Nov 26 2018
Nov 26
If you’ve been reading about new -- and promised -- easy-to-use page builders, you many not be aware that the Drupal community has been working on a super ambitious visual design tool, Layout Builder, that will be included in the next version of Drupal, Drupal 8.7, scheduled to be released this Spring, 2019.
Sep 12 2018
Sep 12
If you’re going to start a Drupal 8 project, and there are many reasons why this makes sense, you should start with Acquia Lightning.Because this flexible Drupal 8 distribution streamlines the process of building and delivering feature-rich Drupal 8 sites. It takes the guesswork out of Drupal 8 module selection and configuration for key features like media, page building, and workflow.
Aug 14 2018
Aug 14
DrupalEurope, which will be happening from September 10 through 14, 2018 in Darmstadt, Germany, describes itself as "both a technology conference and a family reunion for the Drupal community." 1600+ attendees are expected.The buzz around this event has been unusually high, especially in the greater Acquia metaverse, for 12 reasons. Here they are.
Apr 18 2018
Apr 18
The Acquia blog has a fascinating and important post by Dries Buytaert and Cash Williams on the recent Drupal critical security vulnerability, and it's aftermath: Acquia blocks 500,000 attack attempts for SA-CORE-2018-002.It's worth checking out in its entirety, but here are a few take-aways if you haven't gotten to it yet:
Sep 26 2017
Sep 26
If you've been hearing a lot about decoupled, or headless Drupal, but have been wondering when and how to start figuring it out, we have good news: the time is now, and the how is watching this DrupalCon presentation by Preston So.
Sep 25 2017
Sep 25
If you’ve been following the Acro Media blog, you probably know that the digital agency (and Acquia partner), based in Kelowna, BC, Canada, has a special interest in Drupal Commerce.So with the recent launch of Drupal Commerce 2.0, it made sense to check in with them.
Sep 07 2017
Sep 07
The topic was “Distributions” at the September Boston Drupal Meetup, which was held at Acquia HQ in downtown Boston, and attendees were treated to an unusually comprehensive session.That’s because Drupal Project Lead Dries Buytaert kicked off the meeting by going waaay back, to the very first Drupal “distro.”To back up a bit, a distribution is a combination of Drupal core + modules + configuration + documentation -- all bundled up and optimized for a particular purpose or group of users.
Aug 16 2017
Aug 16
We've got a new installment in the decoupled Drupal project we're working on with Elevated Third and Hoorooh.The project we're documenting was one we worked on for Powdr Resorts, one of the largest ski operators in North America.The first installment in the series was A Deep Dive into a Decoupled Drupal 8 Project.
Aug 08 2017
Aug 08
A few weeks ago, we began a blog series about a decoupled Drupal project we worked on with Elevated Third and Hoorooh.The project was for Powdr Resorts, one of the largest ski operators in North America.The first installment was A Deep Dive into a Decoupled Drupal 8 Project.
Jul 19 2017
Jul 19
When Acquia-related developer content starts piling up around the Web, it's time for an Acquia Dev Scan.In this edition: Taming Expanding Databases in Drupal 8, Reservoir on DrupalEasy, and a Conference for Decoupled Drupal DevelopersDealing with expanding cache_render tables in Drupal 8There are a number of scenarios in Drupal 8 where you might notice your MySQL database size starts growing incredibly fast, even if you're not adding any content.
Apr 05 2017
Apr 05
Next week, Acquia will be launching the next-generation of open source developer tools and extensions to Acquia Cloud to better deliver high quality customer value.This toolset empowers development teams to speed development and delivery velocity, without compromising quality or stability.It includes a consistent set of code-building, testing, and integration tools, an automated process pipeline, and self-service access to production-like environments.
Mar 08 2017
Mar 08
Not even three months into 2017, and already two industry articles have appeared that claim that this is "the Year of Decoupled."If so, this is propitious development for Drupal, and the Acquia Developer Center. Because we've been publishing "decoupled"-related (AKA "headless," AKA "API-First") thinking for a while now.Wouldn't it make sense to start organizing it into one stream? That's what we thought.So here's our first installment of a blog series that will point to some of the best thinking on decoupled in general, and decoupled Drupal in particular.
Jan 24 2017
Jan 24
Late in 2015, just before the release of Drupal 8, a company called OSTraining approached Acquia for help in funding a Kickstarter project.The goal of the Kickstarter was to make sure that as many people as possible can use Drupal 8. Their method was to publish free, high-quality Drupal 8 training on YouTube.Acquia decided to sponsor the The Drupal 8 Beginner Class, which consists of 60 video tutorials.
Jan 24 2017
Jan 24
Late in 2015, just before the release of Drupal 8, a company called OSTraining approached Acquia for help in funding a Kickstarter project.The goal of the Kickstarter was to make sure that as many people as possible can use Drupal 8. Their method was to publish free, high-quality Drupal 8 training on YouTube.Acquia decided to sponsor the The Drupal 8 Beginner Class, which consists of 60 video tutorials.
Dec 22 2016
Dec 22
DrupalCon Baltimore is coming up April 24 through April 28, 2017.Why not make this the year that you present a session?If the idea of submitting a session sounds appealing, focus for a few seconds on this date: February 1, 2017 at 23:59 EST (UTC -5). That’s the deadline for submitting a session proposal.Okay, now let’s work backwards from that.
Dec 08 2016
Dec 08
With Acquia Lightning, site-builders or developers can build an authoring experience from the ground up in only a few hours.Think of Acquia Lightning as “Drupal Core with afterburners.”Development tasks that used to take days or weeks are condensed to a matter of minutes.
Dec 07 2016
Dec 07
It’s one of the hottest tools in the Drupal 8 toolkit: the Migrate API, now part of Drupal 8 Core.If you know how to use it, you can dramatically improve how quickly and efficiently you can upgrade a site to Drupal 8. In addition, you can use it to build regular, repeatable migrations in Drupal 8 that can pull in data from a variety of sources.That’s why you should tune into this Tech Talk by Adam Jensen, Technical Account Manager at Acquia: (Don’t Hate) Migrate in Drupal 8.
Dec 02 2016
Dec 02
If you, or a colleague, is wondering about why "community" is an important part of the Drupal experience, this course could be a good way to introduce the topic.Because community is an underlying theme that runs through many of the 20+ segments that make up the course.The section on Modules is a good example. Our instructor, Rod, explains the concept of "contributed modules," and illustrates how they work in practice using three specific modules: Book, Forums, and Telephone.
Nov 29 2016
Nov 29
FFW, the mega digital agency, is offering a free, two-hour course for business technology and marketing decision makers who want a compressed intro to Drupal with the added benefit of a live instructor.The class focuses on Drupal’s core concepts so organizations can get the most out of the platform and avoid common mistakes. It’s designed to help smooth Drupal adoption by companies and organizations.It's coming up on Thursday, December 08, 2016, from 1 PM to 3 PM EST.
Nov 23 2016
Nov 23
When we last checked in with Rod Martin, in a previous post, he was touring the Drupal 8 interface. In this course, Building a Basic Site Using Drupal 8, he shifts into tutorial mode, deliberately moving step by step through the creation of a fictional Drupal 8 site, Drupalville, which he describes as a site about “all things Drupal.”
Nov 22 2016
Nov 22
Now that Drupal 8 is one year old, you may be asking yourself: “What am I waiting for?” In the last year, thousands of Drupal 8 sites have launched, including NBA.com, Nasdaq Corporate Relations, and Jack Daniels. If you haven’t started your own personal, professional Drupal 8 upgrade, here’s a good reason to get going: the availability of excellent free Drupal 8 learning resources.
Jul 19 2016
Jul 19
Maybe you are already grokking Drupal 8's new configuration management system; maybe you've already absorbed D8's embrace of object-oriented code.But that doesn't mean you should scoff at easy on-ramp introductions to Drupal 8. Solid overviews of Drupal 8 can be tremendously valuable when you're working on a team that includes non-technical members. They also come in handy when you are advocating in-house for D8 adoption.
Jun 01 2016
Jun 01
If there's anyone who has command of the command line, it's Dave Myburgh, a senior engineer at Acquia.So we asked him to share how he works with the CLI -- to help us all improve the way we work. Here are the top ten command line tips that Dave suggested. Check them out, and increase your speed of development.
May 19 2016
May 19
Can we all agree that it's too early for any kind of definitive guide to Drupal 8 migration?I think we can, so I won't pretend to wrap up the topic with a neat bow on top.Whether your starting point is D6 or D7, it's still an adventure to move a site to D8.It's getting better all the time, of course: hackathon by hackathon. Which means that it's not too soon to get something started to help us all focus on this inevitable task.
May 09 2016
May 09
Hatching your Search strategy for Drupal 8? You're in luck. You can tap into two recent blog posts -- one new, one refreshed -- and get a good idea of the State of Search in Drupal 8. 
Aug 21 2015
Aug 21

If you’re considering a switch to Drupal 8, why not become an early adopter? Becoming an early adopter has some risks — and Acquia will work with you to mitigate those risks — but it also has huge benefits.

In this post, I want to talk to you about those benefits and also share with you my experience with Examiner and its early adoption of Drupal 7.

If you’re not familiar with it, Examiner is a news company powered by thousands of self-contributing writers. Currently, it’s read by 22 million people a month. But back in 2009, the company was having problems with its ColdFusion CMS, and those problems were hampering its growth.

Examiner decided to move away from the legacy homegrown platform to Drupal. So they acquired NowPublic, a citizen-journalism company I founded, for its Drupal expertise and leadership. That’s how I became the CTO of Examiner (I later joined Acquia in 2012).

Moving ahead, the big question we faced at Examiner was: Do we go with Drupal 6, a stable but mature technology? Or do we take a bold leap and implement the yet-to-be-released Drupal 7? Ultimately, we chose to become early adopters, going with Drupal 7.  

Here are the reasons that powered that decision:

1) You stay in front of the technology wave

While a good product at the time, there was no denying that Drupal 6 was closer to its end of lifecycle, while Drupal 7 was just taking off. We already understood the costs involved in supporting a legacy product. And we knew any extra investment early on would be offset by things like a longer lifecycle.

As a side note, unlike previous versions of the platform, Drupal 8 releases will come out every six months. So if you plan to become an early adopter of Drupal 8, not only are you taking advantage of the latest and greatest today — but you will continually upgrade to the latest features over the lifecycle of the product.

2) You differentiate yourself from the competitors

At Examiner, we wanted to set ourselves apart from the competition and we knew D7 would give us that edge. AOL was starting to invest in Patch at that time. And we felt that if we wanted to grow our audience and draw the best journalism to our site, we needed best-in-breed tools.  

3) You can attract the top talent

Great developers want to be on the cutting edge. Who wouldn’t want to jump on an opportunity to work full-time on their passion and be able to contribute back to Drupal? When we brought in a great platform at Examiner, we attracted the best Drupal developers in the world. Very quickly, we hired 15 of the top 50 developers in the Drupal community.  

4) You have the opportunity to shape your investment

Getting in on Drupal 7 earlier put us in the driver’s seat with the technology. That was important. We weren’t looking to adopt just any set of tools. We wanted an opportunity to shape the next generation of a platform. And we knew Drupal was going to meet our needs better than anything else out there. Plus, it’s a lot less risky than building your own CMS, because you are not going it alone. You’re going in as part of a community.  

5) It forces you to develop best practices

Being an early adopter forces you to use best practices with respect to software development. At Examiner, we were able to participate in the community and contribute code to the platform. So for us, being an early adopter forced us to do things the right way — and that set a standard within the company moving forward.

After a year of work, Examiner moved to a new platform built on Drupal 7. Thanks to Drupal 7, Examiner went from not being able to meet the needs of its users to exceeding them. We were able to deliver new features on a faster cadence. We had the best-in-breed platform, the easiest to use interfaces, and ultimately those features accelerated the growth of the company.

Examiner launched on Drupal 7 six months before the official release of the platform. We started developing on it almost a year and a half before the release. So we were really early adopters. Examiner faced tremendous risks, because at that time, Drupal 7 was nowhere near as put together as Drupal 8 is today, but we still decided to do it — and it paid off.  Today, Examiner is a top 60 website.

Being an early adopter is definitely an investment. It will cost more to be an early adopter of Drupal 8, but as Examiner has demonstrated, those costs are set off by several factors. And if you are concerned about the risks, keep this in mind: more than 400 sites are already running Drupal 8. And Acquia has already announced we are ready to support anyone with Drupal 8.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any experiences on being an early adopter of Drupal 7? And how do you feel about the risks/benefits of being an early adopter for Drupal 8? We’d love to hear back from you and get the conversation going.

Aug 20 2015
Aug 20

When Acquia’s Global Support Team outgrew their ticketing system in 2013, it was time to make a change. An outdated ticketing system was taxing their team and compromising their ability to support customers. In addition to lacking the core functionality required to meet increasing customer expectations, the third-party vendor lacked visibility and integration with existing systems like JIRA and Toggl, reporting was slow, and SLA was waning.

The Global Support Team decided to look for a new, flexible API that would deliver tight integration with existing systems and generate responsive channels for quick, direct and clear communications. Reporting needed to be real-time and fast, and the customer and agent UX needed to be streamlined. Acquia needed a new system.

In Walks Zendesk

After systematic vendor vetting, Acquia’s Global Support Team quickly determined that Zendesk’s documented API provided the flexibility needed to do things the Acquian way. Zendesk is a customer service platform that provides the ideal framework for an enterprise environment. Zendesk offers an out-of-the-box solution, which provides a front-end customer interface and a back-end agent UX. Instead of just “drinking their own champagne,” Acquia decided to split a bottle with Zendesk’s REST API and develop the front-end of their Acquia Help Center in Drupal.

Drupal-Zendesk Integration

With a Drupal-Zendesk solution, Acquia built a powerful ticket request system that provides unparalleled support to their customers and internal teams. Here are five ways Acquia’s Support team leveraged a third-party API to build a new ticketing system.

1. Using Zendesk’s API to create customer requests in Acquia’s Help Center on Drupal

Acquia needed to migrate nearly 100k pre-existing tickets into Zendesk. This kind of overhaul required some reconciliation. Reorganization consisted of deleting completed tickets, cleaning up the open ticket queue, and configuring data into Zendesk.

The new Acquia Help Center was built using Zendesk’s REST API in Drupal, providing a Customer UX that is easy to navigate. The Agent UX, utilized internally by the support team, is outfitted with all of Zendesk’s built-in functionality. Zendesk also offered Acquia’s Global Support Team the ability to customize their apps to guarantee top performance.

customer UX create ticket .png

2. Additional Info Block Application

The flexibility of the Zendesk Apps Framework allows companies to extend the capabilities of the framework to leverage tickets, users and knowledgebases. Acquia customized their solution with an Additional Info Block Application, embedded in the Agent UX. The info block provides a global and integrated view of the customer.

info block 2.png

The info box displays information such as the product the customer is using, the number of application support tickets their subscription enables them to register, what networks they are connected to, special handling notes and their account management team.

“This heightened customer visibility allows diverse members of Acquia’s Global Support Team to best support the customer’, says Jeannie Finks, Director of Global Support Systems and Programs at Acquia. “This supplementary ticket data is a necessity for our team to provide customers with the personalized assistance they need and now expect”.

3. Time Tracking App

By leveraging the flexibility of the Zendesk Apps Framework, Acquia was able to aggregate all of their systems in one place. Existing systems like JIRA and Toggl are essential to Acquia’s workflow, and needed to remain accessible in the Agent UX. Toggl is a time tracking app that allows you to sync your entries in real time. Toggl’s cloud based framework is Acquia’s default time tracking interface. Acquia’s custom Toggl-Zendesk app pushes ticket time to a central repo of daily agent activity:

toggle time tracker.png

Additionally, Zendesk’s partnership has enhanced the view of the customers through expert reporting. The Zendesk toolkit allowed Acquia to track tickets rolled in by account, customer backlog, and a root cause report. The introduction of expert reporting offers support teams a comprehensive overview of the customer. Real-time reporting provides Acquia’s Support Leadership with the resources needed to proactively identify critical issues and solve them quickly. This Info Block increases customer visibility, allowing Acquia to see what their customer needs, right when they need it.

4. Custom SLA Monitoring and Notification within Zendesk

The ticketing system also monitors the status of tickets based on a customer’s Service Level Agreement. Acquia continues to take advantage of Zendesk’s flexibility by configuring SLA data from a central customer data warehouse. This customization generates alerts that flow into all key communication channels, such as mail and chat. This custom monitoring system notifies teams when SLA expiration time is appended to a ticket, providing support teams with the visibility needed to best assist the customer.

SLA .png
 

5. JIRA and Zendesk Linked Tickets

In addition to Toggl, JIRA is a ticketing system that Acquia’s Global Support Team utilized internally. It was a workflow necessity to have continued access to JIRA, and Zendesk’s robust API enabled Acquia to do so. Acquia further customized their API with a mini app that linked tickets filed in JIRA and Zendesk.

The system scans Zendesk ticket comments, subject, and internal URL fields. After scanning, it will match any Acquia JIRA project keys. The system will then display the JIRA key, subject, status, time created, updated time, reporter and assignee. Comment links can also be added to any JIRA ticket.

“The benefit of these customized applications is that all of Acquia’s support systems are connected in one place”, says Finks. “The convenience of having JIRA, Toggl and a customer info block in the Agent UX relieves the major pain points that were taxing our internal teams. Through our integration with Zendesk, Acquia’s Help Center is able to offer unparalleled global support to customers 24/7”.

The next installment of our series will examine best practices when integrating with a third-party API.

Aug 18 2015
Aug 18

No one likes fuzzy math. It’s especially problematic when you’re conducting a load test and can’t accurately gauge concurrency.

In this last blog of a series on load testing, here are some tips on how to avoid the fuzzy math that can distort your expectations of how a website will perform.

Shaky math can happen when using Apache JMeter, which is the most commonly used application to load test the performance of an open source site.

JMeter breaks it down into three categories: the number of threads that are happening at once, the ramp-up period from zero requests at a time to the max number, and the number of iterations. This typically is the way to determine expected concurrency: the total number of requests divided by average response times over how long you test.

There’s a problem with this method, though. When a site becomes overwhelmed, the response time actually increases, which means concurrency drops. So with such a test, you’re actually simulating the exact opposite of a normal site and not even close to seeing probable concurrency.

But there is a proper way to solve this, a way to get a true glimpse of possible concurrency – it’s something called throughput shaping. You can find it on jmeter-plugins.org. With this tool, you only have to simply say, “I want a thousand requests at once,” and it’s not only accurate but will save time that’s ordinarily lost on JMeter as you first try to figure out things like how many requests will hit your site at once.

Another speed bump to consider is how difficult it’s becoming to properly determine how many requests hit your site. That’s because not every every bot and not all of the “noise” on the Web crosses the path of Google Analytics and Omniture. Likewise, looking at the number of requests to your Web servers on Acquia Cloud, for example, doesn’t take into account if you’re using a CDM. (But if you are using a CDM, that’s the most likely source where you’ll have an accurate number.)

So here’s the last lesson of this series: Don’t extrapolate results. If you’re testing with 150 connections, don’t assume 300 will be exactly twice the number of resources required. Your test will tell you what 150 did. Load testing should be conducted in an environment that’s exactly the same size as what your production environment will be. Sure, it will cost a bit, but it will tell you how things will actually behave.

If your site faces contention – when many visitors simultaneously compete for your application’s attention – it will perform the exact same way if you have 150, 300 or even 600 connections. But the point is, you don’t actually know that; extrapolating results won’t provide an accurate number. Most often people look at the numbers, testing exactly to the numbers they have today. They’re missing more than just surges.

Consider must-visit websites for special events like sporting events and live award shows. They have one or two huge days of traffic a year, but the rest of the year, they’ll have a totally different number of visitors. So, when load testing, it’s not just a matter of looking at numbers. It’s understanding what those numbers actually mean and recognizing your end goal.

I recommend that once you have numbers, always test about 50% above that. Not necessarily because you’ll see that kind of traffic at launch, but if the site’s successful and growing over time, it’s rare that you’ll take the time to go back and run more load tests. By initially testing well above what you’re expecting, you’ll have a buffer and won’t have to worry about how the site is going to behave six months from now.

Hopefully this series has prompted you to think carefully about the nuances of load testing and will help as you prepare to launch a site. Load testing done right can help achieve optimal site performance. And, as I mentioned earlier in the series, your users define where load testing should take place, so you can’t go wrong. If you have any questions or suggestions, please drop a note in the comment box. Thanks for reading.

Aug 17 2015
Aug 17

You probably learned about mitosis in high school science class and have since forgotten all about it. Mitosis is the scientific term for when chromosomes in a cell nucleus separate into two identical sets of chromosomes, each in its own nucleus.

We performed our own type of mitosis when preparing the staff at Acquia for the release of Drupal 8. We divided, conquered and divided all over again – accelerating the pace of training that otherwise would have plodded along and drained internal resources.

This is the third installment in a series on Drupal 8 instruction and it seems appropriate at this point to look at how our spin on mitosis not only helped us stay focused on the ordinary flow of business – employees needed anywhere from 10 to 80 hours of training, depending on their job duties – but also had people benefitting from the power of collaboration.

As we started the training program, we had already read a lot of documents to prepare fro Drupal 8. But as helpful as they were, we knew nothing would beat the advantages gained from hands-on training. It also made sense to train in bite-sized fashion so no one would feel overwhelmed by learning the more than 200 new capabilities of Drupal 8 while also trying to stay on top of regular work.

So we first paired four people into two groups and gave them – and me and my co-author Kent Gale – two months to port a module from to Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a thorough, consistent stream of documentation to lean on, so our pairs immediately went off in different directions. At that point, we changed tracks and reorganized groups: teaming one person who knew even a little bit about Drupal 8 with another who knew nothing about it. Right away, there was a constructive back and forth with each pair. Trainees did spend time reading materials on their own, but they clearly benefitted by working together. Between sharing a computer and spending a lot of time together, it became a lot easier for them – and us – to ask the right questions and solve problems.

When that round ended, both members of each team understood Drupal 8, and each then paired with employees who needed instruction, again performing our version of mitosis. Four became eight; eight became 12. We eventually dropped the original four trainees and kept moving along, with a steady rate of 12 trainees. Twelve was the ideal rate of training we could support.

Once we gained steam, we recognized each training session had to last three months rather than two so we could provide 40 hours of instruction to our higher level people, the “code makers” and “fixers.” Three months enabled us to handle vacations and sick days, and gave us a firm idea of the speed we needed to maintain when training.

It goes without saying that when your outfit starts planning training, it’s crucial to determine how quickly you can do it. Only when managers and teams collaborate will you be able to truly learn what can be done.

Jun 11 2015
Jun 11

migrating drupal content truck

One of the major challenges facing every digital publisher is making sure its content will display properly up on every possible venue: desktop, tablet, and phone of course, but also in web services, and on the emerging display opportunities arriving with the Internet of Things, like wearables.

Acquia partner Mediacurrent recently tackled this challenge on an awesome scale: migrating the giant The Weather Channel site to Drupal in a way that worked with all the above venues, and then some. (Have you thought about how your content will look on gas station pumps? Mediacurrent and The Weather Channel have.)

Recently, Matt Davis, a senior Drupal developer at Mediacurrent, explained how the team approached this task, in the first blog post in a projected series on the topic: Migrating Weather.com To Drupal: Increased Content Portability.

If your goal is to "write once, use everywhere" (and it should be), this post is worth checking out.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web