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

3...2...1... Angular 5 Is Just Around the Corner! What New Features Should You Look Forward To?
Making it significantly easier for developers to build Google-driven progressive web apps! And significantly simpler for users to access services through their mobile phones, as well. This is the 2-in-1 prime concept behind Angular 5! The latest version of Google's mainstream JS framework for building mobile and desktop applications is soon to be released to production. And its beta version's: bugfixes performance improvements new features ... have already “revealed” the Google team's principle of making progressive web apps accessible to everyone. To take out some of all that discouraging, heavy know-how that developers had to get themselves “equipped with” if they decided to take the dynamic AngularJS development's “bull” by the hornes. And speaking of Angular 5's announced new features and enhancements, let's highlight the truly noteworthy ones, shall we?   New Angular 5 Features to Watch Out For Here are some of the key features aimed to support the “simpler, faster, smaller” theme of version 5: forms: add options arg to abstract controls   router: add events tracking activation of individual routes   compiler: add representation of placeholders to xliff & xmb   build optimizer: keeps code to its bare essentials, reducing, therefore, the app's size   integrating Material Design Components and making them compatible with server-side rendering   simplifying the whole progressive web apps' development process: so that the apps can get cached in the browser   Key Performance Improvements  And speaking of enabling the development of progressive web apps (and implicitly of native-like experiences for the users), we can't leave out the notable performance enhancements brought to Angular 5: abstract class methods & interfaces   the usage of native addEventListener for faster rendering   Google's engineering team's main goal has been to supercharge the fifth version of AngularJS with the needed out-of-the-box enhancements so that developers won't dread using the framework because of all the needed know-how. So that, instead, they should turn it into their first option for building their browser-based apps!   And Then... Get Ready to Welcome Angular 6, Too! … which will step into the spotlight next year, April 16. So, there's a overcrowded (even “aggressive” we could say) release schedule awaiting the Google team. Meanwhile, what the team developing Angular 6 can “disclose” is that they'll keep walking on Angular 5's path paved with the “easier, smaller, faster” principles.  And that they'll keep their focus on making developers' “development time” spent building Google-based progressive web apps even more enjoyable: “We’ll continue that theme for version 6, just making [developers’] lives easier, making it possible to deliver apps better for their users” Brad Green, a Google engineering director, said. In short: progressive web apps will get easier to build, thanks to all the built-in support streamlining development itself and easier (and therefore much more tempting) to use.  So, now that you have your Angular 5 checklist, including all the key features and performance improvements (and you can find the list of bug fixes right here) save the date in your calendar (September 18) and get ready to... stretch test all these improvements and breaking changes!  ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Sep 05'2017
Google's New G Suite Features: Boost Collaboration Within Your Team
Managing dozens of edits and tones of suggestions! This is just a brief and highly rudimentary definition of project/team management.  Therefore, it goes without saying that collaboration within the team makes the perfect “shield” against pure chaos, time-consuming version control problems and challenging information tracking issues. And this is precisely why Google's new G Suite features are “collaboration features” first and foremost and some truly handy, real-time editing features secondly.  Here's just a quick “teaser” on this update of Google Docs, Sheets and Slides:   built-in add-ons tailored to your organization's specific workflow   improved version control management tools   advanced information tracking, improved search results   And now, without further ado, let's put the spotlight on Google's new G Suite features:   1. Improved Version Control  And this is gold when it comes to effective time and teamwork management! Just try to turn back the hands of time and to go back to that “prehistoric age” when teams used to share docs by email and to pile up a whole load of doc versions, each one having its own name. Each one sent out to all the other members of the team. Now, come back to the present time when Google's new G Suite features include some well-improved version control management tools!  Let us detail: now you get to edit a “draft 1” document as many times as you need, Google automatically saves it each time you apply a new change; once you're through with the editing you can go ahead and name it “draft 2”. Google will promptly store all these multiple versions, that your team can assign custom names to, and so each team member gains access to the whole “version history”. Just navigate to Select File > Version history > Name current version and keep a close track of and easily manage all your team's edits in that specific document (slide or sheet)! You and your team members can see the entire “work in progress” and access any specific older versions of the same doc.   2. One of The Handiest of Google's New G Suite Features: Preview a “Clean” Doc Here's a new reading experience-enhancing feature that Google introduces in its latest G Suite update: you get to preview a “clean” version of your current document! Basically, anyone from your team can navigate to Select Tools > Review suggested edits > Preview accept all/Preview reject all and see that specific doc either:   “clean”, lacking  any of the suggested edits/comments   with all the subsequent editing marks added to   3.  Accept/Reject All Edit Suggestions With Just One Click OK, so “collaboration” sure is the keyword to describe Google's new G Suite features, yet there's another one we can add: convenience! For instance: you get to either accept or reject all the suggested edits at once. With just one click! Simply go to: Select Tools > Review suggested edits > Accept all or Reject all. This way you're sparing your team members' time. The time they would otherwise invest in reviewing every formatting or punctuation mark edit.   4. Suggest Changes On-The-Go, on Android and iOS Long gone are the days when you could turn on suggestion mode and do your editing exclusively on your PC. By far one of the much awaited of the Google's new G Suite features is precisely this one: you now get to edit your doc on-the-go, right from your mobile device! Just hit the “...” placed in the top corner of your document, sheet or slide and turn on the “suggest changes” mode. Talking about convenience, right?   5. Promptly Compare Doc Versions and Track Changes  Along with “team collaboration” and “convenience”, “promptly” is another suitable word to define Google's new G suite features.  You get to promptly review headlines thanks to the now built-in Workshare and Litera Change-Pro add-ons!   6. New Templates With Built-In Add-Ons Tailored to Your Workflow Why should you have two separate “can't live without” features, when you can... have a powerful two-in-one tool instead? Meaning: why should you have time-saving templates, on one hand, and add-ons loaded with needed functionality on the other? G Suite now brings you: templates with pre-built add-ons! With customizable add-ons to fit your own company's specific workflow. For instance, you might depend on a tool like LegalZoom or LucidChart or rather DocuSign. Now you can have your template paired with precisely that add-on! And there's more! If none of the available templates incorporating “luring” add-ons suits your needs, feel free to... create your own! Pick a template, pair it with the add-on of your choice and voila: custom-fit template integrated with your much-needed add-on!   7. G Suite Integrates With Google Cloud Search Can you anticipate how this Google update will impact information tracking within your team? Let us give you some hints:   your team members will no longer need to leave the currently opened document whenever they have to scan through all their internal docs searching for a particular piece of information: G Suite incorporates Google Cloud Search now    you get a richer set of search results, since the app will list every occurrence of that needed information across all your Google apps   In other words: you no longer need to specifically access Google Cloud Search to retrieve needed data! You just open up the Explore tab in your current document/slide and enter your search word(s). A whole list of Google apps (from your G suite) including that specific piece of information will then unfold. And these are Google's new G Suite features that our team of Toronto developers here (who're “dependent” on G suite) are most excited about! How about you? Have you had the chance to test any of them? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Aug 23'2017
Google Enhances Its Search App With a Personalized News Feed
“The Google search box is great when you’re looking for a specific answer, but there are also moments when you just want to catch up on the latest for topics of interest.“ (Tamar Yehoshua, VP of Product Management).  And there you have it! The NEED that you might or might not have been entirely aware of! And the fact that Google enhances its search app with a personalized news feed comes to satisfy precisely this need: to enjoy a perfectly tailored, highly customizable experience when searching for content on mobile! To explore up-to-the-minute info precisely from your own areas of interest! “How does Google incorporate this personalized news feed section into the search?” Via tappable shortcuts placed right on top of the Google search app or right underneath the search bar (in case of the site's mobile variant). And now enough with the “teasing”! Let's delve into details:   Tappable Shortcuts Now Accompany Google's Mobile Search “Starting today in the U.S., we’re introducing tappable shortcuts on the Google app for Android and iOS and Google.com on the mobile web that give you easy access to great tools and the ability to explore deeper within topics you care about.” (excerpt taken from Google's announcement on its mobile search redesign) Practically from now on when you're using Google's search app or Google.com on mobile, you're presented with tappable shortcuts. It's them that enable you to explore Google's personalized news feed. Once clicked on, they're your free ticket to “steamy-fresh” news in areas such as sports, weather, entertainment, food and drink! Expect a news feed perfectly tailored to your own topics of interest and preferences (reflected in your previous interactions with Google)! A feed “seasoned” with content related to what's trending in your own area and around the world at that moment, as well. Need to know whether to take your umbrella with you today? Didn't manage to watch last evening's baseball match and you're dying to find out the score? Are you new in town and you need guidance for finding the best place to eat? It's all there, at a finger tap's distance! All the needed information and the freshest news “stacked” in your handy Google feed! Moreover: expect your collection of shortcuts to get enriched with new ones standing for all the big events (let's say the Olympic Games for instance) shaping the given present time. Also, Android users get “spoiled” with a collection of “extra” shortcuts: flights, currency converter, internet speed test, translate, nearby attractions, hotel! Nothing new under the sun, we could easily say! This so called “new” functionality wearing Google's signature isn't new at all if we come to think of it. Convenience is, in fact, the “novelty” factor here: you get your tappable icons nicely structured into categories such as Tools, Fun, Weather, Lifestyle, Nearby, My Stuff. An organized, tappable interface! Is there any need to add which is Google's own gain (if you, on your hand, gain loads of convenience)? The company's main objective is to retain its users on its search app!   How Will This “Move” Impact The Google vs Facebook Rivalry? This is the question!  The fact that Google enhanced its search app with a personalized news feed not only that aligns the giant search company with the “portals' revival trend”, but it puts it in direct competition with another giant: Facebook.  It was Facebook itself that seized the opportunity of “reviving” the concept of portal-style content! And of launching the concept of portal-like apps where users could find and consume their sports, local, news, weather-related content in the same place. And yet, Google's social media-style news feed differs! It's the very personalization factor itself that sets it apart from Facebook's! Google's personalized news feed is custom-fit so that its should reflect users' areas of interests and search histories entirely!  Whereas Facebook presents its own users with a news feed section displaying content defined by the people they know, by their very own social graph and by that news' popularity itself! See the difference?     The Editorialized Content Issue Along with this whole redesign of Google's mobile search comes a legitimate concern: will Google editorialize the content delivered to its users in its news feed section? Will it manage to entirely avoid the “risk” of editorializing content? Most unlikely! Reaching and maintaining a level of “pure” objectivity in Google's personalized news feed section will be as likely as an AI making decisions “outside” its coded-in bias.    How Will This Personalized News Feed-Powered Search Impact Us? “The way we explore and consume content online will never be the same again”. This is our team's here, in our Toronto web development agency, answer to your valid question! And it's quite obvious in what way! Since now we're presented with Google's personalized news feed before we even get to enter a text search query, we're no longer “constrained” to look only for specific answers to our questions. We can also just catch up with the latest news from our areas of interest. And we can just dive deeper into the topics that we're interested in. The END! We're more than curious to hear your own thoughts about this shift: how do you feel about being now “greeted” (or better said “tempted”?) with a set of tappable shortcuts, an integrated part of your whole search experience, instead of that timeless, ultra-minimal design emblematic for Google? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Aug 01'2017
Put Your Website's Load Speed to The Test: The Website Speed Test!
Content is king, yet speed is everything! Or, better said: “content is king, but visual content is... Emperor”! And since “visual content” means images (and videos), you run the risk to get your precious website bogged down by a too heavy load of (otherwise) visually-striking images. Trying to impress, you to end up frustrating your visitors due to your site's slowness! But there's good news: Cloudinary's Website Speed Test Image Analysis Tool! A “refined” tool to add to your web development essential toolbox! A website performance tool that goes beyond the “you need to re-size your image” advice and empowers you with a whole report on how to: encode optimize re-size images on your website   It measures, diagnosis and, moreover: provides you with a “treatment” for your site's poor load time, too! And now, without any further ado, let's see this tool “in action”:   How Does the Website Speed Test Work Exactly? But first, what would you say about simultaneously trying this Image Analysis tool itself? This way going through our short “tutorial” here will be much more interactive. Just enter your site's link in the bar there, hit the “Analyze” button and... let the site performance report unfold before your eyes! a. It Runs an Analysis of The Site's Overall Performance Can you see the green, oversized letter grade on the top left corner of your screen? Excellent!  This is just one of the 2 key metrics displayed to you in this section of your report:   a letter grade: do keep in mind that the Website Speed Test tool grades your website by the number of detected issues, not by their gravity. So, the more problems/mistakes your inventory includes, the smaller the grade you'll get!   an image weight comparison: it counts bytes (not problems) and counts the potential performance gains that your site could be exploiting instead                                 b. It Highlights Specific Issues After you get your short report on your website's overall performance, the tool digs deeper, tracks down and highlights each web page's issues! Every page-specific report will provide you with actionable information on:   your images' current status: how they've been sized and encoded   your images' “ideal” performance: actionable information related to their format, dimension, how you could have got them better compressed etc.   As you can see for yourself, the on-page analysis, too, displays both grades and a potential gains percentages. Now, if you get “hungry” for even more actionable data, just dig deeper: hit the “See More” button!  Then you'll get to “satisfy your need” for even more detailed information about every single web page's current and potential performance. A report “split” into 3 main panels: Current: it grades every element “responsible” of an image's performance: format, fit, compression (yet, it's just these 3 first elements that count in grading the image), color space, color width etc.   moreover, in the panel's bottom half you'll get a list of solutions for scoring better grades for each one of those analyzed elements; you're being told what you could have done better when you handled you site's optimization (and this is gold!)     Optimized Image: it's here that you're presented with your image's ideal size and compression (and sometimes even with details on how the Website Speed Test encoded it along with a short description of the image's actual content)   just download it leverage it!     Format Alternatives: provides you with several alternative options to the single one presented to you in the “Optimized Image” panel   you get to scan them through and choose the one that best fits your site's optimization needs      From Pointing Out the Problems to Listing their Solutions Tackling the issues highlighted to you in the Website Speed Test report depends greatly on your (your team's) specific workflow. On the web development tools and technologies that you've already integrated into your workflow and that you're already familiar with. For instance, has this image analysis diagnosed some compression issues? Then it's you to decide whether you get them fixed using a compression GUI or an ImageMagick instead! The same goes for all the other issues' systematic fixing methods. Just A Few Extra Details    Website Speed Test is result of Cloudinary and WebPagetest joining forces   it's integrated into the WebPagetest's navigation bar: just look for the “Analyze Images” tab!   you should incorporate it into your own “arsenal” if, as a web developer in Toronto, you're testing your own websites and you want to get empowered to fix the signaled issues yourself   in short: Website Speed Test turns a plethora of site performance-boosting details into measurable and (moreover) actionable metrics: into “fuel” for your own site performance-enhancing plan!   Have you tried it yet? Do you think that it sets itself apart from other website performance analysis tools that you've used so far? Do share your (first) impressions with us! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jul 28'2017
Create Once Publish Everywhere With CONTENTA, The Latest Drupal Distribution!
The “create once, publish everywhere with close to zero knowledge of Drupal” is nothing but a myth! And you must have surely convinced yourself of that by now!  This is why harnessing the power of decoupled Drupal has been a discouraging “mission impossible” for non-Drupalers. A “privilege” exclusively for those familiar with decoupled back-ends, for those who do know a thing or two (or more) about each of the Drupal modules' particularities. Well, it looks like the Drupal community is innovating for a brighter future! One where you, the non-Drupaler, get to leverage the decoupled Drupal 8's power hassle-free!  And this future (which recently turned into present) is called “Contenta”! What started like an innovative and promising initiative at Drupalcon Baltimore is rapidly developing into a powerful, stable API-first Drupal distribution adapted to the needs of the non-Drupal “gurus”.  How do its initiators plan to do that? By providing the users out-of-the-box Contenta “kits”, with all the needed tools, configuration, and demos that they could possibly need to start “fueling” their cutting-edge apps with content in no time (having Drupal 8 as a backend CMS to rely on)!   What Was The Context That Favored Contenta's Emergence? Two key factors defined this favorable context:   The app development process in a decoupled situation itself: for non-Drupalers it could easily turn into a daunting “ordeal” with all the setups to be made, the tools to be put together, master matching the app's front-end with its Drupal back-end etc.   Drupal 8's outstanding capabilities for building decoupled applications   A solution had to be found so that everyone should be able to benefit from a decoupled Drupal CMS at its full potential, especially since Drupal 8 already provided a truly powerful “toolset” to be leveraged.   What Goals Has The Development Team Set For Contenta? Now that we've outlined the “problem” that this Drupal distribution comes to solve, how about pointing out the “objectives” that its team has set for it, as well?   it should be highly accessible to non-Drupalers thanks to the provided “out-of-the-box” kit of tools (or quick installer) they'll need when building their apps (content models, demo content, modules suggestions, example consumer apps, default setup...)   it should be quick and easy to use (thanks to its “load” of helpful demos and inspiring consumer examples)   it should also turn into a go-to source of needed documentation   it should be full-featured, perfectly equipped for powering decoupled projects, irrespective of the used front-end technology: Angular, Ract, Vue, Ember etc.   How Do You (Quickly) Install It? Since we've already mentioned Contenta's “quick installer” feature, it's time we come up with proofs, right? Here are the simple steps to take for installing your API-first Drupal distribution, so that you can start building your consuming app in no time:   first things first: install Composer    ensure that you have the sqlite-extension installed in your local machine, as well ( sudo apt-get install php-sqlite3 in debian/ubuntu)   then enter the following command for creating your new project: composer create-project contentacms/contenta-jsonapi-project MYPROJECT --stability dev --no-interaction    next, just install Drupal as usual   What Type of Demo Content Model Will You Get, Out-of-The-Box? “A recipe magazine”! That's right, this is the type of pre-built content model and demo content that you'll get to implement and to work with once you've installed your content API.   What Front-End Technology Should You Go For? “Whichever you prefer”, since Contenta “spoils” you with a whole load of inspiring examples of consumer apps built in different technologies. And there's no need for you to get “suspicious” once you notice that all these examples feature the same structure.“In real-life” it's the front-end technology that will be powering them that will determine their look and feel (if it will be Angular, then your app will feature that already iconic material design, if it will be Elm, then...)   Wrapping Up: Hypothetical Contenta Use Case  Now, what a more suitable way to sum up our short presentation on this API-first Drupal 8 distribution here than with a hypothetical use case scenario, right? Let's proceed: “Let's take Matt, our hypothetical non-Drupaler (let's assume that he is a React developer instead). Matt here is in search of a powerful back-end CMS for that impressive app that he's planning to develop. He'll just need to install Contenta, quick and easy, and dig through the out-of-the-box collection of React-powered app examples that Contenta will deliver him, by default.” This way, via a quick installation process and helpful examples of consumer apps to get inspired by, Matt will be able to develop his React and Drupal 8-powered app in no time! Now we're curious to read your own thoughts on this initiative! How do you feel about this project? Which are your projections of its future? Are you currently looking forward to using it in your future decoupled Drupal projects? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jul 07'2017
5 Ways to Harness the Power of AI on Your Ecommerce Site
“Viva la revolution!” Since we keep reading/hearing how AI revolutionizes the way people shop online, the way retailers leverage their user data to personalize the shopping experiences they provide, how AI revolutionizes the entire ecommerce space. So, how are you harnessing the superpower of AI on your ecommerce site? Your set of options includes:   chatbots   virtual personal shoppers   ultra-personalized shopping experiences   AI-based search queries   machine learning-powered search results   … and the list is an ever-growing one! Now you're probably disoriented: how do you know which one(s) of these revolutionizing forms of AI fits your own company's ecommerce strategy?  Well, let us put each one of them into the spotlight and hopefully help you identify the forms of AI in ecommerce that best suit your goals:   1. AI Virtual Shopping Assistant The “Relax and enjoy your shopping experience!” turns into: “Relax, your virtual assistant will do the shopping for you, purchasing precisely the item(s) you need at the best possible price(s)”. In short, as you implement this form of AI on your ecommerce site, you're actually leveraging both the valuable user data that you will have collected and the set ups that your customers will make (for instance a certain day of the week/month when he prefers his virtual assistant to “go shopping” for him/her). Let's fancy this possible virtual shopping assistant-powered scenario: “you already have a load of priceless data on a customer's preferences and an enabled “sales” alert option. By leveraging this valuable information his online personal shopper can easily purchase that particular product/service precisely the day when the price drops down”. See the 2 main differences? The customer:   doesn't have to type in a whole string of relevant keywords in the search box on your site, looking for the product he'd like to buy (for his virtual assistant already knows what items he'd like to purchase)   won't be constantly notified (and eventually annoyed) whenever prices drop.    The shopping experience without the time-consuming hassle! Moreover: the AI virtual shopping assistant can curate the products/services your customers would want to purchase, depending on their browsing and shopping histories! So, we're talking about proactively assisting your customers, ensuring future conversion, too!   2. Machine Learning for More Relevant Search Results Relevancy is key when it comes to search results, wouldn't you agree? But what if you could reach “the utmost relevancy” in the search options that you deliver to your online customers? You can reach it: by leveraging the machine learning technology on your Drupal site!  Instead of relying on the conventional keyword matching technique, you'd better harness the power of machine learning AI and deliver the perfectly adequate search results to your potential customers!   3. A New Type of Search Query: AI Processing Natural Language  Searching for products/services on a given ecommerce website is getting “out-of-fashion”! AI technology steps on the stage and steals the spotlight as it's equipped with natural language processing capabilites. Capabilities that the traditional way of searching for items on a given online store can't possibly compete with! Therefore, instead of typing several relevant keywords, which may or may not display the relevant search options, AI can “interpret” customers' natural language. It can recognize and decipher their natural expressions and thus display only the most relevant search results.   on one hand we have a series of keywords that get, successfully or not, matched with their corresponding products/services   on the other hand with have search results determined by the process of “deciphering” natural expressions   See the difference?   4. Voice Search: Implement This Key Form of AI on Your Ecommerce Site  AI-powered voice search has ceased to be a striking novelty for some time now. It slowly and surely turns into a “must-have” technology for every ecommerce site/app! Are you ready to leverage this form of AI on your ecommerce site, too? It's the epitome of convenience: users can just utter the items they want to visualize and eventually purchase and the AI technology implemented on your website does all the rest. Yet it's much more than “utmost convenience”: it's a way of deep-personalizing your customers' overall shopping experiences on your ecommerce website! By using voice-triggered searches you'll practically tailor, to their own needs, the search options that you'll display. The “traditional” way of personalizing shopping experiences (to the search terms that users enter in the search box on your site) can't possibly rival with this AI-powered type of personalization, don't you agree?   5. Evolving Content  And we do mean “in real time”! A whole new dimension for the concept of in-depth personalized content going hand in hand with a perfectly tailored shopping experience. In other words: what this AI technology does is adjust the content on your ecommerce website LIVE, as the customers navigate through! The data collecting, followed by the content tailoring is no longer a viable tactic in today's ecommerce landscape. Content evolving in real-time is the new level of personalized customer experiences!  And not only that it helps you craft an “ultra” personalized online shopping experience, with a high level of interactivity, but you're actually taking the burden of A/B and layout testing off your team's shoulders. As you leverage this AI technology, based on evolutionary algorithms, you'll be actually improving your online shopper's experience “on the spot”!   And the list can easily go on and on! Visual search would have to be the next AI technology on our list, followed closely by... Yet, since it's a list that gets constantly enriched, we shall end it here. Do tell us now: have you already leveraged any of these forms of AI on your ecommerce site? ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 28'2017
Cloudwords for Drupal 8: Translation at Scale Gets Automated 
If content is king, then content personalization sure is queen! Which leads us to content globalization, an ever increasing demand that many organizations strive to adapt their marketing technology stack to. Yet manually getting heavy loads of content translated not just in one, but in several languages, and then sending it out precisely to their target audiences, at high speed and ideally scaled, is almost a “mission impossible”. And this is the particular context that the Cloudwords for Drupal 8 was launched in! It's the answer to organizations' challenge of dealing with users' expectations for personalized experiences while striving to spare their valuable resources of time, as well! For users do expect to be “served” promptly, you can't compromise on quality (by delivering them poorly translated content) and you surely can't waste their time (delivering them the translated version of the content on your website weeks or months later). And this complex workflow involving:   large teams of content authors loads of content being constantly moved in and out of the Drupal website(s) a whole network of translation vendors to send it over to and to receive it from   ... has its limitations!  Therefore, integrating Cloudwords with Drupal 8 comes to turn all this from a cumbersome, time-consuming process into a fully automated workflow!  Now let's get into more details about the “happy marriage” of these two innovative web technologies, Clowdwords and Drupal 8:   Why Drupal? Why Drupal 8? What Does This CMS Bring To The Table? As you probably already know, it's been a while since we've got to use the Cloudwords for Drupal module. Why was Drupal “chosen” for the happy union? It's pretty logical: back then it was and still is large organizations' top favorite content management system! The one “equipped” with all the capabilities (flexibility, scalability, extensibility and all the other crucial “ity”-s) that are crucial for content-packed websites! So, since now we have Cloudwords for Drupal 8, a more than valid question would be: “But Why Drupal 8 in particular?”  “Because it's been built with content globalization in mind! It provides companies with multilingual support right in its core!”   What is Cloudwords? What Does It Bring to the Table? Simply put: Cloudwords is a software that automates the entire global content localization process! Basically what it does is eliminate all those resources-consuming tasks, that are now being carried out manually by “armies” of teams, and deliver a highly enhanced visibility into the projects' statuses. A “dream come true” for all the digital marketing teams involved in the production and the delivery of personalized content within large organizations. Like yours! Cloudwords's key role in this integration with Drupal 8 is precisely this one: turning your Drupal website's localization into a streamlined, automated workflow! Far easier to monitor and far easier to handle!  Workflow automation + Unmatched project management capabilities   The Challenge  More often than not enterprise organizations need their websites' content translated in several languages (not just one or two) and also have not just one multilingual site to manage, but an entire “constellation” of sites. So, as you can imagine (since you're probably facing the same challenge) monitoring the entire translation process, promptly updating it whenever new content gets added to the website and adding new and new multilingual websites to the group is resources-consuming and prone to error! And this is the challenge that Cloudwords in Drupal 8 comes to help your own organization respond to!   Cloudwords for Drupal 8: A Big Leap Ahead Into the Future of Content Globalization Now that we've:   glided through each one of the two technologies' key capabilities relevant for this integration pointed out the “problem” that this “union” comes to solve   … let's have a close look at this groundbreaking solution, shall we? First of all, what we can easily state is that it speeds up the whole website localization process. And that it protects it from human error, too, obviously! Since the entire workflow (implying the creation and the delivery of personalized content) gets automated, living up to higher and higher standards of speed, quality and scaling gets so much easier. Secondly, we're talking about efficiency in terms of quantity, as well: a high volume of web pages can now get translated at high speed, to more and more users located in different corners of the world and in more and more languages, as well. In short: accelerating translation at scale, that's what you'll achieve, within your enterprise, once you start leveraging Cloudwords for Drupal 8's capabilities!   And How Exactly Does It Streamline Content Marketers' Workflow? The very first “present” that content marketers get is an increased visibility into their content translation projects! A key benefit coming to complete all the other ones deriving from the fact that all the time-consuming tasks, otherwise manually handled, are eliminated from the whole process. “Automated convenience”, that's how we could call Cloudwords for Drupal 8 from content marketers' standpoint! And there's more! The future has in store even more (more or less “surprise) “goodies” for content authors and editors:   improved multilingual support (since we're talking about Drupal 8, after all) improved content authoring and editing experience    CloudWords for Drupal 8: Features That You'll Want to Use Now let's outline specifically those key functionalities that you'll be using the most in your translation at scale projects:   enhanced visibility into each project's status (a feature that we've just talked about) OneReview: in-content review functionality collaboration among all the teams and vendors involded, across departments, too; and good collaboration sure is a touchstone of any large scale project!   How Does It Work? “You simply select the content on your Drupal site that you want to localize and let Cloudwords for Drupal 8 handle the rest!”  The translation vendor that you'll choose for the job will get the content to be translated, then it will have it delivered into Cloudwords. A step-by-step website localization process that Cloudwords will streamline for you, taking an incredibly heavy burden off your team's shoulders! Moreover, it will also automatically detect and point out to you those specific translations that are outdated, as well as the new ones. And this is how Cloudwords for Drupal 8 works! Looking forward to hearing from you your very first impressions once you start integrating it into your organization's translation at scale processes!  ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 14'2017
Drupal-Powered Digital Signage? Yes, That's Possible!
Standard web pages have ceased to be the only data delivery medium available! And there's no way around it. You either respond to users' “pressing” expectations to be delivered up to the moment data, context-based data only, or, well, you'll be left behind! In this respect, Drupal-powered digital signage systems might just be the best solution to meet your customers' “new” needs and to remain relevant in your business! There's no reason to “act surprised” or be skeptical about Drupal being the right technology to go for! You have:   data-rich APIs   outstanding content management functionalities   … so collecting data, turning it into “relevant”, contextual data, detecting a whole network of devices and sending out that data following a certain content model already looks like a plan. A solid plan for you to build your first digital signage system on! But let us dive into more details, (hopefully) answer all your legitimate questions and deliver you some of the key information you need for getting started with your digital signs project:   Digital Signage Systems: A Few Examples What forms do these new types of digital experiences take? Where do we interact with digital signage in our day-to-day lives? Here are some representative examples:   mall kiosks   touch screens placed in various means of transportation (planes, cars, trains)   voice interfaces   These are all real-data delivery means! Digital signage solutions that we interact with daily (even if only visually) and which have already become indispensable to us.   But Why Drupal? Why a Drupal-Powered Digital Signage System? … when you have Angular, Node, Amber React and the whole “suite” of cutting-edge, modern technologies at your disposal? The answer lies in Drupal's whole “culture” of empowering the end-user! In other words: Drupal provides an improved user experience compared to other modern technologies focusing mostly on enhancing exclusively the developer's experience instead. As simple as that! You need to build your signage system with your client (his team of content editors) in mind! It's them who will need to be able to grow independent once you pass them over the device; to be able to edit everything about it with the utmost ease. And Drupal excels at empowering the non-developer, the non-technical user!   Real-Time Data Streaming = Managing Content With Great Ease And Drupal's well reputed for its capabilities as a content management system. It empowers those “in charge” with content with a whole structure of features and functionalities aimed at better organizing the editorial team, at handling and “refining” the delivered content (making it context-sensitive, as well). Now, let us point out some of its “star” capabilities:   its whole “infrastructure of roles and permissions   its revisioning feature   its translation functionality   its content types building tool   How Does Drupal Handle External Data? Having data “flooding in” from “outside” providers is something to consider when you decide to develop your Drupal-powered digital signage system! This data can range from:   social media   to weather data   to stock data   to news   to all kinds of crucial (for the passengers) public transportation-related data   And the way Drupal 8 copes with this “flood” of data goes like this: the provider API is sent out to collect this data, then Drupal gets it processed according to the content model. Note: If content is king, then context is queen! Make sure you contextualize the data you deliver via your digital signs, that you perfectly adjust it to the given context (you don't want to send out information about a train's schedule on the “wrong” platform or data news from Baltimore to people living in L.A. etc.)   Getting Started: How to Use Drupal for Powering Your Digital Signs  Here are the very basic steps to take:   enter the right command in Drush for collecting your data   next store your credentials in Drupal 8   “trigger” caching (yet, be cleverly selective about what you cach, since you can't, obviously, cach everything when it's real-time data that you need to deliver)   parse your collected data, using Drupal 8 to “spread” it to all the right devices, following the right content model path   Getting Data from Drupal to Your Digital Signs: How Does It Work? Before you go ahead and pick the obvious answers to this question, “pull” or “push”, you'd better consider all the “pieces of the puzzle”:   you can't really rely on the pull method since that would put a tremendous pressure on your server's shoulders (and heat up your devices)   you can't rely on a “multiple APIs” method either, since real-time data restricts you to a to a highly selective caching (unlike on web pages)   you can't reload as many times as needed, like on the web   there's limited or no user interactivity involved (the huge blue screen can be viewed by thousands of people and the only thing they can do is just... stare at it)   “Can't do this, can't do that: but what is it that I CAN do to make this data transfer work?” “You use websockets!” It's this solution that will provide you with an almost instantaneous, two-way type of communication for a longer time!   It's One of Those Perfect Contexts of Use for “Exploiting” Drupal's Scalability Apart from being incredibly flexible, Drupal's highly scalable, too! We all know it, even those that don't use Drupal know it! A Drupal-powered digital signage system is the perfect “context” for leveraging this scalability. And it's going to be of great help when you think of the whole network of devices involved here! Drupal's powerful enough to send out the collected data via one of the websocket channels that you'll use for transferring your data to your devices. Moreover, it can multiply that data for as many devices as your network has. Unlimited scalability!   Think Beyond Content Model: Think “Device Model”, Too! … for Drupal has the right capabilities for collecting, processing data and following the content model, yet you need to “give it some hints” regarding the devices, too. The devices that those digital signs will get displayed on. Let it know what is it that these devices can do, which messages get “triggered” by which one of the digital signs. In short: a well structured, crucial information-stuffed device model's needed, too!   Overall: What Does Drupal Need to Know? If you want your Drupal-powered digital signage system to work at its full potential, then you need to “empower” Drupal 8 with all the key information:   1. what data goes to which one of your interconnected digital signage devices 2. the format that Drupal needs to display that data in (along with language, size screen, and other related key data)   And now in order to “proof” your data, to ensure that it's just your own devices that have access to it, you can:   whitelist your digital signage system (leveraging the metadata that Drupal can collect for you)   establish TFA for all the involved users   ensure that your services of choice (whether it's Google, Amazon or another one) ask devices for authentication   How Does a Drupal-Powered Digital Signage System Handle Security? And this is, indeed, a “sore point” when dealing with digital signs! They're particularly vulnerable in case of cyber attacks. Now that we've pointed out the “problem”, let's jump to the possible solutions that you have:   1. this is a no-brainer and yet, we feel like adding this “rule of thumb”, too: always change the passwords that your devices ship with! 2. consider restricted access to them 3. ensure that the software you're using comes along with a patch/updates schedule, too, and that you remember to run those updates, periodically 4. secure your source data: get it validated and audited before you “release it out into the wild” 5. use SSL    And now all there's left for us to add is: good luck with your first Drupal-powered digital signage system! ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 10'2017
Progressive Web Apps: How Precisely Do They Benefit Your Business?
Before we delve any deeper into the topic of progressive web apps, let's highlight the context that “produced” them: the limitations of the web itself (poor internet connection, low performance and so on). Therefore, a solution was needed so that users (and here we're referring mostly to users from emerging markets, although poor internet connection is a “sore point” for users from other countries, as well) faced with this type of drawback could enjoy some native-ish, app-like experiences, too. And so, evolving from the “standard” web-hosted apps and “rivaling” native apps in feature-rich user experience, loading speed and (most of all) unmatched accessibility, progressive web apps “were born”! Now let's get to the bottom of the growing “fascination” for this “new” type of apps, pointing out why they're preferred by developers (front-end developers in particular), by users and by organizations (Google being this web technology's most “notorious” advocate) to the same extent.      But First: What Exactly Are Progressive Native Apps?  And this leads to another another legitimate question: in what way are they different from “conventional” web apps? “Web browser APIs”, this is the answer! It's this feature alone that makes all the difference! Progressive web apps are “clusters” of multiple modern web technologies, the great majority of them deriving from the web API's itself. Basically this opens a whole new web era for developers, an era where they can build powerful dynamic web apps using web APIs. Where they can deliver native-ish user experiences without the need of using hybrid frameworks.  “Progressive enhancement” (or “brewing” top performance even from the early stages of development), this is how we can call the whole development process that sets this type of apps apart from web apps and gets them so close to native apps. Developers get to add new enhancements/features progressively, while users get to enjoy some native app-like experience, irrespective of their internet connection's quality or of the mobile browser that they're using. A win-win situation! And now, let's point out the key “requirements” for a “regular” web app to “level up” to a progressive one: to be responsive: a progressive web app runs on any type of device (any browser)   to run offline relying on service workers (to be connectivity-independent): one of the main reasons why these apps have gained so much ground so quickly; “poor or no internet connectivity” is the issue that progressive web apps have been created to compensate for after all   to feature an architecture enabling progressive enhancement (developers should easily add on new features, new functionalities hassle-free)   to be be easy to install locally, on the user's home screen, on smartphones and tablets   to be re-engageable: via features such as push notifications   to be built on HTTP, therefore addressing the security issue   to be easily accessed via one basic URL   And the list could easily go on and on with features deriving from these very “requirements”: they're app-like (with content and functionality playing, each, its separate role)   they're discoverable (since Google and other search engines can easily track them down identifying them as “apps”)   they feature dynamic app-like pages with separate URLs, etc.   What's most important for you, as a Drupal site owner and as an organization, is the aspect of ACCESSIBILITY! Being responsive, progressive and connectivity-independent, these new-generation type of apps (the “future of web apps”, as many call them) is a huge leap forward into the future of web. Once there the user's freed from the chains of performance and other types of dependencies (platform dependency, internet connection dependency...)                 And Again: How Precisely Do Progressive Web Apps Benefit Your Own Business? Is your organization's future projects include seizing business opportunities in the emerging markets (for, after all, they are “responsible” for 70% of the global growth, according to Forbes)? Markets which are known as having the mobile in their DNA while they face, at the same time, poor internet connectivity challenges? Then progressive web apps come as a sure “recipe” for your business' growth! As for your direct customers, it's all the new possibilities that this type of apps, built with unmatched accessibility in mind, unlock. Your users will be able to access your PWAs from any device (PWAs put an end to Android's “dictatorship”), from any network access (or none) and still enjoy a native-ish experience. They no longer need to limit themselves to “super light” type of mobile apps or to access their favorite apps only for short periods of time.   Progressive web apps can be adjusted to these particular customers' context of poor network performance and used devices. An enhancement that will smooth your access through and ensure your business' growth in a 3.9 billion person market. From our own team of Drupal developers' standpoint: they'll get to focus on configuring your company's web apps for 2G only, thanks to their “connectivity-independency” feature. Now if we are to point out some business stories of success, we could mention Jumia and Konga. The two companies operating in Africa have both implemented progressive enhancements into their their web apps' development process and they've both succeeded to increase their conversion rater and to reduce data usage. To Sum Up: your users don't need to compromise a rich native app-like experience in order to save their data or due to a poorly performing network   you'll make your web apps accessible to everyone (increasing visibility for your own brand)   you'll manage to cut down your bounce rate (no more “annoyed” users unable to access your app or constrained to access it for a shorter period of time)   you'll be able to more effectively safeguard your data       Service Workers: What Are They and How Can They Improve Your PWA? First of all we feel like adding that: service workers are indispensable when building progressive web apps! They're the JavaScript-like scripts handling everything data-related: where it comes from, how it should be structured and cached in the background, where it should be pulled to etc. Each time your users perform an action, it's these service workers that makes the right data requests in the database and transmits it between views. They coordinate all the background processes that go from data requests to content delivery. And speaking of service workers, we need to stress out that it's the Service Worker API that's the truly indispensable service worker that you should be using for ensuring a connectivity-independent PWA. It makes the very foundation of your progressive web app! Start with the Service Worker Api and build on it; take it from there and continue to enhance your app!   For inspiration, we recommend you to visit Service Workers Cookbook, a great source of “enlightening” demos and great examples for you to learn from!  A Few Words About The App Shell That Progressive Web Apps Use If you're familiar with the native app's architecture, then you surely are familiar with app shells.   They're the pre-established patterns that guarantee the clear separation of the UI from the data and code. It's also the true “culprit” of native apps' high performance, of their undeniable power: the interface remains visible and identical for the user, while different sets of data can load each time. It can be cached locally, making it easy for it to load with each access of your app, and guaranteeing a dynamic content: data and functionality filling in the views can differ depending on various factors. And this shell-like structure remains identical on every single page of your app. It's only the data/functionality that vary, creating that sense of dynamics and ensuring the best loading times, too. And that's it for today! This is our short 2-in-1 presentation and pledge for adopting progressive web apps. What do you think? Are they the future of the interweb or you don't see their potential?   ... Read more
Adrian Ababei / Jun 06'2017