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4 Key Things to Know When Optimizing Your Drupal Website for Mobile
  Approaching a mobile-first strategy for your Drupal website is imperative. Since 52% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices, businesses that want to strive must ensure that they optimize their site for mobile.  Why is mobile optimization important? A website designed for desktop use can be non-functional on a phone or tablet. Building a mobile-friendly site that looks good regardless of how users access it is no longer optional for companies that want to deliver high-quality digital experiences.  "If I were to start Drupal from scratch today, I'd build it for mobile experiences first and desktop experience second." - Dries Buytaert, founder and lead developer of the Drupal CMS There are plenty of benefits and competitive advantages of implementing a mobile-first approach to your Drupal website. We'll name a few: Positively impacts search ranking Improves loading times Increases visibility across all devices Enhancing mobile performance for Drupal websites is not rocket science, but if you're a rookie in web development, hiring a Drupal developer to help you implement some of the steps highlighted in this article may be the safest strategy.  Without further ado, let's start to learn how you can optimize your Drupal website for mobile use.   1. First things first: you need a mobile menu.  Start your mobile optimization journey by installing a mobile menu that enables navigation links to be displayed accurately on narrow screens.  A popular style for mobile menus is the 'hamburger' icon. This type of menu is substituted by a symbol with three horizontal lines when the screen narrows to a particular width. When clicked on, the icon displays the mobile-friendly main menu of the Drupal website. Want to use this type of menu? Start by installing the Responsive Menus module and download the tar.gz.file.  In your dashboard, open the Extend tab and select the Install New Module button.  Lastly, use the file browser to upload the tar.gz file. You should now be ready to use the module to customize and style your website's menu.  Remember that you can also hire Drupal developers at any stage of your optimization process to help you streamline your operations.    2. Don't ignore code minification.  One of the top priorities for mobile site functionality is quick loading times. As CSS or HTML files can get bulky, removing unnecessary elements from your website's code can help it render more fastly.  There are a few steps for successfully minifying your code: Install the Minify module  Download the tar.gz file and unarchive it Move the resulting folder into your website's Drupal modules section.  Enable the module from your dashboard You also have the option to enable the minify module to start working automatically. This will assist your Drupal website in loading quicker on mobile devices and thus improving the user experience.    3. Browser cache implementation for mobile-friendly Drupal websites. The next step in optimizing your Drupal site for mobile is to implement browser caching, which allows a user's browser to store data, so it doesn't have to repeatedly download the same files.  This reduces latency if, for example, your site has an extensive background image. The browser caching allows the picture to be stored on each visitor's device, so it doesn't have to be downloaded every time the user visits your site.  Browser caching is a built-in tool in Drupal, and although you can configure it in your control panel, we recommend that you consult the official guide before doing it or hire a Drupal developer to help you.    4. Consider image optimization.  Websites that contain many large image files can have longer loading times on mobiles. You don't want that if your goal is to provide high-quality experiences for your mobile users. Therefore, you can start optimizing your images to accelerate your site's performance. How can you reduce the size of your photos without jeopardizing their quality? It's actually easy. Drupal's ImageAPI Optimize module helps you manage your images before uploading them onto the website.  You only have to download the module's tar.gz file, install, and enable it in your dashboard. To automatically optimize your images for mobile devices, make sure to select ImageAPI Optimize as the default toolkit.  When creating responsive images, the amount of space an image fills on the screen is significant. Drupal lets you use @media rules to modify images depending on each user's screen size. This high level of personalization is allowed by the Breakpoint and Responsive Images modules.    Why Drupal 9 might be the best option for a mobile-first approach The latest version of Drupal provides optimized modules and features for mobile devices that enhance the user experience and address modern customers' needs.  Among the key benefits of Drupal 9 for mobile optimization are: Improved speed of content delivery Responsive design for various screen's widths  Editing content on mobile is easier  In conclusion, if you want to deliver high-quality, personalized user web experiences in the modern era, optimizing your website for mobile devices is a must. Optasy can help you build a mobile-first approach that satisfies the need for speed and high functionality that today's mobile users expect.  Image credit: deeptuts on Pixabay... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Feb 22'2021
How AI Will Forever Change Drupal Web Development
  The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) opens a multitude of opportunities in different industries. According to a recent study, nine in ten leading businesses have already started to invest in artificial intelligence.  For instance, Robotics at Google is paving the way for future-thinking strategies and business models. AI is already performing repetitive tasks in the healthcare ecosystem, diagnosing and treating various medical conditions.  Nevertheless, in the web landscape, AI also provides an abundance of use cases. It's no secret that modern mainstream website development has lately focused on creating a customer-facing front-end presence and integrating front-end with enterprise back-office operations.  One of the leading content management frameworks for creating such enterprise websites, Drupal, is a pioneer in embracing digital innovation. Drupal web development includes multiple modules for implementing AI, helping digital businesses build and sustain a more AI-centric mindset.  This article highlights how integrating AI into Drupal web development can provide new digital growth opportunities and lay the foundation for future-oriented businesses.  Benefits and use cases for AI in Drupal web development Drupal architectures have been long used to build next-gen digital and personalized experiences. One way developers can use artificial intelligence integrations in Drupal frameworks is in the form of chatbots. By supporting cognitive computing abilities that simulate human thought processes, Drupal's Chatbot API module provides: An additional flexible layer that connects your Natural Language Processing (NPL) with your several personal assistants, thus increasing the intuitiveness of your website A streamlined conversational experience whenever your users need it The possibility to avoid writing new code when translating conversations from one interface to another The aim of leveraging AI in chatbots is to increase sales revenue with better predictions. AI techniques like data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and behavior analysis empower chatbots to accurately predict reactions and responses to users’ queries.  When it comes to the personalization of web content, artificial intelligence is a winning tool. By analyzing a user's digital persona, profile, activity, and intent, AI and machine learning algorithms can enhance content recommendations and deliver highly targeted insights that match a user's preferences.  “In keeping with our deep integrations to Web Content Management, Content Management Systems, and Marketing Automation platforms, our Drupal 8 connector is the latest example of Cloudwords building integrations that speed and scale a company's global marketing engagements with personalized experiences in any language”, revealed Richard Harpham, former CEO at Cloudwords Inc. Cloudwords for Multilingual Drupal module enhanced by artificial intelligence Cloudwords integrations for multilingual websites are a real game-changer. Drupal's multilingual module is efficiently supported and quickly streamlined through Cloudwords’ powerful workflow automation and project management features. The whole process of serving content in multiple languages to the market is facilitated by Cloudwords' CAT tool that utilizes AI and machine learning to increase productivity.  Azure Cognitive Services API The Azure Cognitive Services API Drupal module helps developers augment Drupal websites by adding speech, facial recognition, visual, and emotion detection features. More precisely, there are four submodules worth taking a look at: Azure Emotion API - This tool connects Microsoft Face API to your website and recognizes one or more people’s emotions in a picture. This allows for more intelligent, engaging, and discoverable applications. Azure Face API - Just like the Emotion API, this module integrates with the Microsoft Face API solution that can detect and recognize human faces. Face API identifies gender, age, or hair color, and it can compare similar faces and group their pictures.  Azure Computer Vision API - This module can aid in moderating content. It uses tags and descriptions to analyze the content on images, allowing you to apply restrictions on adult or inappropriate content.  Azure Text Analytics API - Used for NPL, this module provides sentiment analysis, key phrase extraction, and language detection.  Better personalization and direct targeting with Acquia Lift Connector This module integrates tightly with Drupal, allowing developers to make the most out of their Drupal skills and knowledge. It combines content and customer data into a single tool, enabling marketers to scale their web personalization efforts and increase their conversions. Among the most popular features, we can find: A drag-and-drop user interface for content targeting  Unified content and customer profiles Real-time, adaptive segmentation A/B testing and behavioral targeting How's the future looking for Drupal web development powered by AI? The future of Drupal websites that integrate AI-based modules looks promising. It is predicted that every digital user will have a unique ID that will store behavior insights like clicks, time spent on each page, or searches. By leveraging AI and machine learning,  companies will be able to automatically tailor and personalize web content to each user's individual needs.  Modern tools like AI and ML have a lot to offer when integrated with Drupal CMS, opening new opportunities to implement rich modules with futuristic features. Personalization and performance are unprecedented and efficiently support complex digital ecosystems through features like voice controlling and user behavior analysis.  A few decades ago, artificial intelligence was thought of as a technological power that will end up destroying the world as we know it. Today, AI is not seen as being so hostile. On the contrary, businesses have started to embrace and leverage the possibilities offered by Ai, and Drupal web development is a powerful example of how technology can revolutionize the world of business.  The full potential of AI-integrated Drupal modules is far from being explored, although digital-centric companies are already harvesting the benefits of investing in modern technologies. The journey towards uncovering more digital assets that can sustain revolutionary web development strategies continues. Stay tuned! Have you started implementing AI modules into your Drupal website? Optasy can help you accelerate the path to revolutionizing your Drupal web development capabilities with AI-powered tools that support digital growth. Image credit: geralt on Pixabay                                        ... Read more
Raluca Olariu / Feb 18'2021
10 Best Headless CMS in 2020, That Cover Most of Your Requirements (Part 2)
Ready to compare the features of 5 other best headless CMS in 2020? We've got them ready for you to just dive in and: survey the key reasons why you'd choose one over the other discover each one's main use cases narrow down your options … and pick the one that matches your requirements. What Is the Best Headless CMS in 2020? 5.6. Directus An open source tool for managing and delivering content across an entire network of platforms and devices. And here are some of the top reasons for choosing Directus: it provides your editorial team with an easy to use admin app for managing content it can be in the cloud or self-hosted it provides API for your development team to fetch content 5.7. Netlify CMS  One of your top 10 headless CMS options, an open source one, that you get to add to any static site generator of your choice. A React single-page application that provides you with an easy to use UI, playing the role of a… wrapper for your Git Workflow. Basically, when using Netlify CMS your content gets stored in your web app's git repository (as markdown files), close to your codebase.   "How does a Netlify CMS Gatsby setup work?"   It's pretty straightforward: You enter your content via that user-friendly interface, then Gatsby uses it to come up with the right pages for your web app. Why would you use it? it fits both large and small-sized projects, with fewer pages to create, to add content to, to edit, and to manage you get to review/preview your content and make changes in real-time, and even control entries status in editorial workflow mode it provides you with an easy-to-use UI, with just 3 tabs: workflow, media, and content you're free to use it with any static site generator you get to extend its functionality: add your own UI widgets, editor plugins, customized previews, etc. 5.8. GraphCMS     An API-first content management system, a GraphQL-native one, that allows you to distribute content across multiple digital platforms. And not just anyhow, but… within minutes. Your developer team gets to create content APIs in no time, whereas your content team gets all the tools they need for a smooth editor experience.   Source: capterra.com GraphCMS vs Contentful: Main Differences GraphCMS works best for enterprise and mid-market companies, enabling them to build highly scalable applications GraphQL is its underlying technology: an open source query language for APIs, that's been growing more and more popular among developers Contentful targets top global brands, helping them distribute digital content experiences across complex networks of markets and channels REST is its underlying technology: a programming paradigm for distributed systems And here are 2 good reasons for choosing GraphCMS as your go-to headless content management system:  you get a CMS that's client-side and JAMstack compatible you get to tap into the benefits of a JAMstack approach to development (JavaScript & Markup & API) 5.9. Cosmic A cloud-hosted headless content management system that provides you with both GraphQL and REST APIs. But what makes Cosmic one of the best headless CMS in 2020? Why choose the Cosmic Headless CMS?  it ships with features like content modeling, media management, localization, and webhooks it grants you a smooth editor experience with its WYSIWYG  editor, that you can use to incorporate (by embedding code) third-party services like Typeform and GitHub. it integrates smoothly with AWS, Slack, Algolia, Stripe, HubSpot 5.10. Kentico Kontent A cloud-based content delivery API that turns your structured content into content that's easy to be "consumed" by any device or digital platform that you might use as a front-end delivery layer.  Why would you choose it over other great options of headless CMS? you get an AI chatbot when using Kentico Kontent it provides webhooks and custom elements that make third-party integrations a lot smoother you get content management API enabling content consumption And we've come to… the END of the list of 10 best headless CMS in 2020. Which one checks the most features off your list? Now, if you're facing a "Headless Drupal 8 vs Contentful" dilemma, we're here to: help you identify the one that works best for your business and your requirements make your headless CMS-based project work Just drop us a line!   Image by tdfugere from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 26'2020
10 Best Headless CMS in 2020, That Cover Most of Your Requirements (Part 1)
Overwhelmed with options? Are you building your first (e-commerce) headless CMS and you don't know what headless CMS platform to choose?  What are the best headless CMS in 2020, so you can at least narrow down your choices and start... somewhere? Which system matches most of your feature requirements? Here's a top 10: 1. But First: What Is a Headless CMS, More Precisely? Relax, I won't bore you with too many details — we already have an in-depth post on the differences between headless and traditional CMS. So, if we were to sum up the concept in just a few words, we could say that: A headless content management system is an architecture where content is separated from the presentation layer (the client-side front-end). Meaning that you get to create, store, and edit "raw" content (with no design or layout) in the backend and deliver it wherever needed —wearable, mobile app, website — via API. In short, what you get in a headless architecture is: a database to store your content in a dashboard for editing your content Source: Zesty.io As for the "head" that serves your content to the end-user : you're free to build your own front-end, from the ground up … and even multiple front-ends, if needed, that will all use calls from the API to retrieve and display content 2. … Then What's a Decoupled CMS? Headless CMS vs decoupled CMS: what's the difference? And why headless over decoupled? The role that the API plays… That's what makes the difference (and why you'd want to go for a headless approach): If, in a decoupled architecture, the API plays the role of an intermediary between back-end and front end, in a headless architecture the API can be used by any of the front-end portions for pulling data. In other words, a decoupled CMS does come with a built-in front-end delivery layer, that you can rely on, but a headless approach is an API-driven content repository. Which gives you more flexibility for delivering content to any type of display layer. … to multiple "heads". You're free to distribute it wherever it needs to get displayed. 3. Why Choose a Headless CMS? Top 9 Benefits Before I "divulge" the best headless CMS in 2020 to you, here's a shortlist of the key advantages of using a headless CMS software: you get to engage your customers with personalized content across an entire network of digital channels, at different stages in their journey you can deliver richer digital experience, tailored to each channel you gain platform independence you're free to choose your technology of choice you benefit from cross-platform support you get to manage your content from a central location and distribute it to multiple platforms/IoT-connected devices, in a universal format you're free to manage all your platforms from one interface your development team gets to choose the development framework of their choice, integrate new technologies and, overall… innovate you're free to redesign as often as you need to, without the dread of re-implementing your entire CMS from the ground up     4. … And When Should You Use It? 5 Best Use Cases  How do you know for sure that you need to adopt this approach? You know it because your scenario describes one of the following use cases for headless CMS: you're building a site using a technology you're familiar with you're building a website with a static site generator you're building a JS-based website or web app you're building a native mobile app you're building an e-commerce site and you know that the commerce platform you're using won't… cut the mustard as a CMS; or you need to enrich product info in your online store 5. What Are the Best Headless CMS in 2020? Top 10 "Which CMS should I use?" you wonder. "The one that meets most of your requirements…" So, you should start by pinning them down. What features are you looking for in a CMS? Maybe you need a system that should: be straightforward and easy to use for the marketers/non-technical people in your team be built on… Node be highly customizable and editable for your content team to be able to change overlay text, logo, background video/image be simple to set up integrate easily with Gatsby support multi-site setups not be tied up to (just) one specific database provide ease of content entry and rich-text support provide a granular permission system provide native support for content types What are the features that your project couldn't live without? Now, with that list of "mandatory" features at hand, just drill down through your top headless CMS options in 2020. Here they are: 5.1. Storyblok A purely headless CMS that ships with a visual editor, as well. Why would you go for Storyblok? What makes it one of the best headless CMS in 2020? it provides the experience of a page builder for all those non-technical users in your team: editors get to manage content via a more user-friendly interface it grants your developers easy access to the APIs they need 5.2. Prismic Its major selling point? It allows you to choose your own language, framework, technology… And these are the 3 good reasons to go with Prismic as your headless CMS: it allows you to model your content schema and to add your content you're free to choose whatever framework that meets your feature needs: React, Vue, Next, Nuxt, Node, Gatsby… you're free to choose either GraphQL or RESTful API to query content 5.3. Drupal 8 Headless CMS   Another great option is to exploit Drupal's headless capabilities and pair them with the JavaScript framework of your choice. Here are some of the best reasons why you'd use a Drupal 8 API-first architecture: Drupal's a mature and enterprise-level headless solution backed by a wide community, used by more than 1 million sites globally; you get to tap into its massive module collection and even create new custom ones to extend your website's functionality its JSON:API follows the JSON:API specification; developers in your team can start using the API even if they're not experts in working with Drupal you get to load your GraphQl schemas straight from your Drupal content repository; there's a specialized module for this: the GraphQL module you get to use all of  Drupal's famed features (granular access to content, processes, workflows, modules, etc.) right away; you get them out-of-the-box since the REST API is… rooted deep into Drupal 5.4. Strapi, One of the Best headless CMS for Gatsby. It's an open-source Node.js headless CMS, a "host it yourself" one, that allows you to build Node.js apps in… minutes. Why would you use it? because it generates available RESTful API or uses GraphQL shortly after installation, making data available via customizable API because it allows your developers to invest all their resources in writing reusable app logic (instead of having to use some of that time to build an infrastructure) because it's fully JavaScript because it supports plugins that extend the platform's functionality because it's open-source: you'll find the entire codebase on GitHub  5.5. Contentful  Looking for a platform-agnostic solution? A… content delivery network that would enable your development team to manage and distribute (and reuse) content to multiple channels? Then this is the API-driven headless CMS you're looking for. Here are 6 other reasons why you'd want to put Contentful on your shortlist: consistent APIs easy to set up you're free to create your own models easy to use: ships with a robust, non-technical, user-friendly UI you get to add custom plugins quick and easy you get to set your own schemas to get displayed the way you want them to, across different apps Good to know! There's even a Shopify extension available. What it does is connect your online store to your content, stored in Contentful. And if you'll need help with building, fine-tuning, and integrating your content hub, we're ready to tweak Contentful to your needs.  END of Part 1! Stay tuned, for there are 5 more candidates for the title of "the best headless CMS in 2020" waiting in line.  Image by Couleur from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 25'2020
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