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Nov 18 2020
Nov 18

From the consumer perspective, there’s never been a better time to build a website. User-friendly website platforms like Squarespace allow amateur developers to bypass complex code and apply well-designed user interfaces to their digital projects. Modern site-building tools aren’t just easy to use—they’re actually fun.

For anyone who has managed a Drupal website, you know the same can’t be said for your platform of choice. While rich with possibilities, the default editorial interface for Drupal feels technical, confusing, and even restrictive to users without a developer background. Consequently, designers and developers too often build a beautiful website while overlooking its backend CMS.

Drupal’s open-ended capabilities constitute a competitive advantage when it comes to developing an elegant, customer-facing website. But a lack of attention to the needs of those who maintain your website content contributes to a perception that Drupal is a developer-focused platform. By building a backend interface just as focused on your site editors as the frontend, you create a more empowering environment for internal teams. In the process, your website performs that much better as a whole.

UX principles matter for backend design as much as the frontend

Given Drupal’s inherent flexibilities, there are as many variations of CMS interfaces as there are websites on the platform. That uniqueness is part of what makes Drupal such a powerful tool, but it also constitutes a weakness.

The editorial workflow for every website is different, which opens an inevitable training gap in translating your site’s capabilities to your editorial team. Plus, despite Drupal’s open-source strengths, you’ll likely need to reinvent the wheel when designing CMS improvements specific to your organization.

For IT managers, this is a daunting situation because the broad possibilities of Drupal are often overwhelming. If you try to make changes to your interface, you can be frustrated when a seemingly easy fix requires 50 hours of development work. Too often, Drupal users will wind up working with an inefficient and confusing CMS because they’re afraid of the complexity that comes with building out a new interface.

Fortunately, redesigning your CMS doesn’t have to be a demanding undertaking. With the right expertise, you can develop custom user interfaces with little to no coding required. Personalized content dashboards and defined roles and permissions for each user go a long way toward creating a more intuitive experience.

Improving your backend design is often seen as an additional effort, but think of it as a baseline requirement. And, by sharing our user stories within the Drupal community, we also build a path toward improving the platform for the future.

Use Drupal’s Views module to customize user dashboards

One of the biggest issues with Drupal’s out-of-the-box editorial tools is that they don’t reflect the way any organization actually uses the CMS. Just as UX designers look to provide a positive experience for first-time visitors to your site, your team should aim for delivering a similarly strong first impression for those managing its content.

By default, Drupal takes users to their profile pages upon login, which is useful to . . . almost no one. Plus, the platform’s existing terminology uses cryptic terms such as “node,” “taxonomy,” and “paragraphs” to describe various content items. From the beginning, you should remove these abstract references from your CMS. Your editorial users shouldn’t have to understand how the site is built to own its content.

Powering Our Communities homepage

In the backend, every Drupal site has a content overview page, which shows the building blocks of your site. Offering a full list that includes cryptic timestamps and author details, this page constitutes a floodgate of information. Designing an effective CMS is as much an exercise in subtraction as addition. Whether your user’s role involves reviewing site metrics or new content, their first interaction with your CMS should display what they use most often.

Manage News interface

If one population of users is most interested in the last item they modified, you can transform their login screen to a custom dashboard to display those items. If another group of users works exclusively with SEO, you can create an interface that displays reports and other common tasks. Using Drupal’s Views module, dashboards like these are possible with a few clicks and minimal coding.

By tailoring your CMS to specific user habits, you allow your website teams to find what they need and get to work faster. The most dangerous approach to backend design is to try and build one interface to rule them all.

Listen to your users and ease frustrations with a CMS that works

Through Drupal Views, you can modify lists of content and various actions to control how they display in your CMS. While Views provides many options to create custom interfaces, your users themselves are your organization’s most vital resource. By watching how people work on your site, you can recognize areas where your CMS is falling short.

Drupal content dashboard

Even if you’ve developed tools that aimed to satisfy specific use cases, you might be surprised the way your tools are used. Through user experience testing, you’ll often find the workarounds your site editors have developed to manage the site.

In one recent example, site editors needed to link to a site page within the CMS. Without that functionality, they would either find the URL by viewing the source code in another tab and copying its node ID number. Anyone watching these users would find their process cumbersome, time-consuming, and frustrating. Fortunately, there’s a Drupal module called Linkit that was implemented to easily eliminate this needless effort.

There are many useful modules in the Drupal ecosystem that can enhance the out-of-the-box editorial experience. Entity Clone expedites the content creation process. Views Bulk Operations and Bulk Edit simplify routine content update tasks. Computed Field and Automatic Entity Label take the guesswork out of derived or dependent content values. Using custom form modes and Field Groups can help bring order and streamline the content creation forms.

Most of the time, your developers don’t know what solutions teams have developed to overcome an ineffective editorial interface. And, for fear of the complexity required to create a solution, these supposed shortcuts too often go unresolved. Your backend users may not even be aware their efforts could be automated or otherwise streamlined. As a result, even the most beautiful, user-friendly website is bogged down by a poorly designed CMS.

Once these solutions are implemented, however, you and your users enjoy a shared win. And, through sharing your efforts with the Drupal community, you and your team build a more user-friendly future for the platform as well.

Oct 07 2020
Oct 07

argument-open-source

Here’s a dirty secret: most businesses are unsatisfied with their website. Research shows that 34% of website owners are unsatisfied with the amount of business their website generates for them. Loudhouse data suggests that 62% of business owners believe a more effective website would increase their sales. And millions of business websites deal with slow load times, inconsistent customer experiences, and problematic UI/UX issues.

There’s a reason that 36% of small businesses STILL don’t have a website. Creating an amazing, design-driven, customer-centric website is challenging. So, what do you do when your website isn’t making the cut? You look towards the source — your Content Management System (CMS). Every year, thousands of private and public entities migrate their website to a new CMS.

But, unfortunately, thousands more don’t. Migration is scary. It’s easier to stay with your current CMS and focus on redesigns or new templates. Here’s the problem: new coats of paint don’t fix broken engines. If you’re thinking about migrating from WordPress or Joomla to Drupal, you’ve probably heard rumors and myths regarding migrations.

Let’s clear those up. Here are 4 myths about migration that need to be squashed.

Myth #1: I’m Going to Lose All My Content/Data

This is, by far, the most common excuse against migrating. You’re worried all of that precious content and data are going to fall off the ship if you switch ports. And, you’re right to worry. It could… if you don’t migrate correctly. But it’s not inevitable. You can prevent data and content loss. In fact, if you lose data or content, we would consider that a failed migration. In other words, successful migrations keep data and content intact by definition.

Here are some handy-dandy steps you can take to ensure that your precious data doesn’t go overboard during your migration:

  • Crawl your site before migration and use the crawl data to check for URL issues. If you check each URL, you should be able to see any missing content (and fix it!)
  • Keep your existing site stable until you’ve fully migrated.
  • When you migrate, check for duplicate content; plenty of site owners run into the opposite of losing content.

Myth #2: I Have to Invest in a Redesign

You’re migrating; you might as well invest in a redesign, right? Sure! You could. But it’s tricky. When you do a redesign and a migration, you’re no longer just matching URL-to-URL and content-to-content, you’re simultaneously rebuilding your website. Don’t get us wrong; there are advantages. It’s a great time to redesign from an SEO perspective (you’re already going to take a small hit during the migration; more on this in the next section), but it also requires significantly more planning, budget, and time.

If you want to do a redesign-migration, we heavily recommend that you touch base with your design company. You want to work through the kinks and create a best-in-class action plan to tackle any issues that may (or may not) pop up. The entire migration will be structured around the redesign, so it’s important to carefully weigh your options.

Myth #3: Goodbye SEO!

From an SEO perspective, migration sounds like a nightmare. You’ve worked diligently to build up your SEO. What happens when you frolic to a new location? Let’s get this out of the way: your SEO will take a temporary hit. But, it shouldn’t last long. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re moving to another platform because it’s better at handling SEO. For example, Drupal has built-in SEO capabilities (e.g., title-based URL nodes, customizable meta tags, etc.) WordPress does not. Obviously, you can get SEO plugins for WordPress that help you build SEO functionalities, but most of those plugins are also available for Drupal — so Drupal gives you a net gain.

Here’s a secret: migration can help your page rank. After the first awkward week (Google has to recrawl your website, recognize that it’s you, and give you back your ranking), migration can help you build a more powerful SEO framework.

Want to migrate without dumping your SEO overboard? Here are some tips:

  • Update your internal links
  • Benchmark your Google Analytics profile and compare it with your analytics post-migration to look for gaps
  • Keep any old domains and redirect your website
  • Check for broken or duplicate content that could tank your SEO
  • Manage your sitemaps
  • Update any PPC campaigns and ad creatives

Myth #4: You Just Have to “Lift-and-Shift”

There are plenty of myths surrounding the difficulty of migration. But there are also a few myths making migration out to be super easy. And, without a doubt, the most prevalent “easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy” migration myth is the ever-coveted “lift-and-shift.” There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for migrating websites. Sometimes, it can be as easy as lifting content off of one website and putting it onto another website. But that’s seldom the case.

Generally, you need to set up test servers, check to see if website elements function correctly on the new platform, test out and utilize new CMS features, and a variety of other tasks before you can simply drop content from one place to another. In other words, lift-and-shift may work when you’re migrating a cloud environment, but it often doesn’t work with CMS migration.

Remember, just because everything worked perfectly in one environment doesn’t mean it will in another one. You may have to fix some website elements and carefully construct your new website ecosystem. At the same time, you’ll probably be playing around with the new features available to you on Drupal — so the “lift-and-shift” is usually more of a “lift-and-test-and-shift.”

Do You Need Help With Your Drupal Migration?

At Mobomo, we help private and public entities migrate to Drupal environments using proven migration strategies and best-in-class support. So, whether you’re looking to establish your website in a more secure, SEO-friendly environment or you’re looking to do a redesign-and-migrate, we can help you migrate pain-free. Are you ready to move to a brighter future?

Contact us. We’ve got your back.

Jan 30 2020
Jan 30

A chef can make a great meal with a few basic ingredients. But when offered a massive pantry full of options, the result can be a work of art.

The same principle applies when it comes to website CMS software. A basic template-style CMS can result in something that hits the spot. But Drupal’s staggering degree of flexibility and modular options has allowed the developers of some of the world’s most prominent websites to create gorgeous and highly functional sites that inspire, inform, and elevate.

Here are our top 10 picks for Drupal websites that we think have raised the bar:

  • Tesla
  • PGAL
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
  • Mint
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame
  • The Australian Government
  • Rethinking Picasso’s Guernica
  • The Emmy Awards
  • NASA

Let’s examine these in more detail:

10. TeslaTesla

A rare day passes by without Tesla making headlines. The brand and its founder, Elon Musk, are renowned for big, audacious ideas that have potential to change the world. The beautiful photography and design make every section look like a high-end editorial page in a magazine, while the simple, intuitive navigation and call-to-action features are clean and unobtrusive. It all combines to create a website that’s aspirational yet attainable.

9. PGALPGAL

PGAL is an international design firm focusing on interiors, architecture, planning, and engineering. Their challenge is to show and tell, so that potential clients are dazzled by the site’s visuals while still being able to find enough solid information to want to take the next step. The site, which uses imagery as the gateway to project stories, is a delightful rabbit-hole that we could spend hours exploring. Make sure to check out their Projects page, as it is an excellent example of how to show off a portfolio in a clean but comprehensive way.

8. The University of Texas at AustinUniversity of Texas at Austin 

University websites can often be an overstuffed nightmare to navigate, but the team behind UT Austin’s website got it right: Their menu navigation is clean, well-organized, and enticing. Add to it a home page that evokes the fresh excitement of starting the post-secondary journey, while peppering in well-organized data that invites the reader to learn more, and you have a website that gets students and their families off to the perfect start.

7. Children’s Hospital of Los AngelesChildren’s Hospital of Los Angeles

160,000 visitors go to CHLA.org every month, making it vital for the site to present clear, accurate, easily navigated information in a way that builds and maintains trust. It’s a tall order, but CHLA.org delivers. The design is clean but far from cold, while the most frequently searched information is put front and center instead of being hidden in the navigation bars, making it easy for frazzled parents to find out what they need to know. The sheer volume of information on the “Patients and Families” page could easily be overwhelming but is organized beautifully and intuitively.

6. Mint

Mint’s value statement: “We help you effortlessly manage your finances in one place.” They offer clean and simple financial management, using a clean and simple sentence to describe what they do. A cluttered or complicated website would completely undermine their brand. Fortunately, Mint.com is anything but cluttered or complicated. The simple and soothing colors and minimalist text are reassuring to visitors who want straightforward information, while the navigation and iconography make navigation a breeze.

5. National Baseball Hall of FameNational Baseball Hall of Fame

For any website to be successful, it has to give the end-users what they’re looking for, and the BHoF delivers. After extensive user research, the site was designed to showcase the incredible stories and artifacts in BHoF’s collection, bringing it all to life for the site’s visitors. Fortunately, it also does so in a way that’s easy to navigate, inviting visitors to spend plenty of time exploring.

4. The Australian GovernmentThe Australian Government

As with universities and colleges, government websites can often be an impenetrable labyrinth to navigate. Australia.gov.au does things differently, living up to their header, “Helping you find government information and services.” The site is incredibly well-organized, with virtually no clutter. And even though it has not one photo to speak of, it still manages to be attractive, through a judicious use of color and minimalistic icons.

3. Rethinking Picasso’s GuernicaRethinking Picasso’s Guernica

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía created an ambitious project around one of Picasso’s most famous works of art, and the results were groundbreaking: The project has been recognized with a Webby as the best 2018 Cultural Institutions Website. The storytelling and imagery on this site are captivating, while the user experience is smooth and unobtrusive.

2.  The Emmy AwardsThe Emmy Awards

The Emmy Awards are splashy and glamorous on the outside, while requiring meticulous planning and organization behind the scenes. Their website is no different. With a plethora of content, rich color choices, and high-quality images, the site is as immersive an experience as the awards show is. But thoughtful, intuitive navigation, exciting features, and well-curated content demonstrate expertise.

1. NASANASA

NASA.gov is a massive resource on space, astronomy, and the universe, offering detailed information on present and past missions, gorgeous photography, educational resources, and information about the organization in general, to name but a few features. Organizing such a wealth of information in a coherent and clear way shows what is possible with Drupal.

Full disclosure: We’re the team behind NASA.gov, so it’s understandable that we might have a soft spot for this site. However, we’re far from alone in loving the finished product. Our friends at Vardot.com call it “a shining example of Drupal CMS used to present stunning information, and elevate the user’s experience,” and NASA.gov has made the top of more than one “Best Drupal Websites” list.

Want to see the possibilities that Drupal can hold for your organization’s website?
Contact us today!

Jan 17 2020
Jan 17

Drupal 9 is scheduled for release on June 3, 2020. And as with any highly anticipated release, questions abound: “What will change from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9?” “What do I need to do to prepare before upgrading?” And top-of-mind is the big question: “What will Drupal 9 be like to work with?”

Read on as we share what you’ll need to know … and what might surprise you.

Anybody who’s upgraded from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 recalls the giant chasm between the two systems. Almost 200 new features were launched including an entirely new page editor, a new theme engine, a new text editor, and new field types, to name but a few.

This gap doesn’t exist between Drupal 8 and Drupal 9. In fact, on the surface, there IS no difference: Drupal 9 has the same code, functions, and feature set as Drupal 8.9.

So why release it then? As it turns out, there are differences — they’re just not front-and-center on the interface.

Time to Clean House

Throughout its development cycle, Drupal 8 has wound up with a lot of code debt: functions that were created programmatically and used for some time but have been rendered redundant by more efficient functions.

These bits of code clutter up Drupal 8 like your old CDs and DVDs clutter up your bookshelf: There’s nothing wrong with them, but you probably don’t need them anymore now that you have something more efficient.

The result of all this extra code is that programmatically, there might be 10 different ways to do one single thing.

What Drupal has done is marked all of those code items in the backend code base as being “deprecated”. When Drupal 9 comes out, the plan is to remove all the deprecated code on this list, leaving only the latest version of whatever that code’s API is. They’ll also be updating third-party dependencies, such as Symfony and Twig. From Drupal’s site:

“Drupal 9 will be a cleaned-up version of Drupal 8. It will be the same as the last Drupal 8 minor version with our own deprecated code removed and third-party dependencies updated. We are building Drupal 9 in Drupal 8.”

Will Drupal 9 Be Better?

Yes, but not without some minor risks.

Jettisoning all this deprecated code will result in a much faster, cleaner, and better-operating version of Drupal. However, if you have legacy programs whose modules use some of that deprecated code, you could find yourself with some broken processes.

How to Prepare for Drupal 9

In general, upgrading to Drupal 9 is not an onerous process – it can literally be done via a single command. What will take more time is monitoring and auditing code bases to ensure that none of your functionality is dependent upon deprecated code.

Fortunately, Drupal is well prepared for this, and has indicated that the Drupal 8 branch of the Upgrade Status module can be used  to identify and report on any deprecated code:

“This module scans the code of the contributed and custom projects you have installed, and reports on any deprecated code that must be replaced before the next major version. Available project updates are also suggested to keep your site up to date as project will resolve deprecation errors over time.”

In addition, we anticipate that when downloading or updating modules, Drupal will likely advise whether there are compatibility issues due to bad functions. However, that notification system isn’t currently in place (if it indeed happens at all), so your best bet is to work with your development partner, who can audit your code to identify any trouble spots.

Marie Kondo-ing Your Infrastructure

Drupal 9 will be a much faster and more streamlined platform, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If the rest of your operational architecture is similarly full of code debt and redundant processes, updating Drupal 9 will be akin to sending a Lamborghini down a pothole-rutted road: That powerful engine is wasted if the route is slowing it down.

So, going to Drupal 9 is an excellent opportunity to look at your legacy systems, audit them as well, and make sure your entire infrastructure is clean, fast, and free of roadblocks.

The Bottom Line

In general, upgrading to Drupal 9 should not be a complex or lengthy process. By cleaning out the clutter and performing some common dependencies, Drupal is practicing good development hygiene and providing its customers with a more streamlined system that will be faster … but still familiar.

Want to know more? Contact us today!

Apr 01 2019
Apr 01

Vienna, VA March 19, 2019—Mobomo,

Mobomo, LLC is pleased to announce our award as a prime contractor on the $25M Department of Interior (DOI) Drupal Developer Support Services BPA . Mobomo brings an experienced and extensive Drupal Federal practice team to DOI.  Our team has launched a large number of award winning federal websites in both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8, to include www.nasa.gov, www.usgs.gov, and www.fisheries.noaa.gov.,These sites have won industry recognition and awards including the 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Webby Award; two 2017 Innovate IT awards; and the 2018 MUSE Creative Award and the Acquia 2018 Public Sector Engage award.

DOI has been shifting its websites from an array of Content Management System (CMS) and non-CMS-based solutions to a set of single-architecture, cloud-hosted Drupal solutions. In doing so, DOI requires Drupal support for hundreds of websites that are viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, including its parent website, www.doi.gov, managed by the Office of the Secretary. Other properties include websites and resources provided by its bureaus  (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, National Park Service, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey) and many field offices.

This BPA provides that support. The period of performance for this BPA is five years and it’s available agency-wide and to all bureaus as a vehicle for obtaining Drupal development, migration, information architecture, digital strategy, and support services. Work under this BPA will be hosted in DOI’s OpenCloud infrastructure, which was designed for supporting the Drupal platform.

Dec 28 2018
Dec 28

Themes improperly check renderable arrays when determining visibility

Kaleem ClarksonPhoto by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

One of the many great advantages of being a part of an open source project is that there are so many smart people out there are willing to contribute their time for the betterment of the project. This ability to crowdsource bugs and feature requests that rarely stumps the community is what makes Drupal such a powerful application.

While rare, sometimes the community finds a bug that is very difficult to solve. Let me introduce you to [#953034] Themes improperly check renderable arrays when determining visibility.

I was first introduced to this bug while trying to add a view block in the left sidebar. When the view was empty I expected the block and the sidebar to not be displayed. As you can see below, while the block was empty the sidebar was still being rendered.

The sidebar is Still being displayed.

I then googled and stumbled upon another issued, Empty view causes region to be displayed and it was exactly what I was looking for, but I noticed it was marked as a duplicate issue and linked to [#953034] Themes improperly check renderable arrays when determining visibility. This bug was reported to Drupal 7 core on October 26, 2010. The issue has over 310 comments and 230 followers.

You can really tell the severity and complexity of an issue when you see some of the brightest Drupal contributors have been making suggestions and striking out. They include but are not limited to:
bleen, chx, Cottser, Crell, DamienMcKenna, EclipseGc, Fabianx, Jeff Burnz, jenlampton, joachim, joelpittet, JohnAlbin, lauriii, markcarver, mdrummond, moshe weitzman, mpotter, samuel.mortenson, tim.plunkett, webchick, Wim Leers, xjm.

While I am not a backend developer, I felt like I could still help by highlighting a major issue that maybe someone either inside or outside the community could help find a solution.

Please remember to read the complete issue before commenting as so many people have suggested solutions to fix but have ran into a roadblock.

Oct 21 2018
Oct 21

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could add any block you want to your paragraphs?

Kaleem Clarkson

In years past, layout for Drupal has been in the hands of front-end developers, but over time various modules were developed that provided site-builders the ability to adjust the layout. An improvement yes, but there still wasn’t a clear cut option that empowered content editors to alter the layout during the editorial process.

Look out! Here comes the Paragraphs Module. This module has been taking the Drupal community over by storm because it allows content editors to add pre-designed components which gives each page the option to have different layouts. One of the limitations of the Paragraphs module, is that each paragraph can only be used once, and only for the current node you are editing. This means that you can’t re-use a common paragraph such as a call to action block, email signup or contact us form, so you end up finding yourself duplicating a lot of work if you want the same block on numerous pages. While the Drupal community has been working to help solve this problem by allowing the re-use of paragraphs, there are still going to be plenty of situations where you want to insert custom blocks, views, or system blocks such as the site logo or login block.

How do you allow your site editors to add re-used blocks into their content during the editorial process?

There are plenty of awesome articles out there that explains how to use paragraphs so I won’t get into that. To follow along with my steps be sure to have downloaded and enabled both the Paragraphs and the Block Field modules.

Steps to Add Blocks to Paragraphs

  1. Download and Enable the Paragraphs and Block Field modules.
  2. Create a paragraph type called Block Reference (or whatever name you want)
  3. Add a new field, by selecting the Block (plugin) field type from the dropdown and save it.
  4. Go to manage display and make the label hidden.
    I always forget this step and then I scratch my head when I see the Block Ref field label above my views title.
  5. Now go to back to your content type that has the paragraph reference field and ensure the Block Reference paragraph type is correctly enabled.
    The content type with the paragraph reference field was not covered in this tutorial.
  6. When adding or editing your content with a paragraph reference field. Add the Block Reference paragraph type. Select the name of the block that you would like to reference from the dropdown hit save on the content and watch the magic happen.

In conclusion, it does feel a little scary giving content editors this much freedom so it will be imperative that all views and custom blocks have descriptive names so that editors can clearly identify what blocks to reference. Overall I feel like this is a good solution for referencing existing blocks that can save a lot of time and really unleashes the power of the paragraphs module. The Drupal community continues to amaze me!

Jun 25 2018
Jun 25
Drupal Europe

Drupal Europe is both a technology conference and a family reunion for the Drupal community. Bringing together 1600+ attendees, it is the largest community driven Drupal event taking place on the European continent this year. For anyone connected with Drupal this is a unique opportunity to share your experience, learn, discuss, connect and contribute back to the community.

Being a community driven conference, we wanted to focus on real life case studies and not the usual technology driven structure. So we’ve introduced industry tracks which focus on specific industry sectors.

Photo with CCO licence via Pexels.com from StartupStockPhotos

The Higher Education track is for anyone using Drupal or thinking of migrating to Drupal at a college or university who is looking to connect with other Higher-Ed Drupal users.

If you have experience of delivering Drupal solutions in the higher education sector or are looking for inspiration on how you continue to develop your CMS further, this is the right track for you.

Drupal is a popular choice in higher education, and many of us are using it in creative and inventive ways. With Drupal 8, the opportunities for exploration and experimentation expand even further — from headless Drupal to top-tier configuration management. Let’s showcase our successes and best-practices with Drupal 8!

We know many universities are still on Drupal 7 and are keen to migrate to Drupal 8, so come to share what works for you and see wins from your peers.

Photo with CCO licence via Pexels.com from StatusStockphoto

Have you launched a Drupal 8 project recently that you are proud of? Started a campus Drupal users group and have tips for others looking to create their own? Developed a great user support model for your content editors? Conquered decoupled Drupal with your frontend stack? Share your awesome projects and lessons learned with your peers.

  • Education sector
Photo with CCO licence via Pexels.com from Pixbay
  • Drupal in a Day (how Global Training Days got to be a localized event)
  • From CMS to LMS
  • Web accessibility in higher education
  • GDPR and childrens information
  • Javascript for higher education
  • Migration from Drupal 7 to 8
  • How Drupal 8 API-first helps to
    integrate with existing IT-Infrastructure
  • Build your own Drupal Community

Session submission is open and we ask you to submit interesting session proposals to create an awesome conference. Session proposals are not limited to Drupal and all topics in relationship with Higher Education are welcome.

Please also help us to spread the word about this awesome conference. Our hashtag is #drupaleurope.

If you want to participate in the organisation or want to recommend speakers or topics please get in touch at [email protected].

Drupal is one of the leading open source technologies empowering digital solutions around the world.

Drupal Europe 2018 brings over 2,000 creators, innovators, and users of digital technologies from all over Europe and the rest of the world together for three days of intense and inspiring interaction.

Drupal Europe will be held in Darmstadtium in Darmstadt, Germany — with a direct connection to Frankfurt International Airport. Drupal Europe will take place 10–14 September 2018 with Drupal contribution opportunities every day. Keynotes, sessions, workshops and BoFs will be from Tuesday to Thursday.

May 12 2016
May 12

drupal-nasa-website-monitor

A content management system, or CMS, is a web application designed to make it easy for non-technical users to add, edit and manage a website. We use WordPress and Drupal the most for CMS development, but it is all dependent on our clients’ needs. Not only do content management systems help website users with content editing, they also take care of a lot of behind the scenes work.

Whenever it comes to developing a website from scratch, and for a client who wants to be able to manage the site after the launch it is important as a developer to find a tool that the client will be able to use. When we think about web development it’s always better for the client and for the company to find a good content management system or CMS, because it solves problems that you will never have to worry about from the UI of the backend to the front-end wanted features it solves a lot of issues upfront that you will not have to worry about later.  As a website evolves, it will never stay in the final version you delivered to your client, when we develop we need to always think to the site’s future.

WordPress is one of the most popular tools because it is very adaptable. The amount of plugins (solutions to your problems) are endless. Not only does it have great features but it has a friendly UI backend. All of the advantages mentioned lower the development time, which helps the client to lower their costs. In short, WordPress saves time and money! The most recent example is our very own website Mobomo.

Another resource for a CMS is Drupal. Drupal may be a little more difficult to develop with because it can handle bigger sites with much more data and a ton of users but this system is better for newspapers or government sites such as NASA. 

Each CMS will have their own advantages but our first priority is making it adaptable to the client’s needs.

Jul 15 2015
Jul 15

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

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

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

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

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

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SEO + Social Networking:

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

SEO Search Engine Optimization, Ranking algorithm

E-Commerce:

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

E-Commerce-SEO-–-How-to-Do-It-Right

Search:

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

Third-Party Integration:

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

Taxonomy + Tagging:

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

YS43P

Workflows:

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

Security:

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

Cloud, Scalability, and Performance:

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

cloud-computing

Multi-Site Deployments:

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

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

Jul 08 2015
Jul 08

why drupal

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

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

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

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

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

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Drupal in Numbers (as of June 2014):

  • Market Presence: 1.5M sites
  • Global Adoption: 228 countries
  • Capabilities: 22,000 modules
  • Community: 80,000 members on Drupal.org
  • Development: 20,000 developers

Open Source:

drupalOS

The benefits of open source are exhaustively detailed all over the Internet. Drupal itself has been open source since its initial release on January 15, 2000. With thousands of developers reviewing and contributing code for over 15 years, Drupal has become exceptionally mature. All of the features and functionality outlined in our “Why Drupal?” series can be implemented with open source code.

Startup Velocity:

Similar to WordPress, deploying a Drupal site takes mere minutes, and the amount of out-of-the-box functionality is substantial. While there is a bit of a learning curve with Drupal, an experienced admin (non-developer) can have a small site deployed in a matter of days.

drupal-the-onion

Information Architecture:

The ability to create new content types and add unlimited fields of varying types is a core Drupal feature. Imagine you are building a site that hosts events, and an “Event” content type is needed as part of the information architecture. With out-of-the-box Drupal, you can create the content type with just a few clicks–absolutely no programming required. Further, you can add additional fields such as event title, event date, event location, keynote speaker. Each field has a structured data type, which means they aren’t just open text fields. Through contrib modules, there are dozens of other field types such as mailing address, email address, drop-down list, and more. Worth repeating: no programming is required to create new content types, nor to create new fields and add them to a new content type.

admin-screenshot

Asset Management:

There are a number of asset management libraries for Drupal, ensuring that users have the flexibility to choose the one that best suits their needs. One newer and increasingly popular asset management module in particular is SCALD (https://www.drupal.org/project/scald). One of the most important differences between SCALD and other asset management tools is that assets are not just files. In fact, files are just one type of asset. Other asset types include YouTube videos, Flickr galleries, tweets, maps, iFrames–even HTML snippets. SCALD also provides a framework for creating new types of assets (called providers). For more information on SCALD, please visit: https://www.drupal.org/node/2101855 and https://www.drupal.org/node/1895554

turner.premshow2

Curious about the other functionalities Drupal has to offer? Stay tuned for Part 2 of our “Why Drupal?” series!

Jan 27 2015
Jan 27

I decided to write this article after reading The Decline of Drupal, or How to Fix Drupal 8 by Mike Schinkel. I am not a Drupal person at all, but what is discussed here is quite close to discussion I had with my friends from the Plone community, and I am quite sure it is not restricted to those 2 CMS.

The question here is how to preserve popularity (or maybe just approachability) when we decide to restrict hackability.

And just to make clear what "hackable" means, I will just quote Jennifer Lea Lampton (already quoted in Mike's article):

Back in the day, Drupal used to be hackable. And by "hackable" I mean that any semi-technical yahoo (that's me, btw) who needed a website could get it up and running, and then poke around in the code to see how it all worked. The code was fairly uncomplicated, though often somewhat messy, and that was fine. At the end of the day, it did what you needed.

A CMS story

In the beginning was the Hack

When a CMS is still young, it is still light and fresh, not heavily structured, hence it can be hacked in many ways. Hacking is even probably the official way to use it. And that is precisely what is fun and attracting about it. That is what might turn it into a success.

The first versions of Plone were so easy to hack, we had something we named TTW, standing for Through-The-Web, and designating a fantastic feature of Zope (the Plone application server) allowing to code scripts, templates or even classes directly from the web interface. It was great because it allowed a very large audience to be efficient with Plone.

I guess Drupal had also very attractive hacking possibilities like the Drupal hooks.

To hack or not to hack

But soon, some developers point that such hacking is probably not a good idea. They say hacking might seems smart and efficient and productive, but that is in fact the very opposite. It makes maintainability more difficult, it makes upgrades or migration sometimes totally impossible, it does not conform to the programming standards and best practices.

And they are actually right. But saying so (and being right) is obviously not enough to make people stop hacking.

Nevertheless a gap appears, and new versions are not as hack-friendly as it used to:

- "Hey, I cannot do that anymore!",

- "Right, but if you were doing it the right way, you wouldn't have to do it this way",

- "Mmmmokay...".

You shall not hack

You shall not passA CMS is continuously evolving, its users expect it to be able to provide the cool new features invented on the web last week, and its developers want it to integrate the bright new frameworks invented on GitHub last month.

At some point, it is quite clear that offering hackabilty restricts its capacity to evolve, and endangers the system. To be able to survive to all the needed changes, it must rely on a strong and strict architecture.

And a version is released where hackabilty is banished (that's what Drupal 8 is about, right? I guess we did it with Plone 3, even if it is not that clear).

I want my hack back

This is probably a wise technical decision, and the core developers are very proud of it. The system is clean now, and we can confidently face our future challenges.

But it is also a very very impopular decision. A big part of the developers were using the hack way because they cannot afford investing time to learn the straight way, some of them do not even understand why the so called "straight way" is that better than their usual way.

By trying to make our CMS better, hence more attractive, we made it impopular. That is really unfortunate.

And if some of those disappointed people consider moving to another solution, ideally a brand new CMS still its early happy-hacking age, I have a bad news for them: there will be no new CMS (see my post Why CMS will not die).

Hacking is not a bug, it is a feature

The problem here is a severe misunderstanding.

Of course, on the development point of view, hackability can be considered as a flaw and a danger, but that is not the proper point of view here. We must consider it with the usage point of view, and regarding usage, hackability is a very valid use case.

It is even a major use case, and our CMS must preserve it, or it will be endangered.

Nevertheless, I agree that banishing hackability from the core is a good decision. So how do we manage that?

That is simple: we just produce a clean/straight/unhackable core, and we implement hackability on top of it as a feature.

Implementing hackability means offering tools to deeply change the behaviour or the appearence of our system without messing with its underlying architecture.

That is what Plone proposes with the Diazo theming tool: as theming was involving too many Plone knowledge, it was unapproachable for non-Plone integrators, so we provide a theming proxy which dynamically injects a static design on any Plone page using a simple set of rules, and it is entirely controlled from a nice web UI.

That is also my objective with Plomino, so people can easily create a custom application that will work in their Plone site without learning about complex frameworks.

But there are of course many other fields to cover.

It is not easy, because building a tool able to provide as much flexibility as code hacks is a complex challenge, but that is the only way to keep our CMS valid (and to keep it fun too), hence to keep our audience.

Jul 07 2010
Jul 07

Alfresco wants to be a best-in-class repository for you to build your content-centric applications on top of. Interest in NOSQL repositories seems to be growing, with many large well-known sites choosing non-relational back-ends. Are Alfresco (and, more generally, nearly all ECM and WCM vendors) on a collision course with NOSQL?

First, let’s look at what Alfresco’s been up to lately. Over the last year or so, Alfresco has been shifting to a “we’re for developers” strategy in several ways:

  • Repositioning their Web Content Management offering not as a non-technical end-user tool, but as a tool for web application developers
  • Backing off of their mission to squash Microsoft SharePoint, positioning Alfresco Share instead as “good enough” collaboration. (Remember John Newton’s slide showing Microsoft as the Death Star and Alfresco as the Millenium Falcon? I think Han Solo has decided to take the fight elsewhere.)
  • Making Web Scripts, Surf, and Web Studio part of the Spring Framework.
  • Investing heavily in the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) standard. The investment is far-reaching–Alfresco is an active participant in the OASIS specification itself, has historically been first-to-market with their CMIS implementation, and has multiple participants in CMIS-related open source projects such as Apache Chemistry.

They’ve also been making changes to the core product to make it more scalable (“Internet-scalable” is the stated goal). At a high level, they are disaggregating major Alfresco sub-systems so they can be scaled independently and in some cases removing bottlenecks present in the core infrastructure. Here are a few examples. Some of these are in progress and others are still on the roadmap:

  • Migrating away from Hibernate, which Alfresco Engineers say is currently a limiting factor
  • Switching from “Lucene for everything” to “Lucene for full-text and SQL for metadata search”
  • Making Lucene a separate search server process (presumably clusterable)
  • Making OpenOffice, which is used for document transformations, clusterable
  • Hiring Tom Baeyens (JBoss jBPM founder) and starting the Activiti BPMN project (one of their goals is “cloud scalability from the ground, up”)

So for Alfresco it is all about being an internet-scalable repository that is standards-compliant and has a rich toolset that makes it easy for you to use Alfresco as the back-end of your content-centric applications. Hold that thought for a few minutes while we turn our attention to NOSQL for a moment. Then, like a great rug, I’ll tie the whole room together.

NOSQL Stores

A NOSQL (“Not Only SQL”) store is a repository that does not use a relational database for persistence. There are many different flavors (document-oriented, key-value, tabular), and a number of different implementations. I’ll refer mostly to MongoDB and CouchDB in this post, which are two examples of document-oriented stores. In general, NOSQL stores are:

  • Schema-less. Need to add an “author” field to your “article”? Just add it–it’s as easy as setting a property value. The repository doesn’t care that the other articles in your repository don’t have an author field. The repository doesn’t know what an “article” is, for that matter.
  • Eventually consistent instead of guaranteed consistent. At some point, all replicas in a given cluster will be fully up-to-date. If a replica can’t get up-to-date, it will remove itself from the cluster.
  • Easily replicate-able. It’s very easy to instantiate new server nodes and replicate data between them and, in some cases, to horizontally partition the same database across multiple physical nodes (“sharding”).
  • Extremely scalable. These repositories are built for horizontal scaling so you can add as many nodes as you need. See the previous two points.

NOSQL repositories are used in some extremely large implementations (Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Shutterfly, Etsy, Foursquare, etc.) for a variety of purposes. But it’s important to note that you don’t have to be a Facebook or a Twitter to realize benefits from this type of back-end. And, although the examples I’ve listed are all consumer-facing, huge-volume web sites, traditional companies are already using these technologies in-house. I should also note that for some of these projects, scaling down is just as important as scaling up–the CouchDB founders talk about running Couch repositories in browsers, cell phones, or other devices.

If you don’t believe this has application inside the firewall, go back in time to the explosive growth of Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino. The Lotus Notes NSF store has similar characteristics to document-centric NOSQL repositories. In fact, Damien Katz, the founder of CouchDB, used to work for Iris Associates, the creators of Lotus Notes. One of the reasons Notes took off was that business users could create form-based applications without involving IT or DBAs. Notes servers could also replicate with each other which made data highly-available, even on networks with high latency and/or low bandwidth between server nodes.

Alfresco & NOSQL

Unlike a full ECM platform like Alfresco, NOSQL repositories are just that–repositories. Like a relational database, there are client tools, API’s, and drivers to manage the data in a NOSQL repository and perform administrative tasks, but it’s up to you to build the business application around it. Setting up a standalone NOSQL repository for a business user and telling them to start managing their content would be like sticking them in front of MySQL and doing the same. But business apps with NOSQL back-ends are being built. For ECM, projects are already underway that integrate existing platforms with these repositories (See the DrupalCon presentation, “MongoDB – Humongous Drupal“, for one example) and entirely new CMS apps have been built specifically to take advantage of NOSQL repositories.

What about Alfresco? People are using Alfresco and NOSQL repositories together already. Peter Monks, together with others, has created a couple of open source projects that extend Alfresco WCM’s deployment mechanism to use CouchDB and MongoDB as endpoints (here and here).

I recently finished up a project for a Metaversant client in which we used Alfresco DM to create, tag, secure, and route content for approval. Once approved, some custom Java actions deploy metadata to MongoDB and files to buckets on Amazon S3. The front-end presentation tier then queries MongoDB for content chunks and metadata and serves up files directly from Amazon S3 or Amazon’s CloudFront CDN as necessary.

In these examples, Alfresco is essentially being used as a front-end to the NOSQL repository. This gives you the scalability and replication features on the Content Delivery tier with workflow, check-in/check-out, an explicit content model, tagging, versioning, and other typical content management features on the Content Management tier.

But why shouldn’t the Content Management tier benefit from the scalability and replication capabilities of a NOSQL repository? And why can’t a NOSQL repository have an end-user focused user interface with integrated workflow, a form service, and other traditional DM/CMS/WCM functionality? It should, it can and they will. NOSQL-native CMS apps will be developed (some already exist). And existing CMS’s will evolve to take advantage of NOSQL back-ends in some form or fashion, similar to the Drupal-on-Mongo example cited earlier.

What does this mean for Alfresco and ECM architecture in general?

Where does that leave Alfresco? It seems their positioning as a developer-focused, “Internet-scale” repository ultimately leads to them competing directly against NOSQL repositories for certain types of applications. The challenge for Alfresco and other ECM players is whether or not they can achieve the kind of scale and replication capabilities NOSQL repositories offer today before NOSQL can catch up with a new breed of Content Management solutions built expressly for a world in which content is everywhere, user and data volumes are huge and unpredictable, and servers come and go automatically as needed to keep up with demand.

If Alfresco and the overwhelming majority of the rest of today’s CMS vendors are able to meet that challenge with their current relational-backed stores, NOSQL simply becomes an implementation choice for CMS vendors. If, however, it turns out that being backed by a NOSQL repository is a requirement for a modern, Internet-scale CMS, we may see a whole new line-up of players in the CMS space before long.

What do you think? Does the fundamental architecture prevalent in today’s CMS offerings have what it takes to manage the web content in an increasingly cloud-based world? Will we see an explosion of NOSQL-native CMS applications and, if so, will those displace today’s relational vendors or will the two live side-by-side, potentially with buyers not even knowing or caring what choice the vendor has made with regard to how the underlying data is persisted?

Oct 29 2009
Oct 29

So you're a small startup company, ready to go live with your product, which you intend to distribute under an Open Source License. Congratulations, you made a wise decision! Your developers have been hacking away frantically, getting the code in good shape for the initial launch. Now it's time to look into what else needs to be built and setup, so you're ready to welcome the first members of your new community and to ensure they are coming back!

Keep the following saying in mind, which especially holds true in the Open Source world: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression!". While the most important thing is of course to have a compelling and useful product, this blog post is an attempt to highlight some other aspects about community building and providing the adequate infrastructure. This insight is based on my own experiences and my observations from talking with many people involved in OSS startups and projects.

First of all, realize that your community is diverse. They have different expectations, skills and needs. Pamper your early adopters. They are the multipliers that help you to spread the word, if they are convinced and excited about what you provide. Put some faith and trust in them and listen to their input. In the beginning, you might want to focus on your developer community and the tech-savvy early adopters, but this of course depends on the type of product you provide and on what your target audience looks like. In any case, make sure that you provide the necessary infrastructure to cater the respective needs of these different user bases.

Also remember that you can not overcommunicate with your community. Blog heavily, write documentation/FAQs/HOWTOs, build up Wiki content and structure, create screencasts. Don't rely on the community to create any of this in the early stages. But be prepared to embrace and support any activities, if they arise. Solicit input, provide opportunities and guidelines for participation!

While it's tempting to do: don't establish too many communication channels in the beginning. Keep it simple and reduce the different venues of communication to an absolute minimum at this point. A new forum with many different topics but no comments looks like an art gallery with a lot of rooms, but they are either empty or there's just a single picture hanging at the wall. Nobody wants to visit that, he'd feel lost in the void. At the early stage of a project, I think it's essential to keep the discussions in as few places as possible. This helps you to identify your key community contributors (the "regulars" aka the "alpha geeks") and to build up personal relationships with them (and among themselves).

Consider establishing a forum with only a few topics, start with one or two mailing lists. Also make sure that these are actively being followed (e.g. by yourself or your developers) and that questions are being answered! I personally prefer mailing lists over forums, but I'm probably not representative. Ideally, it would be nice if there would be a unified communication hub that supports both posting via the web site like a forum, or via email or NNTP (similar to Google Groups). This keeps the discussions on one central place (which eases searching for specific keywords/topics) and still allows users to choose their preferred means of communication. Unfortunately, I haven't really found any suitable platform for this approach yet — suggestions are welcome! And once your community grows and people start complaining about too many or off-topic discussions, you can think about further separation of the discussion topics.

Allow your users to submit and comment on issues and feature requests by providing a public bug/feature tracking system. Use this system for your release tracking and planning as well, to give your users a better insight into what they can expect from upcoming versions. Also, make it very clear to your users where bug reports and feature requests should be sent to! Should one use the Forums or the bug tracker for that? A mailing list or forum makes it easier for users to participate in these discussions, but makes it more difficult to keep track of them and to ensure they are being followed up on. For the sake of simplicity, I would actually suggest to remove any separate forums about these topics. Instead, educate your community early about which is the right tool and venue to use for such requests. This saves time and resources on your side and helps to build up an initial core of community members that can then educate others about "the ropes". Otherwise you end up with the burden of keeping track of every feature request or bug report that was posted somewhere, ensuring it has been added to the bug tracker...

If your community infrastructure consists of separate building blocks to provide the required functionality (e.g. forums, bug tracking, wiki), consider setting up a single-sign on (SSO) technology and establish a unified look and feel between these applications. Your users should not be required to log in with more than one username and password, and every application should share the same login and profile data. However, only require a login, if absolutely necessary! Many users feel alienated by having to enter their personal data, even if they only want to lurk around or browse through existing discussions or documentation. As an additional benefit, it helps you to quickly identify your "community stars" in the various sections of your site: Who reports the most bugs? Who is the most helpful person on our Forums? This information could also be published on your community site, giving users the opportunity to build up reputation and karma. Community infrastructure sites like Drupal or Joomla provide an excellent foundation to get you started, while offering enough room for improvement and additional functionality at a later point.

Lower the entrance barrier and make it as easy as possible for people to get started with your application. Don't just throw a source archive at them, hoping that someone else will take care of doing the binary builds. Put some effort into building and providing binary, ready-to-install packages for the most popular platforms that your target audience is likely to use. The three most important platforms to cover are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. While users of the latter usually have the required tools and experience in building stuff from source, Windows and Mac users are usually "spoiled" and don't want to be bothered with having to install a full-fledged development environment before they could eventually evaluate your application.

When it comes to Linux distributions, you should look into building distribution-specific packages. This heavily depends on the requirements for external libraries that your application is using, which might differ on the various flavours of Linux. Depending on the purpose of your application, you may either focus on the more desktop/developer-centric distributions like Mandriva, openSUSE, Ubuntu, or on the distributions commonly used in server environments, e.g. Debian, CentOS, Fedora, RHEL, SLES (Yes, I am aware that most distributions are multi-purpose and serve both tasks equally well, and it's of course possible to use each of them to get the job done — it's a matter of taste and preference). If possible, make use of existing build infrastructure like Fedora's Koji build system, Launchpad's Personal Package Archives (PPA) or the openSUSE Build Service (which even allows you to build RPMs and DEBs for non-SUSE distributions) to automate the building and provisioning of distribution-specific packages for a wide range of Linux flavours. If your application is slightly complicated to install or set up, consider providing a live demo server that people can access via the Internet to give it a try. Alternatively, create ready-to-run images for virtual machines like Parallels, VirtualBox or VMWare. Everything that makes it easier to access, install and test your software should be explored.

In closing, make community involvement a part of your company culture and make sure that you preserve enough time to take care of it. Community engagement has so many different aspects, you don't necessarily have to be a developer or a very technical person to get involved. I'm aware that doing community work can be seen as a distraction and definitely takes away time from other tasks. But community involvement should become a habit and a well-accepted part of everyone's job — this is much easier to establish while you're still small and growing.

Apr 28 2008
Apr 28

This article describes how to install the Drupal 6.2 CMS on MySQL 6.0, using the Falcon Storage Engine. The operating system is a default Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" (x86) installation.

I will make a few assumptions here, in order to keep the instructions simple: a fresh OS install, no other MySQL databases or web services are running or have already been installed. Both MySQL and the web server are installed on the same host. You should be able to become root to install packages and to have access to the local file system and the system configuration.

This article will explain how to install and configure Apache/PHP, MySQL 6.0 and Drupal 6.2.

Prerequisites

Running Drupal requires a web server (e.g. Apache) and PHP. We will use the packages as shipped with the distribution and will then install a MySQL 6.0 preview binary from http://dev.mysql.com. Other web servers like lighttpd will work equally well, but this article focuses on using the Apache web server.

Fortunately the MySQL 5.0 client applications as shipped with Ubuntu Linux are compatible with the MySQL 6.0.x client/server protocol, so we only make use of the 6.0 server and will use the installed, pre-compiled client applications and libraries to connect to it - there is no need to recompile PHP or anything to get going!

First of all you have to make sure the following packages have been installed (e.g. by using a package management tool like the Adept Package Manager, synaptic, aptitude or apt-get):

  • apache2
  • libapache2-mod-php5
  • php5
  • php5-common
  • php5-mysql
  • php5-gd
  • mysql-client-5.0

To enable the mod_rewrite Apache module (as recommended for Drupal), you need to enter the directory /etc/apache2/mods-enabled and create a symlink to the module loading instructions:

cd /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/
sudo ln -s ../mods-available/rewrite.load .

This will ensure, that mod_rewrite will be loaded when Apache starts up.

Additionally, you have to edit the file /etc/apache2/sites-available/default and make one change. In the directives for the Directory /var/www, change AllowOverride from "None" to "All". This will make sure that Drupal can enable the rewrite engine to allow nicer looking URLs.

Now restart the Apache server to apply the changes:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

To verify that Apache is up and running, try opening http://localhost/ in a browser on the same machine that runs the web server. You should get a simple page, stating that "It works!".

Installing the MySQL 6.0 Falcon preview

Now that the web server is up and running, we need to install a MySQL database server that the Drupal installation can use. Download mysql-6.0.5-alpha-pb87-linux-x86.tar.gz (or any newer package, if available) from http://downloads.mysql.com/forge/falcon_feature_preview/

Create a /etc/mysql/my.cnf file with the following content (replacing the existing file, if necessary):

[client]
socket=/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

[mysqld]
basedir=/usr/local/mysql
datadir=/usr/local/mysql/data
socket=/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
default-storage-engine=falcon

The default-storage-engine option will make sure that every CREATE TABLE statement will default to using the Falcon storage engine. Now extract the binary tarball distribution into /usr/local and perform the following steps to finalize the installation/configuration:

$ sudo groupadd mysql
$ sudo useradd -g mysql mysql
$ cd /usr/local
$ sudo tar zxvf ~/mysql-6.0.5-alpha-pb87-linux-x86.tar.gz -C /usr/local
$ cd /usr/local
$ sudo ln -s mysql-6.0.5-alpha-pb87-linux-x86 mysql
$ cd mysql
$ sudo chown -R mysql .
$ chgrp -R mysql .
$ scripts/mysql_install_db --user=mysql
$ sudo chown -R root .
$ sudo chown -R mysql data
$ sudo ./bin/mysqld_safe --user=mysql &

The installation procedure is outlined in more detail in the reference manual at http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/6.0/en/installing-binary.html

If you want to enable the automatic startup of MySQL at system bootup time, you need to install an init script in /etc/init.d/ - follow the instructions as outlined in the reference manual. Note that the mysql.server script has been moved from the directory support-files to share/mysql for the binary tarball distributions and that the current 6.0 documentation has not been updated yet (I filed BUG#36382 about this).

Now start the server using the mysqld_safe script:

$ sudo /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysqld_safe &

Next you should verify that you can connect to the server and that the Falcon storage engine is enabled:

$ mysqladmin version
mysqladmin  Ver 8.41 Distrib 5.0.51a, for debian-linux-gnu on i486
Copyright (C) 2000-2006 MySQL AB
This software comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY. This is free software,
and you are welcome to modify and redistribute it under the GPL license

Server version          6.0.5-alpha-pb87
Protocol version        10
Connection              Localhost via UNIX socket
UNIX socket             /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
Uptime:                 43 min 6 sec

Threads: 1  Questions: 6  Slow queries: 0  Opens: 15  Flush tables: 1  Open tables: 8  Queries per second avg: 0.2

$ mysql -u root
[email protected]:(none) > SELECT * FROM information_schema.engines WHERE engine='Falcon';
+--------+---------+-----------------------+--------------+----+------------+
| ENGINE | SUPPORT | COMMENT               | TRANSACTIONS | XA | SAVEPOINTS |
+--------+---------+-----------------------+--------------+----+------------+
| Falcon | DEFAULT | Falcon storage engine | YES          | NO | YES        |
+--------+---------+-----------------------+--------------+----+------------+
1 row in set (0.12 sec)

Before performing the actual Drupal installation, you need to create a Drupal Database and a user account. I chose "drupal" as the user name and password, please use some more sensitive values for your own setup!

[email protected]:(none) > CREATE DATABASE drupal;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.01 sec)

[email protected]:(none) > GRANT ALL ON drupal.* to 'drupal'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'drupal';
Query OK, 0 row affected (0.00 sec)

Now MySQL 6.0 is installed and ready!

Installing Drupal 6.2

Now that the web and database server have been set up and configured, it's time to perform the installation of our application, the Drupal content management system. Start by downloading drupal-6.2.tar.gz from http://drupal.org/ (by clicking on the Drupal 6.2 download link on the front page).

Remove the default start page /var/www/index.html and extract the content of the drupal tarball into this directory. Then change the ownerships of these files to the user that apache runs under (www-data by default):

$ sudo rm /var/www/index.html
$ sudo tar --strip-components=1 -zxvf drupal-6.2.tar.gz -C /var/www
$ sudo chown -R www-data /var/www

The Drupal package installation itself is now done, the remaining installation and configuration steps are performed in a browser by opening http://localhost/ in your browser (reload the page if you still see the "It works" default page).

DrupalInstall_1

Follow the instructions in the Drupal installation manual on how to perform the actual installation. In the "Database Configuration" dialogue, use the MySQL database username and password that you created earlier.

DrupalInstall_2

Now the Drupal installer should perform its duty and you should see you fresh Drupal installation up and running!

DrupalInstall_3

Once the installation has finished, let's verify that we're really running on Falcon by running the following query in a MySQL command line client:

mysql> SELECT TABLE_NAME, ENGINE from information_schema.tables WHERE TABLE_SCHEMA='drupal';
+-------------------------+--------+
| TABLE_NAME              | ENGINE |
+-------------------------+--------+
| access                  | Falcon |
| actions                 | Falcon |
| actions_aid             | Falcon |
| authmap                 | Falcon |
| batch                   | Falcon |
| blocks                  | Falcon |
| blocks_roles            | Falcon |
| boxes                   | Falcon |
| cache                   | Falcon |
| cache_block             | Falcon |
| cache_filter            | Falcon |
| cache_form              | Falcon |
| cache_menu              | Falcon |
| cache_page              | Falcon |
| cache_update            | Falcon |
| comments                | Falcon |
| files                   | Falcon |
| filter_formats          | Falcon |
| filters                 | Falcon |
| flood                   | Falcon |
| history                 | Falcon |
| menu_custom             | Falcon |
| menu_links              | Falcon |
| menu_router             | Falcon |
| node                    | Falcon |
| node_access             | Falcon |
| node_comment_statistics | Falcon |
| node_counter            | Falcon |
| node_revisions          | Falcon |
| node_type               | Falcon |
| permission              | Falcon |
| role                    | Falcon |
| sessions                | Falcon |
| system                  | Falcon |
| term_data               | Falcon |
| term_hierarchy          | Falcon |
| term_node               | Falcon |
| term_relation           | Falcon |
| term_synonym            | Falcon |
| url_alias               | Falcon |
| users                   | Falcon |
| users_roles             | Falcon |
| variable                | Falcon |
| vocabulary              | Falcon |
| vocabulary_node_types   | Falcon |
| watchdog                | Falcon |
+-------------------------+--------+
46 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Looks like we were successful - all Drupal tables are using the Falcon storage engine! Congratulations.

From here on, you can configure and change Drupal to your heart's content. Note however, that additional Drupal modules may contain code that is specific to the MyISAM or InnoDB storage engine, your mileage may vary. In that case it would be great to notify the module developers about these incompatibilities.

If you want to quickly populate a Drupal installation with content for testing, you can use the "Devel" module. I used it to create 500 users and 10.000 test pages on my demo installation. Even though this was performed within a virtual machine running VirtualBox, the system still was very responsive and the creation of the content proceeded amazingly fast! But I did not perform any serious benchmark or load tests (it would not make much sense in a VM anyway).

Feb 14 2008
Feb 14

Yesterday, Drupal 6.0 was officially released - check out this screencast to get a 29-minute tour on the new features in this release.

We'd like to congratulate the Drupal Developer Team and Community for reaching this milestone and are happy that the MySQL Server continues to serve well as the database backend for this awesome content management platform!

I had the pleasure of evaluating and reviewing a previous release of Drupal for the Open Source Content Management System Award from Packt Publishing and it has been one of my favourites.

Keep up the good work!
 

About Drupal Sun

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