Jul 19 2018
Jul 19

Day three

Today, my friends, we’re going to Change the World...

Rachel Lawson presented day three’s keynote. It was a really good session as it showed how everyone who attended, has contributed in some way to Drupal, as well as how “Drupal changes the world”. It started by “Meeting Sami”, a 10-year-old boy from Mosul, Iraq, who was captured (along with his brother) by ISIS. He was held captive for three and a half years, after which he was sent to a refugee camp. While in the camp, it was the Warchild charity that provided support, activities, education, and most importantly, ended up reuniting Sami and his brother with his family.

Now, you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with Drupal? I know, I also did, but it became apparent that Warchild recently switched to using Drupal, making use of several modules. Rachel asked the audience to stand up, if they had made a contribution to modules used by Warchild, including paragraph and media. Almost half the room did, but I didn’t. She then went on to ask about other contributions that people in the audience had made. This time, it related to anything from documentation, to hosting meetups, and even attending camps.

By the end of the session, everyone in the room was standing, including me. It felt good to know that I had contributed in some way. During the question and answer session, the issue of becoming a member of the Drupal Association was raised, as well as the importance of doing so. Membership empowers the Drupal community to be able to do more things that are requested by users, which in turn makes a transformational difference.


Rachel Lawson presenting her session

“If you don’t push yourself and just go with things, then you’ll never get the amazing things.” - Rachel Lawson

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Drupal 9: Decoupled by design?

Both Preston So and Lauri Eskola gave a session on decoupling Drupal, as well as the direction in which it is going. Anyone who has been working with Drupal should know that the idea of decoupling Drupal has been around for some time. Among the reasons for doing this, is that developers are free to choose any technology they want for the frontend. It’s clear that Drupal 9 will continue to use Twig, but with support client-side rendering with an API first approach. Another point was that editors prefer the non-decoupled approach, which raises the questions, “Who is requesting this? Is it the clients or developers?”

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The future of Drupal in numbers

One of the most interesting and debatable sessions I attended was presented by Nemanja Drobnjak. Similar to the first keynote session, this session was about comparing Drupal from 18 months ago, with its current state. This presentation could have been perceived as very pessimistic, especially when seeing the numbers compared to other major CMS’s like WordPress. He also referred to the compare PHP frameworks blog.

All the data in the presentation had clearly been researched, so it was rather shocking to hear Nemanja predict that Drupal could go out of use within 15 years if the current trends continue. A few suggestions to prevent this were made. From improving documentation to Drupal directly targeting the education sector. This session drew a lot of questions. Firstly, “Why compare Drupal to Wordpress?”. I agree completely. It's about who is using it and benefiting from it. It reminded me of the blog post I read in which Vue.js passed React.js in the number of people who have 'starred' it on Github. Basically, it doesn’t mean that React is dying and Vue is now the norm. Both have different purposes and uses, just like, for example, Drupal and Wordpress.

Another question raised was, with Decoupled sites becoming more popular, “Can a crawler detect the backend?”. Maybe the data wasn't 100% correct.

Day four

An update on Drupal 8.6

The day four keynote session was presented by Gábor Hojtsy, who gave a short speech about the upcoming Drupal update. He then moved onto how we could help with several initiatives, both at Drupal Dev Days and in general, including helping with Admin UI and documentation.

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Contribute, contribute, contribute! Yes!!!

Having put my Windows issues on the back burner, it was time to get the admin UI demo to work. I went over to the Admin UI innovation table where I met Lauri Eskola, Daniel Wehner, and Volker Killesreiter, all of whom helped me try to get the site working. Turns out it was because of an outdated module, so I updated the module, created a pull request and boom, my first ever contribution to Drupal was made. I then spent the rest of the day looking at the code and getting to grips with how it worked.

I was then assigned my first issue, which took some time to complete as I was still getting used to the code base. But nonetheless, I was able to fix the issue and contribute some more to the initiative. I really like how everything is broken into small issues, meaning that a single person isn't completing a large issue by themselves. It is clear that Drupal can only be maintained if people contribute back to the project and/or community.

It is never too late to contribute! Even though Drupal has been around for almost 20 years, it still relies heavily on people to contribute and come up with innovative ideas. If you are looking to contribute, but don’t know how I can suggest you take a look at the Drupal development and strategic initiatives.

Having heard the word “contribute” several times, it would have been great to hear someone repeatedly say the word, as Steve Balmer did - "developers".

Day five

Quo Vadis, Free Software?

The final keynote session, by Rui Seabra, was about free software. He shared thoughts on how we should have the freedom to run software as we wish, make changes to the software to make it fit for your purpose, and distribute both the original and modified version. It was clear that as users of so-called “free software”, we have a misconception about what we think is free. Rui also went on to talk about how we can help protect the internet, especially from the EU’s copyright directive. I did find the joke about the “[fill in] sucks” reference to Windows, very amusing.

Rui Seabra presenting his session

Free software is everywhere, and people are forgetting that the freedom of sharing is a quintessential part of the evolution and moving forward together. “If we didn't share we wouldn't have knowledge, technology, and hardware we use today.” - Rui Seabra

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Progressive decoupling - the why and the how

The final session I attended was my colleague Blazej Owczarczyk’s talk, where he explained everything about progressive decoupling. One of his key points was that you should only decouple where it makes sense. Blazej showed some cool and interesting new features available in EcmaScript 6/7. We also learnt about the new await/async function in EcmaScript 8, which I found to very cool and cannot wait to start using. It was then time to move on and discuss how we could use these new features in our current Drupal sites.

By installing dependencies, defining a dynamic library and running a web server, you are able to create a decoupled environment for any technology of your choice. Two things I really liked about the session was 1) Blazej asking the audience to tweet a thanks to our very own Philipp Melab for the GraphQL module, and 2) the bonus question, which resulted in more questions from the audience. Way to go Blazej, we’re very proud of you here at Amazee Labs.

Blazej Owczarczyk presenting his session
 

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The rest of the day I spent contributing more to the Admin UI initiative.

Many thanks

I would like to take this opportunity to thank:

Ruben Teijeiro for being so helpful throughout the week and introducing me to several people.

Christophe Jossart for not only helping me with my installation issue but for being great company and showing me around Lisbon.

Lauri Eskola, Daniel Wehner, and Volker Killesreiter for the introduction to Admin UI, which helped me find the issue as to why I couldn’t set up the site on my machine and finally allowing me to help contribute to the great initiative.

Finally, to all the sponsors, speakers, organiser, and volunteers, a huge thank you for a spectacular week, great evening social events, and for making my first ever Dev Days an amazing one. I hope to see you all at the next one.

Links

Jul 13 2018
Jul 13

This year’s Drupal Dev Days took place in sunny (well, for the most part) Lisbon, Portugal. Over 400 people attended this year’s Dev Days, and I was one of them. I am fairly new to Drupal, and this was my first conference dedicated to Drupal. This was a week-long event, something that was unusual to me as I am used to attending one or two-day events.

Day one

Day one was all about Contribution at ISCTE. Let’s just say my first day didn’t get off to a great start. It took me over 30 minutes to find the entrance to the University, where the event was taking place, and I wasn’t the only one.

It also didn’t help that it was raining, but luckily I had my umbrella (being British I never leave the house without it). Once I found the place, I realised I’d left my adapter at home, so I headed out to get one. Luckily, there was a shop nearby. Along with my purchase, I headed back to help with contributing to some of the Drupal innanatives.

There, I met Ruben Teijeiro, who introduced me to several people and how to get started. I really wanted to contribute to the Frontend space, especially to the new admin UI. Setting up wasn’t the easiest (which I expected), as I use Windows for all my development. There I also met Christophe Jossart, a long time contributor to Drupal, who tried to help me with setting up the site on my machine, but to no avail.

By the end of the day with the help of installing WSL on my machine, I had managed to install the site, get it up and running, only then to be served with several errors, by which time I had called it a day. It might sound like all doom and gloom, but I made a lot of progress made throughout the day.

Day two

Friction

The first keynote session of the week was given by Bojan Zivanovic. He spoke about the evolution of Drupal (version 7 to 8) and how Drupal has made several changes to Core using modern practices, making it a much better framework.

One interesting part was the adaption of  Drupal 8, which was a plus (40%), and the loss of Drupal 7 sites (11%), however, by putting them together Drupal actually lost over 35,000 sites in the last year. There were several reasons as to why this could be the case, including time spent installing Drupal and setting up the development environment, especially for those on Windows (like me :sigh:). It all relies on the community to help and improve what is already there, to make it easier for both new and current users.
 

A boat sinking in the sea

“Sometimes our Drupal websites end up looking like this.” - Bojan Zivanovic (in reference to the above image).

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Overview of GDPR modules for Drupal

Another session I attended was a comparison of the top GDPR modules and how you can make your Drupal site GDPR compliant.

The talk covered many aspects - from rights of the user to form checking and security. It was apparent that there are several modules that help do this, so having a short list of the best ones made it easier. It also became apparent that to become compliant, you require more than one module.

One thing that came out of this session, which I totally agree with, was that site security was often neglected in the past but is now at the forefront of all sites.

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How to delight content editors with UX when building Drupal 8 websites

This session, given by Chandeep Khosa, was the last one I attended and was the highlight of the day for me. Adding features to the Drupal like Admin Toolbar, like a theme module to make it look nice, or even add help text, may sound rudimentary, but how many actually do so and make use of it? (No, really?) Most content editors are not used to the Drupal admin like developers are, so it was nice to hear what we can do to make it easier for them.

One specific module I found very interesting was the tour module, which provides guided tours of the site interface via tooltips, something available in core today. I didn’t even know this existed. One thing I took away from this was that if you don’t need it, hide it, why show something to users that don’t get used?

Watch session

Part 2 of my Drupal Dev Days Lisbon 2018 Recap will follow soon. Thanks for reading.

Jan 30 2018
Jan 30

Two weeks ago the first edition of the Drupal meetup 2018 (also my first ever) took place at our office. Besides discussing Drupal Community activities for 2018 in Switzerland,  Amazee Group CTO and Partner, Michael Schmid gave a presentation on «The possible future of React, GraphQL, and Drupal».

It was great to learn about how Amazee both tackled and created a decoupled Frontend and Backend Drupal site, and inspiring to have met so many great people from the Drupal community.

Presentation Recap

Especially for someone like me, who is new to the Drupal world, the presentation gave some significant insight. Here's how it helped me to further develop my understanding of all things Drupal, React and GraphQL.

GraphQL and Starwars

The first part was all about GraphQL and Star Wars, well, the Star Wars part was the API used for the demo. Having never used GraphQL much before, I appreciated the brief introduction to GraphQL and how much better it is to the regular rest API. You are welcome learn more about GraphQL from our blog posts.

Frontend tools

The second part was about the Frontend tools used: React, Apollo, and Redux. I knew at least 40% of this section already, thus having experience in this area, helped me feel comfortable. By implementing further education into our average working day, Amazee Labs is looking to become one of the leading agencies using React and Drupal.

It all comes together

After an introduction as to how both tools work separately, we now got to the most exciting part: understanding how both GraphQL and React work together with Drupal. During this section, I came to learn that there was an open source demo application that had been created by Amazee Labs. This got me excited, as it meant that I could not just use at Amazee Labs but am able to play with it in my own projects. Personally, I think it is pretty awesome when any company open sources everything, as it allows the community to both learn and contribute. Anyways, back to the point: is React and GraphQL with Drupal in a decoupled ecosystem the future? It for sure could be, what I know for sure, is that it is Amazee Labs’ future, and we are very excited about it.

If you would like to play around with the demo application, then feel free to clone the repository. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Also, feel free to watch the full presentation, including question and answers below.

[embedded content]

About the future

There were many suggestions after the presentation. Heres a summary of the most notable discussion points.

Upcoming Meetups

A few meetups were arranged for the following dates.

  • Tuesday 20th of February at Liip
  • Wednesday 21st of March at Attribute
  • Wednesday 25th of April at Unic

There was also a discussion regarding meetups in other locations within Switzerland. Car sharing was suggested, to make this a feasible possibility. Fun. Right? 

The timing for the next meetup was another suggestion, where the Doors could open at 18:30 and the meetup start at 19:00.

Meetup

Other topics we discussed

  • The next Drupal Mountain Camp
  • Drupal Switzerland Association

Including new conference topics, collaborations, case studies, and even a suggestion to redesign the current Drupal Switzerland site. After everything considered, I believe that the near future for the Local Drupal Community looks bright.

Thank you to all who participated and attended our meetup.

So what’s next?

Well, that would be our next meetup, which will be about the Ultimate Drupal Reference and will take place at Liip AG. Sign up here at meetup.com. See you there.

Dec 20 2017
Dec 20

Join us on January 18th for the first edition of the Zurich Drupal Meetup, where we will discuss the possible future of  React, GraphQL and Drupal at the Amazee Labs Zürich office.

In the Meetup, Amazee Group CTO and Partner, Michael Schmid, will lead our discussion and address the following issue:

The idea of a decoupled Frontend and Backend has been around for a couple of years. Some teams tried them out, but nobody was entirely satisfied with it. Too many problems arose during development; bad or non-existing accessibility, no support for crawlers and bots, changing APIs and expensive refactorings. Even the simple task of displaying a menu on the frontend was problematic.

All these concerns retained us at Amazee Labs from actually trying it. We avoided the use of decoupled systems. That is until a couple of months ago. In summer 2016, we were able to connect React with Drupal via GraphQL for the first time, and felt comfortable using it in a project. To increase the stakes we applied it in a multiple hundred-thousand dollar projects. We wouldn't be Amazee if we didn't! 

What came out is a completely decoupled system built on React that powers 12 individual websites with a single Drupal Backend connected through GraphQL. All of it is completely tested as part of a continuous deployment workflow, is hosted on Docker, has server-side rendering, and not a single line of content or menu on the frontend.

As one of the leading Drupal and React agencies, we always look towards the future. We would like to take the opportunity to plan community activities for 2018 and beyond. Here is a list of topics we are looking to address:

- Define overall goals for Drupal in Switzerland 2018
- Fix dates & contents for meetups for the Zurich Drupal Community
- Pre-discuss planning for the next Drupal Mountain Camp

Come for great talks, people and networking. Sign up here at meetup.com

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