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

Look Forward to It: Magento PWA Studio Coming... Soon!
Magento's about to step into... the third dimension of e-commerce!  As you well know, the other 2 are:   responsive e-commerce websites native apps   And the e-commerce giant is about to make its glorious entrance by launching its Magento PWA Studio! A suite of tools designed to empower developers to... develop (obviously!) online stores as progressive web apps.  That Magento has jumped on this trend is really no surprise at all. But the suite of tools that it's now developing is, for sure, a source of ongoing assumptions, skeptic feedback and expectations.  Here's what we know for sure, right from their post on Magento turning into a progressive web application platform:   that these tools are aimed to turn into “learning tools” for future Magento PWA developers  that they're designed to enable them to build blazing-fast PWA front-ends for their e-commerce Magento stores that it's a “toolset” which will help them build PWA components and extensions to be reused or even sold on the Magento Marketplace   But before we get into this, before we shed some more light onto Magento's new “baby” (that they're developing in collaboration with Google) we should answer the next question:   What's a PWA? “The “eraser” of all clear-cut differences between the mobile web and native apps”.  Now, in order to give PWAs a less... metaphoric definition, how about “dissecting” the term itself, “progressive web app”, starting from the back:   it's an app (not an applet!): since it installs and runs its code on the customer's own device (PCs here included)   it's a “web” app: an obvious advantage over native apps, since it's not closely “dependent” on one specific platform and on its specific language; it uses “plain” web languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript    it's “progressive”: meaning that it progressively loads assets and data as the user scrolls down a specific page in the store or goes from one page to another; so, there's no need for those “surfed” pages to reload, since changes and transitioning happen... gradually   Summing up, progressive web apps:   look like native apps (delivering the same app-like and lightning-fast digital shopping experiences) behave like responsive mobile websites, since they run in browsers and are written in standard web languages and yet... they're neither native apps nor JavaScript one-page apps   They're... progressive web apps (a no-brainer conclusion, no doubt about it). And it's those type of digital shopping experiences of the future that the Magento PAW Studio's tools will help developers create.   Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps  It's a fact: native apps “rule” in terms of conversion rates and in terms of provided shopping digital experiences. The mobile web stands no chance to compete with that!  Yet, developing native apps does come with its inconveniences for players in the e-commerce arena (especially for small and medium-sized business):   they're expensive to develop potential shoppers only download and install the apps of those specific brands that they interact with most frequently   And here's how PWAs “dare” to challenge native apps' long-time supremacy:   they're more cost-effective to build since they're developed on open standards (and even so more now, with the Magento PWA Studio soon to be available) they're equally fast they run their code right in the mobile web browser, there's no longer a need for a separate installation   Progressive Web Apps vs Responsive Mobile Sites In short: how are any better (for both online store owners and their customers) than traditional responsive websites? Here's how/why:   they leverage open source technology they rely on the new API's, Service Workers, integrated now into web browsers, which allow JavaScript to run in the background: boosted speed + improved usability   And, deriving from this tiny “detail”, there's a plethora of features that make them a huge leap forward into the future of e-commerce. We've pointed out the most significant ones in this post here on PWA's and how they can benefit your business.   What Does The Magento PWA Studio Include So Far? Now that we've defined PWAs and that we've compared them to the other 2 online shopping channels, let's focus more on Magento's plan to turn into a progressive web app platform. In this respect, here's what this suite of tools includes for now:   application shell: a basic PHTML file, created in the early phase of the project, standing for the basis for the HTML responses (coming from all routes) API layer: working on a new style of API and on new API methods, that could provide lighter, more customized responses (compared to those of the REST designs) application framework: the resulting PWA will be interacting with the “headless” Magento store via API calls    Yet, from all the information that the Magento team shared on their blog, the one with the greatest impact has been that: it's React apps that developers will get to build using the Magento PAW Studio. It's React-powered front-ends that these apps will have. A great news indeed, for all front-end developers out there, since there's no point denying that React's riding huge waves of popularity these days. No wonder that the Drupal core committer team, too, is considering to use React JS for building their own administrative user interfaces.   What's In It for You, The Magento Store Owner? Ok, so we've pointed out how much more enjoyable Magento developers' work is going to be, that they'll be enabled to get their Magento PWAs up and running in no time, but... what about you, the business owner? Let us point out some key PWA features that easily translate into benefits for you:   PWAs are SEO-friendly: thanks to their JavaScript architecture PWAs are easy to crawl through (by search engines' bots); also, they're lightning-fast, which makes them SEO-optimized right from the start    PWAs run on desktop browsers, as well: that's right, they're not restricted to the mobile web since Service Workers run on desktop browsers, too   PWAs will run on Safari, as well: Apple's planning to “do the necessary” so that PWAs can run on Apple devices, as well, in the near future.   The END! For now, at least, since the Magento WAP Studio is still under development, tests are being run, developers' feedback is being collected and closely analyzed. Are you looking forward to it? What's your opinion on progressive web apps shaping the future of e-commerce? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 12'2017
Why Should My Company Use Hadoop Over Its Current Data Warehouse?
Or simply put: “What can Hadoop possibly do that my data warehouse can't already?” A predictable and legitimate question following the “Why should my company use Hadoop after all?”. Our today's post is not aimed at convincing you that you should, indeed, replace your current data warehousing solution and move your data over to a Hadoop platform. That would just point out the“why it's best to go with Hadoop”. Instead, we're ready to answer your specific question: “Why should my company use Hadoop as a data storing and data processing solution?” We'll be:   presenting you with specific use cases when Hadoop is, indeed, the best option outlining key advantages of using Hadoop over the traditional data warehousing    When Should You Consider Replacing Your Data Warehouse With Hadoop? One of the most popular sayings here, at our Toronto web design company, is: “if it ain't broken why fix it?”. Therefore, let us point out to you just 2 specific situations where you should consider a massive data migration to Hadoop as your best option:   you're dealing with a huge amount of data  you need built-in capabilities for processing raw and semi-structured data... in a scalable way, of course   Does any of these contexts ring a bell to you? If so, you're better off with Hadoop.   "Why Should My Company Use Hadoop?" 7 Advantages Over Traditional Data Warehousing  For it all comes down to the benefits that your company will gain from such a transition. In this respect, we've put together a list of 7 key reasons why Hadoop is a great asset for your company. Analyze them, weight them, compare them to the benefits that you're currently “reaping” from using your current enterprise solution and... do the math yourself:   1. It's Cost Effective: it's free actually No, no, we're not trying to brush under the carpet costs such as:   staff training investments that you should consider  commodity hardware costs to take into account for storing impossibly large sets of data    And yet, they are insignificant compared to the costs that legacy commercial vendors products' come along with:   annual support offered by the data warehouse's vendor (compared to Hadoop's open source support) perpetual licenses significant costs that each scaling process would call for (no wonder that companies used to get rid of loads of raw data since scaling their data warehouses to accommodate it all was cost prohibitive)   2. It's (so much) Easier to Use: skip formatting and “exploit” your data from day one Here's an answer, which makes a strong argument itself, to your “Why should my company use Hadoop over my current data storage solution?” Its ease of use feature will come as a major surprise to you once you've gone through a:   changing formats complex preprocessing establishing data models   … type of experience with your current enterprise solution. An entire “ordeal” to go through just to be able to finally leverage your own data! With Hadoop it's just a “feed the data” process! That's all! No preliminary steps to take. And where do you add that you get to use all your familiar tools, languages and even to test the newest methods for getting the most value out of our data!   3. It's Flexible: it can capture data from a plethora of data sources And this is gold when you have an entire ecosystem of data sources ready to deliver you data if you just have the right tool to... tap into! Hadoop's perfectly suited for the job: it will access and extract data and provide you with valuable insights from sources ranging from:   social media email conversations   … and lots of other “repositories” of both structured and unstructured data. It will go and get this heterogeneous load of data to you. Data that will then fuel your marketing campaigns, your fraud detection initiatives, your log processing actions etc. Do giants such Marks & Spencer and Yahoo and their own use cases of Hadoop make convincing enough answers to your “Why should my company use Hadoop?” question? They're using Hadoop to:   play the “personalization” card right put together cross-functional teams (IT, marketing, e-commerce, finance...) thanks to Hadoop's capability to seamlessly process all types of data gain a better understanding of their customers (this is where Predictive analytics comes into play)    And this is what extracting value from your own data, that's just sitting there, waiting to be leveraged, really means.   4. It's Open Source Technology: bugs and feature development handled by multiple companies Just try to compare bug fixing and new features development being handled by a single company (your commercial license vendor) to the same processes being carried out by hundreds of companies! In other words: when choosing Hadoop as your data storage platform there's an entire community of contributing companies offering you support and continuously improving the platform.   5. It's Built With High Scalability in Mind: keep on adding more and more data clusters How easily (or “costly”) is it to scale your current data warehouse to accommodate your increasing amounts of data? Hadoop scales... organically, using low-cost hardware as a unique resource! Here's how it works:    as you add new and new heavy nodes (clustering thousands of terabytes of data) Hadoop manages to seamlessly accommodate it all  … and to distribute it across hundreds of inexpensive servers that run in parallel   Scalability is, undoubtedly, one of Hadoop's “five-star” features, the one that traditional relational database systems (RDBMS) can't possibly compete with!    6. It's Fast: data processing at high speed When you're questioning yourself “Why should my company use Hadoop instead of sticking to its current data warehousing solution?”, you might be thinking, in fact: “How much faster than my current data warehouse can Hadoop process data?” A lot faster! And this is exclusively thanks to its unique data storage method: the data mapping & the data processing happen on the same server where data is stored. This way mapping and processing massive volumes of unstructured data is no challenge for Hadoop at all: it will map it no matter where it might be located in a cluster. And so processing it (we're talking about petabytes of data here) turns into a matter of hours!   7. It's Equipped to Handle Fails Remarkably: say Hello to automatic data replication! You can run, but there's no way of hiding/completely avoiding cluster fails! But luckily Hadoop provides you with a great “safety net” type of capability: it automatically replicates data for you, sending it to other nodes. So, when faults happen (and they will), you can stay reassured: Hadoop will always have copies of your data ready to be passed on to other, non-compromised locations of your data infrastructure.   Final Thoughts Or “recommendations” if you prefer:   if it's small data that your company's “piled up” so far, if there are small files that you need to store and leverage, don't go for Hadoop if you don't really need to access and to process your unstructured or semi-structured data, there's no real need to use Hadoop   Now getting back to the initial question, “Why should my company use Hadoop over its current data warehouse?”, our answer is: “Because Hadoop is built and being constantly enhanced with impossibly large amounts of data in mind!" ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 11'2017
Using React JS for Drupal's Administrative UIs: What to Expect?
He proposed it: “... make some of Drupal's own administrative UIs more powerful and easier to use, I proposed that we add a modern JavaScript to core.” (Dries Buytaert's keynote presentation, DrupalCon Vienna) ... and stirred waves of enthusiasm, of unveiled skepticism and never-ending debates. What would using React JS for Drupal's administrative UIs mean for you? You, the site builder. You, the content creator? And this is precisely what we'll try to answer in this blog post as we'll be:   presenting you the context: why is integrating a JavaScript framework right into Drupal core even needed? pointing our Drupal's long way to becoming “ JS ready” highlighting the reasons why React's most likely to win this “popularity contest” over other JS technologies highlighting the challenges to expect and to plan out for (to overcome) if React is, indeed, the “chosen one” outlining the clear benefits that YOU will get if a JavaScript framework, more precisely if React does get integrated into Drupal core   3 Inconveniences for Currently Not Having a JavaScript Framework in Drupal Core While headless Drupal 8 has proven to be a powerful content repository for front-end apps, not having a JS framework integrated into its very core has been the cause of certain … limitations:   it kept putting off addressing well-known editorial and site-building UX issues it made it almost impossible to help Drupal core contributors realize how they could leverage certain JavaScript approaches and advanced practices; how they could transpose them into new modules and new Drupal features it has been a break on assimilating more JavaScript experts and JS expertise into the Drupal community    From Improving Its Web Services APIs to Being Ready for Integrating a JS Framework in Core You're closer than ever, as a site builder/content creator, to using React JS for Drupal's administrative UIs. Yet, this didn't happen overnight: first Dries Buytaert (Drupal CMS's founder himself) and his team decided to stabilize Drupal's web services APIs then to step up their efforts even more for improving them and it's just now that they've decided that Drupal's finally matured and 100% ready for this major integration    Meanwhile, Drupal users have done wonders leveraging Drupal 8's web services APIs:   front-end apps have been built alongside Drupal, which has been backing them up as their content repository … and modern, JavaScript frameworks have been used for powering these apps' front-ends, with no restriction, whatsoever, on the particular JS technologies that web developers chose to use   Now having passed the “decoupled architecture test” and having managed to adapt itself to all JavaScript frameworks used as front-ends, Drupal's ready to...  level up! To incorporate a JavaScript framework in its core. And, implicitly, it's time for the Drupal community, as well, to commit to a unique framework that will be used for its administrative front-end.   Why React JS? We'll start by answering the “Why React JS over Angular or Ember?” question: “Because of its component-based nature.” And there's a growing “trend” among web developers to create user interfaces by putting together reusable component libraries. Luckily, React makes it easy to build self-contained components and to simply “assemble” them in big-sized apps. Therefore, the other 2 JS frameworks (focused on MV* specific workflows instead), are off the table. And now, let's list other reasons for using React JS for Drupal's administrate UIs:   it's backed up and constantly updated with new libraries, new tutorials etc. by a worldwide, active community of developers   it powers large-scale web projects such as Facebook, Airbnb, WordPress, The New York Times    it's this community itself that bundled up an ecosystem of no less than 16.000 libraries around it   its different approach to virtual DOM (Document Object Model): it “detects” precisely those virtual DOM objects that need to be updated and it's strictly those parts of the real DOM that it updates (instead of updating the entire DOM tree); a major performance boost indeed   it poses no problems working with it thanks to its rather straightforward programming approach   it “plays well” with all the other JS frameworks   licensing issues reported in the past have been resolved   it's widely used by the JavaScript developers    Expected Challenges of Working With React JS For there are challenges that the Drupal's main contributors are planning out for when it comes to using React JS for Drupal's core. And so should you:   modularity, itself, will turn out to be a major challenge to plan out for Drupal will need to “keep up with” React's much more alert release cycle  Drupal theming for decoupled UIs will never be the same again: React's approach will prevail   Using React JS for Drupal's Administrative Interfaces: What's in It for You? For adopting a JS framework for Drupal's own administrative UIs (and React seems to be the winning “competitor), does translate into key benefits for you, as well:   whether you're a Drupal site builder or a content creator, using Drupal will get much easier (talking about addressing its old UX issues right?) in a reversible, incremental way   building modern UIs will get a lot more streamlined when you have a modern, JS toolbox right at hand... in Drupal core!   a JavaScript framework would automatically speed up (“app-like speed”) content modeling, configuration tools, content listing   if you're a Drupal developer, you can stay reassured that your Drupal expertise will stay relevant in a JavaScript technologies-centered web   ... that, your future React-focused sills will be future-proofed (thanks to this JS technology's high popularity among web developers)   What do you think? Do you find adding a JavaScript framework to Drupal core a good idea or not? And what about using React JS for Drupal? Would you have gone for another JS technology instead if you could have chosen the one to power your administrative UIs from now on? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 09'2017
Why Mule ESB? Why Switch to It  from Your Current Point-to-Point Integration System? 5 Reasons
Is your enterprise “ecosystem” of apps, systems, and IT components getting overwhelmingly complex? Is managing it and leveraging it getting increasingly challenging? Then it's a fact: you need to get them organized in a more effective infrastructure. One that should bridge them all together and enable a continuous flow of data across the whole structure. You need to move away from the traditional point-to-point integration system and go for an ESB instead. "But why Mule ESB?" A more than valid question. Here are 5 top reasons why it stands out from all the other ESB products. Why you should consider using it as your future integration platform:   But First: What Is an ESB More Precisely? Take it as a set of principles rather than as a software on its own. A set of “rules” for building out your bus-like infrastructure where your disparate systems:   get bridged together exchange data via the communication bus that this ESB system provides; and it's a two-way communication process that takes place: the systems share data among them and they all communicate with the bus individually, as well are independent of one another   And it's this very last feature that what makes the ESB architecture such a big “leap” ahead from the traditional point-to-point integration system. But how does this type of bus-like infrastructure for organizing your apps and systems benefit you precisely:   it speeds up marketing your new initiatives it enhances productivity, translated into more apps developed within your organization it allows you to leverage your existing systems during app development thanks to all the pre-built communication and transformation capabilities   Why Move Away From a Traditional Point-to-Point Integration? Because in a point-to-point integration system your apps are tightly dependent on one another. And this “dependency relation” does interfere with the very principle of organizational agility, doesn't it?   What Is Mule ESB? What Sets It Apart from Other ESB Products? To answer your first question: Mule Soft is a lightweight, highly scalable Java-based service bus (or integration platform, if you prefer) which:   enables developers to connect a whole ecosystem of Saas, on-premises apps and disparate systems quick and easy … and to enhance communication between them, a continuous data flow alongside the infrastructure   “And what makes Mule as an ESB stand out from the crowd of other ESB products?”   Let's point out those key features that set Mule ESB apart from the its “competitors: it's, in fact, a component part of a larger structure of API design management capabilities it comes with a pre-built library of templates … and with out-of-the-box connectors enhancing the reusability of components (and this is big)  it comes with built-in agile software development methods and multiple toolchains boosting your developers' productivity   Why Mule ESB? Top 5 Reasons to Consider Using It as Your App Integration Technology 1. It Scales Effectively, Both Up and Down  And this key feature translates into unlimited freedom for your teams to bridge together as many apps and systems as needed. Mule ESB will scale to efficiently incorporate them all! In addition to being effectively scalable, Mule ESB's ideally embeddable, as well:   you can embed it into a single app, directly or you can plug it into your app server (JBoss, WAS, Tomcat) instead and even into a JUnit test case (for yes, it does come with built-in JUnit support, as well)   2. It Perfectly Integrates All Components, Irrespective of the Technology Used And this is a strong argument to consider when you're asking yourself: “Why Mule ESB over another ESB product?” It's definitely not a restrictive or “picky” ESB: it will incorporate all the existing systems regardless of the technologies that they might be running on: Web Services, JMS, HTTP, JDBC, you name it.  … from a “POJO” to a component coming from a different framework! Moreover, not only that it integrates them all under its “umbrella”, but it enhances communication across this infrastructure of various apps and multiple systems. It allows data flows between the bridged apps within your organization and across the web.   3. It's Highly Accessible, Supporting a Wide Variety of Code Languages And this is great news for your Java developers!  Since it:   comes with a set of widely used tools (Maven, Eclipse, Spring, JUnit) that your team's already familiar with uses an XML transformation language for presenting logic layers supports multiple code languages: JavaScript, Ruby, Java, Python...   In short: your development team will face no problems writing custom code.   4. It  Enables You to Reuse Your Components Here's another reason that makes a great answer, alone, to your “Why Mule ESB?” question! Unlike other integration platforms out there, this one enables reusability! Your team's empowered to reuse your infrastructure's components. Therefore, it enables them to run the existing ones since it doesn't call for Mule-specific code.   5. It's Ideally Lightweight Mule ESB does, indeed, stand out from a “weight” point of view. Moreover, thanks to its modular design you get to make it even lighter by removing all the modules that you won't use. While thanks to its configuration model you get to easily add, re-order and upgrade functionality sparing the time you'd otherwise invest in implementing changes to your existing integrations instead.   And this is THE list! The one including 5 key reasons why Mule ESB could make a great choice when you consider using an integration platform within your company. Are there any other ESB products competing with it for your appreciation? Are these 5 reasons not convincing enough or have you already identified possible drawbacks balancing them? Do share your thoughts! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 05'2017
Is Shopify the Best Option for Your eCommerce Website? How Do You Know? 6 Pros and Cons
To Shopify or not to Shopify? And why shouldn't you? It's an all-in-one, turn-key shopping cart solution after all: it takes care of all there's needed for your store to run smoothly, while you get to focus on those details that will make it stand out from the crowd. Yet, convenience does come with a cost (or several of them): a customization cost, the cost of having only basic discount and shipping cost models, per order transaction fees and so on. So is Shopify the best option for your own online store or not? There's only one simple way to answer it: weighing its most tempting pros and its most discouraging cons.  Here are 6 of each that our team at our web design company in Toronto, has selected for you:   6 Reasons for Running Your Online Store on Shopify 1. You Get an Impressive Collection of Great Looking Themes to Choose From And you should, indeed, feel “spoiled” by such a wide collection of themes at your fingertip! Both free and premium. If you're a start-up, stay reassured: your e-commerce website will still look sharp and professional with a free Shopify theme. This way, you can take off the table the costs of hiring a designer when you plan your initial financing. As you grow, as a business, you can always jazz up your store with fancy, visually-arresting upgrades. Note: The time you'd spend looking for a good and “not so expensive” designer you could invest in high-quality photography and other visual assets instead! And the great thing when you start small and plan to grow your e-commerce business organically is that Shopify makes its theme system ideally accessible for designers. It will get easier for the design team that you'll choose, later on, to fine tune your virtual storefront.   2. It Provides Your Store With Security Features and Top Speed, By Default “Is Shopify the best option for me?” When asking yourself this question the security and performance factors should weight heavy in your decision-making process:   you expect your online store to be 100% safe for your customers; it should inspire trust so that they get confident enough to enter their card details you expect it to load fast; online shoppers are remorselessly “stingy” when it comes to the time they'd invest in waiting for a page to load   Well, you hit the nail right on the head with your two-in-one expectation here: Shopify takes off caching, compliance, worrying about hackers etc. off your shoulders. And it lets you focus on running and growing your business instead! Note: Money talks and... gets your back covered! It's no news that Shopify's been investing huge sums in software and security engineering.   3. It's an “All-Features-in-One” E-Commerce Platform Are you quite “greedy” when it comes to the features that you'd want your e-commerce platform to provide you with, right out-of-the-box? No need to be “reasonably demanding”. And no need to look any further than... Shopify. It makes the “Swiss knife” type of shopping cart solution that you need for setting up and running your store, fully fledged, in no time:   it has built-in payment gateways support  its themes are easily customizable it makes implementing Google Analytics effortless it empowers you to add and to remove your products nice and easy   And there's so much more to this bundle of conveniences that Shopify “spoils” you with as soon as you “unwrap” it!   4. You Can Rely on Its Excellent Customer Support Services “Is Shopify the best option for my online store?” should turn into “Is there always a Shopify expert to get my back whenever I'm facing a problem?” Luckily, Shopify's customer service is simply... outstanding! And it's the platform's own users' reviews that support our opinion: there's always an easy to reach Shopify expert ready to help you out... fast. And this aspect gets particularly critical when you're tempted with tons of upgrades which, at some point, risk to guide you towards a dead end. Then you just need to call someone to... save the day!   5. You Get to Leverage Its Pre-Built Marketing Essentials Toolkit So Shopify “spoils” you with outstanding customer service. On the other hand, its built-in digital marketing tools aren't out of the ordinary! Yet, they do make the utterly effective essential kit to meet all your online store's marketing needs:   it makes putting together landing pages easy it's perfectly equipped for SEO: it allows meta descriptions, title tags, it's written in a clean, easy to crawl code it handles issues of critical SEO importance for you by default (sitemap, Search Console, SSL, canonicals etc.)   In a few words: Shopify's marketing “toolbox” is limited to the essentials, the critically important ones, that it handles to perfection!    6. It “Bundles Up” Tones of Add-Ons In Its App Store Here's another strong pro to help you come up with a quick answer to your “Is Shopify the best option for my business?” dilemma: The Shopify App Store itself! It's online store owners' “Wonderland”. An impressive collection of fancy apps that they get to plug right into their online stores. It's also the meeting point between third-party developers and business owners looking to enhance their stores' out-of-the-box functionality. To make them stand out in their respective industries. Some apps are free and some of them come with a price tag on. Is there an app perfectly tailored to your online store's needs that you're searching for?   you could search for a developer to build if for you but not before you've dug through the wide collection of add-ons already available in the Shopify App Store   Note: by far the most intriguing add-on that Shopify “tempts” you with” is its Buy button itself: the idea of selling your products outside your online store might be... puzzling you at first and still, it provides you with so much flexibility: you get to sell your products wherever on the web without the need to actually set up an online store   “Is Shopify The Best Option for My Business?” 6 Reasons To Doubt It 1. It Limits Your Customization Options Out-of-the-box convenience does come with a price when using Shopify as your e-commerce platform! And this price is given by all the restrictions imposed on your site's architecture. And implicitly by the customization limitations deriving from there! It's true, though, you can still hire a good developer to tweak things on your store, yet... this comes with a risk, as well: that of messing up the core code. A major con, indeed, when you expect to get unlimited freedom for fine tuning your e-commerce site's functionality to your liking!   2. Customization Does Come, But At a Cost And your legitimate question, “Is Shopify the best option for me?” becomes “Is Shopify, in fact, a restrictive, risky and costly e-commerce solution?” On one hand, you have a huge community of third-party developers ready to get any “tweaking job” done for you. Yet, on the other hand:   Shopify comes with its proprietary code language, Liquid: so the chosen developer(s) will need to know Liquid to be able to customize anything about your store; they can't “get away” with using PHP when “maneuvering” templates   needless to add that overly specialized developers are more expensive   you can't make just small tweaks: you need to engage in full customization processes    getting your hands (or your developers' hands) dirty in Shopify's base code does interfere with the software's warranty   by tweaking your Shopify's store base code you run the risk to ruin it and to find it challenging plugging in future add-ons (which call for the out-of-the-box Shopify code to work)   Decisions, decisions!    3. Its Built-In Blogging Features Are Simply... Unremarkable Can you imagine your content strategy without a blog? Unfortunately, Shopify's out-of-the-box blogging capabilities could be better. If compared with Wordpress's, for instance, they seem... basic.  So, if you have big plans for your blog:   to turn it into a true organic traffic “magnet” into a “channel” for informing customers about your products and about your brand's values into a tool for increasing social shares … and for building customer communities   … then Shopify's blogging software is not built to properly “fuel” your plans. Just make sure you're prepared for this inconvenience!   4. It Can Handle Basic Discount Scenarios Only  Don't expect Shopify to cope with all your upsell scenarios, with all those complex discount models that you might have in mind.  For it can handle “one discount per order” models only. So, it's pointless to put together all kinds of complex (“buy one get one free”, multiple discount codes per order etc.) types of structures. Not only that Shopify's not built to handle them, but you might be tempted to “adapt” your discount models to this inconvenience. To create several variants of a product, each one with its own price. Don't! You will only end up messing your inventory system!   5. It Charges a Per Sale Transaction Fee These fees add up to your monthly store plan and come on top of the credit card fees.  And from this point of view Shopify can be discouraging both for a start-up business owner and for one already selling in a high volume on his/her online store:   as a start-up, you don't know, from the start, how much you'll end up selling on your e-commerce website as a business already selling in high volumes the calculation of these transaction fees changes, so fees will start to add up gradually   In short: you can't avoid transaction fees, no matter how much you're actually selling on your Shopify store; still, if you want to save a percentage point you'll need to increase your sales to make those “savings” count.   6. It Can't Handle Complex Shipping Cost Models Unfortunately, it's true! Since Shopify's built primarily as a shopping cart solution for small to medium-sized business, it's designed to handle basic, single orders only. In other words, it's not well equipped for all the complexities that wholesalers' orders involve:   calculating real-time shipping cost orders that include multiple product sizes, multiple boxes   In conclusion: Shopify's out-of-the-box shipping models can handle basic shipping needs only. If you're dealing with more complex ones on your online store, you might consider having a third-party app developed for you! The END! What do you say? Have we succeeded, through our Shopify pros and cons list here, in helping you find the answer to your valid question: “Is Shopify the best option for my business?” ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 05'2017
Headless Drupal and Node.js: Easily Build JavaScript Apps on Top of Drupal!
Remember when websites used to be the only type of content distribution channels? Hardly, right? For it's been “ages” since we got to “deliver” content alongside entire “constellations” of digital channels: digital signage, kiosks, mobile... And so, this proliferation has made managing all these access channels increasingly challenging. But the Acquia team came up with a solution: they've added Node.js support to their Acquia Cloud. That's right, now Acqua Cloud, the one providing a cloud-based interface for Drupal developers to use, incorporates Application services for Node.js.  This means that:   your development team can leverage the now fully-decoupled Drupal platform using it as a robust apps repository … in order to distribute content across an entire “network” of new digital channels (without the need of a replatform, just by simply leveraging Drupal 8's in-built capabilities and API-first architecture) … by using lightning-fast Node.js for scripting, for building interactive app-like digital user experiences   Headless Drupal and Node.js: Let Their Powers Combine! … and help you build real-time, network JavaScript apps alongside your robust, scalable Drupal CMS faster than ever. They're equally popular for building enterprise-specific digital experiences, they're both open source technologies. And now each one of them is a valuable integration of the Acquia Cloud. Teamed up, they enable you to build and to run your JavaScript apps on top of Drupal.   Drupal   brings in its impressive scalability as a CMS; it turns into that robust shared repository that you'll need for all your future apps is already “turbocharged” with multiple decoupled apps: headless Lightening, Reservoir, Contenta etc. if none of the pre-built distributions suits your needs, Drupal 8's content-first architecture empowers you to build your own custom one!   Node.js   a blazing fast JavaScript framework enabling you to build scalable network JS apps supporting a wide range of front-end frameworks (Angular.js, Meteor.js, Ember.js, Backbone.js)   * “Why JavaScript?”, you might wonder. Because it's designed with usability in mind! With their powers combined, headless Drupal and Node.js:   enable your development team to easily build decoupled apps with lightweight JavaScript front-end design and to extend them across an “ecosystem” of access channels … all while leveraging Drupal's content management services (which is robust enough to support your “cluster” of real-time, responsive Node.js apps)   It's your users that will benefit from this “data and content marriage” in the end: they'll enjoy some interactive digital experiences.   Content and Data Under the Same roof: What's In It for You? For this new way of interacting with your Drupal CMS (exposed as a set of content services now), while leaving the scripting part to Node.js, does translate into key benefits for you and your team:   Toronto developers within your team get to leverage the advantage of a “single” database, a shared source of content supporting an entire “network” of apps (content and data under the same roof!)   they gain access to various parts of your CMS (content management, search, security) available to them as a set of APIs now when headless Drupal and Node.js join forces   developers no longer need to build a Drupal site first and then to separately handle a server for the Node.js app's functionality: the two different environments working in parallel, one for data and one for content, merge into one single development track    your development team(s) get to “fully exploit” this new architecture model, by easily mapping the content model to the API, and thus to speed up the whole data-driven apps development process!   Overall: you get to leverage Drupal's robustness as a CMS-repository for all your apps! It's there that all the content management and content authoring happens and it's from there that content gets distributed to your entire maze of real-time apps, to the whole network of distribution channels. The more complex your data-driven app infrastructure gets, the more powerful your repository has to be! Luckily, managing content and, moreover, scaling itself to an increasing overload of content are Drupal's “specialties”!  And this is how headless Drupal and Node.js, with their powers combined in Aqua Cloud, will help your development team create decoupled application experiences across multiple digital channels! How about putting this “happy marriage” of data and content to a test now? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Oct 03'2017
Alfresco Digital Business Platform: Go With the Digital Flow 
“But am I not there yet? Haven't I already implemented digital transformation within my organization?" The Alfresco Digital Business Platform's release does make you wonder. Well, now that we've planted “the seed of doubt”, ask yourself these key questions:   Is your current business platform agile enough to quickly pivot when you need it to, to promptly meet all your changing business needs? Are the programming tools that you're currently using “tying” your business to long development cycles? How fast is your current proprietary business process/enterprise content management system capable to put together workflow applications? Are you currently using the power of task automation to the fullest? How “accessible” is data within your company? Are you leveraging your current digital technology to make information easily accessible? Are people within your company enabled to access integrated data (anywhere, anytime), use it and share it with the utmost ease?    Just be honest with yourself! Then you'll find out whether you're right there: at the peak of your digital transformation or at the bottom of the hill, still... And this is precisely what the Alfresco Digital Business Platform helps you with: take big leaps ahead towards digital transformation!   What Is The Alfresco Digital Business Platform Exactly? Well, you could take it as a business process services and an open-source content management system “combo”, topped with a new App Development framework! Or, simply put: a digital business platform, as its name says it, enabling you, as an enterprise, to create and to deliver digital content experiences via perfectly automated workflows. In short: Alfresco, once exclusively an ECM (Enterprise Content Management), provides you with an open and agile platform perfectly equipped for enabling fast app development and reiteration!   But Which Are the Issues That This New Platform Comes to Address? Or the “customer needs”, if you prefer, that this new Alfresco release is built to meet? Here are a few challenges that they (business owners) had to cope with:   long development cycles that were no longer feasible difficulties in connecting multiple departments and in automating tasks  non-agile content/business processes management systems that wouldn't (or hardly) get “tweaked” in order to adapt to their users ever-changing business needs and goals   In short: it's precisely the lack of adaptability and time-efficiency of the “traditional” business process/content management systems that led to the Alfresco Digital Business Platform release. And it's built to give you a push “push forward” on your path towards complete digital transformation, a path paved with... digital efficiency. Here are a few goals of the “mission” that its development team invested it with:   to help you create content at high speed by leveraging the due technology to help you “tailor” automated digital business processes, automated workflows fast to help you develop governance apps at high speed, providing you with a dedicated App Development Framework   Overall, the platform's built to help you:   do things quickly around your organization by automating all the business processes, tasks, and workflows achieve that ideal “digital flow”   … where data's easily accessible to everyone involved (both workers and customers), multiple teams are interconnected and you're free to change this entire “infrastructure” of processes, people, and content to your liking whenever you need to   Alfresco Digital Business Platform: 5 Tools and Improvements Worth Your Attention 1. Alfresco App Development Framework (ADF) The new platform's ultimate goal is to help you speed up app development within your organization! In this respect, this dedicated framework's supercharged with:   reusable Angular 2 components Google Material design   … to easily “live up” to its goal: enabling your development team to quickly create workflow apps featuring responsive user interfaces adapted to all the devices used across your company!   “But I was already able to build my own apps on top of the Alfresco platform. What's changed now?”   A valid question, indeed! Apart from a faster app development process, now you get to actually put together your own engaging and nonetheless responsive UI using the web technology of your choice on top of Alfresco! Remember how you used to be “tied” to Alfresco's own UI? One that, it's true, you could adapt to your own needs, yet... you still depended on it? Well, not anymore: not only that it empowers you/your team to actually craft your own user experiences on top of the platform, but it also takes most of the heavy work off your developers' shoulders, speeding up things tremendously!  The framework provides you with a set of:   development tools testing tools   … along with other new Alfresco tools to add to your handy toolbox for speeding your apps' development! 2. New Open RESTful APIs That's right, you get a whole new set of APIs along with the Alfresco Digital Business Platform! They're built to handle:   nodes renditions versions   … and to perform search queries, as well, and all this DIRECTLY. Practically people in your organization get to easily access the services they're developing on top of the Alfresco platform. It's all about them being able to quickly access, to use (even use it to innovate) and to share the data flowing within your company, remember? The new platform just plugs in, via its open RESTful APIs, all those content and office productivity services into your internal workflows. It enables department collaborations and adapts the workflows to those specific environments that your workers prefer. And when we talk about API integrations, the list of third-party apps is a.... never-ending one:  MicrosoftOutlook, Salesforce, Google Docs, CRM, SAP etc. Moreover, it gets easier for you, the platform's user, to fully exploit all of the new open RESTful API's capabilities using the API Explorer! 3. Alfresco Search Services  Digging through the “pile” of search improvements brought to the Alfresco digital business platform we can't but mention a few “highlights:   it runs on Solr 6 it comes with a search term highlighting tool it includes category faceting, document fingerprinting, multi-select facets it enables users to index multiple versions of a document  it's got significantly improved sharding: you get to shard your index by date, DBID, ACL...   Do your users have multiple search requirements? This new Alfresco platform comes with multiple search tools so that you can comply with your customers' specific sets of requirements! Note: probably one of the biggest search services-related news is that they're no longer “piled up” in a WAR file. They make a STANDALONE SERVICE now! 4. Admin Improvements There are 2 handy new features that will streamline your Alfresco deployment's management and troubleshooting workflow:   Trashcan Cleaner, which turns the whole cleaning out of Alfresco deleted items into an automated task Support tools, ranging from profiling, sampling, gaining easy access to changing log settings and viewing logs, thread dumps, active session monitoring   5. Amazon AWS Optimized Deployment The Alfresco team has optimized the new platform so that it should run smoothly on Amazon AWS. And their efforts revolve around “valuing” your time even better, as they've included Alfresco Quick Start, turning Alfresco deployment from a matter of days into a matter of... minutes!   So, have we, at least, managed to stir your curiosity? To at least make you... question yourself whether you're currently embracing digital transformation at the right pace? To make you question yourself what you could do better in order to go from digital to digital efficiency? To shift to automated workflows? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Sep 29'2017
Magento vs Drupal Commerce: Which One's The Best Fit for Your Online Store?
All the worldwide-known e-commerce brands that these two e-commerce platforms power are equally impressive. They're both well-built, widely-used, ideally customizable, and scalable. In short: they're equally tempting. And this is what turns any Magento vs Drupal Commerce comparison into such a frustrating “dare”! In vain you'll let yourself seduced by one's “promise” to help you get your online store up and running in no time if it turns out that it's not built to handle your high-volume store or your entire “ecosystem” of online stores. And in vain you fall for one of the 2 e-commerce platforms' irresistible load of features and customization options if it doesn't empower everyone in your team, even the non-technie staff, to tweak various aspects of your website. See? It's nothing but a question of “which features, which functionalities” are relevant for your own e-commerce business. And which one of the 2 platforms can deliver most of them. Now let's indulge in an overview of both Magento and Drupal Commerce's feature sets, shall we?   But First: A few Words About Magento  Magento's an e-commerce software platform built as an open-source solution for eBay (who owned it until 2015), effortlessly “seducing” both developers and business owners with its: enterprise-level tools and functionalities (e.g. “sophisticated” search capabilities, such as multiple filters that users can apply to their product searches, prompts, etc.) tones of possibilities for customization unmatched scalability  capabilities for managing complex product assortments deep integration with eBay (obviously!)   And Now: A Couple of Things About Drupal Commerce That You Should Know "What is Drupal Commerce?" A two-in-one CMS and integrated e-commerce platform! Or an e-commerce platform built on Drupal CMS if you prefer, designed to help users set up versatile online stores and apps having Drupal as their foundation! And this is precisely what tempted and eventually convinced its users to run their online store on it: its incredible versatility! Practically it's a plug and play solution enabling you to set up your e-commerce website anywhere within your environment and it's easy to tweak to fit perfectly your specific way of doing business in the e-commerce arena! And there's more! The non-technical staff of your team gets to implement changes and to “experiment”, so say “Hello!” to unlimited extensibility and flexibility. Note: Drupal Commerce does require separate installation and configuration from Drupal core, do take this aspect into account! Bottom line Drupal: “plays well” with third-party systems seamlessly connects content to products and comes packed with tones of modules that you can use for adding on (even) more functionality to your online store and for making it grow along with your business needs and goals   In short: Magento vs Drupal Commerce debate the latter is an A-lister in terms of flexibility and versatility!   A Magento vs Drupal Commerce Comparison: 8 Criteria to Consider  1. Ease of Setup Drupal Commerce:  if you already have Drupal Core installed, setting up and configuring Drupal Commerce, as well, will be... nothing but a child's game: download, load, install the package if not, you'll need to go through the slightly more complex Drupal CMS installation process and then enable Drupal Commerce  and there's also a third option, where you go for an installation profile allowing you to install Drupal Commerce on its own   Overall, both Drupal Commerce and Magento empower their users to get them installed from the ground up.    2. Maintenance Costs  Both shopping cart platforms are open-source projects, therefore, they're both free to use. And yet, depending exclusively on your specific business needs, there are certain costs adding up. Drupal Commerce:  is completely free except for the hosting fees it's Commerce Guys that provides the Drupal Commerce users with various levels of support, each level having its own price points   Magento:  also free to use, apart from the hosting costs as your e-commerce business grows you get to extend your website's functionality with various Magento extensions; for a fee, of course   3. Adaptability and Customization  Customization is undoubtedly one of the key criteria in any Magento vs Drupal Commerce comparison. No business owner with a long-term vision would want to tie his company's future to a rigid e-commerce platform.  So, the more freedom granted to the end-user, the more “power under the hood”, the more “attractive” a shopping cart solution becomes, right? Drupal Commerce:  is incredibly customizable by nature (for we're talking about a modular nature) you get to tailor it to your business needs, implement new enhancements, experiment, add new features (and go beyond the “traditional” e-commerce-specific ones) thanks to Drupal CMS backing it up enables you to “tweak” its look, as well, going through the whole collection of Drupal themes and doing a little bit of design work   Magento: is entirely customizable if you do have a Magento specific expertise or you can afford a Magento development team instead comes packed with a heavy load of “tempting” features to “turbocharge” your online store with ranging from zoomable images, to “narrow down” search”, responsive design, promotional options, reviews, calls to action, etc.  the sky is the limit, along with expertise and creativity, when it comes to customizing both your Magento site's appearance and functionality   4. Third-Party System Ecosystems Drupal Commerce:  integrates with a whole variety of third-parties, yet it has a “weakness” for social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest)  “bids on” customer communities”, user review sharing, connecting content to products (and thus influencing purchases, reaching out to new potential customers, etc.) to the list of third-party systems that Drupal integrates with we could add: Xero, SagePay, Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android, web-based devices   Magento: it's a simple and straightforward integration, with most major players (Payone, Facebook, eBay, Mandrill, BeeTailer, Windows, Mac, Android), that you get to leverage when running your online store on this e-commerce platform  and the ecosystem of third-parties that you can easily “inject” into your Magento online store will turn out to be some great “allies” for crafting user-tailored experiences (you get to tailor your future sales and special offers according to your shoppers' profiles or “shopping histories”); Magento's built to draw huge influxes traffic, no doubt about it!   5. Target Market  Drupal Commerce:  makes an ideal “plug and play” shopping cart solution for both individuals and e-commerce businesses enables you to have your versatile online store up and running in no time   also empowers you to boost your product marketing campaigns with great content (since Drupal's been primarily designed for content management)   Magento: if Drupal's a perfect fit for small businesses, in particular, Magento, on the other hand, is built to power businesses with high-volume of sales, managing “clusters” of online stores Magento Enterprise, in particular, makes the perfect choice for enterprise-level e-commerce businesses, as it comes “loaded” with tones of enterprise-level tools and features to customize high-volume, high-trafficked online stories with   6. SEO Support  Drupal Commerce:  Drupal has the edge on SEO, undoubtedly, thanks to its entire “ecosystem” of SEO-specialised modules that you get to enable onto your website (and you sure aren't short on choice when it comes to Drupal SEO modules: Google Analytics, URL management, Robots.text generator, Site Map Generator etc.)   Magento: if in Drupal you have a whole set of modules at hand to enable and to install, in Magento you get your SEO tools right out of the box; they're pre-built into the platform  enables you to tweak your URLs,  to double-check search terms, to adjust your category and product information, etc.   Overall: although Drupal does have the edge, in the Magento vs Drupal Commerce “competition” there's no “winner”. They're both remarkably SEO-friendly.   7. Web Hosting Although they're both open-source projects, none of the 2 e-commerce platforms is self-hosted. So, make sure to “squeeze in” the hosting fees when you plan out your budget!   8.  Ease of Use  Drupal Commerce:  if you already have a website/app running on Drupal, so you're familiar with the Drupal codebase, UI and development practices, learning how to use Drupal Commerce is... piece of cake yet, if you're new to Drupal, you might find it a bit challenging at first   Magento: it does “spoil” its users with advanced tools and customization features and it does grant them total control, yet they do need to be “Magento experts” in order to handle all of Magento's “powers”, all the coding, design and development processes in short: consider leaving your Magento site's setup and configuration to some Magento professionals; it's a powerful e-commerce platform, packed with an overwhelming set of robust features, yet it does take Magento expertise to handle them right   And this is our list of the most important criteria to use when making your own Magento vs Drupal Commerce” comparison. So, which is the clincher? That criterion that makes you decide for one or the other? We sure hope this post will steer you in the right direction: choosing not THE best e-commerce platform from these 2 rivaling ones in the e-commerce arena, but THE best one for YOUR own e-commerce business' particularities and for YOUR own goals as a business owner! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Sep 28'2017
News Alert : Google Chrome Now Displays “Not Secure” Warnings for HTTP Pages
The harvest season, no doubt about it! Autumn (the month of October to be more precisely) is taking us... “Google Chrome novelties” picking! Starting next month Google Chrome will be displaying new “Not Secure” warnings for HTTP pages. We're talking, in fact, about two additional situations where these discouraging alerts get triggered in users' address bars:   when the user is asked to enter his/her credit card information or his password on an HTPP page (so when he's presented with an HTTP form having sensitive input fields)     when the user loads an HTTP page in Incognito mode   Note: speaking of the second scenario, the “Not Secure” warning will show up on ALL HTTP pages surfed in Incognito mode. Take it as Google Chrome's next level in its “campaign” of pushing the web on the HTTPS side. A plan structured into multiple gradual steps aimed at discouraging users from “venturing” on non-encrypted websites. And, implicitly, at “forcing” website owners to do the necessary: move to sitewide HTTPS.   HTTP vs HTTPS: Is A Migration Really Worth It? But first: which are the HTTP protocol's drawbacks? Those that Google Chrome warns users about through its new “Not Secure” warnings for HTTP pages? Basically an HTTP connection:   is a non-encrypted one gives visitors no guarantee that once they access a web page they're literally interacting with the “right” website  provides visitors with no protection, whatsoever, against man-in-the-middle attacks, eavesdropping, data modification    On the other hand an HTTPS protocol page:   is one where the user-website communication is an encrypted one, protecting the former against cyber attacks. keeps data protected from third parties   And now to answer your legitimate question, whether switching from HTTP to HTTPS is really worth the resources (of time and money), let us just imagine this scenario here: “A user walks into a/lands on your website and is ready to make a purchase. A payment form is presented to him and he is about to enter his credit card information when... he gets a warning, in his address bar, that your site is not secure...”   2 Updates to Run on Your Site to Avoid The New “Not Secure” Warnings for HTTP Pages  1. Simply Get to The Root of the Problem and... Resolve It How? Making sure that Google Chrome will label as “of secure origins” all the:   inputs marked as credit card fields  all the fill-in forms on your website incorporating <input type=password> elements   “Of secure origins” meaning that both the top-level page and the iframe (in case the user needs to enter his/her data in an iframe) need to display the HTTPS protocol. In other words: if your HTTPS login/payment form is presented to your users in an overlay on top of an HTTP page, then you'll need to either:   switch all your web pages to HTTPS redirect it to an HTTPS web page on your website containing that specific login/payment form   Taking the “shortcut”, placing an HTTPS iframe in an HTTP top-level page, is not a solution! 2. Go HTTPS! Switch to Using It Side-Wide Instead Since the new “Not Secure” warnings for HTTP pages that Google Chrome will be rolling out this October are nothing but another step in its “macro plan” to label ALL HTTP websites as not secure. So, why waiting for the inevitable to happen? Why should you “mend” when you can go for a long-term, in-depth solution? When you can make the move now and migrate your Drupal website to HTTPS?   Bottom Line  Take Google Chrome's new “Not Secure” warnings for HTTP pages as a new step in its whole master plan towards an HTTP-free web! It's a plan they first launched in November 2016 and which they're implementing gradually. So that the users grow more and more aware of the risks they expose themselves to accessing HTTP web pages, as the Google Chrome security team confirms:   “Studies show that users do not perceive the lack of a “secure” icon as a warning, but also that users become blind to warnings that occur too frequently. Our plan to label HTTP sites more clearly and accurately as non-secure will take place in gradual steps, based on increasingly stringent criteria."   There's no way of knowing, for the time being, when precisely Google Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as non-secure. When it will label them all with the red triangle currently indicating broken HTTPS pages.  What we do know is that this is the ultimate goal of their strategic plan. So, instead of waiting for the confirmation of the date in the calendar, why not gradually prepare your website for this move? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Sep 25'2017