What are Drupal 8 distributions anyway? Why bother using one: what would you gain by using one instead of building your Drupal 8 site from scratch? And, most importantly: which are the best Drupal 8 distributions to choose from? … the top-rated ones, both by other companies already using them and by Drupal experts, as well? There are lots of different Drupal Distributions: Commerce Kickstarter, Open Atrium, Drupal Commerce, etc. build for different versions of Drupal. Which ones are the best? Let's jump straight ahead to the answers you're looking for now, shall we? First Things First: What Is a Drupal Distribution After All? “A Drupal distribution packages a set of contributed and custom modules together with Drupal core to optimize Drupal for a specific use case or industry." (Dries Buytart, Distributions Remain a Growing Opportunity for Drupal) Take it as an all-in-one-place or a conveniently quick and easy-to-install package. One which, once “unwrapped”, delivers you all the site-specific features and business use-case/industry-specific functionality that you need: Drupal core precisely those contributed and custom modules that you need themes predefined configuration installation profiles libraries Bottom line: it's Drupal + additional software components (strategically assembled and preconfigured) that you get with a Drupal distribution software. One that will turn setting up your use-specific Drupal 8 site into a breeze! “How to install a Drupal distribution?” quickly turns from a hard nut to crack into nothing but a child's play. Just imagine how much time and valuable resources you'd otherwise invest in: scanning through the overwhelmingly rich collection of Drupal modules figuring out which are THE ones catering to your specific use case or industry installing all the needed elements (and here we're not referring to Drupal 8 modules only) one by one And here we can talk about 2 types of Drupal distributions: the full-featured ones the quick-start tools Key Advantages of Using One Over Building Your Site From The Ground Up Before we push forward, into the spotlight, the best Drupal 8 distributions to choose from, let us outline what you'll gain, precisely, from making this decision: Using a Drupal distribution over setting up your website from scratch. launching your website turns into a matter of a few... hours; instead of delving into a load of thousands of modules yourself, the preconfigured site that you get by choosing a software distribution delivers you everything you need in a single download: wrapped up in one installable package! by comparison, the “traditional” way of setting up your site would grant you access to Drupal core only; any additional functionality needed calls for... additional downloads maintaining your whole ecosystem of modules and other site components becomes less time-consuming: one single update is enough for all Drupal modules and features (vs “hundreds” of them in a conventional Drupal site build scenario) And now since selecting the proper Drupal distribution, the one that best suits your specific type of site, your business use case, and industry, is key, let us reveal to you the top-rated ones to consider choosing from: And Here Are The 7 Best Drupal 8 Distributions 1. Lightning Empower your editorial team and you'll get (even) better content on your Drupal 8 site! With the Lightning Drupal distribution for enterprise, you get to turn crafting, adding, editing, and publishing content into a rich authoring experience! How does it work you say? Practically Lightning's built to "fuel" the editorial experience with these 4 modules' powers combined: Workflow, Media, Layout, and Preview. Hence, content editors get all their feature/functionality needs satisfied for creating great content (and handling content editing operations) with great ease. 2. Varbase The "nitty-gritty" of any Drupal web project! This is what you'll get once you "unwrap" your package with the "Varbase" name tag on! Basically, the essential modules, configurations, features, and functionalities that any Drupal 8 site needs are all bundled up in this starter kit, at a click's distance! Get all these necessities downloaded and installed and give your site's development a major speed boost. 3. Contenta Planning to jump on the decoupled Drupal bandwagon? To progressively decouple your Drupal 8 site maybe? Then Contenta, the API distribution for Drupal 8, makes your best "ally" in turning your decoupling Drupal project into a success story! What it does, precisely, is it eases the overhead of making a decoupled architecture work (or simply “trying it on”, to see first whether it fits you or not): it provides you with an API-ready platform (admin configuration here included) ... demo content ... and even example front-end applications 4. Reservoir Here's another API-first Drupal distribution, (still) an experimental one, that you can rely on for supporting your Drupal decoupling initiative. ... if you were looking precisely for a flexible and easy to use tool for building a Drupal content repository that your front-end app could easily access via HTTP APIs. But what makes Reservoir one of the best Drupal 8 distributions? it takes the burden of modeling and managing content off your shoulders it enables your team of developers to set up a basic, yet functional content back-end, all while preserving the rich content editing experience (with all the functionality and features that editors get "spoiled" with) that Drupal 8's well famous for Note: surprised that Contenta and Reservoir have made it to our "best Drupal 8 distributions" list? Don't be! The 2 API-first distributions might still be community-driven experiments. Yet, all the potential they "promise" to unlock in a digital landscape where the channel/device/design-agnostic trend and the API-first approach rule is not to be underestimated. 5. Thunder Out-of-the-box publishing technologies (Riddle Interactive Content, Facebook Instant Articles) and modules from industry partners (Valiton, Nexxt.tv, Acquia) is what you'll get along with your Thunder "package". In short: all you need in an all-in-one the bare necessities and more addressing all your professional publishing needs! 6. LISSA Kickstart A Drupal distribution built to help you streamline your events and client notifications management and publishing process. What you'll get specifically is a Drupal-based technology stack for real-time messaging in second screen apps. One which, as a media company, you get to leverage for: pushing notifications to your clients publishing video stream (live or on-demand) ... with convenient ease 7. Open Social By far one of the most popular Drupal distributions, Open Social couldn't have possibly missed from our top including the best Drupal 8 distributions. Go for it if it's a: social community platform intranet solution portal or any other Drupal-powered social project that you're planning to build It will dramatically speed up the development process as it provides you, right out-of-the-box, with all the elements that your social community site could need: Notifications Timeline Events Follow Groups And this it IT! Our own selection of the very best Drupal 8 distributions to consider as "candidates" for your own specific Drupal project. Select the one that best fits your project's specific use case, then weigh its advantages and... decide how you'll invest the time that you will have saved using it (instead of building your site from scratch).
Adrian Ababei / Nov 23'2017
Adrian Ababei / Nov 21'2017
Adrian Ababei / Nov 17'2017
Be there or... be left behind! This is how your invitation to the AI Expo North America should sound like. It's the world's largest exhibition of next generation AI technologies and conference on artificial intelligence strategies to implement at an enterprise level. With 4 major AI conferences, sessions covering topics that range from: enterprise AI apps to big data to analytics to virtual assistants to AI development And speakers from companies such as Google, Paypal, Uber, LinkedInb, AirBnB, Kia Motors... the AI-dedicated event in Santa Clara turns into disruptive technologies enthusiasts' and forward-thinking entrepreneurs' global gathering. AI Expo Santa Clara: Why Attend? What to Expect? To answer your first legitimate question: “Because all the market leaders and forward-thinking brands will be there to reveal to you, in case study-based sessions, how to (and which) implement AI techniques across your organization; how to use AI to market more intelligently and to fuel brand loyalty." Now to give you a more convincing numbers-heavy type of answer: for its 4 AI conference tracks, its 30+ industry-leading speakers and its no less than 300+ exhibitors. And you should definitely attend it for all the mind-blowing exhibitions of the newest AI technologies that will be showcased at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Look out for: the Iot Tech Expo the Blockchain Expo What to expect, you say? Expect debates sparking around the advancements in the artificial intelligence sector and their impacts on the enterprise & and consumer sectors. Expect a global gathering of AI evangelists, start-ups and leaders from key industries ready to share with you their AI-centered success stories and, implicitly, some of their revolutionary AI-focused strategies. AI Expo North America: AI in the Enterprise & AI for Developers (Nov. 29) On the first day of the AI Conference in Santa Clara you'll be given priceless advice on how to harness artificial intelligence's full potential across your organization. Along with information on the impact that AI will have on your workforce. And we're talking here about: the applicability of AI strategies from an entrepreneur's, a business executive's perspective (the AI in the Enterprise conference tracks) implementing AI technologies from a developer's standpoint (the AI for Developers conference tracks) Now if we made a must-attend sessions list, it would have to include the following talks: AI-Powered Business intelligence: where you'll be learning how to build an AI-first strategy, discovering how capitalizing AI grants you new business value and why you should support your decision-making process on business intelligence analysis Big Data: Creating Intelligent Data Models, with prominent speakers from PayPal, Tractica, Ancestry, LinkedIn and Airbnb The Application of Deep Learning Within an Enterprise: discover how some of the world's most valuable brands are capitalizing machine learning within their companies Connecting Deep Learning With the Internet of Things and Blockchain: learn all about AI technologies' impact on the financial sector and the overall tech system itself; find out why you should and when it's the perfect time to make the move from predictive analytics to deep learning (a session presented by the Vice President of product and strategy, machine learning and AI at BNY Mellon) …. and our selection of must-see sessions at the AI Expo North America could go on with those covering topics such as next-generation cybersecurity and legal advice for avoiding big data discrimination. AI Expo North America: AI in Consumer & Digital Transformation (Nov. 30) “Customer”, “AI-powered customer experience”, “hyper-personalization”, “predictive customer intelligence” will be the words on all speakers' lips on day 2. A day broken down into 2 major conference tracks: AI in Consumer and Digital Transformation Bot and Virtual Assistant Development And we've striven to pick (not an easy task!) the sessions we would add to our own event schedule as a web development team from Toronto attending it: the Geeta Wilson's (Humana) keynote on leveraging AI in digital transformation the panel on chatbots, presented by speakers from TGI Friday's, AIMA, MoneyGram and Foursquare the talk about the role of AI/ML in e-commerce, held by Wayfair’s Associate Director of Data Science the panel on taking customer experience to a whole new level through the use of the latest AI tools Bottom Line Expect a two-day marathon of: attending inspiring case study-based sessions one where you'll strive to take a close look at all the exhibits struggle to assimilate as much insightful content as you can ...and to just... be there, joining the AI revolution, right from the center (at least for 2 days) of the world of artificial intelligence No chance to get bored at the AI conference in Santa Clara, nor chance to leave “empty handed”!
Adrian Ababei / Nov 16'2017
Create content for your customer FAQs... content for your website... next for your website's blog, as well... produce user-engaging content to upload on all social media channels... then go ahead and produce sopy for your flyers... A bit overwhelmed? Well, it's just getting started! Now you have to make sure your content gets delivered across “101” types of devices, as well. So, how about trying to create intelligent content instead? How about... stepping into the future of content? A future where technology (e.g. AR) compliments and boosts human efforts of coping with the ever-growing content demands that an organization must meet: create and then deploy custom content across a plethora of channels (voice assistants, chatbots and other newly emerged technologies here included) deliver it (at the perfect time) across a myriad of devices (tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, desktop computers...) … to multiple audiences But let us delve into details about: what intelligent content is what type of content “qualifies” for being made more... intelligent whether intelligent content marketing is suitable for your organization's specific content demands why you should bother at all, what are the clear benefits you should expect to reap where to start; what steps to take for setting up your own intelligent content strategy? 1. Intelligent Content: What Is It? Just Another Fancy Marketing Catchword? Or better said: what makes it “intelligent”? Let us give you some “clues”: it results from an efficient use of the latest “wonders” of technology, human capabilities and content handling processes it's ideally structured to enable retrieval and re-usage it's content viewed as a business asset and managed as such it's a modular approach to content: multiple fragments that you get to put together, adapting the result to any targeted device/channel's format (and specific audience) constraints it's content customized at multiple levels: the user's, the channel's, the device's level A term coined by Ann Rockley, intelligence content is basically a scientific-like approach to content creation, management and delivery: “Intelligent content combines the wonders of technology with human capability in a way that powerfully supports an organization’s goals.“ (What Is Intelligent Content) And it's a two-way approach to content: creating the design-agnostic content itself and breaking it into component parts, that you then structure by adding metadata tags; tags which will enable you to put them (the content fragments) together in an assembly-line style depending on the channels that you'll deploy them on and on the audiences (and devices) who'll be “consuming” your content adopting a whole new mindset where you approach content as “genetically” structural; as soon as you start to “view” it as being modular, mixing and matching its components to suit a specific audience, a specific channel or device will come naturally to you... In short: content with device & design-agnostic structure turns into an ideally versatile type of content in today's multi-channel, multi-device digital marketing landscape. Adopting this approach to the content that you produce will only grant you content that's: neatly structured (via semantic tags) and consistently organized reusable highly adaptable and customizable easily reconfigurable semantically structured and, therefore, “semantically aware” (easily “identifiable”, where modern technologies, including AR and machine learning, can easily “identify” what the content is about) free from constant “touch-ups” at every instance of use delivered via a far more streamlined publishing process (since it's no longer formats-constrained) 2. What Type of Content “Qualifies” for Being Turned into Intelligent Content? Any type of content, any content contexts or scenarios! From costumer-support content to marketing content, to technical documentation, to content delivered across multiple devices and multiple audiences, to content specific to different products etc. It can all be turned into intelligent content! Both producing it, delivering it and monitoring its performance the “standard way” (how many hours does your team spend, each week, tracking down data in Google Analytics?) is time and budget-consuming. Now imagine a world where all these content processes, ranging from scheduling the monthly blog post topics, to scheduling social shares, to setting up your content strategy and so on would be handled automatically? By a machine? Then, from (just) an overly complex content strategy it will turn into an efficient, intelligent content strategy. Moreover, you'd be actually future-proofing your content, too! Structuring it as a series of component parts will make it easier to be deployed even across channels that haven't yet emerged into the digital marketing world. 3. Does It Suit Your Company's Specific Content Creation & Delivery Needs? It depends greatly on your load of content. If it's a 40-pages Drupal site that we're talking about, carrying highly crafted content only, that doesn't require frequent updating, then the investment isn't worth it. In other words: if your content demands within your organization are more than “reasonable”, we consider that structuring your content beyond its basic HTML structure isn't justified. But if we're talking about: a content-packed website content that needs to be constantly updated content that needs to be translated into multiple languages, sent to multiple audiences, adapted to each product line (along with the challenge of multiple audiences per product line) … then you should definitely jump on the intelligent content “trend” and streamline your entire content workflow 4. Top Benefits of Moving to Intelligent Content Although we've already outlined a couple of the high impact advantages of moving to a more intelligent content marketing strategy, allow us to enlist them all: it cuts down costs (content production, reviewing, monitoring costs, even translation costs) it improves and guarantees quality and consistency across the website and across your whole ecosystem of channels to be deployed on it adapts to any channel's particularities and constrains and it can be customized to those channel-specific audiences with minimal tweaking or close to zero intervention of your marketing team it helps you deliver the right piece of content, to its target audience, in precisely the right format across that particular channel, on that specific device and at the right time of their customer journeys Cutting down costs + providing the best user experience + future-proofing your content! Thes are the 3 key benefits that should weigh heavily in your decision-making process: to move or not to move to intelligent content? 5. Where Do You Start Developing Your Intelligent Content Strategy? OK, so you've decided to make content on your website “more intelligent” and, therefore, to adopt an intelligent content marketing strategy. What now? Here are the steps you could take for a great start: adopt a new mindset: start viewing intelligent content as part of your whole content marketing strategy run a small-scale test (targeting just the upper levels in your organization's hierarchy for a start) identify your organization's “sore points” and business requirements focus on a small project for now and create a content model put all the needed tools and technologies in place (authoring tools, XML, content management systems etc.) consider going for headless Drupal or a single CMS Once all the preparations are made, switch to more in-depth steps in defining and implementing your new content strategy : get your content broken into multiple component parts, the very first “transformation” phase required for it to be turned into intelligent content remove all content formatting and add metadata tagging; this way, you'll make it discoverable, reusable, adaptable and keep adding on all the other features ending in “-able”) that set the difference between (just) content and intelligent content move one step at a time; implementing an intelligent content strategy can be an overkill for your website if you're getting impatient and “greedy” and rush things make changes at the content processes and the organization's level (for instance appointing a team to have a look at each piece of content before it goes live) Note: producing intelligent content means so much more than just appropriately structuring it and making it “semantically aware”. It also means anticipating and understanding the final form it will take. Once you visualize this, you'll know which component parts to select and to mix and match assembling them in the desired final form (while using the same source content, of course). The END! Your immersion into the future of content (soon to become “present”) ends here! What do you think: does intelligent content stand any chance to become the new standard for delivering content in a multi-channel, multi-device digital marketing landscape or not?
Adrian Ababei / Nov 14'2017
Adrian Ababei / Nov 11'2017
We are a web development team of our word. And since we promised we would come back with some more best practices for a sustainable web development process... here we are! In this post, as already revealed to you in “Part 1”, we will be highlighting: all the “tweaking” you can do at a server level so that it should use less unnecessary energy (and reduce its overall CO2 output) how to approach content on your site with sustainability in mind Here we go: Tips on Improving Your Server Performance: Consider Switching to a Green Host If you're confident enough (or your team is) to get your hands dirty in server configuration and maintenance there are plenty of high-impact measures you could apply: 1. Use the BigPipe Module for Drupal 8 BigPipe has been and still is one of Drupal 8's biggest “innovations”. It's nothing new, Facebook's been using this technique for a long time for improving page load times. Yet, now you have it in the form of a stand-alone module that you can leverage right on your Drupal 8 site! And it would be a pity not to! Just think about it: the BigPipe module practically segments each one of your web pages into multiple pagelets and streamlines the content loading process. It sends the cachable content segments first and the non-cachable, dynamic content last. 2. Make a Habit of Optimizing Your Database Drupal “saves the day” (and the planet, too, when used properly) once again! It gives you the DB Maintenance module to enable, to leverage and to integrate with your sustainable web development workflow. And this will prove to be a powerful tool to support your database optimizing endeavors: it runs MySQL's OPTIMIZE TABLE regularly using cron. 3. Get the Most of All The Caching Improvements in Drupal 8 If in Drupal 7 you still need to enable caching yourself (configuring your site's performance on the Admin page), in Drupal 8 page caching happens... naturally, by default (as well as assets aggregation). And there's more! The caching enhancements made to Drupal 8 impact even pages “carrying” dynamic content. And this is a big step forward towards top site performance and using energy responsibly if it's an interactive (and therefore with dynamically generated content) Drupal site that you own. 4. Move to HTTP/2 … and expect your web pages to load X times faster! Be (still) one of the early adopters of HTTP/2! Why should you wait till it turns into a major trend? What you know for sure now is more than enough if you're truly determined to go further with your sustainable web development initiative: the vast majority of modern browsers do offer great support for HTTP/2 it's proven that the HTTP/2 server push method makes a great “latency killer” by sending the requested data to the web browser BEFORE the later even “has the chance” to request it! 5. Move to a Green(er) Host A website about to turn green calls for a... green hosting company, don't you agree? So, it's time you get picky when it comes to choosing your host and to put the company you're already collaborating with to the... green test: which is its policy towards sustainability and its contribution to creating a more sustainable web? how committed is it to using energy responsibly? If it does not live up to your standards of sustainability... consider migrating to a more “welcoming”, greener host! 6. Compress Your Cached Pages And here you can choose the Drupal way or the Apache way of compressing your Drupal cached pages. Also, you could even step up when it comes to your commitment to a sustainable web development workflow. Supercharge your server by installing Varnish and enabling Drupal's own Varnish module, as well. This way, your server will be ideally equipped for caching, not to mention that Varnish is conveniently easy to configure! 7. Switch from a Data Center to a CDN Network … and reduce, significantly, the energy used during content delivery to your users' devices. Practically a CDN will locate the server (since we're talking about an entire network of servers put at your disposal) that's geographically closest to a given visitor on your website. Next, it will serve the requested content from THERE, much faster and using less energy. In short: better content delivery times for your users a reduced energy consumption for moving data/content from your server to their devices. Sustainable Web Development at a Content Level: Keep It Light, Make It “Findable” Once you've made your commitment to sustainable web development, optimizing your content: for SEO for a lighter on-page load for an improved user experience ... is a must. And here are the 3 “fronts” you should be concentrating your efforts on: 1. Keep It Light, Keep It Short We've already tackled the “irresponsibly heavy images'” issue. So we're not going to point out, once again, the tools and the techniques at your disposal for reducing your visual content's size. What we do want to outline now is that you should keep your user interface efficiently simple! Don't make your visitors get tangled up in visuals, don't turn your UI into a maze for your visitors to solve. Keep it lean and shamelessly intuitive! 2. “Find-able” Should Be the Keyword to Describe Your Content The less time a visitor invests in tracking down the information he is looking for, the smaller his/her web use carbon footprint will be! And how do you make your content easy to find? There are a few simple tricks: a well-thought-out navigation; apply all the best UX practices for a great search experience get the most of Drupal's core search enable the Apache Solr module (especially if it's a high trafficked site that you own) and integrate your green Drupal site with the popular search platform 3. Time to Archive Your “Last Season” Content All those out-of-date images, unused files, “dusty” written content that no one reads anymore still lingering on your website, all those videos dating centuries ago should... go. Should get archived! Not only will you lighten the load your site needs to carry (and reduce energy waste) and take a burden off your server's shoulders, but this decluttering session will benefit your users too. Pages will load significantly fast! And overall maintenance costs will get lower. Not to mention that pages will load fresh, quality content ONLY for search engines to index and your users to enjoy. The END! This is our list of tips and tricks on how to implement the sustainable web development principles into your own website. As you can see, you're not being nickel and dimed in options when it comes to making your Drupal site (more) Earth-friendly! And they do range from basic, handy solutions that require no out-of-the-ordinary technical expertise, to a bit more complex ones. So you have no excuses for not contributing, at a basic level at least, to building a more sustainable web!
Just a glimpse at the list of speakers who'll be holding the stage at Web Summit 2017 and we get even more pumped up for it: OPTASY will be there, too! Practically all the titans of the web and... us, a Drupal and web development from Canada, will be at the MEO Arena in Lisbon, Portugal, from the 6th to the 9th of November. As you can guess, we're already counting the days, literally overwhelmed with excitement! For it's not "just" leaders in the tech industry who'll gather in sunny Lisbon (Fortune 500 companies and wildly successful start-ups), but "the world's most disruptive technology companies". Leading “minds” and global tech innovators! And innovation is our own driving force as a company! It's what helped us grow from a pure web development company into a full-service software provider. It's our very own “guilty weakness” for emerging technologies the real “culprit” for OPTASY's transformation, over these years (since 2005), from a Drupal solutions provider into a company specialized in full-cycle projects. We now handle all the phases of complex web projects, ranging from: site/app structure planning to custom modules development to creating new functionalities from scratch to theming and post-launch maintenance & support All the talent and energy that we've gathered in our team, over these years, all the creative minds that came on board, speak best of OPTASY's efforts to create a culture of innovation in-house. And from all the innovation “addicts” (each one in its own field) in our team, it's Serge Karpiuk, our Head of Sales, Business Developer and Drupal Consultant, who'll be packing his bags for Lisbon (lucky guy!)! We, the rest of the “mortals” at OPTASY can't but secretly “envy” him and... relax. For we're 101% that: he'll be “absorbing” and mentally storing EVERYTHING; no groundbreaking news or announcement, no powerful tips or high-impact information shared during the talks will “escape” him (and don't worry, we're not selfish: we'll be sharing all the highlights with you right here, on our blog) he's the perfect embodiment of OPTASY; in order words: in case you'll be attending the Web Summit 2017, too, you'll instantly get a clue of how we are as a company: open to change, open to ongoing learning, open to people (and he definitely is, so don't be shy to come out to him), highly passionate about what we do.
Adrian Ababei / Nov 06'2017