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 9 Modules Readiness: How Hard Is It to Find Compatible Modules and Build a Website in Drupal 9?
Is it (still) too early to give Drupal 9 a try? To start fresh and build a website from scratch in the latest version of Drupal? Should you stick to Drupal 8 for... a little longer and upgrade later? How difficult will it be for you to find compatible Drupal 9 modules (and themes)? Let's find out: 1. But First: Why Drupal 9? What are the biggest benefits of Drupal 9 over Drupal 8? Why would you choose precisely this version of Drupal to build your new website with? because of the automated updates that it makes possible because of the headless support that it ships with because of the robust multilingual capabilities because of the improved performance: your web pages will load faster thanks to the BigPipe technology because it removes a lot of the legacy code because of its layout features because of its extensibility: you get to incorporated third-party systems quick and easy because of its media library and robust media functionality because of the new, Twig-based theme engine because it's easier to use: you can make the most of its in-place editing (CKEditor) And particularly because there will be no more major re-builds (aka "major pains to upgrade"). Instead, a set of new features gets released every 6 months, including new improvements and additions to be incorporated seamlessly into your Drupal 9 build. 2. Most Drupal 9 Modules Don't Change at All So, stay assured: you won't be having a hard time finding compatible modules for your new Drupal 9 website. Many of the modules on Drupal.org have been, are being made, and will be made compatible with Drupal 9. There's a collective effort coming from the Drupal community in this direction. And where do you add that the process is pretty straightforward:  Same code, but without the deprecated APIs. 3. But What About Those that Do Need Changes? For there have been changes under Drupal 9's hood. Changes in coding with a direct impact on some modules and APIs. Which means that some modules have turned from Drupal core modules to... outside dependencies: this is good news, considering the performance gains you get but also a challenge if you were relying precisely on those modules for your Drupal 9 website Luckily, you have at least 2 helpful tools at hand that you can use to: identify the Drupal modules that still need to get updated apply the fixes needed to make those modules compatible with Drupal 9 3.1. The Upgrade Status Module Why use it? Because it offers you a view of all that has been changed in Drupal.  Source: Drupal.org You have links to the modules' pages there, that you can access to review those changes. 3.2. The Upgrade Rector Module The great thing about this tool is that it provides you with automated code fix suggestions to help you make your target modules Drupal 9 compatible. Source: Drupal.org 4. Some Module Get Removed from Drupal 9 Now, there are a few Drupal modules that didn't get the chance to grow into Drupal 9 modules. And I'm talking here about: Simple Test, that's now replaced by PHPUnit Place Blocks, now replaced by the Layout Builder  As you can see, in both cases you get to use better alternatives. So, it's just a matter of favoring more powerful solutions. Good to know! Expect other modules and themes (i.e. the Classy theme, the Stable theme) to get deprecated and removed by the time we reach Drupal 10. 5. What About the Contributed Modules? What if you need more than the out-of-the-box Drupal 9 modules to build your new website? What if you depend on particular contributed modules? Or on... many contributed modules? Well, then things get a little more challenging... Because many of the contributed Drupal modules still need to be made compatible with Drupal 9. They need some time to catch up with the new version of Drupal. Take for instance: updating tests to PHPUnit or updating deprecated API usages. Now, what you can do is give a helping hand to accelerate the updating of these modules. And the steps/best practices to follow are pretty simple, as suggested in this guide on Drupal.org : use the patch referred to here, create an issue in the module project (first, make sure it doesn't exist already), and choose a title suggestive enough to let the maintainer know that it needs to be tested for Drupal 9 deprecations add an explanation for the signaled issue ... and follow all the other steps suggested in that Drupal.org guide. Tip! Ask that contributed module's maintainer how he/she would like to address the issues you're signaling. Because the guidelines available for Drupal core aren't always relevant for addressing contributed module issues, as well. The END! Now, assuming that: you only need a limited no. of contributed modules for your new Drupal 9 build it's not a heavily customized website that you're building ... how do you get it up and running in? We're here to help. Just drop us a line! We've been building Drupal websites since... Drupal 5. Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 28'2020
5 tips to pass your Acquia Site Studio (Cohesion) Certification Exam
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to take the Acquia Site Studio (formerly Cohesion) Certification exam. In this post we are going to discuss why I took this exam and more importantly, how I passed it and became an Acquia Certified Site Studio Site Builder. Optasy and its commitment to quality through knowledge You already know that quality is part of the corporate culture of Optasy. For us quality is a key factor to protect our clients' investments and guarantee them a high ROI. But having a good QA department is not enough. Actually, it's often too late when the QA team detects an issue. At Optasy we prefer to ensure quality at the early stages of our projects, analyzing deeply the needs of our clients and transform them into effective digital experiences but we also know that the quality of the code we produce comes from the experience and the skills of our developers. That's why Optasy has an internal 'skill knowledge acquisition program' to help its employees (optasians) to acquire new skills or improve them. This program gives to each optasian one day off per month (paid by the company) to study a particular field. As a way to ensure knowledge acquisition and validation, optasians also receive paid leave to study and give their Acquia certification exams. This includes the exam cost too, that’s why many of the optasian developers are actually Acquia Certified developers or Acquia Certified site builders All things considered, it was a pretty easy choice for me to take the exam, not only do I get to improve my skills, but I get paid for it too! What are the Acquia certification programs? Acquia is a preferred Optasy partner that delivers a cloud-based digital experience platform built on Drupal that enables organizations to build experiences that scale. Acquia is committed to facilitating certification programs allowing developers to validate their Drupal skills year after year. Acquia certification exams are administered at Kryterion Testing Centers in more than 750 locations across the globe. Exams are also available as online-proctored tests and are often offered at DrupalCons across the world. What is Acquia Site Studio? Acquia Site Studio (formerly Cohesion) is a low-code solution for building and editing Drupal sites. As an Acquia partner, our team got the chance to become an early adopter of the technology.  Acquia Site Studio is a sort of layout builder on steroids without writing any line of code. Not only can you build layouts or templates, but also you can build whole websites from the headers to the footers, and everything in between, like components and widgets, just by using the interface. No code required! It's a kind of atomic design system (like Pattern Lab) where you can create and preview CSS style guides, components, template layouts, page layouts or view layout from a visual user interface with simple “drag and drop”. And all of this within your Drupal site! To be fair, Acquia Site Studio is an amazing tool allowing designers and marketers to create and modify any layout component without calling the development team. If you’re a designer with no coding knowledge you’ll be able to create totally unique layouts based on your designs using intuitive drag and drop layout builder. If you're an editor, you may choose the layout you want to use and add all the pre-designed components you wish. Want to add a slider or a 'Related Articles' block? You drag and drop it in your layout! 5 tips to successfully pass your Acquia Certified Site Studio exam As other Acquia Certification exams, the Certified Site Studio exam requires both experience and knowledge. Though the test is not difficult, it’s not something you want to run into unprepared. From my experience, the questions ranged from a very low to medium range of difficulty, there were barely any difficult questions. This exam validates your ability to: Understand the features and functionality provided by Site Studio Install and configure Site studio environment on new or existing websites. Build a website using Site Studio style builder, components and website structure design elements. The official description of this exam can be found on Acquia's certification overview page. But in short: The tests are all multiple choice. They don't require that you actually configure a Drupal site or write any code. They are available in person at a testing center, or at home by installing the exam software on your computer. The price was $155 (In my case, Optasy paid for the test) Get a good understanding of Drupal Layout Builder As I mentioned earlier, Acquia Site Studio is a Layout Builder on steroids and many concepts are the same, so having some experience with this Drupal module will help you a lot, like the inline editing tools or the concept of drawing element into the layout. This is not mandatory, but I felt really comfortable with Site Studio having this previous experience. Read carefully the contents of the exam On Acquia's certification overview page you'll find the blueprint of the exam like the following: But below it, you'll find the content itself. Read it carefully and repeatedly. This should be your guideline during your study. This will help you focus on what really matters but also to recap and structure your notes. Read and study the documentation While there are really good videos on the Acquia Academy site about Site Studio, watching all of them won't be enough. If you don't have prior experience with Site Studio, it's a good starting point. But it definitively won't give all the knowledge you need to pass the exam. Reading the documentation should sound obvious, but you'll really need to read and study all the documentation in depth. Don't leave anything behind cause the exam covers all the aspects of Site Studio, from the basics to more advanced topics. This will also give you the right vocabulary to understand the questions of the exam, since sometimes they can try to trick you changing just one word. So the technical vocabulary has an important role, and that's where the documentation comes into play. Write down some notes after reading each section. This will help you a lot during the recap! Train on the Acquia Site Studio demo environment You can request an online demo environment for free at the bottom of this page The main benefit is that you won't need an API key or an Agency key, so you can test Site Studio for free, the environment acts just like a normal Drupal website. and the site will be all yours to experiment on. This site will be your friend during your study, you should test everything you learned in the documentation here. Do it several times and try different cases. The night before the exam, after reading back your notes, try to build a site from scratch in this environment to recap all the main concepts. This is key! Don't forget the 'Miscellaneous concepts and features' part These three concepts are not placed in one section, they are dispersed in the documentation. Study and practice all of them because you'll have a question about each one. They are only three, it doesn’t sound like a lot but they are worth 15% of the exam! That is a quick and easy win! A bonus tip What really worked for me was to read a section, practice the concepts of this section in the demo environment, read again the same section and take some notes. The day after, read all the notes of the previous day, do the same 7 days later, reading back your notes and practicing again on the demo site. That way, 80% of what you studied will stay forever in your memory. Conclusions Acquia Certification Site Studio Site Builder can be a good way to validate your skills and knowledge There are barely any difficult questions Study all the documentation because the exam is based on it, but also because the exam will cover all of it. Practice a lot, recap a lot. ... Read more
Karim Boudjema / Aug 27'2020
10 Best Tools for Conducting a Drupal 8 Site Audit (to evaluate its performance, security, and stability)
You want to audit your Drupal website's infrastructure, SEO, best practices, security, stress, overall performance... And you ask yourself: Are there tools that help you run a Drupal 8 site audit? ... and generate the reports you need? There are quite a few, actually. To narrow down your too many options, we've made a list of 10 tools and Drupal modules that you can use to test your website's performance, security, and stability. 1. 3 Best Tools to Run a Website Security Audit 1.1. Coder     What does it do? it checks your code to see whether it meets the industry standards it checks your text, so you'll know whether i's properly sanitized or not quite In short, a Drupal 8 audit module you'll want to have in your toolbox when conducting a website security audit. 1.2. Qualys SSL Server Test Another tool that you'll want to use during your Drupal 8 security audit process. Why? Because it performs a thorough analysis of a public SSL certificate and generates a grade for you. 1.3. Security Kit How does it work?  It provides you with a set of security-hardening options, that strengthen the shield around your site against CSRF, XSS, and clickjacking attacks. 2.3 Best Tools to Run a Drupal 8 Site Audit Focused on Its Performance 2.1. PageSpeed Insight, YSlow, GTMetrix  Take these 3 website performance audit tools as your the "swiss army knife" in your toolbox.  They run multiple tests on your website and generate a whole set of practical recommendations on how you can boost its front-end performance. Here are just some examples of recommendations: cut down on the number of elements the browser's forced to parse by simplifying the DOM cut down on the number of requests  by aggregating your JS files or using image sprites 2.2. New Relic An all-into-one Drupal site audit module that helps you monitor different sections on your website: from infrastructure to server, to browser and application. Now, here's precisely why you'll want to keep it close at hand while assessing your website's performance: it allows you to set up multiple customized dashboards that show graphs and charts of your website's performance data it enables you to keep an eye on your website's traffic and performance in real-time it allows you to isolate bottlenecks and set up alerts for key events 2.3. Performance Monitor   Let's say you've just moved your Drupal website to another hosting and you now feel that it has slowed down. And that the new server needs to be optimized for Drupal. This is precisely where this module comes in handy: It gives you a clear picture of how your website's performing now, while comparing different servers/hostings. Here are some of the features you'll love: it checks the Mysql status and variables (and provides recommendations) it tests the overall system performance (it runs database, CPU, and file operations performance tests) it evaluates the "Performance score"  3. 4 Best Tools to Evaluate Your Website's Stability 3. 1. Behat, PHPUnit, Nightwatch Or you can put together your own "combo" of unit and functional testing tools. Automated testing will improve your website's stability... in the long-term (and nothing can beat the peace of mind that you'll get). 3.2. Code Sniffer Whenever you need to assess your code's quality, just reach out for this Drupal 8 audit tool. It will... "sniff on" your code and signal you if it doesn't meet the coding standards.  Also, while testing your code's stability, you'll want to have a look at: the quality of your links the cycles of peer review for codes the factors that influence the SEO the access and breadth of documentation the modules you have on your website: are there any outdated ones? 3.3. Tugboat You save time and money using Tugboat (or an alternative continuous integration tool). Here's how: it runs the automated and linting tests that you will have set up and generates a report to your developer before even merging or reviewing the code it builds a completely working website that incorporates that new feature you've added or has that specific bug fixed before it gets merged A true time-saver that you'll definitely want to have in your toolkit when testing newly added code for stability.  3.4. Linting Tools How do they help you increase the stability of your Drupal website? they get all the developers in your team on the same page when it comes to the code format to be used they (i.e. Drupal Code Sniffer) enforce the Drupal coding standards once integrated to your developers' text editors Tip! Make sure you incorporate your linting tools into your automated testing routine, the one that gets performed on each pull request. The END! These are your best options when it comes to the Drupal 8 site audit tools to include in your toolkit. But what if you dread the idea of digging deep into your code, checking every single one of your Drupal modules, evaluating the CPU performance... What if you could still get a clear picture of how you're website's performing without the dread of going through all these tedious, time-consuming tasks? Just shift the burden to us! Drop us a line and let's get your Drupal website checked for all the issues and bottlenecks affecting its performance, security level, and stability! Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Aug 06'2020
7 Ways that You Can Reduce Image Size on a Large-Scale Drupal Site, With a Lot of Images
Images can make or... break the user experience. Especially if we're talking about large amounts of images. So, what are your best options to reduce image size on a large-scale Drupal 8 site? And, most importantly: How do you strike a balance between the smallest file size and the best possible image quality? Well, just keep on reading... Here are 7 ways that you can manage image compression on your image-heavy Drupal site without affecting their quality: 1. Use a PNG Optimizer to Reduce Image File Size Let's say that you have a lot of PNG images on your Drupal website. How do you reduce the image file size? Simple: you use TinyPNG to... squeeze them. Expect to reduce them somewhere around 60% (while keeping the lossless image quality). 2. Use a JPEG Compressor to... Compress Your Images Server-Side  "How to make images load faster on my website?" Just use a compressor to reduce image size for your JPG and JPEG files: TinyJPG CompressJPEG Compress Now JPEGOptim It will take... a while, especially since we're talking about an image-heavy Drupal site. Different JPG files mean different settings for you to... play with till you've balanced out size and quality. 3. How to Improve Image Load Times: Use Drupal 8 Image Styles It's a tool that you get... out of the box. And what you gain is more control over the size of the images on your website: Set several image styles, of different sizes, that will go on various areas of a page. Good to know! Configure your image styles just once: from then on, they'll resize all your new images by default. Here's how you do it: Go to "Manage display", in the content type setup section Click the gear wheel icon next to the image field to open the settings tab and choose an image style There, you can either choose one of the previously configured image styles or... create a new one, by selecting the "Configure Image Style" option from the dropdown menu Source: Drupal.org          Good to know! Once you've set your image style, the module updates all the created images... automatically. 4. Use Drupal 8 Image Toolkit to Adjust Their Quality (And Their Size) It's the best way to resize images in Drupal 8. And the easiest way, as well: Go to Admin > Configuration > Media > Image Toolkit Choose the setting that allows you to compress your images (the JPEG quality field) Play with it till your strike the perfect size-quality balance Save the new settings Note! The new setting will apply to all your images; there's no way for you to adjust the quality for each image, one by one. Tip! Stick to somewhere between 60% and 80% when setting the image quality. 5. Use the Responsive Images Module to Resize Your Images  "Which module is used for image optimization?" Which is the best Drupal 8 module to reduce image size on pages that contain lots of images... Responsive Images is (but) one of them. Here's how it works: Its image formatter maps the breakpoint of the original image and renders a responsive image instead. All that by using an HTML5 picture tag (that has sizes and srcset attributes). It basically enables browsers to select the image to display according to the image style selections. And here's how you set up responsive images on your Drupal 8 website: Enable the module (for, even if it's a core module, it's not enabled by default) in Admin > Configuration Select "Responsive Image" Hit "Install" What about breakpoints? How do you set them up? Go to your editor (if it's a custom theme that you're using) Create a file named "yourthemename.breakpoints.yml" in your theme directory ("/themes/custom/yourthemename") Now, its time to configure the image styles for your responsive images: Different breakpoints call for... different image sizes.  Go ahead and pair each breakpoint that you set up at your_theme_name.breakpoints.yml with an image style and create your responsive image styles. 6. Use the ImageMagick Module to Reduce Image Size   "How do I manage compression on my image-heavy Drupal site?" You use ImageMagick. It's another one of your best options for Drupal 8 image resize. Here's why: Drupal might provide the GD2 image manipulation toolkit out of the box and enable you to set multiple alternatives, of different sizes, for the same image. Yet, it lacks some key features, such as... TIFF format support or GIF support with an image style. And this is where the ImageMagick module comes in handy. To install it, just run this command: Composer require 'drupal/imagemagick' And here's how you use it to reduce image size: enable it via ‘yoursite/ path set the quality for your image to 100% in the ImageMagick image toolkit The results? you've just enabled the GIT format support with image style you've reduced your image size by 20-40% Mission accomplished... 7. If It's Still Not Enough, Lazy Load Your Images  "How to load images faster?" Use the Lazy Loader, the ultimate Drupal 8 image optimization solution. Have you tried them all — all the dedicated modules and Drupal core features available — and you're still not satisfied with how fast your image-heavy pages load? Then go even further and incorporate a lazy loading functionality into your website. The END! But maybe you have better things to do — a business strategy to improve, urgent projects to work on — than finding and implementing the best solution to reduce image size on your Drupal website. Yet, you still want to make your pages load faster... So, just pass on the "burden" to us! We'll identify the best solution for speeding things up on your image-heavy web pages and... implement it for you sitewide. Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jul 23'2020
Drupal Performance Optimization: 17 Drupal Caching Best Practices To Speed Up Your Page Load Time- Part 2
"How can I make my Drupal 8 website faster?" Are you still struggling with this? Still striving to figure out which are the best (and most straightforward) Drupal performance optimization techniques for your website? Well, here I am today with a handful of 9 more ways that you can speed up your Drupal site. In addition to the 8 ones that I covered in the first part of this post. And yes: it's another round of Drupal caching best practices that'll help you boost your page load time. So, let's dive right into it: Tip #9: Use the Dynamic Page Cache Module  ... to cache for both authenticated and anonymous users. Unlike the Internal Page Cache module, that I mentioned in Part 1, which only caches pages for anonymous users. Tip #10: Use Distributed Cache, A Highly Effective Drupal Performance Optimization Technique But how does it work, more precisely? Once you've installed a distributed cache, it'll store your database's cache tables (Drupal's "cache_" tables) either in: file or memory Tip #11: Enable Drupal Cache for Anonymous Users Another one of those quick, yet powerful Drupal performance tuning steps that you can take. Tip #12: Use Squid to Cache Images and Static Content on Your Website "How to optimize Drupal for better performance?" You could go for Squid, an open-source caching proxy server. Now, since Drupal's already famed for its particularly dynamic content, the only cases where Squid does make a great performance booster are those where you need to cache static content. Tip #13: Add a Front-End Cache (i.e.Varnish Cache) Here's another handy Drupal performance optimization method for you: Use Varnish Cache to reduce the load on your server. How does it do it? It stores the HTML response, so that next time that the same page is requested, it serves it from memory. The result? Bypassed PHP and web server and... improved page load time. Tip #14: Use the Advanced CSS/JS Aggregation Module to Improve the Front-End Performance of Your Website  Combining your assets together is one of the most straightforward and effective ways to address those Drupal performance issues on your website. From: file grouping to caching to compressing ... the AdvAgg module handles all the steps that you need to take to aggregate your CSS and JS files. Tip #15: Install Memcache to Reduce Your Database Load You know how you're often struggling with keeping your database load to a minimum by caching database objects in RAM? In this respect, Memcache makes a great Drupal 8 performance optimization technique. It helps you reduce that load on the database and boost your page loading time. How? By taking standard caches out of the database. And by caching the results of resource-intensive database operations... Tip #16: Use the Entity Cache Module to Cache... Entities   Another caching best practice to boost Drupal 8 with is installing the Entity Cache module.  And its name says it all: it helps you cache entities. Tip #17: Cache Views  Here's the situation: Page requests made by registered users on your website lead to loads of queries to your database. Which impact the page load time. Now, to query the database, views are being used. And this is where this views caching module comes in handy to... boost things in there.   The END! These are our 17 recommendations for you on the best Drupal performance optimization methods for boosting your page load time. Not thrilled about the idea of having to go through the... Memcache installation process or to configure Varnish for Drupal? Or to put your current projects on hold so that your team can set up a... distributed cache? Maybe you don't have a professional Drupal maintenance team that could handle all these caching settings? We're here to help! Just drop us a line and let's figure out which of these 17 techniques are best suited for your website and the specific performance issues that it's struggling with. Let's speed things up in there! Image by Izwar Muis from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jun 23'2020
Drupal Performance Optimization: 17 Drupal Caching Best Practices To Speed Up Your Page Load Time- Part 1
"Why is my Drupal site so slow?" "How do I speed up my Drupal website performance?" In other words, what Drupal performance optimization techniques should you use? Which is the: most budget-friendly quickest most straightforward most effective ... solution to those Drupal performance issues that are slowing down your website? Caching... And luckily, Drupal 8 (it is a Drupal 8 website that you have, isn't it?) "spoils" you with one of the most advanced caching systems out there. The trick is that you follow the Drupal caching best practices and use it to its full potential. Speaking of which, here's a list of 17 such best practices: * I'll be covering 8 of them in this post, leaving the 9 remaining ones for the next blog post. But First: What Is Caching? "What is the purpose of caching?" "How does caching improve performance?"  2 legitimate questions that you might be yourself right now. Let me start by defining the Drupal caching process: Once a user accesses a page on your website, content elements and web data from that specific page (images, HTML, CSS, etc.) get stored in an accessible space. When that user visits the same web page again, your website will serve him/her the cached version of the content.  That if you haven't updated it since his/her last visit, of course... And this translates into: reduced bandwidth faster page loads Tip #1: Use the Internal Page Cache Module to Cache Pages for Anonymous Users   Say you have an "Add to cart" functionality for anonymous users on your eCommerce website. You can use this module to cache precisely this functionality. A Drupal performance optimization tweak that'll take you less than a minute to set up. Tip #2: Go for the Best Suited Tools for Heavy Traffic Drupal Sites Say you have a fairly busy Drupal 8 website. You've turned on caching in your performance settings, but... you haven't noticed any significant impact on your site's loading speed. So, you need to bring in the heavy artillery. To use powerful caching tools designed for high traffic websites. Here are some of the best tools and optimization techniques to try: switch to a Drupal-specialized hosting provider like Pantheon or Acquia move your database to its own VM/container (that if you still have it running locally, on your Drupal web server) upgrade to PHP 7.1.0 Enable OPcache via php.ini.  Put a proxy (i.e. Nginx) in front of your server Tip #3: Enable Block Cache - A Quick and Easy Drupal Performance Optimization Solution How to increase Drupal 8 performance? You cache those blocks that don't get updated frequently (like from one user to another). Tip #4: Use Views Content Cache to Update Upon Content Changes Only How does this Drupal module help you optimize your website for better performance? It allows you to expire views caches every time you update or remove content. The great thing about this caching method is that you get to cache blocks that appear on thousands of pages. Tip #5: Use a Content Delivery Network By far the most powerful Drupal performance optimization solution for your website. Why? Here are the 2 strongest reasons why you'd want to use a CDN to cache the static content (files, CSS, images, JS, fonts...) on your website: you keep the network delay to a minimum since your CDN has endpoints across the globe you get a better page loading time: your CDN has a domain different from your website's, so web browsers load content requests to your domain in parallel with the content coming from the CDN Tip #6: Set a Far Future Expiration Date for Your Static Assets Set up a "Newer expire" policy for your static components (e.g. use a far future Expires header) Tip #7: Use Redis as a Drupal Performance Optimization Technique to Store Large Amounts of Data Data that wouldn't fit into your server. "But what is Redis?" you ask? An in-memory store optimized for high-performance. Tip #8: Set the Maximum Time that Your Pages Can Remain Cached Another one of the Drupal caching best practices is setting the maximum amount of time that browsers should keep your cached data. The END of Part 1! And these are but 8 Drupal performance optimization solutions focused on caching. I have a whole list of 17 tips ready to share with you... So, stay tuned for another round of simple and effective caching techniques that'll help you speed up your website... But what if you don't have the time or the people in your team that you could assign tasks like: enable a block cache set up Redis  install the... views_content_cache module ...?  What if you could have a dedicated Drupal maintenance team implement all these performance optimization techniques on your website for you? We're ready to help you speed things up on your website. Drop us a line and let's set up the best caching strategy for your Drupal website. Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jun 19'2020
What Are Some Good Examples of Drupal Sites for Nonprofit Organizations? Top 10 Nonprofit Websites Built with Drupal
Feeling a bit... uninspired? Or maybe you just don't see why you should consider Drupal for your NGO website? What if you could have a look at the top 10 nonprofit websites built with Drupal? And we're talking here about some of the world's most influential charity and non-profit organizations. Here are the 2 main criteria that we've used for putting together this top:   to be straightforward and easy to navigate to be visually pleasing and engaging: a clean and simple design helps the NGO's message shine through   Are these your own requirements, as well, for your non-profit website? Then, get ready to find plenty of inspiration by scanning through these great examples of what other non-profits have managed to do with Drupal: 1. Equal Opportunity Community Initiative  Who is EOCI?  The organization defines its own mission so clearly on its website: “... to build a world where children have equal opportunities to reach their dreams.” And all their projects and initiatives converge to meet this goal: providing equal access to educational resources for all children. Equal opportunity to compete and to succeed. The website that we've built for this international profit (revamping an age-old site, with little traffic and low conversion rate) is still one of the projects in our portfolio that we're most proud of. What makes it a great nonprofit website?   it's visually engaging: it tells a compelling story through visuals it's well-organized and easy to navigate: Drupal 8 has made it easier for us to structure content and to put together an information architecture that's easy to step through it's fast: the better the user experience, the higher the chances that they should turn themselves into the future volunteers or donors supporting the EOCI's initiatives   “The site’s beautiful and performing exactly how we’d hoped it would. The company that manages our Google Ads has found that our conversions have increased...  A couple of our donors are thrilled with the website and have committed their support again. They’re happy to be on the partners' page with a fresh look and approach to the public.” (Sean Kelly, Executive Director, Equal Opportunity Community Initiative, Source: Clutch.co)  2. Rotary International, One of the Top 10 Nonprofit Websites Built with Drupal  Who hasn't heard of Rotary International? A global network of community volunteers (1.2 million leaders and problem-solvers) actively involved in a wide variety of campaigns:   kicking Polo out of Africa providing clean water growing local economies supporting education   Why did they go for Drupal? For 2 strong reasons:   it's flexible: there's a module for almost any feature, any functionality they needed to implement to their nonprofit website it's extensible: no matter how "ambitious" the organization's future causes and campaigns and expectations from their website might get, Drupal's built to scale up to their growing needs 3. Doctors Without Borders Probably one of the best examples of nonprofit websites built with Drupal is Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). A Nobel Prize-awarded organization of volunteering doctors, nurses, other staff, and journalists. Their mission? Providing medical aid to people affected by pandemics, epidemics, natural disasters, or armed conflicts, no matter their sex, nationality, religion, or political affiliation. Why Drupal?   because it's a multisite network that this global NGO needed and Drupal's famed for its built-in multi-site support. because Drupal's robust enough to withstand massive amounts of traffic (it's the biggest NGO in the world), all while being a conveniently flexible content management solution. 4. Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)   Another one of the top 10 nonprofit websites built with Drupal. HFHI is an international, Christian NGO with a clear mission: building and renovating houses for low-income people.  To carry out its mission, it brings together donors, volunteers, and members of the families in need, who're co-opted in the process of building/repairing their own houses. How come their website is built on Drupal 8?   Drupal 8 is mobile-ready right out of the box it's open-source, which translates into lower costs it's flexible enough to empower their team to create, update, publish, and manage content on the go it scales to meet all the organization's future needs it ships with outstanding multi-language support it's fast 5. World Vision International "What are the most popular nonprofit websites that run in Drupal?" World Vision International's website is listed in any "top 5". No wonder:   the organization is the world's largest international children charity their website taps into Drupal 8's best features: easy third-party integration, freedom of customization, flexibility, and scalability guaranteed by its rich module collection   A nonprofit multisite that tells a series of highly compelling stories and grants a simplified donation process. 6. Human Rights Watch   A worldwide known independent organization, headquartered in New York, dedicated to protecting human rights.  And they define their own cause better than anyone else: "... we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes.”  Why did one of the most powerful NGOs in the world opt for Drupal?   because it's the best option for multilingual websites because it makes it easy to keep consistency while "joggling with" multiple content types  because it empowers content authors and editors to publish content quick and easy 7. Save the Children Spain   A member of the Save the Children International — the world's leading NGO dedicated to protecting and improving children's lives — Save the Children Spain has its website running on Drupal 8. And it is, by far, one of the 10 best nonprofit websites out there. Not just due to the global reputation of this humanitarian organization, but thanks to the complex needs that the Drupal website manages to meet:   it handles an entire network of operations that are critical for the NGO's activities: donations, news publishing, crowd fundings, training, collecting signatures, communicating with the press, etc. it withstands large influxes of traffic it supports a multi-site infrastructure it makes it easy for multiple teams (see Drupal's granular permission and access control system) to operate on the website, to integrate the tools they need for doing their work it integrates easily with all kinds of e-commerce third-party platforms (needed for their donation process, signature, membership, etc.) 8. Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity   One of the UK's largest charities, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (GOSH ) is dedicated to supporting the Bloomsbury-based children hospital and its patients. How? By focusing their efforts in 4 major areas:   supporting the little patients and their families investing in rebuilding and renovation projects pioneering research into children's health investing in life-saving medical equipment   When did Drupal come into the picture?  When the charity looked for a platform that would provide them with:   scalable architecture for their website, robust enough to scale up and down, to their fluctuating levels of traffic multi-site support, out of the box: GOSH.org is made out of 2 large websites and an ecosystem of 10 different sub-sites easy third-party integration: they needed to keep the same staff, so they looked to streamline their team's work, by integrating time-saving tools  9. The Wildlife Trusts We couldn't have left the Wildlife Trusts website out of our list Drupal nonprofit organization websites that stand out. The UK-wide group, comprising 45 local Wildlife Trusts, shares a common interest in preserving the wildlife and the biodiversity in their local area. And we're here talking about 2,300 nature reserves, on 98,000 hectares. 46 different independent charities, each with its specific activities, constitution, and membership criteria, under one “umbrella”? This multi-site project had “Drupal” written all over it... Now, let me outline, briefly, the key reasons why Wildlife Trusts has chosen Drupal for its website:   it provides great multi-site capabilities: the organization wanted to empower each trust to control its own content creation and publishing process, but they still needed some sort of a “central hub” it provides outstanding content management capabilities, much needed in this case, where huge volumes of content had to be managed effectively it meets their need of delivering the best mobile user experience it empowers the Wildlife Trusts editors to tailor page layouts as needed: and we're talking here about a multi-site that's rich in stunning visuals and video content 10. Top 10 Nonprofit Websites Built with Drupal: Allard Prize for International Integrity Another project from our portfolio that we're particularly proud of. The Allard Prize for International Integritiy is a photography competition that recognizes and awards people and organisations standing out through their efforts in fighting corruption and defending human rights. Why did they go with Drupal?   because they wanted to give their website a performance boost because Drupal provides them with a reliable translation system, a crucial feature when dealing with a global audience In Short, Why Would You Choose Drupal for Your Nonprofit Website? Here's a short inventory of the main reasons why you'd choose Drupal for setting up your nonprofit website:   you save money (Drupal's open-source) you get your multi-site, multi-language website ready to go in no time (especially if you opt for a Drupal distribution) you're free to further extend your website's capabilities by adding new modules and integrating new third-party apps  you get robust SEO features right out of the box you get a website that scales to fluctuating levels of traffic  you get to categorize, neatly structure, create, edit, publish, and manage your content quick and easy you're free to customize your page layouts to your liking   Need help setting everything up? Just send us a message with your feature requirements and specific expectations from your future nonprofit website and let's get your message out there. ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jun 05'2020
What’s the Best Drupal Managed Hosting Provider? Here Are Your Top 4 Options
You want it to be easy to use, to provide you with as much automated maintenance as possible and... up to 100% uptime. So, what's the best Drupal managed hosting solution for your needs? And, let me guess: your “feature wishlist” is a bit longer actually:   autoscaling capability multi-site support: you want to be able to manage all your Drupal websites from a single dashboard CDN backups and easy restores on a daily basis support for migration Given your list of requirements, what are your best choices here? I've done my research and narrowed down your options to 4. 4 fully managed hosting solutions for Drupal that you should consider first. Here they are:   But First: Why Managed Hosting? What Does It Really Get You? Why would you want to go for a fully managed hosting solution for your Drupal website(s) instead of a... self-managed one? Because:   you gain so much time; time that you'd otherwise invest in setting the Drupal infrastructure yourself, from the ground up you avoid the risk of getting tangled up in software installation, configuration, infrastructure management (which can turn into a time and energy-consuming ordeal even if you have the know-how to set up a scalable VPS on AWS yourself) you avoid the headache of maintaining a whole infrastructure of Drupal sites you get remote administration that covers mundane, regular operations such as module updating   In short: you delegate your managed hosting provider with everything outside the codebase. Why spend time on the ongoing maintenance of your website when you can invest it in... improving it? In growing it?   1. Pantheon Drupal Hosting   Disclaimer: it's the Drupal hosting that we are using here, at OPTASY. But is Pantheon the best solution for your own use case? For your expectations of a hosting platform? It is if it's a simplified, easy to use hosting solution that you need for your Drupal website(s). One that provides you with:   great support solid tooling  almost instant patching great developer experience ease of use with Drupal high availability and scaling intuitive interface, which makes migrating and cloning your Drupal websites so much easier lots of integrations   But let's see precisely what services it provides you with.   Pantheon Drupal's Key Features   php7 Git 24/7 Drupal support  Once-click core updates  Built-in stagging environments: dev, test, live Global CDN Solr Developer dashboard   2. Acquia, One of the Best Drupal Managed Hosting Solutions   Acquia Drupal hosting is another great option to consider when you're trying to figure out which is the best service for you. Why? Because it provides you with:   some of the best tools: both powerful and easy to use enterprise-level security cloud hosting specifically tailored to suit Drupal websites unmatched scalability: Acquia Drupal 8 hosting powers some of the largest Drupal websites in the world    Acquia Drupal Hosting Key Features   Enterprise-grade security and recovery: a whole set of firewall controls and access and authentication controls; Acquia-hosted websites are known to be better equipped to recover from cyber attacks A hosting platform optimized for Drupal exclusively A turnkey solution: the built-in Node.js support enables you to develop your Drupal back-end apps, as well as your server-side rendered front-end apps, on the same hosting platform Robust development tools: APIs, integrations, and command-line tools that help you build and optimize your apps in no time Real-time monitoring, analyzing, and troubleshooting Close to 100% uptime: Drupal hosting Acquia makes the best choice for you if your uptime and performance requirements are way beyond basic Centralized dashboard for all your websites and a unique Drupal codebase Source: acquia.com   3. SiteGround Drupal Hosting Another popular hosting option for Drupal websites is Siteground, a platform robust enough to withstand the challenges of user-heavy, high traffic sites. It's also the most versatile managed hosting solution on this list, for it meets the needs of both small website owners and enterprise and large organizations. But why would you choose if over other Drupal 8 hosting services? SiteGround Drupal 8 Hosting Key Features   Daily backups 1-Click Drupal installation Responsive support from actual Drupal developers by mail, chat, helpdesk ticket Dynamic NGINX caching (available only on some of the hosting plans) Website transfer assistance with zero downtime   4. Cloudways Managed Drupal Cloud Hosting     Cloudways is not just one of your best Drupal managed to host options. It's also one of the most... different. It allows you to choose the cloud hosting provider for your Drupal infrastructure. You're free to go for Amazon AWS or Digital Ocean, Google Cloud or maybe Vultr, you name it. Why cloud hosting? Because it's easier to scale, more cost-effective, and faster.  In short: it's top performance hosting that scales that you get with Cloudways. But there are also other strong reasons why you'd want to choose to host your Drupal website(s) on Cloudways. Cloudways Managed Drupal Hosting Key Features   Composer support  ease of use: just sift through all the different options that it provides you with through an intuitive UI, select the ones that you prefer via quick one-click access, and set up your Drupal website in no time  HTTP/2 support PHP migration support Free migration SSD-Based Drupal Cloud Hosting CloudwaysCDN you get to host multiple Drupal websites on one server you can add more team members and share server access across your entire team  built-in caching options auto-scalable kyup servers: they downscale and upscale, depending on the amount of traffic on your website(s), with zero downtime managed platform: you can spin up servers and deploy your apps in the blink of an eye   Final Word  The key takeaway is that choosing the best hosting services for your Drupal site(s) is crucial. Imagine that you'd buy yourself a Porsche, but you don't afford a... garage for it. Or its maintenance costs. See my point? When you run your website on a performance powerhouse like Drupal, you need to look for a hosting platform that can match such a robust setup. And speaking of keeping your Drupal infrastructure secure and well-maintained, we have an entire team of Drupal experts that you can delegate your time-consuming maintenance tasks to:   updating Drupal modules running security patches as they get released monitoring your website's performance monitoring it for suspicious activities ...   Just drop us a line and let's tailor a Drupal security and maintenance plan to suit your website(s) needs.   Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 28'2020
Drupal 9 Features: From “No New Features” to... 9 New Shiny Things You Can Expect to See in Drupal 9
What new Drupal 9 features can you expect to see on June 3rd, 2020? For, it's a bit confusing, isn't it?   on one hand, you have the “no new features“ statement on the other hand, you get answers like: “the easiest upgrade in a decade”, “newer PHP libraries”, “a brand new admin theme”, and so on   So, are there any new shiny things in Drupal 9 that you can look forward to? Or maybe get worried about... There is one shiny new feature and 8... improvements, from what I've seen. And I've grouped all together in a list. Here it is: 1. The New Shiny Thing: Easy Upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 A smooth upgrade experience, this is the only new shiny thing that Drupal 9 ships with. In short, moving to Drupal 9 will be as easy as updating from one minor Drupal 8 version to another. Source: Drupal.org Word of caution: the upgrade path to Drupal 9 is “buttery smooth” if and only if you stick to a “healthy” routine of weeding out old and deprecated code from your current codebase. 2. Drupal 7 and 8 Will Continue to Get Supported Alongside Drupal 9 One of the biggest Drupal 9 vs Drupal 8 (and even Drupal 9 vs Drupal 7) difference is the overlap of security coverage: Till Drupal 9, whenever a new stable version got released, the previous one lost its support. Starting with the 9th version of the CMS, Drupal 7, and Drupal 8 will continue to get community support till November 2021. In other words, Drupal 8, cleaned-up of all deprecated API will continue to work on Drupal 9.  And Drupal 7 will get community support for... 1-1.5 years after Drupal 9 gets released.  One of the unexpected Drupal 9 features. For it disrupts the way that the Drupal community used to approach major versions once they were no longer “the latest” ones. 3. Claro Becomes the Default Administration Theme … once it gets stable. 4. New Drupal 9 Features: CKEditor 5 Gets Implemented ... in a future version of Drupal 9. Security support will drop for CKEditor 4 sometime around Drupal 9's end of life. Therefore, Drupal 9's roadmap includes adding CKEditor 5 to a future version (and eventually removing CKEditor 4 completely in Drupal 10).   5. The Workspace Module Goes from Experimental to Stable Source: Drupal.org How is this good news for you? Let's say that you need to prepare multiple versions of your Drupal site and, depending on certain factors, to push live only one of them. The Workspace module allows you do to precisely that: to replicate content between workspaces on the same Drupal site. And, luckily, the module will be generally available starting with Drupal 9... 6. What's New in Drupal 9? Twig 2 That's right, Drupal 9 comes with support for newer PHP libraries. Support for Twig 2 here included. 7. Drupal 9 Will Be Backward-Compatible with Drupal 8 from Day One What are the new Drupal 9 features? Minor upgrade versions of Drupal 8 will be backward-compatible with Drupal 9. This means that all your Drupal 8 components will work with Drupal 9. This ninth version of Drupal is built on top of Drupal 8, basically.  In other words: no need to panic that your (Drupal 8) website's key features will no longer be valid in Drupal 9. This is going to be the first time that 2 major versions of Drupal are fully compatible.   8. From Symfony 3 to Symfony 4.4 “What's new in Drupal 9?” Symfony 4.4. Since its third version will no longer be supported in November 2021, Symfony 4.4 gets integrated with Drupal 9. All while making sure that Drupal 9 is forward-compatible with Symfony 5, as well...   9. Olivero Becomes Drupal's New Default Theme New Drupal version, new front-end theme. Olivero will come to replace Bartik, the current default theme in Drupal.   Wrap-Up: 5 Drupal 9 Requirements Your Drupal Site Should Meet Now you know which are the predictable, the new and the... shiny new features in Drupal 9. What next? How do you ensure that your Drupal website's Drupal 9-ready? Here are 5 key steps to take for a buttery-smooth upgrade:   Make sure your environment is Drupal 9-compatible: PHP 7.3, MySQL 5.7.8, Drush 10   Update to the latest minor versions of Drupal 8 as soon as they get released: you'll be able to upgrade your website to Drupal 9 only from Drupal 8.8. and Drupal 8.9    Keep your modules up to date: do all your contributed modules run on their latest versions?   Weed out any deprecated API from the custom projects that your website's using   Update core to Drupal 9   Word of caution: if your website (still) runs on Drupal 7, upgrade to Drupal 8.  To sum up, the shortest path to a smooth upgrade to Drupal 9 is sticking to the best practices:   remove all deprecated code (go for an automated tool like drupal-check or Rector to identify deprecations on your website) update your Drupal core and contributed projects to their latest versions   Or, you can leave all the preparations to us. Just drop us a line and we'll evaluate your website's level of... readiness:   Is there any deprecated code still “lingering in there? Does it run on Drupal 7? Are there any outdated versions of PHP or MySQL that it is still using?   Then, we can come up with a plan to get it Drupal 9-ready. Image by Marsel Elia from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / May 20'2020