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Why Use Siteimprove to Check Your Website for Accessibility? 8 Good Reasons
"How do I test my website for accessibility?" And right after you type in this question you discover that there are dozens of free website accessibility testing tools to choose from. So: why use Siteimprove? In this post, I'll answer your key questions about Siteimprove:   What does Siteimprove do? Why use precisely this accessibility evaluation tool? How to use the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Siteimprove vs Axe: what are the key differences? Monsido vs Siteimprove: which is the best web accessibility testing tool for you? Drupal 8 Siteimprove: what does it do? So, let's dive in:   1. How Does the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Work?  "The Siteimprove Browser Extension is a Chrome/Firefox plugin that allows you to see page specific DCI scores and if a CMS deep link is set-up, it also allows you to fix content to improve the scores directly in your CMS during your browser session." (source: Siteimprove.com) Once added to your browser toolbar, you can use Siteimprove to identify accessibility issues on specific web pages. At any given time. It provides you with:   explanations on how they impact the user experience clear recommendations on how to address them Free, handy, effective. These are the best 3 words to describe the Siteimprove extension. Note: since all evaluation is performed in your browser, Siteimprove guarantees you a secure scanning of your non-public pages, multi-step forms, password-protected pages and pages with dynamic content.   2. Why Use Siteimprove over Other Website Accessibility Testing Tools? What powerful features make it stand out from the crowd of automated accessibility testing tools that you could use? I've selected the 8 most valuable ones:   2.1. Monitors all broken links and spelling mistakes on your web page Maybe you consider these issues to be mere... negligences to be put at the end of your priority list. But just imagine how much these "details" could affect a visually impaired user. This is where the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker comes in. It keeps your website under "surveillance". Ready to spot and to highlight any broken link, any little spelling mistakes that it detects. Or any other quality issues that it identifies. 2.2. Generates an accessibility report for you to analyze From ALT missing attributes to accessibility issues spotted in your tables and forms, the Siteimprove report lists all the problem areas to focus on. A handy overview that you can use to define all future tasks that need to be carried out in order to improve your website's accessibility.   2.3. Pinpoints accessibility issues  It'll highlight them all right on-page and in-code.  In other words, you don't need to do a research on all the latest accessibility guidelines first. The Siteimprove extension for browsers will outline all the key issues that you'll need to focus on to get started. 2.4. Integrates seamlessly with your CMS Whether it's Drupal or WordPress that you're using, Siteimprove enables you to fix the signaled issues on the spot. Right there, in your CMS, while you're browsing around your website. 2.5. Allows you to automate the accessibility checks And by automating the bulk of your testing process, you get to streamline all the tasks that it covers, such as:   testing various color combinations evaluating your PDF pages' accessibility testing your form fields 2.6. Provides specific recommendations Why use Siteimprove?  Because it doesn't stop at pointing out the accessibility issues on your website: it also gives you clear explanations on how to address them. 2.7. Enables you to monitor your progress in improving your website's accessibility   industry benchmarks historical graphs automated reports customizable dashboards All these Siteimprove features enable you to measure the progress that your team makes for turning your website WCAG 2.1 compliant. 2.8. Allows you to set up a hierarchy for the accessibility issues identified In short, the Siteimprove web accessibility checker enables you to categorize and to prioritize tasks by:   severity conformance level   And to assign them by job role (webmaster, editor, developer...) or responsibilities.   3. How to Use Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Say you want to try the Siteimprove Google Chrome Extension. Here's how you use it:   install the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Chrome extension from the Chrome Webshop from your Chrome browser add the extension to your browser: "Add to Chrome" look for the newly added icon in your browser window enter your target web page's URL in your browser click the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker icon and let it perform its audit take a look at the results displayed on the right side of the page   Note: Siteimprove Accessibility Checker uses the same checking engine as the Siteimprove Accessibility platform. 4. Siteimprove vs Axe Accessibility Tool Why use Siteimprove over Axe? How are they different anyway? Let's compare these 2 popular accessibility testing tools: 4.1. Axe browser extension It generates detailed results, but you might find its slideshow-style controls a bit challenging 4.2. Siteimprove Accessibility Checker   it stands out as an accessibility testing tool that allows you to filter tasks by "responsibility" (or job role) also, it displays the issues that it detects following the same structure of the WCAG guidelines it presents color-codes issues by conformance level (A, AA, AAA) it points out to the specific WCAG criteria that those issues relate to   5. Monsido vs Siteimprove Accessibility Checker And why would you choose Siteimprove over Monsido? Here's what sets them apart:   Monsido provides comprehensive crawls weekly, whereas with Siteimprove you get automated crawls every 5 days Monsido could discourage you with its less-friendly UI, whereas Siteimprove has a more intuitive dashboard   6. The Drupal 8 Siteimprove Module: What Does It Do? "The seamless integration between Siteimprove and Drupal streamlines workflow efficiencies for your web team. With the module, your team can fix errors and optimize content directly within the editing environment." (source: Siteimprove.com) In short, the module (or "Siteimprove plugin", if you wish):   scans your website for accessibility issues (broken links and misspellings, A, AA, AAA conformance level accessibility issues, readability levels, etc.) that you can then turn into manageable tasks and assign to your team members who can tackle them right in the editing environment that they're using   Tip: you can even use the Drupal 8 Siteimprove module to see what would be the impact if you unpublished a "problem" page before you apply this measure. The END! Have I managed to answer your "Why use Siteimprove?" question? Are you already using it as your website accessibility checker? If not, what other tool are you using and why have you chosen precisely that one? Let me know in the comments below.  Image by Sitanshu Kumar from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 12'2020
Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs: Which Drupal Page Builder Should You Use?
There’s no better way of telling which tool best fits your needs than by putting Drupal 8 Layout Builder and Paragraphs to the test, right? If you were searching for an honest comparison of the 2 Drupal 8 drag and drop page builders, you’re on the right blog. Because in this post I’ll compare Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs. What you’ll get is a straight answer to each one of your key questions regarding the 2 most popular page building tools in Drupal:   Why would you choose Drupal Paragraphs? What are its main trade-offs? What are its best use cases? What are the key advantages of using Drupal 8 Layout Builder?  What are its limitations? What are the use cases of Layout Builder vs Paragraphs?   Now, let’s get you those answers:   1. Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs: Introducing the 2 Contestants 1.1. Drupal Paragraphs The Paragraphs module was quite a revelation when it was first released. Why? Because Drupal rocked supreme at enabling users to create template-based pages, but when it came to uniquely designed pages (i.e. landing pages) it started to show its limitations. And this is where the Paragraphs module came in. It “seduced” Drupal developers with a new component-based approach to building a page’s layout. Source: Championsdigital.com   The Paragraphs layout builder would allow developers to create individual paragraph types — popup elements, plain text, code blocks — and editors to assemble those paragraphs into highly flexible pages. Moreover, they could reuse those page components to create new and new content layouts.  For instance, they could put together a page that included one WYSIWYG Paragraph, a Slideshow Paragraph, and one paragraph with both text field and image field... The idea of “flexible structured content” had taken over the Drupal planet...   1.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder The drag and drop page builder in Drupal core designed to take the content editing experience to a new level. How? By granting editors more control over the Drupal layouts they create. Drupal 8 Layout Builder enables non-technical users to easily mix and match nodes, fields, and other types of content via a drag-and-drop UI. They can create their visual layouts and landing pages in no time. All they need to do is drag and drop, then rearrange site-wide blocks and content fields to their liking. Source: Drupal.org Moreover, users can even create new custom “inline” blocks of their own. Power and flexibility combined into one visual design tool aimed at improving the editor experience.   2. What Are Their Key Strengths? 2.1. Drupal Paragraphs In a Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs “battle”, why would you go with the “stacked components” approach to layout building in Drupal 8? Source: Drupal.org   Because the content editing experience is intuitive: editors can use the “Add a popup” and “Add a quote” tabs and rearrange their components with drag and drop   Because it enables you to group multiple fields into new complex elements   Because it allows you to come up with an unlimited no. of ways for combining your paragraphs   Because it enables you to create reusable components that you can then use per node    Because it prevents the workflow of your nodes from becoming too cluttered by providing an entity type for your sub-page components   Source: Drupal.org   2.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder What are its key selling points? Why would you choose Layout Builder over Paragraphs?    Because it requires less custom code   Because it grants you a higher level of control over the layouts you’re creating   Because it grants you lower maintenance costs   Because you get to mix field content with blocks   Because you’re free to create and populate new landing pages from the ground up: just set up your custom content blocks and arrange them to your liking within the layout   Because it provides you with an improved authoring experience   Because you can extend the default set of layout grids through custom plug-ins   Because it allows you to keep your structured data   Because it enables you to get the most of the block system for creating your Drupal layouts: custom inline blocks, programmatic blocks, custom global blocks, custom field blocks   “Blocks” that are fieldable, translatable, templatable, reusable, and part of Drupal core, as well. Source: Phase2Technology.com   In a nutshell, this Drupal page builder provides both:   an easy way to manage fielded content in the backend the best drag-and-drop editor experience   3. Where Does Each Drupal Page Builder Fall Short? 3.1. Drupal Paragraphs What could make you… hesitate before choosing the Paragraphs layout builder for creating structured content? What are its key limitations?   You (your content editors) still depend on a developer to set everything up Managing nested paragraphs when dealing with complex layouts can get quite overwhelming   Source: Evolvingweb.ca   And this is the biggest trade-off that could discourage you from going with Paragraphs as your page building tool: You get to nest/add new and new elements, which carry their own sets of elements, up to the point where this “unlimited nesting” of paragraphs turns into a too confusing interface to cope with.   3.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder  Where does it fall short? In a Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs “debate”, which drawbacks of this visual design tool could make you choose Paragraphs instead?   You might find block content not to be 100% explicitly connected to nodes Combining template-based with custom layouts is a bit challenging Enforcing a sitewide consistency of your custom-made layouts is quite a dare 4. When Would You Use One Layout/Editing Tool Over the Other? 4.1. Drupal Paragraphs   When you need to reuse many of the content components on your website to create new pages When being able to reuse those components “per node” is of particular importance for your workflow When your structured layout does call for nested paragraph bundles   4.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder When would you use this particular solution for creating layouts in Drupal 8?  When is Layout Builder a better choice than the paragraphs module?   When your landing page calls for a grid-like layout, including both dynamic elements (custom blocks, views) and fielded content   When you need to “juggle with” multiple columns for creating your layout   When you need to create a fully customed page from the ground up; a “special” page, that’s not connected to any structured content on your website (i.e. a single “Get a Quote” page)   When you need to custom-tune templated layouts; to override existing page layouts   When you need to set up “layout templates”, such as the layout for your product page or your blog post page   5. Final Results: Which Approach Best Fits Your Needs? What do the results of this Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs comparison tell you? That there’s no “best” Drupal page builder. Only the one that best fits your specific layout creation needs. It all comes down to the level of diversity in your content:   If it’s a particularly intricate page layout that you need to create, you might not want to go with Paragraphs. Its nesting feature can turn against you.   If you’re “craving” flexibility and the content on your Drupal 8 website varies a lot from page to page, yet you still want to keep a level of layout consistency, the Drupal 8 Layout Builder is your best choice   Your turn now: which of these 2 page building tools do you prefer and why? Let me know in the comments below.   Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 06'2020
What Are Some of the Best Web Accessibility Testing Tools to Evaluate Your Website With? Top 5 Chrome Extensions
You've gone through the guidelines, standards, warnings, and best practices included in the W3C recommendations and... you're stuck. How do you know whether your website is 100% WCAG 2.1 compliant? What are the best web accessibility testing tools out there that you could use?  Free, easy to use accessibility evaluation tools that you could run on your website to spot the issues lurking in there.  And which could even get you some valuable recommendations on the best ways to address them.  All that before you actually have someone (or even a whole team of QA testers) review your website. Before you carry out an in-depth accessibility audit and run user-centric testing sessions with... real people involved.  You must be thinking about browser extensions...  They're so accessible: you just open the page you want to check and click a button in your toolbar. They're free and make great "starts" for identifying accessibility issues on your website. And for getting your hands on some valuable recommendations on how to fix them.  So, here are 5 automated accessibility testing tools that we recommend you try first:    0.1. But What Are Accessibility Tools More Precisely?  "Are there any recommended tools available that can help me test for accessibility issues?" Take these common accessibility issues that might still go "undetected" on your website:    there's not enough color contrast on certain pages (or no contrast at all) one or more images don't have ALT descriptions added to an editor deleted the content for one of the H2 tags but left that tag lingering in there and confusing the screen readers someone from your design team has put a placeholder text instead of a text field, which risks displaying an unlabeled field, that screen readers cannot... read there's one label missing from your newsletter sign-up form    These are all frequent issues that web accessibility evaluation tools can help you detect and address.  They fall into multiple categories:    browser extensions, that we'll be focusing on in this post command-line tools accessibility testing tools that you can integrate with your continuous integration system    Tip: Keep in mind that the following 5 best web accessibility testing tools detect about 30% of the issues. They make a great starting point for a more complex audit and comprehensive monitoring strategy that you should set in place.    1. Wave, The Venerated Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool for Chrome  A full-featured, easy to use website accessibility checker that's been in most developers' toolkits for quite a few years now.  Here's how it works:    it adds a visual overlay of error icons and indications to the web page that you're auditing icons which, once clicked, provide you with information and recommendations about the accessibility issues detected: redundant titles, structural elements, links to HTML, poor color contrast, how those issues impact different types of users, what WCAG guidelines they violate, etc. it points out to you the "troublesome" code via annotated HTML popping up in the panel at the bottom of the screen    In short, Wave is one of the robust website accessibility checkers that goes beyond streamlining your audit process. It's also geared at educating users (website owners, QA testers) about the accessibility issues to pay attention to.  "How to use Wave accessibility tool?"  Either way:   you can just enter your URL in the dedicated field on their website you can download the browser extension    Go for the extension particularly if it's dynamic, password-protected and locally stored web pages that you need to check.    2. Tenon, Accessibility as a Service  "How do I test accessibility?"  Tenon's another tool that comes both in a free and paid version.  What makes it "worthy" of this top 5 selection?   it addresses the common scenario: running accessibility tests after neglected guidelines have already turned into critical issues that affect the user experience  it's such a flexible tool for content creators, designers, developers, and testers it generates... generous reports with code snippets for each error, corresponding WCAG guidelines, and recommendations on how to fix them  In short: Tenon helps you run a preventive type of accessibility check on your website. You can detect key issues before they even get to turn into major usability problems  Furthermore, you can easily incorporate Tenon into your toolset via its API. It integrates smoothly with any CMS, IDE, deploy tool or automated build that you might be using.   3. Google Lighthouse, One of the Top Automated Accessibility Testing Tools   "How do I know if my website actually is WCAG 2.0 compliant?"  You give it a full check using a tool like Google Lighthouse here:    it's open-source it's automated it's so handy (it's Chrome built-in) it's super easy to use  Moreover, this accessibility testing tool is part of a whole suite of checks that you can run using Chrome Developer Tools:  SEO Progressive Web App Performance Best Practices  What it does it provide you with a full report of its test results:    whether all the buttons on that page have accessible names or not whether all the images have ALT attributes added to whether that page has a title or not ...    Next, you simply take it from there and improve the areas signaled in the report.  And here's how you use it:    open devtools in your Chrome Browser look for the "Audits" tab click "Perform an Audit" Tip: save the report in a JSON format for later (or to send it to someone in your team).  Another great thing about Google Lighthouse is that it's one of those web accessibility evaluation tools that don't require you to sign up. You just drag a report onto the online report viewer that it provides you with.    4. Axe Browser Extension  "How do you know if your site actually is WCAG 2.0 compliant?"  You "grab" a tool like Axe here and give your site an automated audit.  It'll just attach itself as a new tab to your Chrome's Dev Tools. Once you click that blue "analyze" button, you'll be given a whole list of "violations" detected on your page.  Why have we included it in our highly exclusive list of 5 best web accessibility testing tools?    because it's free (a self-contained open-source library) because you get to custom-tune it to your specific accessibility testing needs: add specific rules, integrate it with testing frameworks and browsers of your choice... because each signaled issue "exposes" the corresponding markup, as well   Just hit "Inspect code" and you're taken to the tab in DevTools, where the "culprit element" is outlined. Tip: another reason why this is one of the first website accessibility checkers that you should consider is that the Axe accessibility report goes beyond signaling clear violations of accessibility guidelines. It also highlights aspects that you could improve on your website's UI.   5. Siteimprove, One of the Best Web Accessibility Testing Tools We confess: Siteimprove is our favorite website accessibility checker. Here's why:    it provides us with actionable information regarding all the issues that it detects it generates clear explanations on the impact of those issues on some users it also "spoils" us with intuitive user experience: issues get highlighted to the right side of the page    Where do you add that the entire web page audit process is performed in our Chrome browsers.  Easy to use and highly efficient. What more could you wish from a free accessibility testing tool?    Final Word  Turn this type of accessibility testing — using Chrome extensions — into a part of a more comprehensive testing strategy.  You shouldn't limit your evaluation to the results that you get by using any of these 5 best web accessibility testing tools.  There's still some level of "human intervention" needed to interpret those results. To come up with the proper set of steps to take, right?  Use them if you just want to check whether:    there are any images without ALT descriptions on your website the HTML is valid your form fields have both labels and descriptions    Whereas for assessing:    whether that HTML is semantic or not whether those form field descriptions are user-friendly enough whether there's a proper heading hierarchy on a given page on your website   ... you'll need human analysis.  Automated accessibility testing will (only) point out key aspects for your QA testers to focus on.    The END!  Have you used any of these accessibility testing tools on your website?  Do you usually stop your audit there or do you use an automated & manual testing type of "combo"? Does it depend on the context actually?  Share your thoughts in the comments down below!  Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 29'2020
What Are Some of the Most Popular Websites Built on Drupal in North America? Top 10
Let's say that you're considering using Drupal for your next web project. You've read about its unmatched robustness and flexibility... And still: real examples of brands that have their websites built on Drupal in North America would weigh heavier in your decision-making process than just... statements about its great features, right? But which are they? These websites powered by Drupal that are well known in Canada and the USA? We've done our research and put together a list of both highly popular and uniquely designed Drupal-based websites. So, here they are: the 10 best Drupal websites in North America to inspire you in 2020: 1. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto OISE, Canada's most reputed center for graduate studies in education, has its website powered by Drupal. And built by our own team of Drupal developers... Why did they trust Drupal 8 with their digital presence?   because it's fast and good page load time was crucial for them because Drupal's designed to “cope with” high volumes of content  because Drupal enables building websites with responsiveness in mind because of Drupal's modular structure and flexibility: the OISE editorial team can easily add, update and publish new content, whereas new functionalities can easily be implemented in the future 2. World Vision International A global organization impacting the lives of millions couldn't have chosen but a robust CMS platform like Drupal to power its website with. With:   an intuitive UI design clean and conveniently minimalistic design a reliable content management system to support a site representing +90 countries   ... the World Vision International's Drupal-powered site is built to make an impact.    3. MIT List Visual Arts Center, One of the Top Websites Built on Drupal in North America How could we have possibly left it out of our Drupal websites list? MIT's website taps into:   the flexibility of the Drupal entity system to grant visitors a content-rich user experience centered on content diversity: text, audio, lists, images Drupal's features aimed at providing the editorial team, as well, the best experience   The result? An intuitive, brand-driven content-rich experience for the users on the MIT website. One that comes to complete the actual visiting experience at the MIT physical art museum and virtual art lab.   4. University of Arizona    One of the well-known websites using Drupal 8. And it's no surprise that they've chosen precisely this CMS since Drupal's been the go-to platform in the higher education sector since... forever:     it empowers the staff to easily create, edit and publish content on the run it enables that editorial team to easily share/reuse content across multiple sections of the website (and a high ed site is usually an intricate "ecosystem" of content sections and smaller sites) it advocates for a "mobile-first" approach to website development   In the case of the University of Arizona, its old website got migrated to Drupal 8 and its design revamped, all in the name of a better user experience.   5. Think Global Health Another one of the well-known websites built on Drupal in North America is this multi-contributor site that explores the way health changes impact societies, everyday lives, and economies on a global scale. With such a heterogeneous content team and a wide variety of content being edited and added regularly on this newspaper website, no wonder that they've turned to Drupal. 6. Canadian Museum for Human Rights   Humanrights.ca has earned its own star on the Drupal websites' "hall of fame" due to a cutting-edge functionality that it incorporates: Enabling visually impared users to configure their own experience on the site. From adjusting the contrast to selecting the font size and style, they get the most of Drupal's "empower the end-user" philosophy.   7. Nature Conservancy California Another one of those Drupal website examples where content variety "rocks supreme". From video content to video footage, to interviews, to ambient sound, this platform's using Drupal for handling the multiple types of content formats that support its project stories. 8. Princeton University Admission   What makes this high ed website stand out from all the other university websites built on Drupal in North America?   the non-conventional visual storytelling techniques that it leverages in order to highlight what's representatively unique about this school the impactful content (linear media), ranging from narrative faculty portraits to textural videos of the campus life, photo content providing visitors a more in-depth view into the life at Princeton   Furthermore, they chose Drupal in order to inject" top performance and give their "Undergraduate Admission" website a fully responsive web design.  9. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey  JackDaniels.com makes a great example of a website that makes the most of Drupal's powerful content management features:   again, the site comes as a complex ecosystem of different types of content: immersive photography, video content, cinemagraphs... local markets around the world get to custom-tune the website to suit their own local customers' needs; to personalize it with translated copy, market-specific programming...   A robust content management system along with the "empower the user" philosophy, these are 2 of Drupal's defining features that JackDaniels.com taps into in order to provide:   an engaging experience to its visitors an empowering experience to its users (admins across the globe) 10. TraffickWatch The storytelling Drupal website of a nonprofit that raises awareness about human trafficking.   The END! What other famous websites built on Drupal in North America have we missed? Feel free to... scold us in the comments section down below.   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 25'2020
Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart or Apigee’s Integrated Portal? What’s the Best Developer Portal Solution for You?
Here you are, facing an impossible dilemma: is the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart on Drupal 8 the best solution for the developer portal that you're setting up? Or should you go with Apigee's integration portal instead? How are they different in terms of provided features? How do your own requirements and constraints influence your choice? Now, let's dive right into:   what the Apigee developer portal is when to consider Apigee's integrated portal why and when to choose Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart what could discourage you from using the Drupal distribution   1. What Is Developer Portal Apigee? You're already building APIs that expose your services to developers from your team and to those outside your enterprise, right? But you want to go beyond merely building APIs: you want to provide the best developer experience, as well. One that would entice developers to use those APIs. And this is what the Apigee developer portal is mainly designed for: To help you "lure in" those admins and developers using APIs managed by the Apigee platform.   2. Choose Apigee Integrated Portal If... ... it's a basic marketing or developer documentation website that you're planning to put together. One that should integrate with a subset of features exposed vis Apigee's API management platform. Tip: think twice before choosing this solution if you need to integrate API revisions, load balancing, monetization or various complex documentation structures with your developer portal, etc.   You'd Want to Use the Integrated Portal Solution Because: it's an easy to build, easy to use portal, integrated with Apigee Edge, that you have in mind it's a simple developer documentation website that you're setting up it's a basic, turn-key developer portal solution that you need it provides you with hosting on Google Cloud, support and maintenance it makes documenting and managing your APIs fairly easy   Apigee's Integrated Portal Top Features: Create pages using page editor API Documentation Access control to portal content and APIs Customize design elements via SCSS style sheets Advanced customizations (customize domain, configure your email, custom registration fields, extend portal using scripts) Create pages using page editor Analytics via Google Analytics and custom analytics tracking Add menus for navigation Self-service registration for developers to build apps using your APIs Markdown and HTML to compose content   3. Choose Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart If... it's a powerful developer portal platform that you need  it's a highly flexible, fully customizable solution that you're looking for you need to get your developer portal up and running, integrated with Apigee Edge, in no time   Source: docs.apigee.com Are all these 3 requirements on your priority list? Then Apigee's distribution for Drupal 8 might just be the best way to set up a new developer portal. Or to move your current one from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.   You'd Want to Use the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Because: it does most of the Drupal 8 module installing and configuration work for you it provides you with step-by-step guidance to install Drupal 8 core, integrate your portal with Apigee Edge, and customize its theme its theme's Bootstrap-based, enabling you to easily customize and brand your website it's faster and more extendable it's forward-compatible with Drupal 9 it's, overall, highly customizable: you get to create fine-tuned brand experiences it provides you with sample content, as well, so you can set up your developer platform quick and easy it operates with already familiar Drupal 8 concepts: content types (e.g. Basic pages, article, forums...) media types, etc.   In a nutshell: take the Apigee Kickstart developer portal as a convenient package with all the Drupal 8 modules and libraries that you'll need to quickly put together a developer community. One that's connected to Apigee Edge, exposes your APIs and publishes the API documentation that developers need.     Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Top Features: API Catalog page Modules for FAQ, Blogs, and Forums 16 pages with preloaded content for demonstration API documentation content type Customizable site theme “Getting Started” page Developer Portal homepage API doc landing page with demo content and vocabulary   4. You'd Hesitate Using Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart Because... it makes you dependent on this Drupal distribution's maintainers; on their updates and security patches releases  it "ties" your developer portal to the distribution's predefined theme, content layout, font, colors...   So, you'll first want to check that the distribution — Apigee Kickstart Drupal in this case — is regularly and properly maintained. 5. The Best Solution for Your Developer Portal Is... the one that meets your customization needs the one that complies with your time constraints the one that fits your team's level of expertise in setting up a developer portal   Source: docs.apigee.com  In short, choosing between an integrated portal and a Drupal-based one starts with setting your requirements (and your constraints) against each solution's benefits and key features. Are you time-limited, but do you also "crave" power of customization over your future developer portal? The Apigee Kickstart Drupal might be the best solution for you. Do you need a ready-hosted turn-key platform to set up your developer community on? Are you already an Apigee Edge for Public Cloud customer? Then Apigee's integrated portal might suit you best. The END! Integrated portal or Drupal-based portal: what would you choose? And why? ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 13'2020
Is It a Good Idea to Go with Drupal 8 Commerce? Why Yes, Why Not?
How viable is it to have your online store running on Drupal 8 Commerce? Why not go with... Magento 2 or Shopify? Or just stick to Drupal Commerce 7, instead of jumping to Commerce 2.x? What are its most “tempting” features? Those that make it a better option for you than:   the Drupal 7 Ubercart module Commerce 1.x other eCommerce platforms And also: which of its limitations could discourage you from using Drupal 8 and Commerce? Let's dig in for some answers and steer you in the right direction: 1. Why Use Drupal 8 Commerce? Because it's “extremely” customizable. And this is both its “superpower” and the main reason why you'd hesitate using it... Source: Drupal.org Commerce 2 is definitely not a “plug and play” eCommerce solution. Instead, it grants you total freedom of customization. And that can be overwhelming for some... Since it assumes nothing about your business model, you're free to tweak it to your needs. To create precisely the eCommerce customer experience that you'd like your website to provide. But that means there's more coding to do, compared to conventional webshop systems. Now, deriving from the power of customization, here are the main reasons why you'd want to use Drupal 8 Commerce for your online store: 1.1. Cart Works Pretty Much Out of the Box Since it's opinionated, you don't need to get tangled up in configuration... too deep. 1.2. It Provides You with Multi-Store Support Commerce 2 makes it easier for you to manage an entire infrastructure of online stores. Each one with its own Drupal 8 custom checkout process, its currencies, its product types, etc. 1.3. It Enables You to Have as Many Product Variations as Needed From size to color, to language. Drupal 8 Commerce comes with great product attribute handling. You're free to put together any custom combination of product attributes. To include as many product variations in your store as needed. 1.4. It Ships with Multiple Currencies Built-In Support A too powerful feature to ignore. Especially if it's a multi-store architecture that you're planning to run on Commerce 2. 1.5. You Can Easily Develop Analytical Hooks to Further Improve the UX You can fire events at any stage of the user journey on your eCommerce website to identify the weak links. Those with low user engagement. 1.6. It's Ideally Suited to a Headless Architecture Are you planning a headless eCommerce setup? Drupal 8 Commerce's the ideal “candidate” for that. It works smoothly with GraphQL, so you can use the front-end framework of your choice — say... React — and deliver the best eCommerce experience to your customers. In a nutshell: Commerce for Drupal 8 empowers you to customize every little aspect of your online store. But maybe some demo stores, that are already leveraging these Commerce 2 features, would weigh heavier in your decision-making process: Demo store 1 Demo store 2   2. What Could Keep You From Using Commerce 2.x? As I've already stated here: “The power of customization that it provides is both its “superpower” and the main reason why you'd hesitate using it.” You can, indeed, customize your online store down to the last detail, but that does come at a cost. The cost of coding. The cost of a skilled team of developers. But let us detail the reasons why you'd.... hesitate to use Drupal 8 Commerce: 2.1. It Has a Pretty High Learning Curve If you're used to Shopify's “get up and running” approach and you're not familiar with Drupal development, you'll see that Commerce 2.x isn't that non-developer friendly. It's not the type of tool that site builders without high programming skills find it quick and easy to learn.  2.2. It Requires Quite a Lot of Custom Code Writing Do keep that in mind: Drupal 8 Commerce is unexpectedly configurable and ideally extensible. Yet, you need to write plenty of custom code to unleash all that customization power. So, do expect to be challenged to write custom modules, custom templates and, overall, do a lot of custom work. 2.3. Setting It Up Is Not that Intuitive … as you might expect, being familiar with “ready-to-use” eCommerce platforms like Shopify, for instance. And all that because it assumes nothing. So, there's no preconfigured structure that you get out of the box. One that you should stick to.   2.4. It's a Completely Different System from Drupal 7's  And this is another strong “blocker” that might stop you from using Drupal 8 and Commerce 2.x for your next online store. You expect it to be fairly similar to Commerce 1.x. And yet, it's a whole new system.  One that ships with brand new concepts that you need to get yourself familiar with (i.e. checkout is no longer a form) 3. Why Move from Drupal Commerce 7 to 8? Why not just stick to Drupal 7's Ubercart module, for instance? Or to Commerce 1.x? Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash   Here are the top 4 reasons why you'd want to choose Drupal 8 Commerce instead of Drupal 7: 3.1. Drupal Commerce 2.x Provides More Out of the Box It ships with a fully functional promotions system, for instance. From coupons to discounts, you can incorporate the type of promotion that you have in mind for your customers in... no time. 3.2. It's an Upgraded Version of Commerce 1.x And that translates into improved:   product administration third-party integration 3.3. The Drupal 8 Custom Checkout  In Drupal 8 Commerce checkout is not a form. A bit intrigued? With Drupal Commerce 2 you're free to create your own custom checkout flows. Meaning that you get to customize the process according to specific:   customer profiles product types orders … and so on. For instance, you can set up 2 different checkout flows. One for your digital items and the other one for the physical ones that you sell on your eCommerce website. 3.4. You Benefit from a More Modular Design Just think about it: Compared to Drupal 7 Commerce, the Drupal 8 version is a lot more extensible and configurable. This allows you to custom-tune other elements of your website besides the checkout. For instance, you're free to configure your catalog from the ground up. From products to orders, to shops (if you're running a marketplace with several different stores), to prices... you get to tailor your catalog to your most specific business needs. Besides configuration of the default behavior for a standard eCommerce store, Commerce 2x. doesn't impose any predefined, rigid logic on you. 4. Go with Drupal 8 Commerce If... you already advocate for Drupal's flexibility and robustness you don't mind investing some time in learning Commerce 2.x and writing custom code you need more than a standard online store, that's easy to set up, but offers you no customization freedom (see Woocommerce) you're not ready to pay for every little add-on that you might need (see Shopify), that you could create it yourself The END! Would you trade flexibility for convenience? The convenience of having a generic webshop up and running in no time? Let's start a conversation on this topic in the comments here below! Image by justynafaliszek from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 11'2020
What Hybrid App Development Framework Should You Use for Your Projects in 2020? Top 3
"Seduced" by the cross-platform approach? By the chance to build a single app project and run it on mobile, web and desktop? No wonder... But which hybrid app development framework should you choose? What's the best one? The "best" one for your feature needs (and time resources) and for your development team's level of experience... Now, let me guess: it should...   be feature-rich be fast and to enable you to develop your hybrid app... fast, as well be developer-friendly provide native-like experience to your app's users provide you with plenty of UI components to just... mix and match   We've narrowed your options in terms of hybrid mobile app development tools down to... 3.  But before you rush to evaluate each one's pros and cons:   put together a personal hierarchy: must-have vs nice-to-have features get ready to set each of the following frameworks against that pyramid of needs   1. But What Is Hybrid App Development More Precisely? In plain English: The hybrid app development approach is building and running one app project across multiple platforms: Android, iOS, Windows... Now, you do the math and figure it out yourself:   how much time you'd save  how many moments of frustration you'd avoid without all the native IDEs, SDK and Apple-specific requirements to get tangled up in how much lighter the load of third party libraries would be how convenient it is to have a unique list of bugs to keep an eye on how convenient it is to adopt one dedicated technology approach instead of having to "juggle" with Java or Kotlin and with Swift or Objective-C...   One software development process (i.e a unique codebase) for all the platforms that you target...   2. Native vs Hybrid App Development Still a bit confused about the clear differences between native and hybrid apps? Let me shed some more light here: While native apps are platform-specialized — Android or iOS — hybrid apps can be deployed on multiple platforms. In this respect, a hybrid app development framework ships with both native and web-specific elements to help you quickly design and run your "one size fits all" type of app. Also, when it comes to the key differences between native and hybrid apps, keep in mind that: While native apps are faster, hybrid apps get built faster. So, it's your convenience in terms of time and budget vs... the user experience. 3. What's the Best Hybrid App Development Framework for Your Project?   3.1. Ionic- A Feature-Rich, Easy to Use Technology for Building Your Hybrid Apps "Which framework is best for hybrid app development?" 9 in 10 developers will say "Ionic".  Source: Ionicframework.com It's the most familiar one, after all, since it's been on the "hybrid app development stage" for... quite a few years now. Back then, when it was first released, it opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities:   to build and to deploy Angular-based apps that would challenge the jQuery mobile apps' "supremacy" to put together a visually-striking, progressive web app in no time   With its low learning curve, "bulk" of available plugins and all the UI components that it provides out of the box, Ionic's predicted to keep its "rockstar" aura in 2020, as well.    You'd Want to Choose Ionic Because:   it provides you with a rich collection of powerful features it's Angular-based: no need to learn a whole new language  it ships with plenty of UI components and predefined elements it has a livereload system and app enabling you to preview your hybrid app right on your target device it ships with an in-built development server it provides you with debugging tools it ships with a command-line interface (Ionic CLI) that streamlines the development cycle of your TypeScript and Node.js apps it's backed by a large dev community   You'd Hesitate to Choose Ionic Because:   it doesn't provide hot reloading it's not the best option if you're planning to build a heavy-duty app some of its features are Cordova-based and hence not all the plugins are supported you might find it too dependent on plugins   3.2. Flutter- Google's Toolkit for Creating Visually Stunning, Cross-Platform Apps Is there any surprise why this is an increasingly popular hybrid app development framework? It's Google's "prodigy" and everybody likes Google. Although a newcomer in the "arena", Flutter stands a good chance to outshine the traditional hybrid mobile app development tools in 2020. Source: flutter.dev How? It already sets itself apart as a go-to choice when you need to craft a visually attractive and interactive MVP... fast. With its flexible design components, you get to craft a stunning UI in no time. And its interactivity elements help you create the engaging experience that users expect. In a nutshell: you get a power-packed toolkit to craft and to run a cross-platform app in no time. Where do you add that it's designed to support multiple languages and to run smoothly across several platforms. And all that without the need to look for an alternative for Swift, Java or Objective C.   You'd Want to Choose Flutter Because:   it's blazing fast it ships with its own widgets: you can easily implement buttons, sliders, switches, dialog boxes, tab bars, loading spinners it's compatible with Fuchsia, Google's mobile OS it provides you with CLI and VI editors it ships with the hot reload feature it enables you to assemble (and nest) multiple widgets for crafting your app's UI    You'd Hesitate to Choose Flutter Because:   it's Dart-based, so you need to learn a whole new language it provides minimal support for some features it lacks profile data completion your Flutter app will be approx. 40% larger than a native app   3.3. React Native- Developers' Favorite One And why do they love it?   because they enjoy working in Java and Swift (and they're already fluent in React) because it provides them with native modules and components and thus enables them to "inject" top performance into their hybrid apps because it enables them to provide users a native-like experience   It's Facebook's own version of a framework for building native-like apps. Source: facebook.github.io/react-native/ If you're familiar with the React approach to software development, you'll love it.   You'd Want to Choose React Native Because:   it's high-powered: rendered with native code you cut down costs by reusing code it's backed by a huge community of developers that you can rely on it grants you a shorter app development cycle it features live reload with 2 different screens: to update your code and to preview those updates in real-time it is Node.js supported you can choose from a whole variety of social plugins: display grid picture, feed, etc.   You'd Hesitate to Choose React Native Because:   it's not the best technology for hybrid app development if it's an app with multiple UI transitions, plenty of interactions and various screens that you have in mind its  supply of custom modules is quite limited it provides you with few UI and native features, thus "forcing" you to... get your hands dirty with code (and that may take some time) it challenges you with a steep learning code it takes a team of experienced developers to build a high-powered React Native app it presents some shortcomings of navigation components   It's definitely not a framework for junior developers and startups.   4. Final Word Do you value a native-live experience for your end-users over a fast development process?  Is a big set of UI components, that you can just... assemble, more important to you than high speed? Is a rich collection of plugins more valuable to you than a low learning curve for your developers? See? Picking the right hybrid app development framework for your project means finding the (almost) perfect match between a tool's selling points and your own priorities. So, which one's your winner? Photo by Jacob Townsend on Unsplash  ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Feb 07'2020
OPTASY Is Proud to be Named a Top Canadian E-commerce Development Partner by Clutch
Here at OPTASY, we know it can seem impossible for a new business to tackle their challenges while also implementing high-quality web development solutions. That’s why we’re here to help! We’re a Canadian Drupal firm and web development company that’s provided web solutions with outstanding results. Our team is dedicated, knowledgeable, and can help your company thrive!  Source: Clutch.com In recognition of our efforts, we’ve been named a top Canadian e-commerce development firm by Clutch, a development research resource.  We’d like to thank our superstar clients for helping us get this far! They engaged with Clutch analysts to assess our impact on their day to day operations. Our evaluation took into account the quality of our services and deliverables, attention to their project timelines, and the value of our work in relation to our pricing. We’re happy to announce that we’ve maintained a lovely 4.8 out of five stars in reflection of that data!  Take a look at one of our recent reviews below:  "We are thrilled to have been chosen as one of the leading web developers by Clutch!"  - Adrian Aabei, CEO of OPTASY, Inc. For those who might not know, Clutch is a verified market research firm that leverages a unique rating methodology to compare leaders across sectors. They showcase our development work on Visual Objects, Clutch’s sister site that centers on portfolio items. They feature us in their directory of top e-commerce developers.  We’re proud to receive this feedback and look forward to helping even more clients meet their potential! Contact OPTASY today if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you thrive!  Image by Megan Rexazin from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 06'2020
OPTASY: Ranked as Top Drupal Developers of February 2020
OPTASY strikes again! We've got listed among the top Drupal developers of 2020... FindBestDevelopment, the leading ranking platform for the web development industry, featured us in their “Best Drupal Development” category. Take it as a “hall of fame” showcasing 10 of the best Drupal development companies in the... world.   And we've just earned our spot there. What a great way to start the year!   But Who Is FindBestDevelopment? It's a market research and reputation platform that “detects” and rates the top software development companies in the world.    And they do that... monthly. Source: FindBestDevelopment.com Take it as a free, trusted and conveniently exhaustive resource at hand for when you look for top professionals in fields like AI, eCommerce, Drupal, web, mobile app or IoT. “And how do they evaluate and rank the IT service providers included in their tops? What criteria do they use?” A legitimate question to ask yourself.  FindBestDevelopment conducts an in-depth investigation of the targeted companies and:   analyses their business practices compares them to the industry standards   For instance, in the case of a team of Drupal developers, their editorial staff would evaluate:   the team's overall experience as a Drupal services provider its specific processes the reporting its portfolio and the impact of the projects included there   Source: FindBestDevelopment.com There are 8 different categories that FindBestDevelopment updates on a monthly basis:   Best Web Development Best Mobile Application Development Best Custom Software Development Best eCommerce Development Best WordPress Development Best Drupal Development Best IoT Development Best Artificial Intelligence Development From a Small Drupal Agency to... the Top 10 Drupal Developers Looking back, way back (2005), when OPTASY was just a small team of Drupal enthusiasts, and analyzing our trajectory, we do get a bit... dizzy. Little did we know (or hope to dare) that we would come 3rd place in the “Best Drupal Development Awards” on the world's most reputed ranking platform. Source: FindBestWebDevelopment.com It's overwhelming, it's rewarding and it's... a huge confidence-booster. Seeing the other 9 finalists — companies that we've been looking up to — and knowing that our past projects played a key role in this evaluation, we get both a confirmation and an incentive to live up to these higher standards.   Thank You! We have Drupal in our DNA: we've been living and breathing Drupal since... 2005. And yet... if it hadn't been for our clients':   innovative ideas that they wanted implemented in their projects:  unique functionalities turned into custom Drupal modules, high standards in terms of visual aesthetics turned into custom Drupal themes daring goals that they set for their projects courage to adopt new approaches and emerging technologies to deliver the best user experience to their customers   … we wouldn't have been here, among the world's top 10 Drupal developers. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 03'2020