LATEST FROM OUR BLOG

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

Drupal 8 Media Library: Simplify The Way You Embed Media (2 Significant Improvements in Drupal 8.8)
Powerful, full-featured media handling in Drupal. This has been your, our, and all the content authors and Drupal site builders' wish for a decade now. And it has just become reality: Drupal 8 Media Library is now a stable core module shipping with... WYSIWYG embedding support. You just click that shiny and new button added to your CKEditor and add your media. As simple as that! And there's more: You can embed media assets in your content in a... finger snap. No mouse needed. A bit overwhelmed?  Now, let's see how we got this far. How was the life of an editor before Media in Drupal 8 core and how it came to improve? And, of course, how these 2 major media improvements in Drupal 8.8 impact your content creation experience.   1. Drupal 8 Media Library: Why Was It Necessary in the First Place?   Since we already had the Drupal 8 Media module in core, right? Yes, but it lacked an UI...  So, any time an editor needed to add/reuse media file to a... blog post, let's say, he/she had to type in that file's name in the entity referenced field, triggering its auto-complete functionality. He could not visualize those media items before selecting them. There were just plain-boring forms, a table for all the media files and administrative views... Therefore, the team behind the Media Module in Drupal 8 created Media Library, which was meant to provide precisely that visual experience that was missing. In short: Drupal 8 Media Library was meant to add a nice UI to Media. Editors could browse though all their media assets, then quickly select and upload, right from their media libraries, the ones they wanted to reuse across their websites. It would open up a visual grid display of all their media items, with built-in filters to narrow down their options.  The result? A far better editorial experience.   2. Media Management in Drupal 8: From None to... a Full-Featured System How did we get this far? From almost no media support to a modern ecosystem of powerful media handling features? It all started in 2007, when Dries first outlined the need for “Drupal’s core features for file management and media handling... generic media management module with pluggable media types” in his “State of Drupal” talk. Since then, decent media handling support in Drupal has been one of the most requested features: Source: Drupal.org Now, putting the whole “Media in Core Drupal 8” process on high-speed we get to:   the release of Drupal 8.4, when the Media module was first added to core Drupal 8.5 with Media working right out of the box Drupal 8.6, when the Drupal 8 Media Library module “stepped into the spotlight” as an experimental module Drupal 8.7 with significant improvements to the Media Library visual interface (e.g. bulk uploads) Drupal 8.8 with WYSIWYG embedding support    Now, can you imagine the life of a Drupal site builder/content author, back in those days? The “before Media” days? Whenever he needed to reuse an image media, previously uploaded on the website, but on a different page, he had to... re-upload it. There was no way of reusing and embedding it into the text, quick and easy. And no way of using remote media, either (Instagram, Youtube...) Now, back to the present, when we (finally) have Media and Media Library in Drupal Core: You get to add different types of media items — audio files, remote video, images, documents —  store them in your library and reuse them in your content whenever you need.  Furthermore, you get to bulk upload media files, filter them by specific criteria, display them in a table or a grid view, you name it.   Managing and reusing your media resources in Drupal has never been easier.   3. Media Library in Drupal 8.8: The New “Add Media” Button  Drupal 8.8 came to “seal” a whole decade of efforts put into building and implementing a robust media handling system in Drupal. And the last improvements that it brings to the entire core media in Drupal 8 ecosystem are just... mind-blowing:   Media Library is officially a stable module in core it comes with an “Add Media” button added to the CKEditor panel keyboard accessibility: entity embed is possible without using a mouse   Source: The Drop is Always Moving And there you have it! The last “roadblock” on Drupal 8 Media Library's roadmap to the status of a stable core module has been overcome: You have WYSIWYG integration in Drupal 8. Meaning that now you can embed media in your content types by simply clicking on a button, right in your editor. And all that with a... finger snap. No mouse needed. Source: Drupal.org In other words, Drupal 8 Media Library means, since Drupal 8.8's got released: A quicker, simpler way for everyone to add media from the media library directly to the text editor. The END! We're a bit curious: With powerful media handling now in Drupal core, what's the next “nice to have” improvement on your wishlist? What other critical feature, that Drupal currently lacks, would significantly improve your developer/site builder/admin/editor experience? Image by Pettycon from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 15'2020
Are There Any Strong Reasons Not to Use Nuxt.js? 7 Issues that Might Discourage You from Choosing It
It helps you boost your SPAs' SEO, it enables you to generate your apps both on the server-side and statically, it "spoils" you with an opinionated structure and setup... so you cannot help wondering: "Are there any reasons at all not to use Nuxt.js?" Considering its heavy load of too tempting capabilities (and I've briefly outlined just some of them), you ask yourself:   "Why would I not (always) choose it over regular Vue.js for building my PWAs?" "Why would I ever bother with a... "Next.js or Nuxt.js" dilemma, for instance?"   In short: what are Nuxt.js's limitations (if any), those that could make you at least doubt for a minute or two before choosing it for your future SSR projects? Well, we've run our investigation and managed to identify its 7 key weaknesses (for there are, indeed, a few). Weaknesses that we're about to share with you, so you can give yourself a well-founded answer to your question: "Why should I use Nuxt.js over Vue CLI for building an SPA?"   1. But What Is Nuxt.js More Exactly? How Does It Work? Before we go ahead and expose its weaknesses, it would be only fair to define this framework properly, right? A concise, yet accurate definition would be: It's a high-level framework that helps you build SPA and universal Vue.js apps more easily. While a more detailed one would be: It's a minimalistic Vue-based framework that simplifies the whole process of creating server-side rendered apps. It'll handle all the UI rendering of your app project, abstracting away the client code distribution and complex details of the server. From routing to asynchronous data, to middleware, it'll handle all the complex pre-coding configuration, so you can focus solely and entirely on... developing a great Vue.js web app.   2. How Can Your Project Benefit from Using Nuxt.js? 5 Strong Benefits Let's highlight some of the most "irresistible" capabilities of Nuxt.js, those that might have already made you stop and wonder: "What possibly could determine me not to use Nuxt.js... in all of my future SSR projects?" it's great for SEO: it solves all the SEO issues that single-page apps are reputed for (client-rendered content, mobile web performance, URL and routing, etc.) it generates static websites via the "generate" command; moreover, it ships with powerful features, similar to other famous static site generators like... Jekyll, for instance it provides an opinionated structure and setup automatic code-splitting it streamlines the building of server-side rendered Vue apps it helps you get the most of your universal web app without a server easy setup using the command-line with the starter template   3. Why Would You... Not Use Nuxt.js? 7 Drawbacks The very question that sparked the idea of this blog post in the first place. You'll hardly find any cons to using Nux. For this, you need to dig a bit deeper and look beyond the huge pile of online content on the common topics:   Nuxt vs Next Nuxt vs Vue Nuxt Universal vs SPA N Reasons to Use Nuxt.js and so on...   So, let's dig out some... disadvantages that you might want to consider before you just jump on the Nuxt bandwagon:   3.1. Common Plugins that Don't Exist or Which Aren't that Solid There are Vue plugins designed to work on the client-side only (the server just wasn't added to the "big picture" when they were being developed). So, do keep that in mind. Also, you might discover that there are common plugins and components (e.g. Vector maps, Calendar, Google maps) that, well, don't exist. When they do exist, they might not be as solid as you expected, since they're not properly maintained.   3.2. Getting Custom Libraries to Work with Nuxt with Can Be Challenging Add this issue to your list of "the biggest disadvantages to using Nuxt.js", especially if the timeline for building your Vue.js app is a tight one. Addressing it might take you more time than planned.   3.3. High Traffic Can Be Particularly Heavy on Your Server This inevitable server strain in the case of a large, high-traffic application is another reason not to use Nuxt.js. At least if this inconvenience weights heavier on your evaluation list than the pile of benefits does.   3.4. Debugging It Can Get Painful "When things break, trying to dig down into what the hell broke can be a serious pain." (source: Reddit.com) This is one of the most frequently reported issues with using Nuxt.js. An issue that becomes exponentially frustrating as your Vue app project gets more and more complex: When trouble strikes you only get a conventional error message. No clue, whatsoever, about where you should start your "investigations"  in order to track down the "culprit".   3.5. There's a Relatively Small Comunity Behind It And that can only translate as:   the product documentation is not that extensive fewer resources for you to dig into at need   3.6. Fetching Data on the Server Takes Place At the Page-Level Only... This means that you need to load data into a Vuex store or pass it all down via props. A source of... frustration that you should be aware of before you decide whether to use or not to use Nuxt.js.   3.7. You Need to Get "Tangled Up" in More Complex Plugins or Components If you need to build a particularly flexible Vue app — say you need to render the contents of a slot in another component — you'll have to render various JSX/functions.   The END! These are the 7 main reasons to (at least) doubt whether Nuxt.js is an invariably good option for your SSR Vue project. Have you identified other drawbacks, limitations or simply small, but annoying inconveniences to using Nuxt.js? If so, feel free to share them in the comments down below, so we add them to the list! Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 18'2019
How Creating a Mind Map Helps You Make Your Website More User-Friendly
The line between useful and... useless (or pushy or simply annoying) is thinner than you think. That's why creating a mind map that aligns your site's content structure with the user intent is... critical. "Whether you’re a product owner or designer, you don’t want your website to be a maze with nothing but frustrating blind alleys.” (source: altexsoft.com) And there's no guessing work or discouragingly complex process in identifying the current user flow on each web page on your website: Just take a look at the behavior flow report in your Google Analytics. No rocket science here... Take it from there and:   identify the roadblocks restructure content on each page so that it matches user intent and is fluid and easy to read But let us give you a hand with that. With mind mapping your current customer journey and planning its improved version: In this respect, in today's post we'll:   give you the “anatomy” of a user-friendly website: what elements make a website, well, user-friendly? define mind mapping with respect to designing the user experience on a website teach you how to create a mind map: an easy step-by-step guide show you how to use a mind map to make UX improvements on your website   1. The Anatomy of a User-Friendly Website: 4 Essential Features “A vague objective leads to poor results.” There's no point in creating a mind map that would hopefully make your website more user-friendly if... you're not quite sure what key elements make a website user-friendly. So, here's the list of must-haves for any website aspiring to deliver a great user experience:   1.1. High Speed It's no news to anyone: the page loading time has a huge impact on the user experience. Unnecessary interactive elements, that don't match users' needs and don't play any role in the conversion process either, will only get you a clunky and... well... slow website.   1.2. Useful Features And “intuitive” I must add. Again, we go back to the “elements justified by the user's needs” principle: Is that slider useful and relevant for the user behavior on your website? It it too bulky, loaded with endless options that just ... discourage the visitor? You might want to re-evaluate all the features on your website: are they relevant and intuitive enough?   1.3. A Well-Structured Information Architecture Information that's:   easy to access easy to interpret   … is key for a wannabe user-friendly website.   1.4. Content that Matches User Intent If users are looking for online cooking classes, let's say — and that's precisely what you promise to deliver them — and you're only trying to sell them kitchen gadgets on your website, the only result that you'll get is them bouncing off in seconds.   2. What Is Mind Mapping with Respect to Designing the User Experience? An overly simplified definition would be: A way to brainstorm and present the generated information in a visual way. Now, since I've promised you a definition “with respect to” creating the user experience, here's a more... context-specific definition: Mind mapping is a vesatile technique where you put together a visual hierarchy of your site's present or future content. It lists out the key pages on your website (homepage, service pages, blog page, etc.),  the various relations between different web pages, the links and CTAs on each page... Source: altexosft.com In short: mind mapping reveals how data is structured on your website. Of course, you'll then consider creating a mind map of the target version of your current website. The more user-friendly one...   3. Main Benefits of Using Mind Mapping: From Great Ideas to... Actionable Steps Finding new ideas is exciting. But jumping on every new great idea that someone in your team has, without first checking whether it aligns with the user intent, is just like... making shapes out of soap foam. Not only that they're not future-proofed, but that clutter of ideas might not work together either. By using one of the best mapping tools available online for structuring those ideas as they... pop out, you turn them into actionable steps in your strategy for improving the UX on your website. And the clear benefits to mind mapping are:   you define your ideas' roles: what role do they play in your UX strategy (if you can't assign them a role, they're just “Wow” ideas with no solid justification) you assess their value: how does implementing this new idea bubble up to the user experience? you identify the various relations between them: you might want to avoid “island-ideas”, with no connections to other ideas listed out in your mind map   4. Creating a Mind Map: 5 Simple Steps Now that you know what a mind map is and why on earth you'd bother making one, let's see how you can actually put one together:   4.1. Create a Mind-Map Template Just so you can have a basic idea of the current information architecture on your website. List out how data's being structured on your website now and how you plan to structure it for its more user-friendly future version...   4.2. Map Out Your Ideal User Flow How would you like your website visitors to engage with your content? What actions would you like them to perform? Source: mindmeister.com Once you've outlined the key pages on your website (homepage, services, features), start planning out the user flow.   4.3. Compare it to the Current Behavior Flow Available on Your Google Analytics Before you can properly map out the user flow, you need to know what's the standard customer journey on your website now. For that, just delve into your Google Analytics data and look for the user behavior report. It'll show you all you need to know about:   how users are engaging with your website's content  what paths they usually take when navigating through your current information architecture   4.4. Identify the Roadblocks The user behavior data might reveal to you some unwanted realities regarding the user experience on your website:   poorly structured content a bulky and tiresome collection of interactive elements irrelevant features (embedded videos, interactive elements, social sharing functionalities) too many tools that don't respond to users' needs   4.5. Make the Appropriate UX Decisions to Influence the User Behavior Now that you've identified the main roadblocks in delivering the best user experience, it's time to... remove them, one by one:   turn chaos into a logical content hierarchy trim irrelevant page elements, with zero value in the conversion process  adapt web pages' content structure to the needs of specific audience segments (make sure to include relevant information for those customer personas, redesign your CTAs if needed...)   5. How to Use a Mind Map to Make Powerful UX Improvements Creating a mind map is but the first step: Turning it into powerful UX decisions should be your main objective. So, the answer to the question “Are mind maps effective/useful?” is: They are if and only if you make them useful and... usable. You can turn your mind map into:   an effective sitemap a customer journey map   But let us take a real-life scenario and point out specific UX decisions that you could make with your mind map at hand. It's an example that I've run into reading Mindmaster team's great blog post: A Simple Way to Design UX, UI and CX Using Mind Maps: Say you're targeting 3 different customer personas on your website. You then need to plan 3 different user flows.  You start by grouping the web pages on your site into 3 categories, each of them corresponding to one audience segment. Then, you start doing some user behavior mapping: how do you want each customer persona to navigate to the corresponding web page so that he/she clicks the CTA placed there? Now, it's time to make some critical UX decisions:   what relations to set up between various pages on your website? You might have a user on a service page and you need him/her to visit your “get a quote” page, as well what's the best CTA design for each one of your 3 types of pages? what key information should you include on a page, depending on the customer persona accessing it? See? Not only that creating a mind map helps you put together an effective information architecture, but it's also a great technique for generating content ideas that match the user intent.   6. Final Word In the end, it all comes down to goal setting. Creating a mind map is a great way to:   understand your website goals: what type of conversion actions do you want users to perform? achieve those  website goals by delivering a user-friendly experience: content that's useful, accessible, easy to read and to interpret   The END! Do you usually create mind maps when building new websites, to ensure they'll deliver the best user experience? Or for existing ones, to improve their UX? Do you consider them critical or optional in designing the user experience? Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Dec 14'2019
Why Would You Build Your Own Cloud Native Drupal Platform? The Main Benefits and Challenges to Consider
Why or rather "when" should you consider building your own cloud native Drupal platform?  Is a container-based infrastructure a viable solution for you? For your business needs? How do you know if your specific use case calls for a cloud-native Drupal development environment? And, assuming that you've run your own evaluation and that your use case does demand a switch from your current VM to a... multi-cloud Drupal hosting architecture: How do you make Drupal... cloud native friendly?  So that you can build, deploy, scale and manage fast and resilient Drupal apps in the cloud? In this post, we commit to answering all your key cloud-native and Drupal-related questions:   "What does cloud-native mean exactly?" "What is cloud-native with respect to Drupal?" "Why do I need a cloud native Drupal platform anyway?" "What are the biggest advantages and their... flip sides?" 1. What Does Cloud Native Mean Exactly? What is a cloud-native application? It's a holistic approach to designing, building, and running applications that make the most of cloud-native concepts. Or, if you wish: Cloud-native application development is a methodology — covering all stages of an app's lifecycle: design, deployment... operations — for developing apps that run in the cloud.  Applications that use the cloud computing model to its full potential. DevOps, agile, microservices and other modern software architectures all fall under the umbrella of a cloud-native methodology. Therefore, it's fast, resilient, highly scalable and easily maintainable applications that you get to run in a cloud-native infrastructure.   2. And What Is Cloud Native with Respect to Drupal?    In other words: where does Drupal fit in this revolution in how we develop and deploy our applications? Overall, taking full advantage of a cloud native Drupal development environment means: Finding the best solution for handling decentralized storage, auto-scaling, auto-provisioning and multi-region fault tolerance. Getting the most of cloud-native and Drupal comes down to:   minimizing the use of long-running servers relying more on purpose-built services and elastic computing setting up a development environment where you can easily test your new themes and modules, fix bugs, build, and deploy resilient enterprise Drupal apps   3. Why Build Your Own Cloud Native Drupal Platform? And When? For there are cases (is this your case, too?) when such a powerful, yet... challenging architecture is not justified by the company's business needs. So, let's answer your "when" question first. You're better off with a cloud-native infrastructure, where you deploy Kubernetes and containers, if:   you're dealing with high traffic, high volume applications and polyglot architecture you already have an Ops team you've already made at least some sort of investments in the private or public cloud your current requirements in terms of costs and control justify setting up a multi-cloud architecture you're running and maintaining an entire ecosystem of Drupal sites   "OK, so it looks like I "qualify" for it. But still: what would be the biggest advantages of building my own cloud-native platform compared to opting for a cloud vendor's services?" Here are the 2 most obvious advantages:   you'd avoid getting locked-in to a cloud provider you'd avoid growing dependant of your PaaS provider for hosting, scaling, and managing your own Drupal apps   4. Why Would You Want to Containerize Your Drupal Apps in the First Place? What would be your major wins if you ran Drupal in containers? Here are the 3 most significant ones:   repeatability and consistency: you get the same predictable and specific result with each container that you run less maintenance work an easier way to run PHP upgrades compared to a conventional VM stack where you depend on your host for that and where there's a whole cluster of sites that needs to get PHP upgraded simultaneously   5. 3 Pillers of a Container-Based Infrastructure: Drupal, Kubernetes, Docker What goes into a cloud-native Drupal platform? There are 3 key players involved:   5.1. Drupal The robust content management system which, beginning with its 8th major version, grew into a Symfony-based content management framework. Backed by a huge (100K+) and active community of contributors and a rich plugin ecosystem, Drupal powers a wide variety of web applications: media and entertainment apps, non-profit, gov, education... 5.2. Kubernetes It's the standard container orchestration technology.  In the context of your future cloud-native infrastructure, you'll be using it to manage:   your containers' lifecycle command and control distribution scheduling   5.3. Docker It's the standard... tool that you will be using for creating your containers. 6. 4 Cloud-Native Platform Features to Put on Your Wishlist What feature requirements should you have with respect to your Drupal development environment? Here's how a... decent wishlist should look like:   it should provide a layer of abstraction over IaaS it should handle cross-cutting concerns it should be easily scalable and secure it should provide an efficient developer experience (and agile operator experience, as well)   7. Deploying Your Drupal Apps on the Cloud: Requests & Constraints What's the proper set-up for a container-based Drupal architecture? "What are the key requirements that my future cloud-native Drupal platform should meet?" you might legitimately ask yourself.   your Drupal application should be turned into a containerized stack minimal Ops (or not Ops at all) it should run properly on any cloud your public/private file should be externalized it should scale up, out, and down it should make the most of PaaS services: for gateways, databases, load balances, cache stores, queues it should tap into an operational model: new app provisioning-routing-monitoring... your development team should be able to get high fidelity local environments up and running in no time   "And what challenges should I expect?" you'll further wonder:   your developers are faced with a steep learning curve: they should have some sort of understanding of what's happening under the hood when deploying Kubernetes CI & Delivery Pipeline  logical architecture monitoring and management Dev & Build Tools  local development    The END! What do you think: Is a cloud native Drupal development environment a viable solution for you?  Are the advantages highlighted here relevant enough for your use case and business needs? Or are the outlined challenges too discouraging for you? Feel free to share with us any thoughts and concerns that you might have regarding the idea of building your own cloud native Drupal platform. Photo by C Dustin on Unsplash  ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Dec 12'2019
The Web Experience Toolkit Drupal 8 Distribution: Why Use a Drupal Distribution and Why Precisely... Drupal WxT?
Say you need to build a company website that's bilingual from the ground up, accessible, responsive, user-friendly for the team administrating it, easily maintainable and innovative. Oh, yes: and you need it built fast. What do you do then? You "unpack" the web experience toolkit Drupal 8 distribution, trigger its out of the box features and... adjust them to your organization's specific requirements.   But what exactly is the Wetkit Drupal distribution? Who's it for? What powerful features/modules/reusable components/content management tools does it provide you with out of the box? And how can you customize it so that everything, from content types to... the publishing workflow, should fit your needs perfectly?   Let's get you some answers, now:   1. What Is the Web Experience Toolkit Drupal 8 Distribution? It's a version of Drupal, designed specifically for the Canadian Government, that streamlines the building and maintenance of bilingual, responsive and highly accessible websites. Since it's open-source, it is free to use by all public organizations. Take it as a powerful... bundle of carefully curated Drupal modules, a built-in responsive theme, and out-of-the-box tools for content authoring and publishing, that helps you set up a website that:   has built-in bilingual support leverages Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) and complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) by default taps into a robust content management system ships with the same theme used on the Government of Canada's official website   ... in no time. It comes as a 2-part tool, made of:   Wetkit (or WxT or WET): a set of files that define the front-end components of your future website (JS, CSS) and markup; a bundle of tools and best practices for reaching certain standards of bilingualism, accessibility, and responsiveness on your website Drupal core: a robust and flexible content (and users) management system   Note: it's also a highly flexible "toolkit", that you can adjust to your specific requirements of accessibility, usability, and interoperability. You might need specific content types, a specific custom-tailored publishing workflow, a particular page layout, etc. Luckily for you, Drupal-WxT is conveniently adjustable:   it grants you easy set up (and maintenance) of your bilingual and accessible Drupal website it also grants the freedom you need for customizing it to your organization's particular needs   2. What Is a Drupal Distribution? Why Would You Want to Use One? Now you know what the Web Experience Toolkit Drupal 8 distribution is: "But what exactly is... a Drupal distribution?" you might ask yourself. Let me try a short, yet comprehensive definition: It's a package of components, modules and tools that you can trigger to build your Drupal website. Or: It's a version of Drupal that provides you with the extra configuration and carefully curated modules to set up a website that meets your specific requirements.  In this context here you need your website to be:   accessible bilingual responsive interoperable   3. 10 Powerful Features that You Get Right Out of the Box with Drupal-WxT Till here, I've kept telling you about all the built-in functionality and robust content management tools that you get, out of the box, once you install the Web Experience Toolkit Drupal 8 distribution: "But which are they?" you'll legitimately ask yourself. Here are the 10 most powerful features that WxT-Drupal provides you with right from its... unboxing:   3.1. A Responsive Theme It allows you to implement the same look and feel as the one on the Government of Canada's website.   3.2. Search API   3.3. Workbench for Drafting Your Content   3.4. A Menu System   3.5. A  WYSIWYG Editor A CKEditor, to be more specific. One that you can customize to fit your editorial team's specific needs and preferences, which they can use to add a markup to the content about to be published.   3.6. Bilingual Support One of the most powerful components of the web experience toolkit Drupal 8 distribution. Basically, you get bilingual support at every level of configuration:   multilingual UI and content (French version already installed): from menu items to taxonomy terms, to form elements, translating each element of your content is fairly easy with Drupal Wetkit bilingual back-end (for those admins in your team who use either English or French)   3.7. Version Management Your editorial team can "juggle with" several different versions of the same content to be reviewed before being published.   3.8. A Complex System for Managing Content Types By default, it's 2 content types that you get: pages and documentation.   3.9. Panels & Panoply for Creating Landing Pages Your content team can easily edit both the content and the layout of this page and turn it into your Drupal site's homepage or... a list-of-events page.   3.10. A Built-In Moderation Workflow The entire process of creating a web page for your Drupal site might call for a specific ecosystem of:   authors, translators, editors different content statuses different content transitions    Luckily, the web experience toolkit Drupal 8 distribution provides you with a robust and flexible workflow that you can customize to your needs.  Feel free to add specific types of users, particular content transitions to suit your own content lifecycle, overall: to adjust the built-in workflow to your unique requirements.   4. Is the Drupal Web Experience Toolkit the Right Fit for Your Organization? It is, if:   it's a bilingual and fully accessible website that you need to build you need it built fast: the curated selection of modules and the built-in content management tools will help you save valuable time (and money) it's low maintenance set up that you're looking for   Now, it goes without saying that customizing this Drupal distribution to fit your organization's specific workflow, team hierarchy and in-house operations does call for some configuration work from your side. The END! These are the what and the why of the Drupal WxT or Wetkit, if you wish. Have you already had the chance to trigger the potential of a Drupal distribution? What do you think of the "load" of pre-built features that this particular package ships with? Are they tempting enough for you? Is there any other type of functionality that you wish it would have provided you with out of the box? Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Dec 10'2019
Acquia DAM: What Is It? And How Precisely Does It Streamline Your Content Production Process?
PDFs, infographics, icons, logos, fonts, videos... How complex is your "ecosystem" of creative digital assets? And how easy is it for your team(s) to manage it efficiently? If it goes from challenging to... cumbersome, then you might consider switching to Acquia DAM. "But would it pay off to make the move to a cloud-based digital asset management software?" To answer your own question, ask yourself further:   "What if all designers, content creators and marketers in my company were always on the same page? On a shared platform?"   "What if no one in my team(s) saved brand assets locally, but on the cloud instead? On a centralized cloud-based location?"   "What if managing my heavy load of digital assets could get as efficient as... having one single repository for all my assets? One that all my teams can access anytime and (from) anywhere?"   Now, what if Acquia DAM was the answer to all these... daring "fantasies" of yours? Here's:   what this tool is how it can streamline your content pipeline what are its most powerful features how you can get the most of it (since any software can only be as good as its users, right?)   1. What Is Acquia DAM? It's a digital asset management system that acts as a central storage location for all your assets, allowing everyone in your company to:   access them, irrespective of their locations keep track of them organize them update them share them   ... with great ease. Here's a short demo of Acquia DAM "in action", streamlining the most common asset management tasks that your creative teams usually perform. In short: imagine your current infrastructure of various platforms, personal computers, various channels, multiple stakeholders involved in the content process, devices, and repositories reduced to one single place on the cloud. A cloud-based repository where all your different teams — marketing, design, content — can store and update all your creative assets. The 2 most obvious benefits that you'll "reap":   you'll deliver a consistent brand experience you'll speed up the content production process   2. What Are Its Most Powerful Features? For, OK, it boosts your content pipeline: But what about those robust features and functions that it ships with? The key ones to look look for and to trigger, to be sure that your teams use this DAM solution to its full potential?   2.1. Centralized Digital Asset Library Instead of an intricate network of repositories — Dropbox, Google Drive, email, local or network hard drives — you'll have one single storage place on the cloud. One repository for all your creative assets, that everyone in your organization can:   access and use to create unified digital experiences: no need to waste precious time looking for a specific branded image created... years ago update, making sure that there are no out of date licensed assets left lingering in there   All your assets in one place, syncronized, current, approved and... easily accessible.   2.2. Workflow Management The more the... merrier? Not in the context of a high volume of assets and lots of people, from multiple teams, engaged in the content production process. Luckily, using Acquia DAM's workflow management your design and marketing teams can keep a close track of everyone's step in the process. From asset creation, to update, to review and final approval, an ideally formalized workflow will speed up your entire asset management process.   2.3. Portal for Publishing Approved Assets That's right: Drupal Acquia DAM enables you to set up your own portal site for sharing brand guidelines and approved assets. With approved rules and presets for image processing at hand, your non-designers gain a higher level of independence. Which can only translate into a streamlined content pipeline.   2.4. Dynamic Templates A feature aimed at the same goal: Empowering your non-designers to update graphical design elements on their own. Swapping images, editing text field, all while preserving the approved branded design elements — logo, font, colors — gets so much easier for them when using these dynamic templates. Now, some other equally powerful features to incorporate into your asset management process are:   Scheduled Publishing Enhanced search Custom Metadata Fields Audit Report Logs Custom Form Fields Metadata Group Permissions Version controls   3. Why Use It? What Content Production Challenges Does It Solve? In other words: Would switching to Aquia DAM pay off? Now, here's a scenario that might be (too) familiar to you: You're dealing with... loads of assets in your organization. They get shared in Google Drive or Dropbox, updates get approved on various chat channels, specifications added to Google Docs... It's a chaos of technologies and tools that you're storing, organizing, tracking and repurposing your assets in. Have I "guessed" right? Then this is why you should consider implementing a digital asset management software like Acquia DAM. To cut off all the inefficiencies that derive from such a cumbersome patchwork of disconnected tools and processes:   the time your teams would waste looking for a specific asset that seems to be lost in this "black hole" the money you'd lose whenever someone in your team decides to... recreate an asset that's... "gone missing" the risks you expose your brand to by using images with expired licenses the bad reputation that you gain by... accidentally sending older versions of your assets to your clients    Source: Acquia.com Now, let's sum up the main benefits that you'd reap from taking the leap to Acquia DAM:   highly accessible assets: for everyone in your team, anytime, from anywhere on the globe increased system performance significant marketing and IT resource savings increased governance and control of your entire ecosystem of digital assets synchronous brand message: your design and marketing people will better coordinate their efforts   4. How Can You Sync Your Assets with Your Drupal Site? Acquia DAM Drupal Integration It's simple: You use the Acquia DAM Connector for Drupal. This way, you can use the assets stored and updated on your Acquia DAM instance across all your Drupal websites. Just visit Acquia'as dedicated page for info on the right version to download, depending on the version of Drupal running on your website(s).   5. How Can You Import Your Assets to Drupal? The Media: Acquia DAM Module Say you're storing your creative assets to Acquia DAM: How do you move them to your Drupal website? For, it's there that you'll be... putting them to use, after all. You install and enable the Media: Acquia DAM Drupal module. What it does is:   provide you with tools for scanning your DAM system for specific assets and pair them with their corresponding Media entities; with their corresponding entities on your Drupal website... ensure that your selected assets, along with their metadata, get instantly synch whenever you're making changes in the DAM   6. How Can You Build Apps Using the Drupal Acquia DAM? Acquia DAM API Say you need your developers to safely read and write from your DAM so that your users can easily push and pull their files and metadata. You need unrestricted access to some of Acquia DAM's most robust features: upload, file sharing, search. In this case, Acquia DAM API provides you with the underlying interface for building the apps that'll tap into your DAM tool's power.   7. How Do You Integrate It with Your Other Services? Acquia DAM Integrations For there must be all kinds of services and platforms that your teams are currently using, for storing your assets and authentication. You just browse through the list of popular services that Acquia DAM provides integrations for and pick the right ones.   The END! How does your digital asset management system look like? Have you considered switching to a DAM solution? Do you find Drupal Acquia DAM's features and benefits powerful and relevant enough for your specific content pipeline? Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Dec 06'2019
Why We Fired Capex CPA and Why You Should Think Twice Before Putting Your Accounts into Their Hands
"Our goal is to have you relax and know that your tax and regulatory compliance are on cruise control." Just mind you don't... relax too much, as one of Capex CPA's clients, for you risk waking up to a brutal reality: huge payroll year-end mistakes. It's your choice:   you learn from our immense mistake of hiring this Chartered Professional Accounting firm Brampton you knowingly expose your company's accounts to a level of incompetence that's... off the charts   Until here, I might sound to you just like another revengeful former client of a Chartered Professional Accounting firm in Mississauga, am I right? Especially since it's one of the 5-star teams of Chartered Professional Accountants that I'm referring to. A highly reputed, high ranked Chartered Professional Accounting firm in Toronto according to its clients' reviews.  Well, we've already taken the "reputation" bait, ourselves, so... we get you: The impeccable reputation forms a thick concrete wall around this team of Brampton Accountants, hiding their incompetence from the public eye. But now, let's talk facts. Real facts, shall we? Here are the reasons why we decided to fire our accountants, Capex Brampton, after no less than... 11 months, during which we "relaxed, knowing that your tax and regulatory compliance were on cruise control":   1. Capex CPA Bampton Got Our Payroll Wrong... 3 Times in a Month Just make sure you don't rely... blindly on their "experienced and professional staff", for, unfortunately, they live by this motto: Practice makes it perfect. Well, in the case of our payroll it didn't make it perfect. It was all wrong, every single time. We're talking here about a team of Chartered Professional Accountants in Toronto who's repeatedly provided us with the wrong payroll 3 times during the same month. 3 might be a magic number for some, at least in fairytales, but it did not guarantee us any... happy ending. They "stubbornly" tested our patience and just... shocked us with their incompetence, which is, we have to admit: out of this world!   2. They Overlooked the Fact that Our Funds Were Both in CAD and USD  And we're talking about a Chartered Professional Accounting firm who has been having access to OPTASY's accounts for... 11 months. This was, indeed, a masterpiece of incompetence mixed with... an overdose of irresponsibility. But hey, who needs responsible and accountable... accountants, right? We just need to... "relax knowing that our tax and regulatory compliance are on a... cruise". Now, there are at least 3 different answers to our legitimate question:  How could this team of Chartered Professional Accountants Mississauga, one with an irreproachable reputation, not see, while managing our accounts for 11 months, that there were 2 different currencies in there? Both CAD and USD...   they're shockingly incompetent (sorry, but it seems to be the keyword of this blog post) they're dangerously negligent: they just didn't care what currencies the funds in our accounts were... USD, CAD... potato, patato they knowingly neglected even their very basic responsibilities as a team of Toronto accountants   Pick any answer or pick them all. There's no wrong one here. 3. They Exposed Us to the Risk of Not Being Able to Pay Our Year-End Taxes The blunders of this Chartered Professional Accounting firm Mississauga kept piling up till we ended up with a year-end payroll filled with mistakes. We had no other chance but to quickly replace this CPA in Brampton with a professional ("truly" professional) to address all the serious issues in our accounts, so we could go ahead and pay our taxes. "Irresponsible" is a too soft term to define their work as our Chartered Professional Accountants Brampton over these 11 months. 4. They Demonstrated Their.... "Professionalism" By Claiming for More Money to Fix Their Own Mistakes "Mistake is human", right? We, too, as a Drupal firm, make mistakes when working on our clients projects.  But how would you call a long sequence of mistakes? Complacency or pure incompetence? And fixing one's mistakes is... human dignity, isn't it? Not the case of Capex CPA, who's genuinely replied, when we asked them to address the issues they had caused: "5k is not enough money to do the work..." The "work" here being that of fixing the mistakes they, themselves, kept doing throughout the year as the accountants handling our business tax in Toronto. How would you call that? Dishonesty, untrustworthiness, lack of a minimal sense of responsibility for one's actions. And we're referring here to a team of accountants handling Corporate tax Toronto. Accountants!  So-called "professionals" that deal with:   Real Estate tax in Brampton Business Tax Brampton Corporate tax   ... on behalf of their clients.  To whom we gave free access to our companies' accounts. In return, after they made not one, but several mistakes while doing our bookkeeping and payroll and we dared to ask them to... clean up their mess, all we got from this "professional" accounting firm handling Corporate tax Brampton was an: "Oops!"  And a: "Sorry, but there'll be an extra charge if you want us to... fix our mistakes, as well." Now, we'd appreciate your "brutally" honest answer to this question: How would you have handeled this situation if you were in our place? Would you have fired Capex CPA or not?  Image by Robert DeLaRosa from Pixabay ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Dec 04'2019
Automatic Updates in Drupal: From Mission Impossible to... Drupal’s New Auto Update Feature. How Does It Work?
The waiting is over. We'll have automatic updates in Drupal sooner than we even dared to hope.   Source: Drupal.org * Since that announcement was made, both an alpha and beta1 version of the Automatic Updates module have been released. The auto-updater, which has been, in turn, or simultaneously:   an ever requested feature in the Drupal community a highly anticipated functionality for the Drupal end users an evergreen matter of debate ("I really need this feature in my life" vs "We prefer to keep the Drupal website up-to-date ourselves".) a... "mission impossible" type of challenge  a Drupal initiative that seemed doomed to never grow into an actual feature   ... is now a work-in-progress Drupal module. Can you believe this? Now, we can just hear those questions running through your head:   "How/when did this never-ending talk about auto updates for Drupal turned into a module?" "What are its features/components?" "Who is it aimed at?" "How would it benefit me more precisely?"   Let's get you some clear answers:   1. Automatic Updates in Drupal: A Highly Requested and... Ever Postponed Feature An auto update system has been one of the top requests in the Drupal community since... forever. "Does Drupal have an auto update?" "Why Doesn't Drupal offer an Auto Update feature like WordPress?"  Simultaneously, many other members of the community adopted:   the "I didn't need it anyway" approach the "I don't need Drupal to automatically update itself. What if something breaks?" approach or the "Auto updates would not fit our development workflow" approach   Overall: the need was there, it was growing and the various "no need" reactions to the possibility of implementing such a feature were just:   legitimate paranoia lest those automatic updates should be superficially tested before release the frustration that the answer to this request was invariably the same: "Not possible in a Drupal context."   Speaking of this standard answer that we've been getting, constantly, over the last years, it looks like automatic updates in Drupal have gone from:   myth: Drupal websites are far too complex to come up with an all-size-fits-all set of updating standards for them all mission impossible: it's not possible to architect such a solution for Drupal work-in-progress module aimed at simplifying the whole task of keeping one's Drupal site safely up to date   In short: the automatic updates functionality has gone from "mission impossible" to... "anything is possible with Drupal". 2. Auto Updates: From a Drupal Core Strategic Initiative to a Drupal Module The community demanded and... demanded (Dries himself drew attention to this need), till their request of an automatic updater turned into one of the 8 Drupal core strategic initiatives. One funded by the European Commission itself... Source: Drupal.org And this switch from request to... well-structured roadmap was only too predictable:   proprietary and commercial software companies were already implementing an auto update system open source projects (see WordPress) were already offering this critical feature: the site owner just clicks a button and the system handles the whole updating process    What was the main goal that drove the Auto Update initiative forward? To architect a system that would apply Drupal updates automatically. This way, maintenance costs, particularly for small and medium-sized Drupal projects, would lower and the Drupal adoption rate would rise. Not to mention that we would be having far more 100% secure Drupal websites out there.   3. The Automatic Updates Module: Its 3 Main Components For this long-awaited solution for automatic updates in Drupal relies on a 3-component structure:   the PSAS (public safety alerts) the readiness checks the actual in-place updates   Now, let's get into the nuts and bolts of each component:   3.1. Public Safety Messaging What this feature does is pull alerts on critical and highly critical updates from Drupal.org right into your admin UI. This way, you can easily check your site's readiness for the update about to be released by the Drupal security team.   3.2. Readiness Checks (or Preflight Checks) It's a plugin-based feature that triggers warnings and errors on detected issues blocking your website from getting updated automatically. Let me give you some examples:   "Your website's running on a read-only hard drive!" " Cron isn’t running frequently enough!" "The "X" files included in the update process have been modified!" "You need to run database updates!"   3.3. In-Place Updates Once your website's level of... readiness has been checked and approved of, it's time to run the Drupal update itself. Here's how it works:   the update package of files gets downloaded from Drupal.org the Automatic Updates module (now in its beta 1 version) checks it and creates backups of the files on your website included in the update process the module performs the update if something goes bad, it restores your backup files   Note: you're free to set up your own custom workflow for the auto-update process; you can stag the updates for review and approval first, get them through your own CI/CD system or... you can set them to go live, automatically.   4. And How Does It Work? The Automatic Updates Module "In Action" Let's imagine this scenario: You already have this automatic functionality implemented into your website. How would it work in case of an "upcoming critical security update" situation? it pops up the message alert in your admin interface next, you run several checks on your website to... check whether there are any issues that you'll need to address before updating it then you trigger the in-place update   That's it.   5. Who's It For? Is It Aimed at...You, Too? It is if:   you're a small or medium-sized business owner  you don't have a custom development workflow and pipeline set in place (with Git, Drush, and other tools included) people in your team with no development background are responsible for maintaining your Drupal site up to date you don't have a solid routine of checking and running Drupal updates as soon as they get released   Source: Drupal.org In other words: automatic updates in Drupal aren't aimed at enterprise-level websites. The module targets small Drupal projects, where:   running security updates on a regular basis staying vigilant, lest you should miss them once released, is THE main cause of stress for site owners   The END! This is the new auto updates feature in Drupal, along with the answers to some of your valid questions regarding this module.  How do you find the project's progress so far? What other features would you like this module to include? And what are your concerns about integrating such functionality into your own build workflow? Image by krzysztof-m from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Nov 29'2019
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