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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
No Code or Low Code Development Platform? Which One Best Suits Your App?
Your current scenario, as we see it: You're facing an app building type of situation! An app that should streamline workflow within your company or that would help your team deliver an unparalleled customer experience. Backlogs are out of the picture and dependency on “power builders” as well. Should you go for a low code development platform or for a no code one?   Decisions, decisions... How do you pick when they seem so very much alike? They both spoil you with most tempting conveniences such as:   minimal coding effort minimal (to none) technical expertise app building efficiency (you get to assemble your app in no time and benefit from faster time-to-value) out-of-the-box UI components for you, the app builder, to mix and match and put together into an app automated horizontal scalability   Now let us come to your aid with a “list” of criteria to help you differentiate these two seemingly identical app development platforms. A more like a list of questions meant to help you:   “draw” your own profile as an app builder/app building company better define your own needs and goals draw an “identikit” of your future business app   … and, most importantly, (help you) decide whether a low code development platform or a no-code app building experience best suits your project's needs!   A Low Code Development Platform: What Is It & Why Go for It? What sprang up as auto-code generation tools has gradually grown into enterprise-level platforms for building large-scale apps. Low code development platforms made their entrance a while ago (dominating the web in 2016 ) and seem to be here to stay since more and more companies are jumping on the “quick and easy” app building bandwagon. By providing you, the app builder, with multiple low-code stages, these modern platforms speed up your whole app development and app delivery cycle. But let's point out precisely those key aspects of an app delivery cycle that this type of platforms impacts dramatically:   all services (SOAP, CRM, databases, security, REST APIs etc.) benefit from the visual development approach; they get incorporated via conveniently intuitive visual interfaces   the time-consuming coding “ordeal” is replaced with a visual app building approach: your development team can now create the whole user experience right from the start by simply mixing and matching the UI components that a low code development platform puts at their disposal   app deployment and continuous integration get streamlined via one-click deployments   human error, risking to impact the coding process, is taken out of the equation: standardized best practices ensure that all tasks related to front-end, back-end, executable, configuration etc. get “error-proofed”   the needs for future scalability (as well as for continous maintenance) are anticipated: low code apps are highly scalable due to their easy to use, lightweight containers that development teams just need to “fill in”   A No Code Development Platform: How Is It Different from a Low Code One? No code app development platforms are nothing more than low code platforms adapted to specific app building scenarios. And, therefore, equipped so they can serve specific development needs. And these “special” scenarios are all those requiring a higher level of customization. Let's say that you need to leverage your company/industry-specific template design for one of your app's pages, for instance.  This is where no code platforms excel at! They “spoil” you with more templates and more pre-built industry-specific or company-standardized components, that you can just drag and drop and use for assembling your app. But let's talk... examples! Here are 3 of the most common scenarios where a low code development platform delivers you a no coding experience:   when it offers you, right out-of-the-box, industry-specific components to just assemble; then, your industry-specific app's building cycle calls for almost no coding at all   when drag-and-drop UI components get built, “in-house”, by your own technical team, following your company's specific standards and then “passed on” to your business-pass team; for the latter it will certainly feel like they're putting together apps with zero coding: they'll just need to drag and drop the already built-in components   when standardized styling is used (fonts, colors etc.) and “template UI design” gets incorporated into the platform; design templates meant to match those of the third party software used within your enterprise; with all these pre-created components at hand, low coding seamlessly turns into a no coding app building experience   What Is Your Skill Set as an App Builder? For it makes a whole lot of difference whether you have back-end scripting skills (you “swim through” JavaScript, Node.js, Ruby or VBScript code like a fish in the sea) or you're a line-of-business professional with a great idea of an app and Microsoft Excel expertise (only). Here's why:   no-code app building platforms empower business professional to step into the shoes of “business app builders”; to have their desired apps up and running in no time, with no dependency on a team of IT professionals   delivering drag and drop pre-built UI components and point and click tools no code platforms give the whole app development process a dramatic boost (so, no need for coding expertise for getting apps built at high speed)   low code app building platforms provide you with highly intuitive, visual modeling tools for trimming down code, even if it's an architecturally complex app that you want to build way faster than via a traditional app development approach    and as a general rule of thumb a low code development platform addresses “power builders” with an advanced processing modeling, back-end scripting and business analytics skill set; such “audience” is able to fully leverage this modern platform's capabilities, those that set it apart from a standard app building process   An On-Premise or a Cloud-Based Hosting Solution? Here's a key question to be asking yourself when you're still investigating each one of the 2 app development platforms' pros and cons: Where will it be hosted? And also: by whom? You should know that:   low-code platforms are web-based and on-premises hosting solutions no-code platforms are cloud-based   And the benefits that you'll reap from using a cloud-based web hosting solution are more than obvious:   you'll place the burden of monitoring the whole infrastructure's overall health and level of security onto your service provider's shoulders starting small and integrating new features/functionalities later on gets so much more streamlined than with an on-premise platform you save valuable time that you could then invest in... creating brand new challenges-solving and daily workflow-optimizing apps     What Type of App Are You Building? Who'll Be Using It? Sketching your business app's identikit is crucial before/in order to choose the right app development platform for your project. So, what kind of app are you planning to build? Is it an app integrating well-defined processes and running on a complex infrastructure? One aimed at keeping a close track of core business processes? Or is it an app that could run either as a standalone one or as one incorporated into your business system? An app with a lifespan ranging from a few months to... several years? But let's make your decision-making challenge easier to respond to! Let us list both the low code and the no code apps' specific “profiles”:   Typical Low Code Apps:   large scale apps, dependent on high stability CORE transaction processing & business management apps long-term apps (with a 5+ years lifecycle) architecturally complex apps (dependent on frequent updating) apps having well-defined processes   In short: low code apps make a crucial component of your whole core business system and they result from taking the conventional app building approach and... streamlining it.   Typical No Code Apps:   apps which may or may not be invested with a mission of critical importance for your core business process  apps with a shorter estimated lifecycle apps integrating innovative (or company/industry specific) business processes apps that you build either to integrate into your business system or to run as standalone business apps apps used for business process tracking, reporting, processing etc.   In other words: no code apps allow you to come up with quick-to-implement app solutions to specific business challenges and all this irrespective of your level of technical expertise   In Conclusion If you want it built fast, a no code app development platform might suit your project best.  If you want:   it to feature custom UI elements and styling aspects following your company's predefined standards to “grow independent” of a team of “professional coders”   … go with a no code platform   But if you:   don't want to trade freedom of decision-making for more convenience, for more pre-built components to just drag and drop want to be in charge (or to invest your development team with such power/responsibility) with your future app's deployment and integration processes want to speed up the traditional app building process by using visual development tools and less coding   … then a low code development platform might suit you and your app project best.   So, which one will it be? ... 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Adrian Ababei / Nov 11'2017
How Green Is Your Drupal Site? 17 Steps to Sustainable Web Development, Part 2
We are a web development team of our word. And since we promised we would come back with some more best practices for a sustainable web development process... here we are! In this post, as already revealed to you in “Part 1”, we will be highlighting:   all the “tweaking” you can do at a server level so that it should use less unnecessary energy (and reduce its overall CO2 output) how to approach content on your site with sustainability in mind   Here we go:   Tips on Improving Your Server Performance: Consider Switching to a Green Host If you're confident enough (or your team is) to get your hands dirty in server configuration and maintenance there are plenty of high-impact measures you could apply:   1. Use the BigPipe Module for Drupal 8 BigPipe has been and still is one of Drupal 8's biggest “innovations”. It's nothing new, Facebook's been using this technique for a long time for improving page load times. Yet, now you have it in the form of a stand-alone module that you can leverage right on your Drupal 8 site! And it would be a pity not to! Just think about it: the BigPipe module practically segments each one of your web pages into multiple pagelets and streamlines the content loading process. It sends the cachable content segments first and the non-cachable, dynamic content last.   2. Make a Habit of Optimizing Your Database Drupal “saves the day” (and the planet, too, when used properly) once again! It gives you the DB Maintenance module to enable, to leverage and to integrate with your sustainable web development workflow. And this will prove to be a powerful tool to support your database optimizing endeavors: it runs MySQL's OPTIMIZE TABLE regularly using cron.   3. Get the Most of All The Caching Improvements in Drupal 8 If in Drupal 7 you still need to enable caching yourself (configuring your site's performance on the Admin page), in Drupal 8 page caching happens... naturally, by default (as well as assets aggregation). And there's more! The caching enhancements made to Drupal 8 impact even pages “carrying” dynamic content. And this is a big step forward towards top site performance and using energy responsibly if it's an interactive (and therefore with dynamically generated content) Drupal site that you own.   4. Move to HTTP/2 … and expect your web pages to load X times faster! Be (still) one of the early adopters of HTTP/2! Why should you wait till it turns into a major trend? What you know for sure now is more than enough if you're truly determined to go further with your sustainable web development initiative:   the vast majority of modern browsers do offer great support for HTTP/2 it's proven that the HTTP/2 server push method makes a great “latency killer” by sending the requested data to the web browser BEFORE the later even “has the chance” to request it!   5. Move to a Green(er) Host A website about to turn green calls for a... green hosting company, don't you agree? So, it's time you get picky when it comes to choosing your host and to put the company you're already collaborating with to the... green test:   which is its policy towards sustainability and its contribution to creating a more sustainable web? how committed is it to using energy responsibly?   If it does not live up to your standards of sustainability... consider migrating to a more “welcoming”, greener host!   6. Compress Your Cached Pages And here you can choose the Drupal way or the Apache way of compressing your Drupal cached pages.  Also, you could even step up when it comes to your commitment to a sustainable web development workflow. Supercharge your server by installing Varnish and enabling Drupal's own Varnish module, as well.  This way, your server will be ideally equipped for caching, not to mention that Varnish is conveniently easy to configure!   7. Switch from a Data Center to a CDN Network … and reduce, significantly, the energy used during content delivery to your users' devices. Practically a CDN will locate the server (since we're talking about an entire network of servers put at your disposal) that's geographically closest to a given visitor on your website. Next, it will serve the requested content from THERE, much faster and using less energy.  In short:    better content delivery times for your users a reduced energy consumption for moving data/content from your server to their devices.   Sustainable Web Development at a Content Level: Keep It Light, Make It “Findable”  Once you've made your commitment to sustainable web development, optimizing your content:   for SEO for a lighter on-page load for an improved user experience ... is a must. And here are the 3 “fronts” you should be concentrating your efforts on:   1. Keep It Light, Keep It Short We've already tackled the “irresponsibly heavy images'” issue. So we're not going to point out, once again, the tools and the techniques at your disposal for reducing your visual content's size. What we do want to outline now is that you should keep your user interface efficiently simple!  Don't make your visitors get tangled up in visuals, don't turn your UI into a maze for your visitors to solve. Keep it lean and shamelessly intuitive!   2. “Find-able” Should Be the Keyword to Describe Your Content  The less time a visitor invests in tracking down the information he is looking for, the smaller his/her web use carbon footprint will be! And how do you make your content easy to find? There are a few simple tricks:   a well-thought-out navigation; apply all the best UX practices for a great search experience get the most of Drupal's core search enable the Apache Solr module (especially if it's a high trafficked site that you own) and integrate your green Drupal site with the popular search platform   3. Time to Archive Your “Last Season” Content  All those out-of-date images, unused files, “dusty” written content that no one reads anymore still lingering on your website, all those videos dating centuries ago should... go. Should get archived! Not only will you lighten the load your site needs to carry (and reduce energy waste) and take a burden off your server's shoulders, but this decluttering session will benefit your users too. Pages will load significantly fast! And overall maintenance costs will get lower. Not to mention that pages will load fresh, quality content ONLY for search engines to index and your users to enjoy.   The END! This is our list of tips and tricks on how to implement the sustainable web development principles into your own website.  As you can see, you're not being nickel and dimed in options when it comes to making your Drupal site (more) Earth-friendly! And they do range from basic, handy solutions that require no out-of-the-ordinary technical expertise, to a bit more complex ones. So you have no excuses for not contributing, at a basic level at least, to building a more sustainable web! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 08'2017
How Green Is Your Drupal Site? 17 Steps to Sustainable Web Development, Part 1
Have you turned on the green light on your Drupal site? Have you moved to a sustainable web development workflow? A “movement” (rather than just a trend) that will benefit both:   You, the website owner: since optimized page load times and “find-able”, easy to “digest” content translate into happy visitors coming back to your site   The planet: since a lighter load of content, along with users that can access it much quicker, translate into “no need” for an additional infrastructure and into fewer carbon emissions (users consume less energy searching for their target content, while your data's “journey” from your server to their devices gets shortened).   See? Everybody wins: you, your visitors... the planet itself. And where do you add that these sustainable web development best practices range from common sense, easy to implement measures (for the non-tech-savvy ones), to more in-depth practices if you want to go further with your “greening” initiative. In this respect, Drupal (and especially Drupal 8) is ideally equipped for helping you achieve high performance on your website. You just need to press the right “buttons” for harnessing all that locked-in power! Here is the list of best practices for a greener, responsible Drupal site, sorted into 3 main categories:   Drupal specific, ready to use tools for optimizing your website with Tips and tricks for fine tuning your server for high speed Best practices to keep your content light (images), to make it conveniently snappy (written content) and easy to find   Drupal Specific Tools and Techniques For a Sustainable Web Development Process With a whole plethora of tools that Drupal “shovels” into your toolbox, tools aimed at reducing on-page overload and boosting your site's performance, all you need to do is: use them! Now allow us to list just a few of the handiest ones with a high impact on your site's carbon output:   1. Disable and Remove Unused/Outdated Modules Confess it: do you have the Devel module still lingering on your production site? How about the Views UI module which you only use now and then for editing one of your Views? And how about all those modules that you just took for a spin, “seduced” by their much-appraised functionality and cool features, and that you've never actually used (or stopped using shortly after you've enabled them)? Modules which are now claiming their own share of resources on your website since with every page view some of their code, too, gets loaded. Time to declutter your “modules closet"! Wiping the dust off this load will actually speed up your site and... contribute to a healthier planet. A win-win!   2. Leverage the Lazy Loader Module's Power Another sustainable web development technique specific to Drupal, "too" handy not to make use of, is enabling the Image Lazyloader module.  It will load the images on your website only when/if the user scrolls down to them. A resources “saver” and page load speed booster valuable especially if it's an image-packed Drupal site that you own.   3. Jump on The “Design First” Trend “Mobile first” is so much more than just a fancy expression associated with Drupal 8 or a passing trend. It's an entire philosophy shaping the sustainable web: use your own site's resources responsibly! Since you're constrained to design for mobile devices first, you're constrained to achieve more with less. You just can't afford “stuffing” your site with heavy, optimized images or with bulky JavaScript libraries. Your web pages would then take ages to load on smartphones or tablets. This way, you're “forced” to start small and keep it simple, efficiently simple! And you'll end up restraining yourself from getting “greedy on energy” later on, in the context of adapting your site for larger screens and when you're “spoiled” with higher bandwidth.   4. Aggregate Your JSS and CSS Files You can lay back and get “responsibly lazy” letting the Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation Module do the assets aggregation job for you! A much more convenient, sustainable web development solution for compressing your JavaScript load than the standard one where you would enable the aggregation code in Drupal Core (Administer > Configuration > Performance). And where do you add that this life and energy-saving module use Google's CDN to load jQuery! Has one of the requested JavaScript or CSS files on your site been loaded already by a browser? Then just a cached version of that file will get loaded instead of downloading it fresh.  Also, consider moving your JavaScript and CSS in the footer (a performance enhancement that happens by default in Drupal 8) for gaining a boost in page load speed!   5. Keep Your Images Small Stuffing your site with large and larger images, with heavy visual content aimed to wow your visitors is nothing but sabotaging your site and disregard the planet. And you should at least strive not to “steal” your site's chances to win over more users! Keeping your images irresponsibly oversized will only prolong your users' waiting for them to load and, implicitly, increase their CO2 emissions. Drupal comes to your “rescue” once again providing you with the ImageCache module. Use it to minimize overall page weight. Then, go even further by teaming it up with handy tools such as TinyPNG or Compress PNG/JPG which will help you reduce your images' sizes even before you get them uploaded on your site.   6. Switch from PNGs and GIFs to SVG Wherever possible, of course. SVG (Scalar Vector Graphics) files come with the convenience of being: much smaller easy to scale, without having to trade clarity for that enabling inline writing for CSS & HMTL 5 files 3 strong reasons which turn the use of SVG files into a sustainable web development method.   7. Take Your Visitors Straight-Up to The Content They're Looking For The longer you leave your site visitors disoriented, scanning through in search of the information they're truly interested in, the more energy they'll consume. And the more frustrated and unlikely to come back they'll grow, obviously! This is why a Drupal module like SEO Checklist comes in handy! It provides you with a highly intuitive UI where you can simply “check” all those SEO steps to take for optimizing your content. This way you'll be enabling search engines to direct users precisely to those pages on your website that they're interested in.   And we shall stop here with our tips and tricks on how you can embrace sustainable web development practices and turn the green light on your Drupal site, too. More website “greening” advice (at a server-level & content-level this time) in “Part 2” of our post. Stay tuned! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Nov 08'2017