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Take your daily dose of (only) relevant news, useful tips and tricks and valuable how to's on using the latest web technologies shaping the digital landscape. We're here to do all the necessary information sifting for you, so you don't have to, to provide you with content that will help you anticipate the emerging trends about to influence the web.

Laravel or Drupal 8? What Are the Key Differences? Which One Best Fits Your Use Case Scenario?
What does Drupal 8 do that Laravel does not? What key functionalities, that Drupal ships with, do you need to build from scratch in Laravel? And how would opting for Laravel benefit your specific type of project? In short: Laravel or Drupal 8? “It's like comparing apples to oranges” some might say since one's a framework and the other one a CMS. Even so, if it's unclear to you what are their particular use cases and their built-in features, you won't know whether it's a CMS or a framework that best suits your project type, right? That best serves your project-specific needs:   to be super fast to leverage a solid, off-the-shelf content management system for publishing different pieces of content on the website to feature an easy to scale database to support multisite to tap into robust user and content management features that are already implemented to be built on top of a solid framework acting as a reliable back-end application to leverage a highly intuitive admin user interface to be 101% secure to leverage a mixture of server and client-side logic   Now, keep your list of project requirements and constraints at hand to evaluate these 2 technologies' pros and cons against it:   1. Drupal 8: Top Benefits, Main Drawbacks, and Specific Use Cases If a robust user and content management system is critical for your project, then Drupal 8 makes the smartest choice. It's that “thing” that Drupal excels at that, which would take you a whole lot more time to do in Laravel. And it's not just its robustness that might “lure you in”, but the level of convenience that it provides: a lot of the essential features and functionalities that you might need are already built-in. Moreover, you can easily manage them and custom-tune them via your admin interface... By comparison, you'd need to build these functionalities, from the ground up, if you chose to go with Laravel.   Top benefits:   you can rest assured that your website runs on a particularly robust, Symfony-based CMS there's a huge, dedicated community backing it up you get to create various content types, for different parts of your website, assigned with different roles; unlike basic CMSs, that enable you to write... posts and to create new web pages you can set up different editorial workflows and assign specific user roles, with fine-grained access control you can always further extend its CMS-specific functionalities: extensibility is one of the strongest Drupal 8 benefits   Main drawbacks:   you do need a team of Drupal experts (senior-level preferably) to keep an eye on your Drupal 8 website/app and keep everything properly maintained you can't get away with a “get it up and running and... move on” type of philosophy; Drupal 8 is a more of a long-term commitment: there's always a newly launched promising module to consider adding on, a new update to run...   Specific Use Cases for Drupal 8:   large-scale projects that depend on a robust and reliable content management system; one that withstands an intense, ongoing process of creating, editing and publishing lots of fresh content Laravel or Drupal 8? Definitely the later if it's a multi-site, multi-language web project that you plan to develop; not only that it streamlines content publishing  across your whole network, but it significantly speeds up localization thanks to its server-side caching capabilities   It means that no matter the place on the globe where that your users might be located, they get to access your web pages and have them loaded... instantly.   2. Laravel: Pros, Cons, and Project Types that It's Best Suited For Laravel stands out as a highly reputed, powerful PHP framework.  If:   maintainability is one of your biggest concerns you're looking for a robust framework you need to carry out your project fast enough you need a framework that ships with all the latest functionalities   ... then Laravel is what you need.   Top Benefits:   a fast-growing, devoted community you can easily integrate LDAP authentication  it leverages the Model-View-Controller architecture it's just... fast provides you with a great admin user interfaces it “spoils” you with intiutive, beautifully written code it ships with a heavy “toolbox”: scan through and pick the most suitable one(s) for your project in-built code for social login and sending out emails everything you might need to set up during the development process is right there, already integrated into your code: cron jobs, database queries, routes...   Main drawbacks:   more often than not identifying performance issues isn't that straightforward upgrading to the latest version of Laravel can turn out to be quite a challenge: be prepared for “buggy scenarios” and for the need to rewrite code you can't just jump straight to Laravel: learning the basics of OOPS first things first is a must   Specific Use Cases:   your project needs a back-end application (rather than an off-the-shelf CMS) when the benefits of the MVC architecture (faster development process, suitable for large-scale projects, multiple views, etc.) are critical for the given project  whenever you need to mix client-side with server logic whenever time is the main concern for you: you just need your project developed super fast   3. So... Laravel or Drupal 8?  Now, I'm sure that you already anticipate my answer: The choice depends strictly on your project requirement and objectives. On your own hierarchy of priorities in terms of features and functionalities. And depending on these key aspects, that should be clearly defined, one technology will benefit you over the other. So... what type of project are you looking to build? Photo by Raquel Martínez on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 20'2019
How You Can Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: 8 Simple Best Practices- Part 2
Have you got the chance to apply the simple tweaks and techniques shared with you in the first part of this post? Ready now to further improve the on-site search user experience by focusing on the usability of your internal search results? For, in vain you make your search box fully visible and usable if the options that the user gets once he/she enters his search phrase are just... irrelevant, unhelpful. That's why in today's post we'll be shifting focus from the search box to the internal search results themselves: What can you do, as a website owner, to ensure that your search functionality triggers the most relevant, most useful options only?   5. Improve Your Page Load Speed “Don't make your website visitors search for the... search bar!” is equally critical as: “Don't keep your users waiting too long for the search results to get displayed!”  Speed is crucial, so make sure you've applied all the due techniques. And there sure are a lot, ranging from common sense ones to truly sophisticated performance tweaks to keep your page load speed below... 3 seconds. Note: If loading takes more than 2-3 seconds, just get resourceful. Display a progress indicator or a suitable animation to keep users distracted from the waiting process.   6. Prepare a Back-Up for the “No Results to Display” Scenarios How are you planning to manage the “empty searches” situations?  For, there will be instances when there's no content on your website that could possibly match the users' search terms. In this case, you can always apply the 2-step “emergency plan” to improve the on-site search user experience:   first, you make sure that your search functionality has scanned your entire website content: PDFs and other file formats, CMS pages and full copy here included, not just metadata, etc. you present them alternative search options related, to some extent, to their entered queries: broad matches, contextual category links, etc.   Word of caution: providing a list including all the categories on your website or displaying top searches do not qualify as alternative search suggestions that could boost the UX.   7. Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: Add Filtering Options Another one of the highly effective internal site search best practices is adding filters that narrow down the user's options to the most relevant ones. For instance, you could segment their search options into “Blogs”, “Support”, “Products” etc. and thus speed up the search process. Note: set up your analytics so you get the most of them; the most relevant data that you can then use to constantly optimize your filters   8. Leverage Semantic Search to Provide More Relevant Search Results Tune the result relevancy and you'll improve the on-site search user experience.  In your quest for relevancy, semantic search makes your most powerful ally:   the whole process taking place “behind the curtains” will be much more than a mere keyword matching, thanks to natural language processing. you avoid the risk of frustrating the user by returning too many search results instead of displaying the most relevant ones only you won't convey the message that you have no regard of the user's effort to enter a specific, long-tail query a semantic search implementation leverages a “context vs intent” formula and generates results that are 100% relevant to the user's search intent...   Note: if you can't make use of semantic search on your website, there's always a better alternative than the free text search box. For instance, you could set up a constrained search and guide the user towards the most relevant search phrase... The END! These are the last 4 simple techniques that you can apply to improve the on-site search user experience.  Now, to sum up the key advice that we've shared with you in this 2-part blog post:   search result relevancy should be your main goal a well-designed UI is worthless without a well thought-through logic behind it predictive and semantic search should be the pillars that you base your on-site search function on... Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 17'2019
How You Can Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: 8 Simple Best Practices- Part 1
Are you using your website's search functionality to its full potential? Do your users always get the most relevant site search results? Do you think... it could be better and you wonder how you could improve the on-site search user experience? Now, let me guess: you'd want to optimize it quick and easy, by just incorporating some simple internal search best practices into your optimization routine. It can be done. We've already selected 8 easy-to-apply techniques to boost the user experience from the on-site search standpoint.  But first, let's clear up a few key aspects:      optimizing the internal search user experience doesn't mean just checking that your search box gets, displayed on your targetted web pages and that it delivers some... results opting for an on-site search tool that ships with built-in search functionality doesn't automatically guarantee you the best on-site search user experience your implemented site search tool won't just work on its own, by default, with no “tweaking” effort from your side   In short: there's more to the user experience than the user interface (the fact that the well-designed search box gets displayed is not enough).  And in this respect, the relevancy of your site search results is key and, in order to achieve it, you need to consider the whole logic behind the UI, as well. Now, let's pinpoint these 8 best practices that'll help you improve the on-site search user experience. They're aimed at enhancing the usability of both your search box and your search result page.   1. Make Sure Your Search Box Has a Clear Call to Action  Is the user action of your search box... self-evident? Is it obvious for your website users, the instant they land on that page, that that is a... search bar? Now, here are a few tips to ensure that your search box does have a clear call to action:   support your text prompt with a “Find” or “Search” button or with a magnifying glass icon pay attention to your search box's design; make sure it leaves no room for ambiguity over what role it serves enter a placeholder text (“Find events”, “What are you looking for” etc.) in your search bar 2. Give Users Predictive Search Suggestions on Their Entered Queries Another effective way to optimize the on-site search user experience is by giving them a helping hand with... entering the right input. Predictive search suggestions and autocomplete drop-down menus will narrow down their search term options and speed things up.  What you can do is to make sure that:   your drop-down suggestions display “in category” search results your autocomplete suggestions partly disclose specific content (maybe even pairing it with images, as well)   Note: in order to enhance readability, feel free to highlight the matching parts between the user's entered query and the query suggestions provided by your search function.   3. Improve the On-Site Search User Experience: Make It Visible An apparently insignificant UI improvement like:   making your search box wider putting it on a more visible section on a web page or even site-wide   … will definitely boost the user experience. And here are some actionable tips for you to make your search box more visible:   make sure the input field is wide enough to accommodate a minimum of 27 characters don't “bury” it in a hamburger menu don't reduce it to a small, easy to miss icon don't put it too close to boxes triggering different CTAs (e.g. the sign in box) display it on every relevant web page on your site   And also, a few simple best practices on how to make your search box more... usable, as well:   consider triggering search interface in a separate window if your website's a multiple-category one (e.g. an online store) consider opting for an overlay search window if you have infinite scrolling functionality implemented on your website make sure the search bar changes its color/size when the user hovers over, just to signal its functionality use a flashing cursor to prompt the user to enter his/her query   4. “Train” Your Search Function for Imperfect User Input Scenarios Another basic, yet effective way to improve the on-site search user experience is by preparing your search function to handle the imperfect search queries... gracefully. In other words, it should be perfectly adapted to deliver search results even when users enter:   synonyms stop words singular or plural variants casing numbers misspellings   … in the search bar.  Note: remember to display the user's original misspelled phrase, as well, and to accompany it with a clear search option, relevant for his/her initial query...   END of Part 1. Stay tuned, for we have 4 more tips to share with you on how to improve the on-site search user experience. “Tips” that address search result page usability issues, as well. Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 07'2019
Using Drupal for Project Management and Team Collaboration: 2 Drupal Distributions to Consider
“Can I use Drupal for project management?” Definitely.  Given all its content-oriented baked-in capabilities — file management, version control, easy content creation, and editing — Drupal makes the perfect software for:   managing your projects the easy and the... smart way streamlining communication among your team members and with your contractors   In this respect, Drupal provides its own feature-rich distributions to help you put together your robust setup in no time. “Distributions” that come already packed with a set of useful sub-modules and themes, that all support the core functionality: project management (and smooth collaboration). And without further ado, here the 2 most popular Drupal distributions for project management and team collaboration for you to evaluate first: RedHen and Open Atrium.   1. RedHen CRM       Loaded with robust and modern features, this Drupal-native CRM is designed with flexibility in mind. Meaning that it integrates seamlessly with the enterprise solution that you're using (Blackbaud, Salesforce) and it supports a wide range of use cases... And speaking of its functionalities:   engagement tracking and monitoring data management: information about your contacts, the relationships among them and with your own company (e.g. memberships) event registration integration one-page donation forms to custom-tune to your liking   As for those many use cases that this Drupal distribution's built to accommodate, let's pick just a few real-world examples:   It's the best choice if smoothly integrating your CRM with your other enterprise solutions is critical for you   It streamlines tracking interactions with your contacts and organizations. Furthermore, since you can easily integrate it with your website, you get to leverage the provided data in order to adjust the user experience accordingly...   It allows you to customize it and thus to give it a Drupal-like look and feel: to integrate it with modules like Rules or Views, to go for the same field creation UI, etc.   Is your contacts list a huge one? This CRM comes to your rescue with some powerful baked-in tools: an efficient find-and-dedupe interface, an automated filter built in the UI, that you can use to filter your contacts by specific fields, etc.   It automatically syncronizes data in your Contacts list with any newly updated data on your Drupal Users list   In short: RedHen CRM makes one of the top choices when you consider using Drupal for project management purposes. It's a lightweight, self-contained framework, more of a “cluster” of multiple specialized modules:   Organization Activity Fields Organization Group Dedupe Registration and a few more...   2. Open Atrium    Looking for a Drupal-native distribution built around the team collaboration functionality? One that should be:   convenientyly extensible “loaded” with robust collaboration and information sharing features?   Then Open Atrium fits the profile in the slightest detail. Built on top of the Organic Groups and Panopoly modules, it's a framework flexible enough to support discussion configurations by key criteria like team, project, organization... And here are some more powerful features worth considering when you're still thinking whether you should use Drupal for project management:   an access control system, that grants granular control to certain sections of your project a drag and drop layout with plenty of widgets to select from for customizing your landing pages and dashboard file storing and sharing features built-in Events, Files, Discussions, Issue Tracking, Document Wiki an easy to customize, responsive theme   The END! These are but 2 viable answers to your “Can I use Drupal for project management and team collaboration?” type of question. 2 of the options available that best meet some of your main requirements when looking for a project management software:   to be easy to use to ship with an entire collection of file management and communication features to be flexible enough and allow quick customization and seamless integrations   Have you tried other Drupal modules/distributions built around this functionality so far?  Image by jessica45 from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 06'2019
6 Outdated Web Design Trends: Age-Old UI Cliches that You Should Bury for Good
They used to be THE norm and to dictate web designers' decisions. No one questioned their usability or long-term efficiency. Or that they would soon grow into some outdated web design trends. Deprecated conventions that, when not mocked, are now regarded as mere haunting “ghost of the past”. A “past” where glossy buttons, flashy design, and overly embellished page dividers used to steal the spotlight.  Now, let us go against today's trend of talking about “the biggest web trends in 2019” and, instead, dig out some old UI cliches. Just to determine the cause of death so that you:   don't risk falling into yesterday's pitfalls in terms of web design once again leverage the lessons of the past to contribute to a better future of the web   1. The Flash Menu Remember those “glory days” of the... flashy web?  There was sound pretty much everywhere on a web page, animated buttons, interactive elements. And there were fancy flash menus, of course. All web designers used to take “flashy” and “animated” for... “user engaging”.   The causes of death:   applying any changes to a flash menu was discouragingly challenging (you couldn't get away with just editing a text file) it had a negative impact on the website's SEO; crawling those flash files was “mission impossible” for the search engines it wasn't mobile-friendly it had poor loading times it had to be installed into the browser plugins had to be updated constantly... frequently   2. The Frame, the Elder “Cousin” of Today's iFrame Now, let's turn back the hands of time and “freeze” it right at those days before tables stepped into the spotlight. What did we use for basic layouts back then? We used frames... Which are now no more than another one of the outdated web design trends that, well, it's not worth resuscitating. Back then, we didn't have JavaScript to overtake the burden of loading data, so web browsers had to do all the heavy work.    The causes of death:   they would compromise the browser history and break the back and forward buttons copying and pasting links to web pages on the same website was a dread they would enable the web browser to partly update a page instead of loading a brand new one reloading a website would, more often than not, mean no more than guiding the user back to the exact front page   3. The Table Layout, One of Those Outdated Web Designs Trends to... Bury  OK, maybe there's no need to “mourn” over this dead UI convention, but we can't just overlook its massive contribution to... the evolution of web design. Image source: Genealogy Web Creations Back then, when the table-based layout trend emerged and stole the spotlight, it opened a whole world of possibilities: It empowered us to structure our web content by breaking it into multiple columns and rows. Surprisingly enough, that mix of GIF files and inline styles did manage to glue those layouts together.   The causes of death:   it wasn't responsive <div> tags and classes came to... seal its faith CSS, “tempting” us with floats, stepped on the stage of web design   4. The Border Ornament and Decorative Page Divider   The overly embellished page separators are another “once a norm, now just one of the outdated web designed trends”. Image source: Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay In its “glory days,” it was our only option to split chunks of text on our web pages. And since the <hr> elements looked a bit too... dull, we went to the other extreme and started using these overly embroidered GIF separators to section our web pages. Separators which, at first, were no more than some horizontal bars. Until web designers fell prey to the urge of gilding the lily.   The causes of death:   the heavily ornamented borders ended up diverting users' attention away from the essential: the text itself CSS/CSS3 eventually stole our attention, as web designers divs and classes made the segmentation of a web page much more... fluid, with no impact on the overall user experience   5. The Blinking Marquee There was a time, way before image sliders gained their bad reputation when we would have text just... slide across web pages, from right to left. What made this “sliding” possible? HTML's marquee tag, the equivalent of Internet Explorer's <blink> tag...   The causes of death:   it distracted website visitors from the core message it affected SEO, since it only displayed partial information to search engines it was an unnecessary artifice in most cases, for it carried minor information and it was the main “culprit” for a high cognitive load   6. The Image Button Another one of those outdated web design trends dating back to early 2000, when “flashy”, “cluttered” and (most of all) “fancy” were the best adjectives to describe web designers' work. And the glossy, 3D-looking image-based buttons created in Photoshop were fancy, alright! Where do you add that they paired with custom-made, animated cursors, as well.   The causes of death:   with text “carved” into the image, buttons were too difficult to manage, too difficult to apply changes to they weren't responsive (they would get “partially responsive” and that only after a lot of hard work) CSS3 came to... bury it for good   The END! These are the 6 most representative UI conventions for the early 2000s that have gradually turned into some outdated web design trends. Or, better said, into “learning materials” on the old/wrong ways of designing for the web and how they influenced today's UI design best practices. Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jun 03'2019
Migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2: A 7-Step Plan to Migrate Your Theme, Extensions and Data
On one hand, you “crave” improved site performance, improved checkout process, improved scalability and all the other improvements that Magento 2 “seduces” you with. On the other hand, just the thought of risking to compromise your data, your Magento extensions or the various customizations in your store simply... paralyzes you. It's obvious: you need a bulletproof, actionable and 101% safe plan for migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2... A step-by-step guide to:   reduce some of the intimidating complexity of the process  secure each one of its phases (from the preparation phase to the data migration phase... all the way to deployment) streamline it   Well, here it is: the 7-step migration roadmap that you need to safely and efficiently structure your Magento 2 migration process.   1. Evaluate Your Current Implementation and Try to Estimate Your Migration Effort The first step to take in the preliminary part of your plan is to review your Magento 1 implementation. Start by assessing your current environment and setting it against this list of Magento 2 software and hardware requirements:   PHP: 7.0.13+ or 7.1.x +2G of Ram MariaDB 10.0,10.1,10.2 or Percona 5.7 or MySQL: 5.6, 5.7 PHP extensions: soap, curl, mcrypt, gd, iconv, PDO/MySQL, openssl, intl, ctype, bc-math, libxml etc.   Next, take some time to analyze your current e-commerce store's provided user experience, extensions, configurations... Then, reflect on the following key questions:   How many storefronts and domains are included in your Magento 1 architecture? Needless to add that moving a highly customized multi-site infrastructure is going to be a lot more challenging than migrating a single store... How large is your current store (run an inventory of all your products, users, attributes, orders, categories)? How bulky is your ecosystem of third-party extensions, Magento core customizations, custom themes, various integrations (CRM, ERPs)? It's only after you've performed an in-depth analysis of your current online store (or multi-store) that you can roughly estimate the migration complexity. Word of caution: remember to backup your Magento 1 online store (secure your folders, database, and files) and to always migrate data from your cloned database instead of transferring it straight from your live online store...   2. Make an Inventory of Your Extensions: Search for Similar Versions in Magento 2 And this step makes a perfect opportunity to... declutter: Run an inventory of all the extensions on your current e-store and decide which ones are to be kept and which of them you should let go of... Next, divide your “pile” of extensions into 3 categories:   Magento 1 extensions with corresponding versions in Magento 2 Magento 1 extensions with third-party alternatives instead  Magento 1 extensions that were custom-built for your current store, that you now need to rebuild Run a 1:1 analysis and identify the extensions, themes and custom code on your e-commerce store that are compatible with Magento 2...   3. Migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2: Choose the Right Migration Tool In this respect, the Magento 2 data migration tool is a highly reputed one. It will greatly streamline the whole process, but do keep in mind that:   you'll still need to write custom code to seamlessly merge data into the new platform you'll need to adjust your custom code to fit in; for instance, tables and columns aren't considered standard dataset in Magento 2   Note: now it's the best time to reconsider your third-party extensions. Do they really compensate for all those data entries and product parameters that they injected into your Magento 1 store? If you still consider them relevant and valuable enough to be moved over to your new Magento 2 store, you might want to consider the Magento 1 to Magento 2 code migration tool for this.   4. Migrate Your Theme And this will be possible only if:   your current Magento 1 theme is compatible with Magento 2 there is a version of your current theme available in Magento 2   If not, if you've been running your e-commerce website on a custom theme, let's say, then you can either:   create a whole new theme from the ground up purchase a Magento 2 theme   Note: this is also that step of your “migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2” roadmap where you integrate your new online store with your key corporate systems.   5. Migrate Your Extensions  As already mentioned, there are 3 possible actions that you can take regarding your current load of extensions:   check whether they have Magento 2 counterparts if so, incorporate those Magento 2 versions into your new store if not, integrate some brand new extensions, that provide the same or similar functionality   6. Migrate Your Code Customizations Rely on the Code Migration toolkit for this and let it do all the heavy lifting that the code migration process involves. Word of caution: after you've let it perform its function, remember to go back and focus on all those files that need manual editing.   7. Migrate Your Data  As already mentioned, the Magento 2 Data Migration Tool is one of your most reliable “allies” in migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2.  And I'm referring here to the orders stored in your store, products, settings and configurations, categories and so on... How do you use it? It's no more than a 5-step process:   Use Composer to install the tool Enter your authentication keys (Magento Marketplace > Sign in > Click on My Access Keys) or generate a new pair configure your tool migrate your Magento 1 store's settings (system/store configurations, shipping, tax settings...) Migrate your data by entering this command: php bin/magento migration:data --reset <path to your config.xml>   Next, it's testing time: test, test, test, then... test some more! Check whether your new Magento 2 store works properly. Make sure you run your performance analysis and optimization process on real data. This way, you can check whether the actual Magento 2 store is capable to withstand real-life loads of data... Also, do keep in mind to update the existing data with the newly added one before deploying your Magento 2 store. And that because at this point you might end up with identical data: identical products, users, categories... Once you've fixed this issue, you only need to pick the right time — preferably not the “peak traffic” hours on your website — to launch it...   The END! Have I missed any key step(s) that anyone migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 should take?  Image by Ross Mann from Pixabay ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / May 31'2019
Cache API in Drupal 8: How Is It Any Different from Drupal 7 Cache System?
What makes the Cache API in Drupal 8 any better than Drupal 7's cache system? What's so revolutionary about it? Which of the old limitations does it remove? What are those new concepts and terminology that you should learn about? And, most of all: how complex is it to set up a cache in Drupal 8 for a specific use case? You might have already bumped into terms like “max-age”, "context cache" or "cache tags".   But how precisely do these new concepts, part of Drupal 8's cache system, refine and streamline the way you cache data on your website?   Let's try to demystify the terminology of Drupal 8's Cache API and to translate its new “fancy” terminology into... crystal-clear benefits for you:   1. What Is Caching More Precisely? Why Do We Cache Data? To your “What” question I'd answer:   Caching is a... strategy (or layer) for storing data from your website. Or: it's a software or hardware component where you store your data.    Why would you want to store your data?   Because this will streamline the way your website serves all future requests for that cached data.   And it goes without saying that reading data straight from the cache takes less time than... retrieving it from a slower data container or fully recreating the result. In short: caching data translates into faster page load time. 2. Cache API in Drupal 8: The Automatic Cache System A brief, yet accurate definition of cache in Drupal 8 would be:   Storing data that takes too long to load.   And if I am to detail it a bit I'd have to add that:   Caching can be either permanent or time-limited and that you're free to cache any type of data on your website.   Now, talking about Drupal 8's cache API, what everyone points out is that: it is much improved. That it's so different from the cache systems of the previous Drupal versions that... you even risk turning your website uncachable if you're not familiar with its new concepts.   “But how different/sophisticated can it be?” you might ask yourself.   Before we delve deep into details let me add just one thing:   We're talking about an... automated cache system. Basically, your Drupal 8 website retrieves cache data for both anonymous and logged in users with no configuration whatsoever. All by default.   And now, let's shed some light on all these new fancy concepts that the Cache API in Drupal 8 is based on:   2.1.The Cache Tags We all do agree that “invalidating cache” is one of the most challenging tasks of any cache system. Luckily, not anymore. At least not in Drupal 8, where you now have the concept of “cache tags” that you can use for tagging:   specific pages specific page elements various types of content   … and thus invalidate them all. Improved efficiency and high accuracy through... basic tagging. Basically, using these cache tags you can easily identify outdated data stored in multiple cache bins and... invalidate it. This way, you no longer run the risk of invalidating “still green” cache items, in bulk, not knowing which data to invalidate.   2.2. The Context Cache Here's an all too common scenario:   You're faced with multiple variants of the same data; only one of them should be cached, based on a specific criterion like language, user, country, content access permission...   Well, how do you automate targetting the right variant to be cached? And how do you automate caching the other left variants, as well, depending on the... context. You use “cache contexts”, that's how... They're one of those new remarkable features that the Cache API in Drupal 8 ships with, that allow you to specify the criteria to be used to vary for the cached content on a page. By user, by language, by country, by path...   2.3. The Max-Age (The Cache Duration) Maybe you don't want certain data to be forever cached. Maybe you need it stored for a certain period of time only. In this respect, the “max-age” property in Drupal 8's cache system allows you to define that time limit. To invalidate data that will have run... out of time.   2.4. The Bubbleable Cache Metadata What does this even mean “cache metadata... bubbling”? Let's take this example:    You have a parent item with its own “family” of... children items. In this context, “bubbled tags” makes it possible for the parent item in this render array to receive cacheability metadata from its children.   Bubble cache metadata streamlines the whole process of invalidating outdated cached data. As simple as that...   The END! Is it any clearer for you now what makes the Cache API in Drupal 8 so powerful? How its new features come to remove most of the limitations that you've already faced in Drupal 7? And how you can use them to refine and automate caching on your own Drupal 8 website? Image by Pexels from Pixabay   ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / May 24'2019
Is Magento Commerce Cloud the Best Option for Your E-Commerce Store? Key Benefits and Reported Downsides
But why should you even consider Magento Commerce Cloud as an option for your e-commerce store in the first place? What makes it any better than JetRails or Rackspace or even... Magento Commerce? What are its biggest selling points? And are there any reported downsides so far? Any drawbacks to consider and to weigh against its upsides before making your final choice? Now, let's get you some answers:   1. What Is Magento Commerce Cloud? How Is It Different/Better than Magento Commerce? Some might just reduce it to this basic formula: Magento Commerce + bundled hosting (or cloud infrastructure) Yet, I'm not one of “some”, so my definition would be: It's a full-managed, automated hosting platform for Magento Commerce — the once Enterprise Cloud Edition — that ships with some additional powerful features. Now, let me try and point out some of these features:   integrated source control management system (GIT), which translates into automatic build, deploy and management; it provides you with development, staging and live production environments streamlined development cycle quick and continuous deployment entirely customizable components enhanced security: the inherent security benefits of cloud computing + using WAS (Amazon Web Services) as the underlying infrastructure platform + tapping into the shared responsibility security model + leveraging the Fastly Web Application Firewall +... continuous availability: a particularly important feature for online stores, with a huge impact on user experience, the overall traffic and the level of security that your eStore guarantees its customers   2. 10 Main Reasons Why You'd Want to Run It on Magento Commerce Cloud Now, let's put its biggest selling points into the spotlight! Those benefits powerful enough to influence your decision and to make you opt for this cloud-powered e-commerce solution:   2.1. It's a Centralized Point of Management & End-to-End E-Commerce Solution Of all the Magento Commerce Cloud features, this must be one of the most “luring” ones:   you get to orchestrate your whole “infrastructure” of online stores from one single centralized point/store from marketing to analytics, to commerce across industries, it allows you to handle every specific operation, every aspect of the customer experience delivered on your e-commerce website   2.2. Inventory Order Management No more “out of stock” scenarios. At least not on your web store, since this feature allows you to always be one step ahead of customer demand and to... restock.   2.3. A Vast Ecosystem of Third-Party Extensions to Explore Another one of Magento Commerce Cloud's biggest selling points is its impressive marketplace of extensions. From:   Amazon Sales Channel to Google's Smart Shopping to lots of machine learning-based extensions   … you get to select from a huge ecosystem of add-ons to create a feature-rich, highly interactive shopping experience across your store.   2.4. It's Perfectly Equipped to Power Your PWAs Thinking about reaching out also to those potential customers who don't (always) benefit from fast-speed internet connection? Thinking about building a PWA for your online store? Good news: MCC is designed precisely with such a challenge in mind. It makes the best option for powering a PWA development plan.   2.5. High Scalability The hosting platform's built to accommodate the needs of both big retailers and small e-commerce businesses. And, in this respect, I should add 2 specific features that translate into enhanced scalability:   being a cloud environment, it grants you the freedom and the flexibility to allocate more memory and CPU, when needed it ships with an ece-tools package   2.6. It Supports Intuitive Experiences for Both Store Admins and Customers All the enhancements that Magento Commerce Cloud comes packed with bubble up to the user experience: both the “staff” user and the end-user. Meaning that all the tasks included in the store management process and the shopping process are well thought-out to be... highly intuitive.   2.7. Designed to Power Multi-Site Architectures Planning to go... global? Don't let your hosting platform stop you! In this respect, Magento Commerce Cloud allows you to:   update an entire ecosystem of online stores from one centralized point (I know, I've already pointed out this powerful feature) “conquer” new markets fast and surprisingly easy, with no major intervention from a tech-savvy team tap into the local knowledge expertise that Magento provides and to create some highly personalized, ideally localized experiences for multiple audiences exploit the advantage of the +150 languages available   And you get to run all your “globalization through localization” type of operations, to orchestrate your entire multi-site architecture, from one single point of management.  Note: speed and agility are 2 additional benefits that you can “reap” from using a cloud-based hosting platform; they become crucial when you want to enter new markets at high speed.   2.8. Built-in B2B Quote Management Feature Just imagine: a tool incorporated into your hosting platform “in charge” with everything... quotation-related. You can skip that time-consuming sequence of operations aimed at setting a price for a product.   2.9. Built-in Image Optimization Tool Magento Commerce Cloud provides you, right out of the box, with a tool to optimize your images and to boost your page loading speed...   2.10. It Easily Integrates With Fully-Managed Services Another great news is that it “plays well” with full managed services. From Redis to MySQL, to RabbitMQ, to Elasticsearch, it allows you to easily incorporate the service of your choice.    3. 3 Main Downsides Reported by Magento Commerce Cloud Users For, although this managed platform is still relatively new and so we can't yet be talking about a whole “pile” of user reviews, the reported drawbacks gravitate around the same issues:    slow support certain limitations of the underlying technology: Platform.sh the need to invest time and effort to get everything live   3.1. Support... Could Be Better Most of the Magento Commerce Cloud users have signaled it: support is slow. Therefore, expect to be put on a lengthy waiting list till you can actually get hold of a hosting engineer. Do you need permission changes? Is there a hosting issue that you're “grappling with” and you need the support of someone with expertise in platform.sh?  You might need to invest a bit more time than predicted to get the support you need.   3.2. Running Updates and Upgrades Takes too Long Not everyone's thrilled about the Platform.sh technology that MCC runs on. Quite enough users have reported that each time they need to:   add new CSS upgrade their e-commerce stores run certain feature updates   … the underlying system takes too long to process. And, during all this time, their online stores are... down.   3.3. It Takes More to Get Everything Up and Running More time and "X" times more effort.  At least that's what some of the users say.   The END! Does this answer your question(s)? Are these benefits and drawbacks solid enough to help you decide whether Magento Commerce Cloud is the best option for your online store? Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 23'2019
Clutch Places OPTASY on the List of Canada Best Drupal Developers in 2019
After working with clients of all different sizes, we can tell you they all want us to do the same thing: develop products with their end user in mind. Whether we’re building a mobile app, a website, or a custom software solution, we know that if the end user finds the final product to have great functionality and great design, it will leave both them and the client happy. We strive to achieve this on every project which is why Clutch has us listed as one of the top Drupal developers in Canada in 2019. Clutch is a B2B ratings and reviews website based out of Washington, D.C. Their platform also makes it easy for clients to find and connect with the service providers that they think will provide the best partnership on their project. The site also ranks the vendors according to their focus and ability to deliver. The focus score depends on the services they offer while the ability to deliver is determined by a few different factors such as client reviews, work experience, market presence, and awards. Clutch analysts interview previous clients about past projects to verify client reviews. They are conducted either on the phone or online with an in-depth questionnaire to get all of the details regarding the project. Currently, we have 8 total client reviews on our profile, and we’ve averaged a nearly perfect 4.8/5-Star rating! Take a look at our most recent reviews:   “I appreciate how detail-oriented they are. That’s not a strength everyone has.” – President, GSATi “They were able to perform the work quickly and professionally and gave us exactly what we wanted.” – Technology Manager, Mary Macleod’s Shortbread “From Day 1, the communication has been the hallmark and has been phenomenal.” – Technology Coordinator, Regina Public Schools In addition to their main site, Clutch runs two more platforms that help connect businesses together. The first site is called The Manifest and publishes business news, insights, and best practices to help companies achieve their goals. We are also found on their list of the top Shopify developers in Canada in 2019. Their other site is Visual Objects. It hosts business portfolios so that mobile app development companies like ourselves and other creative firms can show off their past work. We look forward to growing our presence on Clutch throughout the rest of 2019. If your business is interested in creating an app or a new website, contact us We can’t wait to hear from you! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 22'2019