LATEST FROM OUR BLOG

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

My Experience as a Web Summit 2017 Attendee and Top Tips for 2018
My first time at the Web Summit! And it's been almost... “surreal”, I'm still having trouble believing that I did, indeed, attend it (has it been a month already?).       You go over all the numbers (60000 names, 1200 speakers etc.), you scan through the overwhelmingly long list of participants (packed with awe-inspiring names) and you start to feel just like a... kid going to Disneyland for the first time:   Am I really going to attend these talks?   Be in the same room (even if in the very last row... these are just details) with all these... tech and business giants?   Get close to all these inspiring innovators (I know, I know: I start to sound like a fanatic)?   And last but definitely not least: get to immense myself in this astonishing city?   Of course, once you go through the list over and over again, you use the app day and night and you burst with over-excitement, you gradually... cool down and start doing your homework. To properly prep for meeting all these influencers. For you do want to make the most of your staying there and not waste anyone's time. But before I go on with my list of tips and advice on how to prepare for a Web Summit — whether you're a startup founder or a tech enthusiast — allow me to share with you some glimpses of my actual experience:   1. Got There Pumped Up for the Event and Left Head Over Heels in Love With... Lisbon! For it's simply... breathtaking! Lisbon lures you in to explore it, then it crawls into your heart and... gets stuck to it!  The cosmopolitan city basking in the sun has been the host of “the best technology conference on the planet” for the second year in a row. And this after the conference had spent its “childhood” in Dublin and... well... got a bit... too much for the Irish capital city. And organizers couldn't have picked a better “host”:   the city of Lisbon had the capacity to easily accommodate the heavy influx of participants it took me about 40 minutes to get from the venue to the city centre, by subway I got (thank God!) stable internet connection throughout my staying there there were no discouragingly large crowds gathered around the exhibit stands   2. Attended Talks and Conferences: My Top Favorites For even though some more experienced Web Summit participants might advise you to watch the speeches on YouTube —  and instead, while there, to network like there's no tomorrow (or a next web summit to attend) —  I stuck to my own schedule. It would have been inconceivable for me not to attend the conferences and talks that I was so looking forward to. And here's a short list of the ones that I loved best:   Stephen's Hawking's Talk on Disruptive Technology, on how “Artificial intelligence comes, and this can become both a major success and the main failure of mankind “, that if it's not geared exclusively at SERVING humanity (and not the other way around)   Bryan Johnson's (the CEO of Kernel) Talk on Prioritizing Humanity, above all, and the stringent need for people to learn to adapt to the newly emerging tasks that disruptive technologies assign to them   Margrethe Vestager's, The European Union's Commissioner for Competition, Talk on Fair Play and Tech (filled with self-evident examples of invasive usages of technology and of tech giants engaging in tax invasion)   Dana Settle's (Greycroft) and Jim Breyer's (Breyer Capital) Speech answering the legitimate “Where to Invest in 2018?” question: in core technologies, practical and simple apps, (e.g. virtual, personal health assistants) in AI, machine learning; a talk with a focus on China as the world's second largest AI development center   3. And Now: My Top Pre-Event Preparation Tips and Tricks  Let me switch from what might look like me bragging about my experience at the Lisbon Web Summit 2017, to me sharing some practical tips with you. Some advice on how to properly plan out your attendance and prepare like a pro' for the event:   First of all: start your pre-conference preparations long time in advance (a month before or so)   Next, download the Web Summit app; and this is a true power placed in your hands if you know just to harness its full potential   Then, it's time you do your homework: delve deep into the wide list of participants (luckily you'll find them all right there, listed in the app), scan them through, read bios, do your research work and reach out to them (be perseverant), make connections, schedule meetings   The event's app will be your most reliable ally thanks to its conveniently easy-to-use and time-saving filters: don't be afraid to use them   Rely on keyword search, as well, and put together a list including ONLY those people whom you'd just die to meet and chat with, who inspire you, whose story you're fascinated with, who are most likely to provide you with information that's 100% relevant for your industry    Put together a schedule of meetings, for once you get there... you risk to be swept by the “whirlpool”. It will help you stay focused, stay organized and maximize all your networking opportunities once you're at the summit   In short: there's no easy way to properly prep for the Web Summit 2018; no quick trick or secret recipe to making connections and scheduling meetings so that you land in Lisbon with a solid strategy at hand, that you'll just need to... execute to perfection. It's all about kneeing deep in the discouragingly rich database of participants, running a rigorous selection and reaching out to people.    4. Web Summit 2018: My Advice on How to Make the Most of It So, with your list of contacts plus your schedule of meetings in one pocket and your Web Summit app in the other one you... arrive in Lisbon. Now what? Here are a few tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your next/first web summit attendance:   Schedule all the talks and conferences that you want to attend; in this respect, the recommendation feature and the event calendar —  2 of the app's key features —  make some really powerful tools   Next, remember that people connect more easily outside conference halls and that networking at Web Summit doesn't end at sunset; be ready to attend some of the night events (parties here included!) scheduled for the Night Summit; pub-crawl, interact, make connections while you're having some well-deserved fun, as well, after a full, hectic day   But probably the only really “strict” advice to follow while at the Web Summit is: Be creative! Don't be shy to reach out to people, you'll be surprised to discover that some of them are really willing to share their experiences/expertise (for that's why they go there after all, to network with people passionate about innovation, with disruptive technologies enthusiasts, like you, after all), to create your own networking opportunities And this is my (first) Web Summit experience in a few words and my tips for you if you're planning to hit the 2018's tech conference! Stay tuned! In our next post we'll be sharing with you a tried-and-tested step-by-step guide on how to network like rockstar — as a startup company — at Web Summit 2018! ... Read more
Serge Karpyuk / Dec 06'2017
6 Enterprise Use Cases for Augmented Reality That You, Too, Can Implement 
Long gone are the days when AR and VR used to be associated (strictly) to roller coaster simulations, the gaming industry or true-to-life aerial experiences. Today we can be talking about an ever-wider range of innovative use cases for augmented reality in enterprises.  About a niche technology turning... mainstream and, moreover, going beyond purely entertainment purposes. Moreover, AR's potential for improving performance, boosting efficiency and enriching customer experience has long ceased to be a “privilege” of the top most valuable brands. And since it's ceased to be an “exclusive” technology, why not harness its potential? Why not capitalizing on AR's potential in your own organization, too?   “What specific use case best suits my particular business needs?”   ... you might be wondering.   Here are some of the most interesting current uses of augmented reality in enterprises:   1. Remote Workforce Supercharged With AR Power  Just take this scenario:   You have two teams working on the same project — an in-house one and a remote one — and you get to leverage AR's power to actually immerse your remote team in the project.   … to bring together all your employees, scattered around the globe, in a collaboration enhanced by that strong feeling of “being there” that AR instils. Or you can go for the second scenario: use AR to easily monitor out of location employees. And this feature gains a critical importance if we're considering 3 specific types of employees working “off-site”:   engineers on an oil-rig medical first respondents linesmen on power lines  2. Step-By-Step Guidance Overlaid on Work Areas via AR Displays Another one of those efficiency-boosting (translated into manufacturing error rate cut down by almost 90%) use cases for augmented reality in an enterprise is overlaying instructions. Practically via an AR display the manufacturer — take one manufacturing an aeroplane wing or one assembling an automobile, for instance — gets hyper-explicit guidance overlaid precisely on his work area. With instructions being conveniently visualized, overlaid right on the work area, the employee practically gets step-by-step guidance for carrying out his tasks of high precision with utmost accuracy. Where human error possibility should be whipped out of the process, AR comes to bring out-of-this-world precision into the real world!   3. Using AR Geared at Improving Warehousing and Logistics Efficiency A potential that DHL knew just how to exploit to their benefit: streamlining warehouse pick-and-place operations through the use of smart glasses which are pointing out the shorter routes for the employees to take; and implicitly cutting down the error rate, too. An unbelievable efficiency booster that you, too, can leverage in your organization for cutting down costs on logistics and warehousing resources and reducing human error.   4. Enriching Your Design/Engineering Team's Experience  By their powers combined, AR and VR will help you:   enrich your customers' experiences by bringing design concepts to life; take a scenario where a family planning to renovate one of their bathrooms can walk right in its virtual replica and visualize precisely how it's going to look   enrich your designers'/architects/engineers' experiences: 3D objects/environments represented on two-dimensional screens vs 3D representations in real size; practically engineers/architects/construction workers/designers get to visualize their work in progress and spot the areas that need adjustments with far more accuracy and in a timely manner   It's one of those use cases for augmented reality that will empower you to increase your team's performance and create richer, immersive customer experiences.    5. Real-Time Data Vizualization … at an enterprise level. And this is one of those scenarios where you get to turn AR into a... superpower. Just think about it: Visualizing data in real-time and, moreover, projecting these data visualizations onto different surfaces will not only:   enhance a more in-depth understanding of that specific data   ... but even enable larger groups of managers to collaborate far more effectively and make data-driven decisions based on a shared understanding of that data   And this is one of those augmented reality business use cases that can go as far as projecting board-room-seized 3 D views of your business! There you can get an even more accurate view of your entire data infrastructure, with all its strong and “sore points” to focus your efforts on!   6. Augmented Reality Training: One of The Most Valuable Use Cases for Augmented Reality  Will you join the AR revolution in staff training and professional development? And since nothing beats practical examples, here are some current uses of AR as a powerful training tool:   using AR to quickly empower staff to get a grip on using highly complex equipment, machinery   using AR to enhance the learning of complex concepts   using AR to enhance collaboration during staff training via virtual, true-to-life presentations, field tests etc.   using AR to a supercharge a “learning by doing” type of training, where real-life situations would be too dangerous to (re)create: such as performing surgery or flying a plane   using AR to recreate specific environments/scenarios/reality augmented workplaces in order to improve your employee's “soft skills” (public speaking, dispute resolution, decision making under stress); you even get to tailor your AR training to each team member's profile    To sum up: using AR in training processes helps you “unleash” all that potential of creativity and efficiency otherwise limited by the “conventional” type of trainings. Take AR as far as your imagination takes it and create your own use cases for augmented reality suitable for:   your team(s)' specific needs your organization's specific goals for maximizing your team's potential   Final Thoughts Now guess what: all the above-mentioned use cases for augmented reality are not “lab experiments” or “projects about the far future to come”. They're being implemented, as we speak, in real-life workplaces. AR technology is now commercially available and has become and is continuing to get even more accessible. And its potential for enhancing both the customer and the employee experience is huge. … you just need to “power” it with content — your unique content — and to harness its potential in use cases of augmented reality perfectly suitable for your own organization! ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Dec 05'2017
Drupal 8 Webform Module: How to Add a Webform to a Content Type
You sure didn't expect it to take more than... 2 minutes (3 at most) to add a Drupal 8 Webform to a content type on your website and yet...  What's the “catch”? Is there a "magic" tab that elopes you? Haven't you installed your Webform Drupal module properly? Or maybe it's the UI itself the real culprit for turning what should have been a "ridiculously intuitive operation into a time-consuming (and hair-pulling) one? Let us lend you a hand! Let us help you put an end to your "turmoil". But First: A Few Words About the Webform Drupal Module Surpassed in popularity only by the Views Drupal module, Webform shouldn't miss from your Drupal toolkit. For it makes the most "usable" tool to rely on for building your custom contact forms/user registration forms/surveys. A far more efficient solution than building content types leveraging the Field module or using CCK. Drupal 8 Webform Module ... ships with a whole different code base than that of its “predecessor” and makes an even more powerful, feature-richer form builder enabling you to put together: flexible rich maintainable … webforms on your Drupal 8 website Moreover, its capabilities don't limit to the forms' building and publishing, but extend to: sending confirmation forms and client notifications collecting, storing and downloading form submission data as CSV Your Current Scenario Here's how we see your current “situation” in... 4 steps: First, you installed your Drupal 8 Webform module Then you rushed to add a webform to a content type … so you went to admin/config/content/webform and checked your content type, next you saved your webform settings And then ... you “hit a blank wall”! No clue whatsoever where to go next to attach your webform to your content type... The Solution to How to Add a Webform to a Content Type Now the above screenshot's “transcription”: You navigate to your Content type's edit page: /admin/structure/types/manage/[ContentTypeName] See the “Webform” tab, on the bottom left side of the screen, right under the “Menu Settings” tab? Just go ahead and enable it and your webform will get automatically attached to that specific content type Tada! This is how you add a webform to a content type in Drupal! You just knew it couldn't be anything more complex than a two-minute job, right? How to Embed a Webform Inside a Node Content: 2 Solutions In other words: no matter which way you take it, you'll reach the same “destination”. Here are the 2 methods available to you: you go ahead and put together a custom Panel page for your node; one with the content area incorporating both the “node being viewed” and the custom block displaying your web form you leverage the Webform module's power: simply create your web form via the module's user-friendly UI and then just add your form to your “target” content type Tada... again! The END of our more or less “enlightening” little tutorial on how to add a Drupal 8 Webform to a content type on a Drupal site. Good luck with your... form building! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 30'2017
What Makes Drupal The Most Suitable CMS for Your Content-Heavy Website?
It's overwhelmingly lengthy, it's discouragingly “crowded”... it's your checklist to follow when choosing the right CMS for your content-heavy website! And there's no way around it: you need to check them ALL off, all the must-have features and functionalities included there. For you can't afford to make compromises on security for a boosted performance, for instance. And you sure can't get away with trading high speed for easy authoring, right? Or with accepting anything less than “the very best” editorial experience for the sake of easy-to-customize design, for example. It should be an all-in-one CMS solution!  Well, it looks like Drupal is the only platform to fit the profile: it lives up to your legitimately high standards and is capable to meet your content-packed site's specific needs. Here's why:   1. It's Ideally Flexible & Conveniently Extensible Dare to dream big, for your Drupal site's content infrastructure is built to grow, seamlessly and almost organically, at the same rate as your future plans! For any performance, security, content management-related, or any other heavy-content site/industry-specific functionality that you might need to add... there is a Drupal contributed module! … or there is a team of Drupal developers ready to write custom code for you and build your custom-fit Drupal module from scratch! And here are 2 possible scenarios where you could capitalize on Drupal's impressive flexibility and extensibility:   you need to integrate SalesForce with your website: there isn't just one, but several Drupal modules that you can use for injecting this type of functionality into your website you need to add an Apache Solr to your search bar for indexing results (a critical integration for any large-scale, content-heavy website): Drupal turns this type of integration into a... breeze   Whether it's a blog or a content-packed, high-trafficked website that you own or plan to build: Drupal's conveniently extensible to fit any size, any business needs.   2. It Provides a Both Flexible and Rich Content Authoring Experience Here's another strong reason why Drupal's the right CMS for your content-heavy website: it makes content authoring unexpectedly easy! “Armed” with the WYSIWYG editor — which makes such an easy to use content management and editing interface —  with URLs, taxonomy, custom lists and tags, your editorial team gets to:   craft edit publish perfectly structure   … content on your site. Podcasts, articles, infographics, guides, e-books, case studies... your heavy infrastructure gets ideally easy to manage with Drupal as your site's backbone-CMS.   3. It Ships With Impressive Database Accommodation Capabilities Not only that your Drupal CMS's built to seamlessly accommodate your large and enlarging database, but it ships with organizing and sorting features, as well. Features/functionalities delivered to you in the form of dedicated modules. In other words: setting up your customized, ideally structured, perfectly usable library calls for zero custom code writing when using Drupal as your website's CMS!   4. It's Open Source, Making It a Perfectly Suited CMS for Your Content-Heavy Website Drupal's open source nature opens the door to a whole world of possibilities (free of charge) to you! Just imagine this scenario here:   Your heavy-content website has a huge influx of regular visitors and then...all of a sudden... a big nasty bug attacks! And it's just inevitable when we're talking about a content-rich website, with content being added and updated almost on a daily basis!   What do you do then? You reach out for a patch digging deep into all the free resources put at your disposal by the Drupal community! Just think of all the costs that you'll be cutting off when building your large-scale project with so many modules, site elements specific to your use case and features out there for you to just... “grab” and implement.   5. It Meets The Highest Government Online Security Standards High waves of traffic and a robust content infrastructure do come at a cost: the cost of the highest levels of security. And it's by far the most important point on your checklist to finding the most suitable CMS for your content-heavy website. Drupal's already built a solid reputation around it as the CMS that powers government and high education websites. Need we add more? If it's powering and safeguarding the White House's website from cyber threats, then it must be built with high-security standards mind, don't you agree? Where do you add that, in addition to its robust built-in security features, there's always the worldwide large Drupal community out there to “alert” if something goes bad. A community constantly monitoring Drupal's status at a security level.   6. It's Highly Customizable in Terms of Design  How to design content for heavy websites? The best example in this respect is the Panels module that Drupal puts at your disposal. Harness its power to create layouts perfectly tailored to each specific use case.  How? With drag and drop! Put together the custom layout and then just fill it in with its corresponding content. Hence, you get to personalize each page on your website all while keeping a visual continuity throughout it!   The END! Do you find these 6 reasons strong enough for you to start seeing Drupal as the most suitable CMS for your content-heavy website? What other must-have features (if any) would you add to your checklist?... Read more
RADU SIMILEANU / Nov 23'2017
The 7 Best Drupal 8 Distributions: Why Should You Even Use One in the First Place?
What are Drupal 8 distributions anyway? Why bother using one: what would you gain by using one instead of building your Drupal 8 site from scratch? And, most importantly: which are the best Drupal 8 distributions to choose from? … the top-rated ones, both by other companies already using them and by Drupal experts, as well? There are lots of different Drupal Distributions: Commerce Kickstarter, Open Atrium, Drupal Commerce, etc. build for different versions of Drupal. Which ones are the best? Let's jump straight ahead to the answers you're looking for now, shall we? First Things First: What Is a Drupal Distribution After All? “A Drupal distribution packages a set of contributed and custom modules together with Drupal core to optimize Drupal for a specific use case or industry." (Dries Buytart, Distributions Remain a Growing Opportunity for Drupal) Take it as an all-in-one-place or a conveniently quick and easy-to-install package. One which, once “unwrapped”, delivers you all the site-specific features and business use-case/industry-specific functionality that you need:   Drupal core precisely those contributed and custom modules that you need  themes predefined configuration installation profiles libraries   Bottom line: it's Drupal + additional software components (strategically assembled and preconfigured) that you get with a Drupal distribution software. One that will turn setting up your use-specific Drupal 8 site into a breeze! “How to install a Drupal distribution?” quickly turns from a hard nut to crack into nothing but a child's play. Just imagine how much time and valuable resources you'd otherwise invest in:   scanning through the overwhelmingly rich collection of Drupal modules figuring out which are THE ones catering to your specific use case or industry installing all the needed elements (and here we're not referring to Drupal 8 modules only) one by one   And here we can talk about 2 types of Drupal distributions:   the full-featured ones  the quick-start tools   Key Advantages of Using One Over Building Your Site From The Ground Up Before we push forward, into the spotlight, the best Drupal 8 distributions to choose from, let us outline what you'll gain, precisely, from making this decision:   Using a Drupal distribution over setting up your website from scratch.   launching your website turns into a matter of a few... hours; instead of delving into a load of thousands of modules yourself, the preconfigured site that you get by choosing a software distribution delivers you everything you need in a single download: wrapped up in one installable package!    by comparison, the “traditional” way of setting up your site would grant you access to Drupal core only; any additional functionality needed calls for... additional downloads   maintaining your whole ecosystem of modules and other site components becomes less time-consuming: one single update is enough for all Drupal modules and features (vs “hundreds” of them in a conventional Drupal site build scenario)   And now since selecting the proper Drupal distribution, the one that best suits your specific type of site, your business use case, and industry, is key, let us reveal to you the top-rated ones to consider choosing from:   And Here Are The 7 Best Drupal 8 Distributions 1. Lightning Empower your editorial team and you'll get (even) better content on your Drupal 8 site! With the Lightning Drupal distribution for enterprise, you get to turn crafting, adding, editing, and publishing content into a rich authoring experience! How does it work you say? Practically Lightning's built to "fuel" the editorial experience with these 4 modules' powers combined: Workflow, Media, Layout, and Preview. Hence, content editors get all their feature/functionality needs satisfied for creating great content (and handling content editing operations) with great ease.   2. Varbase The "nitty-gritty" of any Drupal web project! This is what you'll get once you "unwrap" your package with the "Varbase" name tag on! Basically, the essential modules, configurations, features, and functionalities that any Drupal 8 site needs are all bundled up in this starter kit, at a click's distance! Get all these necessities downloaded and installed and give your site's development a major speed boost.   3. Contenta Planning to jump on the decoupled Drupal bandwagon? To progressively decouple your Drupal 8 site maybe? Then Contenta, the API distribution for Drupal 8, makes your best "ally" in turning your decoupling Drupal project into a success story! What it does, precisely, is it eases the overhead of making a decoupled architecture work (or simply “trying it on”, to see first whether it fits you or not):   it provides you with an API-ready platform (admin configuration here included) ... demo content ... and even example front-end applications   4. Reservoir Here's another API-first Drupal distribution, (still) an experimental one, that you can rely on for supporting your Drupal decoupling initiative.  ... if you were looking precisely for a flexible and easy to use tool for building a Drupal content repository that your front-end app could easily access via HTTP APIs. But what makes Reservoir one of the best Drupal 8 distributions?   it takes the burden of modeling and managing content off your shoulders  it enables your team of developers to set up a basic, yet functional content back-end, all while preserving the rich content editing experience (with all the functionality and features that editors get "spoiled" with) that Drupal 8's well famous for    Note: surprised that Contenta and Reservoir have made it to our "best Drupal 8 distributions" list? Don't be! The 2 API-first distributions might still be community-driven experiments. Yet, all the potential they "promise" to unlock in a digital landscape where the channel/device/design-agnostic trend and the API-first approach rule is not to be underestimated.   5. Thunder Out-of-the-box publishing technologies (Riddle Interactive Content, Facebook Instant Articles) and modules from industry partners (Valiton, Nexxt.tv, Acquia) is what you'll get along with your Thunder "package". In short: all you need in an all-in-one the bare necessities and more addressing all your professional publishing needs!   6. LISSA Kickstart A Drupal distribution built to help you streamline your events and client notifications management and publishing process.  What you'll get specifically is a Drupal-based technology stack for real-time messaging in second screen apps. One which, as a media company, you get to leverage for:   pushing notifications to your clients publishing video stream (live or on-demand) ... with convenient ease   7. Open Social By far one of the most popular Drupal distributions, Open Social couldn't have possibly missed from our top including the best Drupal 8 distributions. Go for it if it's a:   social community platform intranet solution portal or any other Drupal-powered social project that you're planning to build   It will dramatically speed up the development process as it provides you, right out-of-the-box, with all the elements that your social community site could need:   Notifications Timeline Events Follow Groups   And this it IT! Our own selection of the very best Drupal 8 distributions to consider as "candidates" for your own specific Drupal project. Select the one that best fits your project's specific use case, then weigh its advantages and... decide how you'll invest the time that you will have saved using it (instead of building your site from scratch). ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 23'2017
WebAssembly Support: Now Rolling Out in Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Edge, Too
“By our powers combined...” Let's imagine the representatives from all major web browsers saying this line when they joined forces, in 2015, for creating a whole new format for compilation to the web. When the WebAssembly support “revolution” began. And there's no one in the digital landscape who can honestly admit that they saw this coming! That after only 2 years all four major web browsers, Firefox, Chrome — the first 2 to enable support for WebAssembly by default — Safari and Edge — that joined the WASM “gang” the past few weeks — would officially run WASM code on the web. How did it all begin? How did we get this far and (most of all): what can we dare to expect from a WebAssembly-influenced future of web?   An Unexpectedly Promising Start Let's start with the “I have a dream...” type of beginning! Work on WebAssembly started in 2015. Its team of engineers' dream (a dream nourished by all other web browsers) was to create a technology/set up a standard (or “format” if you prefer) for rendering application logic as optimized bytecode. … for compiling JavaScript code into WASM format which injects web apps, even the most complex, “bulky” ones, with high performance and increased security. With near-native speed! By the end of 2016 the team of visionaries — the W3C Community Group — had already added the last “strokes of brush” to the new WebAssembly standard's core features. And only 7 months later, Google, Mozilla and Microsoft were already offering enabled WebAssembly support in their browser previews.  A major boost and a positive shake-up for the development team behind it, which no later than March 2017 was already concluding work on the new standard. And a consensus of all major browser vendors on the initial version of WebAssmely version was reached. Then, it simply followed its roadmap and started to stir waves in the digital arena:   “Will WebAssembly mark the end of traditional JavaScript-based apps and the new era of native-app-alike... alternatives?” “Is WebAssembly The “Death” of JavaScript?”   From then on, in the months to come, WebAssembly support started to be shipped along with the newest versions of all the 4 major web browsers.   The WebAssembly Standard: Benefits That You Can Reap And the valid question that you might be asking yourself right now must be:   “And how do I benefit from this new standard? From the WebAssembly support now enabled, by default, in ALL 4 major browsers?”   Here's how:   it will turbocharge your bulky, complex app/modern website with near-native performance (with no need for a plugin); it's proven that the low-level bytecode format that it uses compiles JavaScript code into lighter code: a sustainable use of bandwidth on mobile devices & improved page loading times    it “frees” your development team from “JavaScript's tyranny”, so to say; using WebAssembly as a code compiler they're now “tempted” with a collection of languages to write their code it, wider than ever before... code which they can compile straight to wasm, without the need to transpile it to JavaScript beforehand   the ideally compact WASM format acts as a “turbocharger” which transmits files at high speed over the wire and (most importantly) gets them loaded as JavaScript modules!!!   not only that WASM “was designed from the ground up to be fast” (Jay Phelps, Netflix senior software engineer, said), but also to guarantee you a higher level of protection: the WASM format code is much safer since it executes within the web browser's own security sandbox   bytecode, thanks to its conveniently structured data format, is easier for web browsers to read and parse   What WebAssembly Support in All Browers Means for Developers? As for your development team, as already mentioned, using the WebAssembly code compiler opens the gates to a whole new world of options: C, C+, Rust... With more statically typed language support to come! Moreover, broad Webassembly support at the web browsers' level can only mean that they're free to experiment. Since the great majority of end users now have WASM support automatically enabled in their web browsers of choice.   your team of developers gets to perform their “coding experiments” in a programming language of their choice compile their code to a bytecode format … which then the web browser can execute within a virtual machine!   Safari and Edge: The Last 2 Browsers to Join the “WASM” Gang With Firefox and Chrome as the “early adopters” of the Webassembly standard, it was about time that Apple and Microsoft shipped WebAssembly support in their Safari 11.0, respectively EdgeHTML 16 browser versions, too.  And it's finally a wrap! It's been a few weeks already since all 4 major web browsers are officially capable to run WASM-formated code.   What Next? WebAssembly In the Foreseeable Feature  In other words: what does using the WebAssembly code compiler at its full potential mean?  It's designed to make it possible for any kind of app (the largest ones, with a high demand of CPU, being the main target) to run on the web reaching the same performance as if it would if it was running locally, on the end user's PC. As if it was a native app.   What do you think? Will WebAssembly mark the “birth” of a new kind of native-like apps running on the web instead?  … and developers' “liberation” from the preconception of a “universal language”?   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 21'2017
GraphQL on Drupal 8: Inject High Performance Into Your Drupal Decoupled App
Data, database, data fetching, data requests, data retrieving, data receiving... all modern web apps — fully or progressively decoupled front-end applications — have an insatiable “appetite” for data. And satisfying this particular “hunger”, with no compromise on performance, is the “mission” that GraphQL on Drupal 8 — the module —  has been invested with. Retrieving the requested data with as little time and resources used on round trips to the server as possible. With no under- or over-fetching, with no need for versioning. In short: the module “exploits” all the limitations that the Restful approach started to show in addressing well-known data issues; it came out as a result of Dries Buytaert's advice and forecast on advancing Drupal's web services. But let's not beat around the bush anymore and dive right in:   GraphQL This... GraphQL That... But What Is GraphQL After All? It's Facebook's patented technology created in 2015.   And app layer query language designed to revolutionize the way data gets retrieved, interpreted and formatted: all these processes take place based on a GraphQL schema!   Approaching the data in terms of graphs and exposing those graphs in a schema guarantees that the caller's data request is identically structured as the delivered answer. Not to mention that the same caller gets to formulate his data requests more explicitly and specifically thanks to GraphQL. No wonder that front-end Drupal developers have started to perceive it as a powerful rival to REST! To the standard REST approach to retrieving data in apps built with headless Drupal 8. In this respect, let's briefly recap just some of its “luring” features:   it perfectly matches the data request's structure with that of the delivered response  it queries the requested data based on s self-documented, automatically generated data exposure schema   GraphQL & Drupal: A Duo Powering The Future of Decoupled Drupal Take GraphQL as the intermediary used in decoupled Drupal projects between the JavaScript front-end and the Drupal back-end. The one invested with the role of smoothing and streamlining the interaction of the decoupled front-end with the Drupal data source. A role that used to be played, in all Drupal decoupled apps, exclusively by the RESTful web services, remarkably well developed in Drupal 8. Till the traditionally used REST architecture started to prove its failure in addressing data access issues. And GraphQL on Drupal 8, the dedicated GraphQL module, started being built. The improved overall performance, that this new approach to retrieving data promises, derives from:   GraphQL's way of retrieving data based on a schema its entire system of types and fields    … which guarantees predictable responses only (the client-side apps are enabled to request for specific data) and, implicitly: no round trips and no extraneous data. A responsible use of server resources. Moreover, in case of complex, hierarchical data, not only that the caller gets to shape a “straight to the point” request, but it gets to ask for all the needed data on the same query! An efficient use of server power especially when your decoupled Drupal app's front-end requests loads of data in a context of slow mobile internet connection.   GraphQL on Drupal 8: Your Data Graph Conveniently Exposed in a GraphQL Schema   And then... the GraphQL module was born! Not yet part of the Drupal core, but powerful enough to allow front-end Drupal developers to use it to its full potential in their decoupled Drupal projects. The main “mission” that its maintainer, Sebastian Siemssen, invested it with was: to turn Drupal into a GraphQL-powered data hub for decoupled front-end apps, by implementing a schema. A GraphQL schema exposing the available field types and entity. Practically via TypedData API your Drupal 8 site's data graph becomes more “readable” for the GraphQL library.  This way, the client-side app gets to request for more than specific data/field values and to receive precisely the required info. And this streamlined data fetching process with GraphQL on Drupal 8 can only lead to zero bloated responses. There's more!  We can't be talking about “a” module, but a whole ecosystem of submodules that you can read more about on Drupal GraphQL Github:   GraphQL Content  Entity Reference Breadcrumbs Boolean Content Mutation Link Image Menu File Block Views   Have you already harnessed the full potential of GraphQL on Drupal 8 to fuel your web apps with? If not, why hesitate? Why do you still think it might not be a robust enough alternative to the traditional REST approach to data fetching? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 17'2017
AI Expo North America: Can't-Miss Sessions to Add to Your Event Schedule
Be there or... be left behind! This is how your invitation to the AI Expo North America should sound like. It's the world's largest exhibition of next generation AI technologies and conference on artificial intelligence strategies to implement at an enterprise level. With 4 major AI conferences, sessions covering topics that range from:   enterprise AI apps to big data to analytics to virtual assistants to AI development And speakers from companies such as Google, Paypal, Uber, LinkedInb, AirBnB, Kia Motors... the AI-dedicated event in Santa Clara turns into disruptive technologies enthusiasts' and forward-thinking entrepreneurs' global gathering.   AI Expo Santa Clara: Why Attend? What to Expect? To answer your first legitimate question:   “Because all the market leaders and forward-thinking brands will be there to reveal to you, in case study-based sessions, how to (and which) implement AI techniques across your organization; how to use AI to market more intelligently and to fuel brand loyalty."   Now to give you a more convincing numbers-heavy type of answer: for its 4 AI conference tracks, its 30+ industry-leading speakers and its no less than 300+ exhibitors. And you should definitely attend it for all the mind-blowing exhibitions of the newest AI technologies that will be showcased at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Look out for:   the Iot Tech Expo the Blockchain Expo   What to expect, you say? Expect debates sparking around the advancements in the artificial intelligence sector and their impacts on the enterprise & and consumer sectors. Expect a global gathering of AI evangelists, start-ups and leaders from key industries ready to share with you their AI-centered success stories and, implicitly, some of their revolutionary AI-focused strategies.   AI Expo North America: AI in the Enterprise & AI for Developers (Nov. 29) On the first day of the AI Conference in Santa Clara you'll be given priceless advice on how to harness artificial intelligence's full potential across your organization. Along with information on the impact that AI will have on your workforce. And we're talking here about:   the applicability of AI strategies from an entrepreneur's, a business executive's perspective (the AI in the Enterprise conference tracks) implementing AI technologies from a developer's standpoint (the AI for Developers conference tracks)   Now if we made a must-attend sessions list, it would have to include the following talks:   AI-Powered Business intelligence: where you'll be learning how to build an AI-first strategy, discovering how capitalizing AI grants you new business value and why you should support your decision-making process on business intelligence analysis   Big Data: Creating Intelligent Data Models, with prominent speakers from PayPal, Tractica, Ancestry, LinkedIn and Airbnb   The Application of Deep Learning Within an Enterprise: discover how some of the world's most valuable brands are capitalizing machine learning within their companies   Connecting Deep Learning With the Internet of Things and Blockchain: learn all about AI technologies' impact on the financial sector and the overall tech system itself; find out why you should and when it's the perfect time to make the move from predictive analytics to deep learning (a session presented by the Vice President of product and strategy, machine learning and AI at BNY Mellon)   …. and our selection of must-see sessions at the AI Expo North America could go on with those covering topics such as next-generation cybersecurity and legal advice for avoiding big data discrimination.   AI Expo North America: AI in Consumer & Digital Transformation (Nov. 30) “Customer”, “AI-powered customer experience”, “hyper-personalization”, “predictive customer intelligence” will be the words on all speakers' lips on day 2. A day broken down into 2 major conference tracks:   AI in Consumer and Digital Transformation  Bot and Virtual Assistant Development    And we've striven to pick (not an easy task!) the sessions we would add to our own event schedule as a web development team from Toronto attending it:   the Geeta Wilson's (Humana) keynote on leveraging AI in digital transformation the panel on chatbots, presented by speakers from TGI Friday's, AIMA, MoneyGram and Foursquare the talk about the role of AI/ML in e-commerce, held by Wayfair’s Associate Director of Data Science the panel on taking customer experience to a whole new level through the use of the latest AI tools    Bottom Line  Expect a two-day marathon of:   attending inspiring case study-based sessions one where you'll strive to take a close look at all the exhibits struggle to assimilate as much insightful content as you can ...and to just... be there, joining the AI revolution, right from the center (at least for 2 days) of the world of artificial intelligence   No chance to get bored at the AI conference in Santa Clara, nor chance to leave “empty handed”! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 16'2017
Intelligent Content: A Device & Design-Agnostic Approach to Content
Create content for your customer FAQs... content for your website... next for your website's blog, as well... produce user-engaging content to upload on all social media channels... then go ahead and produce sopy for your flyers... A bit overwhelmed? Well, it's just getting started! Now you have to make sure your content gets delivered across “101” types of devices, as well. So, how about trying to create intelligent content instead? How about... stepping into the future of content?  A future where technology (e.g. AR) compliments and boosts human efforts of coping with the ever-growing content demands that an organization must meet:   create and then deploy custom content across a plethora of channels (voice assistants, chatbots and other newly emerged technologies here included) deliver it (at the perfect time) across a myriad of devices (tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, desktop computers...) … to multiple audiences   But let us delve into details about:   what intelligent content is what type of content “qualifies” for being made more... intelligent whether intelligent content marketing is suitable for your organization's specific content demands why you should bother at all, what are the clear benefits you should expect to reap where to start; what steps to take for setting up your own intelligent content strategy?   1. Intelligent Content: What Is It? Just Another Fancy Marketing Catchword? Or better said: what makes it “intelligent”? Let us give you some “clues”:   it results from an efficient use of the latest “wonders” of technology, human capabilities and content handling processes   it's ideally structured to enable retrieval and re-usage   it's content viewed as a business asset and managed as such   it's a modular approach to content: multiple fragments that you get to put together, adapting the result to any targeted device/channel's format (and specific audience) constraints   it's content customized at multiple levels: the user's, the channel's, the device's level    A term coined by Ann Rockley, intelligence content is basically a scientific-like approach to content creation, management and delivery:   “Intelligent content combines the wonders of technology with human capability in a way that powerfully supports an organization’s goals.“ (What Is Intelligent Content) And it's a two-way approach to content:   creating the design-agnostic content itself and breaking it into component parts, that you then structure by adding metadata tags; tags which will enable you to put them (the content fragments) together in an assembly-line style depending on the channels that you'll deploy them on and on the audiences (and devices) who'll be “consuming” your content   adopting a whole new mindset where you approach content as “genetically” structural; as soon as you start to “view” it as being modular, mixing and matching its components to suit a specific audience, a specific channel or device will come naturally to you...   In short: content with device & design-agnostic structure turns into an ideally versatile type of content in today's multi-channel, multi-device digital marketing landscape. Adopting this approach to the content that you produce will only grant you content that's:   neatly structured (via semantic tags) and consistently organized reusable highly adaptable and customizable easily reconfigurable semantically structured and, therefore, “semantically aware” (easily “identifiable”, where modern technologies, including AR and machine learning, can easily “identify” what the content is about) free from constant “touch-ups” at every instance of use delivered via a far more streamlined publishing process (since it's no longer formats-constrained)   2. What Type of Content “Qualifies” for Being Turned into Intelligent Content? Any type of content, any content contexts or scenarios!  From costumer-support content to marketing content, to technical documentation, to content delivered across multiple devices and multiple audiences, to content specific to different products etc. It can all be turned into intelligent content! Both producing it, delivering it and monitoring its performance the “standard way” (how many hours does your team spend, each week, tracking down data in Google Analytics?) is time and budget-consuming. Now imagine a world where all these content processes, ranging from scheduling the monthly blog post topics, to scheduling social shares, to setting up your content strategy and so on would be handled automatically? By a machine? Then, from (just) an overly complex content strategy it will turn into an efficient, intelligent content strategy. Moreover, you'd be actually future-proofing your content, too! Structuring it as a series of component parts will make it easier to be deployed even across channels that haven't yet emerged into the digital marketing world.   3. Does It Suit Your Company's Specific Content Creation & Delivery Needs? It depends greatly on your load of content.  If it's a 40-pages Drupal site that we're talking about, carrying highly crafted content only, that doesn't require frequent updating, then the investment isn't worth it. In other words: if your content demands within your organization are more than “reasonable”, we consider that structuring your content beyond its basic HTML structure isn't justified. But if we're talking about:   a content-packed website content that needs to be constantly updated content that needs to be translated into multiple languages, sent to multiple audiences, adapted to each product line (along with the challenge of multiple audiences per product line)   … then you should definitely jump on the intelligent content “trend” and streamline your entire content workflow   4. Top Benefits of Moving to Intelligent Content Although we've already outlined a couple of the high impact advantages of moving to a more intelligent content marketing strategy, allow us to enlist them all:   it cuts down costs (content production, reviewing, monitoring costs, even translation costs)   it improves and guarantees quality and consistency across the website and across your whole ecosystem of channels to be deployed on   it adapts to any channel's particularities and constrains and it can be customized to those channel-specific audiences with minimal tweaking or close to zero intervention of your marketing team   it helps you deliver the right piece of content, to its target audience, in precisely the right format across that particular channel, on that specific device and at the right time of their customer journeys   Cutting down costs + providing the best user experience + future-proofing your content! Thes are the 3 key benefits that should weigh heavily in your decision-making process: to move or not to move to intelligent content?   5. Where Do You Start Developing Your Intelligent Content Strategy? OK, so you've decided to make content on your website “more intelligent” and, therefore, to adopt an intelligent content marketing strategy. What now?  Here are the steps you could take for a great start:   adopt a new mindset: start viewing intelligent content as part of your whole content marketing strategy   run a small-scale test (targeting just the upper levels in your organization's hierarchy for a start)   identify your organization's “sore points” and business requirements   focus on a small project for now and create a content model   put all the needed tools and technologies in place (authoring tools, XML, content management systems etc.)   consider going for headless Drupal or a single CMS   Once all the preparations are made, switch to more in-depth steps in defining and implementing your new content strategy : get your content broken into multiple component parts, the very first “transformation” phase required for it to be turned into intelligent content   remove all content formatting and add metadata tagging; this way, you'll make it discoverable, reusable, adaptable and keep adding on all the other features ending in “-able”) that set the difference between (just) content and intelligent content    move one step at a time; implementing an intelligent content strategy can be an overkill for your website if you're getting impatient and “greedy” and rush things   make changes at the content processes and the organization's level (for instance appointing a team to have a look at each piece of content before it goes live)   Note: producing intelligent content means so much more than just appropriately structuring it and making it “semantically aware”. It also means anticipating and understanding the final form it will take. Once you visualize this, you'll know which component parts to select and to mix and match assembling them in the desired final form (while using the same source content, of course). The END! Your immersion into the future of content (soon to become “present”) ends here! What do you think: does intelligent content stand any chance to become the new standard for delivering content in a multi-channel, multi-device digital marketing landscape or not? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 14'2017