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Aug 04 2020
Aug 04

argument-open-source Like many developers, some of our first websites were built on the backbones of WordPress. It’s the hyper-popular king of content management systems. It has name recognition, an overflowing user base, and plenty of third-party integrations that help cut your development time. But, over the years, we’ve migrated almost exclusively to Drupal. So why did we switch? What is it about Drupal that leaves developers drooling? And why would anyone pick Drupal — which has around 1.3 million users — over WordPress —which has over 400 million users? Today, we’re going to compare David to Goliath. Why is Drupal, the third most active CMS behind WordPress and Joomla, a good choice for businesses looking to build a refreshing, impactful, and feature-rich website?

UNDERSTANDING THE CORE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DRUPAL AND WORDPRESS

By far, the most significant difference between WordPress and Drupal is the overall development need. WordPress is simple. There are hundreds of thousands of third-party plugins that you can leverage to build an entire website with virtually no coding or developing knowledge. And, that’s the single biggest reason that WordPress is so massive. Anyone can build a WordPress site. It’s easy. Drupal requires development. If you want to build a Drupal website, you’re going to have to hire some developers. So, naturally, Drupal has fewer overall users. But, it’s essential to make that distinction. Drupal is built for businesses, public entities, and enterprises. WordPress is built for your everyday website. It’s important to keep this main difference in mind. It’s this difference that resonates throughout these core pillars. And, it’s this core difference that creates pros and cons for each platform.

DRUPAL VS. WORDPRESS: SECURITY, FLEXIBILITY, AND SCALABILITY

We consider security, flexibility, and scalability to be the three primary pillars of a CMS. An amazing designer can make a fantastic template or theme regardless of the CMS. And ease-of-use is relative to your plugins/modules, familiarity with the platform, and overall development capabilities. So those are both highly subjective. Security, flexibility, and scalability aren’t subjective; they are what they are.

SECURITY

WordPress has a security problem. Alone, WordPress accounts for 90% of all hacked websites that use a CMS. There’s a tradeoff that comes with leveraging third-party plugins to build websites. You increase your threat landscape. WPScan Vulnerability Database shows 21,675 vulnerabilities in WordPress’s core and with third-party plugins. This security vulnerability issue has been an ongoing headache for WordPress from the start. If we do a play-by-play, year-over-year of WordPress’s history, we see an ongoing and consistent security issue:

  • 2013: 70% of the top 40,000 most popular WordPress websites were vulnerable to hackers
  • 2014: SoakSoak compromises +100,000 websites, a massive DDOS attack hits 160,000 websites, and All In One SEO Pack puts +19 million sites at risk.
  • 2015: A core vulnerability puts millions of websites at risk, Akismet opens millions of websites to hackers, and YoastSEO puts over 14 million websites in hackers’ crosshairs.
  • 2016: At this point, millions of hacks are happening every week across plugins. Check out this WordFence weekly update during this period.
  • 2017: The hacks continue. The average small business website using WordPress is attacked 44 times a day at this point, and WordPress websites are 2x more likely to be hacked than other CMS.

The list goes on. Year-over-year, more vulnerabilities happen across WordPress. And this is an important point. WordPress has subpar security by design. It’s the tradeoff they made to build an ecosystem that doesn’t require development. We aren’t saying that the core of WordPress is inherently security-stripped. It’s not. But, given the scale, scope, and third-party-fanatic nature of the platform, it’s weak on security by nature. Drupal, on the other hand, is the opposite. Websites require development time, each website is customized to the user, and building a website takes time and patience. The tradeoff is better security. Drupal has built-in enterprise-scale security, and you don’t rely on a hotchpotch of third-party applications to build your website’s functionality. There’s a reason that NASA, the White House, and other government entities use (or used) Drupal. It has better security. We want to take a second to make the distinction. WordPress has a secure core. We would argue that Drupal has a more secure core. But the difference isn’t massive. WordPress’s security vulnerabilities are a product of its reliance on third-party applications to make a functional website.

FLEXIBILITY

WordPress is more flexible than Drupal to some users. And Drupal is more flexible than WordPress to some users. That may sound complicated. But it comes down to your development capabilities. Drupal has more features than WordPress. Its core is filled with rich taxonomies, content blocks, and unique blocks than WordPress. But, if you aren’t experienced, you probably won’t find and/or use many of these functionalities. On the surface, WordPress has more accessible features. At the core, Drupal is the single most feature-rich CMS on the planet. So, for businesses (especially public entities and larger enterprises), Drupal has a more robust architecture to tackle large-scale projects that have hyper-specific needs. For small businesses and personal website owners, WordPress is easier to use and requires far less development experience to tap into its functionalities, features, and flexibility.

SCALABILITY

Drupal has better scalability. This one isn’t a competition. Again, this comes down to the dev-heavy nature of the platform. To scale WordPress websites, you add more plugins. To scale Drupal websites, you develop more. There’s a key practical difference here. Drupal modules, taxonomies, and content blocks all exist in the same ecosystem. Each WordPress plugin is its own micro-ecosystem. So, with WordPress, most users are stringing together a ton of third-party ecosystems in an attempt to create one overarching website. Also, Drupal is built for enterprise-scale projects. So there’s backend support and a large landscape of community support around large-scale projects. WordPress is a catch-all CMS that has a little of everything. If WordPress is a Swiss army knife, Drupal is a custom, hand-forged bread knife — explicitly designed to help you scale, slice, and butter larger projects.

ARE YOU READY TO DEVELOP YOUR PERFECT DRUPAL WEBSITE?

At Mobomo, we specialize in Drupal development projects. Our agile-based team of top-level design, development, and support talent can help you launch and scale your website to fit your unique needs. From NASA to Great Minds, we help private and public entities build dreams and execute visions.

Contact us to learn more.

Jul 30 2020
Jul 30

argument-open-source Over 500,000 businesses leverage Drupal to launch their websites and projects. From NASA to Tesla, public and private institutions regularly rely on Drupal to launch large-scale websites capable of handling their development and visual needs. But, starting a Drupal project doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, 14% of all IT projects outright fail, 43% exceed their initial budgets, and 31% fail to meet their original goals! In other words, if you want to create a successful Drupal project, you need to prepare. Don’t worry! We’ve got your back. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when starting a Drupal-based project.

1. GATHER REQUIREMENTS FROM STAKEHOLDERS EARLY AND OFTEN

According to PMI, 39% of projects fail due to inadequate requirements. Believe it or not, requirement gathering is the single most important stage of project development. In fact, it’s the first step Drupal itself takes when pushing out new projects (see this scope document for their technical document project). Gathering requirements may sound easy, but it can be a time-consuming process. We recommend using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, Time-based) to map out your specific needs. If possible, involve the end-user during this stage. Don’t assume you know what users want; ask them directly. Internally, requirements gathering should rally nearly every stakeholder with hefty amounts of cross-collaboration between departments. You want to lean heavily on data, establish your benchmarks and KPIs early, and try to involve everyone regularly. The single biggest project mistake is acting like requirements are set-in-stone. If you just follow the initial requirements to a “T,” you may push out a poor project. You want to regularly ask questions, communicate issues, and rely on guidance from stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) to guide your project to completion.

2. PLAN YOUR SDLC/WORKFLOW PIPELINE

We all have different development strategies. You may leverage freelancers, a best-in-class agency, or internal devs to execute your Drupal projects. Typically, we see a combination of two of the above. Either way, you have to set some software development lifecycle and workflow standards. This gets complex. On the surface, you should think about coding standards, code flow, databases, and repositories, and all of the other development needs that should be in sync across devs. But there’s also the deeper, more holistic components to consider. Are you going to use agile? Do you have a DevOps strategy? Are you SCRUM-based? Do you practice design and dev sprints? At Mobomo, we use an agile-hybrid development cycle to fail early, iterate regularly, and deploy rapidly. But that’s how we do things. You need to figure out how you want to execute your project. We’ve seen successful Drupal projects using virtually every workflow system out there. The way you work matters, sure. But getting everyone aligned under a specific way of working is more important. You can use the “old-school” waterfall methodology and still push out great projects. However, to do that, you need everyone on the same page.

3. USE SHIFT-LEFT TESTING FOR BUG AND VULNERABILITY DETECTION

Drupal is a secure platform. Of the four most popular content management systems, Drupal is the least hacked. But that doesn’t mean it’s impenetrable. You want to shift-left test (i.e., automate testing early and often in the development cycle). Drupal 8+ has PHPUnit built-in — taking the place of SimpleTest. You can use this to quickly test out code. You can perform unit tests, kernel tests, and functional tests with and without JavaScript. You can also use Nightwatch.js to run tests. Of course, you may opt for third-party automation solutions (e.g., RUM, synthetic user monitoring, etc.) The important thing is that you test continuously. There are three primary reasons that shift-left testing needs to be part of your development arsenal.

  • It helps prevent vulnerabilities. The average cost of a data breach is over $3 million. And it takes around 300 days to identify and contain website breaches.
  • It bolsters the user experience. A 100-millisecond delay in page load speed drops conversions by 7%. Meanwhile, 75% of users judge your credibility by your website’s design and performance, and 39% of users will stop engaging with your website if your images take too long to load. In other words, simple glitches can result in massive issues.
  • It reduces development headaches. Nothing is worse than developing out completely new features only to discover an error that takes you back to step 1.

4. GET HYPER-FAMILIAR WITH DRUPAL’S API

If you want to build amazing Drupal projects, you need to familiarize yourself with the Drupal REST API. This may sound like obvious advice. But understanding how Drupal’s built-in features, architecture, and coding flow can help you minimize mistakes and maximize your time-to-launch. The last thing you want to do is code redundantly when Drupal may automate some of that coding on its end. For more information on Drupal’s API and taxonomy, see Drupal API. We know! If you’re using Drupal, you probably have a decent idea of what its API looks like. But make sure that you understand all of its core features to avoid headaches and redundancies.

5. SET STANDARDS

Every development project needs standards. There are a million ways to build a website or app. But you can’t use all of those million ways together. You don’t want half of your team using Drupal’s built-in content builder and the other half using Gutenberg. Everyone should be on the same page. This goes for blocks, taxonomy, and every other coding need and task you’re going to accomplish. You need coding standards, software standards, and process standards to align your team to a specific framework. You can develop standards incrementally, but they should be shared consistently across teams. Ideally, you’ll build a standard for everything. From communication to development, testing, launching, and patching, you should have set-in-stone processes. In the past, this was less of an issue. But, with every developer rushing to agile, sprint-driven methodologies, it can be easy to lose sight of standards in favor of speed. Don’t let that happen. Agile doesn’t mean “willy-nilly” coding and development for the fastest possible launch. It still has to be systematic. Standards allow you to execute faster and smarter across your development pipeline.

NEED SOME HELP?

At Mobomo, we build best-in-class Drupal projects for brands across the globe. From NASA to UGS, we’ve helped private, and public entities launch safe, secure, and exciting Drupal solutions. Are you looking for a partner with fresh strategies and best-of-breed agile-driven development practices?

Contact us. Let’s build your dream project — together.

Jul 28 2020
Jul 28

argument-open-source

DRUPAL MIGRATION PREPARATION AUDIT

All good things must come to an end. Drupal 7 will soon meet its end. Does your organization have your migration plan to Drupal 9 in order? Here’s what you need to know to keep your Drupal site running and supported. Talk to Our Drupal Migration Experts Now!

OUR APPROUCH TO DRUPAL MIGRATION.

  • Analyze 
  • Inventory
  • Migration
  • Revision
  • SEO

OVERVIEW

Staying up to date with Drupal versions is vital to maintaining performance to your site:

  • Future-proofing
  • Avoiding the end-of-life cut-off
  • Performance
  • Security

GOALS

  1. Catalog existing community contributed modules necessary to the project
  • Do these modules have a corresponding Drupal 8 version?
  • If the answer to the above question is no, is there an alternative?
  • Is there an opportunity to optimize or upgrade the site’s usage of contributed modules?
  1. Catalog existing custom built modules
  • Do these modules rely on community contributed modules that may not have a migration path to Drupal 8?
  • Do these modules contain deprecated function calls?
  • Are there any newer community contributed modules that may replace the functionality of the custom modules?
  1. Review existing content models.
  • How complex is the content currently—field, taxonomy, media?
  • What specific integrations need to be researched so content will have feature parity?
  1. Catalog and examine 3rd party integrations.
  • Is there any kind of e-commerce involved?
  • Do these 3rd party integrations have any Drupal 8 community modules?
  1. Catalog User roles and permissions
  • Do user accounts use any type of SSO?
  • Is there an opportunity to update permissions and clean up roles?

PRE-AUDIT REQUIREMENTS

  • Access to the codebase
  • Access to the database
  • Access to a live environment (optional)
  • Access to integrations in order to evaluate level of effort

DELIVERABLES

Module Report The module report should contain an outline of the existing Drupal 7 modules with the corresponding path to Drupal 8, whether that’s an upgraded version of the existing module or a similar module. This report should also contain a sheet outlining any deprecated function usage for the custom modules that will need to be ported to Drupal 8.

Content Model Report The Content Model report should contain an overview of the existing site’s content types, users, roles, permissions and taxonomic vocabularies with each field given special consideration. Recommendations should be made in the report to improve the model when migrating to Drupal 8.

Integration Report The integration report contains a catalog of the third party integrations currently in use and marks those with an existing contributed module from the community and those that will require custom work to integrate with the Drupal 8 system.

Our Insights on Drupal Our latest thoughts, musings and successes.

Contact us. We’ll help you expand your reach.

Mar 20 2020
Mar 20

On June 24, 2020 Drupal.org announced that Drupal 7’s end of life has been extended until November 2022 because of the impact of COVID-19 on budgets and capacity. This article still remains relevant– but please note that the dates have been pushed back a year

If you have a Drupal 7 website, you might have already heard that the official end-of-life date for Drupal 7 has been officially set for November 2021. Many organizations should upgrade their Drupal 7 sites before then. But that might not be required. Here’s how you figure out what you need to do.

“What does Drupal 7 End-of-Life mean?”

First let’s talk about what EOL means for Drupal. The main thing is security updates. 

Drupal has a highly regarded security team who manage security for both core Drupal and thousands of public modules, themes and distributions that add additional features. When a security problem is found with Drupal core, the team fixes the problem and publishes advisories that explain vulnerabilities, along with steps to mitigate them. All of this is contributed publicly and freely, just like you would expect from open source software. 

The security team supports versions of Drupal until they reach their end-of-life. 

But after the EOL, the baton is passed along to an Extended Security Support team. This team is composed of pre-vetted Drupal agencies, and they are commercially funded by those clients who want to pay for the extended security support. They are mandated to publicly release fixes for most of the security vulnerabilities that they find. 

“Hold on — What level of security support do I need?”

Before we talk about what you should do about D7 EOL, you first need to think about how important security is for your website.

  • Are there people who are actively trying to attack your website (maybe because of your strong stance on a particular issue)?
  • Does your website process commercial transactions? (Most non-profit websites these days use third-party websites to process donations and event registrations.)
  • Does your website collect a lot of personally identifiable information (PII)? This relates back to the first point: if there’s lots of valuable PII, an attacker will be more interested in trying to steal it. 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then security is of extra importance for you. 

“I won’t have the budget for a big website rebuild before November 2021”

It’s going to be okay, we’ve got a few options for you. You’ll fall into one of the following categories:

1. “Security is really important for our website, we need Extended Security Support”

Regardless of whether you are an existing client, or someone we’ve never worked with before, please reach out to us and let us know if we can help.

2. “Security is just as important to our website as it is for every other website, but not in an extra special way”

If your website does not have a reason for someone to actively try to attack it, then you only need to be guarded from publicly known security vulnerabilities. That way, you’re protected against the automated attacks that hit every website. Typically those kinds of automated attacks are either trying to use your web servers to mine bitcoin, or lock up your website and demand a ransom. 

When Drupal 6 reached end-of-life in 2016 we continued to support our Drupal 6 clients using the publicly released updates from the Extended Security Support team. Our last Drupal 6 client just got a new website a few months ago! 

We’ll do the same when Drupal 7 reaches end-of-life. When a Drupal 7 update is released, we’ll update your website, just like we already do for all of our Drupal and WordPress support and maintenance clients.

3. “Help, I have no idea what I need!”

No problem. We can help here too. Just let us know. 

 

Conclusion

Regardless of where you’re at — or where you’re going next — we’re here to help. Drop us a line.

Dec 06 2019
Dec 06

You may have read our previous articles about how to plan for Drupal 6 or Drupal 7 End-of-Life. The important thing to know is that the Drupal 8 End-of-Life is nothing like those. In fact, “End of Life” is completely the wrong idea. Instead, it’s more like one of those spa treatments where you get a full body scrub to get rid of the dead skin cells. You walk out feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. 

Drupal 9 — Same as Drupal 8, But Without The Old Stuff

Drupal release timeline

In each new minor version of Drupal 8 there are some new features, and some old code is marked as “deprecated” (that just means that it’s time to stop using this, because it’s going to go away some day). After nine minor versions over almost five years, there’s now an accumulation of deprecated code. This deprecated code is like those dead skin cells that you go to the spa to get rid of.  So Drupal 9.0 will be the same as Drupal 8.9, just without the deprecated code. The two might even be released at the same time. 

Then, in Drupal 9.1, we see the cycle starting again: some new features, and some old code is marked as deprecated.

Don’t Rely on Deprecated Code

In the graphic above, you’ll notice that 8.9 does not have any more deprecated code than 8.8. That means that once a website is upgraded to 8.8, we can then start the process of ensuring that the site isn’t using any deprecated code. 

If you are an Advomatic client, we’ll create a ticket in your queue to clean out all uses of deprecated code. In fact, if you’ve done a project with us recently, we’ve already started doing this as part of the Q/A process in our two-week sprints. 

A Window of Almost Two Years for This Cleanup

Drupal timeline by quarters

This is the timeline for the next several versions of Drupal.  We’ve got about 2 years to make this change — more than enough time. 

Alternating Minor Versions

We handle all the technical stuff for you. But the purpose of the website is not for us to have a technical toy to play with, it’s to advance the mission of your non-profit. So we want to devote most of our time and effort towards your web strategy. While we could upgrade your website to the newest version every six months, it’s not the best use of your money or time. So we alternate versions. That means that your Drupal 8 website is either always on an even minor version, or an odd minor version. 

We’ll likely continue that pattern as we cross the threshold into Drupal 9. That means that this process could be delayed by 6 months from what you see here.

Flipping the Switch

Once we’ve cleaned up all the deprecated code, then we’re ready to upgrade the site to Drupal 9.  Remember: this is nothing like past major upgrades in Drupal. Instead it’s just like the minor upgrades from Drupal 8.6 → 8.7 → 8.8 etc.

Conclusion

The key takeaway is that this whole process should be almost seamless. We’ll create a few tickets in the queue to prep for the upgrade, and then for the upgrade itself.  But the majority of our time will still be spent on advancing your mission. Over the years to come the website content and its presentation will be able to continually evolve, all without a costly major upgrade. 

Thanks to Amanda Luker for the charts!

Apr 23 2018
Apr 23

Two weeks ago, the Advomatic team divided up and went to both Drupalcon in Nashville and the Nonprofit Tech Conference in New Orleans – they happened at the same time this year. (A few of us went to both!)

The short story is: We had a great time and met a lot of people and hung out with our clients and got inspired and learned a lot and you should go to one of them next year too.

But, if you want a bit more detail, we took a minute to write down our Big Takeaways and linked to the slides and notes from a few of our fave conference sessions:

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Mar 20 2009
Mar 20

After the announcement of our testing service I asked for feedback from prominent community members. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with some notable quotes being:

Usability testing of Drupal 7 would have been virtually impossible if it weren't for the automated testing in place keeping core stable. Drupal 7 HEAD is much more stable than any release we [have] ever had. It easily saved me a 100 hours knowing I didn't break something I wrote an hour ago. I'm not sure I would have been able to have completed it [DBNTG]. Testing.drupal.org went live in October 2008, and once again, Drupal's development process was reveolutionized. Now, developers don't need to sit through a test run (which could take 30 minutes or more) in order to verify their changes are working; they can simply upload their changes and be informed by one of the testing clients.

In order to allow Drupal shops to gain the same advantages that Drupal core has received we offer our testing service. Through the service we will maintain an automated testing network similar to testing.drupal.org for use by our clients. In addition we can review your tests to ensure that they are up to standards and provide feedback on ways to improve them.

We are currently working to provide testing of "data sets" which is extremely useful for testing changes against deployed sites. The data from a deployed site can be backed up and tests run against that dataset to ensure that code changes do not break custom workflows or configurations. Testing of data sets does not replace functional testing like that used in Drupal 7 core, but it provides an additional layer of confidence when deploying changes to a live site.

Feb 28 2009
Feb 28

Boombatower Development is adding automated testing as a new service. Boombatower Test Services (BTS) will provide a manageable solution that requires minimal setup.

One of the most exciting features included in Drupal 7 is the testing framework and the large number of tests that come with it. The testing framework has introduced a new development paradigm into core development that has opened up a number of exciting possibilities in addition to maintaining a very stable development version of Drupal core. As respected core developer Károly "chx" Négyesi said:

"Drupal 7 HEAD is much more stable than any release we [have] ever had."

The increased stability has allowed for the Drupal 7 development time to be extended and the related code freeze to be shortened. Drupal shops can benefit from the same principle. By having extensive tests in place companies can maintain a higher level of confidence in their products and extend that confidence to their clients.

BTS will use the second generation framework soon to be in place on drupal.org and testing.drupal.org. The framework has proven to be robust and the latest version will provide a number of powerful new features.

In addition to you writing functional tests for your custom modules like those included in Drupal 7 core, Boombatower will be providing a solution that allows for testing with a copy of live data to ensure that code changes do not cause issues with a fully configured site setup. Having both types of tests in place that are automatically run on all patches, commits, or nightly builds will give Drupal shops more confidence when deploying new features or code changes to a live site.

In addition to providing automated testing we also offer consulting services for evaluating tests. Properly written tests will ensure that the results received from automated testing are as useful as possible.

I will be speaking at Drupalcon DC 2009 about the history of the automated testing framework, its present form and the exciting new future. I will stick around afterwards to discuss the session and the launch of our automated testing service. If you are interested please stop by after the session.

Dec 27 2008
Dec 27

Boombatower Development created two profile related modules. The modules can be used together to create a highly customizable profile interface.

Both modules seem to have taken off rather quickly with a good number of hits in the usages statistics shortly after their release.

Profile role

Relate profile field categories to particular roles, instead of all fields being related to all roles. Use profile to define all user data fields, but restrict which fields are related to users of a particular role. The interface allows you to relate profile field categories to roles.

Profile permission

Restrict editing of profile fields with an auto generated permission. Only users with that permission will be able to edit the field, but the field display will follow the standard visibility rules.

Take a look and lets us know what you think.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web