Jul 15 2015
Jul 15

Regardless of industry, staff size, and budget, many of today’s organizations have one thing in common: they’re demanding the best content management systems (CMS) to build their websites on. With requirement lists that can range from 10 to 100 features, an already short list of “best CMS options” shrinks even further once “user-friendly”, “rapidly-deployable”, and “cost-effective” are added to the list.

There is one CMS, though, that not only meets the core criteria of ease-of-use, reasonable pricing, and flexibility, but a long list of other valuable features, too: Drupal.

With Drupal, both developers and non-developer admins can deploy a long list of robust functionalities right out-of-the-box. This powerful, open source CMS allows for easy content creation and editing, as well as seamless integration with numerous 3rd party platforms (including social media and e-commerce). Drupal is highly scalable, cloud-friendly, and highly intuitive. Did we mention it’s effectively-priced, too?

In our “Why Drupal?” 3-part series, we’ll highlight some features (many which you know you need, and others which you may not have even considered) that make Drupal a clear front-runner in the CMS market.

For a personalized synopsis of how your organization’s site can be built on or migrated to Drupal with amazing results, grab a free ticket to Drupal GovCon 2015 where you can speak with one of our site migration experts for free, or contact us through our website.

_______________________________

SEO + Social Networking:

Unlike other content software, Drupal does not get in the way of SEO or social networking. By using a properly built theme–as well as add-on modules–a highly optimized site can be created. There are even modules that will provide an SEO checklist and monitor the site’s SEO performance. The Metatags module ensures continued support for the latest metatags used by various social networking sites when content is shared from Drupal.

SEO Search Engine Optimization, Ranking algorithm

E-Commerce:

Drupal Commerce is an excellent e-commerce platform that uses Drupal’s native information architecture features. One can easily add desired fields to products and orders without having to write any code. There are numerous add-on modules for reports, order workflows, shipping calculators, payment processors, and other commerce-based tools.

E-Commerce-SEO-–-How-to-Do-It-Right

Search:

Drupal’s native search functionality is strong. There is also a Search API module that allows site managers to build custom search widgets with layered search capabilities. Additionally, there are modules that enable integration of third-party search engines, such as Google Search Appliance and Apache Solr.

Third-Party Integration:

Drupal not only allows for the integration of search engines, but a long list of other tools, too. The Feeds module allows Drupal to consume structured data (for example, .xml and .json) from various sources. The consumed content can be manipulated and presented just like content that is created natively in Drupal. Content can also be exposed through a RESTful API using the Services module. The format and structure of the exposed content is also highly configurable, and requires no programming.

Taxonomy + Tagging:

Taxonomy and tagging are core Drupal features. The ability to create categories (dubbed “vocabularies” by Drupal) and then create unlimited terms within that vocabulary is connected to the platform’s robust information architecture. To make taxonomy even easier, Drupal even provides a drag-n-drop interface to organize the terms into a hierarchy, if needed. Content managers are able to use vocabularies for various functions, eliminating the need to replicate efforts. For example, a vocabulary could be used for both content tagging and making complex drop-down lists and user groups, or even building a menu structure.

YS43P

Workflows:

There are a few contributor modules that provide workflow functionality in Drupal. They all provide common functionality along with unique features for various use cases. The most popular options are Maestro and Workbench.

Security:

Drupal has a dedicated security team that is very quick to react to vulnerabilities that are found in Drupal core as well as contributed modules. If a security issue is found within a contrib module, the security team will notify the module maintainer and give them a deadline to fix it. If the module does not get fixed by the deadline, the security team will issue an advisory recommending that the module be disabled, and will also classify the module as unsupported.

Cloud, Scalability, and Performance:

Drupal’s architecture makes it incredibly “cloud friendly”. It is easy to create a Drupal site that can be setup to auto-scale (i.e., add more servers during peak traffic times and shut them down when not needed). Some modules integrate with cloud storage such as S3. Further, Drupal is built for caching. By default, Drupal caches content in the database for quick delivery; support for other caching mechanisms (such as Memcache) can be added to make the caching lightning fast.

cloud-computing

Multi-Site Deployments:

Drupal is architected to allow for multiple sites to share a single codebase. This feature is built-in and, unlike WordPress, it does not require any cumbersome add-ons. This can be a tremendous benefit for customers who want to have multiple sites that share similar functionality. There are few–if any–limitations to a multi-site configuration. Each site can have its own modules and themes that are completely separate from the customer’s other sites.

Want to know other amazing functionalities that Drupal has to offer? Stay tuned for the final installment of our 3-part “Why Drupal?” series!

Dec 12 2013
Dec 12

I cringe every time I hear someone mention ShareThis. When optimizing a site, it becomes a nightmare to speed up; a paranoids worst fear with all the third-party calls it makes — and a blackhole for sercuity experts tracking down the seemingly ever-changing external scripts it loads.

ShareThis Third-Party Resources

In the process of implementing a CSP, I was shocked to find the total number of resources ShareThis calls. At the time of writing this, I counted a total of 39 domains and subdomains it the ShareThis plugin was calling:

  1. http://w.sharethis.com (JavaScript, Image)
  2. http://wd-edge.sharethis.com (JavaScript)
  3. http://wd.sharethis.com (JavaScript)
  4. http://w.sharethis.com (CSS)
  5. http://l.sharethis.com (Image)
  6. http://adadvisor.net (Image)
  7. http://bcp.crwdcntrl.net (Image)
  8. http://rc.rlcdn.com (JavaScript)
  9. http://d.agkn.com (JavaScript)
  10. http://secure-us.imrworldwide.com (JavaScript)
  11. http://log.dmtry.com (JavaScript)
  12. http://match.adsrvr.org (JavaScript)
  13. http://www.wtp101.com (JavaScript)
  14. http://www.adadvisor.net (Image)
  15. http://p.brilig.com (Image)
  16. http://e.nexac.com (Image)
  17. http://su.addthis.com (Image)
  18. http://rtd.tubemogul.com (Image)
  19. http://d.p-td.com (Image)
  20. http://ds.reson8.com (Image)
  21. http://loadus.exelator.com (Image)
  22. http://dp2.33across.com (Image)
  23. http://p.nexac.com (Image)
  24. http://p.raasnet.com (Image)
  25. http://p.rfihub.com (Image)
  26. http://i.w55c.net (Image)
  27. http://loadm.exelator.com (Image)
  28. http://a.triggit.com (Image)
  29. http://sync.mathtag.com (Image)
  30. http://r.casalemedia.com (Image)
  31. http://dpm.demdex.net (Image)
  32. http://idsync.rlcdn.com (Image)
  33. http://load.s3.amazonaws.com (Image)
  34. http://d.xp1.ru4.com (Image)
  35. http://segments.adap.tv (Image)
  36. http://dm.de.mookie1.com (Image)
  37. http://ib.adnxs.com (Image)
  38. http://tags.bluekai.com (Image)
  39. http://sync.tidaltv.com (Image)

Nuts, huh?! Not a big surprise anymore why ShareThis was causing my slow page load times. From what I found, the majority of the calls are for ad and user habit tracking pixels. No wonder their a free service, their probably getting paid big bucks from companies to track what you’re doing. Though, I understand they need to connect to the various social network APIs to grab numbers, I don’t think they need to add tracking pixels for advertisements and user habits.

An example is adadvisor.net and crwdcntrl.net. Their domains used by Targus Info and Lotame which is an advertising company that is part of a network of sites, cookies, and other technologies used to track you, what you do and what you click on, as you go from site to site, surfing the Web. Over time, sites like adadvisor.net and crwdcntrl.net can help make an online profile of you usually including the sites you visit, your searches, purchases, and other behavior. Your profile can then be exchanged and sold between various companies as well as being sold to other advertisers and marketers.

Alternatives to ShareThis

After finding out everything ShareThis is doing, it was time to find some alternatives. Here’s some I’ve found that seem to be less resource intensive—though may still load ad and user habit tracking pixels, not nearly as many as ShareThis:

WordPress Plugins

If you prefer a more plug-and-play options, here’s some pretty good WordPress plugins and Drupal modules for social sharing.

1. Flare

Flare is a simple yet eye-catching social sharing bar that gets you followed and lets your content get shared via posts, pages, and media types.

Flare

2. Social Count Plus

Display the counting data of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Steam Community, SoundCloud posts and comments.

Social Count Plus

3. Dig Dig

Your all in one share buttons plugin. Add a floating bar with share buttons to your blog. Just like Mashable!

Dig Dig

4. AddThis

AddThis Share Buttons help drive traffic to your site by helping visitors share, bookmark and email your content to over 330 services.

AddThis

5. Shareaholic

Adds an attractive social bookmarking menu and related content widget to your posts, pages, index, or any combination of the three.

Shareaholic

Drupal Modules

1. Social media

The social media module helps integrate your website with social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+. It provides an centralized way of managing social media profile information and plug-in widgets such as follow and share buttons.

Social Media

2. Easy Social

Centered in a single place, you don’t need to worry in including external javascript libraries, and enabling several social modules.

Easy Social

3. AddToAny

This module helpers your readers and subscribers share, email and bookmark your articles and pages using the popular services such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and over 100 more.

AddToAny

4. AddThis

This is the #1 bookmarking and sharing button on the net. Simple and easy to use button that’s used by 14 million websites worldwide and reaching 1.3 billion people worldwide per month.

AddThis

5. Service links

Service Links facilitates the adding of social networks links or javascript buttons within the content with a special focus on developers and themers interested to extend their number or customize their displaying. Built on Drupal for Drupal doesn’t include commercial advertising or spying hidden code and doesn’t require third part libraries.

Service links

Like this:

Like Loading...

Author: Ben Marshall

Red Bull Addict, Self-Proclaimed Grill Master, Entrepreneur, Workaholic, Front End Engineer, SEO/SM Strategist, Web Developer, Blogger

Sep 06 2012
Sep 06

We are less than 24 hours away from our fourth annual Dallas Drupal Days conference, with a Drupal Business Summit on Friday and DrupalCamp on Saturday. If you need more motivation to be here ..

    1. Hear Josh Koenig, fresh from interviewing Dries at the DrupalCon Munich keynote, talk about "The Drupal Destiny". With a name like that, it's got to be good.
    1. Learn how McKessen, 15th on the Fortune 500, built their Patient Portal using nothing but Drupal and tongue depressors.
    1. Find out 10 ways your Drupal site can get hacked. It just might be getting hacked RIGHT NOW!
    1. Visit the Results Oriented Social Media Summit going on at the same time at the same venue and totally included in your ticket. If you are into that squishy social stuff... (ed. Heeey! I like the squishy social stuff! I'll be there!)
    1. Get educated on using OAuth in Drupal, Dancing, and in Life.
    1. Improve your CSS skills by learning LESS / SASS / COMPASS / WOPR / WoW and CPR.
    1. Become knowledgable about Drupal 8, 9 and 10. * did you know Drupal 10 will be developed entirely using Higgs Bosons?

 

  • Absorb information on mobile applications strategies for Drupal. The slides for this session will be projected onto a 3x4 inch screen.
  • Be taught how to build Drupal modules. Please bring transcripts from your PhD in Computer Science for admission. Not really. An MS is fine.
  • Listen to the smooth, smooth sounds of Travis Tidwell teaching you how to make money in Drupal and Open Source.
  • Be force knowledge choked by Darth Vader himself with his Guide to Drupal SEO and Galactic Domination. Yes, that Darth Vader.
  • Talk about how great Dallas Drupal Days was Saturday night at the after party at the Fox & Hound, with free drinks and food.
  • Join us for a post-Camp mountain bike ride on Sunday. Tom McCracken will demonstrate his perfected endo techniques.

 

With dozens more sessions, if you haven't registered already, you better soon- time is running out.

Jan 19 2012
Tom
Jan 19

A modern day web presence is not just your website. To be successful you have to expand your digital footprint to include social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. You need to enable your site visitors to Tweet, Like, +1 and share your content on the likes of StumbleUpon and Reddit.

To create a rich connected user experience, you need to do more than just link to social media. You need to integrate familiar social engagement directly into your website.

The fastest way to do this is through social media widgets. Widgets not only allow you to easily link to your social media profiles and allow people to share content; they seamlessly integrate the dynamic experience of social platforms into your site. They give you a wealth of tools to expand your reach, generate buzz, engage users and build your fan base.

The challenge is it can be quite tedious to coordinate the cornucopia of widgets modern sites require to be state of the art. To fix that problem, at least for Drupal sites, we present the easy five step process for socializing your website – in video form.

Helpful links


Get Drupal help when you need it most! Find hundreds of great tutorials. Track, rate, comment and more. Create Account
Dec 07 2011
Tom
Dec 07

The web has gone crazy for social media widgets. What's not to love? Magic little boxes that connect our sites to the social power of the web in convenient little code snippets. They are all the rage with the hip, in-the-know online pundits.

If you are not familiar with the social widgets, let me take a step back. (If you are familiar, feel free to skip to the free prize at the bottom of the blog.) We all know what social media is. It is about the world's masses connecting and engaging with each other online in ways never before possible. The social media revolution is driven by platforms we all have heard of: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us, and Pinterest. Okay, maybe you haven't heard of a few of them, but if not, you will. They are kind of a big deal.

It used to be that there were two sides of the web: the social side and your website. Well, yours and all the traditional websites we all have built over the last couple decades. The biggest problem was the social side is where all the cool kids hang out. But now it's not just the cool kids, it's everybody. Everyone from your mother and brother to your preacher and teacher are connecting, publishing, engaging and influencing on social media.

If you are an organization, pay particular attention to the influencing part. Wonder why your advertising is not working? You no longer control the conversation. The masses do – and they are doing it in the online social space.

So how can we integrate the two worlds of websites with social platforms? Social media widgets have emerged as the de facto, deceptively simple, yet powerful answer. They are little pieces of copy and paste code you can place on your site to connect you with social media platforms.

What are they

A widget can be as simple as a pretty button that links to your Twitter profile or Facebook page. They can be counter boxes that allow site visitors to tweet, like, share and bookmark your content on sites like StumbleUpon and Del.icio.us. They can even be more advanced like showing live Twitter updates from a profile or search term or showing a picture pile of your fans on Facebook complete with a like button that enables them to become your fan directly from your site.

Looking around the LevelTen Insight blog you see several examples. To the left we have our sharing counter widgets in a cool little floating box. (Go ahead and share. Sharing is fun.) At the top right below the search box, our profile links. (Check them out. I'll wait a minute.) On the right hand sidebar, buttons for subscribing to our blog feeds via Feed burner. (Feel free to subscribe.) Below that, a Facebook widget connecting to our fan page (Like, go ahead and join the party). At the bottom of the page is an aggregate of our tweets. (sage wisdom in 140 characters or less)

To be accurate, not all of these are technically widgets. For example, Tweets aggregation is done through a relatively sophisticated piece of programming encapsulated in Drupal's Twitter module. And that is sort of the point. Several of these features were built before widgets like the Twitter profile widget existed. To get aggregation to work, we needed an advanced system that integrates with the social platforms APIs. Yes, Drupal has many fine modules that do this, but that just obfuscates the hard work that goes into them and the future work needed to keep pace with all the social platform changes and new extended features.

The Drupal community rocks, but it is just a small subset of the online developer community. Widgets are ubiquitous, developed by a wide range of coders independent of a site's technology.

The challenge with widgets is they are almost too easy to use. Well-connected websites use a lot of them. Since they are developed by a range of developers, there are no real standards. Widgets have also gotten more advanced offering varying degrees of personalization. Implementing more than just a trivial number of widgets, particularly customizable ones, on a site can be tedious and challenging to keep organized. Since most of the sites we implement have a high degree of social connection, we spend a lot of time trying to tame the social widgets circus.

We decided it was time for a better answer. We needed to solve this problem the Drupal way.

There's now a module for that

OK, there are actually two, the Social media and Widgets modules. The Social Media module provides dozens of popular social media widgets and helps to centrally manage your site's and user's social profiles information. (E.g. so you don't have to keep entering in your Twitter username for each widget). The Widgets module provides a central UI for organizing, customizing and placing widgets on the site using blocks, node links and tokens.

Currently the Social media module supports profile management and links for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr and SlideShare. It supports standard and AddThis versions of content sharing widgets for an extended range of popular sites including StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us and Technoriati. We have support for a few advanced widgets such as the Facebook Like box and Twitter profile widget.

At this point we would love to get community feedback. What widgets do you commonly use and which ones would you like to see? Just comment to let us know.


Get Drupal help when you need it most! Find hundreds of great tutorials. Track, rate, comment and more. Create Account
Sep 28 2011
Sep 28
Competitive Forces

One of the most useful, important, and enduring business strategic models was developed by Harvard professor Michael Porter in the 1970's. Michael Porter's five forces model provides organizations with a framework for industry analysis and strategy development based on a holistic understanding of the structural drivers of profitability. Good strategies help organizations anticipate and influence competition (and profitability/success) over time.

According to Porter, most strategist too narrowly define competition. Industry rivalry, customers, suppliers, potential entrants, and substitute products define an industry’s structure and shapes the nature of competitive interaction. The sum total of the competitive intensity from these forces determine the attractiveness of an industry.

Applying the Five Forces Model to Commitments in Internet Collateral and Providers (iTechnologies)

Five Forces

Businesses, organizations, governments, and even individuals are making huge resource commitments in Internet collateral such as Websites, social network media, online productivity applications, company intranets, and more. Understanding the competitive structure of Internet industries can lead to better long-term commitments in technology. In today's rapidly changing industries, using the five forces model can help defend against "tricks or trends" that can easily divert our attention, resources, and success. Organizations can use the five forces model to guide commitments in iTechnology by:

  • Looking for companies that are competing where the forces are the weakest
  • Organizations that exploit changes in the forces
  • Competitors that are reshaping the forces in their favor

My Suppliers are My Competitors: Sustainability Versus Bargaining Power

When customers seek providers of iTechnology they need to commit to providers that will be able to sustain industry pressures for the next 10-30 years.  Given that history has consistently demonstrated that most industries are dominated by a few participants, it is important to correctly identify the few organizations that will be around for the long-term. Keep in mind that the value of your resource commitment is not in the technology, but your ability to add value to the technology.  As we all know, the cost of database software should pale in comparison to the cost of the time the software is used in an organization. A productive database is rich in value. 

The five forces model points out that successful providers will have more control over the bargaining process with customers than less successful providers. Realizing this, iTechnology customers should overcome the temptation to commit to organizations that are in an inferior negotiating position in the transaction. Let's consider the case when organizations are selecting a Web developer.  Established providers snub their noses at small projects and price-sensitive buyers. The buyers then move down to mid-size and small developers until they find a provider that can be dominated, intimidated, or controlled.  However, this probably is not a good strategy since these providers are weak competitors that are less likely to be around for the long-term. 

Conclusion

Organizations of every size are making huge resource commitments in Internet and social media providers. Critical to good decision making is the long-term viability of the commitment. The five forces model can be used to identify potential providers that will be around for the long-term. A good understanding of the competitive forces in iTechnology industries can help organizations avoid the pitfall of investing in providers that are in a weak long-term competitive position. This will enhance the value of the resource commitment and decrease the long-term cost.

References
Aug 08 2011
Aug 08

The evening of Tuesday 23rd August will be the unofficial DrupalCon curry night. Together with NikLP, we are planning to bring together all those who love both Drupal AND curry. After all, London has some of the best of the country's curry houses, so bring an iron stomach (just kidding, as curry doesn't have to be violently hot, if you don't like that sort of thing) and let's eat!

We're going to keep the official information in a DrupalCon forum thread, but the basic idea is that we will meet in a bar around 7.30pm, and once everyone's gathered, head to the restaurant at 8.00pm. We would really appreciate if you can commit to this definitely, as we will need to book tables, and we need to know numbers as accurately as possible, so if you're just thinking about it, please hold fire, and come back when you're sure!

In any case, the DrupalCon thread is the place to get the most up-to-date information, and to let us know you're interested! Hope to see you there!

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