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Dec 16 2020
Dec 16

A Hallway of Fun


It felt energising to reconnect with old friends in the Hallway track. We did miss being able to see each other in person and give each other a hug (high-five, or just a handshake). However, there were many opportunities to jump into a Hallway track session which would automatically pair you with up to 9 others who share similar interests to you. When registering for your ticket, you had a few questions which you could optionally fill-in, these were used as the basis to pair people in interest rooms.

DrupalCon Europe Hallway Track 1


Day one, it begins!
 

As we at Amazee focus on building decoupled websites using Gatsby, I had a keen interest in the talk by Oier Bravo entitled “Drupal and Gatsby, static without limits. Compiling more than 100,000 pages in less than what it takes to make a coffee.” Oier gave us an in-depth look into two Drupal modules that they are contributing to and utilising for their client projects: Static Suite and GraphQL Node Preview module.

Gatsby - Instant Navigation: Fast builds, Prefetch, and Made with React

From the addition of named functions to constructor properties, Ayesh Karunaratne gave an excellent overview of what’s new and changing in PHP 8. amazee.io has updated the Lagoon Docker images to include the latest stable release of PHP 8.0.

Nick O’Sullivan presented a thoroughly informative talk on “Decoupled translations with Drupal.” Nick explained how to create a multilingual Gatsby site with content sourced from Drupal, and described some of the key considerations to take into account when building your translation system.

Content Translations vs Interface Translations

Jumping from the more technical talks, I found myself captivated by Marissa Epstein’s session entitled “From squiggles to straight lines: Sketching user experiences to make decisions and get on with it.” Marissa’s enthusiasm for sketching is clearly expressed through this knowledgeable talk that included an overview of the various tools to aid you in drawing sketches for your projects.

Marissa Epstein - From Squiggles to straight lines

Michael Anello’s talk “Taking Maximum Advantage of Drupal Core's Composer Template” gave us an overview of the benefits that Composer 2 brings. You can leverage composer plugins like scaffolding to remove unwanted files or add lines to the robots.txt file.

In the Drupal Initiative’s Leads Keynote, we saw Putra Bonaccorsi, Ted Bowman, Neil Drumm, Ryan Aslett, Baddy Sonja Breidert, Gábor Hojtsy, and Len Swaneveld.

Putra presented the new frontend theme for Drupal – Olivero – which has just landed in Drupal 9.1.0 as an experimental theme.

Ted gave us an update on the Automatic Updates Initiative and the difficult technical challenges they face.

Neil showed us how to get started with merge requests on Gitlab; this should make the barrier to contribution a lot less complicated for newcomers.

Unfortunately, Ryan was unable to present. However, Tim Lehnen stepped in to take over. Tim talked about the composer 2 updates with improved cacheability, lower memory usage, and faster execution time.

Baddy talked about the decoupled menus initiative which aims to bring modern Javascript frontend components to Drupal, starting with a React.js version of the menu system.

Gábor showed us the roadmap plan to Drupal 10 in which we will upgrade CKEditor 4 to CKEditor 5, amongst many other dependency updates.

Len presented the bug smash initiative and how they’ve smashed a whopping 664 bugs between May 30th and December 8th.

We ended the day with some cardio by learning to dance Flamenco in a workshop provided by Marta G. Blanco. A fun-filled event which had several participants on their feet rhythmically dancing to the flamenco music.

Flamenco workshop with Marta G. Blanco at DrupalCon Europe 2020

Day 2, the Driesnote
 

With the first day ending with us shaking our hips, we were ready to hear the latest from Dries Buytaert in the Driesnote.

Phil Wolstenholme gave an insightful and well thought out presentation about Tailwind CSS titled “Write better CSS by stopping writing any more CSS! How and why to use utility-first CSS on large-scale Drupal websites with Tailwind CSS.” Phil explained how to configure and extend Tailwind CSS to aid you into building an improved component-based theme using design tokens.

Tailwind configuration holds your design tokens


Driesnote

Dries highlighted the latest changes to Drupal and how we’ve stayed relevant for the last 20 years by working on things that mattered, by embracing new technologies, and by making it easy for end users to adopt.

Optimising for impact means caring for people you don't know.

I joined Josef Kruckenberg and Joanita Bonnier for a retrospective on “How did the COVID-19 crisis affect client relationships and what can we take out of it?” It was an intimate experience in which we explored the negative and positive impacts of the pandemic and our learnings that we plan to take into 2021.

COVID-19 Client Relationships Retrospective at DrupalCon Europe 2020


Day 3, Keynotes


We started the 3rd day with an amazing talk by Eriol Fox in their Keynote: "Centering humans and their rights in Open Source Design.” Eriol guided us through a journey mapping activity to shape our minds into striving to be more inclusive and inspire us to put Human Rights Centered Design first.

If we are not intentionally working against injustice, we are unintentionally complicit in it.

Eriol Fox presentation slide - Our Structure

Philipp Melab, along with Laura Gaetano, Shyamala Rajaram, and Josef Kruckenberg conversed in their panel about “Sustainable practices for building and maintaining the Open Web.” They touched on topics such as payments to open-source projects and the feeling of creating something new is not always reciprocated when maintaining a project for several years.

Panel talk on the Sustainable practices for building and maintaining the Open Web featuring Philip Melab, Laura Gaetano, Shyamala Rajaram, and Josef Kruckenberg

Fran Garcia-Linares gave a fantastic lightspeed live demo on “adding end-to-end tests to your Drupal site in 20 minutes with Cypress.” Fran spun up 3 different sites; a simple non-Drupal HTML website, a Drupal 7 website, and a Drupal 9 website, and added Cypress tests to each of them. The live demos worked flawlessly and returned all green status checks indicating the tests had passed.

Fran Garcia-Linares' presentation slide showing the Way forwards as part of his talk - Adding end-to-end tests to your Drupal site in 20 minutes with Cypress

My session about “Building a platform to bring people together to Celebrate Drupal” went well. I described the process of how I built up CelebrateDrupal.org and what learnings I gained from this experience.

Dan Lemon's presentation slide - Chapter 1: Design. Stealing

Siri Chilazi presented a wonderful keynote on “Building Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Communities.” Siri expanded on important training topics that all of us should attend such as diversity training, leadership training, and unconscious bias training. We all have unconscious bias and in order to reach good behavioural design we must design for diverse, equitable, and inclusive systems.

Siri Chilazi's presentation slide on

With a thrilling end to the sessions, we jumped into the Drupal Trivia Night. We created teams of 5 in order to compete for the title of Drupal trivia champions. My team, “WAVATE - We Are Volunteers At The Event” came 3rd, and Edouard Cunibil won the individual ranking by correctly answering the final question worth 1000 points before anyone else.

DrupalCon Europe 2020 Trivia Night Leaderboard


Day 4, Contrib Corner


As always with every DrupalCon, we had a day dedicated to contribution. It was held over Zoom using the Breakout feature, with a room for each table. I jumped into the contrib corner and worked on adding the official DrupalCon Europe photo to the Celebrate Drupal platform so that everyone could zoom-in easily and see each selfie taken via the photo booth during the conference. Others worked on upgrading their modules to be Drupal 9 compatible as well as aligning on issues for the decoupled menu initiative.

Day 4 Contribution Topics


The Open Web


With 4 days packed with talks, networking, social events, and contribution, we believe the conference was a great success. The shift from an in-person event to virtual was a difficult decision to make, but the community was thrilled to reconnect with each other and discuss Drupal and the open web.

If you're as passionate about Drupal web development and the open-source community as we are, get in touch today!

Dec 03 2020
Dec 03

Amazee Labs has been contributing to Drupal since the very early days of the project. Our contributions range from writing patches and maintaining modules, through to contributing to new releases and that’s why we’re proud to be one of the most experienced Drupal development agencies in the world. With our ongoing mission to build out a future proof Web Development stack, we have in recent years moulded our technology stack from several key components, some of which go beyond Drupal.


What is the Amazee Labs Open Source Tech Stack?


The majority of the technology in our stack is open source. 

As information and content have become some of the most valuable resources for many of our customers, we believe that the technology supporting your business’ digital presence is not just providing a virtual brochure, as was the case in the early WordPress vs. Drupal days. Your CMS is now a content vault and distribution system for your communications team.

Drupal is at the foundation of most of our enterprise projects. Drupal is further integrated with an open-source search engine to support dynamic and fast content search systems. Additionally, by using Gatsby (a Progressive Web App generator which is lighting fast) as a front-end layer, we dissolve the traditional dependencies between content management and content presentation, giving you the freedom to have interfaces that speak to your specific audience. The same CMS that drives your website, can also drive content for your mobile app, your voice interface (EG: IVR), or your e-commerce site.

The Amazee Labs Open Source Tech Stack. The traditional approach and our approach.

The hosting layer in our stack is run by our sister company amazee.io. Their open-source, cloud-native application delivery platform – Lagoon, which is entirely open source – powers thousands of websites in the UK, Europe, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The list of locations is growing all the time. 

What is WordPress?
 

It is estimated that 35% to 45% of the websites in the world use WordPress as a CMS, so chances are low that you don’t have some idea about WordPress. As above, WordPress and Drupal have a similar historical story. Both CMSs started off on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack, and to this day both still rely on PHP as the coding language under the hood. 

WordPress started off as a blogging platform for the non-technically inclined. It was designed to be easy to install, easy to use, and easy to extend. Importantly, it was designed to be easy to personalize the presentation layer through the use of themes.

Points of comparison


Enterprise CMS focus

Whereas WordPress was initially a blogging platform, Drupal started out with the different ambitions of being a messaging board. These simple but important differences in the early targets of the platforms set them on different courses. 

Messaging platforms don’t just communicate information in a single direction as blogging platforms are designed to do, but rather they are designed to store information in a structured way, as well as to make it searchable.

While both platforms used PHP, and both platforms continue to grow and are extended, Drupal has always had a more “engineered” approach to its development. This is not to suggest that WordPress is somehow badly designed - both platforms have had their architectural and security problems - but rather to suggest that Drupal started out with a focus on being a web application, whereas WordPress has always spoken to bloggers and consequently smaller businesses. 

Perhaps this can be best seen in the present, where WordPress runs at least a third of the world’s websites including personal blogs, small and micro company websites, whereas Drupal continues to gain market share of the enterprise CMS market. 

Price

Both Drupal and WordPress are free and open-source tools. Additionally, for both tools, there are significant numbers of agencies and developers skilled in adopting, designing, developing and maintaining Drupal and WordPress. Vendor lock-in is of minimal concern for these platforms.

For most enterprise decisions, WordPress will attract a lower upfront investment, and might on the face of it look cheaper than Drupal. However, securing and maintaining an enterprise-scale WordPress CMS can be way more costly in the long run. This is even more prevalent if you factor in the cost of security breaches, which are a deeper concern for WordPress installations.

Security & Maintenance

WordPress has traditionally had a bad wrap when it comes to security. In truth, both Drupal and WordPress have fairly similar approaches to security. Both projects have a community and corporate-funded independent security team. Both teams work tirelessly to keep the core of the projects secure and up to date, but a few things do stack up against WordPress when it comes to security.

As we’ve already discussed, WordPress powers a huge number of the world’s websites. This increases the WordPress attack surface significantly. Many WordPress installers are focused on getting websites running, and neglect three very important considerations. 1) The security of the installation, 2) the security of the plugins used to extend the WordPress core, and 3) the maintainability of the infrastructure and the software. In short, there are many opportunities for bad actors to take advantage of misconfigured or insecure sites, as well as the many corners that webshops cut in order to compete solely on price. While this doesn’t speak to Drupal’s strength, it doesn’t play well for WordPress’s reputation in the enterprise space specifically. 

At Amazee Labs, our architecture, ecosystem, and involvement in the open-source community is geared to approaching both the underlying infrastructure – as well as extending the Drupal core – from an engineering perspective. Our stacks strength lies not only in the core software but also in the way that we select and develop modules to extend the core Open Source components within the stack.

Editorial experience

There are at least two user types of any CMS, there are your users that consume your content, and there are the all-important administrators and editors. Both Drupal and WordPress have worked hard to increase the usability of their editorial experiences because a significant amount of time and money goes into writing and managing content in CMS platforms.

WordPress historically held the title for the “easy to use” CMS. However, in recent years the editorial experience in Drupal has grown from strength to strength. Amazee Labs prides itself on our ability to create not only beautiful web experiences but also beautiful web experiences that make content management easy. 

For simpler use cases, using Drupal’s Gutenberg module, content editing in Drupal can now be configured to be much closer to WordPress, essentially closing the gap between the two platforms.

For more complex use cases, Amazee Labs has created a completely new WYSIWYG editor interface and open-sourced it to the community. This editor makes it easier for editors to create flexible page structures while being bound to modular templates and strict corporate design policies. As this content is stored in a highly structured way, this implementation is perfect for a headless-Drupal setup, where a decoupled front-end site reads content via an API.

Development, customisation, and extensions

The primary way most developers approach WordPress customisation and extension is to add plugins to WordPress or to customise the theme. 

At Amazee Labs, we take an enterprise approach where we separate the modelling of content (which happens within Drupal) from the presentation of the content to the user. The majority of content models can be captured by using Drupal and a selected set of modules, and we shift all of the user experience customisations to the Gatsby front-end layer. While both Drupal and Wordpress can expose their content models to Gatsby for presentation to an end-user, we believe that Drupal is much better suited for this purpose, and is, therefore, the better choice for the majority of enterprise customers looking for an open-source CMS.

Why are enterprises choosing our Open Source Stack?
 

We hope by now, the answer is obvious! While WordPress is a great platform for blogs, microsites, and smaller company sites, Drupal is a better choice for large enterprises who wish to use an open-source CMS and to retain their data. Additionally, our open source stack Gatsby component provides a highly customisable and enterprise-ready front-end framework to go along with an enterprise-grade CMS.

Our Open Source Stack lets Enterprises have not only the digital platform they need but the digital platform they want, all at a price that their procurement teams love!

But don’t take our word for it
 

Would you like to see our Open Source Stack in action? 

Reach out to us today to arrange a demo and take our stack for a spin!
 

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