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Why Drupal Is Ideal For E-Commerce?
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WordPress Vs. Drupal: Which Content Management System Is Right For You?
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Drupal VM 4 Is Here! With PHP 7.1 And Easy PHP Switching
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Drupal Global Sprint Weekend: Jan 30th and 31st
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Drupal 8 – Is It Ready For The Enterprise Web?
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Is Drupal A Relevant Technology For A Modern, Forward-looking Web Strategy?
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Things to Follow for Developing an Effective website Using Drupal

Why Drupal Is Ideal For E-Commerce?

One of the most flexible CMS platforms out there is Drupal. As Drupal Commerce is integrated with Drupal, it has become difficult for other dedicated e-commerce platforms such as Prestashop or Magento to beat it. You can find thousands of websites that have been built using Drupal Commerce.  There are, of course, various Content Management Systems for e-commerce, but people are more interested in using Drupal.

The main purpose of Drupal Commerce is to develop a specification that will help in guiding the e-commerce development on Drupal. They offer a rich variety of modules that can build world class e-commerce websites. This open source can help you in creating blogs, forums, intranets, photo galleries, review websites, new aggregators, wikis, social networks and CRM. Drupal can convert your dreams into reality.

Here are some awesome reasons why you should use Drupal Commerce for your new e-commerce development:

Free For All

In the Drupal world, more than 14,000 free modules are available. There is nothing you have to pay for, which is unlike WordPress and Magento. Moreover, the community is excellent at supporting these modules with improvements and patches. The Drupal community is considered to be one of the most devoted and cohesive communities.

Easy and Uncomplicated Way of Coordinating

Since you only have to handle and work with one system, the CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), as well as web analytics, become much easier. You don’t even need to coordinate between two different platforms.

Easy To Customise

You can create pages and blocks within the pages with the Views module, which is a type of query builder. You can also customize modules easily.

Maintenance

Since there is only one set of tools that you need to learn, it becomes very easy for you to manage and maintain a Drupal Commerce site.

Order Management Tools

The order management tools of Drupal Commerce are a part of the same administration toolset that is found in the CMS. This enables you to not only view, manage and update on the websites but also lets you send update notifications through the website.

Integration

Via a RESTful API, Drupal can integrate with external systems. This means, with third-party systems, you can extend or complement the functionality that is found in Drupal and Drupal Commerce. Also, with Drupal’s Feeds module, you can import content from external systems.

Synchronization

Compared to a two-platform system, it takes far less time to develop. You aren’t required to formally integrate between two different systems.

Adaptation

Do you want a CMS that can adapt with your business? Drupal Commerce is just what you want. it will always be adaptable, as your business grows and explores new models. This is important, as most of your site is built by configuring interfaces and modules and the layout of your site and your business logic can change anytime.

Awesome Features

Drupal Commerce offers amazing features. Features such as a complete product administration, shopping cart and checkout form. Along with various other additional e-commerce features, it supports multilingual and multi-currency.

If you ask me, Drupal is a perfect platform to build an e-commerce website. I feel it can aid in the growth of your business. Your customers can find your e-commerce site with ease and it will enhance their shopping experience. With thousands of free plugins available, you get the power to leverage more features and functions into your website.

WordPress Vs. Drupal: Which Content Management System Is Right For You?

If you are building a website or a blog, the most crucial decision that you make is choosing a content management system. As we know, content is king in the digital world. Thus, content creation and modification are prime factors in making your website or blog a success. A content management system offers many advantages like control over content publishing, visibility and supporting multiple users. Content management systems, or CMS, are extremely beneficial,  especially because they need very little to no prior experience in programming. Consequently, performing administrative tasks is made easier.

Out of all the CMS platforms offering a wide array of features, WordPress and Drupal are powerful platforms. The ease with which they provide their users with customization and content updating processes makes both WordPress and Drupal popular and widely used platforms. If you are out there searching for the right CMS platform for yourself and are confused about which one of the top two you should choose, then keep reading!

WordPress

Although it started as a blogging platform, WordPress has come a long way and become a full-blown site framework.  It is powered by AJAX, PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and plenty of plugins, widgets, and themes. You have access to help from skilled developers in WordPress for theme customization, complex builds and setups and installation. The developers will ensure that your site is always installed with the latest updates. There are many advanced custom plug-ins available if you choose WordPress. Walt Disney Co., the LinkedIn blog, TechCrunch and BBC America are some of the popular sites that are powered by WordPress.

Drupal

Drupal refers to itself as a “content management framework” and is a very powerful CMS platform. It allows the user to launch, scale and manage websites and applications.  Drupal is the perfect fit for ambitious and larger projects. Powered by PHP, it requires no programming experience to set-up functionalities at lower levels. There are some extended features that include blogging, contact forums, forums and other types of community-style features. These features are an elaboration of Drupal’s core package but need the assistance of Drupal developers.  The Economist, Weather.com, some of the US government’s websites and NFL team’s websites are some sites that are powered by Drupal.

WordPress Vs. Drupal

Although there are many similarities between WordPress and Drupal in terms of features, responsiveness, SEO, and APIs, they do have certain differences which you need to consider.

Complex build

WordPress is easier to learn and use, while Drupal, on the other hand, is complex and might take longer to get used to. This complex build of Drupal makes it perfect for larger level projects.

Updates

WordPress updates are released every few months and the code is easily upgradable. The upgrade takes place in the background and that can be a useful feature if you are not a developer. WordPress plugins do not need frequent updates.

Drupal makes comprehensive updates and might be labor intensive as they are not code based. You will have to redesign your website for a particular update. This can be difficult if you are not a developer.

Security of plugins

Drupal is famous for its security which can be a valuable feature for enterprises or government sites. On the other hand, security is offered by a third party in WordPress, and your site is vulnerable to hacking attacks if you do not update regularly.

Make a List and Ask Some Questions

Before you finalize a platform, you need to make a list of your needs. If you are clear about what you want, making a decision will be easier.  Ask yourself the following questions:

What Kind of Website or Application are You Building?

Think how you want your site to perform. Is your site going to be a complex site with many pages and will it be getting a high volume of traffic? This will help you to decide which one of the two websites will suit your needs.

Budget

This is one of the crucial factors as well. The budget may vary, and the development of the site on Drupal can be more expensive than with WordPress.

Users, Templates, and Security

You must think how many users will access the site. Users need user permission and WordPress allows adding users with standard roles and permissions. When you are choosing a CMS you must ask yourself how many different templates you might need to match the different types of content you might have on your site. If your site is more complex and you need different templates, Drupal’s robust features might be suitable for you. Security is an important aspect that you will have to consider, especially, if your website is an enterprise level website.

In conclusion, WordPress is technically easier and Drupal, though more complex, offers amazing features. You can choose which CMS platform to use based on the needs of your project.

Drupal VM 4 Is Here! With PHP 7.1 And Easy PHP Switching

Drupal is the open-source software popular for use in sites which contain blogs, portals, forums, e-commerce sites, information about individual and corporate entities, intranets, resource directories, social networking sites, etc. Written in  PHP, it is available in a ready-to-use format upon being downloaded. This software supports content management, podcasts, collaborative authoring, image galleries, newsletters and much more. Now, the newest and latest version of it is available on the net, seven whole months after PHP 7.0 and Ubuntu 16.04 were introduced by the VM 3 version of this Drupal software.  

Some of you might not be familiar with the concept of the Drupal VM. It is an instrument, or tool, built with the help of Vagrant and Ansible, that helps in the development of  Drupal environments.With the 4th installment in the series the Drupal tool is enhanced in terms of flexibility. You get a plethora of choices to pick from.  A few of the binaries are MySQL or PostgreSQL, Nginx or Apache, Redis or Memcached, and CentOS or Ubuntu.  Also, Drupal VM 4 is empowered with a seamless mode-switching power which allows the web developer to change the PHP mode in a fluid, no-hassle manner. The modes available are 5.6, 7.0 7.1. The best thing is that you can do this without having to recreate the whole development environment.

Here is a comprehensive list of the benefits that Drupal VM 4 would empower you with:

  • A really great aspect is that Drush is completely optional. You can choose to either use the version attached to the project or not use it at all. This is undoubtedly good news for web developers around the world.
  • As already mentioned before, Drupal VM 4 supports all three versions of the programming language PHP: 5.6, 7.0 and 7.1. All you need to do in order to activate the ‘smooth switch’ system is to do an update of the PHP version and run the Vagrant Provision. This easy PHP mode switching is apparently the real reason people are extremely excited about the recent update.
  • Another benefit is that you would now require the use of Vagrant 1.8.6 or later, VirtualBox 5.1.10 or later, and Ansible 2.2.0 or later. Of these, the latter is important only if it is installed on the host.
  • Although PHP 7.0 remains as the default, you’d be able to install the PHP 7.1 or 5.6 in a smooth movement (details mentioned in another point and also in the introduction).
  • You can work these changes on any Operating System, whether on a laptop or mobile.
  • Among other improvements, you can avail of the PHP upload_progress support, the optional DRUPALVM_ANSIBLE_ARGS support for the Ansible CLI options, and use the shallow Drush cones for the sake of building up environments faster. Drupal VM 4 has also added the GitHub ISSUE_TEMPLATE, fixed the Solr versioning error and set the composer.json to “VM” over “Project”.  A few bugs have been fixed; such as the #981, #1014, #1020, #1004 and #1037.

Awesome, isn’t it? And we have the exemplary efforts of Oskar Scholstrom and Thom Toogood to thank for it all!

Drupal Global Sprint Weekend: Jan 30th and 31st

Every year, there is a kind of ritual with the Drupal community worldwide.  Arranged throughout the world, there are sprints which are aimed at aiding in the further growth and development of Drupal. This year, in 2016, the Global Sprint was arranged on the 30th and 31st of January. The venues included cities in various countries such as India, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK, Peru, Canada and the USA.

Drupal is a free and open-ended content management network which is often used for sites containing blogs or forums. It is distributed under the GNU public General Public License.  And as of 2015, the 8.0.0 version of Drupal was developed and released. Among the improvements seen in this updated version of Drupal, one is the done-within-context which offers a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ style of editing and previews. It also contains a new model of content with entities, fields, and views which are totally unconventional or out of the box. All the content pages, forms and administrative pages are customized  through the administrative interface. Last, but not the least, it has a very responsive HTML5-oriented output. It’s little wonder, then, that web developers the world over are going absolutely gaga over Drupal 8.0.0.

To celebrate the worldwide success of this newest version of Drupal, a Global Drupal Sprint was held at all the aforementioned venues. The sprints arranged on the 30th and the 31st of January were arranged with the objective of bringing web designers face to face in order to collaborate on subjects such as  Drupal core and make contributions to modules. Web developers could handpick any Drupal module and port it to Drupal 8. They were allowed to do this either on an individual basis or as a group. All in all, it was an event where collaboration ruled the roost. The all-pervasive spirit was “We Can Do it Together.” It was a carnival of high spirits and innovative minds that came together to herald a new age of innovation in web development technology. Needless to say, all voices were heard equally and inputs accepted wholeheartedly by all those who were enthusiastic about the future prospects of Drupal.

Everyone who had been a Drupal designer, theme, developer, documenter or project planner was invited to this event. These kinds of yearly or annual meets which bring Drupal enthusiasts together, mostly concentrate on improving the core of the Drupal software. The areas in focus are usually the contributed modules, core, handbook presentation and increasing its overall functionality. Some of the major features of the “Drupal Drop-in Sprints” are:

  • Workshops are conducted to introduce the Drupal Community contributions to every participant. This is usually followed by minuscule sessions of contributed modules and core development. 
  •  The participants are usually divided into two distinct groups. The first one consists of beginners, while the second comprises veteran and non-coder contributors. A mentor or guide is assigned to each group who then works with them so that the productive contribution task gets kick started.

It’s not just the experienced and veteran folks who are asked to attend and contribute. Youngsters and newbies are just as welcome to these sprints. At the end of the day, these sprint meets are all about learning from one another and teaming up to develop new ideas. And truly keeping with this spirit, hundreds of newbies and veterans alike participated in the Drupal Global Sprint of 2016, which is what made it such a grand success.

As we ease into a brand new year, 2017, the hopes of a bright future for web development software innovation are higher than ever. The next Global Sprint weekend is scheduled to be held on the 28th and 29th of February this year. Do meet up and make this one a roaring success like before. Currently, Drupal VM version 4.0 has the power to switch seamlessly between three versions of PHP modules, which is among a host of other new developments and bug fixes. Come, let’s make this new year’s Global Sprint worthwhile for all Drupalians around the world.

Drupal 8 – Is It Ready For The Enterprise Web?

Drupal is an open-source web content management framework and platform written in PHP. It combines content, community, and commerce very well and has an extensive library of over 24000 features. In terms of scalability, flexibility, and security, Drupal is an enterprise class CMS.

On 19th November 2015, Drupal 8 was officially released which is a completely re-written version of the Drupal platform. Its core platform has more than 200 new features built in and its backend is powered by Symfony 2 which is PHP framework and set of reusable PHP components/libraries for building high-performance web applications. Following are the top new features available in Drupal 8:

Awesome Authoring Experience

Drupal 8 introduces out-of-the-box experience for content authors.

  • Spark – It’s a Drupal distribution and an Acquia initiative created by Dries Buytaert to improve Drupal core’s default authoring experience.
  • WYSIWYG Editor – Drupal 8 comes with the CKEditor WYSIWYG editor. In addition to the default buttons for bold, italic, images, links etc., it also supports extras such as easily editable image captions and widget features. Drupal 8’s drag-and-drop admin interface helps in adding and removing buttons in the WYSIWYG toolbar, which automatically syncs the allowed HTML tags for a given text format and thus immensely improves usability. All buttons are contained in ‘button groups’ with labels that are invisible to the naked eye but can be read by screen readers, providing an awesome, accessible editing experience for website visitors. Drupal 8’s Editor module wraps the WYSIWYG integration, so other libraries can be tightly integrated as well in contrib.
  • In-place Editing – This feature allows editors to click into any field within a piece of content and edit it right on the front-end of the website without accessing the back-end form in the admin area. Full node content, user profiles, custom blocks are in-place editable.
  • Content Creation Page – The redesigned content creation page in Drupal 8 contains two columns:
    • The main fields or the actual content part
    • Extras or optional settings
  • Admin Theme – New style guide for the ‘Seven’ admin theme.
  • Draft Support in Core – API support added as an under-the-hood change in the core to support content draft revisions making the publishing workflow modules like Workbench much easier.

Mobile First

To keep up with the global expansion of mobile devices worldwide, Drupal 8 has been made more mobile-friendly out-of-the-box. From installation to authoring experience, everything in Drupal 8 is mobile friendly and supports responsive design.

  • All core themes are now responsive and automatically reflow elements such as menus and blocks to fit well on mobile devices.
  • Built-in support for responsive images, so large desktop images is properly resized to display on a tablet or smartphone.
  • Support for responsive tables is available. Table columns can be declared as high, medium or low importance. On wide screens, all the columns will be shown as expected, but as screen size shrinks the less important columns will begin dropping off so that the table shows nicely no matter the screen size.
  • The new admin toolbar is responsive, automatically expanding and orienting itself on wider screens while collapsing and orienting vertically on smaller screens.
  • Improved front-end performance by replacing jQuery with native JavaScript when possible, and not loading any Javascript files by default for anonymous visitors. Additionally, Drupal 8 uses lighter-weight alternatives to JavaScript-intensive features that are more mobile friendly.
  • Back to site link is visible in the admin toolbar while in an administrative context to go back to the front page.

Multilingual++

Drupal 8 core is much better out of the box for foreign language and multilingual websites.

  • Language Handling – Drupal 8 can be natively installed in 94 languages and a language can be assigned to everything like pages, menus, views etc. There are also language dependent blocks available. Browser language detection can be made configurable with external language codes. Transliteration is built-in for machine names.
  • Interface Translation – Automatic downloading and updating options are available. Built-in translation UI is revamped for easier editing. Custom translations can be protected and are exportable. The English text is customizable.
  • Content Translation – Flexible language defaults configuration option is available. The language selector can be freely positioned or hidden. The configuration of field-level translation can be done. Images can be shared optionally between translations on image fields. Translation can be applied to all types of content (taxonomy, user fields, products, rules, etc). Views are integrated with flexible filtering and display options. It’s fully integrated with core search as separate results and language information is exposed via the Search API. Per-language content access option is available.
  • Configuration Management – All configuration is translatable (roles, text formats, blocks, views, panels, etc.). Built-in responsive translation interface is available. There is an overview screen for translators, contextual translation tabs for site builders. All shipped config can be pre-translatable on localize.drupal.org.

What’s Missing?

  • As with new releases of software, 3rd party plugins, tools, and themes are sometimes slow to upgrade and have full support for Drupal 8
  • Support for old versions of PHP – check with your web host to make sure you’re running on PHP 5.5.9+ (see requirements here: https://www.drupal.org/docs/7/system-requirements/php
  • Developers with experience in Drupal 8

 

Is Drupal A Relevant Technology For A Modern, Forward-looking Web Strategy?

After the release of Drupal 7 on 5th January 2011, five long years have passed. On 19th November 2015, Drupal 8 was released with much promise regarding functionality and performance. In 2011 AngularJS was a toddler, ReactJS was yet to be born. Finally, Drupal 8 came into being contributing towards the front-end revolution, thanks to AngularJS and ReactJS. The time has changed a lot.

Understandably, Drupal community has been a little concerned with huge Drupal 8 release. Will the release affect Drupal anyhow? Is Drupal still a relevant technology for an advanced ever-evolving web technology? It it too early or too late to predict?

However, roughly six months after the release of Drupal 8, experts were trying to find some answers from available data. While one report suggests that after three months of Drupal 8 release, more or less 60,000 sites were using Drupal 8 in comparison to 30,000 sites that had been using Drupal 7 for the equivalent period. For others, there is nothing much to be delighted about the number considering Drupal community is also three times bigger now.

However, it would be a mistake to determine the relevance of Drupal in technology by the number of sites and that of the upgraded modules. This increase, as experts put, is supposed to indicate much bigger success than any other Drupal release.

Millions in Ongoing Investment:

In 2016 most of the leading Drupal agencies have engaged people to directly work on Drupal core issues or large Drupal 8 contrib modules. Latest report confirms that  millions have been invested in augmenting the Drupal 8 module development. Acquia alone has invested around $500, 000 to expedite the migration of popular Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Another biggest advantage of using Drupal 8 is that it is an open-source CMS which is built to very high standards.  

Big Site Wins are no longer Headline:

There was a time when a big site launching on Drupal would make a headline in the community. With the release of D8, much has changed. However, it does not mean there is less excitement, but it is no longer the news but a common affair. Starting from media brands, from pop singers to large cultural institution, the community has witnessed a number of big launches.

DrupalCon is More that Drupal:

Have you attended a DrupalCon yet? If not, you must. For the last few years, DrupalCon has remarkably evolved. It includes dedicated tracks including business development, PHP, user experience, project management, front end technology and more. Over the years, the community has grown and become large giving way to diverse notions and thoughts.

Drupal 8 is actually at 8.1.7:

The Drupal release cycle has remarkably changed from 7 to 8. While Drupal 7 had a number of features initially, Drupal 8 has brought minor releases that can add new functionality. Presently, Drupal 8 is actually at Drupal 8.1.7 with brand new features such as the addition of the BigPipe technique to the framework.

Other Features:

Drupal 8 core includes at least 17 significant JavaScript libraries and 27 external PHP libraries. It is stronger, more relevant and resilient to changes, building bridges to other technology islands.

Things to Follow for Developing an Effective website Using Drupal

Developing a simple website in Drupal may be easy, but one needs to follow a few things to become successful in developing complex websites in Drupal (Big feature and content wise) so that site performance is good and is easy to maintain. Let me highlight some key points to explain this further.

Requirement Understanding: Before developing a website, it is better to read the specifications in detail. Also get all the clarifications from your manager or client. There should not be any room for assumptions in regard to the functionality. Besides, it is necessary to understand what content type are you creating, how many views need to be there, the layout of the website, how many fields need to be created and whether the site in question should be responsive or not.
Use Version Control: It is a very good practice to work using version control. It allows multiple people to work on the functionality as changes are done in organized manner. It is convenient to roll back to old version if something is not working as anticipated.
Use same development environment: Everyone has their preferences when it’s a matter of selecting an operating system and also the tools that they use. So it is always a pain to resolve problems that are platform specific and it is not a sensible choice to impose same platform. Hence, it is a good idea to use Vagrant which is a tool for managing Virtual machines. This encourages developers to work on their preferred machine at the same time using the same environment for development, like everyone else in the group.
Use separate database server: There are high chances that a big Drupal site can consume lot of resources on the server. Since Drupal store all the configurations along with the content in the database, so running MySQL server on the same machine could be an overload. Hence it is recommended to use a separate server for database.
File Management: It’s a good practice to keep the images and files in different folders under files folder. This assists to manage the images on the website. If one is using Image Style then Drupal will create lot of sub directories for storing images of different styles.
Re-use existing modules: A good Drupal developer will always try to reuse and configure existing contributed modules.
Staging Environment: It’s better to have a staging server, which is similar to your production and always a good practice to test the site completely on staging. This will guarantee that any platform specific concerns are fixed and you will not get shocks when you launch the website.
Use Issue Tracker Tool: For big projects multiple people will be working together with each having their own tasks. In such a scenario it is important to ensure that everyone is doing the tasks assigned to them. For project manager it is more essential to keep track of the advancement. So usage of issue tracking tool like JIRA for managing work project is necessary. It will assist everyone to have clarity of the situation and present status of the project.

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