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Progressively Decoupled Drupal: Moving Towards a Standard Workflow
Progressively decoupled Drupal has gone from concept to buzzword. Until recently, when we've started to witness sustained efforts being made to set up a standard workflow for implementing this architecture. New dedicated modules have been developed to fit those use cases where just a few particular blocks, affecting the website's overall performance, need to be decoupled. All while preserving Drupal's standard robust features. Features too famous among content editors and site builders to be sacrificed in the name of high speed and rich UX.  We've gradually shifted focus from “Why would I choose progressive decoupling over a headless CMS?” to: “How precisely do I implement the progressive approach into my own decoupled Drupal project? Is there a standardized process, based on a set of dedicated modules, that I can leverage?” And this is what I'll be focusing on in this post here. More precisely, on the efforts for standardizing the whole workflow: see Decoupled Blocks and the SPALP module!   1. Progressively Decoupled Drupal: Compromise or Viable Alternative to an All-In Transition? Is this approach nothing but a compromise between:   content editors — and all Drupal users working in the site assembly —  who depend on key features like content workflow, layout management, site preview, seamless administrative experience and front-end developers, who're “dying” to “inject” application-like interactivity and high-speed front-end technologies into certain portions of the Drupal web pages?   Progressively decoupling blocks in Drupal is, indeed, the best compromise you could get between:   your editorial team's “fear” of losing familiar Drupal features critical for their workflow front-end developers willing to experiment with new technologies promising top speed and richer user experiences   Developers get to leverage the JavaScript framework of their choice without interfering with the site assemblers' workflow. Flexibility at its best! But does being a viable compromise makes it also a worthy alternative to the fully decoupling option? It does. Specifically because:   it caters to all those who haven't been won over by the “headless CM movement”  it removes the risk of trading vital Drupal functionality for the benefits of a powerful front-end framework   In other words: For all those Drupal projects requiring that only certain components should be decoupled, an all-in transition would be simply... redundant and unnecessarily risky. For all those projects there's the progressively decoupled Drupal alternative.   2. Why Has this Approach to Decoupling Drupal Been So Unpopular? How come the progressively decoupled Drupal strategy gained so little traction? It seems that despite its drawbacks — the need to reinvent some of the lost “Drupal wheels” and its higher costs — the fully decoupled approach has been more popular. And there are 3 main causes for this, that Dries Buytaert identified and exposed in his blog post on “How to Decouple Drupal in 2018”:   progressive decoupling doesn't leverage server-side rendering via Node.js modern JavaScript cohabits with old-school PHP JavaScript's ascension is not going to stop any time soon; therefore, the risk of sacrificing some of Drupal's popular capabilities might still seem insignificant compared to the JS advantages at a front-end level   3. The SPALP Module: Towards a Standard Workflow for Implementing Progressive Decoupling Now, back to this blog post's main topic: Clear pieces of evidence that we're finally heading towards a standardized process for implementing this type of decoupled system.   And one such evidence is the SPALP module: Single Page Application Landing Page.  Here's a specific use case, so you can get an idea of its role in the entire workflow of a progressively decoupled Drupal project: Let's say that you need to integrate a couple of JavaScript-based one-page apps into your Drupal website. The CMS will continue to be “in charge” of the page rendering, access control routing and navigation, while the JS apps would be developed independently, outside of Drupal. How would you configure these JS apps as Drupal web pages? You'd use the SPALP module to configure each one of them so that:   you stay consistent and “joggle with” the same configuration every time you need to add a new app to your Drupal website you make its easy for your content team to manage this entire ecosystem of single-page JavaScript apps   “And how does this module work?” Here's the whole “back-stage” mechanism:   the SPALP module helps you to set up a new “app landing page" content type, the one providing the URL for the app about to be integrated each one of these applications must have its own module that would declare a dependency on SPALP, include its JSON configuration and define its library once a module meeting all these requirements is enabled, SPALP will create a landing page node for it, which will store the initial configuration the SPALP module will add the pre-defined library and a link to an endpoint serving JSON each time that node is viewed   Note: speaking of the efforts made to create a “Drupal way” of implementing this decoupled architecture, you might want to check out Decoupled Blocks, as well. It's designed to empower front-end developers to use the JS framework of their choice to develop individual custom blocks that would be later on integrated into Drupal. No Drupal API knowledge required! The END! What do you think: will the community continue their efforts to build a standard workflow for the progressively decoupled Drupal approach? Or will it remain a conceptual alternative to headless Drupal? ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jan 23'2019
6 Best Serverless Plugins: How to Tailor the Serverless Framework to Your Project-Specific Needs
Build, configure and deploy all necessary resources with just a few commands... The serverless framework empowers you to streamline your entire development workflow. But what if you need to tackle some project-specific issues? Then you extend its core functionality to suit your needs by implementing the best serverless plugins available. For you might need to:   bundle a Lamba function with Webpack empty your buckets before removing them copy data from production to development table   So, what are your options?   to scan through the pile of already developed serverless plugins, looking for the one that addresses that specific issue to write your own custom serverless plugin   This post here focuses on the first option. I'll reveal to you the 6 most useful community-driven plugins for the serverless framework.   1. But First: What's the Core Functionality of the Serverless Framework? In other words: What do you get out-of-the-box? Here's a short list of tasks that go from being manually carried out to... automated when you go serverless:   creating, configuring, and deploying the needed resources (API Gateway and Lambda functions)  storing your code (and configuration) into a repository for later use setting up database tables for your functions configuring serverless templates for your subnets and VPC's   In other words: using a serverless framework streamlines all those tedious tasks of writing code on the console, configuring your resources, managing your team's workflow...   2. 6 Best Serverless Plugins to Consider for Your Next Project  And the serverless framework itself is an “ecosystem” of plugins.  Nevertheless, there are cases when its core functionality doesn't meet all your project's requirements and you need to... extend it.  Before you rush to write your own plugin, you might want to have a look at what's already been built. In this respect, here's a list of the most widely used ones:   2.1. Serverless Webpack In a situation where you need to bundle your lambda functions with Webpack? Let this serverless plugin here handle the job for you.   2.2. Serverless Dotenv  Here's a common scenario: You need to load your variables, currently stored in an env file, into your serverless yaml config.  Then, this is the serverless framework plugin that comes to your rescue. It enables you to dynamically preload env files into serverless.   2.3. Serverless Offline  Need to run everything on your local machine before you deploy it? Integrate this plugin here into your framework and it will emulate AWS Lambda and API Gateway on your PC, streamlining your whole development process.   2.4. Serverless Mocha Plugin  One of the best serverless plugins, a mocha-based one, that provides you support for your test-driven development flow.   2.5. Aliyun Function Compute  Is “injecting” Alibaba Cloud Function Compute support into your serverless app one of your project-specific needs? Well, then this is the plugin you need! It's been built to enable support for this event-driven compute service into the serverless framework.    2.6. Serverless S3 Remover  What do you do with all those buckets that you will have been “joggling” with once you decide to delete your stack? The one you will have “overly exploited” by then, during your tests? Well... you remove them. Along with the content that they store.  How? You let this plugin here handle the “decluttering task” for you. The END! These are the 6 best serverless plugins already available that you can implement into your projects.  Which one's the perfect fit for your current project-specific needs? Photo from Unsplash ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Jan 19'2019
How Do You Deal with Duplicate Content in Drupal? 4 Modules to Get this Issue Fixed
Accidentally creating duplicate content in Drupal is like... a cold:  Catching it is as easy as falling off a log. All it takes is to:   further submit your valuable content on other websites, as well, and thus challenging Google with 2 or more identical pieces of content move your website from HTTP to HTTPs, but skip some key steps in the process, so that the HTTP version of your Drupal is still there, “lurking in the dark” have printer-friendly versions of your Drupal site and thus dare Google to face another duplicate content “dilemma”   So, what are the “lifebelts” or prevention tools that Drupal “arms” you with for handling this thorny issue? Here are the 4 modules to use for boosting your site's immunity system against duplicate content. And for getting it fixed, once the harm has already been made:   1. But How Does It Crawl into Your Website? Main Sources of Duplicate Content  Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of how Drupal 8 duplicate content “infiltrates” into your website. But first, here are the 2 major categories that these sources fall into:   malicious non-malicious   The first ones include all those scenarios where spammers post content from your website without your consent. The non-malicious duplicate content can come from:   discussion forums that create both standard and stripped-down pages (for mobile devices) printer-only web page versions, as already mentioned items displayed on multiple pages of the same e-commerce site   Also, duplicate content in Drupal can be either:   identical or similar And since it comes in “many stripes and colors”, here are the 7 most common types of duplicate content:   1.1. Scraped Content Has someone copied content from your website and further published it? Do not expect Google to distinguish the copy from its source. That said, it's your job and yours only to stay diligent and protect the content on your Drupal site from scrapers.   1.2. WWW and non-WWW Versions of Your Website Are there 2 identical version of your Drupal website available? A www and a non-www one? Now, that's enough to ring Google's “duplicate content in Drupal” alarm.   1.3. Widely Syndicated Content  So, you've painstakingly put together a list of article submission sites to give your valuable content (blog post, video, article etc.) more exposure. And now what? Should you just cancel promoting it? Not at all! Widely syndicated content risks to get on Google's “Drupal 8 duplicate content” radar only if you set no guidelines for those third-party websites. That is when these publishers don't place any canonical tags in your submitted content pointing out to its original source. What happens when you overlook such a content syndication agreement? You leave it entirely to Google to track down the source. To scan through all those websites and blogs that your piece of content gets republished on. And often times it fails to tell the original from its copy.   1.4. Printed-Friendly Versions This is probably one of the sources of duplicate content in Drupal that seems most... harmless to you, right? And yet, for search engines multiple printer-friendly versions of the same content translates as: duplicate pages.   1.5. HTTP and HTTPs Pages Have you made the switch from HTTP to HTTPs? Entirely? Or are there:   backlinks from other websites still leading to the HTTP version of your website? internal links on your current HTTPs website still carrying the old protocol?   Make sure you detect all these less obvious sources of identical URLs on your Drupal website.   1.6. Appreciably Similar Content  Your site's vulnerable to this type of duplicate content “threat” particularly if it's an e-commerce one. Just think of all those too common scenarios where you display highly similar product descriptions on several different pages on your eStore.    1.7. User Session IDs  Users themselves can non-deliberately generate duplicate content on your Drupal site.  How? They might have different session IDs that generate new and new URLs. 2. 4 Modules at Hand to Identify and Fix Duplicate Content in Drupal What are the tools that Drupal puts at your disposal to detect and eliminate all duplicate content?   2.1. Redirect Module Imagine all the functionality of the former Global Redirect module (Drupal 7) “injected” into this Drupal 8 module! In fact, you can still define your Global Redirect features by just:   accessing the Redirect module's configuration page clicking on “URL redirects”    Image Source: What this SEO-friendly module does is provide you with a user-friendly interface for managing your URL path redirects:   create new redirects identify broken URL paths (you'll need to enable the “Redirect 4040” sub-module for that) set up domain level redirects (use the “Redirect Domain” sub-module) import redirects   Summing up: when it comes to handling duplicate content in Drupal, this module helps you redirect all your URLs to the new paths that you will have set up. This way, you avoid the risk of having the very same content displayed on multiple URL paths.   2.2. Taxonomy Unique Module   How about “fighting” duplicate content on your website at a vocabulary level? In this respect, this Drupal 8 module:   prevents you from saving a taxonomy term that already exists in that vocabulary is configurable for every vocabulary on your Drupal site allows you to set custom error messages that would pop up whenever a duplicate taxonomy term is detected in the same vocabulary   2.3. PathAuto Module   Just admit it now: How much do you hate the /node125 type of URL path aliases? They're anything but user-friendly. And this is precisely the role that Pathauto's been invested with: To automatically generate content friendly path aliases (e.g. /blog/my-node-title) for a whole variety of content. Let's say that you want to modify the current “path scheme” on your website with no impact on the URLs (you don't want the change to affect user's bookmarks or to “intrigue” the search engines). The Pathauto module will automatically redirect those URLs to the new paths using any HTTP redirect status.   2.4. Intelligent Content Tools       Personalization is key when you strive to prevent duplicate content in Drupal, right?  And this is precisely what this module here does: it helps you personalize content on your website. How? Through its 3 main functionalities delivered to you as sub-modules:   auto tagging text summarizing  detecting plagiarized content    Leveraging Natural Language Processing, this last sub-module scans content on your website and alerts you of any signs of duplicity detected. Word of caution: keep in mind that the module is not yet covered by Drupal's security advisory policy!   3. To Sum Up Setting a goal to ensure 100% unique content on your website is as realistic as... learning a new language in a week.  Instead, you should consider setting up a solid strategy ”fueled” by (at least) these 4 modules “exposed” here. One that would help you avoid specific scenarios where entire pages or clusters of pages get duplicated. Now, that's a far less utopian goal to set, don't you think? ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 16'2019
10 Reasons Why AI Projects Fail or How You Can Easily Sabotage Your Own AI Project- Part 2
And I'm back, as promised, with a handful of reasons — ranging from “the usual suspects” to more nuanced ones — why AI projects fail. From:   getting too absorbed in keeping your technological assets up to date to the point of skipping to put together a solid business strategy for your AI implementation to getting overly excited about AI and trying to “force integrate” it into... everything  to skipping to further maintain it, once launched   … there are quite a few mistakes that you can easily avoid and thus foolproof your AI project. So, let me expose these hidden “traps” to you:   Mistake #6: You Put Technology Before a Solid Business Strategy AI-powered or not, it's still a... business that you're running, right? So, getting focused on technology only, turning it into the unique driver of “business” value is simply... non-realistic. First, you need to build your solid business strategy. One to include:   thorough research of your target markets all the technological assets needed to reach your AI project's goal ... along with all the resources to be invested, of course   Technology, no matter how advanced, never comes before business strategy.  That, of course, if it's business value that you try to achieve and not just... building AI for AI's sake.   Mistake #7: You Cut Down on Testing Time Probably one of the most common reasons why AI projects fail: You get all too eager (and over-confident) to release your AI-powered software out into the wild and you deliberately skip some major debugging phases. To avoid this trap, make sure to include, while setting up your business strategy, the due resources for properly testing your AI project before “setting it free”. For, placing it into the spotlight prematurely, faulted and vulnerable to future bugs, will “doom” your AI solution to years of... public distrust.   Mistake #8: You Get Stuck in a Never-Ending Development Cycle Now, mind you don't avoid a pitfall only to... fall into the next one: A never-ending design-develop-design-develop... process. For, yes, one of the worst AI mistakes is to release a buggy, poorly tested AI-enabled software product.  But it's equally risky to keep postponing its launch and get tangled up in this loop of continuously polishing it and testing it. You just risk having your competition leverage all the AI opportunities out there while you're constantly updating your software. Instead, consider launching the best possible version of your AI software. Then, collect the relevant data and the message coming from your target market to iterate and release an updated version.   Mistake #9: Baking AI into Everything- Why AI Projects Fail Trying to turn AI into an “all-purpose” tool is yet another frequent mistake behind many AI fails. I know you must be infatuated with AI (we, too, are infinitely excited with the still unexplored opportunities of artificial intelligence). Yet, do keep in mind that the right sequence is the following: You first identify the specific need/problem in the market and then come up with the suitable AI solution for it! You don't just jump on the latest AI technology and... force-fit it into any software product. For, let's face it: There are tasks where AI rocks and tasks where human staff's emotional intelligence is needed (take certain customer service scenarios, for instance). So, don't try to bake AI into... everything or your project will only swell the ranks of failed AI projects.   Mistake #10: You Skip Further Maintaining Your AI Solution A “launch and run” strategy won't propel your AI project too far ahead... That is: Just like any other product, an AI-powered software product needs periodical maintenance. Regular “infusions” of new methods, new models and training data.   The more complex it gets, the more crucial a solid maintenance strategy becomes. So, mind you do not underrate this phase. It's another too common reason why AI projects fail.   The END! These are the 10 most “popular” AI project mistakes. Which one(s) had you been more “vulnerable” to before seeing them all exposed in this post here? Photo by Rock'n Roll Monkey on Unsplash.  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 14'2019
10 Reasons Why AI Projects Fail or How You Can Easily Sabotage Your Own AI Project- Part 1
Running an AI startup? Or just planning to implement AI technology into your next software product? Then you sure don't run short on AI advice, right? Everyone's telling you why you should adopt AI, how to successfully incorporate AI into your business processes... But no one tells you why AI projects fail. What mistakes you should avoid to foolproof your AI implementation. What are those gotchas —  going from obvious pitfalls to more subtle traps —  that can easily change your AI project's results from success to major failure? It might not be as resounding as Amazon Echo's nasty blunder: The Alexa-powered device decided to throw a “surprise party”, with loud music and all that jazz, once it got a house in Berlin all for itself... Yet it would still mean flushing all your high hopes for AI and the invested resources down the drain... Now, back to the most common reasons why so many fail with AI. Or, better said: The 10 AI project mistakes to avoid.   Mistake #1: You Start Big and Spread Yourself Too Thin In other words: Don't bite off more than you can chew! I know you might be overexcited about the incredible AI potential right now. But jumping on a too complex AI project, with long time horizons, is the perfect “recipe” for failure. For, let's face it: Expecting AI to instantly transform all your business processes, to go from no value to 100% value for your AI project is as realistic as... checking off all your New Year's resolutions on the 1st of January. Instead, start small and grow big. Take your time to learn more about the technology you're implementing. To gradually gain all the needed expertise, to fail fast and organically grow your AI project. Rather than artificially pumping it up.   Mistake #2: You Keep Your R&D Expenses to a Minimum Failing to see research & development spending as an investment is one of the most common AI project mistakes. In short, getting stingy when it comes to investing in:   training programs for your employees research on advanced algorithms heavy experimentation with those cutting-edge AI technologies that you expect your team to develop computing infrastructure   … is not a way to save money. It's the shortest path to AI project failure, actually.   Mistake #3: Vague Goals, The Key Reason Why AI Projects Fail What's your vision?  What short-term goals have you set for your specific application of AI, in your... specific industry (be it health care or finance or...)?  Make sure you articulate those goals crystal clear and share them with your team. Oh, you don't have a vision? Not just yet? Only high hopes and expectations about how AI will completely transform your business? Or is it just a few ambiguous, fragmented goals and vague objectives that you have at hand? Then I'm sorry to break it to you: no clear vision means no great value that you could “reap” from your AI project.   Mistake #4: Your AI-Powered Software Doesn't Meet Any Real Need Your new AI technology needs to be usable. And that says it all: Building AI for AI's sake is as profitable as... designing bathing suits for Eskimos. Above all things, your AI project has to meet real business needs. Therefore, make sure you don't fall into the “technology bubble” trap. Do your research, identify the current needs in the finance, health care, disease research or any other field that you target and adapt your new tech accordingly. The main reason why AI projects fail? They're built to awe, not to serve. They put outstanding, revolutionary technology before real people's needs. Instead of aligning it to them.   Mistake #5: You Rely on AI Newbies Only If you ran a 5 star Michelin restaurant would you ask your cashier to cook that exquisite dish recently added to your menu?  See my point? One of the most common reasons why AI projects fail is because startups hand their projects to AI enthusiasts with great potential and zero work experience. Be better than that! Aim for AI expertise when you're recruiting for the team that will be working on your new AI project. Don't just expect AI newbies to... turn into AI experts overnight or your internal staff to jump on a totally new technology and turn your project into the... next new AI companion robot!   Enthusiasm won't compensate for all those imminent mistakes and fails to execute your AI strategy. And these are just 5 of the most common reasons behind AI fails. Stay tuned, for we have 5 more to expose to you in all their “glory” in our next post... Photo by Rock'n Roll Monkey on Unsplash.  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 11'2019
CES 2019 Future-Shaping Tech Trends and Hot Gadgets: From Predictable to Surprising
8k TVs, companion and laundry folding robots, 5G smartphones, voice assistant for cars, foldable phones... This is CES 2019 — the world's largest electronics show taking place these days in Las Vegas — in just a few words... Or, simply put: A sneak peek into the future. And there are more than 4000 CES 2019 exhibitors there, each one competing for its own sphere of influence over the future. For its right to set the new tech trends. So, you can just imagine that:   sorting through all the announcements that companies leading the change will make about their future product releases staying on top of all those critical “teasers” regarding the innovative technologies and exciting features that their devices will feature “playing with” all the gadgets sprawled over the +2 million square feet exhibition hall   … can get overwhelming.  And finding a straight answer to your legitimate question: What is the hottest consumer technology device for 2019? …  turns into a “mission impossible” sort of challenge. Not to worry, though. We've done our homework, scored the heavy-weighing offer and put together a selection of the most influential tech trends and the gadgets at CES 2019. Of those gadgets with the highest potential to grow from far-out concepts to production-ready devices.   1. AR-VR-MR: The “Sideshow” Performers AR/VR-enabled devices are present at the show, but they're far from taking center stage... Especially as VR technology is concerned, CES 2019 doesn't seem to be that long-time awaited chance for it to “incarnate” into a truly remarkable consumer product. Or at least into an extravagant, daring concept. But let's not get too frustrated (again) and, instead, let's analyze 2 contestants for the title of “the best VR/AR-fueled device” at the 2019 international CES:   1.1. HTC Vive Pro More of an upgraded version of the Vive VR headset, HTC's Vivre Pro comes with some significant features geared to provide a more realistic VR experience:   improved 3D audio a separate wireless transmitter 78% increase in screen resolution noise-canceling microphones improved design to make them sit more comfortably   1.2. Deepframe AR Window  Augmented reality at scale.  Just imagine this technology brought to a 65-inch 4k OLED! That's Deepframe. The not-yet-for-consumers kind of display uses unique opticals reflecting life-sized digital elements over a physical space. With no VR eyewear on, the user emerges into a mixed reality world.   2. 5G-Enabled Phones: From Hype to Reality  Have you been starting to lose your patience on the 5G networks “issue”? For, let's face it: It's been a while since all this 5G hype turned into... hope... next into even higher hopes, then... nothing. We had already started fantasizing about:   the extreme speed at which we would download the latest episodes of our top favorite TV series on our phones this networking technology turbocharging all our future VR experiences being free to go see a particular doctor... anywhere on the globe basically 5G enabling our cars to interact with our PCs, with our smart homes, with...   Luckily, at CES 2019 there's been clear evidence that companies are (finally) ready to take the charge and implement 5G into their devices.   2.1. Samsung's 5G Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy 10 The big absent from CES 2019 Las Vegas has been Samsung Galaxy 10. Yet, from the company's CEO's press release we now know that:   it will be released this year “equipped with” 5G technology … and 7nm chipsets, among other features Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T will be its US carriers running 5G programs FCC approved Samsung's intention to roll out 5G network this year   Note: another great news is that Motorola and OnePlus, too, are some 2 other giants planning to release 5G-enabled phones this year. We'll see which South Korean company will first reach the “finish line” with its own 5G-powered device.   3. Voice-Controlled Technology... for Cars 3.1. Speak's Music Muse: Alexa-Powered Voice Assistant for Cars How about that! Bringing voice-controlled technology to your car... And here's what this Oreo-sized device would enable you to do once you plug it into your car's USD port and connect it to your smartphone:   you get to use voice commands and ask for a weather report, play music ... control your Alexa-powered devices at home (e.g. you could close your garage doors or turn off your front door light) ... add items to your to-do list   And, most of all: It comes with hands-free calling functionality.   4. AI Technology Is... Everywhere at CES 2019  Artificial intelligence steals the spotlight at the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. Here are just 2 of the AI marvels that stole our attention:   4.1. IBM 50-Qubit Quantum Computer No other machine at the show 2019 International CES could rival this “beast” when it comes to calculations. The uses that IBM had in mind for it? All those AI and machine learning-powered scenarios where huge volumes of data need to be crunched at super speed.   4.2. “Nervana Neural Network Processor for Inference” (NNP-I) Intel and Facebook joined their forces to create a more affordable AI chip addressing companies with high workload demands. When will it go from concept to product? Sometime this year those “target” companies will be able to use NNP-I to accelerate inference and thus better cope with their workload challenge. The END! Back to you now: What do you think about the tech trends and devices highlighted here? Do you predict that they'll turn into actual products this year? What have been your expectations from CES 2019? And, most importantly: how does your wishlist of next-generation gadgets look like? Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 09'2019
What Is the Best Membership Plugin for WordPress? A Top 5 Feature-Rich Options at Hand
Say you've invested so much time and effort to come up with this valuable content for your website. And now you don't want to be all altruistic and share it with everybody. Instead, you plan to grant access to it to logged in members (or paying subscribers) only. So, you start looking for a plugin for access control. But what is the best membership plugin for WordPress? The most suitable one for your specific feature needs as a membership website owner... For your own scenario, which might require that:   members be enabled to administer their profiles straight from your website's front-end page admins be allowed to easily track down members using specific meta information (e.g. “category”) your plugin support multilevel membership functionality (logged-in member, paying logging-in user, admin, editor etc.) your WordPress plugin support dripping so that your content gets “served” according to a strict time schedule  you don't need to get tangled up in code writing and customization work members be enabled to CRUD their custom post type content (galleries, events, posts, reviews)   Oh, and yes: You might also expect this WordPress membership plugin to accommodate a decent number of members (approx. 800-100?), be easy to set up and to get updates, too. Now, here are the 5 most powerful free WordPress membership plugins and WordPress paid membership plugins that you should weigh first: 1. MemberPress It's the equivalent of “vanilla ice cream” among membership plugins for WordPress. I mean, it easily checks all the checkboxes on your “must-have features” list:   easy to set up easy to use feature-packed rich documentation and stellar support   And speaking of its load of features, let me outline some of the most powerful ones: Easy setup From setting up pricing and login to adding membership plans and putting together “Thank you” pages for your members, setting everything up gets ridiculously easy with this plugin. Subscription management The plugin empowers your members to create and update their own membership subscriptions. Content dripping It enables you to “disclose” content to your members according to your time schedule.  This feature is particularly valuable if it's learning material or online courses that you provide on your WordPress website. Content Access Control And restricting access to certain content on your website is the essential feature of any WordPress paid membership plugin, right? In this respect, MemberPress provides you with flexible access control: You get to limit (or “condition”, if you prefer) access to specific tags, blog posts, files, pages, categories on your website.  Payment Gateways The plugin comes equipped with built-in support for Stripe and Paypal payment gateways.  Need integration, as well? Then you'll need to first upgrade to Developer edition. Integrations Here are some of the third-party services that it easily connects with:   Amazon Web Services MailChimp Aweber BluBurry GetResponse   2. Restrict Content Pro Why does this plugin stand high chances to be the best membership plugin for WordPress? We can cut down all the reasons down to... 2 heavy-weighting ones:   it's conveniently simple: easy to set up and easy to use it's ideally flexible: it comes with built-in interrogations, add-ons and pro add-ons; you're free to add exclusively those features that you need   And now, let's detail some of its key features: Easy to use I'll only say one thing: It seamlessly integrates with WordPress UI...  Built-in integrations Some of the most tempting ones are:   PayPal MailChimp Stripe CSV export email manager MailPoet   … that other plugins would provide you with as paid add-ons. Add-ons You get to extend its functionality, free of charge, with specific extra features that you might need. And I'm referring here to:   force strong passwords download monitor multiple email marketing integrations   Pro add-ons If your feature needs are higher, you can always go for the professional or ultimate plan and “indulge” in some pro add-ons. Here's just a sneak peek into the “pro add-ons menu”:   WooCommerce member discounts restrict past content drip content restriction timeouts   Payment gateways Is it Braintree, Stripe or maybe Paypal that you need to integrate with your website? Stay assured: they all come as free add-ons... Should I also add that Restrict Content Pro has won the reputation of a developer-friendly WordPress plugin for membership websites? 3. Ultimate Member, The Best Membership Plugin for WordPress Community-Like Websites Disclosure: Ultimate Member is the perfect fit for community-like websites, where you'd focus more on the social aspect of membership rather than on selling paid memberships. For instance: it doesn't come with a built-in paid membership functionality that you could leverage. It's perfectly true that you could go for an add-on to hook it up with WooCommerce (e.g. Um-Switcher). But wouldn't it be more straightforward to opt for another WordPress paid membership plugin then? One geared specifically at selling paid memberships? So, back to the major strengths of this free WordPress membership plugin: Is is a social community that you plan to build? One depending on multi-tiered membership functionality? Where each member would administer its own account? Then Ultimate Member will make your perfect ally. Here are some of the features that makes it perfectly suitable for “social community building” scenarios: Content restriction  From:   enabling you to restrict the entire WordPress site to limiting access to specific blog posts, pages or categories, to controlling which menus to be served to each user roles   ... this plugin “spoils” you with unmatched flexibility. Still, do keep in mind that large scale content restriction, although powerful, is not its defining feature. Building communities is... 4. Paid Memberships Pro   Looking for the best membership plugin for WordPress focused on the subscription selling aspect? Here's your winner! Unlike Ultimate Member, Paid Membership Pro is designed to power subscription-based websites. It makes your conveniently powerful tool for... collecting payments from your members. And, branching out from this particularity, the are features such as:   accommodating thousands of members enabling you to put together a whole “ecosystem” of membership levels (weekly, monthly... payments) granting access to discounts, e-learning materials, private communities on your websites to members only supporting updates   Content restriction  Is it particular pages or posts that you want to limit access to? It's as easy as checking... the due checkboxes. Is it entire content categories that you want to restrict? Paid Membership Pro has got you covered. If, let's say, you need to restrict a certain widget or an individual video on a web page, feel free to use shortcode or PHP functions to narrow down your focus. Payment gateways, Paypal, CyberSource, Stripe, 2Checkout, CyberSource... What payment option do you need to integrate into your website? Note: you can always process the membership checkout through WooCommerce instead. Third-party Tools integration From AffilliateWP to MailChimp, to Kissmetricts... you have a whole list of third-party services to choose from and integrate with your membership website. Content dripping Not in your interest to serve all your restricted content all at once to your subscribers? Then... don't! This plugin enables you to “drip” your valuable content based on a time schedule.  You could set up a “Series” gradually unlocking content depending on the number of days passed since a member registered on your website. Paid Add-Ons A bit more... needy when it comes to the specific functionality that you'd want to “inject” into your membership website? Then, go for the paid version and unlock the 60+ add-ons available. Let me point out just a few of:   Zapier integration for automation  different email marketing services integrations Slack notifications email notifications selling access to particular pages/posts as an add-on package affiliate program integrations   5. WooCommerce Memberships   How many of the here-below checkboxes would you check?   you already have an e-commerce website it's a feature-rich plugin that you're looking for … one to reward your subscribers with various discounts you're looking for a plugin that easily and seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce   If you've ticked them all, then you might want to weigh the standout features of this WordPress membership plugin for WooCommerce: Unique options  Unlocking special discounts, granting content access upon a product purchase, limiting product viewing to members only... This plugin comes with quite a few “surprise” features that you won't find in any other of its “rivals” on this list here. Different membership levels You get “spoiled” with lots and lots of membership options that keep on... further multiplying if you decide to integrate with WooCommerce Subscriptions, too. This way, you'd gain even more control over free trials, drip content, recurring payments, for instance. Access Control  You're free to limit access to specific blog posts, pages and other content types on your website. The END!  By now you must have realized that: It's not “the best membership plugin for WordPress” that you need, but the most relevant one for your own membership website. For your specific requirements and feature needs. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 08'2019
PHP in 2019: Why Would You Still Use PHP for Building Your Websites and Web Apps?
Here's a riddle for you: What has (at least) 9 lives besides cats? Well... the ever dying and always resurrecting PHP, of course! But joke aside: what about PHP in 2019? Will it fade away? Will it still be relevant for building web apps, content-packed and dynamic websites? Or, does it risk (once again) to get retired due to other emerging, hard-to-resist-to technologies rivaling it? Does “aged” mean "deprecated" in its case? And if, so they say, PHP is not a “good-looking” language... why are we still using JavaScript then? JS frameworks don't necessarily excel when it comes to... elegance? In other words: “Why would you still be interested in using PHP (other than nostalgia or... pure habit) for building your websites and applications in 2019, as well?”  Here are some of the strongest reasons:   1. Some of the Leading CMSs Are Built on PHP Just think WordPress, think Drupal, powering the most high-trafficked and content-packed websites out there. Think Joomla... They're all PHP-based and they make the best guarantee that: You get to use PHP in 2019 to build content-loaded websites that are conveniently easy to update. Website admins, even the less technical staff, will be empowered to easily make changes and manage their content. Here, think of the overwhelming collection of PHP-based themes and plugins developed for WordPress only. Right at your disposal, to just grab and use for breathing life into your web projects... Now, here's another example for you: Think Magento, another widely used PHP-powered CMS. Website owners get to focus their resources on... boosting their sales, since they get a platform working right out of the box, instead of getting tangled up in code. And that's just one of the strong reasons why you'd still want to use PHP next year, too.   2. It's Conveniently Easy to Update And when it's a PHP website carrying thousands of pages that you're working on, instant updates become critical. Being a server-side scripting language, PHP handles all updates from the server side (obviously!). The result: boosted security!   3. It's Quick and Simple to Deploy With or without a framework, PHP in 2019 will still lead as the quickest server-side back-end programming language. Moreover, it scales like no other, as well. And to those doubting its scalability capabilities: Think Wikipedia, think Facebook!   4. PHP Comes “Packed” With A Heavy Load of Libraries and Extensions Lots and lots of them, so you can easily handle:   blogging pages shopping carts WebSocket server (Ratchet, ReactPHP, Swoole, which performs faster than rival Node.js itself)   And let me briefly highlight some of the key tasks that you'd be streamlining when leveraging some of these libraries that PHP spoils you with:   handling syntax error display code debugging   Not to mention that PHP provides you with a simple, easy to use API, ready-to-use functions for whatever web services you might need to use. And that it simplifies integration, too. Note: take Composer, a reliable, reputed package manager, then choose any of the provided framework agnostic packages and simply incorporate them into your web project.   5. PHP in 2019 Goes Beyond Web App Development  Like it already has, actually. You're free to:   “team it up” with .net languages via PeachPie use it in GUI applications use it to power your IoT projects with (particularly in edge/gateway)    6. PHP Documentation Simply... Stands Out And this is no exaggeration, but a fact that even those who already buried PHP a few years ago would agree on. PHP's documentation support still makes an excellent go-to resource for both newcomers and experienced PHP developers. And here I cannot but mention the PHP document generator and all the richly documented elements such as:   hooks (actions and filters) classes and their properties inline comments class method and functions file headers   7. High Availability of Senior PHP Developers  I'm not talking here about so-called “experienced” developers, who've been working “intensively” with PHP for about ... about 2-3 years. I'm referring to professionals with +10 years experience in leveraging PHP while working on various types of web development projects. And this high availability of PHP experts can only translate into:   accessible and high-quality support and maintenance services (PHP website admins will never run out of options when it comes to calling an expert to come to their rescue whenever they're facing a technical hurdle) low(er) development costs, with all those open source projects to use as valuable resources and the high availability of PHP professionals on the market   8. It Enables Developers to Build Dynamic Websites Easily Data gets accessed and executed... dynamically with PHP. When it comes to building dynamic websites the easy way, there's still no other language rivaling it. Furthermore, it's's built to run multiple threads/handle multitasking. To execute remarkably well on multi-core systems (unlike its “competitor”, the so very popular Node.js).   And I shall “abruptly” end here my list of top reasons why you would still use be interested in using PHP in 2019. Of course, I could go on outlining its versatility, it's rich syntax, the “shiny and new” PHP 7's significant improvements boosting its performance dramatically. Instead, I stop here. How about you? What are your own main reasons for “stubbornly” sticking to PHP (if that's the case) when working on your web development projects next year? ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Dec 21'2018
What Will Be the Main Enterprise Cloud Computing Trends for 2019? 
What's the future of cloud computing? What are the enterprise cloud computing trends for 2019 to expect, prepare for and leverage to your advantage? For, whether you:   are just planning to move your workloads from a data center to a cloud-native architecture  or you're already “reaping” the benefits of a multi-cloud architecture   … the question remains the same: “From Kubernetes to serverless computing, to multi-cloud strategies, to containers, to... which will be the top influential cloud trends and patterns in 2019?” To be honest with you, we, too, as a Drupal firm, have asked ourselves the same question... Once you've got the answer, you can:   (properly) prepare for the challenges to come turn them into... excellent new opportunities   Now, without any further ado, here are the 5 trends that will dominate the cloud computing industry in 2019:   1. Serverless Computing: More and More Companies “Flock” to Serverless  Serverless technology goes hand in hand with cloud-native architectures... And the fact that its enterprise adoption will just... explode in 2019 is no news at all, right? Just think of the key features and benefits that serverless “lures” even companies like NetFlix, New York Times or Mapbox with:   high speed reduced costs the convenience to port their serverless apps between multiple cloud providers the opportunity to run serverless apps both on public clouds and on private data centers   Not only that companies leveraging serverless get to “reap” all the benefits of enterprise cloud computing. But, since they get to run their apps on existing infrastructures, as well, they can modernize their legacy apps, too.  All that in addition to the benefit of streamlining the development cycles of their cloud-native apps. What makes serverless computing “outshine” standard provisioning servers?   it's a technology that uses “functions” as a measuring unit (instead of “instances” or VM) these pieces of code (“functions”) run automatically … and they take over any data format and turn it into a target legacy system “in charge” with processing the response; they can also interpret those messages sent back to consuming apps through the API gateway the burden of scaling and managing resources gets passed on to serverless providers (Google Cloud Functions, AWS Lambda, Microsoft Azure, Apache Whisk, OpenFaas)   To sum up: serverless is going to be one of the leading enterprise cloud computing trends for 2019.   accelerating the development process of cloud-native apps “revamping” legacy apps cutting down costs the convenience of going serverless all while leveraging one's existing infrastructure   … are this technology's top “luring” features.   2. The Enterprise Adoption of Kubernetes Grows at Neck-Breaking Pace The solid arguments behind this prediction?    Kubernetes is highly portable it's highly available it provides unmatched, granular scalability: the go-to choice for scaling containerized applications it automates deployment   Whether they're planning to streamline their app development cycles or to rearchitect their existing IT infrastructures, large organizations are “flocking” to this open-source container orchestration system. The interoperable, composable architecture that it provides, along with its “extreme” availability — it runs on laptops, public//hybrid private cloud, VM — and the increased use of containers turns Kubernets into one of the highly influential enterprise cloud computing trends for 2019. One powering hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud deployments... And speaking of containers, Kubernete's simply: convenience at its best (convenience at scale): You're free to put together clusters of hosts running containers and then just use Kubernetes to easily manage them all. To easily “orchestrate” all your containers.   3. Cloud Data Management: One of the Influential Enterprise Cloud Computing Trends for 2019  With the trend of enterprise cloud computing architecture going up in 2019, it's only but predictable for cloud data management to become one of the hottest topics. An efficient cloud environment (whether a multi-cloud or a hybrid cloud infrastructure) calls for:   serious planning  constant optimization  data aggregation  analyzing the stored data    In other words: with data being the key “nucleus” of any enterprise cloud computing architecture, properly managing and improving the quality of all those massive amounts of data becomes critical.   4. The Multi-Cloud Strategy: An Increasingly Compelling Pattern for Companies Companies will “dread” getting themselves locked-in to a unique cloud service provider. And so, the multi-cloud strategy is sure to rival the conventional “partnering with a single public cloud” approach. Why? Hmmm, let's see... getting cloud locked-in means:   being constrained to integrate that specific public cloud environment's tools, services, APIs getting its dependencies “injected” into your application code being unable to future-proof your app, to update it to any new technologies that might emerge; you'd automatically “inherit” a technical debt when locked-in to a specific cloud service provider    Whereas having a robust multi-cloud architecture allows large enterprises to:   “juggle with” multiple dedicated clouds, each one with its specific functionalities and services be cloud provider agnostic; and that can only mean more flexibility: companies are free to port their cloud architectures between different environments  leverage on interoperability; companies will be able to do application>APIs (or on-premise infrastructure ) decoupling   And “flexibility” is the key term here:   the one that's definitory for modern application development the reason why multi-cloud is going to be one of the powerful enterprise cloud computing trends for 2019   The END! Now, if we are to do a quick recap:   more and more companies will migrate their workloads to cloud environments; they will be refactoring their legacy apps  also, we'll be witnessing a massive migration to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments technical skills required for cloud computing will be in even higher demand in 2019   ... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Dec 19'2018