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Jun 30 2021
Jun 30

Infinite scrolling is a technique used to show more content as the user scrolls down a page eliminating the need for the user to click to go to the next page. This is commonly implemented in popular social media apps.

This tutorial will demonstrate how to use the Views Infinite Scroll module to achieve this and also show options that can be used to customize the user interaction with the infinite scrolling behavior.

We will show you how to:

  • Install the module
  • Set up a simple view
  • Add the infinite scroll behavior
  • Customize the infinite scrolling behavior.

Drupal Views Series

Table of Contents

Getting Started

We can easily install Views Infinite Scroll using Composer:

composer require drupal/views_infinite_scroll

To enable you can use Drush:

drush en views_infinite_scroll -y

Step 1: Set up your View

For the purposes of this tutorial, we are assuming you already have a content type set up and have already generated enough content for it.

We are going to create a simple View that lists Articles (Title and Body fields).

Go to Structure -> Views -> Add view

Here is a screenshot of our simple View. There is nothing fancy. We are only listing published Articles and have created a Page display for it.

If you’re new to Views then check out our “Getting Started with Views” tutorial.

Step 2: Adding the Pager

In the Pager settings of your View, change the type to “Infinite Scroll” (leaving all the settings as default for now).

Also, in the Advanced section of your View, set “Use AJAX” to “yes”.

Here is how our View settings looks now:

Save your View and go to the URL of the View page to test out your Infinite Scroll. You should now see a “Load More” button in the pager section of your View page that looks like this:

And that’s it! You now have infinite scrolling for your View. However, there are more options that can be configured for your Infinite Scroll. These are all optional as we shall demonstrate them now.

Step 3 (Optional): Replace the button text

You can add tokens to your Infinite Scroll button to enhance the user’s experience.

In the pager section of your Views configuration page, open the settings of your Infinite Scroll pager as shown in the screenshot below:

Set the button text to “Load @next_page_count more (Total @total)” as shown in the screenshot below:

Now your Views Infinite Scroll Pager button text will look like this:

@next_page_count” and “@total” are called “tokens” in Drupal. The tokens are replaced with actual data automatically.

View Infinite Scroll supports the following tokens:

  • @next_page_count
  • @remaining_items_count
  • @total

Step 4 (Optional): Automatically Load Content

Currently, users would have to click on the “Load More” button to get the next set of content. The Views Infinite Scroll page has an option to automatically load content (without the need to click on the button).

Go to the settings of your Views Infinite Scroll pager and check the box “Automatically Load Content” and click on Apply.

Save your View and then test it. As you scroll to the bottom of your View, another set of content should automatically be loaded.

Warning: Enabling this setting means that the user never actually gets to the footer of your page until they have exhausted loading all of your content. For example, if you had 1000 articles, it would take a very long time to see the footer. This means that if you had important links in your Footer (like Privacy policy links etc), it’s almost unreachable.

Step 5 (Optional): Exposing Options to the User

Views Infinite Scroll allows you to expose settings to allow the user to control selected displays options. We will demonstrate by doing an example. In the Settings of your Views Infinite Scroll Pager, scroll to the “Expose Options” and check “Allow user to control the number of items displayed in this view”, then click on Apply and save your View.

This results in the following being added to the top of your View page:

This specific option will allow the user to select how many results are returned everytime they click on the “Load More” button.

Summary

Views Infinite Scroll is a neat module that allows you to add infinite scrolling behavior to your View. We have shown how you can use this module to achieve this infinite scrolling behavior and also demonstrated a few of its customizations along with one of it’s biggest pitfalls.

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Jun 23 2021
Jun 23
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In Drupal, content is stored in the database. Views is a query builder that allows the user to extract content from the database and output it in various displays such as tables and lists. With Views, the user does not have to know or write any SQL queries. If you want to create a page or block in Drupal that lists any kind of content based on different filter criteria, you should use Views!

In this tutorial, we will explain what Drupal Views are and how to create it. We will also demonstrate some simple customizations such as page settings, filters, sorting, display options, exposed filters, permissions, creating a View Block and creating an admin page using Views. By the end of this tutorial, you will know how to create and customize a Drupal View.

Drupal Views Series

Table of Contents

Getting Started

As of Drupal 8, Views already comes packaged with Drupal core so there is no need to download anything. If you installed Drupal using the standard installation profile then it’ll be already installed.

Go to Extend and make sure Views and Views UI are installed.

How to Create a View

In this section, we will walk you through the process of creating a very simple View that lists  published Articles using the teaser view mode.

First, ensure you have enough article content on your website and ensure you are logged in as the administrator. Now let’s create the View.

1. Go to Structure -> Views (admin/structure/views) and click on “Add view”.

2. On the “Add view” page, fill out the fields as suggested in the screenshot below. All we are doing here is giving the view a name, selecting “Article” in View Settings and ticking the box “Create a page”. Every other field can be left as the default for now. Click on “Save and edit” when you are finished.

Views Creation Screen – Figure 1

And that’s it! You have successfully created your View. If you were to go to “/latest-articles” you can see the output of your View.

We will now explain the major parts of the Views configuration screen. We have highlighted different sections of the Views configuration screen in the screenshot below and labelled each section with a number for easier reference and explanation.

Views Config Screen – Figure 2

Label 1 – As the name suggests, this is the title of the View. This is the text that will appear as the title of the /latest-articles page.

Label 2 – This determines the output style of the view. Frontend themers can use this to style the output by overriding the default templates provided by Views. There are also contributed modules that can extend and provide more options such as Views Slideshow.

Label 3 – This determines how each row result of the View should be displayed. Currently it’s set to “Content” which allows us to choose different view modes like Teaser or Full Content. If you want to show just specific fields of your Articles, you can change it from “Content” to “Fields”. Then, you can select the fields you want to display in Views Config Screen Label 4.

Label 4 – Based on which Format style you choose above, this section will allow you to choose the specific fields to display.

Label 5 – This section allows you to define criteria for filtering your View results. Currently we are only showing published articles.

Label 6 – As the name suggests, we can define how to sort the View results. You can also sort on your content type fields by adding them here.

Label 7 – This is the path for your View page.

Label 8 – If you want to add your View page to any of your Drupal menus, this is where you can do it.

Label 9 – In this section you can define specific permissions for who is allowed to access your View.

Customizing your View

Let’s say we want to customize our current View to display a table layout with just Title and Body fields of the Article content type. But we also wanted to allow the user to input a text string that will filter the results against the Title. We will refer to the labelling in Figure 2 to help with our explanation.

1. Update the Format (Views Config Screen Label 2). Set it to Table. You can leave the default Table settings.

2. In doing Step 1, you may notice that Views automatically added the Title field in the Fields section (Label 4). Let’s add the Body field as well.

Click on “Add” in the Field section:

In the “Add fields” popup, search for “body” and click on “Add and configure fields”.

On the “Configure field: Content Body”, you can leave all the defaults and just click on Apply.

3. Now let’s demonstrate how to allow the user to enter text into a field that will automatically search against the Title field. In Drupal Views, this is called an “exposed filter”.

To create this exposed filter, click on “Add” in the Filter Criteria section (Label 5).

Then search for Title in the next screen and click on “Add and configure filter criteria”.

On the next screen, check the box “Expose this filter to visitors, to allow them to change it”. More options will automatically become available. Make sure to set the Operator to “Contains” and then click on “Apply”.

Tip: “Contains” means Views will use the string entered by the user and execute a SQL search in the database for any string that contains the characters entered in that order, i.e., “...LIKE %usertext%...” in SQL.

4. Now that we have set the Table Format, Title/Body fields and exposed filters, it’s time to save the View. This step can be easy to miss so don’t forget it!

Now if you view the actual View page, the View output should look like this:

Create Block using Views

A View Block is just a regular Drupal block except it originates from Views.

For demonstration purposes, let’s say we wanted to create a block version of the View page we created above.

There are two ways to do this. You can either click on “+Add” or click on “Duplicate as Block”. Both options are shown below:

Once you have done that you will notice you will now have “Block Settings” instead of “Page Settings”. This makes sense since now we are dealing with a Drupal Block.

Go ahead and save your View. Once the View is saved, a Drupal block is automatically generated and will be listed alongside all the other Drupal blocks.

Place the block anywhere in your Drupal site as you normally would place any Drupal block into a region. Here is a quick video of how to place a Drupal block into a region. We placed ours in the left sidebar and it looks like this:

You will notice our exposed filter is not being displayed in our Block. There is one extra step involved if you want to get exposed filters to work in View blocks. On the View configuration screen, inside of Advanced, set “Use AJAX” to yes and save your View. Here is how that looks:

Now our Views Block has the exposed filter which looks like this:

Create Admin Page using Views

Let’s say we wanted to use the View page we created above but place it within the admin UI and only accessible to a person with elevated permissions (in other words, not anonymous users). This is a screenshot of the end result we are trying to achieve:

There are a few things we need to edit in our existing View to achieve this. All of the changes we have to make will be in the Page Settings of our View config screen (See Figure 2). We need to update three things:

  1. Label 7 – Update the Path
  2. Label 8 – Update the Menu
  3. Label 9 – Update the Access Permission

1. Updating the Path: In the Views config screen, update the Path to “admin/content/latest-articles”.

2. Update the Menu: In the Views config screen, update the Menu. Clicking on “No menu” will take you to the Menu item entry config screen. On this screen, choose Menu Tab for Type, enter a Menu link title and set the Parent to “” and then click on Apply.

3. Update the Access: We can do this either by defining the Permission or by defining the role. For this tutorial, we will define the permission. In the Views config screen, click on “View published content” and change it to “Access the content overview page”.

4. Save your View!

Now if you go to “admin/content/latest-articles” as a logged in user, you should see your View page. If you tried going to this same page as an anonymous user you should get Access Denied.

Summary

In this tutorial, we introduced you to Views and some of its potential capabilities by providing some simple customizations. We specifically concentrated on demonstrating how to create a View Page and a View Block which list published Articles and also included a View exposed filter which allows the user to enter a text string to search against the Title. We also touched on how you can create an admin page using Views by updating its path, menu and permissions.

Views, which is in Drupal core as of version 8, is a very powerful tool and can be highly configured and customized. We hope we helped in getting you introduced to Views and the potential it has.

Editorial Team

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Jun 18 2021
Jun 18

Drupal 7's end of life is scheduled for November 28, 2022. Up until then, the Drupal Security Team will continue to provide patches to Drupal 7 core and contributed projects should any security threats arise. After that point, however, the Drupal Security team will no longer support Drupal 7.

Is it Safe to Stay on Drupal 7?

If your organization is currently running Drupal 7, you’re faced with a decision on whether to upgrade to Drupal 9 or not.

Crafting a business case can help with your decision because it contains projections for initial costs and ongoing costs for making the upgrade investment vs. maintaining the status quo, as well as projections for revenue and savings. The business case exercise can further forecast the break-even point for your upgrade investment. However, in the case of future security threats, we can’t be confident of what the future ongoing costs will be, because we can’t predict when such security threats will arise, nor will we know the severity of them. 

What we can do, however, is make organizations that use Drupal aware of the risks of not upgrading. There are three general areas of risk: security, integrations, and functionality.

Security Risks

After Drupal 7 reaches the end of life, whenever security issues are identified in core or contributed modules, there won't be very much support to fix them. Site maintainers could find themselves in the position of having to spend a lot of time searching for security holes and fixing them. This risk gets compounded if there are a lot of contributed modules in your Drupal configuration. 

There will be a few agencies that will offer the service of maintaining your Drupal 7 platform post end-of-life. This will help greatly to secure your site if you’re willing to invest in hiring such an agency. One of their main tasks is to backport fixes for core and contrib issues. These fixes will of course not be included in the D7 upgrade path because there won’t be an upgrade path at all. As a point of reference, after Drupal 6 had reached its end of life, there weren't a disproportionate amount of security fixes needed for its core nor contributed modules. Still, the risk is not zero. Every aspect of a Drupal application must be considered to ensure there are no security gaps.

Another aspect of taking this path is that much of the time maintaining a site like this is spent managing and mitigating security risks rather than making improvements or implementing new features. For a good many developers, this is not rewarding work. 

In the history of previous Drupal security fixes, some have been pretty small -- one-line changes that take an hour to review and fix -- while others have taken days or even weeks of development time to analyze and produce a solution for. 

An advantage of choosing to upgrade a Drupal 7 site to Drupal 9 is that you gain all of the advantages of security improvements that were included in Drupal 8 and each subsequent feature upgrade. In this blog post, Peter Wolanin of Acquia details some significant security improvements included in the initial Drupal 8 release. Drupal 9 has additional advantages such as support for PHP 8.0.

Integration Risks

Certainly, security risks will come along, but another risk area in maintaining the status quo is that key integrations will eventually start to fail. For example, your Drupal environment may be integrated with another platform, and a key API on that platform is getting deprecated. Because the Drupal module that connects to it is no longer being actively maintained, you (or an agency you hire) will have to update the module or write a new custom module to keep integration working.

Functionality Risks

As the Drupal community continues to diminish the amount of activity on Drupal 7 core and contributed modules, especially after end-of-life, you basically lose those “free” updates. This is especially so with bug fixes. This forces you to either live with them or to fix them, or again, hire an agency to do it. If you do hire someone, that person won’t be as familiar with the project as one of the maintainers would be, so you’d have to factor in that additional investment. Indeed, some of these risks can be so critical that you end up rewriting large chunks of code to deal with them.

Not only do you miss out on the security improvements of Drupal 8/9 discussed above, not upgrading means you're missing out on many other improvements. Drupal 8 and 9 are built around a modern PHP stack including features such as Composer compatibility, Symfony components, modern OOP coding techniques, and more. While Drupal 7 has served our community well, it is not built upon the latest PHP libraries and development workflows that developers expect. This allows Drupal 8/9+ site owners the advantage of further enhancing their security posture by adding the Guardr security distro or module. While Drupal 8 and 9 have good security features, Guardr adds additional community vetted modules and settings which meet industry security requirements.

Talk To Us

As already mentioned, there are too many future unknowns to create a blanket business case for an upgrade investment. However, we can craft a business case specific to you based on the complexity of your existing Drupal 7 solution. We will factor in the number of modules you’re using, their complexity, the nature of your integrations with external systems, and more. We at Mediacurrent have performed this type of analysis for some of our clients to help them with their technology investment decisions and can do the same for you. Please contact us to learn more!

Jun 15 2021
Jun 15
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When someone tweets a link from your website, Twitter can use Twitter Cards to attach rich photos, videos and media to Tweets.

By doing some minimal configuration changes on your Drupal site using the Metatag Module and the Twitter Cards submodule, users can see a “Card” added below the tweet that contains neatly formatted information coming from your website, as shown in Image 1 below.

Image 1 shows an example of a “Card”.

The cards are generated using HTML markup in the HEAD region of your Drupal site; that’s why the Metatag module is used.

Twitter will scrape your site and generate the card using the HTML meta tags.

Table of Contents

Twitter Cards

There are four variations of Twitter cards. They are:

  1. Summary Card – Displays Title, description, and thumbnail
  2. Summary Card with Large Image – As the name suggests, similar to Summary Card but with a larger image
  3. App Card – A Card with a direct download to a mobile app. Use this Card to drive app downloads
  4. Player Card – Displays video/audio/media.

Image 1 above shows a “Card” of type Summary with Large Image.

In this tutorial, we will look at the steps involved in setting up the “Summary Card with Large Image” Twitter Card.

Getting Started

The Metatag module has a dependency on the Token module. However, if you download and enable the Drupal module using Composer and Drush, the dependency is automatically taken care of as we will show you now.

Use composer to download the module:

composer require drupal/metatag

Once the Metatag module is downloaded using composer, the Token module, which is a dependency, will be downloaded automatically.

Then enable the “Metatag: Twitter Card” submodule:

drush en metatag_twitter_cards -y

The above Drush command will automatically enable the Metatag: Twitter Card submodule, Metatag module and Token module.

Finally, it is always a good idea to clear the cache after enabling Drupal modules:

drush cr

Configure Twitter Cards

By default, Twitter Cards can be added to any content type. We will now configure the Twitter Cards for the Article Content type.

1. Go to Configuration > Metatag (admin/config/search/metatag) and click on “Add default meta tags”.

2. On the next page, select “Article” (or whatever content type you want to configure) from the Type dropdown.

3. Then click on Save. This is required for the correct tokens to appear in the “Browse available tokens” window.

4. Edit the “Content: Article” configuration from the Metatag page.

5. Click on “Twitter cards” to expand the field set and then select “Summary Card with large image” from the Twitter card type dropdown.

6. Now, we have to add tokens into the correct fields. Click “Browse available tokens.” then click on Nodes.

NOTE: If you can’t see “Nodes”, this means you need to save the “default meta tag” option first then edit it again.

Fill in the following fields:

  • Description: [node:summary]
  • Site’s Twitter account: Add your twitter account, i.e., @webwashnet
  • Title: [node:title]
  • Page URL: [node:url]
  • Image URL: [node:field_image] (adjust the field name accordingly)
  • Image alternative text: [node:field_image:alt] (adjust the field name accordingly)

Find Image Field Token

For this type of Twitter card, an image field must exist in your content type. We will show you how to use Token to grab that image data. Click on “Browse available tokens”.

Then drill down by going to Nodes -> Image. This assumes you’re using the Image (field_image) field on the Article content type.

The token should be [node:field_image].

Once you have found the image entity URL, make sure your mouse focus is in the empty Image URL Twitter Card meta tag field, and then click on the image entity URL token value. This will copy/paste the token value into the Image URL field.

Find Image Field Token on Media Asset

If you’re using a media field instead of an image field for handling assets, then use the following token, [node:field_media:entity:thumbnail] (change the field_media name accordingly).

7. Configure any extra fields as needed, then scroll down and click on Save.

8. Once you have filled out the other Twitter Card fields with their respective token values, you should validate the end result markup using the Twitter Card Validator tool. We will now show you how to validate your Twitter card.

As you can see, Twitter successfully recognised our “Summary with large image” card and displayed the information correctly.

NOTE: You’ll need to make sure your website is publicly accessible for the validator tool to work.

View HTML Source

If you want to see the generated markup, view the HTML source on your Drupal site and look for the “twitter:*” meta tags.

Summary

Twitter can display a neatly formatted version of your website’s content whenever someone’s tweets a link to your content. There are various types of Twitter cards depending on your needs.

We have shown how you can use the Metatag module and Twitter Cards submodule to configure Drupal 8 to correctly send your website’s content to Twitter and how to validate your markup to ensure Twitter correctly parses your website content.

FAQ

Q: I changed the default meta tag configuration, but the tags are not changing?

Try clearing the site cache. Go to Configuration > Performance and click on “Clear all caches”.

Editorial Team

About Editorial Team

Web development experts producing the best tutorials on the web. Want to join our team? Get paid to write tutorials.

Jun 01 2021
Jun 01

Are you still on Drupal 7 or 8?

All software, even that of Drupal’s top world ranking open source community, comes with a shelf life.

Drupal 7 is now a decade old, with the advent of Drupal 8 falling just four years behind. These previous major Drupal versions weren’t left in the dust with the release of Drupal 9 in the summer of 2020. But that support has an expiration date coming soon. Both versions 7 and 8 have set “End of Life” dates which means they will no longer be supported by the official Drupal community.

Version 9: Drupal in its Prime

Organizations are moving to Drupal 9 to reap the benefits of fresh features and community-supported innovation. The pace of adoption is faster than ever. It took one month to go from 0 to 60,000 sites on Drupal 9 compared to taking 7 months to get 60,000 sites on Drupal 7. Although good progress is being made with organizations moving to Drupal 9, there are still thousands of Drupal 7 and 8 sites live. If you have a Drupal 7 or 8 site, you need to start planning immediately to ensure you are prepared for support ending.

So, what is Drupal 7 and 8 End of Life?

End of Life marks the date when the Drupal community officially stops supporting older versions of Drupal. The Drupal community has always supported the current and previous versions of Drupal but with the launch of Drupal 9 last year and Drupal 10 scheduled for June 2022, “End of Life” is quickly approaching for Drupal 8 and Drupal 7’s days are numbered as well.

key dates for drupal 7 and 8

State of Drupal presentation (April 2021)

It might come as a surprise (and seem a little odd) that Drupal 8’s End of Life occurs before Drupal 7’s. There are a couple reasons behind this. First, the transition from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is not a significant effort in most cases. Drupal 9 is not a reinvention of Drupal, with only two key differences; updated dependencies and deprecating APIs. The Drupal Association illustrates the transition from Drupal 8 to 9 as just a station on the same track (versus moving the train to a different track entirely for previous upgrades). The other reason is Drupal 8 is dependent on Symfony 3 and Symfony 3’s end of life is November 2021.

drupal upgrade train track illustration

Source: Understanding How Drupal 9 Was Made, Drupal.org

For Drupal 7, the original end of life was set for November 2021 but due to the impact COVID-19 had on many organizations who are still on Drupal 7, no dependencies on Symfony 3, and the effort needed to upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 (requiring a migration and site rebuild), the date was pushed out a year.

How does this impact you?

Drupal is an Open Source project with a uniquely robust security model:

  • Drupal has a dedicated team of Security professionals who proactively review core and contributed modules for vulnerabilities.
  • When a security vulnerability is identified, the Drupal Security Team is notified and code is quickly fixed to remove the vulnerability.
  • When a fix is available an announcement immediately goes out and a patch is released to the community. Drupal sites are also automatically notified that they need to upgrade.

When Drupal 7 and 8 support ends, there will be no more Drupal core updates to Drupal 7 and 8 - even for critical security issues. The contributed modules that power your site will also no longer be actively tested and reviewed, patches and security evaluation will depend on your internal resources.

A recent study indicates that nearly 12 million websites are currently hacked or infected. Ensuring you correctly handle the security implications of Drupal 7 and 8’s End of Life is essential.

What do YOU need to do?

Without taking active steps to protect your website, you are going to be vulnerable to a security breach. Drupal 7 and 8 are widely-used content management systems that have served as a platform for some of the world’s largest websites. It is public knowledge that support for it will be ending. It’s likely that hacking groups are waiting for official support to end to use security exploits that they have already discovered to increase the number of systems they can access before they're patched.

Mitigating this risk is much easier with an experienced partner. We advise our clients to take the following steps:

  1. Ensure your website will be secure after Community Support ends. You can do this by developing an internal plan to monitor future Drupal 7 or 8 security releases, or engaging with your Drupal hosting provider and agency to cover you while you plan and execute the move off of Drupal 7 or 8.
  2. If you’re on Drupal 7 or 8, it’s likely that the time is now for a reassessment of how you use the web. Partnering with an expert Drupal agency like Mediacurrent will help you to reassess your website plans, determine if your Digital Strategy is effective, and ensure your next platform serves your needs now and can adapt in the future.
  3. Once you have identified the correct platform, plan and execute your migration. By taking care of security first, and securing the right partner, you can take the time to correctly plan and build your next Digital Platform in Drupal.

Learn to love the upgrade

While Drupal 7 and 8 End of Life might mean more work for you, we view it as an opportunity. The way we consume information on the web has changed drastically since Drupal 7 and 8 launched, and if you are still on these versions and not planning on innovating, you are likely putting yourself at a serious competitive disadvantage.

In the longer term, sticking with Drupal 7 or 8 not only means you will be fighting a constant battle against security vulnerabilities, but also that you will be doing so with a dwindling number of allies. As time goes on, Drupal 7 and 8 sites will disappear. Fewer agencies will offer any sort of Drupal support for these versions. The talent pool of developers will dry up - anyone who learns Drupal today will be learning on newer releases.

Upgrading from Drupal 7 or 8 to Drupal 9 is the opportunity to revolutionize the way you think about the web as a business tool. If you have a Drupal 7 or 8 site, you have almost certainly had it for at least five years. How many little usability improvements have you considered in that time? Is your design dated? Does your site build reflect modern practices in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), accessibility, and user experience?

With Drupal 9, Upgrading is about more than just security

Out of the box, Drupal 9 offers a significantly more powerful feature set that allows you to build the modern digital experiences you need to compete on today’s web.

At this time, no new features are being added to Drupal 7 or 8. All the innovation is happening in Drupal 9!

Look at Drupal 9’s core features:

All the best of Drupal 8 - Drupal 8 came with many new features such as an improved authoring experience with Layout Builder, an API-first architecture that opens the door to a decoupled CMS, TWIG templating engine for improved design capabilities, and built-in web integrations to name a few. All of these features are carried over to Drupal 9.

Intuitive tools - Improving Drupal’s ease-of-use remains a top priority. Easy out of the box, a new front-end theme, and automatic updates are among the strategic initiatives for Drupal core.

Future upgrades - Upgrades will be seamless for future releases. You will no longer be forced to replatform as new versions are released.

Stay on the edge of innovation - Adopting Drupal 9 will give you access to the latest new feature releases, happening twice a year.

Powerful Distributions - If you’re planning a Drupal 9 project, you don’t have to start with a blank slate. Drupal distributions like Rain CMS can be used as the “starter” for your next Drupal project.

Prepare for an upgrade with a Drupal 9 Audit

Upgrading can certainly come with challenges. As you start planning for an upgrade, a good starting point is performing a readiness audit. An audit assesses the level of effort and provides recommendations for a smooth migration path to Drupal 9.

For more information on our Drupal 9 Readiness Audit, or to start the discussion about transitioning to Drupal 9, please visit our contact page or chat with us right now (see bottom right corner of the page). We would be happy to talk more about your project.

May 31 2021
May 31
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Drupal comes with a toolbar which is useful when administering a Drupal site. If you log in and have the correct permissions, you’ll see a toolbar across the top of the page that allows you to access back-end configuration pages.

The Admin Toolbar module extends the functionality of the toolbar and gives you lots of extra features such as drop-down menus, access to cache and cron settings and an autocomplete search.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to install and configure Admin Toolbar and its sub-modules.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

Let’s begin by downloading the Admin Toolbar module.

Run the following Composer command:

composer require drupal/admin_toolbar

Then go to Extend and install Admin Toolbar and its three sub-modules.

Functionality around the toolbar is spread across four modules in total. Here’s a breakdown of what each module does.

Admin Toolbar

Provides an improved drop-down menu interface to the site toolbar.

Admin Toolbar Extra Tools

Adds menu links like Flush cache, Run Cron, Run updates, and Logout under the Drupal icon

Admin Toolbar Links Access Filter

Provides a workaround for the common problem that users with ‘Use the administration pages and help’ permission see menu links they don’t have access permission for. Once the issue https://www.drupal.org/node/296693 be solved, this module will be deprecated.

Admin Toolbar Search

Provides quick search functionality for configuration pages.

Let’s take a look at each module in more detail.

This module is the base module of Admin Toolbar. After installation, it provides drop-down functionality on top of the standard toolbar.

There is a new version 3.0.0 released recently, which requires Drupal 8.8 or above. With this version, a new configuration form was introduced to limit the number of bundles to display in the drop-down menu, resulting in performance issues.

To configure this new mechanism, go to:

Admin > Configuration > User interface > Admin Toolbar Tools

The default value is 20, but can be modified here. Just pay attention to the warning on this page which says ‘Loading a large number of items can cause performance issues.’. We can leave it 20 by default to start with.

This sub-module adds extra drop-down functionality to the base module by providing the following additional functions:

  • Additional menu items are available in the drop-down functionality
  • An extra Drupal logo icon will be attached to the left corner of the Admin Toolbar, which provides additional functions in a convenient manner:
  • Index – provides a list of functions indexed in alphabetical order
  • Flush all caches – flush all caches, or individual caches of the system.
  • Run cron – run a cron job immediately, instead of waiting for the default time period of 3 hours.
  • Run update – run a system update process, generally after system or module updates.
  • Logout – provide fast access to the logout function.

This sub-module offers a workaround for users which have the ‘Use the administration pages and help’ permission but not access to the specific pages. Menu items are still visible even if the user doesn’t have access.

Once https://www.drupal.org/node/296693 is fixed this module will be deprecated.

This sub-module doesn’t require any configuration, just install and you’re done.

An ‘Admin toolbar quick search’ box is provided on the Admin Toolbar. This is useful for beginners, site builders or administrators who are not familiar with Drupal. They can find the functions they are looking for, administrative or configuration pages by searching here.

Summary

Admin Toolbar is a must-have module on any Drupal site. It gives site administrators and builders a better user experience when managing content and configuration.

I especially like the quick search functionality offered by “Admin Toolbar Search”. This makes it easy to search for configuration pages.

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May 18 2021
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To keep your organization at the forefront of open source security and innovation now's the time for a Drupal upgrade or migration to Drupal 9. Drupal 7’s end-of-life is November 2022, but if you’re currently on Drupal 8 the end-of-life hits in November 2021.

In this guide, we’ll cover Mediacurrent’s tried and tested approach to upgrading sites of all sizes. Kick-off with a codebase audit. Then, tackle code and compatibility issues. In the final mile, run a first-attempt upgrade to find and fix any remaining issues. And finally, the actual Drupal 9 upgrade.

Introduction

As you think about your upgrade path (whether moving from Drupal 7 or 8), a good starting point in preparing for Drupal 9 is performing a readiness audit. An audit will assess the level of effort and provide recommendations and preparations for a smooth upgrade or migration path to Drupal 9.

At a high level, a Drupal 9 upgrade process would look like this:

  1. Audit the codebase for deprecated code

  2. Audit the codebase for composer compatibility

  3. Fix deprecated code issues

  4. Fix composer compatibility issues

  5. Attempt Drupal 9 upgrade and see what’s left

  6. Perform actual Drupal 9 upgrade

In the first blog post of this Drupal 9 Upgrade series, I will focus on the first two steps and show you how to audit a codebase for Drupal 9 readiness. By the end, you will have a better understanding of the process and level of effort required for a successful upgrade and be more prepared to estimate a budget and timeline.

Audit for Drupal 9 Readiness

Performing an initial audit on the codebase is straightforward. This process should result in tickets in your task management system of updates to be performed way before the actual Drupal 9 upgrade release date.

Scan for deprecated code

Drupal-check is an invaluable tool for scanning files in a codebase to check their Drupal 9 readiness by looking for deprecated code -- basically code that was previously lingering around in Drupal 8 but is now removed from Drupal 9.

If drupal-check helps you during this process, and I’m sure it will, consider sponsoring the ongoing development and improvements of the project.

Install drupal-check

The most typical way to install drupal-check is to install it as part of the project via composer as a dev requirement. Be sure to review the drupal-check installation documentation.

composer require --dev mglaman/drupal-check

Run drupal-check

The drupal-check command can be run on any single file or directory. These steps assume it was installed in the project with composer, therefore the executable exists in the “vendor” folder and can be run as follows.

Here is an example of running the command against a contributed module that contains some deprecated code issues:

vendor/bin/drupal-check docroot/modules/contrib/allowed_formats

drupal-check error report

Now would be a good time to create a task in your task management system for addressing that deprecated code issue. Thankfully a solution already exists for the Allowed Formats contributed module that fixes this one particular issue.

That issue and fix were found by visiting the module’s project page that you are working on making Drupal 9 ready, search for “drupal 9” in the issue search box, and review what Drupal 9 related issues exist.

Allowed Formats module drupal 9 issue search

There is typically an issue labeled “Drupal 9 Deprecated Code Report”, but it may be named something else, and there may also be multiple related issues.

Allowed Formats module Drupal 9 issue list

Here is another run of drupal-check against another contributed module, which in this case, has no deprecated code issues.

vendor/bin/drupal-check docroot/modules/contrib/crop

drupal-check success report

While it appears at this time that this module is Drupal 9 ready per the drupal-check tests, it may not be completely Drupal 9 ready yet. In the next section, we’ll look at ways to check composer compatibility, which once the module is both composer compatible and no code deprecations present, it will be in great shape for the Drupal 9 upgrade.

Good, but not perfect

The drupal-check tool is very helpful, but it is not perfect. Again, consider sponsoring the project to help continue future development and improvements!

One of the false positives drupal-check may report relates to class usage. For example, it may be validating a class that is used by a module that no longer exists in the codebase, e.g. old code from a Drupal 7 migration that’s no longer used, so there’s nothing to do about that.

Also, sometimes drupal-check does not catch certain issues. For example, the codebase had a custom module that still contained a call to the `path.alias_manager` service, but that service is no longer available in Drupal 9 and was moved to `path_alias.manager`. However, drupal-check did not report this as an issue - I only found out about this issue once the Drupal 9 site was built and I tried to access the page that was controlled by the code that contained that old, removed service class call.

An alternative to drupal-check is to use the contributed module, Upgrade Status, to check on the Drupal 9 readiness of your existing site.

You should now have a good understanding of what custom and contributed packages need work to make them Drupal 9 ready. Be sure to keep notes or skip to the Issue Tracking section below.

Check composer compatibility

In addition to the deprecated code issues, the codebase also needs to be compatible with Drupal 9 from a composer perspective. Without packages being Drupal 9 supported in composer, composer will simply not allow the codebase to upgrade to Drupal 9.

What’s Not D9 Compatible?

A quick test you can do right away is to run this command, which will list all packages that are only supported by Drupal 8. These will need to be updated to also support Drupal 9.

composer why drupal/core | grep -Ev "\^9"

Essentially, this command tells us which other packages depend on Drupal core that do not yet have a 9 version in its composer metadata. Composer will not allow a Drupal 9 upgrade. Read more about the Composer Why command.

The output of the command will look something like the following:

Composer compatibility check results

These values come from the composer.lock file and are basically the list of packages used in the codebase that depend on drupal/core, specifically packages that only work with Drupal 8. This should be pretty much all of the themes, modules, and profiles, unless they have been kept updated on a regular basis and when security releases are available and necessary.

Just to be clear, the first lines that start with “drupal/core” can be ignored, the only ones to focus on are the other lines that reference contributed (or custom) modules.

For instance, in the example above the Facets module has a current version of “1.4.0”, or 8.x-1.4. This module will need to be updated to a later version, or a patch added that makes it Drupal 9 compliant; it might also be worth testing the current dev snapshot, the necessary fixes might have been committed, just not available as a full release yet. It appears for Facets module, the 8.x-1.5 version adds the Drupal 9 support.

Results in this output should be added as new tickets in the ticket management system of packages needing updates to address the deprecated code and composer compatibility issues.

Issue Tracking

To track the status of packages and their Drupal 9 readiness, I recommend creating a spreadsheet that helps track the ongoing upgrade process and what needs to be done. The below is just a small subset of changes needed, but I do recommend having multiple rows per package, in the cases where there may be multiple Drupal.org issues to cover all the D9 related fixes you’ll need.

Without getting too deep into it right now (saving for the next blog post), I’ve seen deprecated code issues be addressed in one Drupal.org issue, and the fix was committed to the latest version. But simply updating to the latest version did not make it Drupal 9 ready, because there were still composer compatibility fixes, and in some more rare cases, even still some deprecated code issues that were missed in the first pass. So, those issues may be split among multiple issues on Drupal.org.

Tracking Drupal 9 issues in spreadsheet

This planning, tracking, and documentation will help you as you continue through the Drupal 9 Upgrade process and keep tabs on what is remaining along the way. It may also serve as a good starting point or baseline for the next Drupal 9 upgrade process you may be involved in.

Conclusion

This blog post focused on the up-front audit process and preparation work required to understand the amount of work required to get into Drupal 9 readiness status. In the next blog post in this Drupal 9 Upgrade series, we will work on fixing the deprecated code and composer compatibility issues we discovered and documented as a result of this audit process.

Mediacurrent is a top 10 contributor on Drupal.org and has created solutions to accelerate, ease, and enhance the upgrade process. We can help you prepare for a Drupal 9 upgrade. Reach out anytime if you want to discuss your Drupal upgrade path or are interested in our team performing a Drupal 9 audit on your site and how we can help you succeed.

May 18 2021
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Creating a block using views is pretty straightforward. You could create a block to display a list of published articles or ones that have been promoted to the front page. Then you can add that block into any theme region.

But you may encounter a situation where you no longer have any articles which are published and then you end up with an empty block.

Views comes with a feature that allows you to hide a block if no results are returned and this is what will be covered in this tutorial.

Table of Contents

Getting Started with a Simple Example

We need to display a block that lists all articles that have been promoted to the front page. This can easily be achieved by using a custom views block

The views configuration will look something similar to the following:

This is a block created from views, and we can place the block on the sidebar, like the following:

The criteria of the views setting is based on some articles having the ‘Promoted to front page’ option checked.

The Problem

However, sometimes articles may not be promoted at all.  As a result, there are no results returned from the views setup above, and the block will look like this:

How to Fix It

To avoid this situation, we can choose to Hide the Block when no results are returned.  In fact, there is an option of ‘Hide block if the view output is empty’ at the bottom corner of the views setting, which a lot of people might easily overlook.

Simply enable this option, and it is done.

With this option enabled, the block will disappear when the view returns no results, like the image below:

Summary

This ‘Hide block if the view output is empty’ option is actually one which is very useful, but it can be easily overlooked.

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May 12 2021
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When someone shares a Facebook post with a link to your website, Facebook lets you control how your website content appears to others by parsing your Open Graph (OG) markup.

By doing some minimal configuration changes on your Drupal site using the Metatag Module and the Metatag: Open Graph sub module, you can define what specific content can be shown on Facebook regardless of whether it’s shared from the desktop or mobile web or a mobile app.

It is easier to explain by showing the end result of what we are trying to accomplish. For example, the homepage of www.webwash.net has the following OG markup inside of the :

If someone posted www.webwash.net to Facebook, then Facebook would parse the OG markup like this:

And the end result would look like this:

You can clearly see the corresponding OG tags for the content.

If you want to learn more about the OG tags. Click here for a detailed list and explanations of the Facebook OG tags.

In this tutorial, we are going to show you how to configure a content type to dynamically populate the Facebook OG tags using the Metagtag module and Metatag Open Graph sub module.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

The Metatag module has a dependency on the Token module. However, if you download and enable the Drupal module using composer and drush, the dependency is automatically taken care of as we will show you now.

Use Composer to download the module:

composer require drupal/metatag

Once the Metatag module is downloaded using composer, the Token module, which is a dependency, will be downloaded automatically.

Then enable the “Metatag: Open Graph” sub module:

drush en metatag_open_graph -y

The above drush command will automatically enable the Metatag: Open Graph sub module, Metatag module and Token module.

Finally, it is always a good idea to clear the cache after enabling Drupal modules:

drush cr

By default, Open Graph can be added to any content type. We will now configure Open Graph for the Article Content type.

1. Go to Configuration > Search and meta data > Metatag and click on “Add default meta tags”.

2. On the next page, select “Article” (or whatever content type you want to configure)  from the Type dropdown.

3. Then click on Save. This is required for the correct tokens to appear in the “Browse available tokens” window.

4. Edit the “Content: Article” configuration from the Metatag page.

5. Then in the Open Graph fieldset on the same page, click to expand it. You will now notice quite an exhaustive list of OG tags that you can populate. Firstly, we are going to demonstrate how to populate the Image OG tag.

For this to be successful, your Article content must have at least an image field. We will show you how to use Token to grab that image data.

Click on “Browse available tokens”.

From the Token window click on Nodes to drill down and find the content type fields.

NOTE: If you can’t see “Nodes”, this means you need to save the “default meta tag” option first then edit it again.

Fill in the following fields:

  • Content type: article
  • Page URL: [node:url]
  • Title: [node:title]
  • Description: [node:summary]
  • Image URL: [node:field_image] (adjust the field name accordingly)

Find Image Field Token

To use an image stored in an image field, click on “Browse available tokens”.

Then drill down by going to Nodes -> Image. This assumes you’re using the Image (field_image) field on the Article content type.

The token should be [node:field_image].

Find Image Field Token on Media Asset

If you’re using a media field instead of an image field for handling assets, then use the following token, [node:field_media:entity:thumbnail] (change the field_media name accordingly).

6.After you fill out all of your OG tags fields, click on Save and clear the Drupal cache. If you do not clear your cache, the OG fields may not populate for existing content.

7. Once you have filled out the other OG fields with their respective token values, you should validate the resulting OG markup using the Facebook Sharing Debugger tool. We will now show you how to validate your OG markup.

NOTE: Your website has to be publicly accessible for the debug tool to work.

8. First we need to create a test Article node (make sure to upload an image to our image field). Our test article looks like this:

9. Paste the url for this node into the Facebook Sharing Debugger tool. The output should look like:

As you can see, Facebook successfully parsed our OG markup and displayed the information correctly.

Summary

Facebook lets you control your website’s content whenever someone’s shares a link to your content regardless of whether it’s shared from the desktop or mobile web or a mobile app. Facebook does this by parsing the Open Graph (OG) markup provided by your website. We have shown how you can use the Metatag module and Metatag Open Graph sub module to configure Drupal 8 to correctly generate the OG markup needed by Facebook and we have also shown how to validate your OG markup to ensure Facebook correctly parses your website content.

FAQ

Q: I changed the default meta tag configuration, but the tags are not changing?
Try clearing the site cache. Go to Configuration > Performance and click on “Clear all caches”.

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Apr 27 2021
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File Management Series

Removing files from Drupal is more tricky than you might think. There has been another tutorial about this using the module File Delete.  It requires going through a cycle of minimum 6 hours.  By default, Drupal protects files from removal which are still being used and referenced in other content. Instead of directly deleting a file, the linked usages need to be cleared first, and the files marked as temporary, then finally the system will remove them during cleanup.

This is actually a good policy. However, sometimes it’s annoying to wait for a few hours before these files are being cleaned up. In particular, if we are sure these files are unused or orphaned, there is another module called Fancy File Delete, which solves this problem.

Fancy File Delete allows you to delete files straight away without having to wait.

However, great care must be taken when using this module, because it has a ‘force delete’ option. Use of this module should be restricted to experienced administrators.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

Before we begin, go download and install Fancy File Delete.

Using the following Drush commands:

composer require drupal/fancy_file_delete

NOTE: The module requires the Views Bulk Operations (VBO) module which will be downloaded when you run the above command.

Deleting Files

To follow a proper procedure to delete files, administrators should still go through the proper file handling process by removing them from the nodes and the media library first, even though these processes can be bypassed using this module.

After installing and enabling the modules, go to Admin >> Configuration >>  Content authoring >> Fancy File Delete. In the first tab ‘Info’, it shows a brief description on how to use the module.

Enter the ‘List’ tab, a list of all the files in the system can be found from here.  Select the file(s) to be deleted using the checkbox in front of each file, then select ‘Delete Files’ in the ‘Action’ option on the top of the page, then click the ‘Apply to selected items’ button.

Note that there is another option for Action, which is ‘FORCE Delete Files (No Turning Back!)’.  When a file cannot be deleted, try this option but handle with care.

Can’t See Action Drop-Down

If you can’t see the Action drop-down on the list page that means you’ll need to reconfigure the view.

1. Edit the List view by clicking on the pencil icon.

2. Once you’re editing the view, click on the “Views bulk operations” field.

3. Enable the actions by clicking “Select all”.

Then save the view and you should see the Action drop-down.

Delete Files manually by FID

As can be seen above, there is a File ID for each file.  Files can be deleted using this FID by entering them under the ‘Manual’ tab. Just enter the FIDs of the files to be deleted, one per line, and press the ‘Engage’ button.

Deleting Orphaned and Unmanaged Files

Additional options are available to delete orphaned and unmanaged files if the system detects them.

Deleting Files from the ‘Files’ or ‘Image’ Fields

Note that in the above procedure using ‘Fancy File Delete’ module, it is not a requirement to remove them from the nodes first:

  • It bypasses the default file delete procedure in Drupal, and therefore it should be handled with care.
  • Files deleted will also be removed from previous node revisions too.
  • Files deleted will also be removed from the list of files under Admin >> Content >> Files
  • Files deleted are permanently removed totally from the system, including the physical file in the server.
  • It does not require waiting for the minimum 6 hours requirement.

When the files are uploaded through the media module and deleted without first removing them from the nodes and the media library first, this ‘Fancy File Delete’ module still remove the files same as above, except the following:

  • Files deleted will still be removed both physically from the server and from the list of files under Admin >> Content >> Files, like above.
  • The file will not be shown in node because it is empty, but an empty entity will remain both in the node and in the media library.

Using Drush

If you use Drush, you can delete files straight away using the “drush entity:delete” command.

For example:

drush entity:delete file 1

This command will remove the file from the Files page and delete it from the file system and you won’t have to wait.

Summary

This module offers a more straightforward and efficient way to remove files from a Drupal site permanently. It is powerful and capable of bypassing the default file handling procedures in Drupal. But that also means bypassing the file protection mechanism of Drupal. It handles file deletion in an efficient manner which is an advantage, but it is also a disadvantage at the same time.

On a large site where there are more users and content authors. When deleting files are granted to more people, it is difficult to guarantee that everybody is careful enough to understand the underlying structure and relationships between files and content. There is a higher risk of accidental deletion of files. In such situations, a better protection mechanism might be necessary.

On a small site or in a small team where content is easier to manage and control, efficiency might be preferred.

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Apr 15 2021
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File Management Series

In Drupal, files can be uploaded to the site for users to view or download. This can be easily achieved by creating a file or image field on content types.

In the back end, a list of all the files uploaded can be viewed by the administrator, by going to Administration > Content > Files (admin/content/files).

Files uploaded can be easily removed from the individual content pages (see the image below), but removing them entirely from the system is another story. You might be surprised that you cannot find a button, a link or an option to remove these deleted files entirely from the system.

After deleting files on content, if you go to the Files (admin/content/files) page, you will find the deleted files are still there, and the status still shows ‘Permanent’, even though they are already removed from the nodes. It seems very confusing. Removing files from content and removing files from the system are two different things in Drupal.

To remove files from the system, we need to add the file delete function. This can be achieved by installing the File Delete module.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

The File Delete module adds the ability to delete files from within the administration menu.

To download the module run the following Composer command:

composer require drupal/file_delete

How to Configure

After installing the module, we need to add a ‘Delete link’ to the Files page.  We can do that by going to Administration > Structure > Views and edit the views of the Files list. By default, the name of the views is ‘Files’:

To add the ‘Delete link’, we need to add a field called ‘Link to delete File’ in this views, which appears like the following image:

Select this field.  We can keep everything by default, and then click ‘apply’ and save the views.  Next, go to Administration > Content > Files, and there we shall see the ‘delete’ link there, like the following:

How to Use

With this ‘delete link’, we can remove the delete files from the system by clicking on the ‘delete link’ shown in the above diagram. Note that Drupal will protect all the files, and will not allow files to be deleted when they are being used in any content.  If you try to delete a file which is still being used in a node, you will see this following error message.

The Tricky Part

In some cases, even if you have deleted the files from the nodes, and the files are no longer visible in the nodes, you might still find this error message disallowing you to remove the file from the system.

But that might be correct because these files might still be used in content. The nodes where these files came from might have more than one revision. These files removed from the current revision might still be attached to the previous revisions.

When this happens, check out the nodes again for multiple revisions, like the following example:

Only when all attachments (including the old revisions) are cleared, then these files can really be removed from the system. So in summary, when we delete the files, we need to make sure that these files are not being used in any content, including the old revisions.

The File Status

Even though you can successful remove deleted files from the system using the ‘Delete link”, you will still find the following:

  • The file is still on the list
  • The status of the file is changed from ‘Permanent’ to ‘Temporary’
  • The file is used in 0 places (that means it is not used with any nodes)

Following is an example how it will look like:

But why do these deleted files showing ‘temporarily’ status still appear in the list?  Here is why …

In fact, the files removal process has already been initiated. Drupal will delete the file in the following sequence:

  1. Change the status from ‘Permanent’ to ‘Temporary’
  2. Wait for a minimum of 6 hours
  3. Upon the next cron-run after 6 hours, the system will really remove these temporary files

That is why you still see these deleted files in the list within this 6-hour period.  This is how Drupal manages temporary files.

Temporary File Management

If you go to Administration > Configuration > Media > File system, you will find a configuration and explanation at the bottom of the page:

Here it says temporary files will be deleted in the next cron run after 6 hours. Note that 6 hours is the minimum. This ‘6 hours’ setting can be changed, but 6 hours is already the minimum.  See the following options for the configuration:

With the ‘Media’ module, files can also be added as media documents instead of a ‘File’ field.  These files added as media documents can also be deleted, but it will be a little bit different in the operation. Again, the system will not allow deleting files that are still being used.

To delete such files added as media entities, pay attention to the following:

  1. Confirm that the media is not being used on the site first.
  2. Go to Administration > Content > Media to the list of media entities, and delete the designated items here first.
  3. Next go to Administration > Content > Files, and then delete the designated files here.

It will go through the 6-hour cycle described above, but we should leave it to the system to handle it from here.

The Files list is within the administration area, accessible by the administrator. But if other users will require access to this area to delete the files, user permissions need to be configured specifically to this module.

Using Drush

If you use Drush, you can delete files straight away using the “drush entity:delete” command.

For example:

drush entity:delete file ID

This command will remove the file from the Files page and delete it from the file system and you won’t have to wait.

Summary

The file delete procedure in Drupal is not that user-friendly. The module provides the ability to delete files in Drupal.  The procedure for deleting files is a little bit complicated, due to the fact that files can be used therefore associated with different entities in the system.  Also, for this reason, it is suggested that file delete be handled by an experienced administrator with the right permission and access to the administration area.

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Mar 23 2021
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File Management Series

Drupal doesn’t support the ability to replace existing files. You can create and delete files, but you can’t replace a file without using a module. If you try to upload a file with the same name Drupal will append “_0”, “_1”, etc… to the filename and increment it.

Luckily two modules can help with replacing files, and they’re called Media Entity File Replace and File Replace.

What is the main difference between Media Entity File Replace and File Replace?

Both modules will replace “files” whilst retaining the original file’s filename by performing an “overwrite” function in the backend. In Drupal, an uploaded “file” can be a “media entity” or a “file entity”.

As the module names suggest, the main difference is that Media Entity File Replace works at the media entity level, whereas File Replace works at the file entity level.

Table of Contents

This module allows editors to replace files at the media entity level by overwriting the existing media files. Because it overwrites the files, the filename and path are exactly retained.

You should use this module to allow content editors to replace media entity files whilst keeping the same filename and path as the original file.

Getting Started

1. Download and enable the module. This module requires no additional libraries and can simply be installed with composer which is the recommended way.

To install using Composer:

composer require drupal/media_entity_file_replace

If you get the following error when using Composer:

  [InvalidArgumentException]
  Could not find a version of package drupal/media_entity_file_replace matching your minimum-stability (stable). Require it with an explicit version constraint allowing its desired stability.

Then specify the version:

composer require drupal/media_entity_file_replace:^1.0-beta3

To enable the module using Drush:

drush en media_entity_file_replace

2. Clear the cache. You can easily clear the cache via the Drupal admin UI at admin/config/development/performance or by the drush command:

drush cr

A quick overview of this step is adding a media field to an existing content type and uploading an actual media document. If you already have a media field in your content type and an uploaded media file then you can skip to step 3.

A. For any content type (we will use the default Drupal Article content type in this tutorial), add a Media field and check “Document” as the Reference type. See Image 1 below.
B. Go to Content >> Media and click on “Add Media”. At the next page, select “Document” and proceed to upload a file. Note the filename.

Image 1 – Enable “Document” reference type for the newly created Media field in the Article content type

3. Now enable the “Replace file” widget that comes from the Media Entity File Replace module.

Go to Structure >> Media Types >> Document >> Manage Form Display and enable the “Replace file” widget. This widget is disabled by default. See Image 2 below. You will not be able to replace a file until you enable this widget.

It’s a good idea to position the “Replace file” widget right under the file widget as shown in Image 2 so that when a user is editing a file, the “Replace file” widget is right under the file that they want to replace.

Image 2 –  Enable the “Replace file” widget in the Document media type found under “Manage Form Display”.

Without this module and widget enabled, the default Drupal interface will appear as in Image 3.

Image 3 – The default Drupal 8 interface to replace a media file.

4. Now if you go to Content >> Media and edit the document media that we uploaded in Step 2.B, you will see the “Replace file” widget as shown in Image 4 below. Notice that the default Drupal widget is automatically removed (see the difference between Image 3 and Image 4).

Image 4 – The “Replace file” widget coming from the Media Entity File Replace module

5. Go ahead and replace the original uploaded file with a new file with a different filename. Upon replacing the file, if you left the default option “Overwrite original file” checked, then Drupal will upload the new file and set the old file for deletion. Even if your new file has a new file name, Drupal will store the new file whilst retaining the filename of the original file. Note that the filename is the same as that noted from Step 2.B.

If you click on the new uploaded file even after doing a refresh in the browser, you may still see the old content of the original file. You must do a hard refresh in your browser to see the contents of the newly uploaded file.

More information: How to do a hard refresh in Chrome, Firefox and IE.

File Replace

This module allows editors to replace files at the file entity level by overwriting the existing files. Because it overwrites the files, the filename and path are exactly retained.

You should use this module if you want to allow content editors to replace file entities whilst keeping exactly the same filename and path as the original file. It is useful in cases where existing files in Drupal need to be updated occasionally.

Getting Started

1. Download and enable the module. This module requires no additional libraries and can simply be installed with composer which is the recommended way.

Using Composer:

composer require drupal/file_replace

To enable the module using Drush:

drush en file_replace

2. Clear the cache. You can easily clear the cache via the Drupal admin UI at admin/config/development/performance or by the drush command:

drush cr

3. There is one extra manual step that you must do. Because this module only provides the “Replace page” for each file upload, it does not provide a link to this page from the Drupal UI. You can access the “Replace page” directly by typing the URL into the browser. You can manually type the following URL into the browser:

admin/content/files/replace/{{ fid }}

Where {{ fid }} is the file id of the file you want to replace. For example, if the fid was 6, then you would go to:

admin/content/files/replace/6

This is not ideal. We will show you how to link to the page from the default Drupal Files overview page. (The outcome we are trying to achieve is shown in Image 11.)

Go to Content >> Files and click on “Edit view” as shown in Image 5.

Image 5 – On the Files overview page, click on the Edit icon to the top right to edit the View.

Alternatively, you can go to Structure >> Views and edit the Files view as shown in Image 6.

Image 6 – Editing the Files view found on the View listing page.

4. Add a Custom text field to the Files View as shown in Image 7.

Image 7 – Adding a Custom text field to the Files view.

5. Then add some custom text for the text of the link. See Image 8

Image 8 – Adding custom text for the link anchor text

Also, edit the “Rewrite Results” section and enter the following in the “Link path”:

admin/content/files/replace/{{ fid }}

You can also enter custom text in the “Title text” field although this is just for aesthetic purposes. See Image 9 below.

Image 9 – Rewriting the results of the link to include a relative path.

Now click on “Apply (all displays)” and save your View.

6. The last step is to enable the “Replace files” permission for the role that you want. See Image 10.

Image 10 – Enable the permission “Replace files” for your role.

7. Now go to the Files overview page at Content >> Files and you will see a “replace” link as shown in Image 11.

Image 11 – Showing the custom “replace” link created from editing the Files view

Click on the “replace” link next to the file you want to replace and this will take you to another page where you can upload a new file as shown in Image 12.

Image 12 – The “Replace file” page provided by the File Replace  module.

Common Pitfall – Caching

Static files served by Drupal are usually cached externally (outside of Drupal) by services such as Varnish, Content Delivery Network (CDN) and the user’s browser. By default, a user’s browser will not pick up the content of the newly uploaded file until after the max-age header which is set in .htaccess for two weeks for static files. In other words, if you replace a file and do nothing, end users will see the new file content after two weeks (unless they locally do a hard refresh).

Clearing Drupal’s internal cache will not solve this caching caveat because Drupal is not involved with serving static files. This is the job of your webserver.

There are a few options worth mentioning:

Summary

Drupal does not retain filenames for uploaded files that are replaced or overwritten. Additionally, Drupal stores uploaded files as either media entities or file entities depending on your set up. This tutorial demonstrated how to retain existing file names when replacing media or file entities. There are two contributed modules you can use to solve this problem and they are Media Entity File Replace and File Replace. These modules will allow you to overwrite existing media and files respectively, whilst keeping their original filenames.

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Mar 02 2021
Mar 02
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The “Long text and summary” field has a formatter called “Summary or trimmed”. This formatter allows you to trim text to a specified set length which is important if you’re displaying a list of articles. The last thing you want is to have an article display 1000 words on the homepage.

However, this default “Summary or trimmed” formatter cannot trim the summary. If the author enters in lots of text into the summary it’ll display everything.

The Smart Trim module offers a field formatter for trimming text fields. Additional settings are available more than the default “Summary or trimmed” option – an improvement over the default formatter.

Smart Trim can also apply to Text (Plain) and Text (Plain, Long) fields which, by default, do not have the “Trimmed” option available.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

Before we can begin, go download the Smart Trim module.

Using Composer:

Composer require drupal/smart_trim

Once downloaded go and install the module.

How to Use Smart Trimmed Formatter

1. Go to Structure > “Content types” and click on the “Manage display” on a content type row.

2. Under the “Format” of text fields, an option of “Smart trimmed” will be available.  Select this option.

3. After the “Smart trimmed” option is selected, click on the cogwheel on the right.  More configuration settings are available. (The Summary option is not available for text fields without summary.)

4. Configure the settings accordingly, then click Update and save.

Format Settings

Trim units

Trimming of text can be applied to characters or words. This takes care of word-boundary issues on trimming.

Suffix

Suffix can be appended to the trimmed text, such as “…”.

Display more link?

When enabled, a link of “More” will be added to the bottom of the page. This will allow the user an option to view the entire page.

Summary

This option is only available when using the “Text (formatted, long, with summary)” field. Three options are available:

  • Use summary if present, and do not trim
  • Use summary if present, and honor trim settings
  • Do not use summary

These options allow overriding of the summary.

Strip HTML

This option will Strip out any HTML when displayed. This is important if you’re truncating text because you could display an opening HTML tag but not close which could break the site styling.

Summary

The Smart Trim module provides a more powerful trimming formatter than what is offered out-of-the-box. Best of all, it can be used on any type of text field.

FAQ

Q:  Can I use this module for all text fields?

Yes, it can be applied to all default text fields, plain or formatted, short or long.

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Feb 22 2021
Feb 22
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This tutorial will demonstrate how to use the Custom Permissions module.

By default in Drupal, user permissions in the Drupal backend are not very granular.

For example, if you want to give a role the ability to edit only the “Basic site settings” in the Drupal admin UI. In Drupal, this can be achieved by giving the access permissions “administer site configuration”. However, with this permission enabled, the role will also have the ability to edit other site settings which you may not want a user to have access to.

Enter the Custom Permissions module.

With this module, you could solve the above problem by creating an extra custom permission to edit only the “Basic site settings” page without assigning the “administer site configuration”.

This light-weight module will allow you to specify the exact admin route (or path) that you want to give permissions to without giving the role access to everything in the administration section.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a custom permission which will only have access to the “Basic site settings” page. We’ll be using the 8.x-2.x version of the module.

Table of Contents

Difference between 1.x and 2.x?

Both versions accomplish the same functionality, but the difference is that when specifying the page you want to give access to, version 8.x-2.x uses routes and version 8.x-1.x uses paths.

Diagram 1 – Version 8.x-1.x using paths Diagram 2 – Version 8.x-2.x using routes

How to Find out the Route Name

A route in Drupal is a path which is defined for Drupal to return some sort of content on. Routes are defined in a module’s MODULE_NAME.routing.yml file. There can be routes defined in contributed, custom or Drupal core modules.

For Drupal core routes (paths in the Drupal core admin UI), you would want to text-search for the path in: web/core/modules/system/system.routing.yml

For contributed or custom routes, search in the relevant modules’s “.routing.yml” file.

In our example, the block of code in system.routing.yml for our path “admin/config/system/site-information” is:

system.site_information_settings:
   path: '/admin/config/system/site-information'
   defaults:
     _form: '\Drupal\system\Form\SiteInformationForm'
     _title: 'Basic site settings'
   requirements:
     _permission: 'administer site configuration'

The route name is bolded above to show you what the route name will be. The exact route name is: system.site_information_settings.

Using Devel

If you prefer not to search through code to find the route name, look at using the Devel module. Devel comes with a Routes Info page which lists all the active routes and its paths, and you can filter the page. This makes it easy to find the correct route.

Once the module is installed click on the Devel link in the toolbar then “Routes Info”.

On the “Routes Info” page you’ll see a long list of routes and its paths.

Getting Started

This module requires no additional libraries and can simply be downloaded with Composer.

Using Composer:

composer require drupal/config_perms

Installing the module with above composer command will install version 8.x-2.x of the module.

Once downloaded go and install the module.

How to create a Custom Permission

In this tutorial, we are going to create a custom permission to allow a role to access and update only the “Basic site settings” page in the Drupal admin UI.

1. Once the module is installed, go to People > Custom permissions.

You’ll notice that the module comes with four default custom permissions.

2. Click on the “Add permission” button, and you will get an additional row to add a new permission.

3. Give your new permission an admin human-readable name and click on “Save”. Note that this name is only visible to the site admin. The route that we want to use for the “Basic site settings” is “system.site_information_settings”.

4. Go to People > Roles and edit the permissions of the role that you want to assign this new custom permission too. We will use the “Authenticated user” role in this example.

5. Scroll to “Custom Permissions” and you will see the new custom permission human-readable name you created in Step 3. Enable it.

6. For the new role to access the administration pages in Drupal, you also have to enable “Use the administration pages and help”. You can also enable “Use the toolbar” so the user can see the enabled permission in the admin toolbar although this is just for convenience and not a requirement for this tutorial.

7. Now, the user with the role “Authenticated user” will have access to the following permission as shown below:

Summary

Drupal, by default, may not always define granular permissions to certain administrative pages. Typically, a role can be given all or no access to administrative pages.

Using the contributed module Custom Permissions (version 8.x-2.x) you can define custom permissions for specific Drupal admin pages. This module provides finer granular permissions for specific Drupal routes/paths.

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Feb 17 2021
Feb 17

TL&DR: Use drupal.org's issue forks to make Drupal 9 compatibility fixes work with Composer.

While most software developers are in agreement on the two hardest things in software development – cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors – not everyone is in agreement on how to rank the rest of the top ten challenges. One that must surely rank high is dependency management algorithms and dependency management tools. These make sure that different libraries and additions to a codebase are kept up to date and APIs are kept compatible. For example, supposing a codebase has SquareWidget v2 and CircleWidget v2; if SquareWidget v3 comes out but is incompatible with CircleWidget v2, the codebase's dependency management tool would prevent updating to SquareWidget v3 until a compatible version of CircleWidget was available.

In the Drupal world, we've historically avoided formal dependency management as we could just download a package from drupal.org and get running, occasionally realizing "Oh I needed CTools too" and grabbing it. Along the way, some folks built the Drush tool which, amongst other things, could download these dependencies automatically. It wasn't until Drupal 8 came along that more formal dependency management became a thing because of its heavy use of 3rd party libraries, in large part thanks to the use of the Composer system. This tool came out of the wider PHP community's need for a generic, reliable dependency management system, and in the Drupal maintainers' drive to adopt more 3rd party libraries and tools it was the obvious choice. After an initial bumpy learning phase, almost all contemporary Drupal 8 and 9 website projects today are managed using Composer.

The drupal.org infrastructure provides a custom wrapper around Drupal core, module, and theme metadata so that it can be loaded using Composer using its metadata platform Packagist. Modules and themes which already include a composer.json file will have that made available as-is. However, a large portion of Drupal 8 and 9 contrib projects don't have this, so the drupal.org infrastructure maps the info.yml files into a format Composer can understand. This way a module that was initially ported to Drupal 8 a few years ago can still be added to a contemporary D8 project managed with Composer, even if the module hasn't been touched in years. It's awesome.

The World of Drupal 9 Updates

Back in October 2019, a new feature was added to core 8.7.8 which allowed modules to specify the versions they were compatible with by using a new line in their info files. This new line became a requirement on Drupal 9 as there needed to be an indication in modules & themes to indicate what APIs they were compatible with. For most projects the new line makes the info file look like this – note how the old "core" value is now replaced with a "core_version_requirement" value:

name: Commerce Migrate
type: module
description: Provides various Commerce-specific Migrate handlers.
core_version_requirement: ^8.8 || ^9
package: Commerce (contrib)
dependencies:
 - drupal:migrate
 - drupal:telephone
 - migrate_plus:migrate_plus

A module (or theme) could use the new line to indicate they were compatible with both Drupal 8 and 9 simultaneously, and the majority of the most popular modules have made the necessary changes.

Drupal 9 presented the first major release of Drupal core that was such a low impact update it was possible to run many websites on either 8.9 or 9.0 just by swapping the core files out (and updating the dependencies). Gone are the days of having to rebuild a site from scratch for each major upgrade, instead we just have to keep our codebases fully up to date and swap to the new core release pretty quickly.

Except for that one line.

That one new line has to be in each info.yml file in the codebase (except for test files, but that's a different matter), so any under-maintained or unmaintained module or theme will need to be updated. Thanks to the wonders of modern development tools, it was estimated that almost a quarter of all Drupal 8 modules & themes could be upgraded to be compatible with Drupal 9 by just changing their info file! Over the course of 2020, thanks to contributions and collaborations from folks all over the world, a huge number of modules and themes were updated to be fully compatible with Drupal 9, and a large portion of those that don't have releases have patches available.

The Catch-22

The fact that there are patches to make Drupal 8 modules & themes compatible with Drupal 9 is great for maintainers or would-be maintainers - they don't need to go through the efforts of making all of the changes themselves, they can just review what has been provided and, hopefully, commit it. Normally patches are great for end-users too, because again they don't have to take the time to make the change themselves, someone has made it available for them.

Here is what happens when you apply a patch using Composer:

  1. Composer downloads the project's listing from Drupal's custom Packagist system (see above).
  2. It compares the dependencies from the listing against what's currently in the codebase.
  3. It deletes the existing copy of the underlying module or theme, if present.
  4. It downloads a fresh copy of the module/theme that matches the dependencies.
  5. It applies the patch.

Normally this patch process works great - you find a patch, add to your codebase, and away you go, remembering to leave a comment to the patch creators how well it works for you. However, there's a major limitation here - even if the patch contains changes to the composer.json dependencies, it's applied after Composer has decided whether or not to install it.

In short, you can't use a patch to tell Composer that a Drupal 8 module is compatible with Drupal 9.

Improved Code Collaboration Workflows

Drupal originally used CVS to manage the codebase. This was very limited by today's standards, but it was reasonable back in the early 2000s and provided a means to centrally manage the large codebases of both core and the ever expanding array of contributed modules & themes. Proposed changes to these codebases were handled using patch files, which are simply text files which indicate a file to be modified, which lines are to be removed and which are to be added. It worked well enough, but there was a large learning curve for beginners to get past.

Over the years more flexible & functional replacements for CVS became common, including centralized systems like Subversion and decentralized systems like Mercurial, Perforce or git. Rather than take the short jump to another centralized system, the effort was taken to build out a replacement code management platform using git, under the umbrella project name of "The Great Git Migration". Completed in 2011, the effort was lead by Sam Boyer, and the community has been all the better for it.

However, after the git migration was completed the community was still stuck with patch files. While github had its pull request workflow, the Drupal community was screaming at the need for somewhat archaic collaboration workflows.

Skip ahead nine years and an awful lot of discussion and research, in 2020 the community finally had a replacement code collaboration workflow in the form of merge requests via the Gitlab system. This new workflow allows anyone to create a fork of a project, make changes, and then create a gihub-pull-request -like change request, dubbed a "merge request", for others to review. Unlike github's pull request system, it's also really easy for anyone to collaborate on the same merge request, which lends itself really nicely to collaboration with others rather than solo development. After some opt-in beta testing, the new system was launched community-wide for every single code project on drupal.org to use.

The new issue fork and merge request system is based upon the simple concept that each individual issue on drupal.org can have its own copy of that project's codebase, an issue fork, and that codebase can be downloaded individually using git. With an issue fork anyone can make whatever changes they need directly with git and others can then download those changes directly using git - no additional tools needed, no patch files flowing around.

This also means that it's possible to tell Composer to download the codebase from an issue fork instead of from the main repository.

This means that an issue fork can be used to get around Composer's patch-vs-dependencies catch-22!

Putting it All Together

First off, it should be noted that issue forks are, to all intents and purposes, a separate physical repository than the parent project they fork from. This means that you cannot just download the issue fork by telling Composer to use a specific branch of the main project, Composer has to be told to use a completely different repository.

It's also worth bearing in mind that, for a given Drupal project (module or theme), only one issue fork can be used at a time. Because an issue fork is a separate repository, it isn't possible to download two different versions of the same module/theme and magically have them squish together. Therefore, if multiple merge requests / issue forks are needed for a given project then the others have to be applied as patches; alternatively, a separate "meta" issue could be created that combines multiple changes into one merge request, but at that point it might be easier to just become a maintainer and commit the changes.

In this example, I'm going to use the merge request created for the Drupal 9 compatibility issue for the Commerce Migrate module.

  • First off, find the issue fork portion of the d.o issue, which should be right underneath the list of attachments & patches, which is underneath the issue summary.
    Issue fork options
  • Click the "Show commands" button to expand out the example git commands.
    Show commands
  • In both the "Add & fetch" sections there will be a "git remote add" line. Included in this is a URL that's needed to download the codebase from the issue fork - one starts with "[email protected]" while the other starts with "https://git.drupalcode.org". Copy the full line (click the "copy" icon to copy it to the clipboard) and extract the URL, e.g. [email protected]:issue/commerce_migrate-3150733.git.
  • Click the "commands" button again to hide them, and then get the branch name, which in the example above is "3150733-drupal-9-compatibility".
  • In the site's composer.json file, in the "repositories" section add a new item with two values: {"type": "git", "url": "URLFROMABOVE"} e.g.:
           {
               "type": "git",
               "url": "[email protected]:issue/commerce_migrate-3150733.git"
           }
  • Look for the item in the "repositories" section that has "type" set to "composer". If it doesn't exist already, add an item called "exclude" and make it a list. Add the Composer name of the module/theme you want to use, e.g. "drupal/commerce_migrate", so that it looks like this:
           {
               "type": "composer",
               "url": "https://packages.drupal.org/8",
               "exclude": ["drupal/commerce_migrate"]
           },
  • Change the listing for the project in the "require" (or "require-dev") section to point to the branch name identified above, e.g. "drupal/commerce_migrate": "dev-3150733-drupal-9-compatibility",
  • Save the changes to the file.
  • Update the project in composer, e.g. composer update drupal/commerce_migrate.

The last command will now download that project from the issue fork instead of the main codebase.

Note: these should only be used as a short term solution, the goal should always be to collaborate to get changes committed so that these steps aren't needed.

(there might be other ways of doing this using repository priorities, but this method works)

But it Didn't Work?

One problem that can arise is that Composer can't process the project, which it will tell you with this error message:

  [Composer\Repository\InvalidRepositoryException]
  No valid composer.json was found in any branch or tag of [email protected]:issue/commerce_migrate-3150733.git, could not load a package from it.

This simply means that the project doesn't have a "composer.json" file in it, so you can fix that by adding a composer.json file to the repository. Once that is created (make sure to run "composer validate" before saving it!) and uploaded to the issue fork, it'll be possible to download it to a site's codebase again.

Put That Thing Back Where it Came From or So Help Me

Because they don't keep current with upstream changes and can fall out of date quickly, issue forks should be used sparingly in website projects. As it happens, the patch for Commerce Migrate I wrote this blog post around was committed between the time I started the blog post and it was published – "The Drop Is Always Moving", as they say.

When the day arrives and the project has its Drupal 9 fixes committed, there are a few steps to remove the issue hackery and make the website's codebase happy again.

  1. Remove the extra "repositories" item.
  2. Remove the "exclude" line from the "type":"composer" repository; if there aren't any remaining items in the "exclude" section it can be removed entirely.
  3. Change the "require" line (or "require-dev" line) back to point to the appropriate release that includes the Drupal 9 fixes.
  4. Run "composer validate" to make sure the compost.json file is correct.
  5. Run "composer update drupal/PROJECTNAME" to get the new, cleaner version of the project.
  6. Commit the changes.
  7. Celebrate.

That Was a Lot of Words, Do You Have a Picture?

This topic was covered in a recent Contrib Half Hour. Because I forgot to record that meeting (I'm a professional, honest) I repeated the steps the following week, so now there's a recording of me stepping through the process to create an issue fork to make a Drupal 9 fix for a Drupal 8 module work in Composer:

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Feb 11 2021
Feb 11

Last week one of our clients was asking me about how they should think about the myriad of options for website hosting, and it inspired me to share a few thoughts. 

The different kinds of hosting

I think about hosting for WordPress and Drupal websites as falling into one of three groups. We’re going to compare the options using an example of a fairly common size of website — one with traffic (as reported by Google Analytics) in the range of 50,000–100,000 visitors per month. Adjust accordingly for your situation. 

  • “Low cost/low frills” hosting — Inexpensive website hosting would cost in the range of $50–$1,000/yr for a site with our example amount of traffic. Examples of lower cost hosts include GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc.  Though inexpensive, these kinds of hosts have none of the infrastructure that’s needed to do ongoing web development in a safe/controlled way such as the ability to spin up a copy of the website at the click of a button, make a change, get approval from stakeholders, then deploy to the live site. Also, if you get a traffic spike, you will likely see much slower page loads. 
  • “Unmanaged”, “Bare metal”, or “DIY” hosting — Our example website will likely cost in the range of $500–$2,500/yr. Examples of this type of hosting include: AWS, Rackspace, Linode, etc. or just a computer in your closet. Here you get a server, but that’s it. You have to set up all the software, put security measures in place, and set up the workflow so that you can get stuff done. Then it’s your responsibility to keep that all maintained year over year, perhaps even to install and maintain firewalls for security purposes. 
  • “Serverless” hosting¹ It’s not that there aren’t servers, they’re just transparent to you. Our example website would likely cost in the range of $2500–5000/yr. Examples of this kind of hosting: Pantheon, WP Engine, Acquia, Platform.sh. These hosts are very specialized for WordPress and/or Drupal websites. You just plug in your code and database, and you’re off. Because they’re highly specialized, they have all the security/performance/workflow/operations in place that 90% of Drupal/WordPress websites need.

How to decide?

I recommend two guiding principles when it comes to these kinds of decisions:

  1. The cost of services (like hosting) are much cheaper than the cost of people. Whether that’s the time that your staff is spending maintaining a server, or if you’re working with an agency like Advomatic, then your monthly subscription with us. Maybe even 10x.  So saving $1,000/yr on hosting is only worth it if it costs less than a handful of hours per year of someone’s time. 
  2. Prioritize putting as much of your budget towards advancing your organization’s mission as possible. If two options have a similar cost, we should go with the option that will burn fewer brain cells doing “maintenance” and other manual tasks, and instead choose the option where we can spend more of our time thinking strategically and advancing the mission.

This means that you should probably disregard the “unmanaged/bare/DIY” group. Whoever manages the site will spend too much time running security updates, and doing other maintenance and monitoring tasks. 

We also encourage you to disregard the “low cost” group. Your team will waste too much time tripping over the limitations, and cleaning up mistakes that could be prevented on a more robust platform.

So that leaves the “serverless” group. With these, you’ll get the tools that will help streamline every change made to your website. Many of the rote tasks are also taken care of as part of the package. 

Doing vs. Thinking

It’s easy to get caught up in doing stuff. And it’s easy to make little decisions over time that mean you spend all your days just trying to keep up with the doing. The decision that you make about hosting is one way that you can get things back on track to be more focused on the strategy of how to make your website better. 

¹ The more technical members of the audience will know that “serverless” is technically a bit different.  You’d instead call this “platform-as-a-service” or “infrastructure-as-a-service”. But we said we’d avoid buzzwords.

Jan 13 2021
Jan 13
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The roles and permissions system in Drupal is powerful, but it can be tricky to configure correctly. Some permissions give a role too much privileged access where others aren’t granular enough.

An excellent example of this is if you need to create a role to manage user accounts.

Drupal comes with the permission “Administer users” which lets you create user accounts, only give this permission to trusted users.

The above mention permission allows you to create user accounts but you can’t assign them roles without “Administer roles and permissions”. But this permission (“Administer roles and permissions”), will enable you to assign any roles, including the default Administrator role.

From this:

To this:

In some circumstances, you don’t want users who can create user accounts to have the ability to assign any roles, especially the Administrator role.

What if you want to control exactly which roles can be assigned? This is where Role Delegation can help.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

To get started, download and install Role Delegation.

composer require drupal/role_delegation

Using Role Delegation

All the module does is offer granular permissions for assigning roles.

Once the module is installed, go to People > Permissions and search for the Role Delegation section.

You’ll notice that you get a specific permission for each role, and you also get the “Assign all roles” for absolute power.

All you need to do is give one of the “Assign {role} role” permission and they’ll be able to assign users into that role.

Assign Role

Once a role has been assigned a few “Role Delegation” permissions, they can assign roles in two ways.

First, if you edit an account you should see the Roles checkbox below Status.

The module adds a new tab on user accounts called Roles. This page has all the allowed roles as checkboxes.

Select a role and click on Save to assign them.

Summary

The functionality that Role Delegation offers should be in Drupal core in my opinion. If you need to control which roles can be assigned then it’s a useful module to add to your Drupal site building toolbox.

FAQ

Q: I can’t see the “Administer roles and permissions” permission on my site?

It was changed from “Administer permissions” to “Administer roles and permissions” in Drupal 9.1.

Ivan Zugec

About Ivan Zugec

Ivan is the founder of WebWash and spends most of his time consulting and writing about Drupal. He's been working with Drupal for 12 years and has successfully completed several large Drupal projects in Australia.

Jan 11 2021
Jan 11

Whether you are running your business into B2B space or B2C space, the need for agility and speed in workflow management is indispensable. Because eventually, clients also expect faster delivery of the project/application to catch up with their customers’ requirements.

However, if developers do not use any standard tools, it can add unnecessary overhead and eat away their development time. Also, given that they are coming from different backgrounds and skillsets, it would become difficult for stakeholders to set up projects, onboard developers, troubleshooting, and even train them as large-scale projects come with complex requirements.

That is why it’s critical to have a standardized development environment across the teams. This blog guides you on using Lando software (an open-source tool that provides a single local development environment for all the developers’ projects) with Drupal 9 composer, PHP & SCSS Linters, and a multisite architecture scenario.

How Lando Provides a Standard Development Environment?

Setting up the project from ground level to managing configurations and distributing it to each developer, including frontend & backend,  becomes tedious due to various aspects, including different machines, a different configuration of the machine, and different OS.

And that’s where Lando software comes into the picture.

What is Lando Software?

It is an open-source, cross-platform, local development environment, and DevOps tool built on Docker container technology. Its flexibility to work with most of the major languages, frameworks, and services helps developers of all skill sets and levels to specify simple or complex requirements for their projects and then quickly get to work on them.

Some of the benefits of Lando include-

  1. Maintaining standardization across project/application.
  2. Offering speedy development(prebuilt configuration of the composer, drush).
  3. Add tooling to extend it from services. 
  4. Recommends out-of-the-box settings that are customizable.
  5. Automates the complex steps involved in unit testing, linting, compiling, or other recurring workflows.

How to Use Lando With Drupal 9’s Composer.json for Faster Development?

Consider a scenario when a developer has been replaced in the team with the new developer for the existing Drupal project. The new developer might not be familiar with the OS that others are using. Here, it would become difficult for him/her to install the composer quickly. And hence, this would delay his/her onboarding process.

However, if the team is already using Lando for development, it would take care of the operating system’s bottleneck itself. In fact, the composer is already built in the recipe (Recipes in Lando are the highest level abstraction and contain common combinations of routing, services, and tooling) of Drupal 9 and is also compatible with different OS. The only thing is developers should know how to use it.

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Steps to Use Lando with Drupal 9’s composer.json

The prerequisite for this setup is that your local development machine should be compatible with Docker and Lando and installed successfully without any glitches. Make sure when you are running docker setup, other ports are not conflicting with Lando setup.

Here are the steps to be followed-

  1. You need to clone this  Drupal 9 open source git repository.(Ex:

    git clone  [email protected]:AbhayPai/drupal9.git)

  2. Change the directory to the cloned repository. (Ex: cd drupal9)

  3. Start your app using the lando start command. Before you begin, you can change some parameters in .lando.yml as per the need of your application.

This repository would give you some common tools that include linting of PHP, linting of SCSS, linting of js files, and compiling of SCSS files and services like node.js and npm to directly connect with the Lando app. You do not need to go inside any container after starting your application. By default, this repository is only able to lint custom themes and is flexible enough to extend it to custom modules and profiles.

How to Use PHP Linters With Drupal in Lando

As Drupal is one of the largest open-source communities, millions of developers contribute and offer coding solutions in different ways. To standardize the coding practices and make the modules easy-to-maintain and readable, varying from indentation, whitespaces to operators, casting, line length, and many more, Drupal has a core package that takes care of these standard practices automatically when configured in the project. In general, these are called PHP Linters.

Following are the steps to configure the PHP linter in the project-

  1. Download dependencies package of Drupal coder using `lando composer requires drupal/coder`.
  2. Define a file for linter standard or copy file from Drupal core in your project folder where all standards are predefined in the XML file. It resides in core/phpcs.xml.dist.
  3. Configure a tool of `lint:PHP` within the .lando.yml file like the below example-

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4.  Confirm if tooling is configured correctly just by using the ‘lando’ command to list all tooling. code written in white background

5.  Use this newly configured tool in your project using ‘lando ’. In this case, it is ‘lando lint:php:themes’

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This automating tool which is configured with Lando software will help developers save time for finding and fixing these issues and will also ensure best practices are followed in the project repository.

How to Use SCSS Linters With Drupal in Lando

SCSS is a preprocessor used for writing CSS or CSS3 in any modern-day project. This SCSS is used because it helps developers to write less code and remove redundancy in the repetition of classname and other properties which are frequently used in the project.

The purpose of using SCSS linter in the project is to ensure that the quality of the code is high and easily maintainable for future enhancement. Further, it would save time in development and faster delivery of the projects.

Following are the steps that need to be followed for configuring the SCSS linter in our project-

  1. Configure node service and install gulp inside that service within .lando.yml file.
    code written in black background
  2. Configure tool for using npm with Lando within .lando.yml file.
    code written in black background
  3. Confirm if tooling is configured correctly just by using the ‘lando’ command to list all tooling.
    code written in white background
  4. Create a package JSON file and install and configure the stylinter package in the project.
  5. Create a new script in the package.json file for triggering stylinter.
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  6. Configure the tool to trigger this using lando.
    code written in black background
  7. Confirm if tooling is configured correctly just by using the ‘lando’ command to list all tooling.
    code written in white background
  8. Run this tooling command and Lando will lint it automatically.
    code written in maroon bavkground

This automation tool integrated with Lando for SCSS linter will ensure that best practices and code hygiene is followed in the project repository.

How Can Lando Help in Reducing Developers’ Efforts While Building Drupal Multisite Architecture?

Let’s take a scenario where your project ( client’s website) is live now and running smoothly. Now the client wants to create multiple new sites in alignment with the existing site. For instance, the new sites should have custom modules, themes, profiles, etc. to ensure brand consistency. 

Here, Drupal would come in handy as it would simplify the multisite architecture and speed up the local development setup with Lando through some minor tweaks in configuration files.

For setting up multisite architecture in an existing project, you need to follow below steps- 

  1. Configure .lando.yml file to setup app server URL for the new website
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  2. Configure database server for setting up this site with the new website
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  3. Configure drupal settings like sites,php, and folder structure for site2; to leverage this Lando configuration
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  4. Rebuild configuration for setting up this new website.
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The minor tweaks in the existing project would help you extend existing Lando projects/websites to build multi-site architecture via local development and accelerate the delivery process for the client.

Conclusion

If you have come this far, Dhanyavaad (thank you). I hope that this article would help you in speeding up the development process & hence, faster project delivery, knowledge transferring of your application/project with Drupal, and leveraging Lando at its best by using inbuilt composer for automation in local development environments.

Now that you are armed with the knowledge and Lando’s benefits, what are you waiting for? Get started now!

Dec 15 2020
Dec 15

Every aesthetically pleasing website has a common ground - a good theme. An attractive theme can bring the website’s visuals to life and facilitate you to create a powerful brand identity. But that’s just one part of the story!

The website theme, beyond being beautiful, should cater to great user experiences also. 

And that’s how you prepare a robust yet enticing website - maintaining design & the best usability practices hand-in-hand are the key to increase conversion rates.

The launch of Drupal 9 in June encouraged the community to make it high up on their agenda to revamp its user experience and ensure friendliness for every stakeholder - designers, editors, marketers, and developers, of course. 

With an emphasis on Olivero, a modern front-end theme designed to exhibit the CMS in its best light; front-end developers can expect plenty of benefits from it. 

It will empower them to bring that magical touch to the websites by utilizing their creativity along with modern tools and frameworks to define layout, styles, typography, buttons, color schemes, and many more, to drive the visuals and engagements of the website/ application.

This blog walks you through Drupal's soon-to-be default theme - Olivero and how front-end developers can leverage it for designing a great website.

Olivero and its Benefits

Olivero is going to be a new default front-end theme that is expected to be rolled out in Drupal 9.2. It is designed to give Drupal a flamboyant look and feel. Olivero is also going to be compatible with the Drupal 8 website as a contributed theme.

Currently, Bartik, a ten-year-old theme, initially created for D7, is being used. It is certainly mobile-responsive and had some outstanding features to meet D8’s mobile-first requirements. However, the development has outdated the design. 

Thus, the need for a new front-end theme emerged to showcase Drupal’s strength appropriately.

Drupal Trivia

Olivero is named after a female programmer, Rachel Olivero, an outstanding supporter/ programmer of website accessibility. Sadly, she passed away in 2019. To honor her, the Drupal community kept her name alive with this beautiful theme. The idea is to showcase patience, generosity, and inclusiveness - the qualities of Rachel that the theme should also epitomize.

 

Benefits of Olivero Theme in Drupal 9

The Olivero theme is intended to give Drupal websites an eye-pleasing view apart from ensuring,

  • Simplicity- declutters by eliminating the colors, effects, and visual elements that make the theme look and feel too heavy.
  • Professional look - encompass all the design elements, for instance, negative space and high contrast, to grab users’ attention.
  • Accessibility- designed with WCAG AA conformity in mind, from functionality to layout, to colors, all components will be accessible for everyone. 

Drupal Trivia

The blind federation conducted an accessibility test to evaluate the Olivero theme for visually impaired users. They were happy and satisfied with its design and high responsiveness.

  • Flexibility- facilitates Drupal front-end developers with multiple options to choose from - be it button styles, headers, or logo styles to text titles, and many more.
  • Compatibility - supports modern browsers’ features & various engagement modes. The creators have ensured that the theme supports recent Drupal updates and features for websites such as Layout builder, media embeds, second-level navigation, and many more.

Get the Hang Of Olivero’s Exciting Features

Here are the features of Olivero that you can leverage for designing your next Drupal website-

A. Bright color palette

Websites leveraging Olivero’s color scheme will look beautiful with a base color of bright blue. Besides being attractive, it would boost Drupal’s brand recognition. Several permutations and combinations of darker and lighter colors and shades would provide website improved accessibility.

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 11.23.46 AM

A bright color palette in Olivero theme

B. Simple and elegant forms & buttons

The forms and buttons added in the new theme are user-friendly, distinguishable, and accessible. Forms comprise a left color bar, and their labels are placed above the fields to abide by the website accessibility requirements and guidelines. 

The buttons inform users about clickable action. The theme also has a filled primary button style and a secondary button style which is an outlined version of the button.

The buttons’ different modes are present default in Olivero, unlike other themes where you need to define these modes. 

The four modes are- Default, Hover, Focus, and Active

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Button modes in the new theme

C. Typography

Typography provides scale to maintain uniform sizing, line height, and spacing throughout the design. The base font used for body copy is 18px. The size can be tweaked for smaller screen sizes.

Consistency, throughout line height and spacing, has been a key objective when setting the scale for typography.

D. Flexible header and navigation options

Navigation options can cater to any website’s needs. The header can fold into a hamburger button menu when scrolling, allowing the user to access the menu easily on long pages. 

The secondary dropdown menus are also supported by Olivero, thus saving coding efforts of developers unlike Bartik where they need to reinvent the wheel time & again.

E. Vertical Rhythm

Vertical rhythm ensures the correct spacing arrangement of the text. It calculates line-height, font size, and margin or padding to maintain equal space throughout the website. 

F. UI Patterns

The header is designed flexibly so that it can accommodate the text titles and or logos of varied width and height. 

On scroll down, the header will fall into a hamburger-button menu, to let the user access the menu or longer pages.

G. Site branding variations

You can tweak the theme settings to change the background color and width of the site-branding to incorporate different types of logos and long text.

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Flexible site-branding options in Olivero

H. Forms

These simple yet modern forms consist of elements that enhance the design, while still being recognizable, usable, and accessible. 

The left color bar highlights the form element and labels are added above the form field to avoid confusion. Form fields have a consistent look to indicate to users that they are a form element. States such as focus, disabled, and errors have also been accounted for.

3 field boxes

Highlighting error state in the form

I. Tables

Table divider lines are designed such that it improves readability. Olivero's theme will also support the responsive table features of Drupal. 

J. Sidebar

Only one sidebar is implemented to stop competition for space on the screen. It improves readability and allows content to look more rich and prominent on the screen. Editors can showcase related posts and other types of utility blocks too. 

The sidebar also offers good support and space.

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One sidebar aimed at improving readability

K. RTL Support

Olivero theme supports right-to-left languages as required by Drupal core. It also supports better display and multilingual functionality. For example, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Urdu support RTL writing and so does Drupal.

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RTL support in Olivero

L. Messages

Messages intent to inform users for they need to consume important information or provide feedback on an action already taken. 

Messages are visible as they are designed with bright colors to highlight the message and yet don’t mess up with the readability of the message itself. 

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Displaying messages per their type (error, alert, and success message)

M. Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs in Olivero are placed near the top of the page above the page title to help users keep track of documents or websites. 

A visual cue informs users about more breadcrumbs which they can access later by swiping left to right or right to left. This feature is not part of MVP. 

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Breadcrumbs to keep track of pages

N. Color module

This feature is not part of the initial release. However, this or similar functionality might be included later. 

Challenges That Olivero is Going To solve for front-end developers

Olivero is a modern theme with a magnificent look and feel. It can help front-end developers in simplifying their work. See how-

1. Lighter theme with up-to-date design elements

Unlike Bartik which used outdated graphical elements such as drop shadow and gradient, it uses a layout builder, grid system, hamburger menu, to name a few, to ensure that the site remains lightweight and responsive.

2. Low code

There is little or no coding required in CSS to determine the presentation of a web document and for adding content blocks anywhere. 

There are few other scenarios that simplifies the work of front-end developers -

  • Bartik doesn’t offer a secondary menu while Olivero does. This saves the coding efforts of front-end developers 
  • If any other theme is used, the hamburger menu is not available. Olivero theme is mobile-friendly. It encapsulates the menu automatically via the hamburger menu feature. No coding is required for it.

3. Scalability

Even on enlarging page size, it won’t break. Instead, it would give you a clear view as always. This makes Olivero more responsive.

4. Compatibility with other browsers

Bartik is not compatible with other browsers like Internet Explorer 11 while Olivero is. Front-end developers need not write code separately to ensure the support to all the functionality and features of the browsers. 

5. Code compilation/ testing

Olivero has CSS Grid Layout that can handle both columns and rows. It is a powerful layout system that helps developers write code hassle-free. They can write code in a nested structure to make it compact, easy to understand and increase readability. 

6. Extensibility with PostCSS Standalone technology

PostCSS is an accessible tool that empowers front-end developers to easily contribute to in the form of custom plugins. 

It simplifies the writing of CSS stylesheets by keeping code simple and facilitating understanding of dependent selectors and media queries within the stylesheet. 

During the development of the Olivero theme, there were several PostCSS plugins that were leveraged to make the CSS more readable and reduce the probability of breaking the page.

Conclusion

Olivero is a modern theme that is going to be the new default theme for Drupal from version 9.2. Front-end developers can use this flexible and scalable framework to improve work efficiency and create exquisite websites. 

Figure out how your enterprise can leverage Olivero’s constructive features to empower your front-end developers. Meanwhile, let’s wait for this beautiful theme!

Nov 09 2020
Nov 09

[embedded content]

Sarah Durham (00:02):

Hey everybody. Welcome to today’s webinar. I am Sarah Durham, and I am going to briefly introduce my colleagues. They will talk a little bit more in a minute and also we’d love you to introduce yourself as people start to arrive. If you are comfortable doing so, you’ll see a chat panel. And if you could chat in to us your name, the name of your organization, your pronouns, and where you are, where you are geographically, so who you are and where you are, would be great. Theresa, you want to say hi. 

Theresa Gutierrez Jacobs (00:50):

Hi, I’m Theresa Gutierrez Jacobs. I am a project manager at Advomatic. And for today, I’m going to just quickly chat my email. If you have any, I don’t know, tech issues or questions or anything like that, that is more tech related to this webinar. Feel free to reach out to me via my email. Otherwise, you can always chat or ask questions, particularly for this webinar here. And Dave, you want to say a quick hi, before we get rolling.

Dave Hansen-Lange (01:18):

Hello. I’m Dave Hansen-Lange and where I am, I’m about an hour from Toronto. I’m the director of technical strategy at Advomatic. I’ve been with Advomatic for about 13 years. And I’ve been doing work with nonprofits in the web for maybe about 15 or 17 years.

Sarah Durham (01:42):

Okay. So we’ve got a bunch of people who are already with us, a few more people who might join us in the next couple of minutes, but just to keep the ball rolling and use your time thoughtfully, we’re going to dig into our content for today. And as I said a little bit earlier, I will reintroduce myself. I’m Sarah Durham, I’m the CEO of Advomatic and also Advomatic sister agency, Big Duck. Some of you may have noticed that the Zoom we’re using today is a Big Duck/Advomatic shared Zoom. So if you’re wondering what the connection is, there’s some common leadership across both companies. For those of you who might know Big Duck, but don’t know Advomatic, Advomatic builds sturdy sites that support change. We build, and we support websites in Drupal and in WordPress. And Advomatic has been around now for, I think almost 15 years, although it’s partnership and collaboration with Big Duck and my coming into the company is relatively new.

Sarah Durham (02:43):

It’s about, I’ve been in it about two years. And so Dave is going to really take us through our topic today. And Dave, you could advance to your next slide, if you would like, which is this, what should you do with your Drupal 7 website? So Dave’s gonna talk us through why this is an issue and a few other things in a minute. What I am going to do throughout this conversation is I am going to be monitoring both the chat that you can see in the bottom of your screen, a little button that says chat. And if you click on that, you have the ability to either chat privately to the panelists. So if you want to ask a question confidentially, or you don’t want everybody who’s here to see it, just chat to the panelists and only Dave and Theresa and I will see it.

Sarah Durham (03:26):

If you want to chat to everybody and share who you are, like shout out to Rick, who’s already done that. He’s from the National Council of Nonprofits and he’s in the DC area. If you want to share your information with the panelists or to everybody, you can chat to all attendees. Also, you have the ability to specifically ask questions. There’s a Q&A feature in Zoom Webinar. And that will give me the ability to keep an eye on your questions. And some of them I can type back to you and others will be addressed verbally. So throughout the presentation, I’ll be monitoring all of that and we will address your questions perhaps as we go on, certainly at the end if it doesn’t make sense to do so in the webinar. So don’t hesitate to chat, don’t hesitate to ask questions. We are recording today’s session and Theresa will be sending out an email with a link to that recording and the transcript and the resources we’re mentioning later this week or early next week. So you will have all of this and you can share it with any colleagues if that is useful. So with that, we are going to get rolling over to you, Dave, and thanks, Theresa.

Dave Hansen-Lange (04:44):

Okay. Thank you, Sarah. All right. So to kick things off before we get into the details of all the different things that you can do with your website and what might be best for you I thought we should start with some backstory about like, why we’re at this spot and like, what does end of life even mean? Like, it’s software, how can software… and it really all comes down to security. And just to explain a little bit about how security in Drupal works, there is the Drupal security team, and that’s a team of about a dozen people all across the world. And then there’s a group of people even wider than that who contribute things to the team and say, Oh, this could be a problem. We should look into this. And people on the security team, you know, a lot of their time is paid for by their employers or their clients, but a lot of their time they’re just volunteering for free.

Dave Hansen-Lange (05:50):

And you know, there’s a lot of commitment there. Like, they have weeks on call and stuff like that, because security is very important to the Drupal community. And so we don’t want to have those people working forever for free. So the Drupal community at large has decided, okay, thank you for your time of service, people on the Drupal security team, we will let you go after this date. Some of those people work on AAA too. But people are generally committed for like Drupal 7. And so the original date for the end of Drupal 7 was going to be November, 2021. But then COVID happened and the Drupal community decided, okay, there’s this extenuating circumstance. We’ll give everybody one more year to figure out what they’re going to do. So now that the end of life date for Drupal 7 is November 2022, two years from now. 

Dave Hansen-Lange (06:56):

Drupal 8, just as an aside, it’s not really what we’re talking about today. Drupal 8, the end of life is November 2021, a year from now. That’s not what we’re talking about today. And thankfully, if you do have any AAA sites, the situation is a lot simpler. And if you want to get into that a little bit more possibly we could at the end of the presentation. Okay. So today we are going to first cover: these are the options that you have in dealing with your Drupal 7 websites. Then we’re going to look at some example scenarios. And by that, I mean like, okay, here’s an organization, they have a website like this, and because of that, they might consider scenario x. And then I’m going to pass things over to Sarah. And Sarah is going to dive into more of the organizational things, like, how do you plan for this and how do you work with this within your organization? All right. 

Sarah Durham (08:15):

Hang on one second, Dave, before we dig into this, I also just want to remind everybody feel free to chat in questions and comments as you go, and we’re going to take pauses in between each of these sections. So if you have, as Dave goes through the options, if you have a specific question about one of the options, and it seems like it’s universal to some of the other people who are participating today, I’ll probably pop in and ask that otherwise we’ll save Q&A for the end. Alright, sorry for the interruption.

Dave Hansen-Lange (08:41):

No, no, all good. I’m also going to be muting every now and then to take a sip of tea. I’ve got a sore throat. It’s not, COVID, it’s just a cold. And yeah, so I’ll be pausing too, as I go. Okay. So what are your options? So I’ve grouped these into four main options, and these are listed in terms of most expensive, to least expensive, most expensive option being start from scratch and build a new website for most people with a Drupal 7 website your main options are move to Drupal 9 or create something in WordPress. There’s some other options that you might consider, but those are the two that are applicable to most people. Option B is upgrade to Drupal 9 and immediately you’re probably thinking what is upgrading to Drupal 9? How is that different from building a website and Drupal 8? And I’ll explain that when we get there, another option is to switch to something called Backdrop. Many of you have probably never heard of Backdrop. And so I’ll start us out by what exactly that means. Or you could just stay on Drupal 7. And even though it has end of life, that there still are ways to keep going on, on your Drupal 7 website.

Dave Hansen-Lange (10:15):

So moving to a new website like I mentioned the main options for most people are Drupal 9 or WordPress. And so just by saying those two names in the same sentence, we immediately get into the topic of like what’s better Drupal or WordPress and what is right for me? I will touch on this a little bit now, and sort of back up a little bit and say that for starters, it’s really hard to make an unbiased and fair assessment of the two. But in a general sense, Drupal 9 is really great for people that, or on websites and organizations that want to do something a little bit more complicated, a little bit more ambitious, a little bit more technological, with more moving parts. And WordPress is generally more applicable to the organizations whose website, in many ways might be similar to other websites. And yeah, that is a little bit vague. I don’t want to dive too deeply into this topic right now. 

Dave Hansen-Lange (11:54):

If you want, we can come back to this in the Q&A at the end. And we also have another webinar that we did a couple months ago on this topic more generally. And if you’re just, if you can, we can send along a link to that as well. One last thing on this, though, I will say that when most people compare Drupal and WordPress, they’re not really comparing Drupal and WordPress, they’re comparing the website that someone built for them in Drupal or the website that someone built for them in WordPress. And because of that, they’re often comparing the skills of those people who built the website and not necessarily the underlying technology. And that’s part of the reason why this is such a sticky, thorny issue with a lot of people being on one side or the other there about moving to a new website. You don’t have to do the whole entire thing. You can find ways to do this in bits and pieces. I’ll show some examples of that later, but we’re at this point of rethinking what should we generally do with our Drupal website. It’s a great time to think, okay, this section, do we need it anymore? Should it be here? Is there a better way to do this then when we created this website however many years ago?

Dave Hansen-Lange (13:30):

Since many of you may not have seen modern Drupal I’m going to show you, or we’re pressed, I’m going to show you some slides here. So on the left, what we see is I am editing a page on a website and I want to add a new component which is a common term that we use these days, a new component to the page. I can browse through this library of available components and then add one.

Dave Hansen-Lange (14:00):

Or how it’s going to appear on the page. There’s many ways to do this in Drupal. Drupal is kind of known for having many ways to solve a problem. What we see in this screenshot is a tool called paragraphs. That’s a tool that we’ve been using for this problem pretty successfully on several websites. There’s other tools within Drupal 9. You may have heard the term layout builder and there was a couple of smaller ones as well on the right side. We see the administrative listing of all the content on your website for each site, it’s going to be a little bit different, what you decide to list here. But this is just one example of how it looks and comparing this to WordPress on the left. This is also how WordPress looks when you want to add a new component to the page. And so the right column there, we see, the available components that you have, again, on the right, a screenshot that’s WordPress of a list of all the content on the website.

Dave Hansen-Lange (15:20):

Looking at these two sets of screenshots, there’s a couple things that might sort of immediately come to mind. WordPress, the administrative interface generally looks a little bit more polished.

Dave Hansen-Lange (15:39):

In some ways WordPress can be a little bit all over the place in that each plugin or each new thing that you add to your website tends to design things its own way and do its thing its own way and it’s WordPress. Compared to Drupal, each new thing works in a very consistent manner. So it’s easy to move around from section to section on the website. All that to say is really either is probably a big step forward from where you are with your Drupal 7 website.

Dave Hansen-Lange (16:18):

All right, so which Drupal 7 website is this going to be most applicable to, or maybe you shouldn’t at all consider this option? If you are really frustrated with any part of your website, be that like how the content of this is organized, or just the general backend experience the design of the website, if there’s anything about it that you’d just want to just toss and start again fresh, this is a good option to consider. But like I mentioned, when I listed these four main options, creating a new website is going to be the most expensive of the options. And in the age of COVID, many of you are probably dealing with some tight budgets. So one of the other options may be the better choice. Also, this might not be a good choice for you if your existing site is very complex. And one way to think about this is like you built your website so many years ago, let’s say it was five years ago. And you put all this work into doing that initial build, but then over those five years, you’ve also put in some work, to make the website more and more better. And in this new version of the website that you’re gonna create, you want to encompass all of that. 

Dave Hansen-Lange (17:52):

It’s going to be a pretty big project. And so it’s just one way to consider looking at your options.

Okay. Option B, I don’t have a handsome, single flat you can upgrade to Drupal net. So how is this different from just creating a new websiteIn AAA? Drupal 9 has these built-in tools that can take your Drupal 7 website and take all those, all that content, all the content structure all the menus, everything that’s stored in the backend of the website and upgrade it and make it work in a new Drupal 9 website. But what you don’t get is any of the, how that content is presented to visitors, all of that stuff. If you go through this upgrade process, you still need to come up with or you still need to rebuild the way that it’s presented to visitors. Maybe, maybe you’re happy with the design of your Drupal 7 website. And so you can just redo that same design in Drupal 9 or another option since we’re here and we’re creating a new website and Drupal 9, you might want to take advantage of that and do a new design.

Dave Hansen-Lange (19:31):

And so, because of all those things, it’s going to be still a big chunk of work, not as big as just doing a clean slate and starting from scratch. But still a lot of work involved. One thing you do need to look into before you get too far down this road is like, are there any ways in which we solve the problem in Drupal 7, that just there’s no equivalent in Drupal 9. And that has sometimes happened because the Drupal 7 way of solving a problem, one example would be locations. Let’s say you got a content type in Drupal 7 called offices of your organization and they’re storing their address and location. That’s almost certainly done in a very different way in Drupal 9. And there isn’t a way to directly go from one to the other, at least not directly in the same sense of this upgrade process that I talked about before. There may be these situations like that, and you’ll have to do something custom or something else. That’s a little bit more complicated. It’s just important that, you know, these things happen upfront before you get into moving down this road.

Dave Hansen-Lange (21:00):

So who is this good for? I mentioned, you’re going to get the same stuff in the backend as you have now. So it’s, if you’re happy with that, great, consider this option. I mentioned that the visual presentation, you’ve got to redo that. So if you want a fresh design, this might be an option for you. Again, avoid if budget is tight, like I mentioned, it’s still a fairly complicated procedure. All right. A third option is to switch to Backdrop.

Dave Hansen-Lange (21:39):

So Backdrop, I said earlier that your main options are WordPress or Drupal. What’s this, what’s this new Backdrop thing? Backdrop is kind of like a different flavor of Drupal. And in the technical parlance, Backdrop is a fork of Drupal 7. And what does cutlery have to do with software? Absolutely nothing. So by fork, we mean fork in the road. You may know that Drupal and WordPress are open-source software. And that means that anybody, anybody really who has the time available to do it, can jump into the project. You got a problem with the way something works, you want to make it better, you can just do that and you can contribute something and get it rolled into the software. But what that also means is that if you don’t like how something works, you can just take it, copy it, and roll with it.

Dave Hansen-Lange (22:42):

And that’s what’s happened with, with Backdrop so well. Drupal 8 was being developed. There were many people in the community who thought, “Oh, no, like Drupal 8 is looking great and all, but it’s going to be really hard for websites that are on Drupal 7 to get to Drupal 8 and whatever it comes in the future. And they were right. That’s, that’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re having this webinar. And so what they did was they took Drupal 7, copied it, called it Backdrop and started to evolve it and evolve it in some of the same ways that AAA has evolved only keeping with the Drupal 7 way of doing things and the Drupal 7 styles. And so you have an option to take your website and sort of just take that fork in the road and start moving down the Backdrop trail.

Dave Hansen-Lange (23:42):

What this is going to look like for your website is that you’re still gonna have the existing content structure things in the backend of the website, just like that, upgrading to Drupal 9 option. It’s all going to look very similar, if not identical, but different from that upgrade to Drupal 9 option. You can still keep the visitor-facing portion of the website. If it’s going to need a little bit of tweaking to get onto that Backdrop fork in the road. But that is going to be relatively much smaller, a much lighter lift. Not to say that you must keep your existing design, you can make some changes and revisions. You might even consider doing a full redesign. But yeah, you don’t have to, as you’ve heard me describe this, you may be thinking fundamentally that the steps involved, it’s pretty similar to the upgrade to Drupal 9.

Dave Hansen-Lange (25:00):

It is, but still, it is almost certainly cheaper than upgrading to Drupal 9. And mainly the reason is because like I mentioned, it is just Drupal 7 evolved. So the changes that you have to make to your existing website are just immensely smaller, some increased risk. So what I mean by this well, like anybody who works with websites for a nonprofit is probably going to know WordPress, and probably getting to know the word Drupal, probably not going to know the word Backdrop, because it is such a much smaller community. Where there might be that there’s about half a million Drupal websites out there. There may be like a few thousand Backdrop websites out there. And because of that, there’s enough momentum in the community that we know that Backdrop will be here for two years, maybe four years, but it’s harder to sort of see deeper into the future. Whereas Drupal, you know, half a million websites. We know it’s, there’s a lot of people working on this, a lot of organizations, big and small, it’s going to be here for probably at least another 10 years, if not longer. Backdrop, much smaller community. There’s just not as much certainty about the future. 

Dave Hansen-Lange (26:44):

But with that said, Backdrop has committed to like the same sort of upgrade structure that Drupal 8 and Drupal 9 have committed to being. We’re not going to do a huge change again in the future. We’re going to make all these incremental changes that will make it much easier for you to stay up to date and evolve your website over time.

Dave Hansen-Lange (27:12):

Great. I thought it important to show some visuals about what Backdrop looks like and looking at these, you might be thinking, “Oh, this looks pretty similar to my Drupal 7 website, but the colors and fonts are more contemporary”. And you are a hundred percent correct in thinking that like I mentioned, it really is Drupal 7 evolved. But there is more to it. There are some easier things on the technical side of how to work with Backdrop compared to Drupal 7. There’s some different ways of managing page layouts. There’s other new features in Backdrop that Drupal 7 doesn’t have. But the thing is, if you take this sort of upgrade from Drupal 7 to backdrop trajectory, you’re not going to get those things all of a sudden. If you want to take advantage of Backdrop’s fancier ways of laying out content on a page then you’re going to have to have a small project to enable that feature. At first, you’re still going to be working in the same paradigms as you are with Drupal 7. So who is Backdrop great for? Anyone who has a lot of custom code. I was talking earlier about like, why you might want to avoid building a new website and Drupal 9 is if you’ve got a lot of custom stuff. Here in this option, and this would be a good option for you because all that custom stuff probably doesn’t need to change very much, probably needs to change a little. But if it’s not going to be all that significant, this is a good option for you.

Dave Hansen-Lange (29:16):

If you are happy with your existing design that’s going to need a little bit of touch-ups to move to Backdrop. I was trying to be consistent here and come up with a reason why you should avoid Backdrop. I couldn’t really come up with one. I think everyone should at least consider this option. It’s kind of like the middle of the road option. You might not choose this option if you’re wanting to do a full redesign, but if all the rest of the things line up for you, then you could do a full redesign in Backdrop. It would be fine. I guess the only reason that I can think of now is that if you are super concerned about keeping the website that you have the same fundamentally as it is now, four, five years into the future, 7 years into the future—because the future is a little less defined for Backdrop—you may want to avoid it in that case.

Dave Hansen-Lange (30:35):

All right. And the last option stay on Drupal 7. I mentioned even though Drupal 7 has reached end of life, there are ways to continue on with it. If you had any websites that were on Drupal 6 and you were in this sort of situation for Drupal 6’s website, when it reached its end of life, there was a program started called the extended support for Drupal 6. This Drupal 7 version of that program is fundamentally identical. And what this is is that I mentioned that many of the security team are volunteering their time. And so this program gets around by trying to force people to volunteer their time by saying it’s a paid program. The Drupal community has vetted several Drupal agencies to offer this extended support service. And what that means is that as security issues come up, maybe there’s a security issue that comes up in Drupal 8 that might also apply to Drupal 7 this, this team of extended support people work on fixing that problem in Drupal 7.

Dave Hansen-Lange (32:11):

And so there’s kind of two ways to take advantage of this: Number one, you sign up with one of the extended support vendors. You’ll be able to find that list through some links that we’re going to send at the end. One of the mandates of this is that they release all of their fixes publicly. It’s happened for Drupal 6 as well. And so if you are technically savvy or you’ve got someone at your disposal who’s technically savvy and can sort out the details and apply these fixes as they come up, this could be a good option for you, too.

Dave Hansen-Lange (33:08):

I think it’s important though, to like, take a step back at this point and talk about why you might think about security in different ways. And one way to think about security is kind of like two groups of websites on the internet—those who security is really important for, for whatever reason. Maybe they’re doing something that some people find controversial and they have people who are trying to hack into their website. Maybe you are processing credit cards on your website and you, you know, someone might want to try and break in and steal those credit cards. Maybe you are a news outlet and you get hundreds or hundreds of thousands of people viewing your content every day. And if someone could break in and get some sort of message out to those people, that might be an incentive as well. So that’s like one group of websites, people who have some sort of special security concern. And then there’s kind of everybody else—everybody who knows that security is fundamentally important, but it’s not more important than it is for everyone else in this group.

Dave Hansen-Lange (34:33):

It’s just the nature of how I described that most organizations are going to be in this group where security is important, but not more important than anyone else. Some are going to be in this heightened group of security. And for those people, they need to think about things more than just like, am I getting the bare necessity basics? Or am I really doing all that I’m responsible for ensuring the security is as good as it can be. And for those people, this may not be the best option in that you’re not on the most recent and currently secure thing you were on, this thing that’s on extended support. And whether that rationale is purely technical, or if it’s purely optics in that if something were to ever happen to your website and it was discovered, “Oh, they’re running this version of Drupal that was created 10 years ago”. 

Dave Hansen-Lange (35:38):

How can that be responsible? And then there’s all sorts of politics involved. I mean, it’s a situation you want to completely avoid, but for those of us who are in the group of security as important, but not more important than anyone else, this can be a very reasonable option to consider. So stay on Drupal 7, if you have a really tight budget. And I admit that budget is in the eye of the beholder. For some of you a roomy budget would be a tight budget and vice versa. Like I was talking about, if you don’t have any special security requirements avoid, if your site needs a facelift or if you’re frustrated with the backend. So like I mentioned, this is keeping the same website and keeping it the same. And so if you want to rip something out and try again, this is probably not the option for you.

Sarah Durham (36:56):

Okay. So, Dave, I’m just going to jump in here for a second before we continue with your sample scenarios. We’ve got about 20 minutes left in our time together, so we’re going to need to move pretty quickly through our sample scenarios and through the make a plan section. But we did get a really good question that I’d love you to try to answer for us before we continue on. It’s from our friend, Rita, and Rita asks, if you choose to migrate or upgrade to Backdrop, what would that mean for your future options to upgrade to Drupal 9?

Dave Hansen-Lange (37:29):

I don’t think it really changes the landscape for that at all. Whether you’re upgrading from Drupal 7 or from Backdrop, it’s fundamentally the same thing. It is technically almost identical and that’s because well, Backdrop has gone on this new trail at a foundational level. The way the content is stored, it’s fundamentally the same. And so if you want to pull that content out of either version of those websites into a new Drupal 9 website, it’s going to be the same process. That could change though, as it’s a fork in the road. So Backdrop could go further one way, while well, Drupal 7 is not moving anywhere at this point, but it could continue to move on in a way that’s more different from Drupal 7. But in my opinion, it’s unlikely to change all that much for the foreseeable year or two.

Sarah Durham (38:37):

Okay, great. So, so back over to you.

Dave Hansen-Lange (38:40):

Okay. So like I mentioned, those options, they were great in theory, but now let’s try and put some of this to practice. I’m going to show, I think, four, maybe five example websites and what is unique or different about those websites and why they might choose one option over the other. As you’re looking through this, you might think, “Oh, that’s nothing like my website”. But I’m going to try and pull some things out here that hopefully are going to apply or at least show some things that you should consider. And you also might recognize some of these websites. Don’t focus on that. We’re going to focus on what is it about these websites? I’m also not going to tell you anything about these websites that isn’t something… Sorry, everything that I’m going to tell you about these websites is something that you could just go to the website, look at and figure out for yourself.

Dave Hansen-Lange (39:45):

So there’s not going to be any sort of like private information here that I’m gonna show either. So in this first example, we’re going to look at the ACLU. On the left here, we see what their website homepage used to look like. On the right side, we’re going to see what the homepage looks like now. And the prior version of the website, that was Drupal 7. The homepage, and I say that specifically, the homepage, is now WordPress. You may remember back when I talked about the option of creating a new website that you don’t have to do the whole thing. Here’s just the homepage. And they’ve actually done the same thing with the blog section. It used to be Drupal on the left. Now it’s WordPress on the right. You don’t have to do with everything.

Dave Hansen-Lange (40:44):

So this is an example of a case on the ACLU website. And like, this is just one really long page here that is cut up into three pieces. See at the top, this is all just fairly straightforward content. But then in this section, things start to get more complicated. Like there’s all these other bits of content elsewhere on the website that are related to this case. That’s something that you can do in WordPress, but the more complicated those relationships get, the more awkward it gets to do in WordPress. Then down here at the bottom of the page, things get super complicated. Visually it doesn’t look too bad, but that’s because I think the design was done well. There’s hundreds of legal documents that relate to this case, all in these groupings and hierarchy and get super complicated. WordPress is not the best tool for this kind of job. And so this part of the website is still on Drupal. It’s still going to be on Drupal for now. It might evolve in the future, but that’s where it is for now.

Dave Hansen-Lange (42:03):

Another section of the website, there is this sort of intermediary thing where you could show an action within like an article or a blog post or something to say, “Okay, come take this action”. And during the redesign or in moving bits to WordPress, you know, if you’ve stepped back and thought, is this useful? Is this complicated? Is there a way to do this simpler? And this sort of intermediary thing was just checked and now there’s just links to actions and there’s other ways to show actions without this complicated section of the website. Please consider for your website: What should I get rid of? There’s almost always something. 

Dave Hansen-Lange (43:11):

Looking at a different organization, here is one that’s a Drupal 7 website. But you might be thinking, “Oh, this design, it looks fairly current”. And you’d be correct because this organization went through a redesign, I want to say, like, two years ago. And so because of that, looking at those four main options, they can probably throw the create-a-new-website option out because the design still looks great. As long as they’re happy with how the content works on the backend, they could really choose any of the other three options. And, yeah, so consider that.

Dave Hansen-Lange (43:47):

Next, we have a municipality. When I was talking about the option of staying on Drupal 7, that’s maybe not the best option for a municipality in the news all the time. We hear stories of like such-and-such municipality, their website has been hacked, or their computer systems have been taken over by ransomware. And so just the optics of staying on Drupal 7 might not be the best choice for them. The design looks, doesn’t look as fresh as those first two options that we showed. But let me guess a municipality kind of has different requirements in that the number one goal is not a flashy design, it’s getting information out to its residents.

Dave Hansen-Lange (44:32):

And so there may be a way for them to choose one of the non-design related options. And at the same time, maybe consider how it can do any sort of restructuring to better present the information that people need to find. Here’s another organization. In looking at the screenshot, you might be thinking the same things that this organization thinks about this website and that the design is very text-heavy, and it is not quite as engaging as they would really like it to be. And so for this organization, one of the first two options is probably the best choice: creating a new website completely or upgrading this to Drupal 9 with a new design.

Dave Hansen-Lange (45:43):

Lastly, we’re going to look here at, this is not so much a website, but a web platform. AFT has 1,300 websites on this one platform for States and Locals within a state. And the center one up top here, this is for a campaign website. And this is an example of a few things: One, it’s not their primary website, it’s not aft.org. And so if you’ve got more than one website, you don’t have to choose the same option for all of them. You can choose different options. Number two, there’s a lot of custom stuff involved here, as you might imagine. Some stuff around creating a new website, around connecting the information altogether. So because of that, you might lean more to one of the options that works better for custom stuff and doesn’t require recreating all of their custom stuff in a brand new website.

Sarah Durham (47:07):

Thank you, Dave. So a quick question, before we talk about where you go from here. Just want to confirm the ACLU, the sections of the ACLU site that are still in Drupal, or are those WordPress? 

Dave Hansen-Lange (47:22):

That is in Drupal. Yes. 

Sarah Durham (47:26):

Okay, so Dave is going to be advancing some slides for me. So I will ask you, Dave, to go onto the next slide. And basically, before we flip over to your questions and discussion, and in the remaining time we have together, what I want to get you thinking about is how to make a plan. And it’s interesting we’re doing this today because actually I had a call with somebody at a higher ed institution this morning, who’s got an old site and they are debating what their options are. They were describing a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed. I think that, you know, these days with the reality of what’s going on in the world with COVID, with elections, all that kind of stuff, tackling these kinds of big projects is feeling pretty daunting. So I wrote an article about planning and we’ll share links to that article and a bunch of other things.

Sarah Durham (48:20):

Dave has also written a really helpful post about Drupal 7’s end-of-life. At the end of this webinar and also in the follow-up email, we’ll send you one of the things I wrote. The first step is to make a plan and you don’t have to have all the answers. You’ve just got to begin by getting your team on the same page about the implications. I think that’s one of the big barriers that a lot of people are facing is that they’ve got these Drupal sites and there is a real challenge coming up, a real cliff coming up for many of you that you’ve got to begin to get your team aligned around so that you can budget and plan appropriately. Next slide please, Dave. So I recommend that you come up with a plan, which you could do in five slides or in two pages.

Sarah Durham (49:05):

And the intention of this plan is actually to give you an internal document you can use to get your team on the same page and build some buy-in. So you can see first you’d start by outlining the situation. I think we’ve given you some of the ammunition for that conversation and in today’s session or in the articles we’ll share with you, and what the risk is to your organization. You might want to outline some options if it’s clear to you and the people on your team where you should go from Drupal 7. You might go forward with outlining some options or making a recommendation, but honestly, if you’re not sure which way to go, a good partner should help you get there, too. So if you don’t have the answers already in mind, if it’s not clear to you which way to go, it might be that you map out a few options.

Sarah Durham (49:52):

But your recommendation might be more to find a partner to help you navigate that. Of course Advomatic can do that. We would love to help you make a decision about this, and we do regularly do that as part of our work. There are many people you could work with who could do that. I think one of the things that’s also really important in your plan is mapping out a timeline, not so much for the build or the upgrade that you might do, but all the things leading up to it. If you are looking ahead and thinking what you really need to do is rebuild your website or do a significant upgrade, that’s going to take time and a lot of work, and you’re going to want to get your team on the same page about when the budget needs to be approved, and when you’re going to get rolling so that you’re doing it hopefully well in advance of some of the deadlines that are going to be important within your organization and within the Drupal 7 end-of-life timeline.

Sarah Durham (50:49):

You know, in the non-profit sector, one of the key pieces that is in my experience kind of do-or-die for many big projects is building buy-in. So with that plan in mind, I would encourage you to have some conversations, share it, get it into the budgeting process and kind of keep it alive because very often you know, you mentioned these things once or twice, but there’s so many things going on that are taking up so much attention and energy for the leaders of organizations today that I think you’re going to have a little bit of work to do to keep it alive, which is the next step. My next slide. Also, keeping it alive is about not just writing this plan and sending it to people, but keep nudging and keep bringing it up. If you know what your milestones are when people are talking about budgets or budgets are getting approved, you know, those are great opportunities to research, collate your plan and go from there.

Sarah Durham (51:47):

Now, many organizations that we work with and talk to are already doing this, and they’re already talking to us and other people about what they’re doing. And a partner can also help you figure out your timeline. So there are a lot of ways to do this. You don’t have to do the heavy lifting on your own. But what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to wait until you’re, you know, a couple of months away from these deadlines if they pose significant risks or implications for your organization. So we have a few minutes left to go before the top of our hour. And I want to hear a little bit from you. So if you’ve got questions or comments, you can either use the Q&A feature, which you will see at the bottom of your screen, or you can chat them in to Dave and I, as we go. And we’re going to stop sharing our screen. Now we’ll take a few questions and while you chat those in, I also want to just remind everybody that we are going to be sending out a follow-up link to the recording here. And Theresa is also going to chat out a couple of the articles we mentioned. Dave has written a really helpful article about D7 end-of-life. He’s also written an article about D8 and there’s an article I’ve written that’s about how you, how you plan for this change. So Theresa will chat those all out.

Sarah Durham (53:17):

Okay, Dave, first question for you. Somebody is chatting in about administrators and they’re thinking, well, actually, this is sort of a double-barreled question. Let’s take it in two parts. First in option A, you talked about building a new site as option A. You specifically talked about WordPress and Drupal. Both of those are open source technologies. Why are you talking just about WordPress and Drupal and not any other systems?

Dave Hansen-Lange (53:46):

One of the things that I also talked about was like, kind of the momentum of these projects, like Drupal is large. WordPress is ginormous. And there’s lots of movement in those projects. There’s lots of momentum as soon as someone has a new idea or a new technology pops up on the internet, like things move quickly. And there’s a way to do it on your website in short order. And I also talked about the security group, that’s not the official title, but like there’s ways like that in which you’re getting the benefits of someone else volunteering their time for your website, which you just don’t get in in some of the other options that you have.

Sarah Durham (54:37):

Okay, thank you. And the second part of this question was about comparing WordPress and Drupal about administrators and the options there. This person is talking about how there’s lots of different people in their organization, who right now have different layers of access in Drupal 7. And they’re wondering if there are any recommendations you have for new platforms based on that kind of complexity.

Dave Hansen-Lange (55:01):

Yeah, so like the area of editorial permissions and controls, like that’s one of the big differentiators between Drupal and WordPress. WordPress has some basic systems around this role can do this, or this role can do that. In Drupal, we can make things a whole lot more complicated, like people who manage this section of the website, they can upload images. Other people can use those images, but only the original group of people can edit them or ways of more complicated things that you can do in Drupal.

Sarah Durham (55:38):

Okay, so there’s a question here about the difference between a Drupal new build and a Drupal upgrade in terms of cost. And actually, would you mind just bringing it up again, cause somebody chatted to me that they arrived a bit late and they didn’t see your slide. I think it’s your slide number six, which outlines all the options. Let’s just quickly go back to that slide for a second and share that. And I think that the question that just got chatted into me relates to this. So on slide six, you mapped out a bunch of different options ranging from building a new site to staying on Drupal 7. And those were ranked, as you talked about them from most expensive to least expensive. So you said building a new site is the most expensive, staying on Drupal 7 is the least expensive, and then the upgrade or the switching to Backdrop were in between. So the question is about the cost differential between building a new site in Drupal 9 and upgrading in Drupal 9. I assume that there are additional costs for design, for UX, things like that, and building a new website, but how significant is that differential? What other variables inform the cost difference there?

Dave Hansen-Lange (57:06):

Yeah, so I talked about sort of in any of these higher options… well, no, let me rephrase that. In the two middle options, you have the option of how much redesign you want to do, of course. And that’s probably the biggest thing that affects how big or small upgrading to Drupal 9, that project is going to be. But let’s say you wanted to redesign and compare upgrading to Drupal 9 versus creating a new website in Drupal 9. It’s difficult to be put on the spot, but I don’t know, 80%, 90% since you’re doing a full redesign. Upgrading to Drupal 9 and moving to a new website, they start to become more similar. The more you’re redesigning, the similar in cost.

Sarah Durham (58:01):

Okay, thank you. That sounds like what we were expecting. So I am just skimming through your questions and it looks like a couple of other questions that we have here are pretty unique to specific organizations, so I’m going to follow up directly with those organizations since we are just about out of time. I want to thank Theresa and Dave for joining us today. Dave, thank you for imparting your wisdom on this topic. And I want to thank everybody who took the time to log in and watch this. I hope this has been helpful for you. If you have specific questions or concerns or things you want to pick our brain about, you can always email us at [email protected] or [email protected]. We’d be happy to get on the phone with you, talk a little bit about your situation if that is of use to you. And again, Theresa will be sending out a link to these articles and the recording to you in just a few days. So thank you, all. And thank you all for the excellent work you do to make the world a better place. Be well, thanks.

Jun 26 2020
Jun 26

Drupal 9 was launched on June 3, 2020. Given this, it would be necessary for enterprises to upgrade to it later or sooner to acquire complete functionality and retain the ability to receive security updates within the bi-yearly cycles.

In the past, migrating from one version to another has been similar to moving from another CMS to Drupal, bringing in more time and fatigue.

However, the upgrade from D7/8 to D9 is much easier and painless. Let’s dive into more details and understand as to why moving on to Drupal 9 would be a better choice.

Why Should You Upgrade?

With the end of life approaching for Drupal 7 and 8 soon, operating the website on them securely and with complete functionality won’t be a feasible option.

At the same time, it might also be overwhelming for Drupal 7/8 site owners to know that their website will need the upgrade, especially when their site is running absolutely fine; thereby, resulting in confusion among them.

Here are 3 reasons why you should consider upgrading your site to Drupal 9:

  1. The Drupal security team will soon no longer provide support or security advisories, wavering your website’s and its users’ cybersecurity
  2. D7 and 8 releases’ on all project pages will be flagged as ‘not supported’. D7/ 8 may be flagged as insecure in 3rd party scans making the integration with other third-party tools and systems challenging
  3. Leading hosting services providers like Acquia and Pantheon will also soon withdraw their support from D7 leaving you without many options but to assume hosting responsibility for maintaining your application and server level configurations

The good news for Drupal 7/8 site owners is that even when it goes out of official support in November 2022, remaining Drupal 7/8 sites won't stop working at that point.

Should an Existing Drupal 7 Site Be Upgraded to Drupal 8 or 9?

One of the major reasons that more than seven hundred thousand Drupal 7 sites still haven’t migrated to Drupal 8, is due to the known challenges in the migration process. And with the majority of people on Drupal 7, it is quite likely that most of them did not want to upgrade their CMS twice in the span of one year.

A safe bet seems to be migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. But will the site be secure? Let’s get to know a few facts.

Since D8 and D9 are similar except for deprecated codes removed and third-party updates in D9, it would be a feasible option for enterprises to migrate to D9 instead of D8 - to save them from constantly going through the same process and investing time, money, and efforts unnecessarily.

What’s New in Drupal 9?

There are innumerable capabilities added in Drupal 9 which further will be consistently updated biannually to help enterprises stay up-to-date.

Now once you upgrade your system to D9, you won’t require to make major changes the next time you plan to update it to a newer version. 

Here are some of the new capabilities that are added to D9-

  1. Backward compatible

    Drupal 9 is backward compatible, i.e., it is compatible with its predecessor, Drupal 8. That being said, D9 will be able to use modules, configurations, and data created on D8 of the same software, unlike the case with D7 and D8.
    Additionally, preserving this functionality won’t burden Drupal with historical baggage and so the performance of the system will remain unaffected. The Drupal community has also focused on breaking code and not the data.
    This way, Drupal will remain fast, clutter-free, and yet an up-to-date technology.

  2. Faster and Better Performance

    Drupal 9 has taken it further to extend its support for responsive images, wherein mobiles can display the best-sized images and hence, consume fewer amounts of data.
    In a recent webinar by Dries, he mentioned that Drupal 9.1 onwards versions/updates will witness the innovation and pave the way for faster and better performances of the websites. Drupal 9.1 update is just six months post the release of Drupal 9. Meanwhile, here are some of the features of D9 that you can leverage for efficient workflows-

        A.  BigPipe increasing page view performance and supporting faster initial page loading

        B.  Content Workflow allowing you to define multiple workflows

        C.  Multilingual capabilities

        D.  Structure Content- Drupal 9 comes in with an array of available fields, encompassing phone, email,       data, and time.

  3. Cleaner code base

    Drupal 9 has removed the support for deprecated codes in D8. This implementation will ensure that the code marked as deprecated will no longer be supported and used in the Drupal ecosystem. 
    The motive behind this is to make D9 a cleaner version so that whenever the modules in D8 want to become compatible with D9, they need to first eliminate the deprecated code. 
    Thus, the end result is clear- to make the code more nimble and improve the website’s performance.

  4. Newer Major Versions of Symfony and Twig

    Symfony 3 will be replaced with Symfony 4 or 5 after November 2021. Also, the Drupal community can introduce an upgrade to Twig 2.0. These upgrades will only result in enhanced performance, improved developer experience, and enhanced security.

  5. Panelizer will be removed and replaced 

    What’s new in Drupal 9? Well, the panelizer will be replaced with the Layout Builder, the “star” module of the moment.

  6. Headless CMS

    Drupal 8 and 9 both come with an API-first approach. Dries also mentioned in the webinar that the Drupal community is vigorously capitalizing on Headless CMS so that it can enhance users’ experience with the powerful front-end of the website with Javascript framework like React or Angular. 

The essential features of Drupal Headless CMS are-

  • Front-End Freedom
  • Create Once, Publish Anywhere
  • API-First Approach
  • Easier Resourcing

Drupal 9 is more usable, accessible, inclusive, flexible and scalable than previous versions, with the following updated features-

  • It will be significantly easier for marketers to use D9
  • Simple than ever to maintain and upgrade for developers
  • D9 is experimenting with its headless or decoupled capabilities

Additionally, you can also learn from our previous blog where we have explained how to find and fix the deprecated code - Site Owner’s Guide to a Smooth Drupal 9 Upgrade Experience.

Why Remove Deprecated Code in Drupal 9?

To ensure that the D8 modules remain compatible with D9, it’s typically essential to remove deprecated codes- 

  1. The all-new Drupal 9 ready code gets deployed on Drupal 8 sites and issues can be tested.
  2. It is a continuation of the fully-tested and stable codebase of Drupal 8

With time, the effort is being made to make Drupal better. There are functions that have been around for a long time but will not be a good fit in the latest release. Most were deprecated in Drupal 8.7.0, which will be removed in Drupal 9.

To sum it all, the key to achieving this smooth transition to Drupal 9 is to rollout your migration plan within deadlines and save yourself from any unnecessary hassle later on.

Srijan is working with leading enterprises to help them migrate their digital web properties to Drupal 9 for better user experience. 

If you are also looking for a smooth upgrade/migration process for your enterprise’s system, we are all ears and excited to assist you. Contact Us!

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