May 21 2019
May 21

For website builders, the perennial debate between WordPress and Drupal rages on. As a Drupal-focused agency, it would be easy for us to promote Drupal’s benefits while badmouthing WordPress. Ultimately, though, that kind of thinking distracts form a more nuanced take on the debate: which CMS is best for you? While we’ve covered the comparisons between the two platforms before, it’s always worth revisiting the similarities and differences between them.

drupal-wordpress

Part of the reason why the “WordPress vs Drupal” narrative persists is because there is no definitive “winner.” Drupal and WordPress are both great tools that we’d have no problem recommending. In fact, the two platforms have more in common than you might realize. Both WordPress and Drupal are free, open source content management systems with vast ecosystems of contributed plugins and modules. Both are also sustained by communities of users and developers who continue to make each platform successful.

Ultimately, the choice between WordPress and Drupal comes down to you and your site’s requirements. Both platforms come with advantages and disadvantages depending on the task at hand, so it really is a case-by-case basis. Instead of boiling the matter down to “Drupal vs. WordPress,” consider the following comparisons against your needs to determine which platform is the best fit for your project.

Ease vs Order

Imagine that you want to publish a new piece of content on the site. If you’re just trying to, say, publish a blog on your site as quickly as you can, it’s hard to beat WordPress. With its simple-to-use interface, WordPress streamlines the content management process and makes it easier for editors to swiftly publish or edit a basic story.

On the other hand, if you have content originating from multiple sources and you want to be able to publish across channels, consider the Drupal CMS. While slightly more difficult to master, the Drupal back end can handle varying data types and keep them organized. Essentially, if you are managing multiple sites or are publishing more complex content types, Drupal’s has the power to deliver a robust, seamless experience.

Model vs. Building Blocks

Consider a model kit. If you follow the directions and don’t deviate, you’ll end up with a sleek and stylish figure. WordPress is very much the same. Sites built using WordPress are specially optimized for easy posting and content creation. If your needs are contained and fit within the boundaries of what WordPress was designed to do, it’s a perfect out-of-the-box solution.

Adding custom features to a WordPress site, however, can be complicated. This is not the case with Drupal, which is more akin to building blocks than to a model. Much like a field of Lego bricks strewn on the floor, Drupal allows for so much customization that you may not even know where to start. Once you have a plan, though, a Drupal site can be configured to your exact specifications while still leaving room for changes later.

Solo vs Team

Because of its aforementioned ease-of-use, WordPress gives plenty of power to content creators. If you stick to OOTB functionality, you can manage an entire WordPress site on your own. Even the plugins and themes that you can add to a site can be updated with a click of a button, making routine maintenance easier.

Given its enterprise-level capabilities, Drupal is better suited to a site run by a team. Different roles with custom permissions can be assigned to different team members inside a Drupal site. These hierarchies can make it easier to collaborate on a site and ensure that there’s accountability throughout the development process.

Pages vs. Architecture

Even without any technical experience, a content creator could easily design a page on a WordPress site. The OOTB editing suite allows you to build and layout rich pages with text, images and other assets that you can quickly deploy and publish.

Though Drupal has taken strides to make their page layout builder more accessible, creating pages in Drupal takes some practice. What Drupal has going for it is its structure. Drupal offers various levels of tagging and taxonomy that allow you to organize and repurpose content in endless permutations. Further, you can create custom content types in Drupal, expanding the possibilities of what kinds of content you can publish.  

What these comparisons illustrate isn’t that one platform is better than the other. Rather, they show that each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on the situation. And in the end, your mileage may vary; our team has seen enterprise sites that run on WordPress and run on Drupal. It’s all about what each user wants and needs.

Duo specializes in Drupal because we like working with the CMS’s flexibility at an enterprise scale. If you think Drupal is right for you or if you still need help deciding, please feel free to reach out to us!

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May 16 2019
May 16

One of the best things about Drupal’s open-source ecosystem is that it empowers you to be open-minded. Given the vast array of solutions and modules available, users can customize their site to their whims. Alternatively, if you think up and code something new, your contributions can be shared online with other users. With all of the customization available, Drupal is a conducive platform for outside-the-box thinking.

federated search

Decoupling is a recent example of this philosophy. Where a standard Drupal website would feature a Drupal-powered front and backend, decoupling opens the door for a variety of possibilities. A decoupled site can utilize different platforms and technologies for both the front and backend. For example, a decoupled site could utilize Drupal’s backend CMS while running a React-powered frontend. Such is Drupal’s flexibility that it can power scores of different, user-facing channels from a single backend, including other sites, native apps, Internet of Things (IoT), and more.

This decoupled or “headless” concept has more applications than just for site design, though. The search function of a website, for one, can benefit from components that utilize this headless approach – and not a moment too soon. As Google has begun to sunset its Google Search Appliance offering, there is now a need for an open and flexible search tool with enterprise-level capabilities.

At this year’s Midwest Drupal Camp, the team from Palantir demonstrated that a decoupled approach to site search was viable. This solution, federated search, allows for indexing and searching across multiple sites. For organizations with a large web portfolio across different platforms, this open federated search solution can fill the gap left by Google.

Decoupled Drupal Facts & Myths

Understanding why federated search for Drupal is important requires an understanding of how regular site search functions operate. At the core, the search feature is built from three different components: the source, index and results. The source simply refers to all of the searchable content on a given site, from blogs to landing pages. The index is a compilation of metadata that makes the content form the source easier to parse. At Duo, we often use Apache Solr, a platform-agnostic, open source solution for indexing, as it provides speed, power and its own server capabilities. Finally, the results refers to the front-end experience that compiles and delivers the search results to the user.

The above setup will work fine for most simple websites, but larger organizations often require a more robust solution. With federated search, users can query across multiple sites across different platforms without placing much strain on Drupal, since Apache Solr is handling generating the index and providing results. This is accomplished through some tweaking of the basic site search formula.

Part of what makes this search so powerful is that it takes advantage of Drupal’s backend without relying on its frontend. For that, Apache Solr’s dedicated servers empower this new search solution by shouldering the burden of indexing and providing the results. Before it can work, though, some configuration is needed. Based on this configuration, Apache Solr can encompass searches across different sites – including sites that aren’t built with Drupal. Creating this custom solution, in conjunction with the Search API and Search API Solr modules, will ensure that the different data types being indexed will be standardized.  

As for the results section, the best approach is a decoupled one. Building out the front-end component in the React JavaScript library allows for robust searches without slowing down the rest of the site. By using Drupal’s CMS, Apache Solr and React’s power in coordination, any organization can create a search feature that quickly indexes vast ranges of data and delivers it in an easily digestible manner. For a deeper dive, Palantir has made their demo of federated search available.

This powerful and streamlined take on site search has a variety of applications. Before releasing the solution, Palantir originally developed federated search for the University of Michigan, as each department ran their own sites on different platforms. Federated search now allows users to seamlessly search for information across the entire school’s network, regardless of the technology used to deliver the content. Beyond university ecosystems, federated search also presents an opportunity for eCommerce. Using this solution, products from different vendors can be consolidated into a simple search.

Thanks to Drupal being open source, organizations can utilize federated search and any other contributed solution at any time. This level of openness is what makes Duo such champions of the Drupal platform. At Duo, we’re committed to exploring new features like this and helping each of our partners think outside the box. If you’re ready to start rethinking your website or sites, we’re just a click away.

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May 14 2019
May 14

When every business has a website, how do you stand out? Because customers expect so much more from digital brands, utilizing a marketing platform is essential. Marketing automation software enables businesses to deliver personalized engagement, strengthening customer bonds and driving new business.

acquia acquires mautic open marketing platform

Until recently, businesses have, by-and-large, had to rely on proprietary solutions like Marketo and Salesforce Marketing Cloud to handle their needs. Now, Acquia is looking to disrupt the marketplace. The Drupal SaaS giant has just acquired Mautic, an open-source marketing automation and campaign management platform. Now, Drupal users will have an open alternative to manage their customer experience needs.

This is the latest step Acquia has taken toward their vision for an Open Digital Experience Platform. The company has been working in the content management space for years and is now turning toward a data-driven, experience management approach. With their “API-first” philosophy, Acquia hopes to offer Drupal users maximum flexibility and the ability to meet any organizational needs that may arise. This level of freedom gives marketers the chance to customize every step of the customer cycle across channels.

While still a relatively young company, Mautic is a perfect fit for Acquia’s portfolio. While Acquia specializes in content management, personalization and commerce, Mautic will complement their offerings with their specialties in multichannel delivery, campaign management and journey orchestration. And with both Drupal and Mautic built on Symfony and PHP, collaboration and integration will be made easier. With 200,000 installations already, Mautic has already won over many marketers and, with Acquia’s expanded reach, will likely reach many more. Because of Mautic’s API-friendly build, our team at Duo can easily integrate the platform with a site.

Open Marketing (YouTube)

On a more philosophical level, Mautic echoes Acquia’s (and the Drupal community’s) open-source ethos. Currently, Mautic is the only open source alternative to the aforementioned legacy marketing cloud ecosystems. This openness makes it easier for the development community to create marketing platforms built for a company’s specific needs. This ease of use extends to the marketing side, too. Where many proprietary marketing automation software have steep learning curves and are bundled with countless other products in their respective clouds, Mautic’s platform benefits from its ease-of-use and its modern, streamlined design - allowing anyone on a team to get their organization’s message out faster than ever. To take a look at the platform in action, watch the demo embedded below.

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In addition to Mautic’s open offerings, the company also offers several commercial solutions. The first, Mautic Cloud is a fully managed SaaS version of the platform that includes some premium features not openly available. For enterprise clients, Mautic has Maestro. This product allows multinational organizations the ability to segment their marketing efforts by territory, while still allowing for sharing between regions. Campaigns can also be copied and repeated in different territories. These features will remain separate from Acquia Lift, though Duo can handle integrations with either service if needed.

So what does all of this mean for businesses using Drupal? This being an open-source community, it means more freedom! Rather than being locked into whatever is offered by legacy martech vendors, Drupal allows you to leverage best-of-breed services and solutions. At Duo, we’re always striving for more openness. Your solution should match your exact needs and the Drupal environment provides a vast range of solutions to make it your new site a reality. Now, Mautic joins those ranks, and can be used in conjunction with whatever other modules you opt to use. The open source ecosystem that makes Drupal so robust also gives Mautic more flexibility than other marketing automation platforms, and for a cheaper price tag, as well. Finally,

By 2023, spending on global marketing automation is expected to reach $25 billion. This software isn’t going anywhere, so why would you pay for a stale and outdated marketing suite that you may not be able to use to its full potential? With the acquisition of Mautic, Acquia has given marketers a whole new option when it comes to managing customer engagement. Duo can help you navigate the various marketing paths available while ensuring that whatever choice you make will exceed your expectations.

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May 01 2019
May 01

At this year’s DrupalCon, held earlier in April in Seattle, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert gave attendees a preview of the newest version of Drupal: 8.7. Now, the wait is over. Drupal 8.7 is launching today, May 1, adding a new suite of features and fixes that will improve the Drupal experience for everyone with an up-to-date platform.

drupal 8.7 was released on may 1

In his keynote, or “Driesnote,” Dries laid out what made this new release so special. Speaking to the Drupal community at large, Dries shared that the Drupal team had several core objectives when developing Drupal 8.7:

  • Make Drupal easy for content creators and site builders
  • Make Drupal easy to evaluate and adopt
  • Keep Drupal impactful and relevant
  • Reduce total cost of ownership for developers and site owners

Each one of these goals represented a major challenge, but the newest version has delivered a variety of updates that each make Drupal a more robust platform.

Empowering content creators

One of the biggest features in Drupal 8.7 is the newly stable Layout Builder tool. The product of the efforts of 123 contributors and 68 supporting organizations, Layout Builder makes designing pages more user-friendly. As the name implies, the Layout Builder tool enables editors to manually adjust the design and format of a page. With this tool, editors can make changes to the layout without having to involve developers every time. Dries displayed a demo of the Layout Builder tool during the Driesnote, which can be found below.

Along with layout builder, the other major content improvement ushered in by Drupal 8.7 is the updated media module. As of this most recent update, reusable media, images, video and drag-and-drop features for the media module are all stable, with the media library currently in the “experimental” state. Combined with layout builder, these updates make Drupal 8.7 a great update for content editors.

Out of the box functionality

While Drupal 8.7 certainly makes life easier for editors, it doesn’t stop there. New out of the box features make Drupal easier to adopt than ever. New to the Umami theme in Drupal 8.7  are demo articles containing Spanish translations by default and improved accessibility throughout the theme, with new labels and focus styles highlighted. This helps to show Drupal 8.7’s capabilities in terms of both multilingual and accessibility right out of the box. Additionally, the “Welcome tour” feature makes it easier for agencies to demo the platform. All of these features are included with the new update automatically.

Staying relevant

To remain a driving force in the market, Drupal needs to keep up with the times. The biggest breath of fresh air Drupal 8.7 brings to the platform is the addition of the JSON:API to the core. This development extends Drupal’s “API-first” philosophy, enabling decoupled and headless solutions. If this type of buildout is what your organization needs, the Drupal 8.7 update makes developing these popular solutions much easier.

Lowered costs

Because Drupal 9 (D9) is built on the same codebase as D8, the eventual upgrade process will be much easier than a conventional website upgrade. Previously, upgrades were major undertakings that required a lot of development effort. Now, as long as a site is not using any deprecated code, upgrading to D9 will be very straightforward. A tool called drupal-check is already available to check for deprecated code, so it’s already possible to start getting a site ready for D9. In the meantime, Drupal 8.7 offers a number of new features and enhancements and is another step toward the eventual D9 upgrade..

There’s certainly plenty to enjoy with this new release, but the updates don’t stop here. With Drupal on a six-month release cycle, there will be a new version of Drupal on November 1. Drupal 8.8 promises an updated WYSIWYG editor along with a potentially updated Admin UI, an ongoing project for the Drupal team. Beyond that is D9, the latest edition of the platform.

Duo can help you make the most out of Drupal 8.7’s newest features while also planning your roadmap for upgrading. If you’re ready to see what the future of Drupal has to offer, reach out to us today.

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Apr 25 2019
Apr 25

Every year, the Drupal community gathers in a new city for the annual DrupalCon show. More expansive than regional camps, DrupalCon gives attendees from all around the world the chance to collaborate and learn from each other face-to-face.

driesnote confirms drupal 7 support until 2021 

The expansive audience of the convention makes it an ideal venue for Drupal creator Dries Buytaert to address the community. In his “Driesnote,” Dries usually focuses on highlights from the past year and upcoming developments for the platform. As such, the upcoming Drupal 8.7 update got a lot of spotlight, as did the efforts of star contributors working to make Drupal so robust. And with Drupal 9 coming in the not-so-distant future, Dries’ address this year demonstrated the advances being made at the cutting edge of Drupal.

While Dries focused on the present and future benefits of Drupal 8, he didn’t neglect users still on Drupal 7. First launched in 2011, Drupal 7 remains the most widely deployed version of the platform, even though Drupal 8 was released in 2015. The reasons for the relatively slow adoption of Drupal 8 are numerous, ranging from incompatible modules to the standard costs of a redesign. Dries understands that, and in this year’s Driesnote, offered words of support to those who have not made the change.

“There’s no need to panic,” Dries said. Indeed, he said that Drupal 7 will continue to be officially supported for over two-and-a-half years, until November 2021. At that point, Drupal 7 will reach its end of life.

What happens in November 2021, you might ask? We’ve covered the upcoming Drupal release pipeline in an earlier blog post, but the major driving force behind this date is Symfony 3. A major dependency for Drupal 7 and 8, when Symfony 3 is sunset in November 2021, it will expose sites running on D7 and D8 to security threats. Because Symfony 3 is also a major dependency for Drupal 8, most Drupal users will need to upgrade to Drupal 9 before November 2021.

As Dries said, though, there’s no need to panic if you’re on Drupal 7. This end-of-life date is still over two years away, giving you plenty of time to consider your options and decide how to move forward. In the meantime, Drupal 7 will continue to be supported by both the open-source community and agencies like Duo. 

If you’re running Drupal 7 and want to get a head-start, there are a few options. Upgrading to Drupal 8 is the most logical route, as it the direct successor to D7. The Driesnote also noted that more and more modules that D7 users are accustomed to using are now functional in D8, which will make the transition smoother. The big draw of this path, however, is the ease with which you’ll be able to upgrade to Drupal 9. Drupal 8 is built on the same codebase as D9, which means that an upgrade between those two systems will not require a major design or development overhaul.

Another option for D7 users is to bypass D8 altogether. Jumping from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 would be more akin to a traditional redesign, both in terms of the work involved and the cost. That being said, even though moving from D8 to D9 will be relatively easy, it will still require some effort. Going from D7 to D9 streamlines the process, requiring only one comprehensive upgrade.

Whichever path you take, rest assured that there is time. Dries acknowledges that there are still many users who enjoy the benefits of Drupal 7, and this year’s Driesnote signifies that this crowd hasn’t been forgotten. While ever Drupal 7 site will eventually need an upgrade, users can rest easy knowing that they have plenty of time.

When the time comes to make a decision about upgrading, Duo can help you chart your journey ahead. Whether you want to stay on Drupal 7 or can’t wait for Drupal 9, we’re committed to delivering the best possible version of your site.

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Apr 18 2019
Apr 18

In the Drupal community, the annual DrupalCon show is the biggest event of the year. Held in a different city each year, the event brings Drupal users together for a week of sessions and networking.

drupalcon accessibility lessons

With so many people and agencies committed to Drupal in attendance, DrupalCon is the perfect opportunity to provide training and guidance. This year’s show, DrupalCon Seattle, dedicated its first two days to community summits and full-day training sessions. One of these summits tackled one of the most prevalent issues of the year for Drupal: Accessibility. Through a combination of keynotes, panels and breakout sessions, the summit’s organizers gave attendees actionable insights and new perspectives on front-end accessibility.

The day kicked off with a keynote from OpenConcept’s Mike Gifford, who spoke about his agency’s work with the Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB). For the organization’s 100-year anniversary, the CNIB sought a rebrand and redesign with an emphasis on making their site’s content more accessible. As OpenConcept learned, creating an accessible platform is easier said than done. To illustrate how difficult the process can be, Gifford wryly offered this Donald Rumsfeld quote:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.

In the context of web development, accessibility is often an “unknown unknown.” Without extensive testing, programmers won’t know that any given element won’t limit access for certain users. As such, one of the major lessons that Gifford shared was the importance of manual testing.

“Automated accessibility testing will only get you 25 percent of the way there,” Gifford said. “Manual testing is essential, and this mostly comes down to getting rid of your mouse and tabbing through a site."

Download Accessibility Checklist

As Gifford and speakers from subsequent panels noted, the best method for testing a site’s accessibility is to actually use it. While a lot of problems can be found by, as Gifford said, unplugging your mouse and using the “tab” key to navigate, this approach can still miss blind spots that able-bodied users wouldn’t consider. Alternatively, hiring disabled users to perform QA testing on a given site is often the best solution. 

This ethos is especially true when building mobile sites. Another keynote speaker, Gian Wild of AccessibilityOz, covered the mobile accessibility testing process in detail. Manual testing on real devices can root out common traps, like if a site’s buttons are too small to be navigated with a finger or if links aren’t underlined. For more common errors, Wild’s slide deck can be found here.

As important as manual testing is, though, automated accessibility tools are a vital element of the accessible design arsenal. Though pervasive and subtle errors still require hands-on QA testing, automated solutions will identify many more thousands of minor issues in a fraction of the time. As such, using these tools in coordination with manual testing will ensure that your site is as accessible as can be.

During the final breakout session of the summit, attendees shared which tools they think work best for rooting out accessibility issues, many of which conveniently come in the form of browser extensions. Some commonly mentioned tools included:

We’ve previously profiled several accessibility tools, and you see which one is best for you here.

As challenging as accessibility testing can be, the reward of expanding your audience is well worth it. Fortunately, the Drupal platform helps ensure out-of-the-box accessibility features. During his keynote, Gifford pointed out that Drupal design patterns have already been tested, known bugs are listed transparently, and the development community actually cares about the issue. In fact, OpenConcept’s work for CNIB produced several fixes and modules that can now be utilized by any Drupal user. These contributions and further info about the CNIB redesign can be found on Gifford’s slide deck here

With a senior-level team of designer and developers, Duo can apply these lessons to sites across industries. Our commitment to accessibility means that every site we build will be open to all users. To learn more about our process and values, reach out to our team today!

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Apr 02 2019
Apr 02

For many businesses, eCommerce is an increasingly important trend. With the potential for frictionless and simple exchanges, doing business on the web has never been more appealing to customers. To make eCommerce work for your business, though, our site needs to be robust enough to handle every step of every transaction.


drupal decouples commerce

Photo by Igor Miske

With its open source community and robust core, the Drupal platform is a worthy solution for any and all eCommerce needs. While a site built on Drupal will have the enterprise capabilities needed to handle a wide array of business needs, one of the major selling points of the platform is its flexibility. Drupal has the ability to be decoupled, allowing you to use Drupal as your background CMS while utilizing a third-party solution for your front end. If your brand is tied to an existing look or design, a decoupled or “headless” solution will let you have your cake and eat it, too.

As you might imagine, headless solutions have major implications for the possibilities of eCommerce platforms. At this year’s MidCamp, an annual meetup of the Drupal community in the Chicago area, Commerce Guys Product Lead Matt Glaman took a look at the future of headless commerce solutions. What emerged from the session painted a picture of progress, as developers are continuing to create solutions in Drupal that will power a wide array of eCommerce solutions.

Decoupled Drupal Facts & Myths

Leading the path toward making headless commerce more feasible is Commerce Guys, a Drupal software firm that held a couple of events at MidCamp on the subject. Best known for creating the Drupal Commerce module and the shopping-cart software Ubercart before it, Commerce Guys brought years of experience in the eCommerce space to this year’s event.

Offering a look at the technical side of Drupal-based eCommerce, Glaman examined the various challenges and solutions surrounding headless commerce. As he explained, the heavily structured data model of eCommerce in general presents a challenge, as do the relationships between the various layers in a site, such as the data and presentation layers. Making sure that the connections between the Drupal-backend and the myriad of frontend possibilities are robust and stable is essential to making headless commerce solutions work for users.

To address these challenges, Glaman highlighted a variety of existing API solutions. To enable headless commerce, the available options include the GraphQL data query language, JSON-RPC, JSON API and the RESTful Web Services spec. Though the latter two have the convenience factor of being included in Drupal Core, all of these solutions have their strengths and weaknesses in the context of headless commerce.

The efficacy of each solution varies depending on which stage of the eCommerce process you look at. For catalogues and product display pages, using the JSON API offers strong query capabilities but doesn’t support mixed-bundle collections. A GraphQL solution, on the other hand, supports cross-bundling but queries can become very large. Most existing solutions also struggle with “add to cart forms,” as it can be challenging to create reusable solutions. Overcoming that hurdle requires using solutions in concert, such as a GatsbyJS:React and GraphQL build. Finally, for carts, the JSON API requires integration with a Cart API, while the aforementioned query issues with GraphQL require the use of GraphQLMutation plugins to solve. For a deeper look into the nuances of these existing headless commerce solutions, you can watch Glaman’s full presentation here:

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So, while headless commerce in Drupal is achievable, it takes some effort to get to a point where it can handle your business’ eCommerce needs. Luckily, the strength of Drupal’s open source community means that you don’t have to wait for the Commerce Guys to fix everything. A firm like Duo can help you fine-tune an eCommerce solution to fit your needs. Don’t just take our word for it; our previous work with the Chicago Botanic Garden demonstrates our prowess in designing unique and robust eCommerce platforms.

If you’re interested in exploring a headless commerce platform on Drupal or are just looking to make your online business run more smoothly, Duo is the right partner for you.

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Feb 21 2019
Feb 21

A PHP code execution bug affecting the Drupal core CMS has been discovered. The Drupal team has released a highly critical new security patch as a fix, urging all system administrators to update affected modules and configurations immediately.

drupal security patch

Not all Drupal sites are affected by the bug. According to the security advisory issued on drupal.org, sites that meet one of the following conditions are affected: 

  • The site has the Drupal 8 core RESTful Web Services (rest) module enabled and allows PATCH or POST requests, or
  • the site has another web services module enabled, like JSON:API in Drupal 8, or Services or RESTful Web Services in Drupal 7.

This bug arose because some field types are not properly sanitizing data from non-form sources. This enables arbitrary PHP code executions in certain cases. If not dealt with, a malicious user could exploit the bug to invade a Drupal site and take control of an affected server. Given that Drupal is such a popular website publishing CMS worldwide, with over 285,000 sites running on Drupal 8 and more than 800,000 sites running Drupal 7, a security issue of this magnitude warranted a swift response.

Per the advisory released on Wednesday, Drupal recommends users who may be affected to take the following steps:

If a site update cannot be updated immediately, the Drupal Security Team recommended another set of steps. Site admins can an disable all web services modules or configure their web servers to not allow PUT/PATCH/POST requests to web services resources.

The security patch was widely released on Wednesday, but Drupal considered the issue serious enough to let admins know about the release a day in advance. Duo was one of the agencies informed and our team got to work as soon as the patch was released. The advance warning gave our developers enough time to block out time on Wednesday afternoon to ensure that every site we’re responsible for was updated immediately. By the end of the day, we had patched all affected Duo client sites. 

While working with an agency helps guarantee a proactive solution to security fixes, Drupal’s in-house security team also plays a major role in maintaining diligence. A team of over 30 volunteers, the Drupal Security Team only recruits from experienced members of the Drupal community. As such, these active and committed watchdogs are typically able to identify problems before they become widespread. The current bug, for instance, was identified by the Drupal Security Team.

A strong security apparatus means nothing, however, if users don’t put in the necessary effort to keep their sites safe. In 2018, the Drupalgeddon 2 bug affected over a million Drupal sites. While many users subsequently patched their servers, an analysis conducted a couple months after that bug was discovered revealed that over one-hundred thousand sites remained vulnerable. All of the foresight in the world can’t protect a site if security concerns aren’t addressed as soon as they’re brought to light.

While major security issues like the one this week and Drupalgeddon 2 are rare, all code has bugs. The best thing a site can do to defend against potential vulnerabilities is to be proactive, actively searching for and fixing issues. Duo offers these protections on a continuous basis and, as part of the Drupal community, are able to discover and implement solutions as soon as they become available. In an increasingly digital world, it’s critical that companies find a partner who can handle your cybersecurity needs promptly and without complication.

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Jan 16 2019
Jan 16

In a past life, I worked as an editor for a couple of B2B websites. The first one ran on Drupal 7, while the second, launched several years after the first, was built out on Drupal 8. When this D8 site was ready for action, I was eager to dive in and test out all of the bells and whistles.

drupal admin ui

While I appreciated much of the streamlining and improved functionalities between the two versions, I couldn’t help but notice that the user interface (UI) for Drupal 8 wasn’t much different from Drupal 7.

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who saw the resemblance.

In a recent blog post, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert addressed criticisms from the community regarding the Drupal admin UI. Acknowledging that the interface was dated, he wrote:

This critique is not wrong. Drupal's current administration UI was originally designed almost ten years ago when we were working on Drupal 7. In the last ten years, the world did not stand still; design trends changed, user interfaces became more dynamic and end-user expectations have changed with that.

To address this issue, Dries continued, the Drupal team is going to revamp the Drupal admin UI. From the inside and out, this new UI is going to become more in-line with a modern editing experience.

There have been attempts to fix or update the admin UI before, but this new effort is wider in scope. Contrasted with a component like the Material Admin theme, which is also meant to modernize the backend editing experience, Drupal’s plan for a new admin UI is part of a comprehensive modernization strategy. The Admin UI & JavaScript Modernization initiative seeks to update Drupal’s APIs and underlying JavaScript code. This multi-year initiative’s ultimate goal is to make Drupal both more compatible with decoupled applications and easier to navigate for end users.

While these UI advances sound tantalizing, they’re a bit far off, as this initiative will take several years to complete. As the first phase of this plan, however, the Drupal team has a solution they’re planning on releasing sooner. In this case, they’re taking a cue from the community and creating a new theme known as Claro.

With a beta anticipated to come out in Spring 2019, Claro represents an early version of the Admin UI & JavaScript Modernization Initiative’s goals. Claro will be built along the same design principles that guide the initiative despite being built from the D7 core theme. While this first step is limited to visual improvements, insights gained from its adoption will be used during the larger modernization initiative. By developing this temporary solution, Drupal is giving users a chance to experiment with a version of the new layout while still staying open to feedback.

These gradual technical changes are much anticipated, but the big takeaway is that this isn’t just a cosmetic upgrade. Many of the guiding principles behind the admin UI modernization initiative are rooted in accessibility, responsiveness and collaboration. Thanks to the updated JavaScript-based UI, the interface will be React-powered, making the experience more app-like (read: intuitive). Design elements like iconography and colors will be simplified for easier understanding. While an update of this magnitude could easily have eschewed these concerns and opted for a purely aesthetic redo, signs point to a revamped admin UI that will improve the editorial experience for everyone.

Based on these defined principles and the level of attention already dedicated to the project, the Drupal team’s commitment to improving its user experience in this case cannot be understated. When users identified an outdated admin UI as an issue, Drupal offered both a short-solution to address the problem while being open about plans and philosophies for long-term development. By the end of the process, the out-of-the-box Drupal admin UI will be able to compete with other content management systems in terms of usability and appearance.

At Duo, we're committed to making sure that editors can easily and effectively manage their content. If you have any questions about Drupal or any new features on the horizon, please feel free to reach out.

Let's Talk!

Jan 09 2019
Jan 09

There’s no getting around it: Website redesigns are expensive, arduous processes. From project management to quality testing, the challenges involved in undergoing such a design overhaul are legion. Given the costs involved and the extent of labor needed to update any given site, delaying or putting off a major design overhaul is an understandable stance from business owners.  

drupal 8 upgrade

Photo by rawpixel

Drupal sites are not exempt from this reality. For businesses running sites on earlier versions of Drupal, upgrading to Drupal 8 represents a daunting task. With reasoning varying from typical costs to unsupported functionalities, forgoing a Drupal 8 migration has long been the norm. Though Drupal 8 launched back in 2015, adoption has been slow. Globally, there are around 71,000 live sites using Drupal 8 compared to over 333,000 live sites using Drupal 7. 

It’s time for that to change. 

With a suite of new and updated features, Drupal 8 has never been more of an asset. We’ve covered some of the benefits of a D8 migration in the past, but the framework only grows more robust each day. The development community continues to break new ground on Drupal 8, making it a robust solution for all manner of business needs. 

Beyond Drupal 8’s virtues, another, more pressing, reason to upgrade is rearing its head: the end of a lifecycle. As laid out in a blog post, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert has revealed the timetable for the launch of Drupal 9. The new version is expected to launch on June 3, 2020, rather than an initially projected December release. 

Why the accelerated timeline? One of the major dependencies for current Drupal cores is the PHP framework Symfony. The end-of-life date for the latest version, Symfony 3, will be in November 2021. To maintain site security, Drupal 8’s end-of-life is also tied to this date. To reiterate, by November 2021, everyone should have upgraded to Drupal 9. For everyone running Drupal 7 sites, the same deadline applies. 

Luckily, there’s good news. Once your site is upgraded to Drupal 8, moving over to Drupal 9 will be a much easier transition. This is because Drupal 9 is being built on Drupal 8 rather than on an entirely new codebase; the main work that will need to be done mostly involves removing deprecated code and updating dependencies. From a site owner’s standpoint, this means that functionality from Drupal 8 sites will carry over to ones on Drupal 9. With this level of backward compatibility, meeting the deadline of November 2021 will likely be smoother than a full-on website redesign. 

Given the eventual sunsetting of Symfony 3, moving to Drupal 9 is inevitable. The choice to make now is whether to ride out Drupal 7 and then upgrade to 9 before November 2021 or to upgrade to Drupal 8 first. After taking into account the value of Drupal 8, though, it isn’t really much of a choice at all. Easier integrations, a more robust content authoring interface and, crucially, mobile responsiveness are all features that make Drupal 8 sites feel more modern to users and more accessible to owners. Setting all of these bells and whistles aside, a move to Drupal 8 early on will prepare businesses for the eventual, inevitable switch to Drupal 9. Staying ahead of the development curve while adding improved site functionality is a win-win proposition that can put any business ahead.  

In the coming months, we will be taking a deep dive into more of the reasons why upgrading to Drupal 8 is the right move. In the meantime, reach out to us if you have any questions about the process or the challenges involved.

Free D8 Upgrade Worksheet

Jan 03 2019
Jan 03

As we step into 2019, it’s a good time to stop and take a look at what’s been happening with the Drupal editing experience. 2018 seemed to be the “year of the editor” for not only Drupal, but the entire open source CMS world.

 

drupal-editing-trends-main

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

Editors need easy-to-use, highly flexible and accessible tools to create beautiful sites. With the rise of solutions based in react.js coming of age as well as more REST oriented architectures, we can certainly expect to see an explosion of the editing experience, especially in Drupal.

Merging Technology Between The Giants in CMS with Gutenberg Editor

The greatest thing about open source is that it’s open. One platform can adopt the features of another, and they often do when their aims are as close as those of Drupal and WordPress. Last year the Drupal community adopted a project called Gutenberg for a more pristine editing experience. The editor allows you to have a visual inline content creation experience with text, media and, of course, blocks. Gutenberg was created in coordination with a major WordPress effort to introduce the concept of blocks to their CMS. Since Drupal was born in this concept, Gutenberg was an easy adoption into our community.

drupal-editing-trends-gutenberg

This editor of course enhances the experience on both systems. However, I believe Drupal stands to gain the most from this project as the CMS has a long established history of blocks as a delivery system, though the editing experience has needed help. When you add in all the other complexities Drupal offers, such as Paragraphs, Context and Views, the possibilities are endless.

Drupal and WordPress have always been locked in a great debate as to which to use, when, what’s better than what. In this case, it’s great to see how different open source communities can enhance each other. Drupal’s concept of blocks is hands-down proven and, conversely, WordPress has been a favorite for editing content. Even Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, was heard saying “Drupal is my other favorite open source project” at the 2018 WCUS conference. It’ll be exciting to see what comes of this in 2019 as we progress in Drupal.

Try a Demo of Gutenberg

Layout Builder

Layout Builder is an experimental module still in progress from the Drupal community. It’s a drag-and-drop style editing experience that is geared towards allowing editors the opportunity to create structured content with ease. If you’re familiar with Drupal Panels or Panelizer, you can think of this as a next step from there and in a similar direction as Gutenberg.

According to a Dries Buytaert post, we should see Layout Builder become stable and ready to use by May of 2019. Many of the remaining issues are related to maintaining Drupal’s commitment to accessibility standards. Layout Builder is aiming to keep up with Level AA compliance with WCAG and ATAG.  

Check out his live demo here.

layout builder drupal

Emerging 3rd Party Page Builders like Glazed

For those who desire more free and wild control, we’re seeing solutions like Glazed surface from 3rd party companies like Sooperthemes. Glazed is a Drupal module that allows you to have granular control over padding, margins, custom animations and so on with a rich feature list.

sooperthemes drupal

While the Sooperthemes strongly promotes their pre-built themes, the Glazed module is able to be installed independently into any theme. Paid modules with this kind of functionality are a bit against the grain in the Drupal community, however it’s gained a note of praise from Dries even. I recommend testing it out and seeing if it fits into your organization's needs.

Try a demo of Glazed

Making Trends Work for You

It’s really awesome to see how far we’ve come, but how you make a decision on which direction to go is always the question. There’s a few questions you can ask to help determine what’s best for your company.

  • Do you have the need for consistent and structured content?

  • Does your company have an established brand style guide?

  • How trained are your editors for design and technical editing?

Solutions like Glazed, for example, are very loose and free in what you can do. If you have multiple editors in your company on different teams, tools like this could distract from your brand’s consistency. In the case of needing structured content with some flexibility, I’d keep my eye on what’s to come with Layout Builder. And of course, if you have editors that come from the WordPress side of things, Gutenberg maybe a strong choice to minimize on new training while still benefiting from Drupal’s core features.

As a front end Drupal developer I favor structured, component driven theming patterns. One of the greatest challenges in delivering a custom Drupal theme is meeting the immediate need for an editor to understand how to utilize the tools I’ve made.

I’m a huge fan of Paragraphs, as it offers tons of flexibility for creating reusable components. However, those features and options can get buried in technical feeling UI. It’s exciting to have tools like these to tighten the gap between the features we make and the experience our clients have editing in Drupal.

Let's Talk!
Nov 12 2018
Nov 12

I've talked with hundreds of Drupal professionals over the years (probably thousands at this point), and whether or not it's intentional, I think we fall into a pattern. When we talk about the benefits of the platform — specifically Drupal 8 — and what it can do for organizations, we often talk about it in relation to either the front-end user or the website developer.

Drupal 8 Content Editor
Photo by Christin Hume

While both of those audiences are incredibly important, there's a flaw in that tendency. The users and developers are not the ones spending the most time in Drupal on a day-to-day basis — that would be the content editors. Content editors are the men and women who take the created content and publish it online. They push updates to the site, and they are the ones who more or less manage its content.

We've talked about the benefits of Drupal 8 in the past, but today, I want to focus on how the platform specifically impacts content editors. Drupal 8 has made great improvements to the admin interface and to the overall user experience for content editors. Here are some of the best benefits, in my opinion.

Quick Edit

Our clients who have already migrated from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 would be completely happy if in-line editing were the only new benefit for content editors. This seamingly simple feature is receiving rave reviews, and it's no wonder why. In the past, it was such a pain to click through to each individual piece of content you wanted to edit. Now, to edit content, you technically don't even need to go into the back end.

The Quick Edit feature, which also comes out of the box in Drupal Core, allows content editors the opportunity to edit directly on the front end of a site. If you have a quick change, you can edit the content on the live site, save it and more on to something else. It's so easy, and so impactful.


CKEditor

CKEditor is a new WYSIWYG editor that is far superior to previous Drupal editors, and it is included in Drupal Core. One of the nice elements is a drag-and-drop interface. Speaking of CKEditor, the CKEditor Media Embed Module allows content editors to embed external resources such as videos, images, tweets and more via the editor.


Customization

One of the hallmarks of Drupal has been that you can customize it to fit your needs. The same is true for content editors. My colleague Michael Girgis wrote about how Drupal 8 sites can now use the Material Admin theme that makes for a more pleasant visual appearance — it reflects the styles of Google Material Design Language. That's one way to customize the experience for content editors. Similarly, the Gutenberg editor — which is scheduled for a stable release in December — gives editors a new publishing experience without needing any code.

In addition, the WYSIWYG editor that comes out of the box can be customized based on an editor's need, including hiding some features that are rarely or never used by content editors.


Responsive interface

It's obviously important for websites to be responsive today, but Drupal 8 also makes the back-end admin interface responsive, which is an enormous improvement over earlier versions of Drupal. The reality is that critical updates are necessary when people are away from their computer. Having the toolbar and editor be mobile optimized makes it much easier for editors to make site updates from their phone or other mobile device.

Content editors are the people who spend the most time in Drupal. Drupal 8 makes sure that time is now more enjoyable than ever before.

Let's Talk

Nov 01 2018
Nov 01

One of the favorite parts of my role at Duo is talking with potential clients about their digital challenges and helping determine whether Drupal can help develop a solution to their problem. Ask any of these people, and they'll tell you that I love talking about the benefits of Drupal 8 and how revolutionary the newest version of the platform can be.

crafting a new site
Photo by Clark Young

There are a number of fantastic aspects about Drupal 8, from how you can build and display content to new functionalities that come out of the box. In order to upgrade to D8, though, you need your site to be redeveloped. Even if you're completely happy with your site's existing design, your site will need to be recreated in order to take advantage of all that D8 has to offer.

You might be wondering why someone would have their whole site rebuilt if they're happy with how it looks and it is structured. Well, there are two answers. The first is that they may be happy with how the site functions now, but down the road they would love some additional functionality. Drupal 8 brings that added functionality.

The second reason, though, is the reality that all Drupal sites are on the path for being upgraded.  Drupal 7's "end of life" — when Drupal and its thousands of contributors around the world no longer support or made updates to the version — is scheduled for November 2021. That means all D7 sites have three years to be upgraded to D8.

If you're going to need to upgrade eventually, why not do it sooner so you can take advantage of all that D8 has to offer?

Whether you've already considered moving to D8 or the thought hasn't crossed your mind yet, these three questions may help you decide that the time to upgrade is now.

  • Are you considering a design refresh?

Whether you are considering a visual update to your site or are trying to determine how you want to rebrand it, you may want to step back for a minute and evaluate whether an upgrade to D8 should be done at the same time.

If you know you want to update how your site appears, consider what I think is one of the best new features of D8: Flex pages. I've written about flex pages in the past, but the reason I continue to bring them up is simply because they give site admins and content creators so much power over how their site looks. Flex pages allows these admins and creators to build beautiful sites with ease — and without the need for someone who knows how to code.

If you haven't considered an update to your site's appearance recently, perhaps you should. Remember what I said above. Drupal 7's "end of life" is three years away. That means you want to have your site updated by then.

  • Do you want more functionality on your site?

I talked with a past client recently and she told me that her company was considering switching their CRM (customer relationship management tool), and they wanted to know if I had a recommendation. I said I didn't have an opinion on a specific CRM, but I asked why they wanted to make the switch. I then asked if they were going to integrate the CRM to their website, and I was met with silence on the other end of the phone.

After a couple seconds, she confessed that she didn't realize that was possible. I said not only is it possible, but in Drupal 8, it's easier and more efficient than ever before.

Drupal's ability to seamlessly integrate with other applications is one of the platform's biggest differentiators. Looking to streamline your marketing automation? Considering connecting your website to voice recognition tools like Amazon Alexa or Google Home? Thinking about how the Internet of Things can work with your site? Considering more personalized content on your site? Drupal 8 makes it possible to do all of those things — and much more.

Now technically, many of these integrations can be developed in Drupal 7, but like I said earlier, all D7 sites are going to need to be rebuilt in the next three years. So before investing the time and resources into a new D7 integration, consider instead putting that commitment toward D8.

  • Are you ready to upgrade?

The past two questions are somewhat high level, but this question is far more straightforward. If you were to upgrade your site today, do you have the resources to actually make it happen?

Upgrading to Drupal 8 is prime time to reevaluate everything with your site, from tools you're using to platforms you're integrating with to your actual site content. An upgrade to Drupal 8 will require you take your site down to the studs, and that's the perfect opportunity to do some house cleaning.

Many of our clients begin the upgrade process with a content audit. We work with them to review their analytics and determine what content is worth moving. Sometimes, it's the majority of the content, but more often than not, we'll migrate the highest value content and supplement with new content. Do you have the resources to create that content?

Maybe you've been thinking about upgrading your site to D8 for a while now, or maybe the idea hasn't crossed your mind until now. Either way, hopefully answering those three questions will help you determine if now is the right time to upgrade.

If you'd like some help thinking through those questions, or if you decide now is the right time for a D8 upgrade, please get in touch with me, and I'd love to help out in any way I can.

Let's Talk
Oct 08 2018
Oct 08

We’ve been seeing interest in Drupal 8 increase in the last few months, and it’s with good reason. The platform has so much flexibility and the power to streamline work for any number of industries.

One area where I’ve seen a substantial rise in the desire to learn more about or adopt Drupal 8 is in the world of marketing — specifically from marketing departments. And it makes sense. marketing
Photo by rawpixel

In many businesses, it is the marketing department that owns and operates the business website. So they should have interest. And with everything that Drupal 8 has to offer, their interest should only continue to rise. What makes Drupal 8 so valuable to marketers? Let me tell you just a few ways.

The benefit of flex pages

I’ve written about flex pages in the past, but the reality is they are one of the biggest advantages for a marketer. Why? Because a marketer can create a webpage with whatever look or feel they like, and they can do it without having to rely on the IT team or a dedicated web developer.

Whether a marketing team is looking to build out a landing page for a specific campaign or working to redesign their entire website, flex pages give them the creative freedom to design in a way that best meets their needs.

The emphasis on integrations

Drupal is a dynamic content management system (CMS), but in my eyes, what makes it stand out is its ability to easily integrate with third-party applications. Drupal 8 is set up so that site administrators can easily use APIs to connect their website with any number of digital tools. Beyond that, Drupal makes it possible for admins to work with the technology that works best for them.

We’ve done work with the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG), for example, and specifically we’ve helped with their ticketing system. Now, for those who don’t know, CBG has 50,000 members and more than 1 million guests visit the grounds each year. Those types of numbers making ticketing complex, and so CBG requires a system that fits their specific needs.

The marketing team at CBG had a specific platform that they wanted to use for ticketing, and so we worked with them to help integrate that system with their Drupal website. Now, the marketing team is able to learn all types of new information about their visitors — from purchase habits to web pages they visit — and track that data all in one place. As a result, the marketing team can now tailor specific content or opportunities to those visitors based on their previous actions.

The ability to leverage best-of-breed tools

I mentioned above how Drupal makes it possible to seamlessly integrate with third-party applications. Truly, though, Drupal’s biggest asset is that it makes it possible for complex systems to smoothly communicate with one another.

As a marketer, you may want to use a tool that allows you to retarget content to site visitors once they leave your website. Perhaps you have a marketing automation tool like Marketo and you want to be able to connect what users do on your website with the communications you share with them. Or maybe you want to implement a drip campaign that reminds site users that they left your website without purchasing items in their shopping cart, and as an incentive you are now offering an additional 10% off.

Those opportunities and countless more are possible with Drupal. Are you a marketer who wants to know more about the benefits of Drupal 8? Please give me a call and I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Let's Talk

Sep 25 2018
Sep 25
Think about these four words for a minute:
  • Transformation.
  • Growth.
  • Innovation.
  • Opportunity.
What do those words mean to you? To me, they represent the infinite possibilities that come with a well-designed website. If a site or digital platform is built to match the needs of its company, the result can be transformational. It can lead to a growth in a customer base or overall growth in an organization. It can be innovative in how it presents content. And the opportunities, well, they are limitless.

drupal for law firms
Photo by Patrick Fore

Those four words are also the basis behind the 2018 Legal Marketing Technology Conference Midwest. The conference, which Duo is proud to be a sponsor of, will be held Oct. 2 and 3 at Chicago’s award-winning tech incubator space, 1871.

This year’s conference revolves around the idea of “Technology in Action,” and it provides a variety of unique opportunities for participants, including:

  • Discussions on the innovations taking place within legal services
  • Conversations with innovative industry thinkers who represent firms of all sizes
  • Networking opportunities with peers from across the country

Duo has partnered with law firms of all sizes over the years to help them re-imagine their digital presence. In fact, we were recently honored with a WebAward for Best Legal Website for our work with Chicago-based Much Shelist.

With that site, we helped the full-service law firm completely rebrand how they presented themselves online. We also helped develop a style guide and branding guide for future reference.

We’ve leveraged the power and flexibility of Drupal for more than 20 different law firms. Each firm had different needs, but we have found there are some common attributes just about any firm could benefit from. Some of those include:

Proposal and profile generator
We worked with one of our larger clients to create a template that allows internal staff members to take information from their website and quickly generate a proposal or a lawyer profile in Microsoft Word. A process that used to be time-consuming and laborious is now simple and fast.

Website and HR connection
We worked with one firm to help solve a challenge that we’ve seen plague countless businesses from a variety of industries. The firm was looking to find a way to easily update its website whenever a lawyer joined or left the firm.

To solve that problem, we connected the website directly to the firm’s HR system. That way, whenever a person’s information is updated by HR, it also automatically is updated on the website directory.

Automatic news feed
In recent years, we’ve seen more law firms become interested in sharing content on their website, either about their lawyers or topics that they specialize in. Traditionally, a website administrator would have to create a new webpage that then linked out to a news article. The process doesn’t have to be so time consuming anymore.

We helped one firm become a better content aggregator by building the website to automatically collect news stories on the specific services the firm focused on. These stories were displayed throughout the site, making the site robust and topical, without being too time consuming to maintain.

There are countless other ways that law firms can enhance their website to better suit their needs and the needs of their clients. Remember those words I asked you about at the beginning of this?

  • Transformation.
  • Growth.
  • Innovation.
  • Opportunity.


Think about those words and how they relate to your website. How can you transform your website? Can you do so in a way that helps your firm grow? What’s something innovative you can do with the site? What opportunities are you missing out on?

Do you have answers to those questions? Do you want some help thinking through them? Either way, our team at Duo is ready to help you. Give us a call, or better yet, come visit us at the Legal Marketing Technology Conference Midwest.

Let's Talk

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Aug 20 2018
Aug 20

I recently had a meeting with a client who has operated their website on Drupal 7 for the past few years, and they wanted to know why they should upgrade their site from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. As I worked on answering their question, it became clear to me that there are 8 distinct reasons why it makes sense for businesses and organizations to make the leap from D7 to D8.

eight reasons for drupal 8
Photo by Franck V.

Here are those 8 reasons:

1 - Ease of use

Historically, users have complained about the back-end experience of managing and editing Drupal websites. Thanks to Drupal 8, those complaints are now a thing of the past. First off, D8 comes with a WYSIWYG editor designed specifically for Drupal’s use. Beyond the traditional basics — like buttons for bold, italic, hyperlinks, and so on — there are added extras, such as easily editable image captions that come with the editor’s new Widgets feature.

Site admins can also perform inline editing, meaning they can look at the front-end of their site and make edits in real-time so that they can instantly see what their edits look like. No longer do you need to exclusively go to the back-end to update or edit content. This gives admins far more flexibility than ever before.

Additionally, Drupal 8 features the Material Design Admin Theme that was designed using the rules Google developed for all of its products. This means that as Drupal admins manage their content, they can have an experience that resembles working with a Google product — which can make editing more familiar and more comfortable.

2 - Mobile first

Drupal 8 is fully responsive out-of-the-box. There is no customization needed to make that happen. After all, it’s 2018 — any web product should be fully responsive. That means that when your site is built on D8, elements like menus, blocks, and even images will automatically reshape to work and look good on any screen size.

Additionally, D8 features a mobile-friendly toolbar that has multiple benefits to it. First off, it makes it possible for admins to manage content from their smartphone or other mobile device. More importantly, the toolbar was designed with accessibility in mind, which means it makes it easier for screen readers to easily navigate to different parts of a site.


3 - Performance

If you have a website, you want it to perform well. That’s obvious. And good performance often refers to fast load times. What Drupal 8 has that Drupal 7 doesn’t is BigPipe technology, which was first developed at Facebook. What BigPipe does is it allows your site to have far better front-end perceived performance because of how it loads and caches content. Here is a video that our CTO Rich Lawson likes to use as an example of how BigPipe impacts a site.

BigPipe is part of Drupal core, so when you upgrade to Drupal 8, you will benefit from it immediately.


4 - Introducing TWIG

Drupal 8 introduces Twig, a widely adopted theme system in the PHP world, to Drupal. Twig’s syntax is simpler, and Twig is more secure than the PHP template-based theme system in Drupal 7 and below that it replaces. It allows designers and themers with HTML/CSS knowledge to modify markup without needing to be a PHP expert and with almost no risk of their actions causing security issues on your site.


5 - Migration plan

With Drupal 8, the process of updating the platform has changed, and it’s a change that benefits users, admins and Drupal itself. Historically, upgrading to a new version of Drupal (like Drupal 6 to Drupal 7), required an entire rebuild. It was time consuming and it was expensive. Starting with Drupal 8, that process changes. Upgrading from D7 to D8 still necessitates that total rebuild, but after that, you won’t need to rebuild when a new version of the platform comes out. So when Drupal 9 is unveiled, you want need the same type of overhaul as you’ve done in the past.

Beyond that, Drupal has changed to a new release cycle. Now, Drupal offers monthly bug fixes and security releases (for example, 8.0.1, 8.0.2, etc.) and semi-annual minor releases of Drupal core (so 8.1.0, 8.2.0 and so on). This means that if there is a bug with the platform, or a certain module isn’t working in the latest version, no longer do you have to wait years for the new version to be released. Instead, your wait time is only a couple of months, if that.

Additionally, modules are now compatible between immediate major versions, so you don’t ever have to say, “I cannot upgrade to Drupal 9 because my favorite module is only in Drupal 8.”


6 - Extensibility

Flexible content delivery is another key tenet of D8. That flexibility extends to integrations, one of the platform’s hallmarks and key differentiators. Drupal is a great foundation for web content management and digital experience management because it enables integrations with your best-of-breed technologies. Drupal 8 gives you the ultimate freedom and flexibility to choose what technologies you want to use.


7 - Future proofing

Drupal 8 makes it possible to access your content beyond the confines of a traditional screen. Drupal enables you to create and deliver content to any channel, device or application. That means Drupal makes it easier to share your content with mobile apps, voice recognition devices like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa, or even Internet of Things devices (like your smart fridge, for example). You may not need that functionality now, but down the road, you may like the option.


8 - Commerce 2.X

The Drupal Commerce 2 module has been curated by commerce experts and its out of the box functionality can stand up against any proprietary platform. New features will be introduced into the core through micro-updates and major migrations will be a thing of the past, just as it is with Drupal 8 and beyond.

The Drupal community’s attention is on Drupal Commerce 2, just as the community is focused on D8 instead of D7. If you’re operating with Drupal Commerce 1, or a different e-commerce module, you’re not going to be guaranteed the same type of maintenance and security as you would in Drupal Commerce 2. When you’re focused on selling a product or service through your website, you want to make sure it is up to date with security and functionality settings.

Those are my eight reasons why I told our client they should upgrade to D8. Did I miss something? Is there something else about D8 that you want to know about? Shoot me a note and let me know.

Let's Talk

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