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Save the Date: Magento Imagine 2019, the Meeting Point of the Global eCommerce Community, Is Almost Here!
May 13-15, Las Vegas. You don't want to miss these dates if you're: an eCommerce expert, a Magento merchant, a Magento developer, a marketing technology provider, a Magento partner or an e-business owner... The Magento Imagine 2019 is just around the corner and is that annual gathering of the members of the eCommerce community across the globe that... you can't afford to skip. Take it as:   an opportunity to get inspired by some of the biggest innovators in eCommerce a great chance to network and mingle with industry leaders the chance to be among the first to learn about the latest Magento news right from the company's executives... the annual event where all those who've excelled as Magento merchants, brands or branded manufacturers get spotlighted and honored   1. What To Expect? “3 days jampacked with breakout and special sessions, live keynote sessions, customer panels, and networking events”.  There'll be 3000:   Magento merchants agencies technology providers developers partners   ... from +60 countries “flocking” to Vegas for this annual gathering. Therefore, expect an “avalanche” of shared best practices, innovative ideas, unique Magento experiences, and “steamy fresh” Magento news and updates.  And speaking of shared Magento experiences, here are just some of the big names in the digital commerce arena coming to... inspire you, as speakers:   Troy Brown, President of North America at Zumiez Inc. Jules Pieri, The Grommet's Co-founder & CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia & Chairman of VaynerX   2. Magento Imagine 2019: The Excellence Awards Categories Ok, so we've got this settled: the Magento Imagine Awards recognize and reward successful and creative merchants and partners all over the world.  “But what are the awards categories, more precisely?”, you might ask yourself. They range from:   “Best-in-class omnichannel experience” to “Best B2B innovations” to “Best digital experience” to “Best mobile commerce experience”   … and the list goes on, as there are 15 different categories of excellence in digital commerce.   3. Why Would You Attend It?  Let's say you're not one of the nominees: why would you want to attend Magento Imagine 2019? What's in it for you?  Here's how it benefits you:   you'll be the first to learn all the “juicy” news and updates about Magento, the latest platform developments and opportunities in eCommerce to explore and... to exploit you'll get the chance to learn and to grow your own e-business: from best practices presentations to inspiring case studies, to training opportunities and to the latest products in Magento sponsors' marketplace, it makes an event “packed” with... growth opportunities for you to leverage you'll be networking and mingling with senior executives, eCommerce innovators, marketers, developers from the Magento ecosystem, so expect a “flood” of creative ideas, strategies, and technologies coming through, from all the biggest innovators in the digital marketing arena...   3 full days of learning, letting yourself be inspired and collaborating from/by/with everyone in the Magento community who aims for excellence in their field... Image by Tumisu from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 08'2019
Looking for a Drupal 8 Rating Module? Here Is a Top 5 Flexible and User-Friendly Rating and Review Modules
Looking for a Drupal 8 rating module that should be:   easy to install easy to configure easy to use conveniently flexible and user-friendly?   And maybe you “crave” for some nice-to-have features, as well:   enabling users to add a short review multiple ratings: enabling users to vote on several aspects of your product/service, such as price, quality, ease of use?   What are your options? What working (and stable) modules for rating and reviewing are there in Drupal 8?  We've done the research for you, evaluated all the modules for rating in Drupal 8, and come up with a list of 6 best... rated ones:   1. Voting API     Keep in mind that this Drupal 8 rating module doesn't provide a voting mechanism, packed with all the key voting features. Instead, it structures the voting data for other rating modules to leverage. What it does provide you with is a standardized API and voting data storing schema. Therefore, it streamlines the whole process of retrieving and organizing the voting results for various pieces of content on your Drupal 8 website. Top features:   multi-criteria voting caching the voting results (and it does that in a highly efficient manner, with no need to recalculate them...) enables users to rate any type of content on your Drupal site (users, comments, nodes) automatic tabulating of the voting results   Note: keep in mind that, for now, we only have a pre-release version of the module for Drupal 8...   2. Flag Rating, A Highly Popular Drupal 8 Rating Module  An extension of the Flag module, that allows you to either:   use the default SVG icon  upload your own icon (jpg, SVG or PNG) for each flag   Furthermore, you even get 2 templates to override to your liking:   flag-rating.html.twig flag-rating-icon.html.twig   3. Star Rating Form Display       A Drupal 8 rating module that you can use to turn the “select tag” option of the Star Rating module into a more user-friendly, clickable icon. To “unlock” its functionality just:   navigate to Structure > Content type select the “Manage form display” option scroll down to your star rating field click “Star rating clickable” in the Settings screen, configure the custom display to perfectly fit your needs 4. Star Rating   If you're looking to integrate a voting functionality exclusively for the authors of the articles submitted on your website (hence, not for the end users), Flag Rating is the module you're looking for. Take it as a simple, yet useful module that provides you with a display formatter and a star rating field. In short: with the “bare necessities” for the authors to be able to rate the uploaded articles. Say you have a review website — a hotel review website — and you want to add multiple star ratings to a node:   customer service en suite and private facilities food, etc.   ... with a different icon for each node. Then, you just need to use the star rating field that this module provides... Top features:   built-in support for the Views module it doesn't require other modules (e.g. the voting API module) to work it allows you to add a different icon type per field and per view mode   5. Vote Up/Down   The Drupal 8 rating module that simplifies the entire voting process: it encourages users to express their votes through an intuitive thumb illustration. Top features:   code voting support for your pre-defined products/services interchangeable themes for your voting widget the possibility to set up your own custom widgets using ctools plugins   The END! These are your 5 best options when it comes to working Drupal 8 rating modules that should be both easy to configure and easy to use.  Have you discovered other ways of integrating a reviews feature to your Drupal 8 website? Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 07'2019
What Are the Best Popup Plugins for WordPress in 2019? Top 5
Disliked by users, controversial, yet a constant presence on WordPress websites and a holy grail of high conversion rates if leveraged in the right context... But how do you know which of the best popup plugins for Wordpress is the perfect match for your own use case? Well, you first identify your expectations in pop-ups. What exactly are you looking for in a popup plugin?   out-of-the-box responsiveness? a handful of highly customizable templates and design features to choose from? smooth integration with the software that you're currently using on your WordPress website? a dead easy to use, drag-and-drop popup builder? page selection and trigger option features? that it should be conveniently lightweight and fast? real-time analytics? advanced targeting options? A/B testing functionality?   Once you've articulated your needs, start digging into this shortlist of 5 best rated Wordpress popup plugins in 2019:   1. Ninja Popups     If you're looking for one of the best popup plugins for WordPress that should:   provide you with a solid, yet conveniently lightweight drag-and-drop-builder  … one that enables you to easily set up and fine-tune your popups in the slightest detail (even if you have zero coding experience) ship with tons of features to choose from allow you to either create your custom popup from scratch or to choose out of a large collection of built-in popup themes   … then Ninja Popups is the plugin that meets all your specific requirements. It's powerful, loaded with advanced features and flexible enough to empower you to customize your popup till it perfectly fits your needs. You even get to select the color and size of your popup. Other key features:   A/B testing responsive highly flexible enhanced customization a data-rich analytics page +74 animation options +73 pre-built themes an easy to use visual builder   Note: if lots of customization power is too overwhelming for you, you can always opt for its more lightweight builder and simply place your text inside one of its pre-made templates... 2. Elementor Pro     Elemenentor Pro makes another great option if the popup that you want to create is more complex than... an email opt-in, for example. Just like the Ninja Popups plugin, this one, too, allows you to build both:   popups from scratch, from a... blank slate, that you're free to custom-tune to your exact needs popups on top of one of its already pre-made templates (and it ships with +100 of popup templates...)   Full control over your popup and unmatched flexibility, thanks to all its robust features, from which its trigger/targeting options help it stand out. For example, you get to configure it so that it triggers your popup:   after a defined number of sessions after a defined number of page views based on scrolling, exit intent, clicks, inactivity, page loading   Furthermore, you to target specific content on your WordPress website where your popup should get triggered:   specific blog posts specific post formats and types certain authors, tags, categories specific devices user logged-in status   Also, the types of popups that you get to build with Elementor Pro range from:   modal forms to full-screen overlays to top/bottom notification bars to slide-ins   And the list of options doesn't end here. It's not for no reason that this is one of the best popup plugins for WordPress. It provides you with an extensive range of styling options and widgets to include in your popup:   registration forms buttons contact forms countdown timers   Notes:   it integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce you can configure it so that it triggers your popup for non-logged-in users only its most notable limitation is analytics: it doesn't provide you with A/B testing functionality and built-in analytics tools   3. OptinMonster, One of the Best Popup Plugins for WordPress      “Flexibility at its best” must be the most accurate definition for this popup builder:   it provides you with an extensive range of targeting and triggering rules … an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor … loads of functionality to scan through and to choose from   Like the other WordPress popup plugins on this list, it enables you to either build your popup from the ground up or to tap into one of the pre-built templates... Powerful trigger features   exit-intent triggers; and this functionality is its "specialty": it tracks and analyzes your website visitors' browsing behaviors to determine when they're most likely to leave a specific page so that it triggers the popup user inactivity time click (two-step opt-ins)   Advanced targetting features   you can adapt your offers based on whether the targeted user has already converted on one/some of your popups or not; no need to "bug" one of your website visitors with an email opt-in if he/she has already signed in to your list... you can target your popups by cookie, adblock usage, referrer, page, new vs returning visitors, device   Moreover, its easy to use builder, loaded with tones of advanced features, allows you to create other campaigns, as well, not just popups:   footer bars  in-line forms floating headers scroll triggered boxes welcome gates slide-in forms   Other "tempting" features:   A/B testing widgets that you can select from to put together your popup you even get to configure your popups to be triggered at specific times it "plays well" with your email marketing software   4. Bloom       It's with the visually-appealing interface that Bloom manages to set itself apart from the other 4 best popup plugins for WordPress here. But also with the lack of some key features:   it doesn't ship with a popup builder, so you can't use it to create popups from scratch it's designed precisely for email opt-ins it doesn't provide an exit-intent trigger option it offers fewer targetting features compared to the other WordPress plugins listed here   Nevertheless, you can still choose from over 100 pre-built templates and customize the:   text borders and edges colors form details animations images    Also, since I've mentioned that email opt-ins are its specialty, here are the 6 ways that you can display them when using Bloom:   as inline opt-in forms as widger area forms as automatic popups as required opt-in for content unlock (you can restrict access to premium content on your website, thus encouraging users to opt-in first...) as automatic fly-ins as below content forms   Its most “luring” features:   a great-looking dashboard it allows you to set up view analytics A/B testing some unique trigger options (that I'll talk about in a bit)   Trigger features:   scroll depth inactivity time after purchasing triggers: you can display a popup as soon as the user has completed the checkout process after commenting triggers: you can display a popup after one of your website visitors has submitted a comment   Content targeting features:   by specific posts  by post types by post categories 5. ConvertPlus     Another great choice if you're more into tweaking pre-built templates rather than building popups from scratch. And we're talking about +100 templates to “delve” into. Once you've selected the perfect one for your popup, feel free to leverage the real-time customizer to tweak its:   colors animations form field/labels text   Not really fond of the idea of merely customizing a pre-made template? Then you can always upgrade to Convert Pro and get your drag-and-drop builder... Now, here are some of the types of popup forms that you can create using ConvertPlus:   email opt-ins sidebar widgets notification bars full-screen popups slide-ins top/bottom bar information sticky boxes   Key trigger options:   exit-intent user inactivity time scroll depth launch after content (triggering the popup only after the user has reached the end of the content in question) click (for two-step popups)   Finally, ConvertPlus includes detailed targeting/trigger options, as well as built-in A/B testing and analytics to help you optimize your popups. Main targeting options:   logged-in users referrer detection (you can build popups specifically for visitors coming from a partnering website) device page level targeting new vs returning visitors   Other robust features:   +700 fonts to select from custom CSS, background settings, animations real-time analytics it integrates seamlessly with Zapier, WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, WP Registration Form   The END! These are the 5 best popup plugins for WordPress in 2019. Those that:   ship with tons of powerful trigger/targeting options grant you full control over the look and feel of your popup   Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 01'2019
What Are the Best Solutions for Creating a Slider in Drupal? 4 Drupal 8 Slideshow Modules
Do you need to set up a custom image carousel? Or maybe one slider with a teaser, displaying content from your website? What are the best Drupal 8 slideshow modules to consider for implementing and maintaining your slideshow? And out of the box options are... out of question, right? Your requirements are too specific for that. Maybe you need:   a certain number of slider items different arrow designs to display the image slideshow on other pages, too, not just on your homepage   With such flexibility and customization requirements in mind, we started digging into the “pile” of Drupal 8 image slider modules. And here are the 4 ones that we've selected, those with the best reviews in the Drupal community:   1. Views Slideshow     If it's a fully customized slideshow that you want to implement, Views Slideshow's the module you need. It'll “spoil” you with tons of add-ons to select from and give your unmatched flexibility. From:   titles to images to teasers of the last X blog posts on your website   … you get to include any type of items in your carousel. Furthermore, it's jQuery-powered and it allows you to configure different settings for each one of the views that you'll create. Note: oh, yes, you'll need to be pretty comfortable using Views in order to leverage this module at its full capacity. Some of its key features:   your slider can include and display the latest products added to your eCommerce website  you can set up a news item slideshow (the latest X news articles published on your Drupal 8 website) from the latest X blog entries to the latest videos, testimonials, forum posts etc., you're free to include any type of content in your slider...   Now, here's a very brief step-by-step on how you can set it up and use it to create your slideshow:   1.1. Install and enable the module Once you've downloaded it from Drupal.org, installed and enabled it, make sure to download its corresponding ZIP folder on Github, as well. Give your folder a new name  — /jquery.cycle/ — then start uploading all its files to the  /libraries/ folder in the root of your Drupal website.   1.2. Set up your view Time to create your slideshow now. For this, just go to Structure> Views>Add new view    1.3. Publish your slideshow block For this, go to Structure>Block layout and select the region on your website that you want your slider to get displayed on.   1.4. Create a new image style As you can see, the images included in your slideshow are currently of different sizes. Therefore, they're not perfectly adjusted to fit the block region that you've chosen for your slider. To solve this inconvenience, just go to Configuration>Image styles>Add Image style.  There, you can create a new style, that will be shared by all the images included in your slideshow.   2. Slick Slider, One of the Most Popular Drupal 8 Slideshow Modules Another one of Drupal's modules for creating custom image slideshows, that ships with a heavy load of options. Powerful and flexible... what more could you ask for from your slider solution? Capitalizing on Ken Wheeler's Slick carousel, working perfectly with Views and fields, the Slick Slider module:   enables you to set up a slider including multiple views, value fields and paragraph types comes with image, audio and video support supports complex layouts, as well   Some of its key features:   you're free to enable/disable the swipe functionality it's responsive (scales along with its container) some of its layouts are CSS-built it's designed to work with Field collection, Media, Views, Image (and also to work perfectly fine with none of these modules)| it allows you to configure your own “slide selecting” dots, the arrow keys and your slider's navigation, as well it provides modular and extensible skins you get to choose how you want your slideshow to be scrolled: swipe, desktop mouse dragging, auto scroll, mouse wheel scroll...   3. Owl Carousel Another one of those Drupal 8 slideshow modules that gets the best reviews. Here's why:   it leverages the Owl Carousel slider built by OwlFonk.    it, too, empowers you to customize your image slideshow; in this respect, it ships with a myriad of customization settings it's responsive it capitalizes on a small ecosystem of submodules: Administration UI, Views Style, Field Formatter   Some of its key features:   from customizing your events to styling your controls, it allows you to tailor your image slider to suit all your needs it supports multiple sliders touch events   4. jCarousel A simple module to consider each time you need to display a group of images in a compact way on your website. It even allows you to set the number of items to be included in your carousel... Speaking of which, you should know that jCarousel, as its name says it, allows you to leverage the jCarousel jQuery plugin. For this, it ships with a developer API for other modules to access. Furthermore, it integrates with Views, so you can easily turn any list of images (or other type of content) into a slideshow... Some of its key features:   jCarousel field formater out-of-the-box Views support API for using jCarousel without Views a collection of modern skins to choose from Carousel pager that enable users to jump between multiple sliders   The END! These are the first Drupal 8 slideshow modules to consider when looking for the best method for setting up your custom image/content slider. Packed with tons of customization options, feature-rich and powerful, these 4 solutions for creating image carousels in Drupal 8 should be on your short list when you start looking beyond the out-of-the-box options for putting together a slider... Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Apr 25'2019
Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform: Choosing Between Drupal Most Popular Form Builders
Simple or custom-made? Is it a quick-to-assemble, rather “prototypical” form that you need for your website? Or a more complex, custom-made one? In a Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform “debate”, which Drupal form builder best suits your data collection requirements? On one hand, you have the convenience of creating your web forms in no time: simple, straightforward, “conventional” web forms. On the other hand, you get to scan through a never-ending list of advanced options and come up with a complex, fully custom-made web form. That, of course, if you don't mind the time you need to invest in going through all those different form elements and available features and the risk of getting... overwhelmed by tons of field customization options. Ease of use vs unlimited capabilities... The convenience of getting your forms up and ready to collect user data in no time vs the chance to tailor some more advanced forms, ideally customized, carrying lots of different field values. Decisions, decision... Now, to help you decide, here's a more detailed Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform comparison. Weigh each one of the 2 form modules' benefits and drawbacks, set them against your own needs and... make the choice: 1. The Contact Forms Module  Being part of Drupal core, there's no need to download and install the module. Just go to Structure>Contact forms. Next, choose either to opt for the default form or to set up a new one: click the “Add contact form” button. Once in the form creation screen, enter your form's values in the predefined fields that you have there:   give the form a name in the “Label” field enter the email address where all the form submissions will be sent to (most probably your site admin address) in the “Recipients” field enter your “Thank you” text in the “Message” field there; this will be the “thank you” text line your users will see once they hit the “submit/send” button  in the “Redirect path”, enter the URL to the page that you want them to get forwarded to after they've submitted the forms (that if you don't want them to be redirected back to the homepage, by default) click “Save” and there you have it: a simple form, with all the basic, must-have field values, added to in no time   Of course, that doesn't mean that you can't further explore the given features and maybe add a few more fields and even styling options. For instance, you could “Edit” your newly created form. Just select it in the “Contact Forms” screen and, scrolling down the options in the drop-down menu opening up, click the “Manage fields” option. Click “Add field”, then “select a field type” – Text(plain), let's say – enter the “Label” and configure its settings. Furthermore, if you want to style your form a bit, hit the “Manage form display” tab and... opt for a placeholder, for example. Next, explore the options available in the “Manage display” screen. For instance, you get to decide if you want your field label to be hidden, inline or visually hidden... In short: in a Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform comparison, the first form builder will always outshine the latter when it comes to ease of use. It empowers you to set up a simple form quick and easy...   2. The Webform Module Now, if Contact Forms is a rather minimalist form builder, the Webform module is a feature-rich, powerful one. The customization features that it ships with go from email notifications to fine-grained access, from statistic collection of data to delivering results in a CSV format. From exporting data in various formats to... conditional sorting and filtering. In other words, with Webform sky is the limit when it comes to the contact form that you can create. It can go from a basic one to a highly complex, multi-page form. One made of lots of elements, advanced options for the user to select from, settings and features for you to leverage in the back-end... But, let's keep in mind that it's a contributed module, so you'll first need to download it from Drupal.org. Next, go to “Structure” and hit the “Webforms” tab. Then, click the “Add webform” button and, in the next screen popping up, give your new form a name (enter it in the “Title” field). You'll be automatically forwarded to the “Build” tab, which is where all the “magic happens”. Once you click the “Add element” button, you'll get to “swim through” a sea of lots and lots... and lots of form elements (known as “fields” in Contact forms) to choose from. Ranging from basic to really advanced ones... Let's assume that you'll want to add a “Text field” element. Click the “Add Element” button corresponding it, then scan through all the new customization options listed up in the “Add Text field element” screen opening up next... Feel free to add other elements to your webform: a “text area” maybe, an “email” element, as well...  Note: do keep in mind that, once you've settled for the final fields/elements to be included in your web form, you can always change the order to get them displayed in. Just drag and drop them till they fit that predefined order in your mind... Also, you can check/mark them as “Required” and turn them into “must fill in" fields, as opposed to optional form fields. Note: feel free to edit that “Thank you” page that your webform will automatically forward users to. How? By clicking “Back to form”>"Settings”>"Confirmation” and selecting from the different options that you have there:   enter your own Confirmation title (e.g. “Thank you!”) customize your Confirmation message   3. Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform: Key Differences Now that we've run our spotlight over each one of these 2 form building tools, let's make an inventory of the differences that we've identified:   first of all, it's obvious that the Webform module gives you more control over your web forms' design   also, unlike Contact Forms, it supports conditional emails; you get to send an email to a specific user in your list based on conditions associated with the value of certain elements in your form   Webform enables you to add basic logic to your web forms   … it comes packed with tons of advanced options, ranging from JS effects to conditional logic, to submission handling, etc.   Contact Forms, on the other hand, allows you to set up a simple contact form in the blink of an eye; you skip the tedious process of scanning through lots and lots of options, settings, and complex features   Webform allows you to create your forms either in a YAML file or in its the admin-friendly UI   also, Webform comes as a “cluster” of submodules – Webform REST, Honeypot, Webform Views, SMTP, Webform Encrypt, etc. – which are “responsible for” its multiple capabilities   4. In Conclusion... The conclusion of this Drupal 8 Contact Forms vs Webform “debate” is quite simple:  If you need a basic form on your website and you need it built fast, go with Contact Forms. Being included in Drupal 8 adds convenience... But if you want to customize your form (and you have the time), to style it to your liking and “turbocharge” it with advanced features and options, go with Webform.   It's a much more powerful and feature-rich form builder, perfectly suited for your complex requirements... Image by Tumisu from Pixabay ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Apr 24'2019
What Are the Key Benefits of Using Kubernetes? Why Would You Use It? How Is It Different (Better)?
How is Kubernetes any better than... standard virtual servers? What are those unquestionable benefits of using Kubernetes? What are its features, first of all?  And what are... containers? What specific needs does a container orchestration tool come to address? In this respect, why would you use Kubernetes over... Docker, for instance?  Let's dig up its unique features and most compelling benefits:   1. But First: What Are Containers More Precisely? Before we (even) attempt at defining Kubernetes we need to... define containers, right? They're (mini) virtual machines that deploy ready-to-run applications on other virtual machines (or host OS)... The conveniences they provide?   they're smaller, lighter (considering that apps usually need just the bare essential in terms of operating systems to run on) they streamline app deployment they're the guarantee that those virtual machines are used at their full capacity  they can be run just like any VM template: with no configuration (or hardly any)   Note: you can find tons of preconfigured Docker images in Dockerhub. The bundles of convenience come from the fact that you're free to scan through and download the needed nginx as well as complex items without worrying about configuring them. Other developers have invested their time and knowledge to set up all the due software configurations for you... 2. What Is Kubernetes in Simple Words?  Going back to containers, we're faced with a specific need: that of keeping a close track of them. How do you monitor your virtual machines? How do you identify, let's say, those that keep running pointlessly? Without doing... anything in fact?  Also, by keeping track of your current containers, you'd be able to easily spin up a few more when you need more CPU, storage or memory... This is where a cluster container orchestration tool comes in handy. A tool like... Kubernetes. What it does, precisely, is to streamline the whole process of managing your containers, enabling you to leverage their full potential. In short, by using Kubernetes you can easily deploy your containers to clusters (“ecosystems” of virtual machines). You get just one interface that you can use for deploying your containers to:   virtual machines physical machines multiple types of clouds...   And where do you add that it's designed to manage a wide range of container types. Not just Docker containers. Note: Google, its creator, has been using it for 10 years. Now, just try to imagine all their heavy systems running on this particular container management tool! They must have “stuck” to Kubernetes for a good reason... Luckily for us, Kubernetes joined the “club” of the open source technologies 2 years ago. Furthermore, it's now a managed service on Azure and Google Cloud, as well.   3. Why Should You Care? 7 Key Benefits of Using Kubernetes Why would you use Kubernetes? The long-term payoffs must to be more than “tempting”, considering that the learning curve is quite steep. And they are... Here, I've selected the 7 best possible answers to your “Why should I use Kubernetes?” question:   3.1. It works smoothly with Node apps Which means that you get to run any type of application with it.   3.2. It reduces and simplifies... 2 of the main benefits of using Kubernetes is that:   it cuts down cloud computing costs it simplifies operations and trims down your container architecture...   3.3. It helps you get the most of your hardware resources And here I'm referring to network bandwidth, memory, storage I/O...  How does it help you maximize the way you use them?   it helps you automate the whole process of updating your cluster (and respectively rolling back those updates, when necessary) it bundles together, on the very same hardware, all those apps that use minimal resources  it places those applications "in need for" more resources on systems that can better cope with their “needs”   In short: Kubernetes will optimize the use of hardware resources.   3.4. It's easy to use Compared to other container management engines and despite its high learning curve.    3.5. It speeds up the development process This is another one of the undeniable benefits of using Kubernetes. How precisely does it boost the development cycle?   it runs all the needed updates it performs automated deployments, operations across multiple clusters of hosts, scaling... it manages all your apps and services included in your infrastructure with minimum downtime   3.6. It ships with a self-healing mechanism From re-scheduling to auto-restarting, to replicating containers, Kubernetes' self-healing system is one of its strongest points. Basically, it lifts the time-consuming burden of keeping your app up to date and perfectly adapted to users' latest expectations. It will restart services when trouble strikes: it will address all the “health issues” that might occur and get your app automatically “cured”.   3.7. You Can Run Your App in Both Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments           Just imagine: Kubernetes enables you to leverage features specific to multiple individual clouds.  Basically, you're free to run your Kubernetes application in any cloud or “combo” of public or private clouds.  Using its own set of primitives — federation — it's designed to synchronize multiple clusters, placed across different clouds and regions...   4. When Is Kuberentes the Best Choice? First of all, Kubernetes makes a great choice when it's a highly available distributed system that you have in mind. Secondly, choose it when the convenience of using the same CLI for orchestrating all your different systems is of particular importance to you. Just think: is it crucial for you to have just one CLI for pushing your containers to various different clouds (the Amazon cloud here included), to your physical and in-house machines...? The END! Are these 7 answers on the benefits of using Kubernetes convincing enough for you? Image by RSunset from Pixabay  ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Apr 19'2019
What Makes the End-User Experience in Drupal 8 Stand Out?
What makes Drupal a great choice from a UX standpoint? What features are responsible for the enhanced end-user experience in Drupal 8? Those features that enable you to easily create an intuitive and enjoyable visitor experience on your own Drupal-based website/application. And to constantly improve it... Is it all those performance enhancements that it ships with? Or maybe its “responsive out-of-the-box” nature? Or rather its multilingual capabilities?   1. But First: 7 Evergreen Ways to Improve Your Website's UX It goes without saying that, in order to create an enjoyable, rich user experience on your Drupal 8 website, you'll need to:   put together a solid UX strategy run extensive user research and map the user's journey come up with an effective, well-planned UX design, paying attention to all the latest design trends (and now decoupled Drupal empowers you to tap into a whole range of new possibilities...)   And while carrying out all these phases of the UX design process, make sure to apply the following evergreen techniques for enhancing the visitor's experience.   1.1. Optimize the page loading time For speed will always be the factor with the biggest influence on the user's experience on your Drupal site. In this respect, there are tons of performance enhancements that you can implement, ranging from aggregating your JS and CSS files to properly configuring your cache to opting for a CDN, to...   1.2. Use bullets to structure your text Bulleted lists are the “holy grail” of neatly structured, easy to read content. For, in vain you invest time and effort in providing content that delivers real value to your website's visitors if you display it as an... “impenetrable” block of text. In this respect, bullets help you break down the information. The result: users will see the key product or service benefits/will go through all of the presented features a lot quicker.   1.3. Use white space strategically Speaking of easy to read content: there's no better way to enhance readability and to draw attention to specific elements on a page than... by using the white space itself. It will automatically direct their attention to the text/image emphasized by all the white space surrounding it.   1.4. UX design is consistent design From color palette to button styles, from the size of the headings in your text to the chosen font, from the used photos to various design elements... keep consistency across all the pages on your Drupal website. Otherwise, you risk to confuse and to eventually... tire its visitors.   1.5. Go for visible, attractive CTAs Always use action words for your calls to action and make sure they're easily recognizable. CTAs play a crucial role in setting up an intuitive, efficient navigation structure on your website...   1.6. Use images wisely As images are always well-deserved “breaks” for the eye, especially when it's a long text that it's challenged to go through. And yet, if you fail in using the relevant images, those that perfectly team up with your text... the user experience that you'll deliver will be anything but compelling...   1.7. Make your headings a high priority  Remember to write your headings around some of the main keywords. Also, strategically design them so that they're highly visible and help users to quickly scan through the content.   2. 4 Features Responsible for the Superior End-User Experience in Drupal 8 Gluing together all the design best practices that make a great user experience does call for a flexible and dynamic web platform. Drupal 8 is that platform. It comes packed with powerful features that make it easy for you to create the best visitor experience on your website. Here are the ones with a huge influence on your website's UX:   2.1. Drupal 8 is responsive right out-of-the-box And responsiveness, along with top page loading speed, still is one of those factors with a great influence on visitors' experience with your Drupal website. With:   all the available base themes now being responsive the convenience of adapting your images to various screen sizes right from their display properties   … creating a compelling end-user experience in Drupal 8 is dead-simple. 2.2. Enhanced performance From a performance standpoint, Dries Buytaert's post on Drupal 8's performance optimizations is still one of the most relevant sources. If Drupal was already built to “inject” enterprise-level performance into static pages, Drupal 8, with all its caching enhancements, is designed to speed up dynamic web pages, as well... 2.3. Multilingual capabilities Remember the user experience's main facets, ranging from useful to findable, to valuable, to credible to... accessible? Well, Drupal 8 provides you with multilingual capabilities right out of the box. You get to translate your website's UI, content, configuration, etc. Meaning that, with this multilingual system at hand, you can easily create an accessible user experience on your website. 2.4. Content personalization (by segment, login time, device, language...) In this respect, the Aqua Lift Connector module is your most reliable tool. What it does is bring together customer data and content, so that you can deliver targeted content experiences across multiple channels and devices.   The END! And these are those robust features that stand behind the superior end-user experience in Drupal 8. The very reasons why this platform, and particularly this version of Drupal, makes your best ally in creating the most compelling UX on your website. Photo by Lucian Novosel on Unsplash ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 17'2019
How Does Using Component-Based Development in Drupal 8 Benefit Your Team More Precisely?
With the Twig templates replacing the old PHP templates, Drupal has been brought to a whole new “era”. We can now leverage the advantages of a component-based development in Drupal 8. But what does that mean, more precisely? How does this (not so) new approach in software development benefit you? Your own team of developers... And everyone's talking about tones of flexibility being unlocked and about the Twig templates' extensibility. About how front-end developers, even those with little knowledge of Drupal, specialized in various languages, can now... “come right on board”. Since they're already familiar with the Twig engine... Also, we can't ignore all the hype around the advantage of the streamlined development cycles in Drupal and of the consistent user experience across a whole portfolio of Drupal apps/websites. But let's take all these tempting advantages of component-based UI development in Drupal 8 and point out how they benefit your team precisely.   1. But First: What Is a Component? It's a standalone piece of software that can appear in multiple places across your Drupal website/application. One of the most relevant examples is that of a content hub. One displaying teasers of the latest blog posts, events... You could set up a component that would determine how each item in that content hub should look like. In short:   one single component can be used by several types of content any update to its template/style would automatically reflect on all those content types, as well   Accessible via an API, this independent piece of software explicitly defines all its application dependencies.| Your team could then easily architect a new interface by just scanning through and selecting from the library of components.   2. What Is Component-Driven Development? What Problems Does It Solve? A succinct definition of component-based software engineering would be: A software development technique where you'd select off-the-shelf, reusable components and put them together according to a pre-defined software architecture. “And what challenges does it address?” It streamlines and lowers the level of complexity of otherwise intricate, time-consuming development and design processes. As the author of given components, your role is to get them implemented. No need to worry about how they'll get “assembled”; this is what the well-defined external structure is there for. Word of caution: mind you don't get too... engrossed in putting together the right components, in architecting the best component-based structure, for you then risk investing too little time in... building them properly.   3. Component-Based Development in Drupal 8 Now, if we are to focus our attention on the component-based UI approach in relation to Drupal 8 software development, here are the key aspects worth outlining:   with the Twig engine in Drupal 8, you're free to “joggle with” extensible templates; once you've defined a Twig template in one place, we get to reuse it across the whole Drupal website/app   the Component Libraries module allows you to set up template files (storing all their needed JS and CS), assign a namespace for them and place them pretty much anywhere on your Drupal filespace (not just in your themes' “templates” directory)   you then get to use the KSS Node library and define a living style guide; it's where you'll store all the component templates built for your Drupal website (styles, markup, JS behaviors, etc.)   By filling in your toolboxes with all these tools — the results of a joint effort of the Drupal and the front-end communities  —  you're empowered to design themes that are more modular. And, therefore, more efficient... 4. The Top 6 Benefits of the Component-Based UI Approach   4.1. It Ensures UX Consistency Across All Your Drupal 8 Websites Take your library of components as the “headquarters” for all the teams involved in your Drupal project: QA, business, development, design teams... It's there that they can find the pre-defined standards they need to keep the consistency of the features they implement or of other tasks they carry out across multiple projects. A consistency that will bubble up to the user experience itself, across your whole portfolio of Drupal 8 websites/applications...   4.2. It Accelerates the Process of Turning Your Visual Design into a UI  Embracing the component-based development in Drupal 8 you'd avoid those unwanted, yet so frequent scenarios where the front-end developer gets tangled up in the wireframe he receives and:   he/she translates parts of it the... wrong way he digs up all types of “surprise” issues     By using a component-driven UI approach translating a visual design into a user interface gets much more... event-less.  With:   a pre-defined component architecture to rely on well-established standards to follow a whole library of component templates at hand   … there are fewer chances of discrepancies between the UX defined in the visual design and the one delivered via the resulting user interface. Not to mention the reduced delivery timelines...   4.3. It Streamlines the Whole Development Process  “Sustainability” is the best word to define this approach to Drupal software development. Just think about it:   whether it's a particular grid, navigation or layout that your front-end developer needs when working on a new project, he/she can pull it right from the component library at hand   … and “inject” it into the app/website that he's working on   in case that element needs further updating, the developer will already have the baseline to start with   … there's no need for new components to be designed, from the ground up, with every single project: the already existing ones can always get further extended   And that can only translate into significant savings of both time and money.   4.4. It Reduces the Time Spent on Setting Up the Functionality & Defining the UX And this is one of the key benefits of using component-based development in Drupal 8. Your various teams would no longer need to define the UX requirements and the functionality every single time during the design process. With an easily accessible library of components, they can always pull a component standing for a specific requirement (display of complex data, filtering, pagination in grids, etc.) and just define its extensions. And the business logic, as well.   4.5. It Enables You to Systematically Reuse Your Components And “reusability” goes hand in hand with “sustainability”. I would even say that it's a synonym for “future-proofing”, as well... Just think about it: by having a Drupal 8 website in a component-based format you can always rearrange components as technologies grow outdated and new ones emerge... In short, embracing a component-based development in Drupal 8 enables you to remove the need of rebuilding your website every time its underlying technologies “grow out of fashion”. With your component library at hand, you'll be able to swap your guidelines, design patterns and various content templates in and out, keeping your Drupal app or website up to date.   4.6. It Integrates Seamlessly into the Development Process  By leveraging a component-based development in Drupal 8, you'd also gain better control over the whole development cycle. The update process here included... Since you'd then build your components and manage your production quality user interface code in a repository like GitHub, every update that you'd make will be displayed in there. And be easily accessible to everyone in your team. In short, your developers get to pull pieces of code from the repository to further extend them, then re-submit them to GitHub (or to another source code repository) for review. With the ability to version your component library, your team can keep a close track of all your Drupal applications with their corresponding versions of the approved UX.   The END! This is how the component-based development in Drupal 8 would benefit you and your team. Have we left out other key advantages of using this approach? Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay ... 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Silviu Serdaru / Apr 11'2019
What Are the Key Factors Influencing the Mobile App Development Cost? Top 9
What's the rough cost of an application? What goes into its price more precisely? What are those heavy weight factors that influence and end up determining the mobile app development cost? Is it the (custom) features and app-specific functionality that you need to get implemented into your app? Or maybe the app development company itself? The chosen platform, the post updates, the number of screens or maybe the API development and integration? Or rather all of these elements, plus a few more? Here's a breakdown of the key aspects which, all put together, will decide your mobile app's price tag:   1. The Mobile App Development Platform Itself As it “dictates” the operating system that your app will run on: Windows OS, Android OS, iOS OS, Blackberry OS. And, therefore, it heavily influences the cost of the mobile app development process itself. What type of mobile application do you have in mind? Who's going to be its target audience? These are but 2 of the crucial questions whose answers will determine your choice of app platform.  Note: do keep in mind that it's your mobile app development platform of choice that will determine the version of the OS system, as well. With Android, your available options go from Jelly Bean to Nougat, from KitKat to Marshmallow and Lollipop. Whereas with iOS you'll get to choose between version 9, 10 and 11.   2. The Features You Need Will Strongly Influence the Mobile App Development Cost How does your list of “must-have” features look like? And what about your... “nice to have” one? Do your expectations in terms of app functionality go from:   push notifications to geolocation to in-app purchases to streaming to user login to offline mode to media content (smileys, emoticons, editing functionality here included) to Google maps integration to instant messaging?   Well then, do keep in mind that every feature on your wishlist is going to get reflected on the bill. You might want to trim it down a bit. But if you've decided to stick to your feature requirements, make sure they're perfectly:   adapted to your target audience's expectations suited for your specific type of mobile app   3. The Contracted Team of Mobile App Developers Itself And it's not just the proven expertise and experience of the team members that will influence the mobile app development cost, but their... number, as well. A “standard” app development team would include:   UX or/and UI designer(s) QA engineer project manager in-house mobile app developer(s)   Plus a back-end developer, depending on your specific requirements (whether you'll need an API developed, as well, or not). An extended team could include also 1 system administrator, plus more people for each one of the above-mentioned roles.  A larger team translates into higher costs, right? Yet, a too small team might also reflect in the longer time spent working on your app project. And time is... money. In short, when evaluating the potential candidates, try to balance your budget and those teams' level of proficiency. Your specific feature requirements and their provable experience in implementing them. For, a badly integrated functionality could be cheaper now, yet get quite expensive on a long term...   4. Your Specific Back-End & API Development Needs Do you need an API? A scalable and powerful back-end for your app's content and data? And would a basic cloud-based server suit your needs or do you need a middleware layer developed, as well?  Start analyzing all these variables and knowingly make your choices: all back-end and API requirements will finally bubble up to the mobile app development cost estimate...   5. Your Post-Development Updates & Maintenance Requirements Just think of every user as of a new potential “risk”. One that could unknowingly inject all types of bugs and threats into your future app. How will you get these risks under control? By:   implementing a continuous maintenance process running regular updates on your mobile app   And having a dedicated team at your service to keep your application “sanitized” and properly updated does come with a price tag on... One that will influence your mobile app development cost.   6. The Copyright and App Licensing Options Just imagine: you've waited from 3 up to 6 months for your app to be ready, with all the “valuable” features and custom functionalities “baked in”. Then, after another few months, key elements from it get copied. To avoid such a scenario, there's another aspect (and cost) to consider: applying for copyright.  You'll need to invest in an app license, that will protect your mobile application from getting copied.    7. The Number of Screens to Be Incorporated into Your App How many screens have you planned for your future mobile app? The answer to this question is highly influenced by the “palette” of features that you want to get incorporated into your app. The more of them, the more screens will need to be implemented... And the higher the price will be, obviously. Your app development team's invested resources of time and effort will be proportional to the number of screens you'll request from them.  In short: be 100% certain that each and every feature that you wish to have implemented in your app is relevant and it adds value. No need to overcrowd your app with lots of screens crammed with non-essential features.   8. Native or Hybrid Mobile App? What Will It Be? And each type of mobile app comes with its own advantages and disadvantages:   native mobile apps stand out in terms of performance and come bundled with a wide range of functionalities; yet, do expect a high mobile app development cost (and a longer development cycle, as well) hybrid mobile apps get developed and running in no time, across multiple platforms, so they're much more cost-effective; yet, they do not “rock” in terms of performance, nor do they live up to the same UX standards as the native ones   The choice depends entirely on your own priorities: outstanding performance & a full range of functionalities vs versatility & lower costs... Note: needless to add that there are other aspects related to your app-specific type — basic functionality app, app depending on the device's hardware, data-driven app — that will influence its development cost.   9. The Security Features to Be Implemented And you need to give this aspect its due consideration. With payment gateways integrated into your future app and loads of confidential user data being handled there, you can't afford to underrate the security aspect. It goes without saying that the mobile app development cost will get influenced by the specific security features that you'll integrate.   Final Word  Identify your needs before even attempting to estimate the mobile app development cost. And, most importantly: set them apart from your... wishes. It's only after you've put together your own list of requirements, project-specific constraints, and preferences that you can arrive at an accurate estimate. Image by krzysztof-m from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Apr 10'2019