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What Are the Best Continuous Deployment Tools for Kubernetes and Why? Top 5
So, getting your apps up and running with Kubernetes has been a quite unexpected pleasant surprise. But now comes the... predictably challenging part: updating and deploying them. How do you set up a solid automated deployment pipeline? What continuous deployment tools for Kubernetes meet all your specific feature-needs? Feature needs like:   canary deployment release management secrets and variable storage in the tool itself (i.e. not in Kubernetes) easy rollbacks continuous-integration rolling and orchestrating application deployment  UI blue-green deployment monitoring infrastructure and applications    And the offer of tools geared at making deployment more efficient sure is... overwhelming enough.  But fear not, for we've weighted some of the most popular Kubernetes cluster deployment tools' pros and cons, we've compared them to one another and shortlisted your bulky list of options to... 5. The 5 best dedicated tools to orchestrate your releases with Kubernetes:   0. Manual Deployments vs Continuous Deployment Tools for Kubernetes Why not just build a fully customed deployment script like... so many organizations out there still do? It would fit your specific in-house processes and particular feature needs like a glove, wouldn't it? "In a soon to be released survey by Codefresh, 32 percent of developers reported they don’t have CI/CD or the right kind of automation tools to help them deploy more often, making it challenging to take advantage of cloud-native technologies." (source: Devops.com) Well, let me give you 8 key reasons why maintaining such a script would turn into a dread in the long term. And why going with an “off-the-shelf”, “enterprise-level” solution would benefit you n times more:   maintaining a deployment script is a slow and time-consuming process   a custom build turns into a major challenge once you need to scale it up   running manual Kubernetes deployments, that engage a large development team, is always more prone to errors   managing rollbacks, keeping track of old and new deployments — particularly when dealing with a large team and a complex app — is n times more challenging (and riskier) when using manual deployments compared to running the right CD tools    automated deployment tools for Kubernetes enable you to run specific deployment strategies like blue-green or canary   YAML files have gained a reputation of being particularly error-prone; Kubernetes application deployment tools will streamline everything, from creating YAML files to generating and templating them   storing secrets, managing them among multiple developers, across different repos, calls for extreme cautiousness and so... can get time-consuming and prone to “accidents”   upgrading the entire ecosystem of resources that your Kubernetes app depends on gets quite challenging; by comparison, automating the entire updating workflow, using the right tooling, will help you save valuable time   In short: if scalability, maintainability and close to zero risks of failure are your two top priorities, choosing the right tooling for your continuous deployment workflow with Kubernetes becomes critical.   1. Fluxcd.io   One of the best Kubernetes deployment tools that you could "turbocharge" your workflow with. Here's why: Source: Fluxcd.io   you can use it in production it relies on an operator in the cluster to run deployments inside Kubernetes: in other words: you won't need a different continuous deployment tool it detects new images, keeps an eye on image repositories and updates the running configurations based on a configurable policy and the configuration set in git it checks that all config updates and new container images get properly pushed out to your Kubernetes cluster it adjusts itself to any development process   In short: Flux will automate the deployment of services to Kubernetes. Now, here's Flux "in action", in one of its typical use cases: One of the developers in your team makes some changes... the operational cluster needs updated now... Flux detects the changes and deploys them to your cluster and keeps monitoring it. Long story short: that developer in your team won't need to interact with an orchestrator; Flux provides him/her with a CLI to run all these operations manually.   But there are also 2 cons for using Flux as your automated deployment tool:   it lacks webhook support it lacks multi-repo support   Tip: use this automated deployment tool at the end of the Continuous delivery pipeline.   2. Spinnaker.io What's Spinnaker? Source: bmc.com A cloud deployment tool developed originally by Netflix, then open-sourced, that comes with support for Kubernetes. How does it work with Kubernetes? It's designed to complement Kubernetes, to make up for its limitations: it provides robust deployment pipelines that allow you to "joggle with" various deployment strategies. Why would you choose Spinnaker over other continuous deployment tools for Kubernetes?  Because:   it provides deployment pipelines, easy rollbacks and scaling (right from the console) it's open-source it integrates seamlessly with email, Slack, Hipchat, thus making pipeline notifications a breeze you get to use it for all types of Kubernetes resources (it's not "limited" to deployments) it supports Helm charts it handles blue/green and canary deployments and ships with support for any CI tool and cloud provider it'll monitor your Kubernetes app's (and cluster's) health   In short: you'll want to use Spinnaker if it's a robust, fully automated CD pipeline for Kubernetes that you want to set up; one "packed" with all the best practices, that'll help you streamline the deployment of apps.   2 Typical Use Cases for Spinnaker:   you use packer for building an AMI in one of the stages and you deploy it to production; Spinnaker allows you to closely monitor the state of your deployed application to perform tests, detect a container image push and deploy that image to Kubernetes   3. Codefresh.io     Source: Codefresh.io Not just one of the continuous delivery tools to consider, but THE first Kubernetes-native CI/CD technology. Codefresh is a GUI-based environment that streamlines your Kubernetes app building and deployment process. Here are just some of the most powerful reasons why you'd add it to your box of continuous deployment tools for Kubernetes:   it supports Helm charts it allows you to use your favorite tools: favorite CI, image repository, repo... it ships with a whole set of plugins that enable you to hook it to your favorite CI/CD tools (e.g. Jenkins)   And a few cons of using Codefresh:   it won't store your secrets/variables its plugins are set up from their own GUI: if trouble strikes, addressing the problem might make your pipeline unnecessarily complex it doesn't handle cluster credentials living outside your cluster, leaving it exposed to imminent risks   4. Argo CD   Source: Argoproj.github.io Another one of the best Kubernetes deployment tools to consider when you're planning your continuous delivery workflow. How does Argo CD work? Argo uses git repositories as a reference for the target state of your app and the target deployment environments. It will synchronize your desired app state with each of the target environments that you'll define. It's a declarative continuous system that it will provide you with, one supporting a whole variety of config management tools: Helm, ksonnet/jsonnet... Argo CD's top features, that make it worthy of your shortlist, are:   it provides continuous monitoring of your deployed apps rollback/roll-anywhere-in-the-git-repository features it ships with webhook support (BitBucket, GitLab, GitHub) it provides sync, presync and postsync hooks for complex app rollouts it provides SSO integration (GitLab, OIDC, Microsoft, LinkedIn, SAML 2.0, LDAP) you can use it alone or as a component of an existing setup of pipeline tools    5. GitLab An automated delivery tool designed to meet even the highest feature needs:   Auto DevOps provides you with pre-built CI/CD configuration, so you can automatically identify, build, test, deploy and further monitor your Kubernetes apps it works with any Kubernetes cluster (you won't depend on GitLab's infrastructure) it allows you to use Containers as a Service or a self-hosted Kubernetes cluster on any public cloud it provides you with CI support out of the box it allows you to choose between its auto-deploy component for Kubernetes and Helm charts Overall: GitLab will simplify and streamline your entire Kubernerted app development cycle. Use it if you need an end-to-end automated deployment pipeline that doesn't depend on too many configurations. It makes that off-the-shelf solution that fits your scenario perfectly.   The END! These are the 5 continuous deployment tools for Kubernetes to start evaluating first as you're getting your toolbox ready.  Do you have a continuous deployment pipeline in place? What other great tools are you using to orchestrate your app releases with Kubernetes? Image by Astryd_MAD from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 26'2019
How Do You Prepare for Drupal 9? 5 Tools to Detect Any Uses of Deprecated Code on Your Drupal Website
How should you prepare for Drupal 9? You deep clean up your codebase of all deprecations and errors and wait patiently for the big upgrade to... happen. “But how do I know whether my Drupal website's using any code deprecations?” you'll legitimately ask yourself. How do you identify and make an inventory of all the code errors on your site, so you can remove them and start... waiting, patiently, for that big upgrade to Drupal 9? Well, you “stuff” your toolbox with all the essential tools that'll help you track down deprecations (still) lurking in your codebase. Here are the 5 most effective ones:   1. Drupal Check  You can't claim that you're getting ready for Drupal 9... the proper way if you're not already using Drupal Check to scan your codebase for deprecations. “But what is Drupal check?” It's a command-line tool — a custom runner for PHPStan — that enables you to run PHPStan against your Drupal website to look for any deprecations and code errors. In short: instead of running PHPStan, you run Drupal Check, which comes as a package storing PHPStan, PHPStan Drupal, PHPStan's Deprecation Rules, plus configurations for them all, as well. Source: glamanate.com Just incorporate it into your build processes and continuous integration systems and run audits on:   your custom and contributed modules, checking their compatibility with Drupal 9 your D7 to D8 migration code   Use it on your existing Drupal 8 website. Or use it on the one that you're developing, when you're nearly done, to check whether any deprecations have made their way to your codebase... Word of caution: expect Drupal Check to provide you with an accurate report of the deprecated code used on your site, but don't expect it to fix them for you, as well.   2. Upgrade Status Module   Here's another “tool” that you shouldn't miss from your toolbox. That if you do want your website's upgrade to Drupal 9 to be... buttery smooth. Source: Drupal.org What the Upgrade Status module does is:   inspect your code — your custom and contributed projects — for deprecations make an inventory of all the identified issues    Moreover, its Drupal 8 version harnesses the power of PHPStan and comes as a complete solution that you can use for running full-site checks. Let it work its “magic” on your Drupal site and find out where it stands in terms of compatibility with Drupal 9.   3. PHPStan & PHPStan-Drupal         PHPStan's the very foundation of the toolkit to rely on when you prepare for Drupal 9.  Source: Matt Glaman's Twitter page Not only that you save valuable time using it, time that you'd otherwise invest in pinpointing every error spotted during your code reviews:   classes called incorrectly nonexistent classes PHP projects that you forgot to run once you compiled them   …  but you get to write your own custom rules. You get to indicate specific “red alarm” situations that you'd want PHPStan to... investigate for you. Now, it may be the key tool to keep at hand when you evaluate your site's compatibility with Drupal 9, but nevertheless... it does have its own limitations: It won't load any files on its own if you run it against a Drupal module out of the box. It depends on Composer to load all that information... Luckily, Matt Glaman's developed an extension to address precisely this... limitation of PHPStan: phpstan-drupal.  An extension that'll help you make the most of PHPStan when using it to scan Drupal code: from your various dependencies to... Drupal core.    4. Use Project Deprecation Status to Prepare for Drupal 9  And what this tool does is answer one key question: “What's the current status of the Drupal modules in terms of compatibility with Drupal 9?” Which Drupal projects are already compatible and which of them need more fixing before the big upgrade? Project deprecation status is the right tool to... gain an accurate picture of where each Drupal project stands in relation to upcoming Drupal 9.   5. Rector        So far I've pointed out the 4 key tools for deep-scanning your Drupal website to detect any uses of deprecated code as you prepare for Drupal 9. But what if you want to get rid of that pile of deprecations that you will have collected by the end of the scanning process? How do you fix/remove them? And, more importantly: how do you automate this code cleaning process? In this respect, Rector for Drupal 8 — a proof of concept for now — comes with great potential: Check it out and... be prepared to add it to your toolbox for any automated deprecation fixes that you'll want to perform on your site.   The END! These are the 5 essential tools to have in your toolbelt for running deprecation checks on your Drupal website, getting all ready for Drupal 9. Would you have added some other must-have tools to the list, as well? Let us know in the comments here below: Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 22'2019
Google Apigee vs MuleSoft: How Do You Choose the Right One for You? How Are They Different?
How do you know which API management solution best suits your needs? What fundamental differences would a Google Apigee vs MuleSoft comparison reveal? What different features and different use cases would it expose, pointing out to you the right platform for your application? Well, we've compared the 2 API managers for you, so get ready to find your answer to:   What is Apigee? What are its main features? What is an API management platform? What is MuleSoft? What's the difference between Mule ESB and Apigee? What is Apigee used for? And what about Mule ESB? 1. What Is Apigee? It's a cross-cloud API management platform offered by Google. Source: Google Cloud But that's just a "teaser" answer to your question, so if you crave for more details: Apigee is an API gateway tool that provides a secure environment for multiple cloud services and applications to exchange data in. In short: Google Apigee is that platform that helps you manage all your APIs in one place. A platform that brings together all your digital experiences.    2. What Is an API Management Platform, More Precisely?  Maybe you feel a bit confused. Left in the dark about what API management platforms are. Therefore, allow me to delve into (even) more details, so there's no confusion left when I start to actually compare these 2 API managers: Google Apigee vs MuleSoft. So, an API management platform is: The process where you manage all your APIs in a secure and scalable environment. A process that enables you to use an API for overseeing the interface's lifecycle. This way, you make sure that all the apps and developers using that API have their needs met. Now, there are 3 key functions that an API management platform should support:   security monitoring version control   ... and some basic features that would allow you to accelerate innovation in your organization and adapt easily to customer expectations of flexible and scalable technology:   API key and authorization management analytics live updated documentation developer community management developer portal to simplify the acquisition and distribution of certain APIs needed for building apps   3. Google Apigee: Key Features Now, that looks tempting enough, doesn't it? To be able to manage all your APIs from one central place... But what features, designed to streamline the whole API management process, does Apigee provide you with? How precisely does it help you be effective when managing your APIs?   it provides constant version updates it provides troubleshooting options it taps into machine learning and analytics to generate actionable insights it scales to your needs it supports multi-cloud and hybrid cloud  it automates the process of generating API documentation and software development kits it speeds up the implementation of API proxies with integrated metrics and dashboards it provides a modern UI for your legacy data stores it provides monitoring tools for security, API troubleshooting, and optimization 4. What Is MuleSoft? Since we're about to make a MuleSoft API management vs Apigee comparison, your question is more than legitimate: Source: MuleSoft.com   MuleSoft is a software company that provides an integration platform — Mule ESB — for centralizing all the apps, data, and devices across the on-premise and cloud environments in an organization.   5. Google Apigee vs MuleSoft: What's the Difference? And we're back to the initial question: What's the difference between MuleSoft and Apigee, after all? For they're both API management platforms, they both seem to be serving the same API centralization and management needs and they're equally popular. Here's a first differentiator: In Google Apigee APIs are consumption-centric, whereas in Mule ESB they're exposure-focused (or reuse-focused). Now, let's dig out some more ways in which they differ:   5.1. Mule ESB   higher ongoing operational costs compared to Apigee ships with a wide array of connectors, for all major platforms —Twitter, Facebook, SAP, Salesforce — and business process management software; this makes it easier to be integrated to other systems and services it provides some of the most robust features in API management: oAuth, throttling, access levels... it makes implementing a CI/CD environment conveniently easy it supports a whole variety of interaction patterns since it ships with lots of adapters and robust message-oriented middleware   5.2. Apigee   it grants you close control of user access; you can even grant users granular control based on their particular needs and adjust the services' requests based on users' specific requirements it allows branding it provides support for JMS and SMTP functionality  it integrates seamlessly with other platforms   6. When Do You Use One API Manager over the Other? Specific Use Cases In other words: which one to use? Say you need to expose some services in your app: should you go with Google Apigee or Mule ESB? To make an informed decision, here are some of the typical uses cases of each API manager:   6.1. Mule ESB   more appropriate for REST API development best suited for system-to-system integration  covers a bigger scope, compared to Google Apigee   6.2. Apigee   best suited for connected apps scenarios the best option if you're planning to update your legacy apps and to enable data exchange across your ecosystem of apps and services when you just need full API lifecycle management: a platform that exposes your services in a secure way and ships with powerful API governance and management features like caching, analytics, etc. The END! Have I answered your "Google Apigee vs MuleSoft" question(s)?  If so:   Which API management solution do you think that best suits your needs? Image by Juraj Lenhard from Pixabay     ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Nov 15'2019
What’s New in Drupal 9? Olivero, A New Default Front-End Theme in Drupal
"What's new in Drupal 9?" or "What are the new features in Drupal 9?" These 2 questions are on everyone's lips these days, both Drupal teams and organizations using Drupal. How about a... shiny new main theme? For, let's face it: we've been longing for a new default theme in Drupal for some time now...  The current one, Bartik, hasn't got an update since... 2011 and it has started to show: Drupal 8's outgrown its core theme. The new one, Olivero, which is still just design with a proof of concept, is expected to address all of Bartik's limitations:   to be more simple to be more modern to be more flexible to support Drupal's increasingly powerful functionality   But let's dig in for some more info about this initiative:   why do you need a new default theme in Drupal? the key design principles established for this theme the main components of the new design system   1. How Does Your Ideal Default Theme for Drupal Look Like?  Does it resemble Bartik? I'm pretty sure it doesn't, judging by the fact that:   it hasn't seen a major change since January 2011 it still uses gradients, drop shadows and other out-of-date graphical elements it no longer accommodates all the modern website functionality implemented in Drupal (e.g. Layout Builder) over the last years   Overall: Bartik has started to look a bit... out-of-fashion, while Drupal's back-end has been growing more and more robust. Therefore, I bet that the words that you'd use to describe your "ideal" default theme in Drupal revolve around these key adjectives:   clutter-free/minimalistic flexible: to provide plenty of options to choose from light modern and fresh accessible intuitive elegant clean   2. Olivero and The 3 Main Goals Behind this Drupal Core Initiative No goal no... glory. That's why the team behind this Drupal core initiative, Lullabot, set 3 major objectives for the Olivero theme:   it should support all the latest functionality implemented in Drupal: embedded media, second-level navigation, layout builder, etc. it should be WCAG AA compliant from the ground up (accessibility should not be an afterthought) it should look and feel more modern: all those design elements that made Bartik feel too heavy to be reduced to a minimum, while particular design system parts — color palette, typography, and animation — to be reconsidered   3. What's New in Drupal 9: Design Principles Set for Its Theme Source: Dries Buytaert's blog Curious which of the features on your wishlist for an ideal default theme have made it to the list of design principles for Olivero? Well, here they are:   simple: clutter-free; by "clutter" they mean all colors, effects and visual elements that are irrelevant and make the theme look and feel too heavy modern: support for modern browsers' features and interaction modes flexible: presents Drupal (front-end) developers with multiple options to choose from focused: includes all those design elements, like negative space and high contrast, that grab user attention accessible: it's designed with WCAG AA conformity in mind; from functionality to layout, to colors, all elements should be thought out to be accessible for everyone   4. The Olivero Design System: Key Components "What's new in Drupal 9?" Look forward to a new, promising design system. I'll highlight just 5 of its components, so you can get an idea of what the team behind this initiative mean by "modern" and "flexible" in relation to the Drupal 9 default theme: Source: Drupal.org 4.1. Color Palette They chose:   bright blue as the base color neutral grays to counterbalance the design elements and layout darker colors to enhance accessibility lighter colors in the layout to highlight the design elements   4.2. Typography They used the size 18px for the base font in the body copy, to be leveled for metadata, headers, quotations, etc. and adapted to smaller viewports, as well. Consistency, throughout line-height and spacing, has been a key goal when setting the scale for typography.   4.3. Header & Navigation The flexibility principle is best reflected in the header of the future default theme for Drupal 9:   it's designed to incorporate, seamlessly, all logo types and text titles it comes in multiple versions to choose from, one for every site identity type it turns into a hamburger menu once the user scrolls down   4.4. Sidebar The news factor is that in Drupal 9 you'll have one sidebar region instead of two competing for space on the screen. A single spacebar, next to the primary content, where your content team can display related posts and all kinds of utility blocks.   4.5. Site Branding Variations The Olivero theme will ship with background-color and width settings that you can configure in order to fit any text length and logo type.   5. Final Word "What's new in Drupal 9?" I think this question is not quite accurate, in relation to this upcoming front-end theme. "What's bound to be new in Drupal 9?" is more appropriate. For the Olivero theme is not yet... a theme in itself, but work-in-progress. A proof of concept, a core initiative that's still calling out for contributors. One that's expected to become the new default theme in Drupal, that should:   accommodate all the new powerful features implemented in Drupal these last years be accessible from the ground up be (more) intuitive    Why would you care for this initiative if you were a Drupal developer? Because it would improve your entire experience of working with Drupal. Why would you care about this work-in-progress theme if you were considering Drupal for your next web project? Because all visually-appealing websites have one thing in common: a modern, accessible and flexible theme. Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 13'2019
What’s the Fundamental Difference Between Gatsby and Next.js? How Do You Choose?
You're building a React website/application. You have your bulky list of functionalities all set, you know how you want it to look, but can't decide on the React framework to build it on: What's the main difference between Gatsby and Next.js, after all? And what's the difference between server-side rendering and static site rendering? Since both frameworks seem to be serving your main goals:   not to get tangled up in config or routing to generate a fast, fully accessible and SEO-friendly website to provide you with boilerplate application   So, what's the fundamental differentiator between Gatsby and Next? The one(s) that'll help you identify the framework that best covers your specific use case. Or, are there several of them (differentiators)? Just keep on reading:   1. But First: What Do Gatsby and Next.js Have in Common? How are they similar?    they're both React frameworks they're both great options for SEO purposes they're both great options if you need a high performance React app/website they both provide entirely formed HTML pages they both provide boilerplate application they both simplify and speed up the React app/website development cycle  they both generate SPA out-of-the-box they both provide great developer experience   In short: both Next.js and Gatsby score well in categories like speed and SEO; they're both awesome solutions to streamline app/website development in React. But the way they go about it... that's where these frameworks are fundamentally different.   2. How Does GatsbyJS Work? It builds HTML code on build time. That would be the short(est) answer to your question. But if we were to elaborate upon it: GatsbyJS is a static site generator that... generates (static) HTML code during the “build” process. How? It fetches data from external sources — APIs, Contentful, WordPress, markdown files —  and uses GraphQL to render it. Example: say you have a blog. In this case, you could use Gatsby to fetch your blog posts from... Contentful. Or any other repository where you might be storing your content (e.g. WordPress or Drupal).   3. What's Next.js? A tool for rendering pages on the server-side. And a more detailed answer would be: It's a React framework that supports server-side rendering. Meaning that it generates the needed HTML code dynamically, from the server, each time a request is being sent through. In short: your browser's provided with pre-rendered HTML code instead of empty “div”. Now, how does its distinctive way of going about building a React app/website suit you? It enables you to develop multi-page applications using static rendering and serving dynamic data from a back-end.   4. What Are They Used For? Specific Use Cases for Gatbsy and for Next.js What's the difference between Gatsby and Next.js in terms of use case? In other words: when should you choose one over the other?   4.1. Specific Use Cases for GatsbyJS 1. Blogs and small-scaled websites And I'm talking here about a particular scenario: When you have no comments section on your blog or, at least, not a very “busy” one. So, a use case where you don't need to render content every 5-10 minutes. Since blogs are static and their content doesn't change that frequently, Gatbsy's ecosystem makes the perfect fit for them.  And you have 2 options for your blog post creation and publishing process:   you write a blog post and the npm build will generate a corresponding HTML page you write a blog post in Contentful (or a CMS of your choice), publish it and recompile your blog in Netfly   2. Landing pages Again, since they use static content, landing pages make an ideal use case for GatsbyJS.  Where do you add that Gatsby “spoils” you with such a wide collection of plugins to choose from and to boost your landing page with: PWA, inline critical CSS, AMP...   4.2. Specific Use Cases for Next.js 1. Content-packed websites Dealing with lots of content? Or are you expecting your site's content load to grow, over time?  Then Next.js should be your first choice.  The reason is simple: Just imagine your Gatsby framework overstrained to rebuild all that content over and over again. Not precisely the most time-effective solution to go with, don't you think? 2. When you need more freedom for accessing your data Do you want to empower your content team to publish content on their own? Then you might want to consider Next.js.   3. To-Do Apps They make the perfect use case for server-side rendering: Next.js retrieves the content for your list, from the server, and displays the to-do's upfront.   5. The Fundamental Difference Between Gatsby and Next.js Is... … that Gatsby's a statically generator, while Next.js generates HTML dynamically.  Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay The first creates JS/HTML/CSS at build time, while the second generates it at run time. Or, if you wish to put it this way: Gatsby doesn't depend on a server, while Next can't function without one.   6.4 Other Main Areas Where They Differ For the “Gatsby vs Next” debate doesn't end at the “static vs dynamic” comparison.  There are other factors, as well, that set these 2 React frameworks apart. And we'll outline the 4 most obvious ones:   6.1. Data Handling In case of Gatsby, the framework's the one “deciding” how you should handle data in your app. It needs to know where your data, your images and other types of content will be handled.  What's in it your for? Why would you accept this... “compromise”: to be told how to handle data in your own app? Because: Gatsby, through its rich collection of plugins, enables you to hook up your site to various data sources. This way, you gain external control over your data... By comparison, Next's totally unopinionated. Is gives you the freedom to decide your own data architecture. In short: it doesn't “tie” you to a specific technology. You're free to handle data your own way.   6.2. Deployment You can deploy Gatsby anywhere you need to, with no special configurations, since it's no more than compiled CSS, JS, and HTML. And things are equally straightforward with Next.js, as well. Since it's a Node application, you can host it anywhere you want to...   6.3. Routing With Gatsby, you have a pages directory where you're free to create all the HTML pages needed for your app/website.  Moreover, they provide you an API, as well, for creating routes dynamically. With Next.js you get a “pages” folder, as well, where you can set up your new pages and get your app running, with no routing to config.   6.4. Plugins “What's the main difference between Gatsby and Next.js?” Plugins sure are a powerful differentiator. Gatsby comes “loaded” with an entire ecosystem of plugins.  So, do you need to have your JS minified, you CSS compiled, your...? There must be a Gatsby plugin for it. Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay   Next.js, on the other hand, doesn't “tempt” you with plugins, since its smaller scope doesn't justify the usage of plugins... The END! These are the key differences between Next.js and Gatsby, along with their common points and specific use cases. Have you had your “Aha!” moment(s) reading through our post? Have you managed to identify the right framework for your own use case? Photo by Charles ?￰゚ヌᆳ on Unsplash ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 12'2019
How to Configure Custom Search in Drupal 8: 8 Ways to Deliver More Relevant Search Results on Your Website
Let's say that you have a cleaning business. Once a user types “office cleaning” on your website, the search results that show up first are some blog posts on this topic instead of the page that you're actually targeting: the “Office & Workplace Cleaning” service page. So, you wonder: “How to configure custom search in Drupal 8?” What are your options if you want to go beyond the default Drupal search? How can you influence that search results ordering so that you:   improve the overall site search experience for your visitors? push forward into the spotlight particular pages on your site, based on specific keywords?   We've done our homework, collected and then selected 9 different ways that you can upgrade the default search experience in Drupal so that it should fit your needs perfectly. From:   additional Drupal modules that you can enable to effective search plugins that you can install to brilliant configurations that you can set up   … you'll find a whole collection of options at hand for fine-tuning the search functionality on your Drupal website.   1. Enable the Drupal Search API Module If you find the default Drupal search module a bit too... restrictive, consider Search API.  It takes but 3 simple steps before you can leverage its flexibility to the fullest:   just install it and enable it, along with the Search API database module add an index and an API server, as well   2. Integrate Your Drupal 8 Website with Apache Solr Search The Java-based search platform is powerful enough to supercharge your website with tons of search capabilities: Source: Drupal.org   search for all attributes of Drupal nodes ouline the search queries in the results perform language stemming to return related results search across multiple websites index from... millions of nodes overlook users' typos and provide proper suggestions provide location-based search results display the most relevant results on top of the list   In short: you're better off with a Solr back-end; it will always overstep a Drupal database search setup when it comes to returning relevant and intuitive results. Even in “keyword phrase search” scenarios.   3. How to Configure Custom Search in Drupal 8: Use ExpertRec This search-as-a-service solution ships with a heavy load of useful features, such as:   manageable search ranking typo tolerance easy UI control results as you type custom facets   So, you might want to consider it for evaluation. Just put its robust set of features against your site search needs.    4. Use the Cludo Site Search Solution What if you could turn the site search on your Drupal website into a powerful “insights generator”?  Source: Drupal.org  One that would provide you with valuable and, most of all, actionable insights on your users' search behavior. Just imagine turning all that powerful data into highly relevant site search experiences for your visitors. Cludo's that fully customizable on-site search tool, that “spoils” you with unique features like:   semantic search customizable index machine learning-driven autocomplete   Find out more about this tool and what it can offer you from our post on Cludo as an alternative to Google Site Search.   5. Boost the “Title” Field to Improve Search Relevancy Say you have a “How to speed clean a kitchen” page on your website (we're assuming that you run a professional cleaning business, remember?).  Now, if a website visitor types “how to clean my kitchen quick” you most certainly want that specific page to show up first, right? Well, to make that happen you simply boost the title field. Here's how:   go to /admin/config/search/search-api click “Edit”, next to the index that you're targeting click “Add Fields” look for “Title”, under the “Content” heading hit “Done” look for your title field scrolling down your list of fields and replace its “Type” from “Strong” to "Fulltext" configure the “Boost” dropdown that pops up: set the title, fill in the special keywords field... click the “Save Changes” button   6. Configure the Search View to Your Needs “How to configure custom search in Drupal 8?” You tweak the default search view... The good news is that Search API connects with Views, “spoiling” you with loads of flexibility when setting the way your search results get displayed. But the great news is that you can go even further:   Define a field-based view, add the title and excerpts fields so that your website returns a Google-like title and snippet to its users.   7. Enable the Indexer to “See” the Whole Node Let me guess: you, too, are using Paragraphs on your Drupal site. Who doesn't, right? All that flexibility that you get when putting together your web pages is just... irresistible. Then, you must have already bumped into one “minor” issue: Your search indexer can't “see” the entire content on a page, since the Paragraphs module breaks it into multiple little pieces. Luckily, Search API comes to the rescue!  Just add the “Rendered HTML Output” field to your index and you'll enable the indexer to “see” the whole content on a page. Just like your website visitors see it: with references, paragraph entities and all that... And here's how you incorporate this field:   go to /admin/config/search/search-api click “Edit” click “Fields” on top of the page click “Add Fields” look for “Rendered HTML Output (rendered_item)” under “General” click “Add”    Word of caution: you'll then need to select a view mode for all the content types that your search index can access. Make sure you go with the “default” mode (unless you've set up a custom mode of your own) and not the “search results highlight input”.    8. Add a Custom “search_keywords” Field to the Targeted Content Types Remember the example at the beginning of this post (the one with the “office cleaning” search phrase)? Now, it's about time we found an answer to this question: How can you give your content team more control over the returned search results? Over the results ordering... You set up a new field called “search_keywords” and integrate it with every content-type/bundle that you're targeting:   go to /admin/config/search/search-api click “Edit” click “Fields” click “Add Fields” look for your newly created “Search Keywords”, under “Content” click “Add” look for your new field in the fields list change its type from “String” to “Fulltext” configure the “Boost” dropdown showing up (consider setting it to 21...) click “Save Changes”   The END! Here are no less than 9 different solutions to your “How to configure a custom search in Drupal 8?” type of dilemma. Which one would you go with? And why? Give us a clue in the comments here below. Image by Republica from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Nov 08'2019
React Native vs Flutter: Which One to Use to Build Your Cross-Platform App With? And Why?
They're both open-source and some highly popular options for cross-platform app development. They're both backed by huge tech communities... so your struggle is real: "React Native vs Flutter: which one should I go with?" On one hand, you have Flutter, which has gained momentum incredibly fast this year, putting the same question on most developers' lips: Will Flutter replace React Native? On the other hand, you have React Native, which has been around for +4 years now and uses "good old" JavaScript. Should you place your bid on "familiarity" and reliability or should you take the leap and go with a newer, but so promising platform instead? Speaking of which: What are Flutter's selling points more precisely? Those that have instantly propelled it in developers' radar so quickly? Why would you choose Flutter over React Native? And when is the latter the best option?   1. Why Choose Cross-Platform App Development in the First Place? Why would you go with this approach to mobile app development instead of taking the "native" path? Here are the most powerful reasons:   you get to write (most of) your code once and use it on multiple platforms you get to tap into the features of your cross-platform framework of choice to develop various types of mobile apps: social apps, eCommerce apps, interactive apps you get to build a native-like app without getting tangled up in Android, iOS or Java development   Notes:    optimizing your cross-platform app might get discouraging if you're not prepared for it expect it to be less performant than its native counterpart your platform of choice might not ship with all the functionalities that you need (Bluetooth, GPS...), so consider creating new plugins or opting for 3rd party ones to compensate for the lack of certain native features   2. React Native Is an... ... open-source JavaScript framework — or a new version of React, if you wish — launched by Facebook, used for building Android and iOS mobile apps. Source: Facebook.Github.io How does it work? What kind of "witchcraft" does happen under its hood that enables you to build a hybrid app? One that works both on iOS and Android? React Native uses a JavaScript bridge which... bridges your UI code to native components.   3. Reasons Why You Would Choose React Native over Flutter: Top 3   Source: Google Trends So, going back to our "React Native vs Flutter" dilemma: why would you go with Facebook's "prodigy"?   because it's written in JavaScript (entirely) and so it's much easier to find experienced JS developers for your app project because it's more... mature: it's been around for +4 years, which translates into reliability and a high level of popularity among developers because it streamlines the app's development cycle: it's faster (just think "ready-to-use components") to build app-like experiences with React Native than with Flutter   4. Flutter Is... ... Google's open-source SDK, written in Dart, used for building cross-platform apps. How does it work? It leverages the skia rendering engine to render Dart-based UI in both Android and iOS. Source: Flutter.dev 4 Key Features of Flutter:   design-specific features entirely customized environment platform-specific SDKs native-like performance   5. Flutter: Biggest Selling Points and Main Weaknesses What makes this "new kid on the block" so tempting among developers? Source: Stack Overflow What does it bring to the table that React Native can't provide?   it's easier to install it: when using React Native, many developers choose to use Expo precisely for this purpose; there's no way of automating the whole process and you bump into errors pretty often   it's easier to test it compared to the complicated setup that you need to do for testing a React Native app   it uses proprietary UI widget sets (by comparison, React Native uses native components), which give you more freedom to customize your UI block components   it benefits from first-party support for its iOS-style and material design widgets   it uses object-oriented design (due to Dart)   it performs better: Flutter's slightly faster since it depends on a JavaScript bridge, like React Native, for interacting with native components   it speeds up the UI designing process (React Native uses native components, while Flutter uses owner widgets)   And this last one is Flutter's most "seductive" feature:  It allows you to create a new custom layout in no time. "And why would I be hesitant to choose Flutter over React Native?" you might also ask yourself. Here are some of the aspects that might discourage you from using Flutter for building your cross-platform app:   there aren't so many developers working in Dart, the language used for writing Flutter, compared to the deep pool of JS professionals  the development process is a bit lengthier it's still relatively a young platform: you might not have a library for every functionality that you want to implement; not just yet...   6. React Native vs Flutter: You'd Be Better Off With... ... Flutter if:   you need to have your app running on both Android and iOS you're already an experienced C++/Java developer (or developers in your team are), since it'll then be easier for you to learn Dart  high performance is on top of your priority list you want a visually-appealing UI for your cross-platform app   And opt for React Native if:   you're already an experienced JavaScript developer  you put a high value on the support of a giant, mature tech community   The END! How do the scores look like on your evaluation list? Which of the 2 cross-platform solutions would you go with and why? Let us know in the comments below: Photo by Coffee Geek on Unsplash    ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 06'2019
What Is Next.js Used For? Is It a Good Fit for Your Project? 2 Clues that You Should Use It
It sure is “the thing” these days. But does that make it “the perfect... thing” for your project, as well? For your specific project needs and priorities? What is Next.js used for more precisely? Can it handle both portfolio sites, let's say, and... particularly large web projects? Is it the best fit for both rarely and frequently updating websites? For both websites depending on a rich third-party ecosystem and those that don't use so many libraries? Let's dig up some answers on:   when (and when not to) why … to use Next.js.   1. But First: What Is Next.js? It's a lightweight React framework used for server-rendered and static web applications.  Now, if we were to highlight some of its main features, any shortlist would have to include:   (default) server-side rendering ecosystem compatibility prefetching HMR and Error reporting automatic code-splitting   Note: since it resembles PHP development so much, many developers find it easy to “jump on the Next.js bandwagon”.   2. And How Does It Work? Next.js renders your React app/website on a server (as opposed to being rendered on the client-side). Source: GoogleDevelopers So, do keep in mind that you'll need to have a server... somewhere. The main gain here is that it supports scenarios where data has to be updated in real-time. As for the drawbacks of server-rendering:   higher level of complexity: expect to write more code to get everything working properly it's a bit more challenging when dealing with third-party services a bit more difficult to deploy (compared to client-side rendering and HTML)   3. What Is Next.js Used for? What Types of Projects Would You Use It For? Now, back to the question that generated this blog post in the first place: When should you consider Next.js? When is it the best choice? Does it serve your... specific use case, for instance? In this respect, we've identified 3 types of projects that Next.js makes the best fit for:   3.1. When SEO is your top priority Do you need SSR (server-side rendering) to ensure SEO-friendly pages on your website? Then Next.js is your only option. It's built to serve precisely this type of project, where good SEO is a crucial objective.    3.2. When content gets updated particularly often Let's say that new and new data gets uploaded on your website and that the content on your web pages needs to get updated within... 3 minutes, maximum. Source: When Should You Use Gatsby? And I'm thinking here: news sites large eCommerce websites property listing websites where new comments get added and descriptions updated on a regular basis   In short: if you expect content on your future website to get updated often, then it writes Next.js all over your project.   4. Final Word Now, would you care for a piece of advice? When trying to answer questions such as:   “What is Next.js used for?” “Should I use it on my project or should I go with static?”   … make sure you evaluate both your short-term and long-term needs. In other words: your website might not need to update its content frequently right NOW, but maybe you're considering scaling it up in the future... For in that case, build performance and SEO will become some key requirements and your client-side or static architecture won't serve your goals anymore. Just make sure you coordinate your final choice with your future goals, as well. Image by Lynn Neo from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 04'2019
What Is the Best Web Design Platform for... You? For the Type of Website that You Need?
For that's the proper question to ask yourself: "What is the best web design platform for my own use case?" For your own context, which is made of specific:   needs constraints and limitations business goals and objectives particular budget level of technical know-how type of website that you need   And this last factor is, by far, the most important criterion to use when you evaluate the most popular web development platforms. When you try to identify the best one for you... It's also the criterion that we'll use in today's post to highlight for you the best web design platforms in 2019.  Just scan through the different types of website listed here below, spot your own type, and see which platform makes your best choice. 1. If You're Building a Low-Maintenance, User-Friendly Website... Say you're not planning to "take over the world" with your new website and you need to be able to keep its maintenance and upkeep to a minimum. Then you opt for Squarespace... And here are the top reasons why you would want to choose this particular platform for web design:   you get a conveniently simple interface it ships with a load of modules to choose from it provides you with eCommerce functionality   It's true, though, that you don't get that much customization freedom as you'd get with other platforms, but it does the job if it's a:   user-friendly low-maintenance   ... website that you're planning to build.   2. If You're Building a Visually-Appealing Website... In this case, your 2 best options are WordPress and Drupal. The first "spoils" you with so many great templates to choose from to create a visually-stunning website. Not to mention the heavy load of WordPress plugins that you can use for custom-tuning your site to fit your aesthetical needs perfectly. Whereas for Drupal (and particularly Drupal 8), you just can't ignore its built-in responsive design capabilities.  Note: one of the aspects that might discourage you from choosing this CMS to create a great looking website is the lower number of Drupal developers compared to the "deep" pool of WordPress talent. That's why we've focused an entire post on the topic of "hiring Drupal developers" and "stuffed" it with tips on where exactly to find the right Drupal talent for your project. 3. If You're Building an Enterprise-Level, Complex Website... Drupal "rocks supreme" on this category:   it's equipped to withstand floods of traffic and massive volumes of content it's designed to handle complex, multi-user content creation and management systems it's robust enough to power heavy multi-site infrastructures it ships with tons of modules to extend its functionality even further    In short: Drupal's an "enterprise-ready" platform; it's built precisely for large,  high-trafficked websites (think Tesla.com, eBay, NASA, Harvard University's website). Where do you add that Drupal stands out as the best platform for responsive web design, as well...   4. What Is the Best Web Design Platform to Rank High on Google? If out-of-the-box SEO optimization features are your top priority, then you'll need to choose between WordPress and Drupal. They both ship with robust plugins, respectively modules, aimed at helping you make your website SEO-friendly.   WordPress The system's already ideally optimized with regards to SEO:   it's coded so that search engines can easily crawl in managing heading and title tags is dead-simple creating and updating content's highly intuitive   Word of caution: WordPress's ease of use and SEO-friendliness does come at a cost: being so popular makes it particularly "tempting" for hackers, too. You don't want to cut down on preventive maintenance costs on your future website.   Drupal Its SEO modules — Pathauto, Yoast, Global Redirect — are designed to streamline all your SEO efforts, from optimizing your meta tags to... setting up your SEO-optimized URLs.   5. If You're Building a Fully Customizable and Scalable Website... "What is the best web design platform for me if I want complete freedom of customization and if I'm planning to scale my website over time?" It's... Drupal, again. From all the most popular web development platforms out there' Drupal sets itself apart as:   the most flexible one: there's a module for any customization work that you might want to do on your website the most scalable one: Drupal's designed to scale up, seamlessly, to accommodate huge loads of content and traffic   6. If You're Building an eCommerce Website... What platform should you power your eCommerce goals with? Well, it depends greatly on whether it's a powerful "selling machine" that you're planning to build or an online store for your start-up business in eCommerce.   Magento  If you have a huge product inventory (maybe even a multi-source one), Magento's your best option. Here's why:   it's robust: Magento's built to cope with an intricate and heavy infrastructure of multiple stores, currencies, languages... it's feature-packed it's scalable: feel free to start with a small online store and to grow it into a complex multi-store network; Magento's designed to accommodate your growth plans, no matter how ambitious   Shopify If you need a website for your start-up eCommerce business and you don't want to get tangled up in customization, a hosted platform like Shopify is the best option:   it's SEO-friendly it provides you with unlimited bandwidth it adjusts to your specific eCommerce business model: POS, dropshop, subscription-based... it provides affiliates capabilities, purchase buttons, Facebook selling support, etc.   Word of caution: do keep in mind that, if you decide to migrate your online store to another platform, it's just your product information that you can export from Shopify.  In other words: don't expect to be able to transfer your user interface and your website design, as well.   7. If You Need a Beautiful Site but Have no Web Design Experience... "What is the best web design platform for me if I want to create an eye-catching website but... I'm a non-developer?" you wonder. "Oh, yes: and I want to build it fast and easy, if possible?" you ask. It's Wix. From the best web design platforms in 2019, Wix suits your needs and limitations perfectly:   you get a user-friendly WYSIWYG interface it "spoils" you with a rich template collection it's easy to learn and even easier to use it "tempts" you with both free and low-cost options   In short: Wix is for anyone with close to zero web design experience who wants the freedom to set up, customize and further update his visually-appealing website himself. 8. If You're Building just a Small, Reference-Driven Website... What if you just need to put together a basic business website to showcase your services? Nothing fancy, just a small website that should provide more detailed information to your potential new clients. And that should fit your budget... Then, what you need is the best website builder software that helps you get your site up and running in no time and grants you full control over its code and design.  And there are quite a few great ones:   Site Manager Weebly SiteBuilder Shopify if it's a no-fuss eCommerce website Wix, again   The END! Have you found that type of website that you're planning to build listed here? Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Oct 30'2019