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Jun 12 2018
Jun 12
  • By : Ganesh
  • Date :12-06-2018

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect. - Tim Berners Lee, Inventor of World Wide Web.

The internet as we know it today, is 10680 days old! Orginally conceived to meet the demand for automatic information sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world, the internet today is an integral part of more that 3 Billion people in the world. For various reasons ranging from social networking to collecting information for projects, internet today is arguably the most powerful resource known to mankind.

Over the years, the boom in chatbot and machine learning applications has led to businesses crafting their online presence in the form of websites and using artificial intelligence for a better customer experience. This is not surprising, given the fact that in recent years, chat or messaging has taken over social media to be the "go-to" option for users who want to contact a business.

But have you ever stopped to think, can everyone access the web?

It is 2018 and I wonder, why is web accessibility still less, well, accessible?? As a business, the competitive market pushes you to reach as many people as you can to promote your brand. More the barriers, lower the chances of reaching potential customers. This basically is the concept behind web accessibility: to eliminate the barriers that the audience face!

What is Web Accessibility?

Generally people refer web accessibility with screen readers or visual disabilities. However, the range of topics that it covers is vast and includes more than just the disabilities. For example, having an appropriate screen contrast for a person to see the screen on a sunny day is a use case for someone with a normal vision rather than for someone with a disability.

The World Wide Web Consortium has introduced some guidelines to chieve certain levels of accessibility to ensure that a website is as useful as possible. Published in 1999 as version 1.0 and later in 2008 as version 2.0, the WCAG 2.0 is generally accepted as the standard to measure when talking about web accessibility and the information you present to a user.

How is Web Accessibility Important??

With the internet's growing importance in people's life, if what you want to convey (your content basically) is not easily accessible to everyone, you’re turning away your audience before they ever get to the door. For example, something as simple as a broken hand or a temporary blindness can make it difficult to navigate the web.

While the fact that web accessibility is not only for those with disabilities is quite resonant, businesses need to know that the flexible and responsive design of a fully accessible website is a benefit to everyone.

What does Drupal do?

Drupal CMS, a web based SaaS provides the ability to organize a manage an organization's web content in a systematic manner. The guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium is divided into two - ATAG 2.0 that addresses the authoring tools and the WCAG 2.0 which addresses the web content and is widely used by developers and accessibility evaluation tools. Drupal CMS, as a platform, has been built to adhere to both the guidelines. While the accessibility initiative started with Drupal 7, the content management system's latest version addresses some of the best accessibility features.

Drupal 8 Accessibility Features?

The most advanced version of Drupal CMS allows your website to be far more likely to be accessible, to assistive technologies and the users who depend on them, than ever before.

Better Contrast

Poor contrast level is often cited as the most commonly overlooked feature by the developers. However, in Drupal 8, the core themes have higher contrasts, thanks to the Drupal's accessibility maintainers. With improved contrasts, users suffering from colour-blindness can easily websites. Also, this feature is an added advantage when visiting a website under bright sunlight in a portable device like a mobile phone or a tab.

Forms

Errors while filling forms is one of the most common factors that affect the user interface. With the new standards, identifying these errors becomes much easier. By using a better form validation error verbiage, Drupal 8 provides an option to turn on this feature that improves accessibility related to the display of form errors. For example, a visually impaired person can now easily identify what errors he might have made when filling in a web form.

Alt text usuallt refers to the words that are used to describe a particular image. Though not visible or rendered on the page, these alt texts are used by tools like screen readers and is a great asset to web accessibility. This feature which is set to required by default in Drupal 8 helps visually impaired audience to know what the image is all about with the help of the text.

Buttons instead of links

A common practice among many website owners is to use anchor texts as "call to action" instead of buttons. From a semantic standpoint, it is more logical to use a button rather than anchor texts as these user interface elements are action oriented. Thus, Drupal 8 has called for this measure to use buttons rather than links. This new standard set by Drupal 8 can be handled without becoming heavily dependent on WAI-ARIA that can be useful in identifying the purpose of some elements.

The Future of Web Accessibility in Drupal

Over the years, Drupal has taken some great steps forward to achieve web accessibility through several of its major releases, and is one of the leading implementation of the web accessibility standards. With web accessibility being one of the major factors contributing to the user interface and the ability of a business to reach maximum audience, several strategic initiatives for Drupal core is sure to shape the future of how people interact with a website. Some of the noteworthy ones include:

  • Application-like interfaces and various UI interactions that are presented without full-page refreshes: sliding panels, autofocus, live result filters, drag-and-drop, pop-up success messages, live previews,wizard-like progress steps, and role impersonation.
  • Automated accessibility testing using headless browser drivers.
  • Supporting more interaction modes, such as MS Windows' high-contrast mode, and speech-driven control.
  • End-user testing for accessibility
  • The theme component library initiative which involves much refactoring of how Drupal produces output.

With its latest version, Drupal CMS now adopts more WAI-ARIA practices which makes content architecture easier to understand. Drupal 8 is now much closer to the ideal, which is to render the web accessible to all. Drupal developers and core maintainers have done a great job to accomplish enhancements regarding accessibility with some of the best features that will play a major role in being beneficial for better usability. However, whatever features Drupal CMS brings out, it is always upto organizations to decide, plan and build websites or web applications by keeping web accessibility in mind.

Apr 11 2018
Apr 11
  • By : Prince
  • Date :10-04-2018

As all know, Drupal 8 is API driven first and keeps on adding in new API's which can be altered, extended for different decoupled Applications. When we talk about decoupled Drupal, developers are allowed to use any technology frontend to bring in better User experiences. The actual UI experience is met when we present contents which fulfill the needs and requirements of the user.

Drupal 8 Views

Drupal 8 views are now in the core and are among the greatest features available with Drupal to handle any type of dynamic UI designs to bring in better user experiences. Using RESTful views, we can embed views content to external applications.

In this guide, you will learn how to get the view content in JSON or XML format via Rest API.

  • Step1. Go to admin/modules and enable the required modules available in the core (REST and Serialization).
  • Step2. Next, For testing purposes, you can create dummy content using the existing content types. (Articles or Basic page)
  • Step3. Now, create a view using the available content. We don't need to select a page or block while creating views.
  • Step4. After you have created a view with the required fields, we need to select REST export display from the Add options right of Master display in the views.

Drupal 8 Views

  • Step5. Specify a path for REST export which will be used to return formatted contents of the created view display.
  • Step6. You will also find an option to select the required format (say JSON, XML etc.) that will be allowed in the responses.

That's it, you have the Request URL to return either entities or fields from views. When you try accessing the URL directly on the browser, you will have view exported with the format you have selected or JSON by default. Also, you can test the formatted data using POSTMAN services available with Google Chrome.

Hope, the above steps will help you built REST API using Drupal views. Get in touch with our Drupal developers if you face any queries working with API's. We will be glad to help.

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Dec 04 2017
Dec 04
  • By :Shriganesh
  • Date :04-11-2017

With content marketing, the objective is quite simple. "Drive profitable Customer Action." While it is about influencing and changing the consumer behaviour by distributing valuable, relevant and attractive content to a defined audience, content marketing still stands far away from the other major streams of marketing.

Marketers who have been successful with content marketing are aware of one thing very well. The Customer's Behaviour Cycle. Now you are probably wondering: "How do I get to know about my costumer's behaviour cycle? To understand that, we need to explore four important steps of a typical buying cycle:

  • Realization: Your customer may not realize that he has a need and there is a solution available.
  • Search: Once your potential customer realizes that there is a solution, further search will help them know better about the available options.
  • Compare and Discuss: By this time, your customer is already comparing different options and discussing it with others about the quality, price and other important aspects.
  • Buy: This is the phase where the customer finally makes a confirmed decision and moves ahead with the transaction.

Doing it the right way with Drupal

The entire marketing process is driven by three important goals:

  • Awareness
  • Driving demands and
  • Customer retention

While a single piece of content cannot achieve all these goals, an organization's entire content can be planned and strategized to meet the demands and advance towards the goals. This is where a Content management System (CMS) comes into the picture. And we all know that finding the perfect CMS for a business is not an easy task. While some are constricted with respect to flexibility and options, others are limited in their work-flow and the type of content that can be created. In order to create a seamless experience and connect better with the customers, balancing the needs with the CMS's control can empower the team to execute near-perfect content marketing strategies online.

Drupal with its modules and themes is the best CMS that strikes this balance perfectly. With an ability to be customized based on various requirements, this open-source CMS is a content marketer's dream companion.

Let us discuss about some of the latest Drupal modules that can enhance the content marketing efforts for a business.

5 Marketing Tips

Drupal Modules for Content Marketing

Consumers these days do not want to be troubled by the constant ads or other marketing related pop-ups on the internet. They are increasingly avoiding these by opting to see ad-free content with the help of browser-based ad blockers or by simply ignoring it. To top it all, Google wants to help users find the right content more efficiently. While the smart marketers have realized that content marketing is a better way to influence the target audience, many businesses are still far behind in the race. Drupal ensures that your content marketing strategy need not pitch a hard-sell and instead deliver the right content to the right audience effortlessly.

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Nov 10 2017
Nov 10
  • By :Shefali Shetty
  • Date :10-11-2017

You can do all you want to secure your website and yet cannot be absolutely sure about it. Securing your website is not a one-time goal but an on-going process that needs a lot of your attention. You cannot just single out one best solution to protect your website and must do whatever it takes to win this battle against them web-stalkers. After all, it is always better to avoid a calamity than face it and be sorry. With a Drupal website, you can be assured about having some of the top security risks being taken care of.

Drupal has powered millions of websites, many of which handle extremely critical data like government websites, banking and financial institutions, e-Commerce stores, etc. It goes without saying that the Drupal community take security issues very seriously and keep releasing security updates as and when they come across a threat. Nonetheless, you will still need to enforce some measures to secure your Drupal website and give the hackers a tough time.

Keep Calm and Stay Updated

Making sure your Drupal version and modules are up-to-date is really the least you can do to ensure safety of your website. Drupal contributors are staying on top of things and are always looking for any security threats that could spell disaster. An update doesn’t just come with new features but also security patches and bug fixes. Drupal’s security announcements are posted to users’ emails and site admins have to keep Drupal updated to safeguard the website.

Choose your modules wisely

Before you install a module, make sure you look at how active it is. Are the module developers active enough? Do they release updates often? Has it been downloaded before or are you the first scape- goat? You will find all the mentioned details at the bottom of the modules’ download page. Also ensure your modules are updated and uninstall the ones that you no longer use.

Security Modules to the rescue

Just like layered clothing works better than one thick pullover to keep warm during winter, your website is best protected in a layered approach. Drupal’s security modules can give your website an extra layer of security around it. Some of the top few security modules that you must install for your website –

  • Login Security – This module enables the site administrator to restrict the number of invalid login attempts before blocking accounts. Access can be denied for IP addresses either temporarily or permanently.
  • Two-factor Authentication – With this module, you can add an extra layer of authentication once your user logs in with a user-id and password. Like entering a code that’s been sent to their mobile phone.
  • Username Enumeration Prevention – By default, Drupal lets you know if the username entered does not exist or exists (if other credentials are wrong). This can be great for a hacker if he’s trying to enter random usernames only to find out one that’s actually valid. This module can prevent such an attack by changing the standard error message.
  • Content Access – As the name suggests, this module lets you give more detailed access control to your content. Each content type can be specified with a custom view, edit or delete permissions. You can manage permissions for content types by role and author.
  • Coder – Loopholes in your code can also make way for an attacker. The Coder module (a command line tool with IDE support) goes through your Drupal code and lets you know where you haven’t followed best coding practices.

Check on your Permissions

Drupal allows you to have multiple roles and users like administrators, authenticated users, anonymous users, editors, etc. In order to fine-tune your website security, each of these roles should be permitted to perform only a certain type of work. For example, an anonymous user should be given least permissions like viewing content only. Once you install Drupal and/or add more modules, do not forget to manually assign and grant access permissions to each role.

Get HTTPS

I bet you already knew that any traffic that’s transmitted over just an HTTP can be snooped and recorded by almost anyone. Information like your login id, password and other session information can be grabbed and exploited by an attacker. If you have an e-Commerce website, this gets even more critical as it deals with payment and personal details. Installing an SSL certificate on your server will secure the connection in between the user and the server by encrypting data that’s transferred. An HTTPS website can also increase your SEO ranking – which makes it totally worth the investment.

Watch your inputs

If your website allows users to input text or upload files, you need to be extra cautious as that’s the easiest way a hacker can get into your system. Drupal lets you to allow only a certain type of file extensions to be uploaded, like only PDFs or Docs. When you have to allow HTML tags as input, you will have to make sure the text is properly filtered. Drupal’s extension modules like WYSIWYG Filter and Better Formats help in some basic filtering of HTML tags. There are so tags that need to be blocked which can be done in code level. A module like HtmlLawed also helps in blocking some tags and suggesting other usable tags.

As the old saying goes - Expect the best but plan for the worst. When it comes to website security, one can never call themselves absolutely secure. By default, Drupal is a very secure content management framework but you will still need to implement better security strategies – for a good night’s sleep. Choose a Drupal development partner who can provide you effective security strategies and implementation services.

Sep 04 2017
Sep 04
  • By :Shri Ganesh
  • Date :14-01-2018

We all know that Drupal is where flexibility meets simplicity. A CMS designed to be the perfect solution for non-technical users, Drupal is a unified system that strives to have the strengths of a content management system and a content management framework. So irrespective of what a site builder is looking to create (from a news site or an online store to a social network or highly complex govt website) it is just a matter of combining the right modules for a perfect Drupal development.

Drupal has been constantly updating itself, and its newest version is a proof of how this open source CMS has quickly evolved into one of the most sought after framework (almost 1 million websites use Drupal 7 according to a report by Drupal.org) The newer version of Drupal-Drupal 8 has had its users at the edge of their seats with some of the most exciting features.

Some of these features of Drupal 8 are:  

  • Out of the box web service: Gone are the days when websites were only for desktop and web services were only used for websites using a service from other systems. With a variety of devices in the picture, web services in the present world are more important than ever. While web services are supported by a 3rd party module in Drupal 7, it has been included in Drupal 8 core.
  • Security Improvements: Security has always been a concern, and with the addition of new features, Drupal 8 has made ways to make systems more secure.
  • Easier & Faster: With Drupal 8, the Drupal API is completely RESTful, making it easier for the developer to use Angular.js ,Ember.js & many other display tools without much hassle.
  • Mobile Improvements: Like we talked earlier, mobile devices are the driving force in today's world. Drupal 8 provides full support for mobile site templates accompanied by easy back-end administration from a mobile device.

As most of these features support some of the biggest & complex sites which drive a lot of traffic and are vulnerable to performance issues, it becomes important too handle these problems as soon as possible as the driving force in traffic growth is not just confined from clients to servers but also between the back-end servers.

So let us discuss a few tips that can help us solve some of the common performance issues that Drupal-based websites face.

Site Architecture

DA wide range of Drupal websites initially use Apache HTTP server as their web server and the fact that instructions for configuring it are widely available, makes it the first choice among many website owners. But as the website grows and starts driving in more traffic, that is when people shift to the NGINX server. At this stage, with difficulties in supporting more than 10,000 connections at a time to the entire server freezing out or crashing, Drupal and Apache share problems which are hard to overcome.

With the site's vulnerability at stake, NGINX is the preferred choice by the people to stabilize the site's architecture. Instead of changing servers and causing issues, several steps can be taken to address such performance related problems as the site grows.

  • NGINX as the first choice for the web server of your Drupal Site improves performance & sharply reduces the memory utilization.
  • NGINX is one of the most popular reverse proxy servers for a number of Drupal Sites as it can handle the internet traffic and reduce the burden on your application server.

Web Server

A quick fix that can take care of the performance, security & flexibility of your Drupal website is a move from Apache to NGINX as the web server for your site. A common problem that haunts most of the web servers is the C10K problem - the difficulty that the web servers have in supporting simultaneous connections (usually not more than 10,000 connections at once). NGINX was designed to solve this particular problem. With an ability to run an ongoing event loop that handles requests as they occur, without allocating resources to the requestors, NGINX eliminates the overhead that the process of forking a new process for each new connection incurs.

Reverse Proxy Server

A reverse proxy server is not like your usual servers. This server receives the requests from the browsers and instead of immediately processing them, examines each request and decides what action to take on it: either to carry out the request by itself or to send it out to another server for the fulfillment.

Deploying such a server is the first step in creating a site architecture that allows flexibility, redundancy, improved security and a basket full of other good things. One of the main reasons a reverse proxy server is likely to help the performance of a website is because the communication between the web servers is faster than the communication over the internet. And this communication with other web servers in the reverse proxy serving is essentially free.

Thus by adding a reverse proxy server, your Drupal site is free from handling the entire Internet traffic directly. This server immediately takes care of a site that is crumbling under the pressure of huge traffic, security problems & performance issues. With the introduction of new flexibilities in the site architecture, a reverse proxy server allows new capabilities & functions that can run efficiently without impacting the application server.

Multiple Application Servers & Load Balancing

It is highly impossible to get better performance with a single application server. But bigger & faster servers are potentially expensive and because a single device always has an inherent performance, you need to upgrade or replace the current device (a highly disruptive operation) for more performance. This is where a reverse proxy server comes into the picture. This server allows the usage of multiple application servers which ensures better Drupal performance by just adding additional servers into the system. This process of adding and removing the servers can be made easy with the right software tools such as NGINX Plus which reduce the amount of downtime to a great extent.

The presence of multiple application servers means that there has to be a technique to decide which server gets the next request. The techniques range from a simple approach to a complex one in which each server is examined by the system to find out which one is least busy before sending a request. This is known as Load Balancing. The NGINX server & the NGINX Plus support five load-balancing techniques that help in improving the Drupal performance.

The Drupal world is the same anymore & is getting more complex with a lot of developments that are going on to improve the Drupal performance. From the cloud architecture, Drupal design, web server world & information architecture, there is a lot you can look into! And some of these best performance benefits come from using NGINX as a reverse proxy server for an architectural flexibility.As Drupal websites attract widespread usage, NGINX & NGINX plus offer numerous effective ways to handle performance related problems that may arise. We know that making a Drupal site a high-performance website is not an easy job. There is a lot to learn & it is time we start going the extra mile.

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