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Why Use Siteimprove to Check Your Website for Accessibility? 8 Good Reasons
"How do I test my website for accessibility?" And right after you type in this question you discover that there are dozens of free website accessibility testing tools to choose from. So: why use Siteimprove? In this post, I'll answer your key questions about Siteimprove:   What does Siteimprove do? Why use precisely this accessibility evaluation tool? How to use the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Siteimprove vs Axe: what are the key differences? Monsido vs Siteimprove: which is the best web accessibility testing tool for you? Drupal 8 Siteimprove: what does it do? So, let's dive in:   1. How Does the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Work?  "The Siteimprove Browser Extension is a Chrome/Firefox plugin that allows you to see page specific DCI scores and if a CMS deep link is set-up, it also allows you to fix content to improve the scores directly in your CMS during your browser session." (source: Siteimprove.com) Once added to your browser toolbar, you can use Siteimprove to identify accessibility issues on specific web pages. At any given time. It provides you with:   explanations on how they impact the user experience clear recommendations on how to address them Free, handy, effective. These are the best 3 words to describe the Siteimprove extension. Note: since all evaluation is performed in your browser, Siteimprove guarantees you a secure scanning of your non-public pages, multi-step forms, password-protected pages and pages with dynamic content.   2. Why Use Siteimprove over Other Website Accessibility Testing Tools? What powerful features make it stand out from the crowd of automated accessibility testing tools that you could use? I've selected the 8 most valuable ones:   2.1. Monitors all broken links and spelling mistakes on your web page Maybe you consider these issues to be mere... negligences to be put at the end of your priority list. But just imagine how much these "details" could affect a visually impaired user. This is where the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker comes in. It keeps your website under "surveillance". Ready to spot and to highlight any broken link, any little spelling mistakes that it detects. Or any other quality issues that it identifies. 2.2. Generates an accessibility report for you to analyze From ALT missing attributes to accessibility issues spotted in your tables and forms, the Siteimprove report lists all the problem areas to focus on. A handy overview that you can use to define all future tasks that need to be carried out in order to improve your website's accessibility.   2.3. Pinpoints accessibility issues  It'll highlight them all right on-page and in-code.  In other words, you don't need to do a research on all the latest accessibility guidelines first. The Siteimprove extension for browsers will outline all the key issues that you'll need to focus on to get started. 2.4. Integrates seamlessly with your CMS Whether it's Drupal or WordPress that you're using, Siteimprove enables you to fix the signaled issues on the spot. Right there, in your CMS, while you're browsing around your website. 2.5. Allows you to automate the accessibility checks And by automating the bulk of your testing process, you get to streamline all the tasks that it covers, such as:   testing various color combinations evaluating your PDF pages' accessibility testing your form fields 2.6. Provides specific recommendations Why use Siteimprove?  Because it doesn't stop at pointing out the accessibility issues on your website: it also gives you clear explanations on how to address them. 2.7. Enables you to monitor your progress in improving your website's accessibility   industry benchmarks historical graphs automated reports customizable dashboards All these Siteimprove features enable you to measure the progress that your team makes for turning your website WCAG 2.1 compliant. 2.8. Allows you to set up a hierarchy for the accessibility issues identified In short, the Siteimprove web accessibility checker enables you to categorize and to prioritize tasks by:   severity conformance level   And to assign them by job role (webmaster, editor, developer...) or responsibilities.   3. How to Use Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Say you want to try the Siteimprove Google Chrome Extension. Here's how you use it:   install the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Chrome extension from the Chrome Webshop from your Chrome browser add the extension to your browser: "Add to Chrome" look for the newly added icon in your browser window enter your target web page's URL in your browser click the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker icon and let it perform its audit take a look at the results displayed on the right side of the page   Note: Siteimprove Accessibility Checker uses the same checking engine as the Siteimprove Accessibility platform. 4. Siteimprove vs Axe Accessibility Tool Why use Siteimprove over Axe? How are they different anyway? Let's compare these 2 popular accessibility testing tools: 4.1. Axe browser extension It generates detailed results, but you might find its slideshow-style controls a bit challenging 4.2. Siteimprove Accessibility Checker   it stands out as an accessibility testing tool that allows you to filter tasks by "responsibility" (or job role) also, it displays the issues that it detects following the same structure of the WCAG guidelines it presents color-codes issues by conformance level (A, AA, AAA) it points out to the specific WCAG criteria that those issues relate to   5. Monsido vs Siteimprove Accessibility Checker And why would you choose Siteimprove over Monsido? Here's what sets them apart:   Monsido provides comprehensive crawls weekly, whereas with Siteimprove you get automated crawls every 5 days Monsido could discourage you with its less-friendly UI, whereas Siteimprove has a more intuitive dashboard   6. The Drupal 8 Siteimprove Module: What Does It Do? "The seamless integration between Siteimprove and Drupal streamlines workflow efficiencies for your web team. With the module, your team can fix errors and optimize content directly within the editing environment." (source: Siteimprove.com) In short, the module (or "Siteimprove plugin", if you wish):   scans your website for accessibility issues (broken links and misspellings, A, AA, AAA conformance level accessibility issues, readability levels, etc.) that you can then turn into manageable tasks and assign to your team members who can tackle them right in the editing environment that they're using   Tip: you can even use the Drupal 8 Siteimprove module to see what would be the impact if you unpublished a "problem" page before you apply this measure. The END! Have I managed to answer your "Why use Siteimprove?" question? Are you already using it as your website accessibility checker? If not, what other tool are you using and why have you chosen precisely that one? Let me know in the comments below.  Image by Sitanshu Kumar from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 12'2020
Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs: Which Drupal Page Builder Should You Use?
There’s no better way of telling which tool best fits your needs than by putting Drupal 8 Layout Builder and Paragraphs to the test, right? If you were searching for an honest comparison of the 2 Drupal 8 drag and drop page builders, you’re on the right blog. Because in this post I’ll compare Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs. What you’ll get is a straight answer to each one of your key questions regarding the 2 most popular page building tools in Drupal:   Why would you choose Drupal Paragraphs? What are its main trade-offs? What are its best use cases? What are the key advantages of using Drupal 8 Layout Builder?  What are its limitations? What are the use cases of Layout Builder vs Paragraphs?   Now, let’s get you those answers:   1. Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs: Introducing the 2 Contestants 1.1. Drupal Paragraphs The Paragraphs module was quite a revelation when it was first released. Why? Because Drupal rocked supreme at enabling users to create template-based pages, but when it came to uniquely designed pages (i.e. landing pages) it started to show its limitations. And this is where the Paragraphs module came in. It “seduced” Drupal developers with a new component-based approach to building a page’s layout. Source: Championsdigital.com   The Paragraphs layout builder would allow developers to create individual paragraph types — popup elements, plain text, code blocks — and editors to assemble those paragraphs into highly flexible pages. Moreover, they could reuse those page components to create new and new content layouts.  For instance, they could put together a page that included one WYSIWYG Paragraph, a Slideshow Paragraph, and one paragraph with both text field and image field... The idea of “flexible structured content” had taken over the Drupal planet...   1.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder The drag and drop page builder in Drupal core designed to take the content editing experience to a new level. How? By granting editors more control over the Drupal layouts they create. Drupal 8 Layout Builder enables non-technical users to easily mix and match nodes, fields, and other types of content via a drag-and-drop UI. They can create their visual layouts and landing pages in no time. All they need to do is drag and drop, then rearrange site-wide blocks and content fields to their liking. Source: Drupal.org Moreover, users can even create new custom “inline” blocks of their own. Power and flexibility combined into one visual design tool aimed at improving the editor experience.   2. What Are Their Key Strengths? 2.1. Drupal Paragraphs In a Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs “battle”, why would you go with the “stacked components” approach to layout building in Drupal 8? Source: Drupal.org   Because the content editing experience is intuitive: editors can use the “Add a popup” and “Add a quote” tabs and rearrange their components with drag and drop   Because it enables you to group multiple fields into new complex elements   Because it allows you to come up with an unlimited no. of ways for combining your paragraphs   Because it enables you to create reusable components that you can then use per node    Because it prevents the workflow of your nodes from becoming too cluttered by providing an entity type for your sub-page components   Source: Drupal.org   2.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder What are its key selling points? Why would you choose Layout Builder over Paragraphs?    Because it requires less custom code   Because it grants you a higher level of control over the layouts you’re creating   Because it grants you lower maintenance costs   Because you get to mix field content with blocks   Because you’re free to create and populate new landing pages from the ground up: just set up your custom content blocks and arrange them to your liking within the layout   Because it provides you with an improved authoring experience   Because you can extend the default set of layout grids through custom plug-ins   Because it allows you to keep your structured data   Because it enables you to get the most of the block system for creating your Drupal layouts: custom inline blocks, programmatic blocks, custom global blocks, custom field blocks   “Blocks” that are fieldable, translatable, templatable, reusable, and part of Drupal core, as well. Source: Phase2Technology.com   In a nutshell, this Drupal page builder provides both:   an easy way to manage fielded content in the backend the best drag-and-drop editor experience   3. Where Does Each Drupal Page Builder Fall Short? 3.1. Drupal Paragraphs What could make you… hesitate before choosing the Paragraphs layout builder for creating structured content? What are its key limitations?   You (your content editors) still depend on a developer to set everything up Managing nested paragraphs when dealing with complex layouts can get quite overwhelming   Source: Evolvingweb.ca   And this is the biggest trade-off that could discourage you from going with Paragraphs as your page building tool: You get to nest/add new and new elements, which carry their own sets of elements, up to the point where this “unlimited nesting” of paragraphs turns into a too confusing interface to cope with.   3.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder  Where does it fall short? In a Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs “debate”, which drawbacks of this visual design tool could make you choose Paragraphs instead?   You might find block content not to be 100% explicitly connected to nodes Combining template-based with custom layouts is a bit challenging Enforcing a sitewide consistency of your custom-made layouts is quite a dare 4. When Would You Use One Layout/Editing Tool Over the Other? 4.1. Drupal Paragraphs   When you need to reuse many of the content components on your website to create new pages When being able to reuse those components “per node” is of particular importance for your workflow When your structured layout does call for nested paragraph bundles   4.2. Drupal 8 Layout Builder When would you use this particular solution for creating layouts in Drupal 8?  When is Layout Builder a better choice than the paragraphs module?   When your landing page calls for a grid-like layout, including both dynamic elements (custom blocks, views) and fielded content   When you need to “juggle with” multiple columns for creating your layout   When you need to create a fully customed page from the ground up; a “special” page, that’s not connected to any structured content on your website (i.e. a single “Get a Quote” page)   When you need to custom-tune templated layouts; to override existing page layouts   When you need to set up “layout templates”, such as the layout for your product page or your blog post page   5. Final Results: Which Approach Best Fits Your Needs? What do the results of this Drupal Layout Builder vs Paragraphs comparison tell you? That there’s no “best” Drupal page builder. Only the one that best fits your specific layout creation needs. It all comes down to the level of diversity in your content:   If it’s a particularly intricate page layout that you need to create, you might not want to go with Paragraphs. Its nesting feature can turn against you.   If you’re “craving” flexibility and the content on your Drupal 8 website varies a lot from page to page, yet you still want to keep a level of layout consistency, the Drupal 8 Layout Builder is your best choice   Your turn now: which of these 2 page building tools do you prefer and why? Let me know in the comments below.   Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 06'2020
What Are Some of the Most Popular Websites Built on Drupal in North America? Top 10
Let's say that you're considering using Drupal for your next web project. You've read about its unmatched robustness and flexibility... And still: real examples of brands that have their websites built on Drupal in North America would weigh heavier in your decision-making process than just... statements about its great features, right? But which are they? These websites powered by Drupal that are well known in Canada and the USA? We've done our research and put together a list of both highly popular and uniquely designed Drupal-based websites. So, here they are: the 10 best Drupal websites in North America to inspire you in 2020: 1. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto OISE, Canada's most reputed center for graduate studies in education, has its website powered by Drupal. And built by our own team of Drupal developers... Why did they trust Drupal 8 with their digital presence?   because it's fast and good page load time was crucial for them because Drupal's designed to “cope with” high volumes of content  because Drupal enables building websites with responsiveness in mind because of Drupal's modular structure and flexibility: the OISE editorial team can easily add, update and publish new content, whereas new functionalities can easily be implemented in the future 2. World Vision International A global organization impacting the lives of millions couldn't have chosen but a robust CMS platform like Drupal to power its website with. With:   an intuitive UI design clean and conveniently minimalistic design a reliable content management system to support a site representing +90 countries   ... the World Vision International's Drupal-powered site is built to make an impact.    3. MIT List Visual Arts Center, One of the Top Websites Built on Drupal in North America How could we have possibly left it out of our Drupal websites list? MIT's website taps into:   the flexibility of the Drupal entity system to grant visitors a content-rich user experience centered on content diversity: text, audio, lists, images Drupal's features aimed at providing the editorial team, as well, the best experience   The result? An intuitive, brand-driven content-rich experience for the users on the MIT website. One that comes to complete the actual visiting experience at the MIT physical art museum and virtual art lab.   4. University of Arizona    One of the well-known websites using Drupal 8. And it's no surprise that they've chosen precisely this CMS since Drupal's been the go-to platform in the higher education sector since... forever:     it empowers the staff to easily create, edit and publish content on the run it enables that editorial team to easily share/reuse content across multiple sections of the website (and a high ed site is usually an intricate "ecosystem" of content sections and smaller sites) it advocates for a "mobile-first" approach to website development   In the case of the University of Arizona, its old website got migrated to Drupal 8 and its design revamped, all in the name of a better user experience.   5. Think Global Health Another one of the well-known websites built on Drupal in North America is this multi-contributor site that explores the way health changes impact societies, everyday lives, and economies on a global scale. With such a heterogeneous content team and a wide variety of content being edited and added regularly on this newspaper website, no wonder that they've turned to Drupal. 6. Canadian Museum for Human Rights   Humanrights.ca has earned its own star on the Drupal websites' "hall of fame" due to a cutting-edge functionality that it incorporates: Enabling visually impared users to configure their own experience on the site. From adjusting the contrast to selecting the font size and style, they get the most of Drupal's "empower the end-user" philosophy.   7. Nature Conservancy California Another one of those Drupal website examples where content variety "rocks supreme". From video content to video footage, to interviews, to ambient sound, this platform's using Drupal for handling the multiple types of content formats that support its project stories. 8. Princeton University Admission   What makes this high ed website stand out from all the other university websites built on Drupal in North America?   the non-conventional visual storytelling techniques that it leverages in order to highlight what's representatively unique about this school the impactful content (linear media), ranging from narrative faculty portraits to textural videos of the campus life, photo content providing visitors a more in-depth view into the life at Princeton   Furthermore, they chose Drupal in order to inject" top performance and give their "Undergraduate Admission" website a fully responsive web design.  9. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey  JackDaniels.com makes a great example of a website that makes the most of Drupal's powerful content management features:   again, the site comes as a complex ecosystem of different types of content: immersive photography, video content, cinemagraphs... local markets around the world get to custom-tune the website to suit their own local customers' needs; to personalize it with translated copy, market-specific programming...   A robust content management system along with the "empower the user" philosophy, these are 2 of Drupal's defining features that JackDaniels.com taps into in order to provide:   an engaging experience to its visitors an empowering experience to its users (admins across the globe) 10. TraffickWatch The storytelling Drupal website of a nonprofit that raises awareness about human trafficking.   The END! What other famous websites built on Drupal in North America have we missed? Feel free to... scold us in the comments section down below.   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 25'2020
Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart or Apigee’s Integrated Portal? What’s the Best Developer Portal Solution for You?
Here you are, facing an impossible dilemma: is the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart on Drupal 8 the best solution for the developer portal that you're setting up? Or should you go with Apigee's integration portal instead? How are they different in terms of provided features? How do your own requirements and constraints influence your choice? Now, let's dive right into:   what the Apigee developer portal is when to consider Apigee's integrated portal why and when to choose Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart what could discourage you from using the Drupal distribution   1. What Is Developer Portal Apigee? You're already building APIs that expose your services to developers from your team and to those outside your enterprise, right? But you want to go beyond merely building APIs: you want to provide the best developer experience, as well. One that would entice developers to use those APIs. And this is what the Apigee developer portal is mainly designed for: To help you "lure in" those admins and developers using APIs managed by the Apigee platform.   2. Choose Apigee Integrated Portal If... ... it's a basic marketing or developer documentation website that you're planning to put together. One that should integrate with a subset of features exposed vis Apigee's API management platform. Tip: think twice before choosing this solution if you need to integrate API revisions, load balancing, monetization or various complex documentation structures with your developer portal, etc.   You'd Want to Use the Integrated Portal Solution Because: it's an easy to build, easy to use portal, integrated with Apigee Edge, that you have in mind it's a simple developer documentation website that you're setting up it's a basic, turn-key developer portal solution that you need it provides you with hosting on Google Cloud, support and maintenance it makes documenting and managing your APIs fairly easy   Apigee's Integrated Portal Top Features: Create pages using page editor API Documentation Access control to portal content and APIs Customize design elements via SCSS style sheets Advanced customizations (customize domain, configure your email, custom registration fields, extend portal using scripts) Create pages using page editor Analytics via Google Analytics and custom analytics tracking Add menus for navigation Self-service registration for developers to build apps using your APIs Markdown and HTML to compose content   3. Choose Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart If... it's a powerful developer portal platform that you need  it's a highly flexible, fully customizable solution that you're looking for you need to get your developer portal up and running, integrated with Apigee Edge, in no time   Source: docs.apigee.com Are all these 3 requirements on your priority list? Then Apigee's distribution for Drupal 8 might just be the best way to set up a new developer portal. Or to move your current one from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.   You'd Want to Use the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Because: it does most of the Drupal 8 module installing and configuration work for you it provides you with step-by-step guidance to install Drupal 8 core, integrate your portal with Apigee Edge, and customize its theme its theme's Bootstrap-based, enabling you to easily customize and brand your website it's faster and more extendable it's forward-compatible with Drupal 9 it's, overall, highly customizable: you get to create fine-tuned brand experiences it provides you with sample content, as well, so you can set up your developer platform quick and easy it operates with already familiar Drupal 8 concepts: content types (e.g. Basic pages, article, forums...) media types, etc.   In a nutshell: take the Apigee Kickstart developer portal as a convenient package with all the Drupal 8 modules and libraries that you'll need to quickly put together a developer community. One that's connected to Apigee Edge, exposes your APIs and publishes the API documentation that developers need.     Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Top Features: API Catalog page Modules for FAQ, Blogs, and Forums 16 pages with preloaded content for demonstration API documentation content type Customizable site theme “Getting Started” page Developer Portal homepage API doc landing page with demo content and vocabulary   4. You'd Hesitate Using Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart Because... it makes you dependent on this Drupal distribution's maintainers; on their updates and security patches releases  it "ties" your developer portal to the distribution's predefined theme, content layout, font, colors...   So, you'll first want to check that the distribution — Apigee Kickstart Drupal in this case — is regularly and properly maintained. 5. The Best Solution for Your Developer Portal Is... the one that meets your customization needs the one that complies with your time constraints the one that fits your team's level of expertise in setting up a developer portal   Source: docs.apigee.com  In short, choosing between an integrated portal and a Drupal-based one starts with setting your requirements (and your constraints) against each solution's benefits and key features. Are you time-limited, but do you also "crave" power of customization over your future developer portal? The Apigee Kickstart Drupal might be the best solution for you. Do you need a ready-hosted turn-key platform to set up your developer community on? Are you already an Apigee Edge for Public Cloud customer? Then Apigee's integrated portal might suit you best. The END! Integrated portal or Drupal-based portal: what would you choose? And why? ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 13'2020
Is It a Good Idea to Go with Drupal 8 Commerce? Why Yes, Why Not?
How viable is it to have your online store running on Drupal 8 Commerce? Why not go with... Magento 2 or Shopify? Or just stick to Drupal Commerce 7, instead of jumping to Commerce 2.x? What are its most “tempting” features? Those that make it a better option for you than:   the Drupal 7 Ubercart module Commerce 1.x other eCommerce platforms And also: which of its limitations could discourage you from using Drupal 8 and Commerce? Let's dig in for some answers and steer you in the right direction: 1. Why Use Drupal 8 Commerce? Because it's “extremely” customizable. And this is both its “superpower” and the main reason why you'd hesitate using it... Source: Drupal.org Commerce 2 is definitely not a “plug and play” eCommerce solution. Instead, it grants you total freedom of customization. And that can be overwhelming for some... Since it assumes nothing about your business model, you're free to tweak it to your needs. To create precisely the eCommerce customer experience that you'd like your website to provide. But that means there's more coding to do, compared to conventional webshop systems. Now, deriving from the power of customization, here are the main reasons why you'd want to use Drupal 8 Commerce for your online store: 1.1. Cart Works Pretty Much Out of the Box Since it's opinionated, you don't need to get tangled up in configuration... too deep. 1.2. It Provides You with Multi-Store Support Commerce 2 makes it easier for you to manage an entire infrastructure of online stores. Each one with its own Drupal 8 custom checkout process, its currencies, its product types, etc. 1.3. It Enables You to Have as Many Product Variations as Needed From size to color, to language. Drupal 8 Commerce comes with great product attribute handling. You're free to put together any custom combination of product attributes. To include as many product variations in your store as needed. 1.4. It Ships with Multiple Currencies Built-In Support A too powerful feature to ignore. Especially if it's a multi-store architecture that you're planning to run on Commerce 2. 1.5. You Can Easily Develop Analytical Hooks to Further Improve the UX You can fire events at any stage of the user journey on your eCommerce website to identify the weak links. Those with low user engagement. 1.6. It's Ideally Suited to a Headless Architecture Are you planning a headless eCommerce setup? Drupal 8 Commerce's the ideal “candidate” for that. It works smoothly with GraphQL, so you can use the front-end framework of your choice — say... React — and deliver the best eCommerce experience to your customers. In a nutshell: Commerce for Drupal 8 empowers you to customize every little aspect of your online store. But maybe some demo stores, that are already leveraging these Commerce 2 features, would weigh heavier in your decision-making process: Demo store 1 Demo store 2   2. What Could Keep You From Using Commerce 2.x? As I've already stated here: “The power of customization that it provides is both its “superpower” and the main reason why you'd hesitate using it.” You can, indeed, customize your online store down to the last detail, but that does come at a cost. The cost of coding. The cost of a skilled team of developers. But let us detail the reasons why you'd.... hesitate to use Drupal 8 Commerce: 2.1. It Has a Pretty High Learning Curve If you're used to Shopify's “get up and running” approach and you're not familiar with Drupal development, you'll see that Commerce 2.x isn't that non-developer friendly. It's not the type of tool that site builders without high programming skills find it quick and easy to learn.  2.2. It Requires Quite a Lot of Custom Code Writing Do keep that in mind: Drupal 8 Commerce is unexpectedly configurable and ideally extensible. Yet, you need to write plenty of custom code to unleash all that customization power. So, do expect to be challenged to write custom modules, custom templates and, overall, do a lot of custom work. 2.3. Setting It Up Is Not that Intuitive … as you might expect, being familiar with “ready-to-use” eCommerce platforms like Shopify, for instance. And all that because it assumes nothing. So, there's no preconfigured structure that you get out of the box. One that you should stick to.   2.4. It's a Completely Different System from Drupal 7's  And this is another strong “blocker” that might stop you from using Drupal 8 and Commerce 2.x for your next online store. You expect it to be fairly similar to Commerce 1.x. And yet, it's a whole new system.  One that ships with brand new concepts that you need to get yourself familiar with (i.e. checkout is no longer a form) 3. Why Move from Drupal Commerce 7 to 8? Why not just stick to Drupal 7's Ubercart module, for instance? Or to Commerce 1.x? Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash   Here are the top 4 reasons why you'd want to choose Drupal 8 Commerce instead of Drupal 7: 3.1. Drupal Commerce 2.x Provides More Out of the Box It ships with a fully functional promotions system, for instance. From coupons to discounts, you can incorporate the type of promotion that you have in mind for your customers in... no time. 3.2. It's an Upgraded Version of Commerce 1.x And that translates into improved:   product administration third-party integration 3.3. The Drupal 8 Custom Checkout  In Drupal 8 Commerce checkout is not a form. A bit intrigued? With Drupal Commerce 2 you're free to create your own custom checkout flows. Meaning that you get to customize the process according to specific:   customer profiles product types orders … and so on. For instance, you can set up 2 different checkout flows. One for your digital items and the other one for the physical ones that you sell on your eCommerce website. 3.4. You Benefit from a More Modular Design Just think about it: Compared to Drupal 7 Commerce, the Drupal 8 version is a lot more extensible and configurable. This allows you to custom-tune other elements of your website besides the checkout. For instance, you're free to configure your catalog from the ground up. From products to orders, to shops (if you're running a marketplace with several different stores), to prices... you get to tailor your catalog to your most specific business needs. Besides configuration of the default behavior for a standard eCommerce store, Commerce 2x. doesn't impose any predefined, rigid logic on you. 4. Go with Drupal 8 Commerce If... you already advocate for Drupal's flexibility and robustness you don't mind investing some time in learning Commerce 2.x and writing custom code you need more than a standard online store, that's easy to set up, but offers you no customization freedom (see Woocommerce) you're not ready to pay for every little add-on that you might need (see Shopify), that you could create it yourself The END! Would you trade flexibility for convenience? The convenience of having a generic webshop up and running in no time? Let's start a conversation on this topic in the comments here below! Image by justynafaliszek from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 11'2020
OPTASY Scores Another Perfect 5-Star Review on Clutch and Remains One the Top Web Developers in Canada
Unfortunately for many tech enthusiasts, the vast majority of web developers in Canada currently trying to implement AI, Blockchain, or IoT want them for their novelty rather than for the genuine purposes they can serve. So what happens when you do have a creative use for one of these technologies?  For many development houses, the choice between investing in emerging technology capability or staying on top of the vast set of platforms users choose from is an easy one — more platforms means more clients, and you can usually find a way to fill most functions using traditional technologies. At OPTASY, however, we knew we wanted to push the boundaries of what was possible. By focusing on Drupal development, we have been able to become leaders in our field, enabling our clients to take control of far more powerful technologies than have ever before been available.   That attitude, combined with our attention to detail and customer service, has landed us a series of excellent reviews on Clutch.co, placing us in the top 10 web developers in all of Canada. Clutch promotes leading agencies by collecting verified, unbiased feedback on vendors and displaying it in the form of written ratings and reviews. In one of our most recent projects, we built the Drupal 8 website of an equal opportunity community nonprofit. Our team worked hard to provide iterative design and development that incorporated all of the client’s feedback throughout the process. Their team was particularly impressed with our professionalism and openness to input. “We would definitely choose them in the future and recommend them to any individual looking for a website that leads to conversions and conveys a message in a smart format. They welcomed our feedback but also balanced our ideas with conversion principles. The site’s beautiful and performing exactly how we’d hoped it would.”  - Sean Kelly, Executive Director   Feedback like this from our valued clients demonstrates one of the biggest reasons we love what we do so much. Development may be our selling point, but building meaningful business relationships is what makes the world of tech go ‘round. We really appreciate the chance that Clutch provides to learn from our past engagements and reach potential future customers.  We are also featured highly on The Manifest, a platform that hosts industry-organized company rankings alongside business insights and articles explaining a variety of topics. On Visual Objects, customers have the chance to look through portfolio items to help inform their decisions, helping them to get a sense of what their project might look like with any particular team of web developers in Canada.  If you’re looking for a development partner to help make your business dreams come to life, check out our profile on Clutch or reach out to us! We’re always looking for exciting new partnerships to take on, and would love for the next one to be you.   Image by Tomislav Kaučić from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 27'2020
How to Integrate AI into Your Drupal Website The... Easy Way: 7 Drupal 8 AI Modules at Hand
How do you take advantage of AI and get the most of Drupal's content management system? Are there any Drupal 8 AI modules and tools that you could incorporate into your website and... get the most of both worlds? The best of Drupal as a reliable content repository and of a:   chatbot virtual assistant or another type of conversational interface   Or maybe you want to implement AI to boost the various content workflows happening on your website:   content that needs to be served to various markets (and thus translated into... various languages) user-generated content that needs to follow a certain editorial guideline (e.g. "adding alternative text to images") content experiences that need to be tailored to each user's activity on your site   Nothing easier. There are at least 7 different modules in Drupal to help you inject AI capabilities into your website:   1. What Are the Biggest Advantages of Artificial Intelligence in Drupal? How does building AI integrations on top of your Drupal website translate into benefits? Strong, clear benefits... Well, it all bubbles up to the user experience and to your team's efficiency:   you create and deliver more personalized experiences for your website visitors you streamline and automate your team's content and marketing workflows  you get to boost your targeted marketing efforts you provide more engaging user experience, as well, incorporating smarter features into your Drupal site   2. Build a Drupal Chatbot Fast with 2 Drupal 8 AI Modules Thinking about delivering a more user-centric experience on your website? Then you must be wondering how you can implement an AI-powered conversational interface in Drupal, right? You'd then be using Drupal for front UI, content management, user admin... Source: Drupal Camp Pune It's simple:    There are 2 dedicated AI modules in Drupal that help you create a chatbot in no time:   2.1. Chatbot API    Let take this scenario:   You want your "Drupal headless" setup to share content across an entire ecosystem of services: Facebook bot, Dialogueflow, Amazon Echo... Yet, you dread the idea of writing custom code for every single chatbot/personal assistant in this ecosystem.   How do you streamline your content serving efforts? How can you write your code once and... have your content shared with all your target chatbots and? You install Chatbot API. It will intermediate the integration of all those services into your Drupal website. And it will ensure that data gets served across the whole network of chatbots.   2.2. Drupal Chatbot    Another useful module to use if you consider creating a chatbot on Drupal data. Here's how it works:   It enables you to set up a voice and text-based bot to interact with your website visitors. One that acts as a layer between Drupal and the NLP agent.   You get to choose the block where you want it enabled and to add various functionalities, as well: Latest Article Search, Latest Pages, Top Rated Pages...   3. Implement a Virtual Assistant with Decoupled Drupal Commerce What if you want to take the eCommerce experience on your online store to a new level? To turn it into a... conversational eCommerce experience? How? By integrating a Drupal virtual assistant into your website. Nothing easier:   You connect a bot to decoupled Drupal Commerce.   Bot Frameworks + Decoupled Drupal Commerce APIs + NLU = A Conversational Interface for your eCommerce website. Since Drupal:   puts a whole collection of APIs at your free disposal (being API-first)  provides you with the Commerce Cart API module to leverage   ... storing content (and product details) and interacting with shopping carts in Drupal Commerce becomes particularly easy. And here's how your Drupal Commerce-powered bot would work:   it will trigger "review cart" and "add to cart functionality" via message-based interactions it will unblock search and "explore the products" functionality by connecting itself to the Drupal Commerce APIs   4. Create Personalized Experiences with Drupal Machine Learning Personalization is the norm these days.  To serve content tailored to your customers' past activity (what they shared, what content they searched for...) and their profiles. And for doing it right, you need to incorporate machine learning techniques into your Drupal website. "Is it possible to do that?" Of course. And here are just 2 Drupal 8 AI modules that you can tap into for personalizing the web content experience that you provide your site visitors with:   4.1. Acquia Lift Connector  Take it as a convenient 2-in-1 tool at hand: customer data & content. This way, you get to streamline your content personalization efforts. To scale and share user-tailored experiences across an entire infrastructure of channels and devices. It'll "equip" your marketing campaign with all the powerful features you need: behavioral targeting, real-time audience segmentation, A/B testing... In a nutshell, what this module does is connect your Drupal site with the Acquia Lift personalization tool...   4.2. Azure Cognitive Services API   The go-to module if you consider "injecting" intelligent features — speech, facial and vision recognition, speech and language understanding — into your Drupal website or app. Your development team can just tap into the machine learning APIs exposed and... turn them into machine learning functionalities to be incorporated into your Drupal application. Source: Drupal.org It's a package of 4 different AI modules, in fact:   Face API Module Emotion Recognition API Module Computer Vision API Module Azure Text Analytics API Module   The last one, for instance, triggers advanced natural language processing on raw text. This translates into 3 key features: key phrase extraction, sentiment analysis, and language detection.   5. Streamline Your Workflows with 2 Drupal Intelligent Content Tools  One of the biggest advantages of artificial intelligence is that of streamlining (and automating) your in-house workflows. Your content and marketing ones... So, how do you inject "efficiency" into your Drupal content and marketing teams' various workflows? You integrate these 2 Drupal 8 AI modules into their work.   5.1. Automatic Alternative Text   What if you could implement AI capabilities into the process where users upload their own content? Just ponder on this scenario for a while:   You can include "Add alternative text images" into your set of editorial guidelines, but you can't expect users to follow them, as well, when they upload content, right?   And that's what you have the Automatic Alternative Text module for. Source: Drupal.org It describes the image that the user uploads. In one sentence. It generates more than one description for the same image, actually... Furthermore, it ships with features like:   detecting mature content identifying faces in a given image determining the prevailing colors   5.2. Cloudwords for Multilingual Drupal    Another one of those Drupal intelligent content tools that you should turbocharge your team's workflow with. Just put yourself into one of your marketers' shoes:   He/she has to deliver content (lots of it) to an entire ecosystem of markets, in various languages.   And delivering localized, consistent content experiences at a global scale does take plenty of resources... What this module does is automate the entire content delivery and management process:   Just select the piece(s) of content that you'll need to localize and let Cloudwords serve it at high speed, to all your target markets.   The END! And these are but 7 of the Drupal 8 AI modules at your disposal for injecting artificial intelligence capabilities into your website/app. Have you implemented any AI integrations in Drupal 8 so far? Any chatbots or maybe AI-powered tools for personalizing the content experience on your website? What other types of AI modules would you like to find in Drupal? Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 24'2020
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
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