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Jan 09 2019
Jan 09

Drupal 9 is coming. Even if it feels like you only just upgraded to Drupal 8, soon it’ll be time to make the switch to the next version. Fortunately, the shift from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 should be relatively painless for most organizations. Here’s why.

A little background

Though tools were built in to make the upgrade from Drupal 6 or 7 to Drupal 8 run as smoothly as possible, it could still be a difficult or dramatic process. Drupal 8 marked a major shift for the Drupal world: it introduced major new dependencies, such as Symfony, and a host of new features in Core. The new structure of the software made it tricky to upgrade sites in the first place, which was complicated by the fact that it took a long time for a number of modules to be properly optimized and secured for the new version.

Drupal 9: A natural extension of Drupal 8

Fortunately, the large number of changes made to the Drupal platform in Drupal 8 have made it relatively simple to build, expand, and upgrade for the future. The new software has been designed specifically to make it simple to transition between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9, so that making the migration requires little more work than upgrading between minor version of Drupal 8.

In fact, as Dries Buytaert (the founder and project lead of Drupal) wrote recently in a blog on Drupal.org:

Instead of working on Drupal 9 in a separate codebase, we are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8. This means that we are adding new functionality as backwards-compatible code and experimental features. Once the code becomes stable, we deprecate any old functionality.

Planning for Drupal 9

As more information is released about the new features and updates in Drupal 9, organizations should consider their digital roadmaps and how the new platform will affect them. And regardless of what your plans are feature-wise, your organization should begin planning to upgrade to Drupal 9 no later than summer of 2021. The reason for that is because the projected end-of-life for the Drupal 8 software is November of 2021, when Symfony 3 (Drupal 8’s largest major dependency) will no longer be supported by its own community.

In the meantime, the best thing your organization can do to prepare for the launch of Drupal 9 is to make sure that you keep your Drupal 8 site fully up to date.

For help planning out your Drupal roadmap, and to make sure that you’ll be ready for a smooth upgrade to Drupal 9 when it releases, contact FFW. We’re here to help you plan out your long-term Drupal strategy and make sure that your team can make the most of your site today, tomorrow, and after Drupal 9 is released.

Aug 09 2017
Aug 09

Last week, FFW was proud to attend and sponsor Drupal GovCon, a Drupal Camp dedicated to serving Drupal users in the government sector and hosted in the greater Washington, DC area. The event consisted of three days of great conversations, sessions, and sprints in the FFW Sponsored Sprint Lounge. We’d also like to congratulate the GovCon organizers on this year’s amazing event, which had more attendees and excitement than ever before.

A chance to reconnect

One of the things we noticed at GovCon was the amazing enthusiasm about the Drupal project, and especially Drupal 8. We got to be part of a lot of great conversations about Drupal 8, and appreciated the chance to reconnect with colleagues who are interested in Drupal and its capabilities. One of our teammates, David Hernandez, had an especially great session about Docksal and VMs, and had a lot of great conversations later about the subject matter.

For us, the chance to meet up with our friends and colleagues is the most important part of attending camps. Being able to take the time to have in-depth conversations with other people and organizations who are using Drupal in new and challenging ways is incredibly valuable to us, and is a great way of understanding the problems and challenges that others in our industry are facing on a day-to-day basis.

Open source and government sites

In our work with governments and other big organizations with strict governance rules, we’ve found that open source software is an ideal choice. In addition to being far more secure than closed-source alternatives, software like Drupal simplifies the process of managing permissions and creating content that can be read by anyone, anywhere, on any device.

Additionally, the flexibility of open-source solutions makes it easier to integrate digital platforms with a variety of systems so that simple transactions can be automated. For example, see how several Danish municipalities built solutions that could better serve their constituents with help from FFW.

Ultimately, we know that open source is a great solution for governments, and we had a wonderful time connecting with other like-minded people at GovCon last week. We were glad for the chance to sponsor such a great event, and look forward to connecting to more Drupalers in the government sector in the future.


 

May 10 2017
May 10

It’s hard to believe that another DrupalCon has come and gone — it feels like just yesterday when we were mourning the passing of Drupal 6 in New Orleans and unveiling our new branding in Los Angeles. DrupalCon Baltimore was a success for us, and we wanted to share some of our memories from the event.

Our Week at DrupalCon

It was an honor to introduce Dries on Tuesday morning at DrupalCon. We were grateful that we had the opportunity to discuss two projects that are near and dear to our hearts: The Open Y Drupal distribution, and Drupal Global Training Days.

We were also thrilled to have so many visitors drop by our booth. It was great seeing so many old friends and making new ones, and we’d like to say congratulations again to our raffle winners: Mark (pictured below) & Dennis, who won Apple Watches, and Patrick, who won an Amazon Echo.

FFW Session Recordings

We had a great time sharing our knowledge in trainings, sessions, and BOFs. If you didn’t catch the FFW crew in action, you can watch recordings of our sessions here:

  1. Anti-Crash Course: How to Avoid Drupal’s Most Common Pitfalls
  2. Using Drupal to Power the YMCA
  3. Scaling and Sharing: Building Custom Drupal Distributions for Federated Organizations
  4. Less Is More: What Modules, Features or API's Should We Cut From Core?
  5. Docksal: Better than VMs
Mark Bennet claiming his Apple Watch at the boothAdam Leighton at the FFW booth

Farewell, Baltimore; Hello, Vienna!

As always, we stayed for the community. We were heartened to see so many people working together to grow the project, navigate new territory, and have thoughtful conversations about the future of the Drupal software and the community’s governance. We’re looking forward to the continued discussions about the community’s structure and future; if you’d like to participate, you can find future meeting information here.

It was a pleasure to sponsor such a great event. We’re looking forward to seeing who we meet and what great conversations we have across the pond at DrupalCon Vienna this September.

DrupalCon group shot credit to Michael Cannon on Flickr.

Dec 27 2016
Dec 27

We had a lot of great accomplishments at FFW in 2016. It’s been a year where we’ve helped our clients shatter records and drive amazing business results. A great example of this is NBC Sports Digital, with whom we’ve collaborated with on a number of projects: we built new Drupal websites for NBCSports.com and its regional RSN networks, and we also constructed NBCOlympics.com, part of the most successful media event in history.

Building a Hub for America’s Sports Fans - NBCSports.com and Regional Sites


NBC Sports Digital asked us to implement a redesign of their digital sports hubs (NBCSports.com and Sports Regional Networks websites) before the start of the NFL season. They asked us specifically to focus on videos and advertising, to increase user and sponsor satisfaction.

Our team built each page according to NBC’s new designs, migrated the network’s data onto a scalable Drupal platform, and developed the new site to have custom layouts, themes, and functionality. We also implemented responsive design, ensuring the site looks great on any device. We were able to launch NBC Sports Digital’s new site before the NFL season kickoff with full video functionality and improved advertising, and the response has been great.

In addition to rebuilding NBCSports.com, we also rebuilt the websites for NBC Sports Group’s Regional Networks. NBC wanted its regional sites to have a consistent look and feel, so we set up a multisite project with all the same backend code. Our team implemented several feed customizations for each site so each different region would have unique content. The result is an ecosystem of regional sites with custom content and easy-to-maintain shared codebase—another win for NBC!

Visit the site:
NBCSports.com

NBCOlympics.com: A Gold Medal in Site Performance


In order to provide a best-in-class digital experience for NBC Olympics’ coverage of the 2016 Rio Games, NBCOlympics.com required a massive platform. When the opportunity arose for FFW to build the web platform to deliver performance, security, and stability at such a massive scale, we were excited to step up to the challenge. During the Rio Olympics, NBCOlympics.com hosted 3.3 billion total streaming minutes, 2.71 billion live streaming minutes, and was visited by 100 million unique users.

A thorough discovery phase allowed us to plan for the implementation of the extremely complex, and massive, project. After a year and a half of work, we launched the completed site in April of 2016. We also built in a state-of-the-art advertising platform, which helped NBC Sports to manage their sponsors’ content. The new platform served up content to a record number of users, who were able to view localized listings of broadcasts and watch live streams of the events from any device. 

We couldn’t be more proud of our teams who worked on all three sites, and we’d like to say thanks to NBC for letting us be part of such a historic event.

NBC Olympics has set the new benchmark for how to build and operate a Drupal-based CMS in a multi-platform world.Eric Black, CTO, NBC Sports Digital


Visit the site:
NBCOlympics.com

Nov 23 2016
Nov 23

At FFW, 90% of our staff spends all day, every day, working with code. We’re site builders and developers, and we’ve created a number of tools to help make our jobs easier. Today, we’re excited to share our Docksal development environment with you in the hopes that it will make your team’s life easier, too.

Docksal is an open-source tool created by FFW for defining and managing development environments. It brings together common development tools, minimizes time spent on configuration, and ensures the consistency of local development environments throughout a team’s continuous integration workflow.

Docksal automatically configures each project's environment to ensure team members are using the same tools, and versions, regardless of the individual requirements of each project. Most importantly, it makes the entire process easy. Docksal offers fully containerized environments with Docker, provides cross-platform support (MacOS, Windows, and Linux,) and has built-in tools that include:

  • drush
  • Drupal Console
  • WP-CLI
  • composer
  • PHP Code Sniffer
  • Apache Solr
  • Varnish
  • Memcache
  • Built-in testing support with Behat and Selenium.

Docksal will even automatically configure virtual hosts for you, so no more editing host files and server configurations.

How can Docksal help your organization?

Docksal has a threefold value proposition. It improves time-to-market and quality on development projects through:

  1. Bringing together common development tools on a unified platform
  2. Minimizing time spent configuring development environments
  3. Assuring quality by ensuring that local environments are consistent across a team’s continuous integration and development workflow.

Docksal makes it easy to bring new team members onto projects in no time flat: the software allows them to get set up and running easily and quickly. We built Docksal to streamline the process of adding team members to our projects: previously, they’d have to go find the code for the project, get it set up on their laptop, get it to work with everything on their laptop, perform a database dump, get the site running. We wanted to simplify this process.

Docksal reduces the work of several hours to several minutes. Our developers don’t have to waste time figuring out why the code isn’t working with the configurations they have on their computers, and our teammates who aren’t code-oriented don’t spend frustrating hours trying to simply access the project. With Docksal, anyone can get a specific Drupal environment set up and running on their machine in two minutes -- and everyone is running the same environment, which acts as an important check on quality and consistency.

Our suite of development tools

Docksal’s features may sound familiar to those of you who previously used our Drude tool. That’s because Docksal is Drude renamed and expanded. Docksal doesn’t just work with Drupal: it works with WordPress, stand-alone HTML files, or any other PHP project— because even though we all love Drupal, sometimes we have to work with other technologies, too.

In addition to Docksal, we’ve also created another development tool called CIBox. CIBox (Continuous Integration toolbox) is a development workflow tool that simplifies the process of checking changes to each project’s codebase. CIBox uses continuous integration -- the process of immediately testing new code when it’s contributed to a project -- to support a truly Agile development process.

CIBox allows developers to have an unlimited number of testing environments, deployment plans, and additional automations. It supports a continuous integration server dedicated to running site builds and tests, as well as a toolbox of scripts for Code Driven Development with Drupal, Wordpress, Symfony, Sylex support. It offers deployment plans and skeletons, and an improved QA workflow from most CI tools. Stay tuned for an upcoming blogpost that speaks to CI Box in more detail.

Try the software for yourself

Docksal and CIBox are both great tools for building projects and managing development environments. Both have saved us a lot of time and ensured that we have streamlined, quality-focused processes.. To get Docksal for yourself, visit docksal.io for downloads and more information, or to try CIBox, check here.  We hope that you give them a try — we think they’ll make your life better, too.

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