skills learned there are generally applicable to any stack, not just LAMP+Drupal. We are super happy with how this environment turned out. We are especially proud of our MySQL Content Sync image — read on for details!

Pretty docks at Boston Harbor. Photo credit.Docker compose

The heart of our environment is the docker-compose.yml. Here it is, then read on for a discussion about it.

https://medium.com/media/fbc867b921322353081ee532b7d55cf0/href

Developers use .env files to customize aspects of their containers (e.g. VOLUME_FLAGS, PRIVATE_KEY, etc.). This built-in feature of Docker is very convenient. See our .env.example file:

https://medium.com/media/ab87671a5208a5fcb1a974d604e0ea3b/hrefMySQL content sync image

The most innovative part of our stack is the mysql container. The Mass.gov Drupal database is gigantic. We have tens of thousands of nodes and 500,000 revisions, each with an unholy number of paragraphs, reference fields, etc. Developers used to drush sql:sync the database from Prod as needed. The transfer and import took many minutes, and had some security risk in the event that sanitization failed on the developer’s machine. The question soon became, “how can we distribute a mysql database that’s already imported and sanitized?” It turns out that Docker is a great way to do just this.

Today, our mysql container builds on CircleCI every night. The build fetches, imports, and sanitizes our Prod database. Next, the build does:

https://medium.com/media/780e82c13c0ac1bdf181f4750cd8f36c/href

That is, we commit and push the refreshed image to a private repository on Docker Cloud. Our mysql image is 9GB uncompressed but thanks to Docker, it compresses to 1GB. This image is really convenient to use. Developers fetch a newer image with docker-compose pull mysql. Developers can work on a PR and then when switching to a new PR, do a simple ahoy up && ahoy down. This quickly restores the local Drupal database to a pristine state.

In order for this to work, you have to store MySQL data *inside* the container, instead of using a Docker Volume. Here is the Dockerfile for the mysql image.

https://medium.com/media/eaa473e8cf2173bc84d489061a986a77/hrefDrupal image

Our Drupal container is open source — you can see exactly how it’s built. We start from the official PHP image, then add PHP extensions, Apache config, etc.

An interesting innovation in this container is the use of Docker Secrets in order to safely share an SSH key from host to the container. See this answer and mass_id_rsa in the docker-compose.yml above. Also note the two files below which are mounted into the container:

https://medium.com/media/4408d6b3b75b87ae3221a60d7a0d656a/hrefhttps://medium.com/media/3d3504fc38cc71e2deaec58802ee9927/hrefTraefik

Traefik is a “cloud edge router” that integrates really well with docker-compose. Just add one or two labels to a service and its web site is served through Traefik. We use Traefik to provide nice local URLs for each of our services (www.mass.local, portainer.mass.local, mailhog.mass.local, …). Without Traefik, all these services would usually live at the same URL with differing ports.

In the future, we hope to upgrade our local sites to SSL. Traefik makes this easy as it can terminate SSL. No web server fiddling required.

Ahoy aliases

Our repository features a .ahoy.yml file that defines helpful aliases (see below). In order to use these aliases, developers download Ahoy to their host machine. This helps us match one of the main attractions of tools like DDev/Lando — their brief and useful CLI commands. Ahoy is a convenience feature and developers who prefer to use docker-compose (or their own bash aliases) are free to do so.

https://medium.com/media/bb5cd5f672948ca0ca0f0f053aeea03f/hrefBells and whistles

Our development environment comes with 3 fine extras:

  • Blackfire is ready to go — just run ahoy blackfire [URL|DrushCommand] and you’ll get back a URL for the profiling report
  • Xdebug is easily enabled by setting the XDEBUG_ENABLE environment variable in a developer’s .env file. Once that’s in place, the PHP in the container will automatically connect to the host’s PHPStorm or other Xdebug client
  • A chrome-headless container is used by our suite which incorporates Drupal Test Traits — a new open source project we published. We will blog about DTT soon
Wish list

Of course, we are never satisfied. Here are a couple issues to tackle:

Our modern development environment at Mass.gov was originally published in MA Digital Services on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Drupal

Safe external links

New Drupal Modules - 23 July 2018 - 1:31am

Safe External Links (sel) is a topical module which addresses user editable external links on
a Drupal site. It processes links and adds target="_blank" and
rel="noreferrer" or rel="noopener" attributes if a link is external .

Categories: Drupal

Book Excerpt: One game dev's quest for fight-free fashion agency

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 23 July 2018 - 1:10am

In this chapter of 'Game Devs & Others: Tales from the Margins,' dev Vanessa Paugh writes about how she joined the industry because she couldn't find her 'perfect game' -- so she set out to make it. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: Gaming Truism #9

RPGNet - 23 July 2018 - 12:00am
That fuzzy that does not try.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: Go, Go, No Man's Pokemon

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 22 July 2018 - 8:51pm

This week's longform game writing/video highlights include a report on the latest Pokemon Go Fest, the return of Sean Murray & No Man's Sky, and lots more besides. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

ReDoc for OpenAPI UI

New Drupal Modules - 22 July 2018 - 4:38pm

ReDoc is a javascript library which allows a user to explore the api documentation for a web services API. This module provides the ReDoc library for display of OpenAPI specifications within Drupal site. OpenAPI UI is required to use the project, as it provides the underlying architecture. Please visit the OpenAPI project page for more information.

Categories: Drupal

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