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You Have Your List of Web Accessibility Issues: What Do You Fix First? 8 Simple Ways to Prioritize Accessibility Problems
You've run your audit, you've got your list of web accessibility issues: now what? Where do you start? Before you get to the point where you ask yourself “How do I fix web accessibility issues on my site?” you wonder: “Which issue to address first?” How do you prioritize accessibility problems? By noticeability, by severity or by tractability? What criteria do you use? And this is the question that this post will answer to. It's a list of 8 simple ways to prioritize the issues included in your accessibility audit report:   If Your Website's Image-Heavy, ALT Text Becomes a Priority If You Host Lots of Videos, Adding Captions Is Critical Let the Data on Your Target Audience Dictate Your Priorities If the Issue Is Repetitive for Screen Readers, Then It's High Priority Put on Your List of Web Accessibility Those that Impact the User Navigation  Prioritize the Issues that Prevent Users from Submitting Forms Prioritize The Accessibility Issues Detected on Key Pages of Your Site Prioritize Low Complexity, but High-Value Issues 1. If Your Website's Image-Heavy, ALT Text Becomes a Priority Do you have lots of images on your website? Then adding ALT text is a top priority, by default. 2. If You Host Lots of Videos, Adding Captions Is Critical Do you have lots of video content on your site? Then adding captions should be one of the first tasks to carry out after you've run your web accessibility audit.    3. Let the Data on Your Target Audience Dictate Your Priorities Customer analytics should be the main criteria to use when you put together a list of web accessibility issues. How many people in your customer base use screen magnifiers to zoom in specific sections on your website? Are there users depending on screen readers in order to interact with your website?  What does the analytics data tell you?  It's those stats that determine how you should prioritize your usability problems. And how you should design your website accessibility plan. Source: Medium.com In this case, categorizing (and therefore prioritizing) web accessibility issues by their WCAG level (A, AA, AAA) is a bit rudimentary. The data that you have on your user target group might reveal to you that complying with certain AA (or “nice to have”) standards is more important for your audience than complying with some A standards... In short: start with those issues that have a direct impact on your specific customer base. 4. If The Issue Is Repetitive for Screen Readers, Then It's High Priority Take an issue listed in the W3C accessibility checklist as common as... link names. It says there that the displayed text should be unique, meaningful and descriptive enough. Has your automated accessibility testing tool identified multiple instances of this issue? Do they seem to be so repetitive that the experience of any website visitor using a screen reader is just... terrible? Then you should address them ASAP.   5. Put on Your List of Web Accessibility Issues Those that Impact the User Navigation  You've run your web accessibility audit and now you need to prioritize the issues detected. An effective criterion to use for setting up a hierarchy of “errors” is the impact that those issues have on users' navigation experience. For, if those issues prevent users who depend on assistive technologies from navigating your website, they'll get discouraged/frustrated. And leave your site. For instance, your accessibility audit might detect a problematic heading structure. Which, by the way, falls into the AA category. If that heading structure:   skips certain levels or, even worse, there is no heading structure at all or it contains too much irrelevant information   … and is the main “culprit” for the poor navigation experience on your website, then you should make it a priority.   6. Prioritize the Issues that Prevent Users from Submitting Forms For there's nothing that says “I don't care about you” like web accessibility issues that stop users from filling in a form on your site. In short, make sure you tackle those first. I'm talking here about usability issues like:   unhelpful error text messages like “please enter correct information” unaccessible inline error messages   … that make it impossible for these website visitors to submit any form.   7. Prioritize the Web Accessibility Issues Identified on Key Pages  Build your web accessibility test plan around the most important pages on your website. Source: support.siteimprove.com For instance, optimizing a page with a Help article isn't a top priority.  But optimizing for accessibility your:   Product page Login page Checkout page User Registration page Contact Us page Feedback or Survey page   … should be listed among your top priorities. Tip: a common web accessibility mistake is to ask people with disabilities to enter information from their paper receipts on the survey page.  Make sure this problem is among the first ones that you address. So, before you go ahead and add problems to your top list of web accessibility issues, you might want to ask yourself some key questions:   “What's the scope of the page presenting accessibility issues?” “What's the traffic on the page that you're about to optimize?”   8. Prioritize Low Complexity, but High-Value Issues And now you have your answer to the question: “What if I have a high-value issue, but with low complexity like... defining page titles for dynamic pages on my website?” Final Word: Internal Prioritization Is Crucial  Putting together a list of web accessibility issues to tackle first depends on your website's:   audience content functionality   Sticking to an “A level vs AA level” technique for figuring out what problems to fix first is... a bit too simplistic. For even not all A-level accessibility standards are of equal importance and not all AA-level issues are just “nice to haves”: Source: www.w3.org Your turn now: What criteria do you use to prioritize the accesilbity issues that you identify on your website? Are there other prioritization techniques that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 27'2020
What Are the 10 Rules of Good UI Design? What Is Good UI/UX Design?
In this post, I'll share with you the top 10 rules of good UI design. You will be learning:   What are the essential elements of a good UI design What are the most common UI/UX mistakes that designers make What are the UI best practices in 2020 Lots more UI design tips   Now, let's get started.   1. Aim at an Almost Invisible User Interface  What is a good UI design? A logical structure & necessary visual elements only. In other words, in order to design an almost invisible user interface you need to:   be “merciless” and keep the essential elements only base your UI on a well-thought-out structure use clear language in your text messages and on your labels   Source: Medium.com A poorly structured and cluttered UI would only make the user ask questions like: “Where's the main menu?”   2. Keep It Consistent And this is one of those good UI design principles that's overlooked or undermined most often. Consistency should span over the entire ecosystem of elements that make up a UI design: fonts, colors, menus, buttons, icons. Keeping a consistent UI throughout your website translates into creating patterns aimed at enhancing efficiency. At improving the user experience. And here I'm referring to layout, design, language patterns. Once the user gets familiar with a given pattern, it will be easier for him/her to interact with other parts of your website that present the same pattern.   3. Be Purposeful with Page Layout One of the fundamental rules of good UI design is to structure your pages based on importance. In this respect, here are the crucial principles of user interface design to guide your page layout creation:   take into account the spacial relationships between various elements on the page place your UI elements strategically: draw users' attention to the most important information on the page and make it easy for them to scan it through  keep in mind that “form follows function”: design each item in accordance to its function (no need to reinvent the wheel and to turn the hamburger menu into a... sandwich menu, for instance) stay away from clutter, at all cost: keep the visual elements on the page to a minimum make smart use of headings, group similar elements together, add numbered items, as well, all in the name of readability    IMAGE Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay     4. Use Color and Texture Strategically Make smart use of color, texture, contrast, and light to direct the user's attention to key elements and important information on the screen.   5. Use Familiar UI Elements: One of the Key Rules of Good UI Design One of the UI best practices that's both:   the easiest to implement the most underestimated   And it all comes down to intuitive design. To sticking to common elements when creating your user interface.  Again, the hamburger menu makes the best example: once spotted, the user knows what it is and how to open it. Restrain yourself from showing off your creativity as a web designer. From being "discouragingly" innovative. Form should follow function, remember? Instead of impressing your users, you should help them get things done quickly and easily. That's what delivering a good user experience is all about, after all.   6. Put the User in Control of the UI Instilling a sense of control in the user is one of the most powerful UI design principles. Source: xd.adobe.com In this respect, here are some specific measures that you can implement:   6.1. Provide enough context  Ensure that the user knows, at each stage of his journey on your website, where he is, where he's been, and where he could go next. Tip: place visual cues to help the user develop a sense of mastery and control.   6.2. Be transparent about the system status Another one of those golden rules of good UI design: Let the user know, at all times, what's the status of the process that he's initiated. For instance, he/she might have started an action that requires some time for the computer to carry out. In this case, make sure you provide feedback, at regular intervals, about the system status, about what's going on.   6.3. Make actions reversible In other words, allow users to:   unselect undo their last actions restart whatever processes that they've engaged in   6.4. Design your UI with all user skill levels in mind And this is one of the most obvious characteristics of a good UI design. It's an easy to use interface for both casual and expert-level users.   6.5. Provide feedback on every user action It's more than a good UI best practice: it's a matter of... good manners to provide at least some sort of feedback at each point of action. Therefore, make sure your system delivers a meaningful reaction each time a user:   clicks on a menu hits a button clicks on a text message tab   Let the user know, using specific UI elements — animations, progress bars, pop-up windows, color change — whether he's successfully carried out the action or not.   7. Minimize Cognitive Load: Recognition over Recall “Task-relevant information only” should be one of your key rules of good UI design. And sticking to a limited number of elements within the display aligns with the very limits that the human attention, itself, imposes. In this respect, it's human nature that your users prefer to recognize information across a sequence of screens rather than to strive and recall it from their memory. For instance, our cognitive load is always lighter when we're challenged to answer multiple-choice questions compared to having to tackle short answer questions.   8. Stick to One Primary Action per Screen And here, we go back to the “visual declutter” principle again: Make sure that each screen supports just one single main action. Squeezing too much information on the same screen and requesting the user to carry out more than one primary action will just:   confuse him/her distract him lead to attention overload  9. Use Typography to Create Visual Hierarchy Most likely one of the easiest to follow rules of good UI design. Strategically use different font sizes and display text to enhance:   readability scanability legibility   Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash    10. Stick to a Small Number of Gestures Gesturing, swiping, tapping, pressing... no need to “squeeze” all these user actions into your app. Keep them to a minimum. Tip: Facebook and WhatsApp make some good UI design examples; their interfaces require a limited number of user gestures. Pro tip: make sure it's crystal clear to your users what gestures they need to perform in order to carry out certain actions on your interface. Source: Medium.com     The END! Now, I'm really curious to hear/read your thoughts:  How does your own list of must-follow rules of good UI design look like? Have I overlooked any key best practices? Let me know in the comments below. Image by FiveFlowersForFamilyFirst from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Mar 17'2020
Why Use Siteimprove to Check Your Website for Accessibility? 8 Good Reasons
"How do I test my website for accessibility?" And right after you type in this question you discover that there are dozens of free website accessibility testing tools to choose from. So: why use Siteimprove? In this post, I'll answer your key questions about Siteimprove:   What does Siteimprove do? Why use precisely this accessibility evaluation tool? How to use the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Siteimprove vs Axe: what are the key differences? Monsido vs Siteimprove: which is the best web accessibility testing tool for you? Drupal 8 Siteimprove: what does it do? So, let's dive in:   1. How Does the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Work?  "The Siteimprove Browser Extension is a Chrome/Firefox plugin that allows you to see page specific DCI scores and if a CMS deep link is set-up, it also allows you to fix content to improve the scores directly in your CMS during your browser session." (source: Siteimprove.com) Once added to your browser toolbar, you can use Siteimprove to identify accessibility issues on specific web pages. At any given time. It provides you with:   explanations on how they impact the user experience clear recommendations on how to address them Free, handy, effective. These are the best 3 words to describe the Siteimprove extension. Note: since all evaluation is performed in your browser, Siteimprove guarantees you a secure scanning of your non-public pages, multi-step forms, password-protected pages and pages with dynamic content.   2. Why Use Siteimprove over Other Website Accessibility Testing Tools? What powerful features make it stand out from the crowd of automated accessibility testing tools that you could use? I've selected the 8 most valuable ones:   2.1. Monitors all broken links and spelling mistakes on your web page Maybe you consider these issues to be mere... negligences to be put at the end of your priority list. But just imagine how much these "details" could affect a visually impaired user. This is where the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker comes in. It keeps your website under "surveillance". Ready to spot and to highlight any broken link, any little spelling mistakes that it detects. Or any other quality issues that it identifies. 2.2. Generates an accessibility report for you to analyze From ALT missing attributes to accessibility issues spotted in your tables and forms, the Siteimprove report lists all the problem areas to focus on. A handy overview that you can use to define all future tasks that need to be carried out in order to improve your website's accessibility.   2.3. Pinpoints accessibility issues  It'll highlight them all right on-page and in-code.  In other words, you don't need to do a research on all the latest accessibility guidelines first. The Siteimprove extension for browsers will outline all the key issues that you'll need to focus on to get started. 2.4. Integrates seamlessly with your CMS Whether it's Drupal or WordPress that you're using, Siteimprove enables you to fix the signaled issues on the spot. Right there, in your CMS, while you're browsing around your website. 2.5. Allows you to automate the accessibility checks And by automating the bulk of your testing process, you get to streamline all the tasks that it covers, such as:   testing various color combinations evaluating your PDF pages' accessibility testing your form fields 2.6. Provides specific recommendations Why use Siteimprove?  Because it doesn't stop at pointing out the accessibility issues on your website: it also gives you clear explanations on how to address them. 2.7. Enables you to monitor your progress in improving your website's accessibility   industry benchmarks historical graphs automated reports customizable dashboards All these Siteimprove features enable you to measure the progress that your team makes for turning your website WCAG 2.1 compliant. 2.8. Allows you to set up a hierarchy for the accessibility issues identified In short, the Siteimprove web accessibility checker enables you to categorize and to prioritize tasks by:   severity conformance level   And to assign them by job role (webmaster, editor, developer...) or responsibilities.   3. How to Use Siteimprove Accessibility Checker? Say you want to try the Siteimprove Google Chrome Extension. Here's how you use it:   install the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker Chrome extension from the Chrome Webshop from your Chrome browser add the extension to your browser: "Add to Chrome" look for the newly added icon in your browser window enter your target web page's URL in your browser click the Siteimprove Accessibility Checker icon and let it perform its audit take a look at the results displayed on the right side of the page   Note: Siteimprove Accessibility Checker uses the same checking engine as the Siteimprove Accessibility platform. 4. Siteimprove vs Axe Accessibility Tool Why use Siteimprove over Axe? How are they different anyway? Let's compare these 2 popular accessibility testing tools: 4.1. Axe browser extension It generates detailed results, but you might find its slideshow-style controls a bit challenging 4.2. Siteimprove Accessibility Checker   it stands out as an accessibility testing tool that allows you to filter tasks by "responsibility" (or job role) also, it displays the issues that it detects following the same structure of the WCAG guidelines it presents color-codes issues by conformance level (A, AA, AAA) it points out to the specific WCAG criteria that those issues relate to   5. Monsido vs Siteimprove Accessibility Checker And why would you choose Siteimprove over Monsido? Here's what sets them apart:   Monsido provides comprehensive crawls weekly, whereas with Siteimprove you get automated crawls every 5 days Monsido could discourage you with its less-friendly UI, whereas Siteimprove has a more intuitive dashboard   6. The Drupal 8 Siteimprove Module: What Does It Do? "The seamless integration between Siteimprove and Drupal streamlines workflow efficiencies for your web team. With the module, your team can fix errors and optimize content directly within the editing environment." (source: Siteimprove.com) In short, the module (or "Siteimprove plugin", if you wish):   scans your website for accessibility issues (broken links and misspellings, A, AA, AAA conformance level accessibility issues, readability levels, etc.) that you can then turn into manageable tasks and assign to your team members who can tackle them right in the editing environment that they're using   Tip: you can even use the Drupal 8 Siteimprove module to see what would be the impact if you unpublished a "problem" page before you apply this measure. The END! Have I managed to answer your "Why use Siteimprove?" question? Are you already using it as your website accessibility checker? If not, what other tool are you using and why have you chosen precisely that one? Let me know in the comments below.  Image by Sitanshu Kumar from Pixabay   ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Mar 12'2020
What Are Some of the Best Web Accessibility Testing Tools to Evaluate Your Website With? Top 5 Chrome Extensions
You've gone through the guidelines, standards, warnings, and best practices included in the W3C recommendations and... you're stuck. How do you know whether your website is 100% WCAG 2.1 compliant? What are the best web accessibility testing tools out there that you could use?  Free, easy to use accessibility evaluation tools that you could run on your website to spot the issues lurking in there.  And which could even get you some valuable recommendations on the best ways to address them.  All that before you actually have someone (or even a whole team of QA testers) review your website. Before you carry out an in-depth accessibility audit and run user-centric testing sessions with... real people involved.  You must be thinking about browser extensions...  They're so accessible: you just open the page you want to check and click a button in your toolbar. They're free and make great "starts" for identifying accessibility issues on your website. And for getting your hands on some valuable recommendations on how to fix them.  So, here are 5 automated accessibility testing tools that we recommend you try first:    0.1. But What Are Accessibility Tools More Precisely?  "Are there any recommended tools available that can help me test for accessibility issues?" Take these common accessibility issues that might still go "undetected" on your website:    there's not enough color contrast on certain pages (or no contrast at all) one or more images don't have ALT descriptions added to an editor deleted the content for one of the H2 tags but left that tag lingering in there and confusing the screen readers someone from your design team has put a placeholder text instead of a text field, which risks displaying an unlabeled field, that screen readers cannot... read there's one label missing from your newsletter sign-up form    These are all frequent issues that web accessibility evaluation tools can help you detect and address.  They fall into multiple categories:    browser extensions, that we'll be focusing on in this post command-line tools accessibility testing tools that you can integrate with your continuous integration system    Tip: Keep in mind that the following 5 best web accessibility testing tools detect about 30% of the issues. They make a great starting point for a more complex audit and comprehensive monitoring strategy that you should set in place.    1. Wave, The Venerated Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool for Chrome  A full-featured, easy to use website accessibility checker that's been in most developers' toolkits for quite a few years now.  Here's how it works:    it adds a visual overlay of error icons and indications to the web page that you're auditing icons which, once clicked, provide you with information and recommendations about the accessibility issues detected: redundant titles, structural elements, links to HTML, poor color contrast, how those issues impact different types of users, what WCAG guidelines they violate, etc. it points out to you the "troublesome" code via annotated HTML popping up in the panel at the bottom of the screen    In short, Wave is one of the robust website accessibility checkers that goes beyond streamlining your audit process. It's also geared at educating users (website owners, QA testers) about the accessibility issues to pay attention to.  "How to use Wave accessibility tool?"  Either way:   you can just enter your URL in the dedicated field on their website you can download the browser extension    Go for the extension particularly if it's dynamic, password-protected and locally stored web pages that you need to check.    2. Tenon, Accessibility as a Service  "How do I test accessibility?"  Tenon's another tool that comes both in a free and paid version.  What makes it "worthy" of this top 5 selection?   it addresses the common scenario: running accessibility tests after neglected guidelines have already turned into critical issues that affect the user experience  it's such a flexible tool for content creators, designers, developers, and testers it generates... generous reports with code snippets for each error, corresponding WCAG guidelines, and recommendations on how to fix them  In short: Tenon helps you run a preventive type of accessibility check on your website. You can detect key issues before they even get to turn into major usability problems  Furthermore, you can easily incorporate Tenon into your toolset via its API. It integrates smoothly with any CMS, IDE, deploy tool or automated build that you might be using.   3. Google Lighthouse, One of the Top Automated Accessibility Testing Tools   "How do I know if my website actually is WCAG 2.0 compliant?"  You give it a full check using a tool like Google Lighthouse here:    it's open-source it's automated it's so handy (it's Chrome built-in) it's super easy to use  Moreover, this accessibility testing tool is part of a whole suite of checks that you can run using Chrome Developer Tools:  SEO Progressive Web App Performance Best Practices  What it does it provide you with a full report of its test results:    whether all the buttons on that page have accessible names or not whether all the images have ALT attributes added to whether that page has a title or not ...    Next, you simply take it from there and improve the areas signaled in the report.  And here's how you use it:    open devtools in your Chrome Browser look for the "Audits" tab click "Perform an Audit" Tip: save the report in a JSON format for later (or to send it to someone in your team).  Another great thing about Google Lighthouse is that it's one of those web accessibility evaluation tools that don't require you to sign up. You just drag a report onto the online report viewer that it provides you with.    4. Axe Browser Extension  "How do you know if your site actually is WCAG 2.0 compliant?"  You "grab" a tool like Axe here and give your site an automated audit.  It'll just attach itself as a new tab to your Chrome's Dev Tools. Once you click that blue "analyze" button, you'll be given a whole list of "violations" detected on your page.  Why have we included it in our highly exclusive list of 5 best web accessibility testing tools?    because it's free (a self-contained open-source library) because you get to custom-tune it to your specific accessibility testing needs: add specific rules, integrate it with testing frameworks and browsers of your choice... because each signaled issue "exposes" the corresponding markup, as well   Just hit "Inspect code" and you're taken to the tab in DevTools, where the "culprit element" is outlined. Tip: another reason why this is one of the first website accessibility checkers that you should consider is that the Axe accessibility report goes beyond signaling clear violations of accessibility guidelines. It also highlights aspects that you could improve on your website's UI.   5. Siteimprove, One of the Best Web Accessibility Testing Tools We confess: Siteimprove is our favorite website accessibility checker. Here's why:    it provides us with actionable information regarding all the issues that it detects it generates clear explanations on the impact of those issues on some users it also "spoils" us with intuitive user experience: issues get highlighted to the right side of the page    Where do you add that the entire web page audit process is performed in our Chrome browsers.  Easy to use and highly efficient. What more could you wish from a free accessibility testing tool?    Final Word  Turn this type of accessibility testing — using Chrome extensions — into a part of a more comprehensive testing strategy.  You shouldn't limit your evaluation to the results that you get by using any of these 5 best web accessibility testing tools.  There's still some level of "human intervention" needed to interpret those results. To come up with the proper set of steps to take, right?  Use them if you just want to check whether:    there are any images without ALT descriptions on your website the HTML is valid your form fields have both labels and descriptions    Whereas for assessing:    whether that HTML is semantic or not whether those form field descriptions are user-friendly enough whether there's a proper heading hierarchy on a given page on your website   ... you'll need human analysis.  Automated accessibility testing will (only) point out key aspects for your QA testers to focus on.    The END!  Have you used any of these accessibility testing tools on your website?  Do you usually stop your audit there or do you use an automated & manual testing type of "combo"? Does it depend on the context actually?  Share your thoughts in the comments down below!  Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 29'2020
Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart or Apigee’s Integrated Portal? What’s the Best Developer Portal Solution for You?
Here you are, facing an impossible dilemma: is the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart on Drupal 8 the best solution for the developer portal that you're setting up? Or should you go with Apigee's integration portal instead? How are they different in terms of provided features? How do your own requirements and constraints influence your choice? Now, let's dive right into:   what the Apigee developer portal is when to consider Apigee's integrated portal why and when to choose Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart what could discourage you from using the Drupal distribution   1. What Is Developer Portal Apigee? You're already building APIs that expose your services to developers from your team and to those outside your enterprise, right? But you want to go beyond merely building APIs: you want to provide the best developer experience, as well. One that would entice developers to use those APIs. And this is what the Apigee developer portal is mainly designed for: To help you "lure in" those admins and developers using APIs managed by the Apigee platform.   2. Choose Apigee Integrated Portal If... ... it's a basic marketing or developer documentation website that you're planning to put together. One that should integrate with a subset of features exposed vis Apigee's API management platform. Tip: think twice before choosing this solution if you need to integrate API revisions, load balancing, monetization or various complex documentation structures with your developer portal, etc.   You'd Want to Use the Integrated Portal Solution Because: it's an easy to build, easy to use portal, integrated with Apigee Edge, that you have in mind it's a simple developer documentation website that you're setting up it's a basic, turn-key developer portal solution that you need it provides you with hosting on Google Cloud, support and maintenance it makes documenting and managing your APIs fairly easy   Apigee's Integrated Portal Top Features: Create pages using page editor API Documentation Access control to portal content and APIs Customize design elements via SCSS style sheets Advanced customizations (customize domain, configure your email, custom registration fields, extend portal using scripts) Create pages using page editor Analytics via Google Analytics and custom analytics tracking Add menus for navigation Self-service registration for developers to build apps using your APIs Markdown and HTML to compose content   3. Choose Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart If... it's a powerful developer portal platform that you need  it's a highly flexible, fully customizable solution that you're looking for you need to get your developer portal up and running, integrated with Apigee Edge, in no time   Source: docs.apigee.com Are all these 3 requirements on your priority list? Then Apigee's distribution for Drupal 8 might just be the best way to set up a new developer portal. Or to move your current one from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8.   You'd Want to Use the Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Because: it does most of the Drupal 8 module installing and configuration work for you it provides you with step-by-step guidance to install Drupal 8 core, integrate your portal with Apigee Edge, and customize its theme its theme's Bootstrap-based, enabling you to easily customize and brand your website it's faster and more extendable it's forward-compatible with Drupal 9 it's, overall, highly customizable: you get to create fine-tuned brand experiences it provides you with sample content, as well, so you can set up your developer platform quick and easy it operates with already familiar Drupal 8 concepts: content types (e.g. Basic pages, article, forums...) media types, etc.   In a nutshell: take the Apigee Kickstart developer portal as a convenient package with all the Drupal 8 modules and libraries that you'll need to quickly put together a developer community. One that's connected to Apigee Edge, exposes your APIs and publishes the API documentation that developers need.     Apigee Developer Portal Kickstart Top Features: API Catalog page Modules for FAQ, Blogs, and Forums 16 pages with preloaded content for demonstration API documentation content type Customizable site theme “Getting Started” page Developer Portal homepage API doc landing page with demo content and vocabulary   4. You'd Hesitate Using Drupal 8 Apigee Kickstart Because... it makes you dependent on this Drupal distribution's maintainers; on their updates and security patches releases  it "ties" your developer portal to the distribution's predefined theme, content layout, font, colors...   So, you'll first want to check that the distribution — Apigee Kickstart Drupal in this case — is regularly and properly maintained. 5. The Best Solution for Your Developer Portal Is... the one that meets your customization needs the one that complies with your time constraints the one that fits your team's level of expertise in setting up a developer portal   Source: docs.apigee.com  In short, choosing between an integrated portal and a Drupal-based one starts with setting your requirements (and your constraints) against each solution's benefits and key features. Are you time-limited, but do you also "crave" power of customization over your future developer portal? The Apigee Kickstart Drupal might be the best solution for you. Do you need a ready-hosted turn-key platform to set up your developer community on? Are you already an Apigee Edge for Public Cloud customer? Then Apigee's integrated portal might suit you best. The END! Integrated portal or Drupal-based portal: what would you choose? And why? ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Feb 13'2020
What Hybrid App Development Framework Should You Use for Your Projects in 2020? Top 3
"Seduced" by the cross-platform approach? By the chance to build a single app project and run it on mobile, web and desktop? No wonder... But which hybrid app development framework should you choose? What's the best one? The "best" one for your feature needs (and time resources) and for your development team's level of experience... Now, let me guess: it should...   be feature-rich be fast and to enable you to develop your hybrid app... fast, as well be developer-friendly provide native-like experience to your app's users provide you with plenty of UI components to just... mix and match   We've narrowed your options in terms of hybrid mobile app development tools down to... 3.  But before you rush to evaluate each one's pros and cons:   put together a personal hierarchy: must-have vs nice-to-have features get ready to set each of the following frameworks against that pyramid of needs   1. But What Is Hybrid App Development More Precisely? In plain English: The hybrid app development approach is building and running one app project across multiple platforms: Android, iOS, Windows... Now, you do the math and figure it out yourself:   how much time you'd save  how many moments of frustration you'd avoid without all the native IDEs, SDK and Apple-specific requirements to get tangled up in how much lighter the load of third party libraries would be how convenient it is to have a unique list of bugs to keep an eye on how convenient it is to adopt one dedicated technology approach instead of having to "juggle" with Java or Kotlin and with Swift or Objective-C...   One software development process (i.e a unique codebase) for all the platforms that you target...   2. Native vs Hybrid App Development Still a bit confused about the clear differences between native and hybrid apps? Let me shed some more light here: While native apps are platform-specialized — Android or iOS — hybrid apps can be deployed on multiple platforms. In this respect, a hybrid app development framework ships with both native and web-specific elements to help you quickly design and run your "one size fits all" type of app. Also, when it comes to the key differences between native and hybrid apps, keep in mind that: While native apps are faster, hybrid apps get built faster. So, it's your convenience in terms of time and budget vs... the user experience. 3. What's the Best Hybrid App Development Framework for Your Project?   3.1. Ionic- A Feature-Rich, Easy to Use Technology for Building Your Hybrid Apps "Which framework is best for hybrid app development?" 9 in 10 developers will say "Ionic".  Source: Ionicframework.com It's the most familiar one, after all, since it's been on the "hybrid app development stage" for... quite a few years now. Back then, when it was first released, it opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities:   to build and to deploy Angular-based apps that would challenge the jQuery mobile apps' "supremacy" to put together a visually-striking, progressive web app in no time   With its low learning curve, "bulk" of available plugins and all the UI components that it provides out of the box, Ionic's predicted to keep its "rockstar" aura in 2020, as well.    You'd Want to Choose Ionic Because:   it provides you with a rich collection of powerful features it's Angular-based: no need to learn a whole new language  it ships with plenty of UI components and predefined elements it has a livereload system and app enabling you to preview your hybrid app right on your target device it ships with an in-built development server it provides you with debugging tools it ships with a command-line interface (Ionic CLI) that streamlines the development cycle of your TypeScript and Node.js apps it's backed by a large dev community   You'd Hesitate to Choose Ionic Because:   it doesn't provide hot reloading it's not the best option if you're planning to build a heavy-duty app some of its features are Cordova-based and hence not all the plugins are supported you might find it too dependent on plugins   3.2. Flutter- Google's Toolkit for Creating Visually Stunning, Cross-Platform Apps Is there any surprise why this is an increasingly popular hybrid app development framework? It's Google's "prodigy" and everybody likes Google. Although a newcomer in the "arena", Flutter stands a good chance to outshine the traditional hybrid mobile app development tools in 2020. Source: flutter.dev How? It already sets itself apart as a go-to choice when you need to craft a visually attractive and interactive MVP... fast. With its flexible design components, you get to craft a stunning UI in no time. And its interactivity elements help you create the engaging experience that users expect. In a nutshell: you get a power-packed toolkit to craft and to run a cross-platform app in no time. Where do you add that it's designed to support multiple languages and to run smoothly across several platforms. And all that without the need to look for an alternative for Swift, Java or Objective C.   You'd Want to Choose Flutter Because:   it's blazing fast it ships with its own widgets: you can easily implement buttons, sliders, switches, dialog boxes, tab bars, loading spinners it's compatible with Fuchsia, Google's mobile OS it provides you with CLI and VI editors it ships with the hot reload feature it enables you to assemble (and nest) multiple widgets for crafting your app's UI    You'd Hesitate to Choose Flutter Because:   it's Dart-based, so you need to learn a whole new language it provides minimal support for some features it lacks profile data completion your Flutter app will be approx. 40% larger than a native app   3.3. React Native- Developers' Favorite One And why do they love it?   because they enjoy working in Java and Swift (and they're already fluent in React) because it provides them with native modules and components and thus enables them to "inject" top performance into their hybrid apps because it enables them to provide users a native-like experience   It's Facebook's own version of a framework for building native-like apps. Source: facebook.github.io/react-native/ If you're familiar with the React approach to software development, you'll love it.   You'd Want to Choose React Native Because:   it's high-powered: rendered with native code you cut down costs by reusing code it's backed by a huge community of developers that you can rely on it grants you a shorter app development cycle it features live reload with 2 different screens: to update your code and to preview those updates in real-time it is Node.js supported you can choose from a whole variety of social plugins: display grid picture, feed, etc.   You'd Hesitate to Choose React Native Because:   it's not the best technology for hybrid app development if it's an app with multiple UI transitions, plenty of interactions and various screens that you have in mind its  supply of custom modules is quite limited it provides you with few UI and native features, thus "forcing" you to... get your hands dirty with code (and that may take some time) it challenges you with a steep learning code it takes a team of experienced developers to build a high-powered React Native app it presents some shortcomings of navigation components   It's definitely not a framework for junior developers and startups.   4. Final Word Do you value a native-live experience for your end-users over a fast development process?  Is a big set of UI components, that you can just... assemble, more important to you than high speed? Is a rich collection of plugins more valuable to you than a low learning curve for your developers? See? Picking the right hybrid app development framework for your project means finding the (almost) perfect match between a tool's selling points and your own priorities. So, which one's your winner? Photo by Jacob Townsend on Unsplash  ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Feb 07'2020
IoT in Mobile App Development: 4 Key Benefits You Can Reap (and 3 Challenges to Consider)
How are you planning to get your share of the pie? Where the "pie" is made of all those opportunities that IoT in mobile app development brings. But what are those opportunities translated into benefits more precisely? Why would you want to build an application that completes a network of IoT devices? And how will IoT change the way mobile applications get developed in 2020?   Source: Gartner.com Are there any challenges and risks to implementing this technology into your mobile apps that you should... prepare for? Now, let's see:   what are the most... irresistible benefits to developing your mobile solution for the IoT what are the best IoT mobile app development tools to put on your shortlist what's a common example of an IoT-enabled mobile app what kind of risks you face when you integrate a mobile application with IoT   1. Why Would You Want to Integrate IoT into Your Mobile Apps?  Why would you be interested in making your mobile apps IoT-friendly this year? How will it benefit you?   1.1. Users Get Hooked on Your IoT App: It's "Too" Convenient And the "less human effort" factor is the main reason why you'd want to integrate mobile apps with IoT. For it all bubbles up to the user experience that you'll provide: Your mobile app will be the "brain" of the whole network of interconnected devices, fridges, air conditioners, TVs, etc. Installed on the user's smartphone or smartwatch, it'll help him/her to cut down on the effort needed to... check the security cameras, switch off the light, turn on the AC and so on.   1.2. You Boost Your Team's Productivity By bringing IoT in mobile app development, you bring more... productivity in your workplace. An IoT-enabled mobile app will:   automate your business processes and specific in-house operations streamline your software products' development lifecycles empower your team to manage multiple tasks simultaneously provide you with real-time measurement and data analysis In short: with their repetitive tasks automated, your team gets to work on more complex, innovation-focused tasks.    1.3. You Get Actionable Insights into Your Users' Engagement Behavior Just imagine: an entire network of appliances, devices, gadgets, and servers exchanging data. And your IoT mobile app collecting ALL that data. Image by Tumisu from Pixabay You'll get some valuable insights into your users' needs, don't you think? Real-time information that you can leverage to:   simplify your business process make prompt and relevant adjustments to the user experience you provide   1.4. You Engage Users with A Highly Interactive Mobile App And interactivity is the shortest path to... higher engagement. Integrating IoT into your mobile app will make it not only interactive but highly customizable, as well.    It opens up a huge "playground" for your team, where they can test and implement various features and IoT-based functionalities. Where they get as creative and daring as they want with their customization work. 2. A Common Example of an IoT Mobile App Would Be... The one installed on a guest's IoT-enabled smartphone, that enables him to open his hotel room. No key or access card needed to... enter the room he booked. And this is but one of the top IoT app development trends to look forward in 2020.  Here are some more types of IoT apps that'll steal the spotlight this year:   smart warehousing apps workforce management apps healthcare apps blockchain apps AI & Big Data apps 3. What's The Best IoT Platform for Mobile App? Let's say that you've decided to incorporate this technology into your next mobile app: What IoT mobile app development tools should you check out first? What are your best options?   Here's a top 3 for you:   Xively: it ships with a conveniently rich collection of IoT features to help you get you started Android Ubidots: connect your Android account to Ubidots and just push your mobile app to multiple devices Thingworx: it provides you with a heavy load of complex tools to market your app with 4. IoT in Mobile App Development: Challenges and Concerns "But are there any?" There are. So, make sure you ponder on them before you rush to... reap the benefits and seize the opportunities of integrating IoT in your mobile apps.   4.1. A Huge Shift in the Concept of "Data Ownership" The risks concerning data security are head of the list: How much of your/ your customers' data privacy would you trade to access the benefits of IoT?   Because: automating your team's redundant tasks granting your users the highest level of convenience .. does come with a "price tag" on. The cost is... data. Data stored in cloud and unrestricted control over consumer data...   4.2. Distributed Computing Performances ...compared to today's technology. You might want to take this aspect into consideration, as well, before you just jump on the IoT in mobile app development trend.   4.3. The Need to Restructure Your Operating Procedures from the Ground Up Also, the way information is being transferred and your existing protocols.   The END!     Now, comparing the opportunities to the challenges, would you consider integrating IoT into your mobile apps this year?  Image by Niran Kasri from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 30'2020
The 5 Best Automation Testing Tools for Web Applications that You Could Use in 2020 (Powerful and Easy to Use)
You save time, you keep errors to a minimum, you free up mental real estate that you could then invest in other crucial tasks included in your app's development lifecycle, you... There's no point insisting on the benefits: automating your testing process is a life-changer. But how do you know what automation testing tools for web applications to evaluate first? Where to start? Which are the most effective ones?    Those that are conveniently feature-rich and easy to use, as well? That ship as bundles of powerful features and are so straightforward, helping you create test cases in no time?   Well, we've done our research and identified 5 automated software testing tools that meet most of your criteria:   to be open source to run in a variety of operating systems and browsers to be feature-rich to be easy to use    But First: Determine What Test Cases You Should Automate To put together an effective test automation strategy for web applications you need to be really strategic. Strategic about what parts of the process you should put on auto-pilot and where it would be best to test them, as well:   don't rush in to test everything in the GUI (like record and reply, for instance); GUI testing tools do come with some significant test maintenance costs, you know whenever possible, opt for unit testing instead of GUI testing load testing, repetitive tasks, tasks that run on multiple platforms and configurations, tests that need to be “fueled' with multiple data sets... these are just some of the cases that you should automate   1. Selenium, One of the Top Automation Testing Tools for Web Applications Selenium is the... “Swiss knife” type of automated web testing tool. It comes as a heavy package of libraries and tools. Moreover, you get to run it in pretty much any:   operating system browser automation testing framework programming language   In short: it's one of the most versatile automated software testing tools that you can get your hands on. The “de facto” standard in terms of open-source test automation tools, with a large community that you can rely on. Source: G2.com And with versatility comes power, since Selenium empowers you to come up with particularly complex browser-centered test scripts. You get to use them for:   regression testing exploratory testing quick reproduction of bugs   Cons of Using Selenium For there are also some drawbacks to using this automation testing tool on your web apps to keep in mind:   a certain maintenance overhead (maintaining your tests in Selenium is more expensive compared to unit testing, for instance) building libraries and frameworks to meet specific testing needs does call for above-the-average programming skills (time and effort, as well)    2. Watir A powerful tool for automating tests. A Ruby library in fact, that mimics the behavior of a user interacting with your web app. Why would you choose Watir over other free automation testing tools for web applications? Because:   it enables you to create tests that are easy to read and to maintain you can run it on your web app, irrespective of the languages that it is written on it supports data-driven testing from buttons to links, to forms and their responses, it's built to test all the elements of your web application you can leverage its powerful API handling to extend its capabilities you get to connect it to databases, turn your code into reusable libraries, read data files, export XML you get to combine manual browsing with Ruby commands  it supports cross-browser testing  it integrates with business-driven development tools: Cucumber, RSpec, Test/Unit   To sum up: Watir taps into the advantages of Ruby — reputed for its clear syntax — which makes it such a flexible testing tool to add to your... toolkit. Source: G2.com Cons of Using Watir   a relatively small community supporting it (when you compare it to Selenium) you need to pair it with other tools to use it to its full potential   3. TestComplete If a powerful, feature-rich automated web testing system is what you need, then TestComplete checks off all the “must-haves” on your list: From cross-browser to regression, to parallel testing, it provides you with all the capabilities that you expect from a robust automation system. 1500 +real test environments... That's the type of scalability that you get if you opt for this automated software testing. It's one of those automation testing tools for web applications that you get to use on your mobile and desktop apps, as well. For pretty much any type of automation task that you can think of... Source: G2.com Cons of Using TestComplete Some users have reported errors with object recognition during playback. So, you might want to keep that in mind. 4. Katalon Studio Easy to use and robust.  Source: G2.com What more could you ask from an automated UI testing tool than:   to be conveniently accessible to any type of tester, those with no programming background here included to ship with a whole set of powerful features   And speaking of those, here are just some of the capabilities that you can turbocharge your testing process with:   customizable execution workflow support for image-based testing smooth integration with a variety of tools (e.g. TeamCity and Jenkins) built-in support for generating test scripts, creating test cases, reporting results, recording actions built-in object repository, object re-identification, Xpath built-in support for Groovy/Java scripting languages visual representation of each step in the test (it's one of the most beginner tester-friendly tools out there)   Moreover, Katalon Studio is one of those automation testing tools for web applications that you can use for API and mobile testing as well. 5. Cucumber Here's another open-source automated software testing tool to consider putting on your shortlist. A collaborative tool based on behavior-driven development that you can use to:   write acceptance tests for your web apps perform those tests by running the most representative examples for your app   Now, one of the biggest strengths of this tool is the up-to-date document that it'll provide you with. One incorporating both the test documentation and the specification. Source: G2.com Anyone in your team (non-testers) can go through it since it's written in a highly accessible format (plain English). Now, if we were to sum up its “power” features:   it enables you to reuse code in your tests it supports lots of different languages Groovy, Python, Perl, PHP, .NET, Scala it grants you great support, since it's a highly popular automated app testing tool, with a large community  it enables you to use code along with Watir, Selenium, Capybara it's a cross-platform tool quick set up it enables you to generate detailed reports it integrates with GIT and Jenkins   Cons of Using Cucumber    you might find the default organization a bit... overwhelming you depend on external plugins for generating reports, so do expect some integration challenges The END! These are the top 5 automation testing tools for web applications that you should check first when getting your 2020 toolbox ready. Have you used any of them? If so, what's been your experience with it/them? And what other automated web testing tools would you have added to this selection? Let us know in the comments down below: Image by testbytes from Pixabay     ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Jan 21'2020
Apigee Edge Microgateway: Why Would You Want to Use It and When Should You? 10 Typical Use Cases
So you're evaluating and comparing all the available solutions for centralizing and standardizing your APIs. And you can't help wondering: "When is it recommended that I use Apigee Edge Microgateway?" Why would you use it in the first place, over other platforms for managing internal APIs? Over... the Apigee Edge gateway, for instance? What "irresistible" capabilities does it provide? And when precisely should you use it? What are its typical use cases? Let's get you some answers:   1. What Is Apigee Edge Microgateway? How Does It Work? If I was to compress its definition in a short line, it would go something like this: Apigee Edge Microgateway is a hybrid cloud solution for managing your APIs. Whereas if I was to opt for a detailed one: It's an HTTP-based message processor for APIs, built on Nodejs, that enables you to centralize and manage all your APIs in a hybrid cloud deployment setup. From traffic management to enterprise-grade security, to analytics, spike arrest, and quota (and the list goes on), it provides you with most of the standard Apigee Edge capabilities. Moreover, you get to install it either on the same machine or in the same data center. Source: docs.apigee.com "And how exactly does it work?" you'll then ask yourself. It processes the messages — requests, and responses — going to and from your backend services. Meaning that it'll asynchronously push API execution data to Apigee Edge once consumed by the Edge Analytics. "What about the Edge Microgateway deployment scenarios? What are my options?" Well, there are quite a few, since you get to deploy it:   in PaaS platforms (e.g. Cloud Foundry) Azure App Services as a service instead of sidecar integrated with Kubernetes as a Docker container in cloud-native PaaS platforms (e.g Google App Engine) in virtual machines as standalone processes 2. Why Precisely This API Management Solution? 5 Big Benefits Why would you go with Apigee Edge Microgateway over another setup for centralizing and administering your APIs? Here are some of the strongest API management capabilities that it provides you with:   enterprise-grade security: it authenticates requests based on an API key or signed access token that each client app gets via Apigee Edge analytics: it publishes all the data analytics to Apigee Edge so that everyone gets traffic stats in real-time configuration: no special coding is needed to set up Apigee Edge Microgtateway  rapid deployment: you get to deploy an instance in no time  reduced latency: it collects and sends API data to Apigee Edge asynchronously, therefore with minimal delay   3. When Would You Use It? What Are Its Typical Use Cases? When is it best to go with a hybrid deployment model for managing your APIs? Source: LinkedIn Here are some of the most common use cases of Apigee Edge Microgateway:   for an application running on a microservices architecture to keep API traffic within specific limits set for compliance and security reasons to provide Apigee API management for services running in Kubernetes for behavioral testing (of the scaling, of the infrastructure...) for disaster recovery to speed up API traffic for services running in close proximity  when legal and geographical boundaries are involved; for instance, when some of your global products need to run in regional data centers due to issues regarding personal data to keep processing messages even when there's no internet connection for cost management and market segregation   4. And What's the Difference Between Apigee Edge and Microgateway? Apigee Edge vs Microgateway... why should you consider the later? How are they different more exactly?  Especially since it gets even more confusing when considering that you even get Apigee Edge Microgateway plugins, which are so similar to Apigee Edge's policies... What capabilities, that you can benefit from using Apigee Edge, does Microgateway lack, for instance? Now, in terms of differences, here's a general "rule of thumb": Apigee Edge Microgateway does not come to replace the Edge gateway.  It has its own specific "lighter" use cases, like various mediations, key verification, quota that you can do with your backend services in close proximity, all while tapping into its robust above-mentioned capabilities. The END! Are you using Apigee Edge Microgateway? If so, what's your specific use case? And why have you decided to go with Microgateway instead of Edge Gateway? Image by Lynn Neo from Pixabay  ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Jan 17'2020