Aug 06 2019
Aug 06

Drupal is certainly not only the open-source CMS game in town, but when consulting with clients about the best solution for the full range of their needs, it tends to be my go-to.

Here’s why: 

  • Architecture
  • Scalability
  • Database Views
  • Flexibility
  • Security
  • Modules
  • Search
  • Migration  

Architecture

Drupal 8 is built on modern programming practices, and of course, the same will be true for June 2020 release of Drupal 9. 

A Development – Test – Production environment is the default assumption with a Drupal 8 site. Too often, other CMS sites are managed as a single instance, which is a single point of failure. 

Also, Drupal comes with a built-in automated testing framework. Drupal 8 supports unit integration and system/functional testing using the PHP Unit framework. Drupal is built to be inherently extensible through configuration, so every data type can be templated without touching code to achieve fully customized, structured data collection.

Scalability

Drupal has proven to be scalable at the most extreme traffic levels. Weather.com, as just one example, is a Drupal site. Many of the Federal cabinet-level agencies using open source have built their web infrastructures on Drupal. Drupal has built-in functionality, such as a robust caching API and JS/CSS minification/aggregation to optimize page load speed.

Database Views

Drupal Views, which is in Drupal 8 core, is a powerful tool that allows you to quickly construct database views, with AJAX filtering and sorting included. This allows you to quickly construct and publish lists of any data in your Drupal site, without needing a developer to do it for you.

Flexibility

There are several components of flexibility. 

Drupal 8 was built as an API-first CMS, explicitly supporting the idea that the display layer for content stored in a Drupal CMS may not be Drupal. The API first design of Drupal 8 also means that it is easier to integrate Drupal with third-party applications, as the API framework is already in place.

Customers vary widely in the ways in which they currently consume content. We assume that new ways will emerge for consuming content in the future, and even though we may not be in a position to predict right now what that will look like, Drupal is well poised to support what comes next.

Security

The only totally secure CMS is the one installed on a server that is sitting at the bottom of the Mariana trench, with no connectivity to anything!  However, Drupal has been tested in the most rigorous and security-conscious environments across government and industry. With a dedicated security team managing not just Drupal core but also many popular modules, and the openness inherent in open source, Drupal is a solid, secure, platform for any website.

Modules / Extensions

Drupal modules are created and contributed to the community because they solve a problem. If you have the same or similar problem to solve you may be a simple module install away from solving that problem. Also, all Drupal modules are managed and accessible through a single repository at Drupal.org, providing a critical layer of vetting and security.

Search

Current versions of Drupal come with  powerful and unparalleled out-of-the-box search functionality. Also, SOLR integration is plug-and-play with Drupal, allowing you to extend the capabilities of search to index documents, or across multiple domains, or to build faceted search results to improve the user experience.

Migration

Face it: migration is not fun with any CMS. However, the Drupal 8 migration (and the same will be true for Drupal 9) API is highly capable of importing complex data from other systems. Simpler CMS platforms tend to offer simple migration for out-of-the-box content types (posts and pages), but not so much for complex data or custom content types.

Summary

Settling on the right CMS platform is often not an obvious choice. Weighing the relative benefits of every option can take time and calls for expert consultation. In instances where complexity increases, and there’s a need to integrate the CMS with outside data sources, I’ll admit to a Drupal bias. This is based on my experience of Drupal as a CMS framework that was designed specifically for the challenges of a mobile-first, API driven, integrated digital environment.

Looking for further exploration into the relative merits of your open source CMS options? Contact us today for an insightful, informative and fully transparent conversation.


 

Jul 22 2019
Jul 22

“Is it worth it?”
 
This summer, I’ve been asked a lot of questions concerning Promet Source’s commitment to sponsoring Drupal Camps, as well as our eagerness to lead training events and be present at them in every way that we can. 
 
I get that at any given moment, most of us have more on our plates than we can handle. It’s difficult to justify throwing travel and a two or three day camp or convention into the mix.  
 
That said, my answer to the “Is it worth it” question is an enthusiastic, “YES.”
 
Here’s why:

1. It’s good for business

Key among my objectives is the opportunity to connect with a new client or two, but regardless of the expectation that I have walking into an open-source event, I always learn something new or gain a new perspective or solidify a relationship in an expectation-exceeding kind of way. The basic maxim, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” rings very true during Drupal training events, and I’ll add to that, “You don’t know who you don’t know.”
 

2. You owe it to the community

The defining feature of any open source product is not the technology, it's the people. Open source thrives or dies based on the community that supports it. Any company that depends on open source has a responsibility to give back to the community. Giving back can come in many forms.

  • Contribute code back to the project, update documentation and other traditional "technical" facets of open source
  • Sponsor the project financially, either by funding critical work or by sponsoring events that bring the community together
  • Provide, content, programming, and volunteer labor to the events
  • Just show up

If your company is built on open source, consider all of the above as goals. 

3. Jobs

This one should be obvious. If you need to hire open source savvy people you will find no greater concentration of them than at a camp or convention. Likewise, if you are looking for a job in the open source world, or simply to network among the movers and shakers, you can usually count on the most connected players participating in and sponsoring open source events.
 

4. You get smarter

It's probably impossible to attend a Drupal Camp or DrupalCon and not come out of it smarter. The sessions are led by passionate and really smart people sharing interesting ideas and technical solutions to complex problems. Product pitches are usually prohibited, so the presentations are actually useful. And the conversations you end up in on the "hallway track" are often the most interesting of all.

5. It is fun

Get 25 to 2,500 open source advocates together in one place and shenanigans will result. Decorum, and maybe a statute of limitations, prohibits me from going into too much detail here. And a lot of activity is actually very tame. Trivia contests, dinner meetups, and coffee exchanges are regular occurrences.
 

6. The people

Hey, it's a bonus 6th reason. Oh, the people you'll meet. This should probably be reason #1.

Drupal GovCon starts tomorrow, July 24, 2019, in Bethesda, Md., and runs through July 26. I would love to count you among the people I meet at this event. Contact me and let’s work out a good time to connect.

Jul 10 2019
Jul 10

The countdown for the June 2020 Drupal 9 release has begun. As the Drupal community awaits this next big thing, here are the two burning questions on the minds of Drupal Devotees: 

  • What can we expect from Drupal 9?
  • What should we do between now and next June?

As the Business Development lead for Promet Source, with the added perspective of an Acquia Certified Drupal 8 Site Builder, I’m in the trenches everyday helping organizations to unpack questions such as these. Here are some of the concerns that I hear most often, along with my thoughts on how to most efficiently prepare for the transition.

Q. What are the most exciting/game-changing features of Drupal 9?

The most exciting thing about Drupal 9 is that there aren’t any game-changing features! No new features will be added after Drupal 8.9. Drupal 9 will remove any depreciated code or APIs that are still in Core. If your site works great on Drupal 8.9 and you are not relying on any depreciated APIs, the upgrade to Drupal 9 should be just like going from Drupal 8.8 to Drupal 8.9.

Q. To what extent does Drupal 9 reflect the evolution of the Drupal community?

Many of us know about the pain of migrating from Drupal 7 to 8. In fact, it is so painful that 750,000 Drupal 7 sites still haven’t upgraded. Drupal 9 represents the cumulation of the vision implemented with the complete overhaul that resulted in Drupal 8. For all practical purposes, Drupal 8 is a different CMS than Drupal 7. However, Drupal 8 was built with the idea that future major version upgrades would be incremental, not evolutionary changes. Drupal 8 is a enterprise-ready CMS built to support engaging digital experiences over the long term.

Q. Do you anticipate that Drupal 9 will draw in new types of users?

I don’t expect Drupal 9 to be a major event at all, and that is a good thing. It’s simply what comes after Drupal 8.9. Some changes in Drupal 8 over its lifespan, particularly the Layout Builder features that enables very powerful drag-and-drop page building capabilities, should make Drupal more appealing to distributed organizations that want to distribute content creation and management throughout the organization.

Q. Why would we migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 at this point when another migration is around the corner?

Change is inevitable. You can’t avoid it. Drupal 9 is really just the next update after Drupal 8.9. In fact, it will have feature parity with Drupal 8.9. Migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 will be no more or less complicated than migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. Also, Drupal 7 and 8 will both hit end-of-life status at the same time, in November 2021. So staying on Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 won’t really be an option after November 2021.

The Drupal community won’t be maintaining Drupal 7 or 8 after Nov. 2021, although a  commercial vendor will likely seize the opportunity to provide a commercial support option. 

But really, just upgrade. Drupal 8.9 is so much better than Drupal 7 in many ways. Email me if you want to set up a call to discuss the differences.

Q. Practically speaking, could you compare a D7 to D8 migration, vs. a D8 to D9?

Imagine you drive a Toyota Camry and fortune smiles on you and are gifted a 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista. It’s still a car, but you will basically need to relearn how to drive. That is D7 to D8 from the developer perspective. The content editor/writer perspective is more like going from the Camry to a BMW. It’s just a nicer version of what you already had.

D8 to D9 will be like taking the Ferrari in for a tune-up.

Q. We’ve already migrated to Drupal 8 and it meets our needs. Any reason why we can’t just leave it at that and stay with Drupal 8 indefinitely?

Drupal 9 is just the update that comes after Drupal 8.9. For all practical purposes, you are staying on Drupal 8. It's just that Drupal 8 is constantly evolving, and because we are out of single digit number to the right of the decimal point at 8.9, the next update gets called Drupal 9.0. Also, that change in digits is a convenient place to clean out the depreciated code in the code base that you should have stopped using by now anyway.

We at Promet Source are here to help with any Drupal-related questions that you might have. Contact us anytime.


 

Mar 19 2019
Mar 19

In preparation for DrupalCon 2019, Chris O’Donnell, Digital Strategist, for Promet Source shared his views on the vibe of this annual conference, as well as Drupal’s current standing within the ecosystem of enterprise-level CMS platforms.  
 

What are you looking forward to at DrupalCon Seattle?

One of the best parts of DrupalCon for me is the community. It’s an opportunity to connect with people who I might only get to see once a year -- colleagues from other Drupal development companies, previous clients, current clients, and like-minded people from all over the country. There’s a ton of training and all of the sessions are driven by community involvement -- people who are just sharing their knowledge for the fun of it, or as a way to give back to the community.

Last year at DrupalCon, there was a proprietary software company exhibiting for the first time. They seemed really confused by a world where a development company was on the stage with some of its best customers. Why would anyone share great information with potential competitors? They were really confused by the entire thing - competitors coming together to openly share knowledge just didn't compute for them.

How would you explain it?

DrupalCon is more like a Drupal community celebration than a tech industry trade show. 

I think it was President Kennedy who said, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and the same principle applies within the Drupal Community, or any open source community. The more brain power that goes into it, the better it is for everybody. As an open-source CMS, the Drupal community is driven by the community and the needs of users. Anything that anyone does to improve or add to Drupal is freely available to all. 

I joined the Drupal community in 2014, and I love being among hundreds of thousands of people around the world who contribute to the community in various ways. 


What are your observations on how DrupalCon 2019 has evolved?

There has been a pretty big shift this year as the Con has been organized around specific tracks. Drupal 8 ushered in an orientation toward more of an enterprise-level focus, and that’s been reflected in the kind of training that’s offered and an expanded sphere of people who are attending.

With so much going on, what's your advice for attendees for getting the most out of DrupalCon 2019?

Use the schedule builder feature on the DrupalCon website to build a DrupalCon Seattle schedule for yourself of sessions you want to be sure to catch. Don’t forget to look at the Birds of a Feather events, which tend to be smaller and more informal. And don’t schedule yourself so tight that you miss out on the hallway track. My most interesting conversations at DrupalCon usually happen in the hallways and at evening social events.
 

How would you characterize Drupal’s position today within the world of web content management platforms?

Drupal is an enterprise-level content management platform that delivers much of the functionality you would expect from some of the million dollar proprietary CMS platforms, while still retaining the freedom and flexibility inherent in its open-source roots.
 

What are your thoughts on when, why or how Drupal has achieved this status?

I think it was a coordinated effort related to the Drupal 8 rollout. D8 was a total rewrite of the CMS, with the goal of producing an enterprise-grade CMS that would be on par with the established and expensive proprietary platforms. The momentum is now really strong for Drupal as an enterprise CMS.

What sets Drupal apart from other web content management platforms?

The freedom, flexibility, and lack of license fees that come with open source set it apart from all the proprietary options. It’s different from any other open-source CMS in that it has strong corporate sponsorship, a dedicated security team, and an enterprise heavy install base.


What will the extent of your participation in DrupalCon Seattle?

I’m excited about attending the GovSummit on Monday, April 8, and will be presenting in the Builder Track at 3:15 on Wednesday, April 10, in Room 608. Otherwise, I’ll be in and out of sessions and at the Promet Booth (#308) for the rest of the event. This is Promet’s 12th year as an attendee and 11th year as a sponsor. Once again, we’ll be all over DrupalCon. The entire senior leadership team will be there, along with some of our senior developers and our entire sales and marketing team. I’m particularly excited about the addition of Mindy League to our leadership team this year. The Human Centered Design team that she is heading represents an exciting expansion for Promet. I definitely recommend that anyone who is interested in the very latest in design thinking for digital experiences make it a point to grab some time with Mindy. 


How would you characterize Promet’s client base for whom Drupal proves to be the right solution?

Very much in line with what Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal said at DrupalCon two years ago: “Drupal is for organizations that are looking to build ambitious digital experiences.” It’s not so much about the size of the company or the team, it’s about the reach and impact that the site needs to have. 

The fact is, I spend very little time selling Drupal websites. I sell e-commerce solutions that will generate more revenue. I sell accessibility, more streamlined user experiences, sites that are better targeted to the needs of customers, and sites that more effectively reflect an organization brand image.

Be sure to stop by booth #308 at Drupalcon in Seattle, April 8-12 to visit with us, or Contact us today for a conversation about how Promet can create an ambitious digital experience for your organization. 

Photo credit: Michael Cannon

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Mar 19 2019
Mar 19

In preparation for his fourth DrupalCon, Chris O’Donnell, Digital Strategist, for Promet Source shared his views on the vibe of this annual conference, as well as Drupal’s current standing within the ecosystem of enterprise-level CMS platforms.  
 

What are you looking forward to at Drupalcon this year?

One of the best parts of DrupalCon for me is the community. It’s an opportunity to connect with people who I might only get to see once a year -- colleagues from other Drupal development companies, previous clients, current clients, and like-minded people from all over the country. There’s a ton of training and all of the sessions are driven by community involvement -- people who are just sharing their knowledge for the fun of it, or as a way to give back to the community.

Last year at DrupalCon, there was a proprietary software company exhibiting for the first time. They seemed really confused by world  where a development company was on the stage with some of its best customers. Why would anyone share great information with potential competitors? They were really confused by the entire thing - competitors coming together to openly share knowledge just didn't compute for them.

How would you explain it?

DrupalCon is more like a Drupal community celebration than a tech industry trade show. 

I think it was President Kennedy who said, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and the same principle applies within the Drupal Community, or any open source community. The more brain power that goes into it, the better it is for everybody. As an open-source CMS, the Drupal community is driven by the community and the needs of users. Anything that anyone does to improve or add to Drupal is freely available to all. 

I joined the Drupal community in 2014, and I love being among hundreds of thousands of people around the world who contribute to the community in various ways. 


What are your observations on how DrupalCon has evolved?

There has been a pretty big shift this year as the Con has been organized around specific tracks. Drupal 8 ushered in an orientation toward more of an enterprise-level focus, and that’s been reflected in the kind of training that’s offered and an expanded sphere of people who are attending.

With so much going on, what's your advice for attendees for getting the most out of DrupalCon?

Use the schedule builder feature on the DrupalCon website to build yourself a schedule of sessions you want to be sure to catch. Don’t forget to look at the Birds of a Feather events, which tend to be smaller and more informal. However, don’t schedule yourself so tight that you miss out on the hallway track. My most interesting conversations at DrupalCon usually happen in the hallways and at evening social events.
 

How would you characterize Drupal’s position today within the world of web content management platforms?

Drupal is an enterprise-level content management platform that delivers much of the functionality you would expect from some of the million dollar proprietary CMS platforms, while still retaining the freedom and flexibility inherent in its open-source roots.
 

What are your thoughts on when, why or how Drupal has achieved this status?

I think it was a coordinated effort related to the Drupal 8 rollout. D8 was a total rewrite of the CMS, with the goal of producing an enterprise-grade CMS that would be on par with the established and expensive proprietary platforms. The momentum is now really strong for Drupal as an enterprise CMS.

What sets Drupal apart from other web content management platforms?

The freedom, flexibility, and lack of license fees that come with open source set it apart from all the proprietary options. It’s different from any other open-source CMS in that it has strong corporate sponsorship, a dedicated security team, and an enterprise heavy install base.


What will the extent of your participation in DrupalCon be this year?

I’m excited about attending the GovSummit on Monday, April 8, and will be presenting in the Builder Track at 3:15 on Wednesday, April 10, in Room 608. Otherwise, I’ll be in and out of sessions and at the Promet Booth (#308) for the rest of the event. This is Promet’s 12th year as an attendee and 11th year as a sponsor. Once again, we’ll be all over DrupalCon. The entire senior leadership team will be there, along with some of our senior developers and our entire sales and marketing team. I’m particularly excited about the addition of Mindy League to our leadership team this year. The Human Centered Design team that she is heading represents an exciting expansion for Promet. I definitely recommend that anyone who is interested in the very latest in design thinking for digital experiences make it a point to grab some time with Mindy. 


How would you characterize Promet’s client base for whom Drupal proves to be the right solution?

Very much in line with what Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal said at DrupalCon twy years ago: “Drupal is for organizations that are looking to build ambitious digital experiences.” It’s not so much about the size of the company or the team, it’s about the reach and impact that the site needs to have. 

The fact is, I spend very little time selling Drupal websites. I sell e-commerce solutions that will generate more revenue. I sell accessibility, more streamlined user experiences, sites that are better targeted to the needs of customers, and sites that more effectively reflect an organization brand image.

Stop by booth #308 at Drupalcon in Seattle, April 8-12, or Contact Us Today for a conversation about how Promet can create an ambitious digital experience for your organization. 
 

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Feb 21 2019
Feb 21

“But I don’t want to think about Drupal 9 yet!”

Adulting sometimes means doing things we don’t want to do, like thinking about CMS version upgrades. 

We can help.

For now, here’s what you need to know about Drupal 9.

1. Drupal 9 is targeted for a June 2020 release.  

Eighteen months following the release of Drupal 9, in November of 2021, Drupal 7 and 8 will both hit EOL status. This means that you will have a little more than a year to move your site from Drupal 7 or 8, following the June 2020 release date of Drupal 9. 

The normal schedule would dictate that Drupal 7 hit EOL shortly after the Drupal 9 launch. However, because so many sites are still on D7, and at this point, many may just skip D8 completely, the decision has been made to extend D7 support for an additional year. As a result, D7 and D8 will both lose support at the same time.

The November 2021 date is significant because that is also when Symfony 3, which is a major dependency for Drupal 8, will lose support.

What this means for you as a D7 or D8 site owner is that you should have a plan to be on Drupal 9 by the summer of 2021.

2. The transition from Drupal 8 will not be painful.

Unlike Drupal 8, which for practical purposes was a new CMS sharing the Drupal name, Drupal 9 is being developed on Drupal 8. That means if you are up to date with Drupal 8.9 the move to Drupal 9 should be relatively easy. It probably won’t be Drupal 8.4 to 8.5 easy, but it should be nothing close to the level of effort of moving from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. In a lot of ways, Drupal 9 is just the next six-month update that comes after Drupal 8.9, with the added complication of being the version that we use move depreciated code and APIs out of the codebase.

My recommendation if you are still on Drupal 7: migrate to Drupal 8 when it's convenient. As stated above Drupal 9 is really just Drupal 8.10.1. So you kind of are migrating to Drupal 8, even it’s called Drupal 9 at that point. You won’t save any effort by waiting until Drupal 9 is out, you’ll just be on the outdated D7 codebase longer.

Concerning modules: as long as modules aren’t depending on any APIs that are being depreciated in D9, contributed modules should continue to work with both D8 and D9. 

3. Promet Source can help with a readiness audit

The good news if you are on an updated version of D8 the transition to D9 should be smooth. If you are on D7 you are essentially doing the same thing whether you migrate to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9.

We’re here to help! If you want to talk in more depth about what Drupal 9 has in store, and start to make a plan for the transition, contact us for information on our Drupal 9 readiness audit.
 

Feb 21 2019
Feb 21

You're probably thinking, “But I don’t want to think about Drupal 9 yet!”

Well, adulting sometimes means doing things we don’t want to do, like thinking about CMS version upgrades. 

We can make this easy.

For now, here’s what you need to know about Drupal 9.

1. Drupal 9 is targeted for a June 2020 release.  

Eighteen months following the release of Drupal 9, in November of 2021, Drupal 7 and 8 will both hit EOL status. This means that you will have a little more than a year to move your site from Drupal 7 or 8, following the June 2020 release date of Drupal 9. 

The normal schedule would dictate that Drupal 7 hit EOL shortly after the Drupal 9 launch. However, because so many sites are still on D7, and at this point, many may just skip D8 completely, the decision has been made to extend D7 support for an additional year. As a result, D7 and D8 will both lose support at the same time.

The November 2021 date is significant because that is also when Symfony 3, which is a major dependency for Drupal 8, will lose support.

What this means for you as a D7 or D8 site owner is that you should have a plan to be on Drupal 9 by the summer of 2021.

2. The transition from Drupal 8 will not be painful.

Unlike Drupal 8, which for practical purposes was a new CMS sharing the Drupal name, Drupal 9 is being developed on Drupal 8. That means if you are up to date with Drupal 8.9 the move to Drupal 9 should be relatively easy. It probably won’t be Drupal 8.4 to 8.5 easy, but it should be nothing close to the level of effort of moving from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. In a lot of ways, Drupal 9 is just the next six-month update that comes after Drupal 8.9, with the added complication of being the version that we use move depreciated code and APIs out of the codebase.

My recommendation if you are still on Drupal 7: migrate to Drupal 8 when it's convenient. As stated above Drupal 9 is really just Drupal 8.10.1. So you kind of are migrating to Drupal 8, even it’s called Drupal 9 at that point. You won’t save any effort by waiting until Drupal 9 is out, you’ll just be on the outdated D7 codebase longer.

Concerning modules: as long as modules aren’t depending on any APIs that are being depreciated in D9, contributed modules should continue to work with both D8 and D9. 

The good news if you are on an updated version of D8 the transition to D9 should be smooth. If you are on D7 you are essentially doing the same thing whether you migrate to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9.

We’re here to help! If you want to talk in more depth about what Drupal 9 has in store, and start to make a plan for the transition, contact us for information.

Jan 17 2019
Jan 17

Promet and Drupal go way back. We were at some of the first DrupalCons. We were an Acquia partner back when nobody had heard of Acquia. Most of our work today is building large, complex Drupal sites. (We are branching out though. Feel free to talk to us about Wordpress or other web development needs!) We love Drupal, and we’ve used it to build everything from simple to very complex websites.

However, Drupal 8 has changed the Drupal ecosystem. Drupal 8 is designed for engaging digital experiences. What does that mean? Mostly it means complex or mission-critical web applications. You can be a 2-person company working out of a basement, but if your website is everything to the business, there may be a good argument to build that site on Drupal 8. 

Drupal 7 was a swiss army knife. You can effectively do anything from a small blog site to the largest most complex sites online with it. Drupal 8 is more like a finely sharpened carbon steel Chef’s knife. It still does a lot, but you really shouldn’t use it to peel an apple.

Was that analogy too tortured? Anyway, we are still a Drupal first agency. However, there are definitely use cases where Drupal 8 is not the answer. Compare your project to the examples below to get an idea if Drupal 8 may be the right CMS for your website.

A small 5-10 page “brochure” site that may be updated once a quarter, if that.

This should not be a Drupal 8 site. Wordpress is probably the most common recommendation in this situation, however, I would recommend a different route. If you truly won’t be doing more than the occasional quarterly update, I’d recommend a static site generator (SSG) such as Pelican or GatsbyJS. Wordpress still comes with the overhead of keeping a database-backed web application updated and secure. For a few pages updated a few times a year, I would generate that site with the SSG and push the resulting HTML pages to a web server. With just HTML exposed on the server, your only security concern is if somebody compromises your server account. There is no database or CMS to hack. Your hosting costs are minimized this way too.

A small 50-250 page website that is updated frequently.

On the small end of this spectrum, Wordpress is the most common recommendation. As you get to the 250-page end there starts to be an argument for Drupal 8, especially if you are dealing with some more complex content types. Be careful though. A cheaper Wordpress shop will buy a $30 theme and tweak it to fit your needs. This can work fine, as long as the theme they buy was well constructed based on Wordpress best practices. Often those purchased themes are kind of a mess at the code level. 

If the site is small with static content that is highly trafficked, you can do something really interesting by using the GatsyJS SSG as a front end to Drupal. You can manage the content via Drupal, but publish it as static HTML pages via Gatsby to minimize hosting overhead and improve performance.

A large site with hundreds or thousands of pages that are updated rarely.

Drupal 8 will be the normal recommendation here, and it’s a perfectly valid recommendation. Drupal will allow you to publish structured content across the entire site, plus use taxonomy to relate content. If you need to manage user permissions about who can do what with the content, Drupal 8 becomes a great answer.

But what if you are publishing documentation that will almost never change? Do you really need the overhead of an enterprise-grade CMS that will get used rarely once the site launches? I think the static site generators are a really interesting solution to this use case. Pelican, to reference the SSG I’m most familiar with, can implement tags to relate content, and can identify different authors if it is a multi-author scenario, It has no concept of user permissions though. I’m not aware of any major sites that have been done this way, but it seems like a very low overhead answer to the publish a lot of content once and then mostly forget about it scenario. If you have a project like this let’s talk!

You have a large complex site that has a variety of content types that integrate with 3rd party systems, and it’s crucial to your business that the site stays available and performant.

This is the Drupal 8 wheelhouse. This is what Drupal 8 does best. You can think of Drupal 8 as a box of standard Lego bricks. What you build with it is only limited by your imagination, time and resources. (How big is that box of Lego bricks?) A few of the scenarios that Drupal excels at include:

  • Multi-author websites where you need granular control of publishing and editing permissions by either individual users or groups. This extends to workflow issues where you need a publishing workflow for editorial oversight.
  • E-commerce applications where you are generating significant revenue from the website.
  • Integrated solutions where the website needs to share or sync data with other business systems such as a CRM or AMS.
  • Multi-site applications where you need to manage dozens to hundreds of websites that will all share common elements while allowing for localized control of specific content elements on specific websites.
  • Multi-output applications (decoupled Drupal!) where you need to deliver the same content to disparate devices such as web browsers, mobile apps, digital signage,  voice-activated devices such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home device; and future devices we might not have thought of yet. I can see us interacting with websites via voice activation in our cars in the not too distant future, if it's not already being done. 
  • Multi-lingual websites where you need to manage translated content.

Hey Chris, you didn’t mention SquareSpace, Wix and similar services for smaller sites.

That is correct, I didn’t. Promet is an open source consulting firm, and personally, I’m an open source advocate. I avoid proprietary solutions when an open source option exists. That said, if you need to publish a small static website and want to take the path of least resistance with SquareSpace or similar, I don’t think it’s a particularly bad idea.  If your content got locked up in one of those services the site is presumably small enough that starting over won’t be that painful. But I’m not going to recommend those services, at least not in writing ;)

If you have any questions about what to do with your website please get in touch.
 

Jun 15 2017
Jun 15

A recent prospect responded to my inquiry about the project budget with this:
 
"We can't release budget information as we need all vendors to bid their best price. If they know the budget they just bid right up to it."
 
I've always known that is the fear, but in the hundreds of  website projects I've pursued over the years, I think that is the first time a potential client was ever that forthright about it. However, it's an unfounded fear. In a competitive situation with 6-50 firms proposing, we all aren't going to peg our proposals at the top of the budget. Without a budget, those 6-50 vendors aren't even proposing on the same solution. They are proposing on their perception of what they think you want for a solution. That is why you'll get bids ranging from $25K - $250K from the same RFP.
 
If you want to receive a good mix of proposals, all proposing in the same budget neighborhood, so that you get to the no-lose situation of a short list with 3 or 4 vendors that will all do a great job on your website, you have to provide the budget in the RFP. If you truly don't have a budget, give us a ceiling, or what you consider a reasonable neighborhood. It’s 2017,research is easy. Nobody believes you are putting out an RFP without having done some basic research into what “this” should cost. If you truly want a partner (which is what every RFP claims), treat us like partners, from day 1. Share the important information so that we can craft a solution that will actually work for you.
 
Any competent web shop can scale a proposal to fit a budget. We can take the same basic set of requirements and design a $40K site, or a $140K site. The primary differences between a $40K site and a $140K are:

- Depth of the discovery consulting

- Amount or complexity of the interactivity in the site

-Integration with 3rd party apps

-Amount of customization in the site

Sure, we prefer to build the $140K sites. That kind of budget allows more time for creativity in the design, and more time to customize Drupal to do exactly what the client wants. However, if $40K is all you have that is fine. We can deliver a compelling website for $40K. What we can't do is read minds. Without some guidance on budget we have to guess at whether you want the $40K site, or the $140K site. Help us help you by sharing the information we need to give you the best site possible for your budget. The reason real estate agents on HGTV ask about the budget is that a 3 bedroom / 2 bath house can have a 300% or more variance in cost based on location, upgrades, quality of materials, etc. Web sites aren’t that different.
 
Budget is the most important information you can provide in an RFP. Given the choice of  responding to 30 pages of feature requests with no budget, and 2 pages with some very basic goals and a budget, I’d prefer to write the second proposal every time, because I know up front how to meet the customer’s expectations.
 
The client at the beginning of this post? They wanted the $40K site. I guessed wrong on that one.

May 31 2017
May 31

Managing the digital strategy for an organization interested in delivering ambitious digital experiences to its stakeholders is more than a full time job. The rate of change in digital shows no sign of slowing down soon. It’s all most of us can do to just keep up, let alone think ahead. To help with that, we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the big issues that will be driving strategic digital decisions over the next year.
 
Very Responsive Design
Most organizations are happy to get their website looking good on desktop and mobile browsers. That’s not going to be good enough soon. The array of devices that want to connect with your web site for content is growing quickly. Amazon Alexa and Google Home  are both growing fast. Smart TVs want to talk to your web site too. The xBox can be a content channel, as can native apps on a phone, or a digital sign in a business. Your web site will need to support all these channels, and probably a couple we aren’t thinking about yet.
 
Decoupling Drupal
No, this does not have anything to do with the Brad and Angelina breakup last year. Decoupling is severing the tight connecting between the front end of your web site with the back end CMS. Drupal 8 enables us to build ambitious digital experiences that don’t rely on the Drupal theme layer. These means you can update the CMS without touching the UX, and vice versa. This is also related to the issue above in that a CMS that supports decoupling is the ideal platform for powering digital signs, voice activated home assistants, the Internet of Things, or whatever comes next.
 
Micro Interactions
Your smartphone is basically a collection of micro-interactions. Users can complete tasks such as set an alarm and then silence it when it rings without engaging with the bulk of the phone UI. How much easier would it be for your website users if they could interact with web site applications in much the same way they interact with iPhone or Android applications?
 
Continuous Delivery
Agile development and 99.99% uptime expectations demand that updating the website be done with no downtime. Modern hosting providers such as Acquia, Pantheon, and Blackmesh provide tools to help enable multi-tier dev/staging/production environments and logical workflows to ease pushing code to production. If you are still editing content on production sites it is past time to update your web management workflow to something more sustainable, and less risky.
 
Personalization
Personalization is not new. Yahoo and Excite were doing it on their search portals back in the late 1990s. The insights available about your web users, just based on their actions on your site, open up countless opportunities to improve conversion rates and build better digital experiences by presenting every user with a personalized view of your website.
 
Omni-channel Integration
Omni-channel integration is personalization on steroids. Just last week Google was in the news as they announced their ability to connect ads you have seen online with your physical presence in a store. For example, you see an ad for lawn mowers, and the next day Google connects that ad to the fact you entered a Home Depot shortly after seeing the ad. Mobile and web integration is another example. We are just starting to scratch the surface of what may be possible with cross channel integration.
 
The Internet of Things
IoT has security issues to deal with before it really takes off big, however the idea that everything from your light bulbs to refrigerator are online and able to talk to a server, and eventually each other, is a huge trend that is still in its infancy.
 
Open Source as a Service
What if you could acquire a fully featured Drupal website in much the same way you use Salesforce.com? You would have the power and convenience of SAAS, without the vendor lock in because you could always take your open source service, zip it up, download it, and install it anywhere you want.
 
Management & Governance
Governance may not be as sexy as a refrigerator that can tell you how much milk you have, while you sit on the couch. However, it is probably much more relevant to most digital managers today. If you have 10 or 100 people in your organization that can post content to a website, how do you manage that process for both efficiency and brand standards compliance?
 
Regulatory Accessibility Compliance

Can sight impaired visitors use your web site? How about somebody that is haas 20-20 vision, but is color impaired? Are your videos useful to both sight and hearing impaired people? The Federal government has defined a set of standards for web site accessibility. Not meeting the standards makes your web site less useful to potential customers, and puts you at risk for a lawsuit.

What are you waiting for? Let us help keep your business ahead of the curve.

Promet has been thinking about this stuff for a while. We’ve built digital sign systems powered by a Drupal website. We’ve built augmented reality apps for the Chicago Transit System, and we are experts at continuous integration. Get in touch if you want to take your digital experiences to the next level.
 

May 31 2017
May 31

Managing the digital strategy for an organization interested in delivering ambitious digital experiences to its stakeholders is more than a full time job. The rate of change in digital shows no sign of slowing down soon. It’s all most of us can do to just keep up, let alone think ahead. To help with that, we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the big issues that will be driving strategic digital decisions over the next year.
 
Very Responsive Design
Most organizations are happy to get their website looking good on desktop and mobile browsers. That’s not going to be good enough soon. The array of devices that want to connect with your web site for content is growing quickly. Amazon Alexa and Google Home  are both growing fast. Smart TVs want to talk to your web site too. The xBox can be a content channel, as can native apps on a phone, or a digital sign in a business. Your web site will need to support all these channels, and probably a couple we aren’t thinking about yet.
 
Decoupling Drupal
No, this does not have anything to do with the Brad and Angelina breakup last year. Decoupling is severing the tight connecting between the front end of your web site with the back end CMS. Drupal 8 enables us to build ambitious digital experiences that don’t rely on the Drupal theme layer. These means you can update the CMS without touching the UX, and vice versa. This is also related to the issue above in that a CMS that supports decoupling is the ideal platform for powering digital signs, voice activated home assistants, the Internet of Things, or whatever comes next.
 
Micro Interactions
Your smartphone is basically a collection of micro-interactions. Users can complete tasks such as set an alarm and then silence it when it rings without engaging with the bulk of the phone UI. How much easier would it be for your website users if they could interact with web site applications in much the same way they interact with iPhone or Android applications?
 
Continuous Delivery
Agile development and 99.99% uptime expectations demand that updating the website be done with no downtime. Modern hosting providers such as Acquia, Pantheon, and Blackmesh provide tools to help enable multi-tier dev/staging/production environments and logical workflows to ease pushing code to production. If you are still editing content on production sites it is past time to update your web management workflow to something more sustainable, and less risky.
 
Personalization
Personalization is not new. Yahoo and Excite were doing it on their search portals back in the late 1990s. The insights available about your web users, just based on their actions on your site, open up countless opportunities to improve conversion rates and build better digital experiences by presenting every user with a personalized view of your website.
 
Omni-channel Integration
Omni-channel integration is personalization on steroids. Just last week Google was in the news as they announced their ability to connect ads you have seen online with your physical presence in a store. For example, you see an ad for lawn mowers, and the next day Google connects that ad to the fact you entered a Home Depot shortly after seeing the ad. Mobile and web integration is another example. We are just starting to scratch the surface of what may be possible with cross channel integration.
 
The Internet of Things
IoT has security issues to deal with before it really takes off big, however the idea that everything from your light bulbs to refrigerator are online and able to talk to a server, and eventually each other, is a huge trend that is still in its infancy.
 
Open Source as a Service
What if you could acquire a fully featured Drupal website in much the same way you use Salesforce.com? You would have the power and convenience of SAAS, without the vendor lock in because you could always take your open source service, zip it up, download it, and install it anywhere you want.
 
Management & Governance
Governance may not be as sexy as a refrigerator that can tell you how much milk you have, while you sit on the couch. However, it is probably much more relevant to most digital managers today. If you have 10 or 100 people in your organization that can post content to a website, how do you manage that process for both efficiency and brand standards compliance?
 
Regulatory Accessibility Compliance

Can sight impaired visitors use your web site? How about somebody that is haas 20-20 vision, but is color impaired? Are your videos useful to both sight and hearing impaired people? The Federal government has defined a set of standards for web site accessibility. Not meeting the standards makes your web site less useful to potential customers, and puts you at risk for a lawsuit.

What are you waiting for? Let us help keep your business ahead of the curve.

Promet has been thinking about this stuff for a while. We’ve built digital sign systems powered by a Drupal website. We’ve built augmented reality apps for the Chicago Transit System, and we are experts at continuous integration. Get in touch if you want to take your digital experiences to the next level.
 

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